Hence the rapid development of prosperity in these regions and their powerful commercial position; whereas Latium remained preeminently an agricultural country. The same contrast recurs in all their individual relations. The oldest tombs constructed and furnished in the Greek fashion, but with an extravagance to which the Greeks were strangers, are to be found at Caere, while--with the exception of Praeneste, which appears to have occupied a peculiar position and to have been very intimately connected with Falerii and southern Etruria--the Latin land exhibits only slight ornaments for the dead of foreign origin, and not a single tomb of luxury proper belonging to the earlier times; there as among the Sabellians a simple turf ordinarily sufficed as a covering for the dead. The most ancient coins, of a time not much later than those of Magna Graecia, belong to Etruria, and to Populonia in particular: during the whole regal period Latium had to be content with copper by weight, and had not even introduced foreign coins, for the instances are extremely rare in which such coins (e.g. one of Posidonia) have been found there. In architecture, plastic art, and embossing, the same stimulants acted on Etruria and on Latium, but it was only in the case of the former that capital was everywhere brought to bear on them and led to their being pursued extensively and with growing technical skill. The commodities were upon the whole the same, which were bought, sold, and manufactured in Latium and in Etruria; but the southern land was far inferior to its northern neighbours in the energy with which its commerce was plied. The contrast between them in this respect is shown in the fact that the articles of luxury manufactured after Greek models in Etruria found a market in Latium, particularly at Praeneste, and even in Greece itself, while Latium hardly ever exported anything of the kind.

Etrusco-Attic, and Latino-Sicilian Commerce

A distinction not less remarkable between the commerce of the Latins and that of the Etruscans appears in their respective routes or lines of traffic. As to the earliest commerce of the Etruscans in the Adriatic we can hardly do more than express the conjecture that it was directed from Spina and Atria chiefly to Corcyra. We have already mentioned(24) that the western Etruscans ventured boldly into the eastern seas, and trafficked not merely with Sicily, but also with Greece proper. An ancient intercourse with Attica is indicated by the Attic clay vases, which are so numerous in the more recent Etruscan tombs, and had been perhaps even at this time introduced for other purposes than the already-mentioned decoration of tombs, while conversely Tyrrhenian bronze candlesticks and gold cups were articles early in request in Attica. Still more definitely is such an intercourse indicated by the coins. The silver pieces of Populonia were struck after the pattern of a very old silver piece stamped on one side with the Gorgoneion, on the other merely presenting an incuse square, which has been found at Athens and on the old amber-route in the district of Posen, and which was in all probability the very coin struck by order of Solon in Athens. We have mentioned already that the Etruscans had also dealings, and perhaps after the development of the Etrusco-Carthaginian maritime alliance their principal dealings, with the Carthaginians. It is a remarkable circumstance that in the oldest tombs of Caere, besides native vessels of bronze and silver, there have been found chiefly Oriental articles, which may certainly have come from Greek merchants, but more probably were introduced by Phoenician traders. We must not, however, attribute too great importance to this Phoenician trade, and in particular we must not overlook the fact that the alphabet, as well as the other influences that stimulated and matured native culture, were brought to Etruria by the Greeks, and not by the Phoenicians.

Latin commerce assumed a different direction. Rarely as we have opportunity of instituting comparisons between the Romans and the Etruscans as regards the reception of Hellenic elements, the cases in which such comparisons can be instituted exhibit the two nations as completely independent of each other. This is most clearly apparent in the case of the alphabet. The Greek alphabet brought to the Etruscans from the Chalcidico-Doric colonies in Sicily or Campania varies not immaterially from that which the Latins derived from the same quarter, so that, although both peoples have drawn from the same source, they have done so at different times and different places. The same phenomenon appears in particular words: the Roman Pollux and the Tuscan Pultuke are independent corruptions of the Greek Polydeukes; the Tuscan Utuze or Uthuze is formed from Odysseus, the Roman Ulixes is an exact reproduction of the form of the name usual in Sicily; in like manner the Tuscan Aivas corresponds to the old Greek form of this name, the Roman Aiax to a secondary form that was probably also Sicilian; the Roman Aperta or Apello and the Samnite Appellun have sprung from the Doric Apellon, the Tuscan Apulu from Apollon. Thus the language and writing of Latium indicate that the direction of Latin commerce was exclusively towards the Cumaeans and Siceliots. Every other trace which has survived from so remote an age leads to the same conclusion: such as, the coin of Posidonia found in Latium; the purchase of grain, when a failure of the harvest occurred in Rome, from the Volscians, Cumaeans, and Siceliots (and, as was natural, from the Etruscans as well); above all, the relations subsisting between the Latin and Sicilian monetary systems. As the local Dorico-Chalcidian designation of silver coin --nomos--, and the Sicilian measure --eimina--, were transferred with the same meaning to Latium as -nummus- and -hemina-, so conversely the Italian designations of weight, -libra-, -triens-, -quadrans-, -sextans-, -uncia-, which arose in Latium for the measurement of the copper which was used by weight instead of money, had found their way into the common speech of Sicily in the third century of the city under the corrupt and hybrid forms, --litra--, --trias--, --tetras--, --exas--, --ougkia--.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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