The History of Rome (Mommsen)/Book 1/Chapter 2



Primitive races of Italy. We have no information, not even a tradition, concerning the first migration of the human race into Italy. It was the universal belief of antiquity that in Italy, as well as elsewhere, the first population had sprung from the soil. We leave it to the province of the naturalist to decide the question of the origin of different races, and of the influence of climate in producing their diversities. In a historical point of view it is neither possible, nor is it of any importance, to determine whether the oldest recorded population of a country were autochthones or immigrants. But it is incumbent on the historical inquirer to bring to light the successive strata of population in the country of which he treats, in order to trace, from as remote an epoch as possible, the gradual progress of civilization to more perfect forms, and the suppression of races less capable of, or less advanced in, culture by nations of higher standing.

Italy is singularly poor in memorials of the primitive period, and presents in this respect a remarkable contrast to other fields of civilization. The results of Germanic antiquarian research lead to the conclusion that in England, France, the North of Germany and Scandinavia, before the settlement of the Indo-Germans in those lands, there must have dwelt, or rather roamed, a people, perhaps of Mongolian race, gaining their subsistence by hunting and fishing, making their implements of stone, clay, or bones, adorning themselves with the teeth of animals and with amber, but unacquainted with agriculture and the use of the metals. In India, in like manner, the Indo-Germanic settlers were preceded by a dark-coloured population less susceptible of culture. But in Italy we neither meet with fragments of a supplanted nation, such as the Finns and Lapps in the Celto-Germanic domain and the black tribes in the Indian mountains; nor have any remains of an extinct primitive people been hitherto pointed out there, such as appear to be revealed in the peculiarly-formed skeletons, the places of assembling, and the burial mounds of what is called the stone-period of Germanic antiquity. Nothing has hitherto been brought to light to warrant the supposition that mankind existed in Italy at a period anterior to the knowledge of agriculture and of the smelting of the metals; and if the human race ever within the bounds of Italy really occupied the level of that primitive stage of culture which we are accustomed to call the savage state, every trace of such a fact has disappeared.

Individual tribes, or in other words, races or stocks, are the constituent elements of the earliest history. Among the stocks which in later times we meet with in Italy, the immigration of some, of the Hellenes for instance, and the denationalization of others, such as the Bruttians and the inhabitants of the Sabine territory, are historically attested. Setting aside both these classes, there remain a number of stocks whose wanderings can no longer be traced by means of historical testimony, but only by à priori inference, and whose nationality cannot be shown to have undergone any radical change from external causes. To establish the national individuality of these is the first aim of our inquiry. In such an inquiry had we nothing to fall back upon but the chaotic mass of names of tribes and the confusion of what professes to be historical tradition, the task might well be abandoned as hopeless. The conventionally- received tradition, which assumes the name of history, is composed of a few serviceable notices by civilized travellers and a mass of mostly worthless legends, which frequently have been combined with little discrimination of the true character either of legend or of history. But there is another source of tradition to which we may resort, and which yields information fragmentary but authentic; we mean the indigenous languages of the stocks settled in Italy from, time immemorial. These languages, which have grown with the growth of the peoples themselves, have had the stamp of their process of growth impressed upon them too deeply to be wholly effaced by subsequent civilization. One only of the Italian languages is known to us completely; but the remains which have been preserved of several of the others are sufficient to afford a basis for historical inquiry regarding the existence, and the degrees, of family relationship among the several languages and peoples.

In this way philological research teaches us to distinguish three primitive Italian stocks, the Iapygian, the Etruscan, and that which we shall call the Italian. The last is divided into two main branches,—the Latin branch, and that to which the dialects of the Umbri, Marsi, Volsci, and Samnites belong.

Iapygians. As to the Iapygian stock, we have but little information. At the south-eastern extremity of Italy, in the Messapian or Calabrian peninsula, inscriptions in a peculiar extinct language[1] have been found in considerable numbers; undoubtedly remains of the dialect of the Iapygians, who are very distinctly pronounced by tradition also to have been different from the Latin and Samnite stocks. Statements deserving of credit and numerous indications lead to the conclusion that the same language and the same stock were indigenous also in Apulia. What we at present know of this people suffices to show clearly that they were distinct from the other Italians, but does not suffice to determine what position should be assigned to them and to their language in the history of the human race. The inscriptions have not yet been, and it is scarcely to be expected that they ever will be, deciphered. The genitive forms, aihi and ihi, corresponding to the Sanscrit asya and the Greek οιο, appear to indicate that the dialect belongs to the Indo-Germanic family. Other indications, such as the use of the aspirated consonants and the avoiding of the letters m and t as terminal sounds, show that this Iapygian dialect was essentially different from the Italian, and corresponded in some respects to the Greek dialects. The supposition of an especially close affinity between the Iapygian nation and the Hellenes finds further support in the frequent occurrence of the names of Greek divinities in the inscriptions, and in the surprising facility with which that people became Hellenized, presenting a striking contrast to the shyness in this respect of the other Italian nations. Apulia, which in the time of Timæus (400 u.c. [350 b.c.]), was still described as a barbarous land, had in the sixth century of the city become a province thoroughly Greek, while no direct colonization from Greece had taken place; and even among the ruder stock of the Messapii there are various indications of a similar tendency. With the recognition of such a general family relationship or innate[errata 1] affinity between the Iapygians and Hellenes (a recognition, however, which by no means goes so far as to warrant our taking the Iapygian language to be a rude dialect of Greek), investigation must rest content, at least in the mean time, until some more definite and better assured result be attainable.[2] The lack of information, however, is not much felt; for this race, already on the decline at the period when our history begins, comes before us only when it is giving way and disappearing. The character of the Iapygian people, little capable of resistance, easily merging into other nationalities, agrees well with the hypothesis, to which their geographical position adds probability, that they were the oldest immigrants, or the historical autochthones of Italy. There can be no doubt that all the primitive migrations of nations took place by land, especially such as were directed towards Italy, the coast of which was accessible by sea only to skilful sailors, and, on that account, was still in Homer's time wholly unknown to the Hellenes. But if the earlier settlers came over the Apennines, then, as the geologist infers the origin of mountains from their stratification, the historical inquirer may hazard the conjecture that the stocks pushed furthest towards the south were the oldest inhabitants of Italy; and it is just at its extreme south-eastern verge that we meet with the Iapygian nation.

Italians. The middle of the peninsula was inhabited, as far back as reliable tradition reaches, by two peoples, or rather two branches of the same people, whose position in the Indo-Germanic family admits of being determined with greater precision than that of the Iapygian nation. We may with propriety call this people the Italian, since upon it rests the historical significance of the peninsula. It is divided into the two branch-stocks of the Latins and the Umbrians, including under the latter their southern[errata 2] offshoots, the Marsians and Samnites, and the colonies sent forth by the Samuites even in historical times. The philological analysis of the idioms of these stocks has shown that they together form a link in the Indo-Germanic chain of languages, and that the epoch in which they still formed an unity is a comparatively late one. In their system of sounds there appears the peculiar spirant f, in the use of which they agree with the Etruscans, but decidedly differ from all Hellenic or Helleno-barbaric races, as well as from the Sanscrit itself. The aspirates, again, which are retained by the Greeks throughout, and the harsher of them also by the Etruscans, were originally foreign to the Italians, and are represented among them by one of their elements—either by the media, or by the breathing alone f or h. The finer spirants, s, w, j, which the Greeks dispense with as much as possible, have been retained in the Italian languages almost unimpaired, and have been in some instances still further developed. The throwing back of the accent and the consequent destruction of terminations are common to the Italians with some Greek stocks, and with the Etruscans; but among the Italians this was done to a greater extent than among the former, and to a lesser extent than among the latter. The excessive disorder of the terminations in the Umbrian certainly had no foundation in the original spirit of the language, but was a corruption of later date, which showed itself in a similar although weaker tendency also in Rome. Accordingly, in the Italian languages, short vowels are regularly dropped in the final sound; long ones, frequently: the concluding consonants, on the other hand, have been tenaciously retained in the Latin, and still more so in the Samnite; while the Umbrian drops even these. Connected with this is the fact that the middle voice has left but slight traces in the Italian languages, and a peculiar passive formed by the addition of r takes its place; and further that the majority of the tenses are formed by composition with the roots es and fu, while the richer terminational system of the Greeks along with the augment enables them for the most part to dispense with auxiliary verbs. While the Italian languages, like the Acolic dialect, gave up the dual, they retained universally the ablative which the Greeks lost, and for the most part also the locative. The rigorous logic of the Italians appears to have taken offence at the splitting of the idea of plurality into those of duality and multitude; while they have continued with much precision to express the relations of words by inflections. A feature peculiarly Italian, and unknown even to the Sanscrit, is the mode of imparting a substantive character to the verb by gerunds and supines,—a process carried out more completely here than in any other language.

Relation of the Italians to the Greeks. These examples, selected from a great abundance of analogous phenomena, suffice to establish the individuality of the Italian stock as distinguished from the other members of the Indo-Germanic family, and at the same time show it to be linguistically the nearest relative, as it is geographically the next neighbour, of the Greek. The Greek and the Italian are brothers; the Celt, the German, and the Slavonian are their cousins. The essential unity of all the Italian, as of all the Greek dialects and stocks, must have dawned early and clearly on the consciousness of the two great nations themselves; for we find in the Roman language a very ancient word of enigmatical origin, Graius or Graicus, which is applied to every Greek, and in like manner amongst the Greeks the analogous appellation Ὀπικός, which is applied to all the Latin and Samnite stocks known to the Greeks in earlier times, but never to the Iapygians or Etruscans.

Relation of the Latins to the Umbro-Samnites. Among the languages of the Italian stock, again, the Latin stands in marked contrast with the Umbro-Samnite dialects. It is true that of these only two, the Umbrian and the Samnite or Oscan, are in some degree known to us, and these even in a manner extremely defective and uncertain. Of the others, some, such as the Marsian and the Volscian, have reached us in fragments too scanty to enable us to form any conception of their individual peculiarities, or to classify the varieties of dialect themselves with certainty and precision, while some, like the Sabine, have, with the exception of a few traces preserved as dialectic peculiarities in provincial Latin, completely disappeared. A conjoint view, however, of the facts of language and of history leaves no doubt that all these dialects belonged to the Umbro-Samnite branch of the great Italian stock, and that this branch, although much more closely related to Latin than to Greek, was very decidedly distinct from the Latin. In the pronoun, and frequently elsewhere, the Samnite and Umbrian used p where the Roman used q, as pis for quis; just as languages otherwise closely related are found to differ; for instance, p is peculiar to the Celtic in Brittany and Wales, k to the Gaelic and Erse. Among the vowel sounds the diphthongs in Latin, and the northern dialects in general, appear very much destroyed; on the other hand, in the southern Italian dialects they have suffered little; and connected with this is the fact that in composition the Roman weakens the. radical vowel, otherwise so strictly preserved,—a modification which does not take place in the kindred group of languages. The genitive of words in a is in this group as among the Greeks as, among the Romans, in the language when fully formed æ; that of words in us is in the Samnite eis, in the Umbrian es, among the Romans ei; the locative disappeared more and more from the language of the latter, while it continued in full use in the other Italian dialects; the dative plural in bus is retained only in Latin. The Umbro-Samnite infinitive in um is foreign to the Romans; while the Osco-Umbrian future formed from the root es, after the Greek fashion (her-est, like λέγ-σω), has almost, perhaps altogether, disappeared in Latin, and its place is supplied by the optative of the simple verb, or by analogous formations from fuo (ama-bo). In many of these instances, however—in the forms of the cases, for example—the differences only exist in the two languages when fully formed, while in their infancy they coincide. It thus appears that, while the Italian language holds an independent position by the side of the Greek, the Latin dialect within it bears a relation to the Umbro-Samnite somewhat similar to that between the Ionic and the Doric; and the differences of the Oscan and Umbrian, and kindred dialects, may be compared with the differences between the Dorism of Sicily and the Dorism of Sparta.

Each of these linguistic phenomena is the result and the attestation of an historical event. With perfect certainty they guide us to the conclusion that from the common cradle of peoples and languages there issued a stock which embraced in common the ancestors of the Greeks and the Italians; that from this, at a subsequent period, the Italians branched off, and these again divided into the western and eastern stocks, while at a still later date the eastern became subdivided into Umbrians and Oscans.

When and where these separations took place language of course cannot tell, and scarce dare adventurous thought attempt to grope its conjectural way along. the course of revolutions, the earliest of which undoubtedly took place long before that migration which brought the ancestors of the Italians across the Apennines. On the other hand, the comparison of languages, when conducted with accuracy and caution, may give us an approximate idea of the degree of culture which the people had reached when these separations took place, and so furnish us with the beginnings of history, which is nothing but the development of civilization. For language, especially in the period of its formation, is the true image and organ of the degree of civilization attained; its archives preserve evidence of the great revolutions in arts and in manners, and from its rolls the future will not fail to draw information as to those times regarding which the voice of direct tradition is dumb.

Indo-Germanic culture. During the period when the Indo-Germanic nations that are now separated still formed one stock speaking the same language, they had attained a certain stage of culture, and they had a vocabulary corresponding to it. This vocabulary the several nations carried along with them, in its conventionally established use, as a common dowry, and a foundation for further structures of their own. In it we find not merely the simplest terms denoting existence, actions, perceptions, such as sum, do, pater, the original echo of the impression which the external world made on the mind of man, but also a number of words indicative of culture (not only as respects their roots, but in a form stamped upon them by custom) which are the common property of the Indo-Germanic family, and which cannot be explained either on the principle of an uniform development in the several languages, or on the supposition of their having subsequently borrowed one from another. In this way we possess evidence of the development of pastoral life at that remote epoch in the unalterably fixed names of domestic animals; the Sanscrit gâus is the Latin bos, the Greek βοῦς; avis is the Latin ovis, Greek ὄϊς; Sanscrit açvas, Latin equus, Greek ἵππος; Sanscrit hansas, Latin anser, Greek χήν; Sanscrit atis, Latin anas, Greek νῆσσα; in like manner pecus, sus, porcus, taurus, canis, are Sanscrit words. Even in that remote period accordingly the stock, on which from the days of Homer down to our own time the intellectual development of mankind has been dependent, had already advanced beyond the lowest stage of civilization, the hunting and fishing epoch, and had attained at least comparative fixity of abode. On the other hand, we have as yet no certain proofs of the existence of agriculture at that period. Language rather favours the negative view. Of the Latin-Greek names of grain none occurs in Sanscrit with the single exception of ζεά, which philologically represents the Sanscrit yavas, but denotes in Indian barley, in Greek spelt. It must indeed be granted that this diversity in the names of cultivated plants, which so strongly contrasts with the essential agreement in the appellations of domestic animals, does not absolutely preclude the supposition of a common original agriculture. In the circumstances of primitive times transport and acclimatizing are more difficult in the case of plants than of animals; and the cultivation of rice among the Indians, that of wheat and spelt among the Greeks and Romans, and that of rye and oats among the Germans and Celts, may all be referable to a common system of primitive tillage. On the other hand, the name of one cereal, common to the Greeks and Indians, only proves, at the most, that before the separation of the stocks they gathered and ate the grains of barley and spelt growing wild in Mesopotamia,[3] not that they already cultivated grain. While, however, we reach no decisive result in this way, a further light is thrown on the subject by our observing that a number of the most important words bearing on this province of culture are to be found indeed in Sanscrit, but as a rule in a more general signification. Agras with the Indians means a level surface in general; kûrnu, anything pounded; aritram, oar and ship; venas, that which is pleasant in general, particularly a pleasant drink. The words are thus very ancient; but their more definite reference to the field (ager), to the grain to be ground (granum), to the implement which furrows the soil as the ship furrows the surface of the sea (aratrum), to the juice of the grape (vinum), had not yet taken place when the earliest division of the stocks occurred, and it is not to be wondered at that their subsequent applications came to be in some instances very different, and that, for example, the corn intended to be ground, as well as the mill for grinding it (Gothic quairnus, Lithuanian girnôs[4]), received their names from the Sanscrit kûrnu. We may accordingly assume it as probable, that the primeval Indo-Germanic people were not yet acquainted with agriculture, and as certain, that if they were so, it played only a subordinate part in their economy; for had it at that time held the place which it afterwards held among the Greeks and Romans, it would have left a deeper impression upon the language.

On the other hand, the building of houses and huts by the Indo-Germans is attested by the Sanscrit dam (as), Latin domus, Greek δόμος; Sanscrit veças, Latin vicus, Greek οἶκος; Sanscrit dvaras, Latin fores, Greek θύρα; further, the building of boats by the names of the boat,—Sanscrit nâus, Latin navis, Greek ναῦς, and of the oar,—Sanscrit aritram, Greek ἐρετμός, Latin remus, tri-res-mus; and the use of waggons and the breaking in of animals for draught and transport by the Sanscrit akshas (axle and cart), Latin axis, Greek ἄξων, ἅμ-αξα; Sanscrit jugam, Latin jugum, Greek ζυγόν. The words signifying clothing,—Sanscrit vastra, Latin vestis, Greek ἐσθής; and sewing,—Sanscrit siv, Latin suo; Sanscrit nah, Latin neo, Greek νήθω, are alike in all Indo-Germanic languages. This cannot, however, be equally affirmed of the higher art of weaving.[5] The knowledge of the use of fire in preparing food, and of salt for seasoning it, is a primeval heritage of the Indo-Germanic nations; and the same may be affirmed regarding the knowledge of the earliest metals employed as implements or ornaments by man. At least the names of copper (aes) and silver (argentum), perhaps also of gold, are met with in Sanscrit, and these names can scarcely have originated before man had learned to separate and to make use of the ores; the Sanscrit asis, Latin ensis, points, in fact, to the primeval use of metallic weapons.

No less do we find extending back into those times the fundamental ideas on which the development of all Indo-Germanic states ultimately rests; the relative positions of husband and wife, the arrangement in clans, the priesthood of the father of the household, the absence of a special sacerdotal class as well as of all distinctions of caste in general, slavery as a legalized institution, days for publicly dispensing justice at the new and full moon. On the other hand, the positive organization of the body politic, the decision of the questions between regal sovereignty and the sovereignty of the community, between hereditary privilege in royal and noble houses and the unconditional legal equality of the citizens, belong altogether to a later age.

Even the elements of science and religion show traces of a community of origin. The numbers are the same up to one hundred (Sanscrit çatam, êkaçatam, Latin centum, Greek ἑ-κατόν, Gothic hund); and the moon receives her name in all languages from the fact that men measure time by her (mensis). The idea of Deity itself (Sanscrit dêvas, Latin deus, Greek θεός), and many of the oldest conceptions of religion and of natural symbolism, belong to the common inheritance of the nations. The conception, for example, of heaven as the father and of earth as the mother of being, the festal processions of the gods, who proceed from place to place in their own chariots along carefully levelled paths, the shadowy continuation of the soul's existence after death, are fundamental ideas of the Indian as well as of the Greek and Roman mythologies. Several of the gods of the Ganges coincide even in name with those worshipped on the Ilissus and the Tiber:—thus the Uranus of the Greeks is the Varunas; their Zeus, Jovis pater, Diespiter is the Djâus pitâ of the Vedas. An unexpected light has been thrown or many an enigmatical form in the Hellenic mythology by recent researches regarding the earlier divinities of India. The hoary mysterious forms of the Erinnyes are no Hellenic invention; they were immigrants along with the oldest settlers from the East. The divine greyhound, Saramâ, who guards for the Lord of heaven the golden herd of stars and sunbeams, and for him collects the nourishing rainclouds as the cows of heaven to the milking, and who moreover faithfully conducts the pious dead into the world of the blessed, becomes in the hands of the Greeks the son of Saramâ, Saramêyas, or Hermeias; and the enigmatical Hellenic story of the stealing of the cattle of Helios, which is beyond doubt connected with the Roman legend about Cacus, is now seen to be a last echo (with the meaning no longer understood) of that old fanciful and significant conception of nature.

Græco-Italian culture. The task, however, of determining the degree of culture which the Indo-Germans had attained before the separation of the stocks, belongs rather to the general history of the ancient world. It is on the other hand the special task of Italian history to ascertain, so far as it is possible, what was the state of the Græco-Italian nation when the Hellenes and the Italians parted. Nor is this a superfluous labour; we reach by means of it the stage at which Italian civilization commenced, the starting-point of the national history.

Agriculture. While it is probable that the Indo-Germans led a pastoral life, and were acquainted with the cereals, if at all, only in their wild state, all indications point to the conclusion that the Græco-Italians were a grain-cultivating, perhaps even a vine-cultivating, people. The evidence of this is not simply the knowledge of agriculture itself common to both, for that does not upon the whole warrant the inference of community of origin in the peoples who may exhibit it. An historical connection between the Indo-Germanic agriculture and that of the Chinese, Aramæan, and Egyptian stocks can hardly be disputed; and yet these stocks are either alien to the Indo-Germans, or at any rate became separated from them at a time when agriculture was certainly still unknown. The truth is, that the more advanced races in ancient times were, as at the present day, constantly exchanging the implements and the plants employed in cultivation; and when the annals of China refer the origin of Chinese agriculture to the introduction of five species of grain that took place under a particular king in a particular year, the story undoubtedly depicts correctly, at least in a general way, the relations subsisting in the earliest epochs of civilization. A common knowledge of agriculture, like a common knowledge of the alphabet, of war chariots, of purple, and other implements and ornaments, far more frequently warrants the inference of an ancient intercourse between nations than of their original unity. But as regards the Greeks and Italians, whose mutual relations are comparatively well known, the hypothesis that agriculture as well as writing and coinage first came to Italy by means of the Hellenes, may be characterized as wholly inadmissible. On the other hand, the existence of a most intimate connection between the agriculture of the one country and that of the other, is attested by their possessing in common all the oldest expressions relating to it; ager, ἀγρός; aro aratrum, ἀγόω ἄροτρον; ligo alongside of λαχαίνω; hortus, χόρτος; hordeum, κριθή; milium, μελίνη; rapa, ῥαφανίς; malva, μαλάχη; vinum, οἶνος. It is likewise attested by the agreement of Greek and Italian agriculture in the form of the plough, which appears of the same shape on the old Attic and the old Roman monuments; in the choice of the most ancient kinds of gram, millet, barley, spelt; in the custom of cutting the ears with the sickle, and having them trodden out by cattle on the smooth-beaten threshing-floor; lastly, in the mode of preparing the grain; puls, πόλτος; pinso, πτίσσω; mola, μύλη; for baking was of more recent origin, and on that account dough or pap was always used in the Roman ritual instead of bread. That the culture of the vine too in Italy was anterior to the earliest Greek immigration is shown by the appellation "Wine-land" (Οἰνωτρία), which appears to be as old as the earliest Greek settlements. It would thus appear that the transition from pastoral life to agriculture, or, to speak more correctly, the combination of agriculture with the earlier pastoral economy, must have taken place after the Indians had departed from the common cradle of the nations, but before the Hellenes and Italians dissolved their ancient communion. Moreover, at the time when agriculture originated, the Hellenes and Italians appear to have been united, as one national whole, not merely with each other, but with other members of the great family; at least, it is a fact, that the most important of those terms of cultivation, while they are foreign to the Asiatic members of the Indo-Germanic family, are used by the Romans and Greeks in common with the Celtic as well as the Germanic, Slavonic, and Lithuanian stocks.[6]

The distinction between the common inheritance of the nations and their own subsequent acquisitions, in manners and in language, is still far from having been wrought out in all the variety of its details and gradations. The investigation of languages, with this view, has scarcely begun, and history still derives in the main its representation of primitive times, not from the rich mine of language, but from what must be called for the most part the rubbish-heap of tradition. For the present, therefore, it must suffice to indicate the differences between the culture of the Indo-Germanic family in its earliest entireness, and the culture of that epoch when the Græco-Italians still lived together. The task of discriminating the results of culture which are common to the European members of this family, but foreign to its Asiatic members, from those which the several European groups, such as the Græco-Italian and the Germano-Slavonic, have wrought out for themselves, can only be accomplished, if at all, after greater progress has been made in philological and historical inquiries. But there can be no doubt that, with the Græco-Italians as with all other nations, agriculture became and in the mind of the people remained the germ and core of their national and of their private life. The house and the fixed hearth, which the husbandman rears instead of the light hut and shifting fireplace of the shepherd, are represented in the spiritual domain, and idealized in the goddess Vesta or Ἑστία, almost the only divinity not Indo-Germanic yet from the first common to both nations. One of the oldest legends of the Italian race ascribes to King Italus, or, as the Italians must have pronounced the word, Vitalus or Vitulus, the introduction of the change from a pastoral to an agricultural life, and shrewdly connects with it the original Italian legislation. We have another version of the same belief in the legend of the Samnite race which makes the ox the leader of their primitive colonies, and in the oldest Latin national names which designate the people as reapers (Siculi perhaps also Sicani), or as field-labourers (Opsci). It is part of the inconsistent character which attaches to the so-called legend of the origin of Rome, that it represents a pastoral and hunting people as founding a city.. Legend and faith, laws and manners, among the Italians as among the Hellenes, are associated throughout with agriculture.[7]

Cultivation of the soil cannot be conceived without some measurement of it, however rude. Accordingly, the measures of surface and the mode of setting off boundaries rest, like agriculture itself, on a like basis among both peoples. The Oscan and Umbrian vorsus of one hundredsquare feet corresponds exactly with the Greek plethron. The principle of marking off boundaries was also the same. The land-measurer rectified his position with reference to one of the cardinal points, and proceeded to draw in the first place two lines, one from north to south, and another from east to west, his station being at their point of intersection (templum, τέμενος from τέμνω); then he drew at certain fixed distances lines parallel to these, and by this process produced a series of rectangular pieces of ground, the corners of which were marked by boundary posts (termini, in Sicilian inscriptions τέρμονες, usually ὅροι). This mode of defining boundaries, which is indeed also Etruscan but is hardly of Etruscan origin, we find among the Romans, Umbrians, Samnites, and also in very ancient records of the Tarentine Heracleots, who are as little likely to have borrowed it from the Italians as the Italians from the Tarentines: it is an ancient possession common to all. A peculiar characteristic of the Romans, on the other hand, was their rigid carrying out of the principle of the square; even where the sea or a river formed a natural boundary, they did not accept it, but wound up their allocation of the land with the last complete square.

Their economy in other features. It is not solely in agriculture, however, that the especially close relationship of the Greeks and Italians appears; it is unmistakeably manifest also in the other provinces of man's earliest activity. The Greek house, as described by Homer, differs little from the model which was always adhered to in Italy. The essential portion, which originally formed the whole interior accommodation of the Latin house, was the atrium, that is, the "blackened" chamber, with the household altar, the marriage bed, the table for meals, and the hearth; and precisely similar is the Homeric megaron, with its household altar and hearth and smoke-begrimed roof. We cannot say the same of ship-building. The boat with oars was an old common possession of the Indo-Germans; but the advance to the use of sailing vessels can scarcely be considered to have taken place during the Græco-Italian period, for we find no nautical terms originally common to the Greeks and Italians, except such as are also general among the Indo-Germanic family. On the other hand, the primitive Italian custom of the husbandmen having common midday meals, the origin of which the myth connects with the introduction of agriculture, is compared by Aristotle with the Cretan Syssitia; and the ancient Romans further agreed with the Cretans and Laconians in taking their meals not, as was afterwards the custom among both peoples, in a reclining, but in a sitting posture. The method of kindling tire by the friction of two pieces of wood of different kinds is common to all peoples; but it is certainly no mere accident that the Greeks and Italians agree in the appellations they give to the two portions of the touch-wood, the "rubber" (τρύπανον, terebra), and the "under-layer" (στόρευς, ἐσχάρα, tabula, probably from tendere, τέταμαι). In like manner the dress of the two peoples is essentially identical, for the tunica quite corresponds with the chiton, and the toga is nothing but a fuller himation. Even as regards weapons of war, liable as they are to frequent change, the two peoples have this much at least in common, that their two principal weapons of attack were the javelin and the bow,—a fact which is clearly expressed, as far as Rome is concerned, in the earliest names for warriors (quirites, samnites, pilumni—arquites),[8] and is in keeping with the oldest mode of lighting which was not really adapted for a close struggle. Thus, in the language and manners of Greeks and Italians, all that relates to the material foundations of human life may be traced back to the same primary elements; the oldest problems which the world proposes to man had been jointly solved by the two peoples at a time when they still formed one nation.

Difference of the Italian and the Greek character. It is otherwise in the spiritual domain. The great problem of man, how to live in conscious harmony with himself, with his neighbour, and with the whole to which he belongs, admits of as many solutions as there are provinces in our Father's kingdom; and it is in this, and not in the material sphere, that individuals and nations display their divergences of character. The exciting causes which gave rise to this intrinsic contrast must have been in the Græco-Italian period as yet wanting; it was not until the Hellenes and Italians separated that that deep-seated diversity of mental character became manifest, the effects of which continue to the present day. The family and the state, religion and art, received in Italy and in Greece respectively a development so peculiar and so thoroughly national, that the common basis, on which in these respects also the two peoples rested, has been so overgrown as to be almost concealed from our view. That Hellenic character, which sacrificed the whole to its individual elements, the nation to the single state, and the single state to the citizen; whose ideal of life was the beautiful and the good, and, only too often, the pleasure of idleness; whose political development consisted in intensifying the original individualism of the several cantons, and subsequently led to the internal dissolution of the authority of the state; whose view of religion first invested its gods with human attributes, and then denied their existence; which gave full play to the limbs in the sports of the naked youth, and gave free scope to thought in all its grandeur and in all its awefulness;—and that Roman character, which solemnly bound the son to reverence the father, the citizen to reverence the ruler, and all to reverence the gods; which required nothing, and honoured nothing, but the useful act, and compelled every citizen to fill up every moment of his brief life with unceasing work; which made it a duty even in the boy modestly to cover the body; which deemed every one a bad citizen who wished to be different from his fellows; which viewed the state as all in all, and a desire for the state's extension as the only aspiration not liable to censure,—who can in thought trace back these sharply-marked contrasts to that original unity which embraced them both, prepared the way for their development, and at length produced them? It would be foolish presumption to desire to lift this veil; we shall only endeavour to indicate in brief outline the beginnings of Italian nationality and its connections with an earlier period; to direct the guessings of the discerning reader rather than to express them.

The family and the state. All that may be called the patriarchal element in the state rests in Greece and Italy on the same foundations. Under this head comes especially that moral and honourable constitution of the relations of the sexes,[9] which enjoined monogamy on the husband, and visited with heavy penalties the infidelity of the wife, and which recognized the equality of the two sexes and the sanctity of marriage in the high position which it assigned to the mother within the domestic circle. On the other hand, the rigorous development of the marital, and still more of the paternal authority, regardless of the natural rights of persons as such, was a feature foreign to the Greeks, and peculiarly Italian; it was in Italy alone that moral subjection became transformed into legal slavery. In the same way the principle of the slave being completely destitute of legal rights a principle involved in the very nature of slavery—was maintained by the Romans with merciless rigour, and carried out to all its consequences; whereas, among the Greeks, alleviations of its harshness were early introduced, both in practice and in legislation, the marriage of slaves, for example, being recognized as a legal relation.

On the household was based the clan, that is, the community of the descendants of the same progenitor; and out of the clan, among the Greeks as well as the Italians, arose the state. But while under the weaker political development of Greece the clan maintained itself as a corporate power, in contradistinction to that of the state, far even into historical times, the state in Italy made its appearance at once in complete efficiency, inasmuch as, in presence of its authority, the clans were neutralized, and it exhibited a community, not of clans, but of citizens. Conversely, again, the individual attained, relatively to the clan, an inward independence and freedom of personal development far earlier and more completely in Greece than in Rome—a fact reflected with great clearness in the Greek and Roman proper names, which, originally similar, came to assume very different forms. In the more ancient Greek names, the name of the clan was very frequently added in an adjective form to that of the individual; while, conversely, Roman scholars were aware that their ancestors bore originally only one name, the later prænomen. But while in Greece the adjective name of the clan early disappeared, it became, among the Italians generally and not merely among the Romans, the principal name; and the distinctive individual name, the prænomen, became subordinate. It seems as if the small and ever diminishing number and the meaningless character of the Italian, and particularly of the Roman, individual names, compared with the luxuriant and poetical fulness of those of the Greeks, were intended to illustrate the truth that it was characteristic of the one nation to reduce all features of distinctive personality to an uniform level, of the other freely to promote their development.

The association in communities of families under patriarchal chiefs, which we may conceive to have prevailed in the Græco-Italian period, may appear different enough from the later forms of Italian and Hellenic polities; yet it must have already contained the germs out of which the future laws of both nations were moulded. The "laws of King Italus," which were still applied in the time of Aristotle, may denote such institutions essentially common to both. These laws must have provided for the maintenance of peace and the execution of justice within the community, for military organization and martial law in reference to its external relations, for its government by a patriarchal chief, for a council of elders, for assemblies of the freemen capable of bearing arms, and for some sort of constitution. Judicial procedure (crimen, κρίνειν), expiation (pœna, ποίνη), retaliation (talio, ταλάω τλῆναι), are Græco-Italian ideas. The stern law of debt, by which the debtor was directly responsible with his person for the repayment of what he had received, is common to the Italians, for example, with the Tarentine Heracleots. The fundamental ideas of the Roman constitution—a king, a senate, and an assembly entitled simply to ratify or to reject the proposals which the king and senate should, submit to it—are scarcely anywhere expressed so distinctly as in Aristotle's account of the earlier constitution of Crete. The germs of larger state-confederacies in the political fraternizing or even amalgamation of several previously independent stocks (symmachy, synoikismos) are in like manner common to both nations. The more stress is to be laid on this fact of the common foundations of Hellenic and Italian polity, that it is not found to extend to the other Indo-Germanic stocks; the organization of the Germanic communities, for example, by no means starts, like that of the Greeks and Romans, from elective monarchy. But how different the polities were that were constructed on this common basis in Italy and Greece, and how completely the whole course of their political development belongs to each as its distinctive property,[10] it will be the business of the sequel to show.

Religion. It is the same in religion. In Italy, as in Hellas, there lies indeed at the foundation of the popular faith the same common treasure of symbolic and allegorical views of nature: on this rests that general analogy between the Roman and the Greek world of gods and of spirits, which was to become of so much importance in later stages of development. In many of their particular conceptions also,—in the already mentioned forms of Zeus-Diovis and Hestia-Vesta, in the idea of the holy space (τέμενος, templum), in many offerings and ceremonies—the two modes of worship do not by mere accident coincide. Yet in Hellas, as in Italy, they assumed a shape so thoroughly national and peculiar, that but little of the ancient common inheritance was preserved in a recognizable form, and that little was for the most part misunderstood, or not understood at all. It could not be otherwise; for, as in the character of the two nations the great contrasts, which during the Græco-Italian period had lain side by side undeveloped, were after their division distinctly evolved, so also in their religion a separation took place between the idea and the image, which had hitherto been one whole in the soul. Those old tillers of the ground, when the clouds were driving along the sky, probably expressed to themselves the phenomenon by saying that the hound of the gods was driving together the startled cows of the herd. The Greek forgot that the cows were really the clouds, and converted the son of the hound of. the gods—a form devised merely for the particular purposes of that conception—into the adroit messenger of the gods, ready for every service. When the thunder rolled among the mountains, he saw Zeus brandishing his bolts on Olympus; when the blue sky again smiled upon him, he gazed into the bright eye of Athenæa, the daughter of Zeus; but so powerful over him was the influence of the forms which he had thus created, that he soon saw nothing in them but human beings invested and illumined with the splendour of nature's power, and freely formed and transformed them according to the laws of beauty. It was in another fashion, but not less strongly, that the deeply implanted religious feeling of the Italian race manifested itself; it held firmly by the idea, and did not suffer the form to obscure it. As the Greek, when he sacrificed, raised his eyes to heaven, so the Roman veiled his head; for the prayer of the former was vision, that of the latter reflection. Throughout the whole of nature he adored the spiritual and the universal. To everything existing, to man and to the tree, to the state and to the storeroom, a spirit was assigned, which came into being with it, and perished along with it, the counterpart in the spiritual domain of the physical phenomenon; to the man the male Genius, to the woman the female Juno, to the boundary Terminus, to the forest Silvanus, to the circling year Vertumnus, and so on to every object after its kind. In occupations even the steps of the process were spiritualized: thus, for example, in the prayers for the husbandman there was invoked the spirit of fallowing, of ploughing, of furrowing, sowing, covering-in, harrowing, and so on to those of in-bringing, up-storing, and opening of the granaries. In like manner, marriage, birth, and every other physical event, embraced in the abstraction, the higher rose the god, and the reverence paid by man. Thus Jupiter and Juno are the abstractions of manhood and womanhood; Dea Dia, or Ceres, the creative power; Minerva, the power of memory; Dea Bona, or among the Samnites Dea Cupra, the good Divinity. While to the Greek everything assumed a concrete and corporeal shape, the Roman could only make use of abstract, completely transparent formulæ; and while the Greek for the most part threw aside the old legendary treasures of primitive times, because they embodied the idea in too transparent a form, the Roman could still less abide by them, because holy thoughts seemed to him dimmed even by the lightest veil of allegory. Not a trace has been preserved among the Romans even of the oldest and most generally diffused myths, such as that current among the Indians, the Greeks, and even the Semites, regarding a great flood and its survivor, the common ancestor of the present human race. Their gods could not marry and beget children, like those of the Hellenes; they did not wander unseen among mortals; and they needed no nectar. But that they, nevertheless, in their spirituality—which only appears to be tame to dull apprehension—had a powerful hold on men's minds, a hold more powerful perhaps than the gods of Hellas created after the image of man, would be attested, even if history were silent on the subject, by the Roman designation of faith (the word and the idea alike foreign to the Hellenes), Religio, that is to say, "binding." As India and Iran developed from one and the same inherited store, the former, the richly varied forms of its sacred epics, the latter, the abstractions of the Zend-Avesta; so in the Greek mythology the person is predominant, in the Roman the idea; in the former freedom, in the latter necessity.

Art. Lastly, what holds good of real life is true also of its counterfeit in jest and play, which everywhere, and especially in the earliest period of full and simple existence, do not exclude the serious, but veil it. The simplest elements of art are in Latium and Hellas quite the same; the decorous armeddance, the "leap" (triumpus, θρίαμβος, διθύραμβος); the masquerade of the "full people" (σάτυροι, satura), who, enveloped in sheep and goat skins, wound up the festival with their jokes; lastly, the pipe, which with suitable strains accompanied and regulated the solemn as well as the merry dance. Nowhere, perhaps, does the eminently close relationship of the Hellenes and Italians come to light so clearly as here; and yet in no other direction did the two nations manifest greater divergence as they became developed. The training of youth remained in Latium strictly confined to the narrow limits of a domestic education; in Greece, the yearning after a varied yet harmonious training of mind and body created the sciences of Gymnastics and Paideia, which were fostered by the nation and by individuals as their highest good. Latium, in the poverty of its artistic development, stands almost on a level with uncivilized peoples. Hellas developed with incredible rapidity, out of its religious conceptions, the myth and the worshipped idol, and out of these that marvellous world of poetry and sculpture, the like of which history has not again to show. In Latium no other influences were powerful in public and private life but prudence, riches, and strength; it was reserved for the Hellenes to feel the blissful ascendancy of beauty, to minister to the fair boy-friend with an enthusiasm half sensuous, half ideal, and to reanimate their lost courage with the warsongs of the divine singer.

Thus the two nations, in which the civilization of antiquity culminated, stand side by side as different in development as they were in origin identical. The points in which the Hellenes excel the Italians are more universally intelligible, and reflect a more brilliant lustre; but the deep feeling in each individual that he was only a part of the community, a rare devotedness and power of self-sacrifice for the common weal, an earnest faith in its own gods, formed the rich treasure of the Italian nation. Both nations received a one-sided, and therefore each a complete, development; it is only a pitiful narrow-mindedness that will object to the Athenian, that he did not know how to mould his state like the Fabii and the Valerii; or to the Roman, that he did not learn to carve like Phidias and to write like Aristophanes. It was in fact the most peculiar and the best feature in the character of the Greek people, which rendered it impossible for them to advance from national to political unity without at the same time exchanging their polity for despotism. The ideal world of beauty was all in all to the Greeks, and compensated them to some extent for what they wanted in reality. Wherever in Hellas a tendency towards national union appeared, it was based, not on influences directly political, but on games and art: the contests at Olympia, the poems of Homer, the tragedies of Euripides, were the only bonds that held Hellas together. Resolutely, on the other hand, the Italian surrendered his own personal will for the sake of freedom, and learned to obey his father that he might know how to obey the state. In such subjection as this individual development might be marred, and the germs of fairest promise in man might be arrested in the bud; the Italian gained instead a feeling of fatherland and of patriotism such as the Greek never knew, and alone among all the civilized nations of antiquity, succeeded in working out national unity in connection with a constitution based on self-government—a national unity, which at last placed in his hands the supremacy, not only over the divided Hellenic stock, but over the whole known world.

  1. Some of the epitaphs may give us an idea of its sound; as θeotoras artahiaihi bennarrihino and dazihonas platorrihi bollihi.
  2. The hypothesis has been put forward of an affinity between the Iapygian language and the modern Albanian, based, however, on points of linguistic comparison that are but little satisfactory in any case, and least of all where a fact of such importance is involved. Should that relationship be confirmed, and should the Albanians on the other hand (a race also Indo-Germanic, and homogeneous with the Hellenic and Italian races) be really a remnant of that Hellene-Barbaric nationality, traces of which occur throughout all Greece and especially in the northern provinces, the nation that preceded the Hellenes would be demonstrated as identical with that which preceded the Italians. Still the inference would not immediately follow that the Iapygian immigration to Italy had taken place across the Adriatic Sea.
  3. Barley, wheat, and spelt were found growing together in a wild state on the right bank of the Euphrates, north-west from Anah (Alph. de Candolle, Géographie Botanique Raisonnée, ii. p. 934). The growth of barley and wheat in a will state in Mesopotamia had already been mentioned by the Babylonian historian Berosus (ap. Georg. Syncell. p. 50. Bonn).
  4. [Scotch quern. Mr. Robertson.]
  5. If the Latin vieo, vimen, belong to the same root as our weave (German weben), and kindred words, the word most still, when the Greeks and Italians separated, have had the general meaning "to plait," and it cannot have been until a later period, and probably in different regions independently of each other, that it assumed that of "weaving." Even the cultivation of flax, old as it is, does not reach hack to this period, for the Indians, though well acquainted with the flax-plant, up to the present day use it only for the preparation of linseed-oil. Hemp probably became known to the Italians at a still later period than flax; at least canabis looks quite like a borrowed word of later date.
  6. Thus aro aratrum reappear in the old German aran (to plough, dialectically, eren), erida, in Slavonian orati, oradlo, in Lithuanian arti, arimnas, in Celtic, ar, aradar. Thus alongside of ligo stands our rake (German rechen), of hortus, our garden (German garten), of mola, our mill (German mühle, Slavonic mlyn, Lithuanian malunas, Celtic malin).

    With all these facts before us, we cannot allow that there ever was a time when the Greeks in all Hellenic districts subsisted by purely pastoral husbandry. If it was the possession of cattle, and not that of land, that in Greece, as in Italy, formed the basis and the standard of all private property, the reason of this was, not that agriculture was of later introduction, but that it was at first conducted on the system of joint possession. Of course a purely agricultural economy cannot have existed anywhere before the separation of the stocks; on the contrary, pastoral husbandry was (more or less according to locality) combined with it to an extent relatively greater than was the case in later times.

  7. Nothing is more significant in this respect than the close connection in which the earliest epoch of culture placed agriculture with marriage and the founding of cities. Thus the gods in Italy immediately concerned with marriage are Ceres and (or?) Tellus (Plutarch, Romul. 22; Servius on Æn. iv., 166; Rossbach, Röm. Ehe., 257, 301), in Greece Demeter (Plutarch, Conjug. Præc. init.); in old Greek formulas the begetting of children is called "harvest" (p. 25, note); indeed, the oldest Roman form of marriage, the confarreatio, derives its name and its ceremony from the cultivation of corn. The use of the plough in the founding of cities is well known.
  8. Among the oldest names of weapons on both sides scarcely any can be shown to be certainly related; lancea, although doubtless connected with λόγχη, is, as a Roman word, recent, and perhaps borrowed from the Germans or Spaniards, and the Greek σαυνίον is in a similar position.
  9. Even in details this agreement appears; e. g., in the designation of lawful wedlock as marriage concluded for the getting of lawful children (γάμος ἐπὶ παίδων γνησίων ἀρότῳmatrimonium liberorum qwerendorum causa).
  10. Only we must of course not forget that like pre-existing conditions lead everywhere to like institutions. For instance, nothing is more certain than that the Roman plebeians were a growth originating within the Roman commonwealth, and yet they everywhere find their counterpart where a body of metœci has arisen alongside of a body of burgesses. As a matter of course, chance also plays in such cases its provoking game.


  1. Original: elective was amended to innate: detail
  2. Original: northern was amended to southern: detail