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appropriated to this class of the people; and it is a part of tradition that the

two Tarquins owed a part of their bad fame to the fact that they were Etruscans.

The fall of the Veii was the first step-as the defeat, in B. C. 283, of the

Etruscans by Fabius Maximus at the Vadimonian Lake was the last-in the work of

subjugating Etruria to the Romans.

The next of the ancient Italian peoples requiring our attention were the Oscans,

called by the Greeks the Opicians, or Ausones. Their territory adjoined the

country of the OEnotrians on the north, and embraced Campania as its center. The

district, however, occupied by the Oscans extended northward into Latium, and

eastward across the peninsula. The people were thus a kind of central race in

Italy, having the Pelasgic OEnotrians on the south, and the Umbrians and

Etruscans on the north. From the Oscan language it is definitely known that the

original tribe had a close race affinity with the Latins. The two tongues,

indeed, are but cognate dialects of the same speech-a fact which has led to the

remark of Niebuhr that if a single book written in the Oscan language had been

preserved we should have little difficulty in deciphering it.

The earliest movement of the Oscans from their original seats appears to have

been their spreading into Samnium. To what extent this country was subjugated by

them can not be certainly known, but the likelihood is that they became, and

continued for a long time, the dominant people of that state. It is believed,

moreover, that the Volscians and the AEquians were Oscan tribes, as was also the

colony at Reate, which afterward descended from its highland position and became

a part of the composite family of Latini.

The first foreign aggression made upon the territory of the Oscans was by the

mountain tribe of the Sabines. According to tradition these warlike people

descended upon their more quiet neighbors of Samnium, and easily overran the

province. They were fewer in number than the people whom they subdued, but easily

kept the mastery of the subject district. It is one of the earliest examples of a

tribe of conquerors residing among the conquered and acquiring their language and

habits. By this union was formed the race of the Samnites, destined to bear so

important a part in the early history of Rome. It is related, however, that the

governing class in ancient Samnium was driven out by the Sabine invasion, and

that these expelled people, retiring into Latium, combined with the immigrant

Latini to form that composite body of population known as the Latin race. It

should also be remarked that the linguistic changes effected by the conquest of

the Oscan Samnites by the Sabines, and the union of the Samnian language with

that of the incoming Latini, were slight and unimportant; for all these tribes

alike spoke dialects of that Graeco-Italic speech which was diffused through all

the West as far as the borders of Hispania.

It is proper in this connection to add a few words respecting those strong

primitive tribes which inhabited the hill-country lying east of Latium and

Samnium. The most important of these mountaineers were the Sabines, or

Sabellians. The original seats of this hardy people were in the lofty ranges of

the central Apennines. It was from this vantage ground that, as we have just

seen, they descended upon and expelled the Oscans of Samnium. The center of

Sabine influence was thus carried towards the west. Several of the surrounding

nations claimed their descent from the people of the Sabine Hills. Thus did the

Piceni, who in historical times held the district of Picenum; as did also the

Peligni and the Vestini-the latter, indeed, representing themselves as an

original Sabine tribe. It has even been claimed that the more celebrated race of

the Frentani, occupying the large and valuable territory on the Adriatic coast,

north of the spur of Italy, was of a Samnite, and therefore, of a Sabine, origin.

Nor do some ethnographers hesitate to affirm that the Lucanians were the

descendants of a Samnite colony, planted within the limits of ancient OEnotria.

Thus were the Sabines distributed from the frontiers of Umbria and Etruria on the

north to the Gulf of Tarentum and the borders of Bruttium.

That Italian people, however, with whom history is most concerned, were the great

race of the Latins. All the ancient authors are agreed in regarding them as a

tribe distinct from the