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ants of Italy. Yet some modern writers adhere to the opinion that they were very ancient emigrants from Greece. Possessed with the notion that the Latin language is a compounded speech made up of two distinct parts, one Greek and the other foreign or barbaric, they look to the Oenotrians, whom ancient myths derive from the Peloponnesus, as furnishing the former or Grecian element. Respecting the language of the Oenotrii we have no direct information. Even the Siculi, who remained so long after the extinction of the Oenotrian name among the inhabitants of Sicily, have left no inscription or other vestige; and in this instance philological resources would be entirely wanting, were it not for a fortunate suggestion of Otfried Müller, which throws a ray of new light upon this obscure subject. Of this I shall give an account nearly as I find it in his work.

When the Greek settlements were founded in Sicily, the Siculi had long been in possession of the country, and a Siculian peasantry, conquered together with the soil, formed the chief part of the agricultural and labouring population of the numerous and thriving Grecian colonies. It was to be expected, under these circumstances, that a great part of the native language of the most numerous portion of the inhabitants should pass into the popular dialect of the Sicilian Greeks, and be found preserved in the compositions which professedly represent that dialect, such as the comedies of Epicharmus and the mimes of Sophron. These writers were, says Müller, in after times, when Sicily had become entirely hellenized, the chief depositories or exemplars of the old domestic idiom. He continues: "Now it is a remarkable confirmation of the history of the wanderings of the Siculi, which we have given above, that the rare and un-hellenic expressions preserved by the above-mentioned writers among the Syracusans, are regularly found in the dialect of Latium. Thus, as Varro says, the Latin mutuum is among the Sicilians potrov : Sophron writes počtov évτí poí. Doubtless from the same authority he states that some Sicilian Greeks called the hare Xénopis, a word which the Siculians had left behind in Latium, and at the same time brought to the island. Hence came zarára,

used by the Syracusan poets for patina; kápкapov for carcer, and other similar coincidences.* The origin of these words can certainly not be explained by the intercourse of Sicily with Latium, which at that time was very trifling. Tela also appears to have been the Sicilian word for gelu, κάτινον for catinum, κάμπος for hippodrome or campus, rápyapa for greges. In Siculian, according to Herodian, the termination ens, entis was preserved, which the Greeks expressed by ne, evτos. Herodian mentions 'Ováλns, 'OváλevtOS, (Valens,) and similar words as Siculian forms; hence we perceive how much the Siculian resembled the Latin. Lastly it may be maintained, that since in the Alexandrian poets words occur which are evidently Latin, as vérodεç for nepotes, in Theocritus and Callimachus, they were adopted not from Latium, but from Sicily, which country just at that time exercised a very great influence on Greek literature. From these considerations we may conclude with tolerable certainty that the Siculian formed an important element of the Latin language.

So far Otfried Müller. I think we may reasonably go a step further, and conclude that the Siculian was a kindred dialect with the Latin and other languages of ancient Italy, since it appears to have contained both words and grammatical forms which belonged to the Latin and were not common to that language and the Greek. On this subject we shall be better prepared for coming to a conclusion after surveying the information that is to be collected regarding other Italian languages.

SECTION IV. Of the Ausonian, Opic, or Oscan People.

During the early periods of the Roman history, and while the growing power of the republic was gradually extending its dominion over the southern parts of Italy, we find no mention either of Siculi or Oenotrii. The nations who most successfully withstood the arms of Rome appear to have belonged to a different race and to have spoken a different dialect, which

Sophron and Epicharm. in Pollux. Sophron in Photii, Lex. p. 132, 24. Photius cites KúbηTTOV, cubitum, from Epicharmus. Müller's Etrusker, Einl. p. 11.

is termed the Oscan tongue. By the Greeks all these nations are termed Opici or Ausones. Aristotle says that the country lying between the Oenotrians, who as we have seen occupied the southern extremity of Italy, and Tyrrhenia or Etruria to the northward of the Tiber, was inhabited by theOpici, who are also termed Ausonians.* In a passage cited by Dionysius, the same writer terms Latium itself a district of Opika.+ Polybius spoke of the Ausonians and Opici as if he considered them to have been different nations; but Antiochus of Syracuse, who lived at a time when the tribes of people in southern Italy were yet clearly distinguished from each other, regarded them as one and the same race.‡ Ausones appears to have been the name given to them by the Greeks. They probably termed themselves Opici, and the designation by which they were at an early period known to the Romans was that of Aurunci. Servius says, "Auruncos Græce Ausones nominari constat ;" and Paulus the Deacon, son of Warnefrid, has preserved a citation from Festus containing a myth, according to which "Auson, son of Ulysses and Calypso, gave name to Ausonia, and built the city of Aurunca."||

We are assured by Antiochus and by Thucydides, who agreed in considering the Opici and Ausones as one race, that they were the people who drove the Siculians out of Italy.¶ They appear to have been a more warlike people than the barbarous Siculi, but to have given way to the greater power of the Etruscans, who gained possession of Campania, and founded colonies in the countries which had formed a part of the Ausonian or Opic territory.

At the time when most of the Greek colonies were founded in the country termed from them Magna Græcia, the Oscan language was not so widely extended as it afterwards became. We are assured by Strabo that there were no Lucanians in

* His words are: “ ώκουν δὲ τὸ μὲν πρὸς τὴν Τυῤῥηνίαν Ὀπικοὶ καὶ πρότερον καὶ νῦν καλούμενοι τὴν ἐπωνυμίαν Αὔσονες—“the Opici who had the sumame of Ausones," as the Locri Ozola. This makes the Opici Ausones a particular branch of the Opic nation, as the Locri Ozolæ were of the Locrian.

Dionys. Halic. lib. i. c. 72.

Strabo, lib. v. p. 242.

§ Serv. Comm. ad Eneid. vii. v. 727.

Paul. Drac. Grotefend, Rudiment. Ling. Umbricæ, pars viii.
Dionys. ubi supra.

the region afterwards named from them, and that it was entirely in the possession of the Oenotrians and the Chaones, who were kindred nations. But the state of these countries was at length changed by the incursions of the Samnites, Lucanians, and Bruttii, who overwhelmed them, and conquered the remains of the Oenotrian people towards the south, as well as many of the Grecian colonies which had been founded on their coasts.

The Samnites, as we are assured by Strabo and other writers, were a tribe of the Sabellian or Sabine nation. "From the Sabines," says says Strabo, "were descended the Picentines and the Samnites, from these the Lucani, and from the latter the Bruttii."*

Whether the Sabines and Samnites were originally of the Opic or Oscan race is a question on which some difference of opinion exists. I shall again advert to this point; but however the fact may have been, it is certain that the Oscan idiom was the language of all the countries conquered and colonised by the Samnites in Southern Italy. It was spoken, as many ancient writers testify, about Capua and Cumæ at the time. when the Campanians, descended from the Samnites and more remotely from the Sabines, had possession of that country. "Lingua Osca" is the designation given to the Sabine speech. Hence it is the most obvious supposition that the Sabines themselves as well as the Samnites were originally of the Opic race. Professor Otfried Müller, however, has conjectured that the Sabines had previously a different speech, and that after conquering Campania they adopted the Oscan language, from the population already existing in the countries which they subdued, though a part of it was at that time subject to the Etruscans. This language they contributed to extend into the parts of Southern Italy where their colonies were established. Thus the Bruttii are known to have spoken the Oscan language, and even Ennius, a native of Calabria, knew the Oscan as his native speech.

The different nations of Southern Italy with which Rome had to contend after her union with Latium belonged to one tribe or the other of this race. The Æqui and Volsci were

* Lib. v. p. 228. Ed. Casaub.

probably Opic tribes of the old Ausonian stem; the Hernici and the Marsi belonged to the Sabine branch of the same stock.

The most interesting circumstance in the history of the Opic race and their Oscan speech is the relation which the people and their language appear to have borne to the Roman nation and to the Latin tongue.


The Greeks in the time of Aristotle and in that of the elder Cato reckoned the Romans and Latins as a part of the Opic nation; and this, as Otfried Müller has observed, cannot have been meant in merely a political sense, since the people of Campania and the inhabitants of Latium had certainly no political connection previously to the extension of the Roman arms. It was evidently founded on the known fact or generally received opinion of the affinity of the two races. This could hardly take its rise without some known resemblance between the Oscan and the Latin languages. Even the circumstance that the Romans, in a state of greater refinement derived from Greece, termed everything that savoured of rudeness or the barbarism of antiquity in their own language, Opic or Oscan, sufficiently indicates that the Oscan dialect was not considered as wholly foreign to Latium and to Rome.

One argument has often been brought forward to prove the affinity of the Opici and the people of Rome, on which a more careful examination seems to have proved that no reliance can be safely placed. I allude to the accounts left of the Atellane fables or the popular comedies which were performed at Rome for the amusement of the people, and were, as it appears, intelligible to the lower class of the citizens. It has been supposed that they were delivered in the Oscan language, and that this idiom must therefore have been sufficiently near to their own speech to be understood by the most illiterate among the Romans. This is plainly asserted by Strabo, who declares that after the Oscans had ceased to exist as a nation their dialect was preserved by the people of Rome, among whom the old dramatic

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Pliny has preserved a passage of Marcus Cato the Censor, which proves that the Greeks termed the Roman people Opic in his time: "Nos quoque dictitant barbaros et spurciùs nos quam alios Opicos (Opicorum) appellatione fœdant.” Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. xxix. Müller, Etrusker, Einleitung, s. 25.

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