While, however, we reach no decisive result in this way, a further light is thrown on the subject by our observing that a number of the most important words bearing on this province of culture occur certainly in Sanscrit, but all of them in a more general signification. -Agras-among the Indians denotes a level surface in general; -kurnu-, anything pounded; -aritram-, oar and ship; -venas-, that which is pleasant in general, particularly a pleasant drink. The words are thus very ancient; but their more definite application to the field (-ager-), to the grain to be ground (-granum-), to the implement which furrows the soil as the ship furrows the surface of the sea (-aratrum-), to the juice of the grape (-vinum-), had not yet taken place when the earliest division of the stocks occurred, and it is not to be wondered at that their subsequent applications came to be in some instances very different, and that, for example, the corn intended to be ground, as well as the mill for grinding it (Gothic -quairinus-, Lithuanian -girnos-,(4)) received their names from the Sanscrit -kurnu-. We may accordingly assume it as probable, that the primeval Indo-Germanic people were not yet acquainted with agriculture, and as certain, that, if they were so, it played but a very subordinate part in their economy; for had it at that time held the place which it afterwards held among the Greeks and Romans, it would have left a deeper impression upon the language.
On the other hand the building of houses and huts by the Indo-Germans is attested by the Sanscrit -dam(as)-, Latin -domus-, Greek --domos--; Sanscrit -vesas-, Latin -vicus-, Greek --oikos--; Sanscrit -dvaras-, Latin -fores-, Greek --thura--; further, the building of oar-boats by the names of the boat, Sanscrit -naus-, Latin -navis-, Greek --naus--, and of the oar, Sanscrit -aritram-, Greek --eretmos--, Latin -remus-, -tri-res-mis-; and the use of waggons and the breaking in of animals for draught and transport by the Sanscrit -akshas- (axle and cart), Latin -axis-, Greek --axon--, --am-axa--; Sanscrit -iugam-, Latin -iugum-, Greek --zugon--. The words that denote clothing- Sanscrit -vastra-, Latin -vestis-, Greek --esthes--; as well as those that denote sewing and spinning-Sanscrit -siv-, Latin -suo-; Sanscrit -nah-, Latin -neo-, Greek --netho--, are alike in all Indo-Germanic languages. This cannot, however, be equally affirmed of the higher art of weaving.(5) The knowledge of the use of fire in preparing food, and of salt for seasoning it, is a primeval heritage of the Indo-Germanic nations; and the same may be affirmed regarding the knowledge of the earliest metals employed as implements or ornaments by man. At least the names of copper (-aes-) and silver (-argentum-), perhaps also of gold, are met with in Sanscrit, and these names can scarcely have originated before man had learned to separate and to utilize the ores; the Sanscrit -asis-, Latin -ensis-, points in fact to the primeval use of metallic weapons.
No less do we find extending back into those times the fundamental ideas on which the development of all Indo-Germanic states ultimately rests; the relative position of husband and wife, the arrangement in clans, the priesthood of the father of the household and the absence of a special sacerdotal class as well as of all distinctions of caste in general, slavery as a legitimate institution, the days of publicly dispensing justice at the new and full moon. On the other hand the positive organization of the body politic, the decision of the questions between regal sovereignty and the sovereignty of the community, between the hereditary privilege of royal and noble houses and the unconditional legal equality of the citizens, belong altogether to a later age.
Even the elements of science and religion show traces of a community of origin. The numbers are the same up to one hundred (Sanscrit -satam-, -ekasatam-, Latin -centum-, Greek --e-katon--, Gothic -hund-); and the moon receives her name in all languages from the fact that men measure time by her (-mensis-). The idea of Deity itself (Sanscrit -devas-, Latin -deus-, Greek --theos--), and many of the oldest conceptions of religion and of natural symbolism, belong to the common inheritance of the nations. The conception, for example, of heaven as the father and of earth as the mother of being, the festal expeditions of the gods who proceed from place to place in their own chariots along carefully levelled paths, the shadowy continuation of the soul's existence after death, are fundamental ideas of the Indian as well as of the Greek and Roman mythologies. Several of the gods of the Ganges coincide even in name with those worshipped on the Ilissus and the Tiber:--thus the Uranus of the Greeks is the Varunas, their Zeus, Jovis pater, Diespiter is the Djaus pita of the Vedas. An unexpected light has been thrown on various enigmatical forms in the Hellenic mythology by recent researches regarding the earlier divinities of India. The hoary mysterious forms of the Erinnyes are no Hellenic invention; they were immigrants along with the oldest settlers from the East. The divine greyhound Sarama, who guards for the Lord of heaven the golden herd of stars and sunbeams and collects for him the nourishing rain-clouds as the cows of heaven to the milking, and who moreover faithfully conducts the pious dead into the world of the blessed, becomes in the hands of the Greeks the son of Sarama, Sarameyas, or Hermeias; and the enigmatical Hellenic story of the stealing of the cattle of Helios, which is beyond doubt connected with the Roman legend about Cacus, is now seen to be a last echo (with the meaning no longer understood) of that old fanciful and significant conception of nature.
The task, however, of determining the degree of culture which the Indo-Germans had attained before the separation of the stocks properly belongs to the general history of the ancient world. It is on the other hand the special task of Italian history to ascertain, so far as it is possible, what was the state of the Graeco-Italian nation when the Hellenes and the Italians parted.