Page 0693




Of the ethnic affinities of the Latin Race something has already been said

incidentally in the history of the Persians and the Greeks. Like them, the Romans

belonged to the Aryan or Indo-European family of nations. The Greek and Latin

languages, if other evidence were wanting, prove conclusively the original tribal

identity of the two races by which they were spoken. The institutions of the two

peoples also, springing naturally into existence under the necessity of their

surroundings and the impulse of innate preference, point with equal certainty to

the primitive unity of the Graeco-Italic race. On every side we are confronted

with like indications of the original oneness of those strong nations by which

the eastern and central peninsulas of Southern Europe were colonized, peopled,

dominated, raised to unequivocal supremacy over the surrounding nations.

While it is certain, however, that the Greeks and Romans were descended from the

same original stock, the particular relationship of the two races is not so

definitely known. On this point the several prevalent theories bear the marks of

plausibility rather than of certainty. One view is that from the point of Asiatic

origin, the Hellenic tribes, making their way westward, constituted one

migration, and the Italians another. A: second view is that the Graeco-Italic

race began and long maintained its migratory movement as a single body or group

of tribes, and that after reaching Europe one of the races, in some prehistoric

epoch, was deflected or differentiated from the other. If this theory be the

correct one, it is fairly safe to affirm that the principal migration was the

Italican and that the offshoot from this was the Hellenic stock. It is the

opinion of many profound scholars that the Hellenes were the youngest of the

Aryan tribes in Europe.

If with a view to determining the relative seniority of the two races an appeal

be made to the languages which they spoke, the testimony is strangely

conflicting; for, while in some respects the grammatical forms of Greek are more

archaic than those of Latin, on the other hand much of the structure of the

latter language is more ancient than that of the former. Of the original speech,

the Latin has preserved the ablative case, which in the process of linguistic

decay was dropped from the Greek. Several of the forms of the verb to be, in

Latin, are more closely allied to the Sanskrit original than the corresponding

forms in the language of the Hellenes. But, on the other hand, the dual number of

Greek nouns and the middle voice of the verb are a relic of primitive forms no

longer found in Latin. These facts would seem to indicate that the two races left

the Asiatic homestead and came into Europe by distinct migrations, and that the

Graeco-Italic tribes were not in prehistoric times so intimately associated as

many scholars have been led to believe.

Like the Greeks, the primitive Italicans preserved no traditions of those

migratory movements by which the ancestral tribes were thrown into the peninsula.

They; too, believed themselves to be born of the earth. They were indigenous. The

story of migrations and tribal vicissitudes was the invention of the poets of

later ages, and was unknown to the immediate descendants of those great ancestors

who were said to have come from foreign shores.

The most ancient people of the Italian peninsula were the Pelasgians-that

primitive stock of mankind which seems to have been diffused in the most ancient

times through the whole of Southern Europe. This race constitutes the substratum

of all succeeding populations. Beneath the Umbrian and Oscan crust, beneath the

oldest Hellenic colonies of the south of Italy, is spread the work of this

prehistoric people. The Pelasgic stock withal,