All of these tribes retained, as these legends clearly show, a vivid sense of their relationship and of their having come forth from the Sabine land. While the Umbrians succumbed in the unequal struggle and the western offshoots of the same stock became amalgamated with the Latin or Hellenic population, the Sabellian tribes prospered in the seclusion of their distant mountain land, equally remote from collision with the Etruscans, the Latins, and the Greeks. There was little or no development of an urban life amongst them; their geographical position almost wholly precluded them from engaging in commercial intercourse, and the mountain-tops and strongholds sufficed for the necessities of defence, while the husbandmen continued to dwell in open hamlets or wherever each found the well-spring and the forest or pasture that he desired. In such circumstances their constitution remained stationary; like the similarly situated Arcadians in Greece, their communities never became incorporated into a single state; at the utmost they only formed confederacies more or less loosely connected. In the Abruzzi especially, the strict seclusion of the mountain valleys seems to have debarred the several cantons from intercourse either with each other or with the outer world. They maintained but little connection with each other and continued to live in complete isolation from the rest of Italy; and in consequence, notwithstanding the bravery of their inhabitants, they exercised less influence than any other portion of the Italian nation on the development of the history of the peninsula.

Their Political Development

On the other hand the Samnite people decidedly exhibited the highest political development among the eastern Italian stock, as the Latin nation did among the western. From an early period, perhaps from its first immigration, a comparatively strong political bond held together the Samnite nation, and gave to it the strength which subsequently enabled it to contend with Rome on equal terms for the first place in Italy. We are as ignorant of the time and manner of the formation of the bond, as we are of its federal constitution; but it is clear that in Samnium no single community was preponderant, and still less was there any town to serve as a central rallying point and bond of union for the Samnite stock, such as Rome was for the Latins. The strength of the land lay in its -communes- of husbandmen, and authority was vested in the assembly formed of their representatives; it was this assembly which in case of need nominated a federal commander-in-chief. In consequence of its constitution the policy of this confederacy was not aggressive like the Roman, but was limited to the defence of its own bounds; only where the state forms a unity is power so concentrated and passion so strong, that the extension of territory can be systematically pursued. Accordingly the whole history of the two nations is prefigured in their diametrically opposite systems of colonization. Whatever the Romans gained, was a gain to the state: the conquests of the Samnites were achieved by bands of volunteers who went forth in search of plunder and, whether they prospered or were unfortunate, were left to their own resources by their native home. The conquests, however, which the Samnites made on the coasts of the Tyrrhenian and Ionic seas, belong to a later age; during the regal period in Rome they seem to have been only gaining possession of the settlements in which we afterwards find them. As a single incident in the series of movements among the neighbouring peoples caused by this Samnite settlement may be mentioned the surprise of Cumae by Tyrrhenians from the Upper Sea, Umbrians, and Daunians in the year 230. If we may give credit to the accounts of the matter which present certainly a considerable colouring of romance, it would appear that in this instance, as was often the case in such expeditions, the intruders and those whom they supplanted combined to form one army, the Etruscans joining with their Umbrian enemies, and these again joined by the Iapygians whom the Umbrian settlers had driven towards the south. Nevertheless the undertaking proved a failure: on this occasion at least the Hellenic superiority in the art of war, and the bravery of the tyrant Aristodemus, succeeded in repelling the barbarian assault on the beautiful seaport.

Notes For Book I Chapter VIII

1. In the alphabet the -"id:r" especially deserves notice, being of the Latin (-"id:R") and not of the Etruscan form (-"id:D"), and also the -"id:z" (--"id:XI"); it can only be derived from the primitive Latin, and must very faithfully represent it. The language likewise has close affinity with the oldest Latin; -Marci Acarcelini he cupa-, that is, -Marcius Acarcelinius heic cubat-: -Menerva A. Cotena La. f...zenatuo sentem..dedet cuando..cuncaptum-, that is, -Minervae A(ulus?) Cotena La(rtis) f(ilius) de senatus sententia dedit quando (perhaps=olim) conceptum-. At the same time with these and similar inscriptions there have been found some others in a different character and language, undoubtedly Etruscan.

2. I. IV. Tities, Luceres


The Etruscans

Etruscan Nationality

The Etruscan people, or Ras,(1) as they called themselves, present a most striking contrast to the Latin and Sabellian Italians as well as to the Greeks. They were distinguished from these nations by their very bodily structure: instead of the slender and symmetrical proportions of the Greeks and Italians, the sculptures of the Etruscans exhibit only short sturdy figures with large head and thick arms. Their manners and customs also, so far as we are acquainted with them, point to a deep and original diversity from the Graeco-Italian stocks. The religion of the Tuscans in particular, presenting a gloomy fantastic character and delighting in the mystical handling of numbers and in wild and horrible speculations and practices, is equally remote from the clear rationalism of the Romans and the genial image-worship of the Hellenes.

The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy Page 51

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