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From Hutton Webster's, Early European History (1917); edited for this on-line publication, by ELLOPOS
IV. THE RISE OF ROME TO 264 B.C.
» Contents of this ChapterItaly and Sicily * The Peoples of Italy * The Romans * Early Roman Society * Roman Religion * The Roman City State * Expansion of Rome over Italy, 509 (?)-264 B.C. * Italy under Roman Rule * The Roman Army
ITALY AND SICILY
The shape of Italy is determined by the course of the Apennines. Branching off from the Alps at the gulf of Genoa, these mountains cross the peninsula in an easterly direction, almost to the Adriatic. Here they turn sharply to the southeast and follow the coast for a considerable distance. The plains of central Italy, in consequence, are all on the western slope of the Apennines. In the lower part of the peninsula the range swerves suddenly to the southwest, so that the level land is there on the eastern side of the mountains. Near the southern extremity of Italy the Apennines separate into two branches, which penetrate the "heel and toe" of the peninsula.
DIVISIONS OF ITALY
Italy may be conveniently divided into a northern, a central, and a southern section. These divisions, however, are determined by the direction of the mountains and not, as in Greece, chiefly by inlets of the sea. Northern Italy contains the important region known in ancient times as Cisalpine Gaul. This is a perfectly level plain two hundred miles in length, watered by the Po (Padus), which the Romans called the "king of rivers," because of its length and many tributary streams. Central Italy, lying south of the Apennines, includes seven districts, of which the three on the western coast—Etruria, Latium, and Campania—were most conspicuous in ancient history. Southern Italy, because of its warm climate and deeply indented coast, early attracted many Greek colonists. Their colonies here came to be known as Magna Graecia, or Great Greece.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy