In other respects the district must have appeared attractive to an immigrant agricultural people: the soil is easily laboured with mattock and hoe and is productive even without being manured, although, tried by an Italian standard, it does not yield any extraordinary return: wheat yields on an average about five-fold.(3) Good water is not abundant; the higher and more sacred on that account was the esteem in which every fresh spring was held by the inhabitants.
No accounts have been preserved of the mode in which the settlements of the Latins took place in the district which has since borne their name; and we are left to gather what we can almost exclusively from a posteriori inference regarding them. Some knowledge may, however, in this way be gained, or at any rate some conjectures that wear an aspect of probability.
The Roman territory was divided in the earliest times into a number of clan-districts, which were subsequently employed in the formation of the earliest "rural wards" (-tribus rusticae-). Tradition informs us as to the -tribus Claudia-, that it originated from the settlement of the Claudian clansmen on the Anio; and that the other districts of the earliest division originated in a similar manner is indicated quite as certainly by their names. These names are not, like those of the districts added at a later period, derived from the localities, but are formed without exception from the names of clans; and the clans who thus gave their names to the wards of the original Roman territory are, so far as they have not become entirely extinct (as is the case with the -Camilii-, -Galerii-, -Lemonii-, -Pollii-, -Pupinii-, -Voltinii-), the very oldest patrician families of Rome, the -Aemilii-, -Cornelii-, -Fabii-, -Horatii-, -Menenii-, -Papirii-, -Romilii-, -Sergii-, -Voturii-. It is worthy of remark, that not one of these clans can be shown to have taken up its settlement in Rome only at a later epoch. Every Italian, and doubtless also every Hellenic, canton must, like the Roman, have been divided into a number of groups associated at once by locality and by clanship; such a clan-settlement is the "house" (--oikia--) of the Greeks, from which very frequently the --komai-- and --demoi-- originated among them, like the tribus in Rome. The corresponding Italian terms "house" -vicus-or "district" (-pagus-, from -pangere-) indicate, in like manner, the joint settlement of the members of a clan, and thence come by an easily understood transition to signify in common use hamlet or village. As each household had its own portion of land, so the clan-household or village had a clan-land belonging to it, which, as will afterwards be shown, was managed up to a comparatively late period after the analogy of household--land, that is, on the system of joint-possession. Whether it was in Latium itself that the clan-households became developed into clan-villages, or whether the Latins were already associated in clans when they immigrated into Latium, are questions which we are just as little able to answer as we are to determine what was the form assumed by the management on joint account, which such an arrangement required,(4) or how far, in addition to the original ground of common ancestry, the clan may have been based on the incorporation or co-ordination from without of individuals not related to it by blood.
These clanships, however, were from the beginning regarded not as independent societies, but as the integral parts of a political community (-civitas-, -populus-). This first presents itself as an aggregate of a number of clan-villages of the same stock, language, and manners, bound to mutual observance of law and mutual legal redress and to united action in aggression and defence. A fixed local centre was quite as necessary in the case of such a canton as in that of a clanship; but as the members of the clan, or in other words the constituent elements of the canton, dwelt in their villages, the centre of the canton cannot have been a place of joint settlement in the strict sense--a town. It must, on the contrary, have been simply a place of common assembly, containing the seat of justice and the common sanctuary of the canton, where the members of the canton met every eighth day for purposes of intercourse and amusement, and where, in case of war, they obtained for themselves and their cattle a safer shelter from the invading enemy than in the villages: in ordinary circumstances this place of meeting was not at all or but scantily inhabited. Ancient places of refuge, of a kind quite similar, may still be recognized at the present day on the tops of several of the hills in the highlands of east Switzerland. Such a place was called in Italy "height" (-capitolium-, like --akra--, the mountain-top), or "stronghold" (-arx-, from -arcere-); it was not a town at first, but it became the nucleus of one, as houses naturally gathered round the stronghold and were afterwards surrounded with the "ring" (-urbs-, connected with -urvus-, -rurvus-, perhaps also with -orbis-). The stronghold and town were visibly distinguished from each other by the number of gates, of which the stronghold has as few as possible, and the town many, the former ordinarily but one, the latter at least three. Such fortresses were the bases of that cantonal constitution which prevailed in Italy anterior to the existence of towns: a constitution, the nature of which may still be recognized with some degree of clearness in those provinces of Italy which did not until a late period reach, and in some cases have not yet fully reached, the stage of aggregation in towns, such as the land of the Marsi and the small cantons of the Abruzzi. The country if the Aequiculi, who even in the imperial period dwelt not in towns, but in numerous open hamlets, presents a number of ancient ring-walls, which, regarded as "deserted towns" with their solitary temples, excited the astonishment of the Roman as well as of modern archaeologists, who have fancied that they could find accommodation there, the former for their "primitive inhabitants" (-aborigines-), the latter for their Pelasgians.