Page 0696

696

UNIVERSAL HISTORY-THE ANCIENT WORLD.

the Latins. No problem in modern scholarship has more exercised the ingenuity of

the learned than the question of the origin of the Etruscan nation. By the

ancients this people was regarded as of Lydian origin; but that hypothesis, of

which the Father of History is himself the author, has been either abandoned or

modified by modern scholars. The Herodotian tradition is to the effect that Atys,

king of Lydia, had two sons, Lydus and Tyrsenus, the former of whom gave his name

to the paternal dominions, and the latter, being driven forth by a famine,

migrated with a portion of the people, and landing on the western coast of Italy,

in what was then the territory of the Umbrians, began a conquest of the country;

The colonists were first known as Tyrseni, and afterwards as Etruscans.

Without presuming to decide the worth or worthlessness of this tradition, it is

sufficient to say that recent researches in the sciences of language and history

have shown almost conclusively that the Etruscans were a composite or mixed

people. It appears that in Southern Etruria the old Pelasgic race continued to

occupy the country, and in their descendants constituted the bulk of the more

recent Etruscan population. Just as the Pelasgians of OEnotria, or Southern

Italy, remained as a subject race, to be assimilated by the Hellenes of Magna

Graecia-just as the same substratum of population was first overrun and then

absorbed by the colony of AEneas-so in Etruria the old Pelasgic stock was blended

with the invading people and gradually lost under their domination. It has been

ascertained that the invaders in this instance came from the north, that they

retained their own language, though in a modified form, as well as their

religious institutions, but received the arts and civilization of the people whom

they subdued. Nor must the third element in the Etruscan population be omitted

from the discussion. As said above, the Umbrians for a long period included

Etruria within their dominions. The ruling class was thus Umbrian in character,

and gradually influenced the whole body of the people, especially in the northern

districts of the territory. It should not be forgotten, however, that all of the

movements here described occurred at a period long anterior to the beginnings of

authentic history.

After the invading Tyrseni, or Etruscans, had once permanently established their

authority in the country the state rapidly rose to influence and power. Before

the period of Roman dominion the fame of Etruria widely extended both by land and

sea. They gave their name to the western ocean, which was thenceforth known as

the Tyrrhenian or Tuscan Sea. They extended their authority beyond the Apennines,

and carried their settlements into the valley of the Padus as far as the

foothills of the Alps. Here, again, we have the unmistakable marks of tradition,

for the cities of Etruria proper were twelve in number, and so also were the

colonies beyond the Apennines. On the south, also, the Etruscans succeeded in

extending their authority as far as the limits of Campania, and on this part of

the coast the traditional twelve cities were likewise founded. Of these, it is

believed that the principal were Capua, Nola, Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Marcina,

all of which are conceded to have had an Etruscan or Pelasgic origin.

At the same time that the territorial limits of Etruria were thus widened the

vigor of her people was rapidly gaining the ascendancy at sea. The Tyrrhenians

became a race of bold and hardy navigators. They fitted out great navies, both

for commerce and for war. The people, especially of Southern Etruria, became

seafaring in their habits. Having acquired the supremacy in the Western seas,

they turned their prows to the East and competed for the carrying trade of the

AEgean islands. They established colonies in Corsica, which afterward fell into

the hands of the Carthaginians, and it has even been maintained that some of the

most ancient settlements of Sardinia were of Etruscan origin.

The position of the city of Rome, near the northern frontiers of Latium, and but

a few miles from the border of Etruria, brought on an early conflict between the

two peoples. Romulus himself engaged in war with the Veii, just across the

Etruscan line. His own city was, as is well known, made up of a composite and not

very select population, part of which was of Tuscan origin. The Coelian Hill was