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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 ChapterPage 3
THE PEOPLES OF ITALY
NEIGHBORS OF THE ROMANS
Long before the Romans built their city by the Tiber every part of Italy had become the home of wandering peoples, attracted by the mild climate and rich soil of this favored land. Two of these peoples were neighbors of the Romans—Etruscans on the north and Greeks on the south.
The ancestors of the historic Etruscans were probably Aegean sea-rovers who settled in the Italian peninsula before the beginning of the eighth century B.C. The immigrants mingled with the natives and by conquest and colonization founded a strong power in the country to which they gave their name—Etruria. At one time the Etruscans appear to have ruled over Campania and also in the Po Valley as far as the Alps. Their colonies occupied the shores of Sardinia and Corsica. Their fleets swept the Tyrrhenian Sea. The Etruscans for several centuries were the leading nation in Italy.
These Etruscans, like the Hittites of Asia Minor, are a mysterious race. No one as yet has been able to read their language, which is quite unlike any Indo-European tongue. The words, however, are written in an alphabet borrowed from Greek settlers in Italy. Many other civilizing arts besides the alphabet came to the Etruscans from abroad. Babylonia gave to them the principle of the round arch and the practice of divination. Etruscan graves contain Egyptian seals adorned with hieroglyphics and beautiful vases bearing designs from Greek mythology. The Etruscans were skillful workers in iron, bronze, and gold. They built their cities with massive walls, arched gates, paved streets, and underground drains. In the course of time a great part of this Etruscan civilization was absorbed in that of Rome.
Cf. The Ancient Greece * The Ancient Rome
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium) * Western Medieval Europe * Renaissance in Italy