UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.
were reputed peaceful. The population was frequently changed by the
aggressiveness of surrounding nations. The thermal springs abounding in the
neighborhoods of Baiae, Puteoli, and Naples were well adapted to the wants of
those who were rich enough to indulge in the luxury of a seaside residence, but
they were not conducive to the development of manly virtues.
Lying eastward of Campania was the great interior province of Samnium. It was
traversed throughout by the central chain of the Apennines, and nowhere
approached the coast. The territory is almost wholly mountainous. The
conformation of the country is determined in every part by the main range or
their lateral branches. The climate is strongly discriminated from that of the
Campanian and Apulian slopes. The warm sea breezes, wafted from the southwest
into the Bay of Naples, reach not the Samnite hills. Here the cooler airs of the
Apennines prevail, and the breezy proximity of the mountains is felt alike in
nature and in man. Samnium is a land of flocks and pastures. The valleys and
occasional small plains are well adapted to cultivation, and the usual crops
peculiar to this belt of Italy grow in considerable abundance.
The great northwestern province of Central Italy is Etruria, one of the most
ancient states of the West. On the north, it is bounded by Liguria and Cisalpine
Gaul; on the east, by Umbria and the country of the Sabines; on the south, by
Latium; on the west, by the sea. The coastline measures a little over two hundred
miles. The region thus bounded is exceedingly variable in geographical character.
On the north, its proximity to the Apennines and its rugged elevations give it an
almost Alpine aspect. Mount Amiata here rises to the height of 5,794 feet.
Further south are tracts of rich alluvial soil. The country about the mouth of
the river Arnus is especially fertile and beautiful. Along almost the entire
eastern frontier lies the valley of the Tiber, fruitful in the things sown, and
interspersed with pleasing landscapes. South of the Arnus, the whole breadth of
Etruria is filled up with a range of hills, extending from the river Clanis as
far as the sea.
This region, like Umbria, is a country of flocks and herds. Some of the hills
rise to a height of two thousand feet above the level of the sea. On their green
slopes the sheep and goats crop the pasturage, and herds of fine cattle low their
satisfaction to the Tuscan herdsmen. The southern part of Etruria has a lower
level and a milder climate, approximating in character the adjacent districts of
Latium. At a few points on the coast the hilly ridges of the interior jut out
into headlands, and an occasional bay or inlet furnishes an adequate haven for
them that go down to the sea in ships.
The remaining state of the central portion of the Italian peninsula is Latium,
within whose borders near the northern frontier stood the capital of the world.
The province is bounded on the east by Samnium and the land of the Marsi; on the
north, by the Sabini and Etruria; on the west and south, by the sea and Campania.
This was the land of the Latini, one of the most ancient peoples of Italy.
At first, the name was limited to the territory occupied by that noted tribe; but
afterwards when the Hernici, the AEqui, and the Volscii were conquered, the
limits of the province were extended to the boundaries recognized in the times of
the Republic. The climate of Latium was almost as genial as that of Campania, and
the fertility was such as to rival the best portions of the peninsula. Along the
northern border lay the valley of the Tiber, which, with the tributary Anio,
drained the country eastward to the highlands of the Marsi. South of the Tiber
and next the coast lay the extensive plain occupied by the ancient Latini.
Further inland, in the same region were the Alban Hills, so noted in the early
history of Rome. In the south of the province a chain of highlands extends from
the valley of the Liris westward to the coast, thus cutting off the country of
the Ausones from the rest of Latium. On the eastern frontiers, the hill country
of this province was productive in the apple, the olive, and the vine; while the
lower plains yielded abundant crops of grain. Such in brief is an outline of the
geography and products of that great peninsula whence sprang
"The Latin race, the Alban fathers and walls of lofty Rome."