The History of Rome (Mommsen)/Book 1/Chapter 10



Relations of Italy with other lands. In the history of the nations of antiquity a gradual dawn ushered in the day; and in their case too the dawn was in the east. While the Italian peninsula still lay enveloped in the dim twilight of morning, the regions of the eastern basin of the Mediterranean had already emerged into the full light of a varied and richly developed civilization. It falls to the lot of most nations in the early stages of their development to be taught and trained by some rival sister-nation; and such was destined to be in an eminent degree the lot of the peoples of Italy. The circumstances of its geographical position, however, prevented this influence from being brought to bear upon the peninsula by land. No trace is to be found of a resort in early times to the difficult route by land between Italy and Greece. There were, indeed, in all probability from time immemorial, tracks for purposes of traffic, leading from Italy to the lands beyond the Alps; the oldest route of the amber trade from the Baltic joined the Mediterranean at the mouth of the Po (on which account the delta of the Po appears in Greek legend as the native country of amber), and that route was joined by another leading across the peninsula and over the Apennines to Pisse; but from these regions no elements of civilization could come to the Italians. It was the seafaring nations of the East that brought to Italy whatever foreign culture reached it in early times.

Phœnicians in Italy. The oldest civilized nation on the shores of the Mediterranean, the Egyptians, were not a seafaring people, and therefore they exercised no influence on Italy. But the same may be with almost equal truth affirmed of the Phœnicians. It is true that, issuing from their narrow home on the extreme eastern verge of the Mediterranean, they were the first of all known races who ventured forth in floating houses on the bosom of the deep, at first for the purpose of fishing and dredging, but soon also for the prosecution of trade. They were the first to open up maritime commerce; and at an incredibly early period they traversed the Mediterranean even to its furthest extremity in the west. Maritime stations of the Phœnicians appear on almost all its coasts earlier than those of the Hellenes; in Hellas itself, for instance, in Crete and Cyprus, in Egypt, Libya, and Spain, and likewise on the western Italian main. Thucydides tells us that all around Sicily, before the Greeks came thither, or at least before they had established themselves there in any considerable numbers, the Phœnicians had set up their factories on the headlands and islets, not with a view to territorial aggrandizement, but for the sake of trading with the natives. But it was otherwise in the case of continental Italy. No reliable indication has hitherto been given of the existence of any Phœnician settlement there excepting one, a Punic factory at Cære, the memory of which has been preserved partly by the appellation Punicum given to a little village on the Cærite coast, partly by the other name of the town of Cære itself, Agylla, which is not, as idle fiction asserts, of Pelasgic origin, but is a Phœnician word signifying the "round town"—precisely the appearance which Cære presents when seen from the sea. That this station and any similar establishments which may have elsewhere existed on the coasts of Italy were neither of much importance nor of long standing is evident from their having disappeared almost without leaving a trace. We have not the smallest reason to think them older than the Hellenic settlements of a similar kind on the same coasts. An evidence of no slight weight that Latium at least first became acquainted with the men of Canaan through the medium of the Hellenes is furnished by the Latin name "Pœni," which is borrowed from the Greeks. All the oldest relations, indeed, of the Italians to the civilization of the East point decidedly towards Greece; and the rise of a Phœnician factory at Cære may be very well explained, without resorting to the pre-Hellenic period, by the subsequent well-known relations between the commercial state of Cære and Carthage. In fact when we recall the circumstance that the earliest navigation was and remained essentially of a coasting character, it is plain that scarcely any country on the Mediterranean lay so remote from the Phœnicians as the Italian continent. They could only reach it from the west coast of Greece or from Sicily; and it is very probable that the seamanship of the Hellenes became developed early enough to anticipate the Phœnicians in braving the dangers of the Adriatic and of the Tyrrhene seas. There is no ground therefore for the assumption that any direct influence was originally exercised by the Phœnicians over the Italians. To the subsequent relations between the Phœnicians holding the supremacy of the western Mediterranean and the Italians inhabiting the shores of the Tyrrhene sea our narrative will return in the sequel.

Greeks in Italy. To all appearance the Hellenic mariners were the first among the inhabitants of the eastern basin of the Mediterranean to navigate the coasts of Italy. Of the important questions, however, as to the region from which, and as to the period at which, the Greek seafarers came thither, only the former admits of being answered with some degree of precision and fulness. Home of the Greek immigrants. The Æolian and Ionian coast of Asia Minor was the region where Hellenic maritime traffic first became developed on a large scale, and whence issued those Greeks who explored the interior of the Black Sea on the one hand and the coasts of Italy on the other. The name of the Ionian Sea, which was retained by the waters intervening between Epirus and Sicily, and that of the Ionian gulf, the term by which the Greeks in earlier times designated the Adriatic Sea, are memorials of the fact that the southern and eastern coasts of Italy were once upon a time discovered by seafarers from Ionia. The oldest Greek settlement in Italy, Kyme, was, as its name and legend bear, founded by the town of the same name on the Anatolian coast. According to trustworthy Hellenic tradition, the Phocæans of Asia Minor were the first of the Hellenes to traverse the more remote western sea. Other Greeks soon followed in the paths which those of Asia Minor had opened up: Ionians from Naxos and from Chalcis in Eubœa, Achæans, Locrians, Rhodians, Corinthians, Megarian, Messenians, Spartans. After the discovery of America, the civilized nations of Europe vied with one another in sending out expeditions and forming settlements there; and the new settlers, when located amidst barbarians, recognized their common character and common interests as civilized Europeans, more strongly than they had done in their former home. So it was with the new discovery of the Greeks. The privilege of navigating the western waters and settling on the western land was not the exclusive property of a single Grecian province or of a single Grecian stock, but a common good for the whole Hellenic nation; and, just as in the formation of the new North American world, English and French, Dutch and German settlements became mingled and blended, Grecian Sicily and "Great Greece" became peopled by a mixture of all sorts of Hellenic races often amalgamated so as no longer to be distinguishable. Leaving out of account some settlements occupying a more isolated position such as that of the Locrians, with its offsets, Hipponium and Medama, and the settlement of the Phocæans, which was not founded till towards the close of this period, Hyele (Velia, Elea), we may distinguish in a general view three leading groups. The original Ionian group, comprehended under the name of the Chalcidian towns, included in Italy Cumæ with the other Greek settlements near Vesuvius and Rhegium, and in Sicily Zankle (afterwards Messana), Naxos, Catana, Leontini, and Himera. The Achæan group embraced Sybaris and the greater part of the cities of Magna Græcia. The Dorian comprehended Syracuse, Gela, Agrigentum, and the majority of the Sicilian colonies, while in Italy nothing belonged to it but Taras (Tarentum) and its offset Heraclea. Upon the whoic the preponderance lay with the immigrants who belonged to the more ancient Hellenic influx, that of the Ionians and the stocks settled in the Peloponnesus before the Doric immigration. Among the Dorians only communities of a mixed population, such as Corinth and Megara, took any leading part; the purely Doric provinces had but a subordinate share in the movement. This result was naturally to be expected, for the Ionians were from ancient times a trading and seafaring people, while it was only at a comparatively late period that the Dorian stocks descended from their inland mountains to the seaboard, and they always kept aloof from maritime commerce. The different groups of immigrants are very clearly distinguished by the diversity of their monetary standards. The Phocæan settlers coined according to the Babylonian standard which prevailed in Asia. The Chalcidian towns followed in the earliest times the Æginetan, in other words, that which originally prevailed throughout all European Greece, and especially that modification of it which is found occurring in Eubœa. The Achæan communities coined by the Corinthian standard; and lastly the Doric, upon the basis of that which Solon introduced in Attica in the year of Rome 160 [593], with the exception of Tarentum and Heraclea which in their principal pieces followed rather the standard of their Achæan neighbours than that of the Dorians in Sicily.

Time of the Greek immigration. The dates of the earlier voyages and settlements will probably always remain shrouded in total darkness. We may still, however, distinctly recognize a certain order of sequence. In the oldest Greek document, which belongs, like the earliest intercourse with the West, to the Ionians of Asia Minor, the Homeric poems, the horizon scarcely extends beyond the eastern basin of the Mediterranean. Sailors driven by storms into the western sea might have brought to Asia Minor accounts of the existence of a western land, and possibly, also, of its whirlpools and island-mountains vomiting fire; but in the age of the Homeric poetry there was an utter want of reliable information respecting Sicily and Italy even in that Greek land which was the earliest to enter into intercourse with the West; and the story-tellers and poets of the East could without fear of contradiction fill the vacant realms of the West, as those of the West in their time filled the fabulous East, with their castles in the air. In the poems of Hesiod the outlines of Italy and Sicily appear better defined; there is some acquaintance with the native names of tribes, mountains, and cities in both countries; but Italy is still regarded as a group of islands. On the other hand, in all the literature subsequent to Hesiod, Sicily and even the whole coast of Italy appear as known, at least in a general sense, to the Hellenes. The order of succession of the Greek settlements may in like manner be ascertained with some degree of precision. Thucydides evidently regarded Cumæ as the earliest settlement of note in the West; and certainly he was not mistaken. It is true that many a suitable landing-place lay nearer at hand for the Greek mariner, but none were so well protected from storms and from barbarians as the island of Ischia, upon which the town was originally situated; and that such were the prevailing considerations that led to this settlement is evident from the very position, which was subsequently selected for it on the main land, on the steep but well-protected cliff, which bears to the present day the venerable name of the mother-city in Anatolia. Nowhere in Italy, moreover, were the scenes of the legends of Asia Minor so vividly and tenaciously localized as in the district of Cumæ, where the earliest voyagers to the west, full of such legends of western wonders, first stepped upon the fabled land, and left perpetual traces of that world of story, which they believed that they were treading, in the rocks of the Sirens and the lake of Avernus that led to the other world. On the supposition, moreover, that it was in Cumæ that the Greeks first became the neighbours of the Italians, it is easy to explain why the name of that Italian stock, which was settled immediately around Cumæ, the name of Opicans, came to be employed by them for many centuries afterwards to designate the Italians collectively. There is a further credible tradition, that a considerable interval elapsed between the settlement at Cumæ and the main Hellenic emigration into Lower Italy and Sicily, and that in that emigration Ionians from Chalcis and from Naxos took the lead. Naxos, in Sicily, is said to have been the oldest of all the Greek towns founded by strict colonization in Italy or Sicily; the Achæan and Dorian colonizations followed, but not until a later period.

It appears, however, to be quite impossible to fix the dates of this series of events with even approximate accuracy. The founding of the Achæan city of Sybaris, in 33 u.c. [721] and that of the Dorian city Tarentum, in 46 u.c. [708], may be taken as a basis in such an inquiry—the most ancient dates in Italian history, the correctness or at least approximation to correctness of which may be looked upon as established. But how far beyond that epoch the earlier Ionian colonies reached back, is quite as uncertain as is the age which gave birth to the poems of Hesiod or even of Homer. If Herodotus is correct in the period which he assigns to Homer, the Greeks were still unacquainted with Italy a century before the foundation of Rome [850]. The date thus assigned, however, like all other statements respecting the Homeric age, is matter not of testimony, but of inference, and whoever carefully weighs the history of the Italian alphabets and the remarkable fact, that the Italians had become acquainted with the Greek nation before the newer name "Hellenes" had supplanted the older national designation "Græci,"[1] will be inclined to refer the earliest intercourse of the Italians with the Greeks to an age considerably more remote.

Character of the Greek immigration. The history of the Italian and Sicilian Greeks forms no part of the history of Italy; the Hellenic colonists of the west always retained the closest connection with their original home, and participated in the national festivals and rights of Hellenes. But it is of importance even as bearing on Italy, that we should indicate the diversities of character that prevailed in the Greek settlements there, or at least exhibit certain of their leading features—the features which enabled the Greek colonization to exercise so varied an influence on Italy.

The league of the Achæan cities. Of all the Greek settlements, that which retained most thoroughly its distinctive character, and was as least affected by influences from without, was the settlement which gave birth to the league of the Achæan cities composed of the towns of Siris, Pandosia, Metabus or Metapontum, Sybaris with its offsets, Posidonia and Laus, Croton, Caulonia, Temesa, Terina, and Pyxus. These colonists, taken as a whole, belonged to a Greek stock, which steadfastly adhered to its own peculiar dialect (distinguished from Doric, with which in other respects it had most affinity, e. g. by the want of the h), and retained no less steadfastly the old national Hellenic mode of writing instead of adopting the more recent alphabet which had elsewhere come into general use; and which preserved its own national standing distinct from the barbarians, and from other Greeks, by the firm bond of a federal constitution. The language of Polybius, regarding the Achæan symmachy in the Peloponnesus may be applied also to these Italian Achæans; "not only did they live in federal and friendly communion, but they availed themselves of the same laws, and the same weights, measures, and coins, as well as of the same magistrates, councillors, and judges."

The league of the Achaean cities was strictly a colonization. The cities had no harbours—Croton[errata 1] alone had a paltry roadstead—and they had no commerce of their own; the Sybarite prided himself on growing gray between the bridges of his lagoon-city, and Milesians and Etruscans bought and sold for him. These Achæan Greeks, however, were not in possession merely of a narrow belt along the coast, but ruled from sea to sea in the "land of wine," and of "oxen" (Οἱνωτρια, Ἰταλία) or the "great Hellas;" the native agricultural population was compelled to farm their lands and to pay to them tribute in the character of clients, or even of serfs. Sybaris—in its time the largest city in Italy—exercised dominion over four barbarian tribes and five-and-twenty townships, and was able to found Laus and Posidonia on the other sea. The surprisingly fertile lowlands of the Crathis and the Bradanus yielded a superabundant produce to the Sybarites and Metapontines—it was there perhaps that grain was first cultivated for exportation. The height of prosperity which these states in a very short time attained, is strikingly attested by the only surviving works of art of these Italian Achæans, their coins of chaste antiquely beautiful workmanship—the earliest monuments of Italian art and writing which we possess, as it can be shown that they had already begun to be coined in 174 u.c. [580]. These coins show, that the Achæans of the west not merely participated in the noble development of plastic art that was at this very time taking place in the mother land, but were perhaps even superior in technical skill. For while the silver pieces, which were in use about that time in Greece proper and among the Dorians in Italy, were thick, often stamped only on one side, and in general without inscription, the Italian Achæans with great and independent skill struck from two similar dies, partly cut in relief, partly sunk, large thin silver coins always furnished with inscriptions and displaying the advanced organization of a civilized state in the style of impression, by which they were carefully probed from the process of counterfeiting usual in that age—the plating of interior metal with thin silver-foil.

Nevertheless this rapid bloom bore no fruit. In a life of indolence in which their energies were never tried either by stance on the part of the natives, or by hard labour of their own, even Greeks speedily lost all elasticity of body and of mind. None of the brilliant names in Greek art or literature shed glory on the Italian Achæans, while Sicily could claim ever so many of them, and even in Italy the Chalcidian Rhegium could produce its Ibycus, and the Doric Tarentum its Archytas. With this people, among whom the spit was for ever turning on the hearth, nothing flourished from the first but boxing. The rigid aristocracy, which early gained the helm in the several communities, and which found, in case of need, a sure reserve of support in the federal power, prevented the rise of tyrants. The only danger to be apprehended was that the government of the best might be converted into a government of the few, especially if the privileged families in the different communities should combine to assist each other in carrying out their designs. Such was the predominant aim in the combination of mutually pledged "friends," which bore the name of Pythagoras. It enjoined the principle that the ruling class should be "honoured like gods," and that the subject class should be held in "subservience like beasts," and by such theory and practice provoked a formidable reaction, which terminated in the annihilation of the Pythagorean "friends," and the renewal of the ancient federal constitution. But frantic party feuds, insurrections en masse of the slaves, social abuses of all sorts, attempts to carry out an impracticable state-philosophy, in short, all the evils of demoralized civilization raged incessantly in the Achæan communities, till under the accumulated pressure their political power was utterly broken.

It is no matter of wonder therefore that the Achæans settled in Italy exercised less influence on its civilization than the other Greek settlements there. An agricultural people, they had less occasion than those engaged in commerce to extend their influence beyond their political bounds. Within their own dominions they enslaved the native population, and crushed the germs of their national development as Italians, while they refused to open up to them, by means of complete Hellenization, a new career. In this way the Greek characteristics, which were able elsewhere to retain a vigorous vitality notwithstanding all political misfortunes, disappeared more rapidly, more completely, and more ingloriously in Sybaris and Metapontum, in Croton and Posidonia, than in any other region; and the bilingual mongrel people, which arose in subsequent times out of the remains of the native Italians and Achæans and the more recent immigrants of Sabellian descent, never attained any real prosperity. This catastrophe, however, belongs in point of time to the succeeding period.

Iono-Dorian towns. The settlements of the other Greeks were of a different character, and exercised a very different effect upon Italy. They by no means despised agriculture and the acquisition of territory; it was not the wont of the Hellenes, at least after they reached their full vigour, to rest content after the manner of the Phœnicians with a fortified factory in the midst of a barbarian land. But all their cities were founded primarily and especially for the sake of trade, and accordingly, altogether differing from those of the Achæans, they were uniformly established beside the best harbours and landing-places. These cities were very various in their origin, and in the occasion and period of their respective foundations; but there subsisted between them certain points of common agreement or at least of contradistinction from the league of the Achæan cities—such as the common use by all of them of the more recent Greek alphabet,[2] and the very Dorism of their language, which pervaded at an early date even those towns, that, like Cumæ for example,[3] originally spoke the soft Ionic dialect. These settlements were of very various degrees of importance in their bearing on the development of Italy: it is sufficient at present to notice those which exercised a decided influence over the destinies of the Italian races, the Doric Tarentum, and the Ionic Cumæ.

Tarentum. Of all the Hellenic settlements in Italy, Tarentum was destined to play the most brilliant part. The excellent harbour, the only good one on the whole southern coast, rendered the city the natural emporium for the traffic of the south of Italy, and for some portion even of the commerce of the Adriatic. The rich fisheries of its gulf, the production and manufacture of its excellent wool, and the dyeing of it with the purple juice of the Tarentine murex which rivalled that of Tyre—both branches of industry introduced there from Miletus in Asia Minor—employed thousands of hands, and added to their carrying trade a traffic of export. The coins struck at Tarentum in greater numbers than anywhere else in Grecian Italy, many of them even composed of gold, furnish to us expressive attestation of the lively and widely extended commerce of the Tarentines. At this epoch, when Tarentum was still contending with Sybaris for the first place among the cities of Lower Italy, its extensive commercial connections must have been already forming; but the Tarentines seem never to have steadily and successfully directed their efforts to the extension of their territory after the manner of the Achæan cities.

Greek cities near Vesuvius. While the most easterly of the Greek settlements in Italy thus rapidly rose into splendour, those which lay furthest to the north, in the neighbourhood of Vesuvius, attained a more moderate prosperity. There the Cumæans had crossed from the fertile island of Ænaria (Ischia) to the mainland, and had built a second home on a hill close by the sea, from whence they founded the seaport of Dicæarchia (afterwards Puteoli), and the cities of Parthenope and Neapolis. They lived, like the Chalcidian cities generally in Italy and Sicily, in conformity with the laws which Charondas of Catana (about 100 u.c. [650]) had established, under a constitution democratic but modified by a high qualification, which placed power in the hands of a council of members selected from the wealthiest men—a constitution which proved lasting, and kept these cities free, upon the whole, from the tyranny alike of usurpers and of the mob. We know little as to the external relations of these Campanian Greeks. They remained, whether from necessity or from choice, confined to a district of even narrower limits than the Tarentines; and issuing from it, not for purposes of conquest and oppression, but to hold peaceful commercial intercourse with the natives, they created the means of a prosperous existence for themselves, and at the same time occupied the foremost place among the missionaries of Greek civilization in Italy.

Relations of the Adriatic regions to the Greeks. While on the one side of the Straits of Rhegium the whole southern coast of the mainland and its western coast as far as Vesuvius, and on the other the larger eastern half of the island of Sicily, were Greek territory, the west coast of Italy to the north of Vesuvius, and the whole of the east coast were in a position essentially different. No Greek settlements arose on the Italian seaboard of the Adriatic; a fact which has an evident connection with the comparatively trifling number and subordinate importance of the Greek colonies planted on the opposite Illyrian shore and its numerous adjacent islands. There were indeed two considerable mercantile towns, Epidamnus (afterwards Dyrrachium, now Durazzo, 127 u.c. [627]) and Apollonia (near Avlona, about 167 [587]) founded upon the portion of this coast nearest to Greece during the regal period of Rome; but no old Greek colony can be pointed out further to the north, with the exception perhaps of the insignificant settlement at Black Corcyra (Curzola, about 174? [580]). No adequate explanation has yet been given why the Greek colonization developed itself in this direction to so meagre an extent. Nature herself appeared to direct the Hellenes thither, and in fact from the earliest times there existed a regular traffic to that region from Corinth, and still more from the settlement at Corcyra (Corfu) founded not long after Rome (about 44 [710]); a traffic whose emporia on the Italian coast were the towns of Spina and Hatria, situated at the mouth of the Po. The storms of the Adriatic, the inhospitable character at least of the Illyrian coasts, and the barbarism of the natives are manifestly not in themselves sufficient to explain this fact. But it was a circumstance fraught with the most momentous consequences for Italy, that the elements of civilization which came from the east did not exert their influence on its eastern provinces directly, but reached them only through the medium of those that lay to the west. The Adriatic commerce carried on by Corinth and Corcyra was shared by the most easterly mercantile city of Magna Græcia, the Doric Tarentum, which by the possession of Hydrus (Otranto) had the command, on the Italian side, of the entrance of the Adriatic. Since, with the exception of the ports at the mouth of the Po, there were in those times no emporia worthy of mention along the whole east coast (the rise of Ancona belongs to a far later period, and later still the rise of Brundisium), it is very probable that the mariners of Epidamnus and Apollonia frequently discharged their cargoes at Tarentum. The Tarentines had also much intercourse with Apulia by land; all the Greek civilization to be met with in the south-east of Italy owed its existence to them. That civilization, however, was during the present period only in its infancy; it was not until a later epoch that the Hellenism of Apulia became developed.

Relations of the Western Italians to the Greeks. It cannot be doubted, on the other hand, that the west coast of Italy northward of Vesuvius was frequented in very early times by the Hellenes, and that there were Hellenic factories on its promontories and islands. Probably the earliest evidence of such voyages is the localizing of the legend of Odysseus on the coasts of the Tyrrhene Sea.[4] When men discovered the isle of Æolus in the Lipari ids, when they pointed out at the Lacinian Cape the Isle of Calypso, at the Cape of Misenum that of the Sirens, at the Cape of Circeii that of Circe, when they recognized in the steep promontory of Terracina the towering mound of Elpenor, when the Læstrygones were provided with haunts near Caieta and Formiæ, when the two sons of Ulysses and Circe Agrius, that is the "wild," and Latinus were made to rule over the Tyrrhenes in the "inmost recess of the holy islands," or according to a more recent conception Latinus called the son of Ulysses and Circe, and Auson the son of Ulysses and Calypso—we recognize in these legends ancient sailors' tales of the seafarers of Ionia, who thought of their native home as they traversed the Tyrrhene Sea. The same noble vividness of feeling which pervades the Ionic poem of the voyages of Odysseus is discernible in this fresh localization of its legend at Cumæ itself and throughout the regions frequented by the Cumæan mariners.

Other traces of such very ancient voyages are to be found in the Greek name of the island Æthalia (Ilva, Elba), which appears to have been (after Ænaria) one of the places earliest occupied by Greeks, perhaps also in that of the seaport Telamon in Etruria; and further in the two towns on the Cærite coast, Pyrgi (near S. Severa) and Alsium (near Palo), the Greek origin of which is indicated beyond possibility of mistake, not only by their names, but also by the peculiar architecture of the walls of Pyrgi, which differs essentially in character from that of the walls of Caere and the Etruscan cities generally. Æthalia, the "fire-island," with its rich mines of copper and especially of iron, probably sustained the chief part in this northern commerce, and there in all likelihood the foreigners had their central settlement and seat of traffic with the natives; the more especially as they could not have found the means of smelting the ores on a small and not well-wooded island without intercourse with the mainland. The silver mines of Populonia also on the headland opposite to Elba were perhaps known already to the Greeks, and wrought by them.

If, as was undoubtedly the case, the foreigners, ever in these times intent on piracy and plunder as well as trade, did not fail, when opportunity offered, to levy contributions on the natives and to carry them off as slaves, the natives on their part exercised the right of retaliation; and that the Latins and Tyrrhenes retaliated with greater energy and better fortune than their neighbours in the south of Italy, is attested not merely by the legends to that effect, but by the practical result. In those regions the Italians succeeded in resisting the foreigners, and in retaining, or at any rate soon resuming, the mastery not merely of their own mercantile cities and seaports, but also of their own seas. The same Hellenic invasion which crushed and denationalized the races of the south of Italy, directed the energies of the people of Central Italy (very much indeed against the will of their instructors) towards navigation and the founding of towns. It must have been in this quarter that the Italians first exchanged the raft and the boat for the oared galley of the Phœnicians and Greeks. Here too we first encounter great mercantile cities, particularly Cære in southern Etruria and Some on the Tiber, which, if we may judge from their Italian names as well as from their being situated at some distance from the sea, were, like the exactly similar commercial towns at the mouth of the Po, Spina and Hatria, and Ariminum further to the south, certainly not Greek, but Italian foundations. It is not in our power, as may easily be supposed, to exhibit the historical course of this earliest reaction of Italian nationality against foreign assault; but we can still recognize the fact, which was of the greatest importance as bearing upon the further development of Italy, that this reaction took a different course in Latium and in southern Etruria from that which it exhibited in the properly Tuscan and adjoining provinces.

Hellenes and Latins. Legend itself contrasts in a significant manner the Latin with the "wild Tyrrhenian," and the peaceful beach at the mouth of the Tiber with the inhospitable shores of the Volsci. This cannot mean that Greek colonization was tolerated in some of the provinces of Central Italy, but not permitted in others. Northward of Vesuvius there existed no independent Greek community at all in historical times; if Pyrgi once was such, it must have already reverted, before the period at which our tradition begins, into the hands of the Italians, or in other words of the Cærites. But in southern Etruria, in Latium, and likewise on the east coast, peaceful intercourse with foreign merchants was protected and encouraged; and such was not the case elsewhere. The position of Cære was especially remarkable. "The Cærites," Strabo, "were held in much repute among the Hellenes for their bravery and integrity, and because, powerful though they were, they abstained from robbery." It is not piracy that is thus referred to, for in this the merchant of Cære must have indulged like the rest. But Cære was a sort of free port for Phœnicians as well as Greeks. We have already mentioned the Phœnician station—subsequently called Punicum—and the two Hellenic stations of Pyrgi and Alsium. It was these ports that the Cærites refrained from robbing, and it was beyond doubt through this tolerant attitude that Cære, which possessed but a wretched roadstead and had no mines in its neighbourhood, early attained so great prosperity, and acquired, in reference to the earliest Greek commerce, an importance even greater than the cities of the Italians destined by nature as emporia at the mouths of the Tiber and Po. The cities we have just named are those which appear as holding primitive religious intercourse with Greece. The first of all barbarians to present gifts to the Olympian Zeus was the Tuscan king Arimnus, perhaps a ruler of Ariminum. Spina and Cære had their special treasuries in the temple of the Delphic Apollo, like other communities that had regular dealings with the shrine; and the sanctuary at Delphi, as well as the Cumæean oracle, are interwoven with the earliest traditions of Cære and of Rome. These cities, where the Italians held peaceful sway and had friendly traffic with the foreign merchant, became pre-eminently wealthy and powerful, and were in reality marts not only for Hellenic merchandise, but also for the germs of Hellenic civilization.

Hellenes and Etruscans. Etruscan maritime power. Matters stood on a different footing with the "wild Tyrrhenians." The same causes which, in the province of Latium, and in the districts on the right bank of the Tiber and along the lower course of the Po that were perhaps rather subject to Etruscan supremacy than strictly Etruscan, had led to the emancipation of the natives from the maritime power of the foreigner led, in Etruria proper, to the development of piracy and maritime ascendancy, in consequence perhaps of the difference of national character disposing the people to violence and pillage, or it may be for other reasons with which we are not acquainted. The Etruscans were not content with dislodging the Greeks from Æthalia and Populonia; even the individual trader apparently was not tolerated by them, and soon Etruscan privateers roamed over the sea far and wide, and rendered the name of the Tyrrhenians a terror to the Greeks. It was not without reason that the Greeks reckoned the grapnel as an Etruscan invention, and called the western sea of Italy the sea of the Tuscans. The rapidity with which these wild corsairs multiplied and the violence of their proceedings, in the Tyrrhene Sea in particular, are very clearly shown in their establishment on the Latin and Campanian coasts. The Latins indeed maintained their ground in Latium proper, and the Greeks near Vesuvius; but between them and by their side the Etruscans held sway in Antium and in Surrentum. The Volscians became clients of the Etruscans; their forests contributed keels for the Etruscan galleys; and since the piracy of the Antiates did not terminate till the Roman occupation, it is easy to understand why the coast of the southern Volscians bore among Greek mariners the name of the Læstrygones. The high promontory of Sorrento and the cliff of Capri, which is still more precipitous but destitute of any harbour, both thoroughly adapted as stations for corsairs on the watch, commanding a prospect of the Tyrrhene Sea between the bays of Naples and Salerno, were early occupied by the Etruscans. They are affirmed even to have founded a "league of twelve towns" of their own in Campania, and communities speaking Etrusdin its inland districts in times quite historical. se settlements were probably indirect results of the time dominion of the Etruscans in the Campanian seas, and of their rivalry with the Cumieans at Vesuvius.

The Etruscans however by no means confined themselves to robbery and pillage. The peaceful intercourse which they held with Greek towns is attested by the gold and silver coins which, from the year 200 u.c. [550], were struck by the Etruscan cities, and in particular by Populonia, after a Greek model and a Greek standard. The circumstance, moreover, that these coins are modelled not upon those of Magna Græcia, but rather upon those of Attica and of Asia Minor, is perhaps an indication of the hostile attitude in which the a stood towards the Italian Greeks. For commerce in fact enjoyed a most favourable position, far more advantageous than that of the inhabitants of Latium. Inhabiting the country from sea to sea, they commanded the great Italian free ports on the western waters, the mouths of the Po and the Venice of that time on the eastern sea, and the land route which from ancient times led from Pisæ on the Tyrrhene Sea to Spina on the Adriatic, while in the south of Italy they commanded the rich plains of Capua and Nola. They were the holders of the most important articles of Italian export, the iron of Æthalia, the copper of Volaterræ and Campania, the silver of Populonia, and the amber which was brought to them from the Baltic (P. 135). Under the protection of their privateering, which constituted as it were a rude navigation act, their own commerce could not fail to flourish. It need not surprise us to find Etruscan and Milesian merchants competing in the market of Sybaris, nor need we be astonished to learn that the combination of privateering and commerce on a great scale generated an unbounded and infatuated luxury, in which the vigour of Etruria early wasted away.

Rivalry between the Phœnicians and Hellenes. While in Italy the Etruscans and, in a lesser degree, the Latins thus stood opposed to the Hellenes, warding them off and partly treating them as enemies, their antagonism of necessity affected to some extent the rivalry which then pervaded the commerce and navigation of the Mediterranean, the rivalry between the Phœnicians and Hellenes. This is not the place to set forth in detail how, during the regal period of Rome, these two great nations contended for supremacy on all the shores of the Mediterranean, in Greece even and Asia Minor, in Crete and Cyprus, on the African, Spanish, and Celtic coasts. This struggle did not take place directly on Italian soil, but its effects were deeply and permanently felt in Italy. The fresh energies and more universal endowments of the younger competitor had at first the advantage everywhere. Not only did the Hellenes rid themselves of the Phœnician factories in their own European and Asiatic home, but they dislodged the Phœnicians also from Crete and Cyprus, obtained a footing in Egypt and Cyrene, and possessed themselves of Lower Italy and the larger eastern half of the island of Sicily. On all hands the small trading stations of the Phoenicians gave way before the more energetic colonization of the Greeks. Selinus (126 u.c. [628]) and Agrigentum (174 u.c. [580]) were founded in western Sicily; the more remote western sea was traversed, Massilia was built on the Celtic coast (about 150 u.c. [600]), and the shores of Spain were explored by the bold Phocæans from Asia Minor. But about the middle of the second century the progress of Hellenic colonization was suddenly arrested, and there is no doubt that the cause of this arrest was the contemporary rapid development of Carthage, the most powerful of the Phœnician cities in Libya—a development manifestly due to the danger with which Hellenic aggression threatened the whole Phœnician race. If the nation which had opened up maritime commerce on the Mediterranean had been already dislodged by its younger rival from the sole command of the western half, from the possession of both lines of communication between the eastern and western basins of the Mediterranean, and from the monopoly of the carrying trade between east and west, the sovereignty at least of the seas to the west of Sardinia and Sicily might still be saved for the Orientals; and to its maintenance Carthage applied all the tenacious and circumspect energy peculiar to the Aramæan race. Phœnician colonization and Phœnician resistance assumed an entirely different character. The earlier Phœnician settlements, such as those in Sicily described by Thucydides, were mercantile factories: Carthage subdued extensive provinces with numerous subjects and powerful fortresses. Hitherto each Phœnician settlement had stood isolated in its opposition to the Greeks; now the powerful Libyan city centralized the whole war-resources of the race within its reach with a vigour to which the history of the Greeks can produce nothing parallel. Phœnicians and Italians in opposition to the Hellenes. Perhaps the element in this reaction which exercised the most momentous influence in the sequel, was the relations with the natives of Sicily and Italy into weaker Phœnicians entered with the view of resisting the Hellenes. When the Cnidians and Rhodians made an attempt to establish themselves about 175 [579] at Lilybæum, the centre of the Phœnician settlements in Sicily, they expelled by the natives, the Elymi of Segeste, in concert with the Phœnicians. When the Phocæans settled about 217 [537] at Alalia (Aleria) in Corsica opposite to Cære, there appeared for the purpose of expelling them a combined fleet of Etruscans and Carthaginians, numbering a hundred and twenty sail; and although in the naval battle that ensued—one of the earliest known in history—the fleet of the Phocæans, which was only half as numerous, claimed the victory, the Carthaginians and Etruscans gained the object which they had in view in the attack; the Phocæans abandoned Corsica, and preferred to settle at Hyele (Velia) on the less exposed coast of Lucania. A treaty between Etruria and Carthage not only established regulations regarding the importation of goods and the redress of rights, but included also an alliance-in-arms (συμμαχία), the serious import of which is shown by that very battle of Alalia. It is a significant indication of the position of the Cærites, that they stoned the Phocæan captives in the market at Cære, and then sent an embassy to the Delphic Apollo to atone for the crime.

Latium did not join in these hostilities against the Hellenes; on the contrary we find friendly relations subsisting in very ancient times between the Romans and the Phocæans in Velia, as well as in Massilia, and the Ardeates are even said to have founded, in concert with the Zacynthians, a colony in Spain, the later Saguntum. Much less, however, did the Latins range themselves on the side of the Hellenes: the neutrality of their position in this respect is attested by the close relations maintained between Cære and Rome, as well as by the traces of ancient intercourse between the Latins and Carthaginians. It was through the medium of the Hellenes that the Canaanite race became known to the Romans, for, as we have already seen (P. 136), they always designated it by its Greek name; but the fact that they did not borrow from the Greeks either the name for the city of Carthage,[5] or the national name of Afri,[6] and the circumstance that among the earlier Romans Tyrian wares were designated by the name Sarranus,[7] which in like manner precludes the idea of Greek intervention, demonstrate what the treaties of a later period concur in proving, the direct commercial intercourse anciently subsisting between Latium and Carthage. The combined power of the Italians and Phœnicians actually succeeded in substantially retaining the western half of the Mediterranean in their hands. The north-western portion of Sicily, with the important ports of Soluntum and Panormus on the north-west, and Motya at the point which looks towards Africa, remained in the direct or indirect possession of the Carthaginians. About the age of Cyrus and Crœsus, when the wise Bias was endeavouring to induce the Ionians to emigrate in a body from Asia Minor, and settle in Sardinia (about 200 [550]), the Carthaginian general Malchus anticipated them, and subdued a considerable portion of that important island by force of arms; half a century later, the whole coast of Sardinia appears in the undisputed possession of the Carthaginian community. Corsica on the other hand, with the towns of Alalia and Nicæa fell to the Etruscans, and the natives paid them tribute of the products of their poor island, pitch, wax, and honey. In the Adriatic sea, moreover, the allied Etruscans and Carthaginians predominated, as in the waters to the west of Sicily and Sardinia. The Greeks, indeed, did not give up the struggle. Those Rhodians and Cnidians, who had been driven out of Lilybæum, established themselves on the islands between Sicily and Italy, and founded there the town of Lipara (175 [579]). Massilia nourished in spite of its isolation, and soon monopolized the trade from Nice to the Pyrenees. At the Pyrenees themselves, Rhoda (now Rosas) was established as an offset from Lipara, and it is affirmed that Zacynthians settled in Saguntum, and even that Greek dynasts ruled in Tingis (Tangier) in Mauretania. But the Hellenes no longer gained ground; after the foundation of Agrigentum they did not succeed in acquiring any important additions of territory on the Adriatic or on the western sea, and they remained excluded from the Spanish waters, as well as from the Atlantic Ocean. Every year the Liparæans had their conflicts with the Tuscan "sea-robbers," and the Carthaginians with the Massiliots and the Cyrenæans, and above all with the Sicilian Greeks; but no results of permanent moment were on either side achieved, and the issue of struggles which lasted for centuries was, on the whole, the simple maintenance of the status quo.

Thus Italy was, indirectly at any rate, indebted to the Phœnicians for the exemption of at least her central and northern provinces from colonization, and for the counter-development of a national maritime power there, especially in Etruria. But there are not wanting indications that the Phœnicians already found it expedient to manifest that jealousy, which is usually associated with naval domination, if not in reference to their Latin, at any rate in reference to their Etruscan confederates whose naval power was greater. The statement as to the Carthaginians having prohibited the sending forth of an Etruscan colony to the Canary islands, whether true or false, reveals the existence of a rivalry of interests in the case.

  1. The name Græci is, like that of Hellenes, associated with the primitive seat of Greek civilization, the interior of Epirus and the region of Dodona. In the Eoai of Hesiod it still appears as a collective name for the nation, although it is manifest that it is intentionally thrown into the shade, and rendered subordinate to that of Hellenes. The latter does not occur in Homer, but in addition to Hesiod, it is found in Archilochus, about the year 50 u.c. [700], and it may very probably have come into use considerably earlier (Duncker, Gesch. d. Alt. iii. 18, 556). Before this period, therefore, the Italians had already attained so extensive an acquaintance with the Greeks, that they knew not only how to name the individual stock, but how to designate the nation by a collective term. It is difficult to see how we can reconcile with this feet the statement that a century before the foundation of Rome Italy was still quite unknown to the Greeks of Asia Minor. We shall speak of the alphabet below; its history yields an entirely similar result. It may perhaps be characterized as a rash step to reject the statement of Herodotus respecting the age of Homer, on the strength of such considerations; but is there no rashness in following implicitly the guidance of tradition in questions of this kind?
  2. We mean the alphabet, which substituted for the old Oriental forms of the Iota (Z-shaped iota), Gamma (top-right corner gamma) or (straight vertical line), and Lambda (capital lambda), forms less liable to be confounded, (straight vertical line) (C-shaped gamma) (tick-shaped lambda), and regularly distinguished the Ρ (r) which might easily be mistaken for (archaic pi) (p) by a side-stroke as R.
  3. e. g., the inscription on an earthen vase of Cumæ runs thus:—

    Ταταίες ἐμὶ λέqυθος· Ϝὸς δ' ἄν με κλέφσει θυφλὸς ἔσται.

  4. Among Greek writers, this Tyrrhene legend of Odysseus makes its earliest appearance in the Theogony of Hesiod in one of its more recent sections, and then in authors of the period shortly before Alexander, Ephorus (from whom the so-called Scymnus drew his materials), and the writer known as Scylax. The first of these sources belongs to an age when Italy was still regarded by the Greeks as a group of islands, and is certainly therefore very ancient; so that the origin of these legends may, on the whole, be confidently placed in the regal period of Rome.
  5. The Phœnician name was Karthada; the Greek, Karchedon; the Roman, Cartago.
  6. The name Afri, already current in the days of Ennius and Cato (comp. Scipio Africanus), is certainly not Greek, and is most probably related to that of the Hebrews.
  7. The adjective Sarranus was from early times applied by the Romans to the Tyrian purple and Tyrian pipes; and it was in use also as a surname, at least from the time of the war with Hannibal. Sarra, which occurs in Ennius and Plautus as the name of the city, was perhaps formed from Sarranus, not directly from the native name Sor. The Greek form, Tyrus, Tyrius, seems not to occur in any Roman author anterior to Afranius (op. Fest., p. 355 M.). Compare Movers, Phön. ii. 1, 174.


  1. Original: Crotona was amended to Croton: detail