The Etruscan Constitution

The Tuscan constitution, like the Greek and Latin, was based on the gradual transition of the community to an urban life. The early direction of the national energies towards navigation, trade, and manufactures appears to have called into existence urban commonwealths, in the strict sense of the term, earlier in Etruria than elsewhere in Italy. Caere is the first of all the Italian towns that is mentioned in Greek records. On the other hand we find that the Etruscans had on the whole less of the ability and the disposition for war than the Romans and Sabellians: the un-Italian custom of employing mercenaries for fighting occurs among the Etruscans at a very early period. The oldest constitution of the communities must in its general outlines have resembled that of Rome. Kings or Lucumones ruled, possessing similar insignia and probably therefore a similar plenitude of power with the Roman kings. A strict line of demarcation separated the nobles from the common people. The resemblance in the clan-organization is attested by the analogy of the system of names; only, among the Etruscans, descent on the mother's side received much more consideration than in Roman law. The constitution of their league appears to have been very lax. It did not embrace the whole nation; the northern and the Campanian Etruscans were associated in confederacies of their own, just in the same way as the communities of Etruria proper. Each of these leagues consisted of twelve communities, which recognized a metropolis, especially for purposes of worship, and a federal head or rather a high priest, but appear to have been substantially equal in respect of rights; while some of them at least were so powerful that neither could a hegemony establish itself, nor could the central authority attain consolidation. In Etruria proper Volsinii was the metropolis; of the rest of its twelve towns we know by trustworthy tradition only Perusia, Vetulonium, Volci, and Tarquinii. It was, however, quite as unusual for the Etruscans really to act in concert, as it was for the Latin confederacy to do otherwise. Wars were ordinarily carried on by a single community, which endeavoured to interest in its cause such of its neighbours as it could; and when an exceptional case occurred in which war was resolved on by the league, individual towns very frequently kept aloof from it. The Etruscan confederations appear to have been from the first--still more than the other Italian leagues formed on a similar basis of national affinity--deficient in a firm and paramount central authority.

Notes For Book I Chapter IX

1. -Ras-ennac-, with the gentile termination mentioned below.

2. To this period belong e. g. inscriptions on the clay vases of

umaramlisia(--"id:theta")ipurenaie(--"id:theta")eeraisieepanamine (--"id:theta")unastavhelefu- or -mi ramu(--"id:theta")af kaiufinaia-.

3. We may form some idea of the sound which the language now had from the commencement of the great inscription of Perusia; -eulat tanna laresul ameva(--"id:chi")r lautn vel(--"id:theta")inase stlaafunas slele(--"id:theta")caru-.

4. Such as Maecenas, Porsena, Vivenna, Caecina, Spurinna. The vowel in the penult is originally long, but in consequence of the throwing back of the accent upon the initial syllable is frequently shortened and even rejected. Thus we find Porse(n)na as well as Porsena, and Ceicne as well as Caecina.

5. I. VIII. Umbro-Sabellian Migration

6. I. VIII. Their Political Development

7. I. VIII. Their Political Development

8. I. IV. Oldest Settlements In The Palatine And Suburan Regions

CHAPTER X

The Hellenes In Italy--Maritime Supremacy Of The Tuscans And Carthaginians

Relations Of Italy With Other Lands

In the history of the nations of antiquity a gradual dawn ushered in the day; and in their case too the dawn was in the east. While the Italian peninsula still lay enveloped in the dim twilight of morning, the regions of the eastern basin of the Mediterranean had already emerged into the full light of a varied and richly developed civilization. It falls to the lot of most nations in the early stages of their development to be taught and trained by some rival sister-nation; and such was destined to be in an eminent degree the lot of the peoples of Italy. The circumstances of its geographical position, however, prevented this influence from being brought to bear upon the peninsula by land. No trace is to be found of any resort in early times to the difficult route by land between Italy and Greece. There were in all probability from time immemorial tracks for purposes of traffic, leading from Italy to the lands beyond the Alps; the oldest route of the amber trade from the Baltic joined the Mediterranean at the mouth of the Po--on which account the delta of the Po appears in Greek legend as the home of amber--and this route was joined by another leading across the peninsula over the Apennines to Pisae; but from these regions no elements of civilization could come to the Italians. It was the seafaring nations of the east that brought to Italy whatever foreign culture reached it in early times.

Phoenicians In Italy

The oldest civilized nation on the shores of the Mediterranean, the Egyptians, were not a seafaring people, and therefore exercised no influence on Italy. But the same may be with almost equal truth affirmed of the Phoenicians. It is true that, issuing from their narrow home on the extreme eastern verge of the Mediterranean, they were the first of all known races to venture forth in floating houses on the bosom of the deep, at first for the purpose of fishing and dredging, but soon also for the prosecution of trade. They were the first to open up maritime commerce; and at an incredibly early period they traversed the Mediterranean even to its furthest extremity in the west. Maritime stations of the Phoenicians appear on almost all its coasts earlier than those of the Hellenes: in Hellas itself, in Crete and Cyprus, in Egypt, Libya, and Spain, and likewise on the western Italian main.

The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy Page 55

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