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the larger part were indigenous to the peninsula.

The mineral wealth of Italy was by no means fully developed in the

classical ages. It seems, indeed, to have been the policy of the

government to discourage the exploration and opening of mines. This is

to be accounted for on the theory that before the Romans became

predominant in the peninsula the knowledge of the existence of such

mines would tend to incite invasion, and after the Roman ascendancy was

established the armies of the Republic could take the treasures of other

states more easily than to dig them from the earth.

Grains of gold were found in the beds of some of the streams descending

from the Alps. Silver also existed in a few districts, though not

abundantly. In Etruria were valuable mines of copper; and this metal, as

is well known, was the one chiefly used by the Romans in the coinage of

money. In Noricum and at Ilva were fine mines of iron, but the

production of this metal was greatly retarded by the difficulty of

extracting it from the ore. The other minerals most valued by the Romans

were cinnabar, calamine, and white marble, the latter being produced

from the quarries of Luna of a quality which, for the purpose of

sculpture, was reckoned superior to that of Greece.

Such was the physical character of the Italian peninsula as to forbid

the formation of great rivers. The Padus, or Po, is the only stream of

the first class, according to the European standard. The Arno and the

Tiber, though among the most celebrated in history, are less than many

of the tributaries of the Rhine, the Rhone, and the Danube. The rivers

of Northern Italy, fed as they are with the perpetual snows of the Alps,

maintain throughout the year a comparatively constant volume; but the

streams which descend from the Apennines, though frequently in the

winter season swollen to roaring torrents by the prevalent rains and

snows, sink into their beds in summer, and become mere insignificant

brooks. In this respect the Italian rivers are to be classed with those

of Greece.

The great central basin of Northern Italy is traversed through its whole

extent from west to east by the Padus. This river is about three hundred

and eighty geographical miles in length, though the direct distance from

its source in Mount Vesulus to its mouth on the Adriatic is but two

hundred and thirty miles. The volume of the river, near its confluence

with the sea, is very great; for the stream has, meanwhile, been swollen

by numerous tributaries descending on the north from the Alps, and on

the south from the Apennines. Of these auxiliary streams no fewer than

eighteen are enumerated by Pliny, and to this list modern geography has

added quite a number.

Of the rivers of Northern Italy which do not join their waters with the

Po, the most important is the Adige, the ancient Athesis. Its general

course is parallel with that of the Padus, and its volume, though not at

all comparable with that of the parent stream of the great basin, is by

no means contemptible. To the east of the last named river are found in

succession the Brenta, known in classical geography as the Medoacus; the

Piave, or Plavis; the Tilavemptus, and the Sontius. In that part of

Liguria south of the Apennines are a few small streams, the most

considerable being the Varus, the Rutuba, and the Magra, the latter

constituting the southern boundary of Northern Italy on the west.

All the rivers of Central Italy take their rise either in the main ridge

or lateral branches of the Apennines. The most important of these

streams are the Arno and the Tiber. The latter flows through a valley

spreading out in a southerly direction, from its sources in the

mountains on the borders of Etruria and Umbria to its mouth at Ostia.

The whole length of the stream, which is the most important in this

division of the peninsula, is, in a direct line, one hundred and forty


The most important of the smaller streams of this region taking their

rise in the hill country between the Arno and the Tiber are the Caecina,

the Umbro, and the Arminia. South of the Tiber, the more considerable

streams are the Lirus and the Vulturnus, both of which flow through the

Campanian plain. Further down the coast is the Silarus, which forms the

boundary between Southern and Central Italy. The remaining streams of

the western coast are mere