The Adriatic commerce carried on by Corinth and Corcyra was shared by the most easterly mercantile city of Magna Graecia, the Doric Tarentum, which by the possession of Hydrus (Otranto) had the command, on the Italian side, of the entrance of the Adriatic. Since, with the exception of the ports at the mouth of the Po, there were in those times no emporia worthy of mention along the whole east coast--the rise of Ancona belongs to a far later period, and later still the rise of Brundisium--it may well be conceived that the mariners of Epidamnus and Apollonia frequently discharged their cargoes at Tarentum. The Tarentines had also much intercourse with Apulia by land; all the Greek civilization to be met with in the south-east of Italy owed its existence to them. That civilization, however, was during the present period only in its infancy; it was not until a later epoch that the Hellenism of Apulia was developed.

Relations Of The Western Italians To The Greeks

It cannot be doubted, on the other hand, that the west coast of Italy northward of Vesuvius was frequented in very early times by the Hellenes, and that there were Hellenic factories on its promontories and islands. Probably the earliest evidence of such voyages is the localizing of the legend of Odysseus on the coasts of the Tyrrhene Sea.(4) When men discovered the isles of Aeolus in the Lipari islands, when they pointed out at the Lacinian cape the isle of Calypso, at the cape of Misenum that of the Sirens, at the cape of Circeii that of Circe, when they recognized in the steep promontory of Terracina the towering burial-mound of Elpenor, when the Laestrygones were provided with haunts near Caieta and Formiae, when the two sons of Ulysses and Circe, Agrius, that is the "wild," and Latinus, were made to rule over the Tyrrhenians in the "inmost recess of the holy islands," or, according to a more recent version, Latinus was called the son of Ulysses and Circe, and Auson the son of Ulysses and Calypso--we recognize in these legends ancient sailors' tales of the seafarers of Ionia, who thought of their native home as they traversed the Tyrrhene Sea. The same noble vividness of feeling, which pervades the Ionic poem of the voyages of Odysseus, is discernible in this fresh localization of the same legend at Cumae itself and throughout the regions frequented by the Cumaean mariners.

Other traces of these very ancient voyages are to be found in the Greek name of the island Aethalia (Ilva, Elba), which appears to have been (after Aenaria) one of the places earliest occupied by Greeks, perhaps also in that of the seaport Telamon in Etruria; and further in the two townships on the Caerite coast, Pyrgi (near S. Severa) and Alsium (near Palo), the Greek origin of which is indicated beyond possibility of mistake not only by their names, but also by the peculiar architecture of the walls of Pyrgi, which differs essentially in character from that of the walls of Caere and the Etruscan cities generally. Aethalia, the "fire-island," with its rich mines of copper and especially of iron, probably sustained the chief part in this commerce, and there in all likelihood the foreigners had their central settlement and seat of traffic with the natives; the more especially as they could not have found the means of smelting the ores on the small and not well-wooded island without intercourse with the mainland. The silver mines of Populonia also on the headland opposite to Elba were perhaps already known to the Greeks and wrought by them.

If, as was undoubtedly the case, the foreigners, ever in those times intent on piracy and plunder as well as trade, did not fail, when opportunity offered, to levy contributions on the natives and to carry them off as slaves, the natives on their part exercised the right of retaliation; and that the Latins and Tyrrhenes retaliated with greater energy and better fortune than their neighbours in the south of Italy, is attested not merely by the legends to that effect, but by the actual results. In these regions the Italians succeeded in resisting the foreigners and in retaining, or at any rate soon resuming, the mastery not merely of their own mercantile cities and mercantile ports, but also of their own sea. The same Hellenic invasion which crushed and denationalized the races of the south of Italy, directed the energies of the peoples of Central Italy--very much indeed against the will of their instructors--towards navigation and the founding of towns. It must have been in this quarter that the Italians first exchanged the raft and the boat for the oared galley of the Phoenicians and Greeks. Here too we first encounter great mercantile cities, particularly Caere in southern Etruria and Rome on the Tiber, which, if we may judge from their Italian names as well as from their being situated at some distance from the sea, were--like the exactly similar commercial towns at the mouth of the Po, Spina and Atria, and Ariminum further to the south--certainly not Greek, but Italian foundations. It is not in our power, as may easily be supposed, to exhibit the historical course of this earliest reaction of Italian nationality against foreign aggression; but we can still recognize the fact, which was of the greatest importance as bearing upon the further development of Italy, that this reaction took a different course in Latium and in southern Etruria from that which it exhibited in the properly Tuscan and adjoining provinces.

Hellenes And Latins

Legend itself contrasts in a significant manner the Latin with the "wild Tyrrhenian," and the peaceful beach at the mouth of the Tiber with the inhospitable shore of the Volsci. This cannot mean that Greek colonization was tolerated in some of the provinces of Central Italy, but not permitted in others. Northward of Vesuvius there existed no independent Greek community at all in historical times; if Pyrgi once was such, it must have already reverted, before the period at which our tradition begins, into the hands of the Italians or in other words of the Caerites.

The Period Anterior to the Abolition of the Monarchy Page 60

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