Page images

of the Gauls. By them Felsima, afterwards Bononia, was conquered. That city is termed by Pliny "Princeps Etruriæ." Melpum, an opulent city in the Milanese, was destroyed by the Senones, Boii, and Insubres. Adria, which gave name to the Adriatic, is supposed to have been one of the twelve cities. A few of these towns of Northern Etruria withstood the Gauls, and maintained themselves until Italy yielded to the Romans. Among these were Verona and Mantua; Ravenna, which afterwards fell into the possession of the Umbrians, is supposed to have been at one period an Etruscan city.

Northern Etruria, according to Plutarch,* was very fertile, and contained eighteen cities. Lanzi observes that none of the ancient writers has left us any very definite idea of its limits, though Livy, Strabo, Diodorus, Polybius, and Dionysius have described it.+ Niebuhr has expressed an opinion that Northern Etruria reached not further westward than the Ticinus. Perhaps it is impossible to ascertain the earliest limits between the Tuscans and Ligurians. We ought perhaps to reckon as a part of Northern Etruria the country of the Rhæti and other Alpine nations said to have been of the race of the Rasena. According to Strabo the Lepontii and Camuni were of the same lineage as the Rhæti. Mount Brenner was their boundary towards the north, and consequently the northern limit of the Tuscan race. If we believe Livy, the Rhætian Alps were the refuge of Etrurian fugitives who escaped from the destructive invasion of the Cisalpine Gauls. Modern writers, Frèret, Gibbon, Heyne, Niebuhr, and Otfried Müller, suppose this Alpine region to have been the cradle of the Tuscan race, whence they issued, as so many other barbarian hordes have done through the same passage, to conquer for themselves a dwelling-place in the happiest countries of Italy. The Cisal

*Plut. in Vita Camilli.

+ Polyb ii. cap. 17. See Lanzi, Saggio, tom. iii. p. 583.

Livii lib. v. c. 35. Pliny has the same story: "Rhætos, Thuscorum prolem, arbitrantur a Gallis pulsos, duce Rhæto." (Hist. Nat. lib. iii. cap. 20.) And Justin repeats it: "Tusci duce Rhæto, avitis sedibus amissis, Alpes occupavêre, et ex ducis nomine gentem Rhætorum condiderunt." (Lib. xx. c. 5.)

We have seen, however, that the Rhæti are proved, by the names of places throughout the country occupied by them when conquered by the Romans, to have been Celts. Probably the mountainous country occupied by the Tuscans was only a border of Rhætia. M. Zeuss conjectures that it was the tract of the Euganian hills.

pine was, according to this theory, the first of these settlements, and the twelve cities of Tuscany were of later date. This, as we shall find, is contrary to the statements of all the ancients, who uniformly supposed the primitive land of the Etruscans to have been on the Lower Sea.

III.-Campanian Etruria.

Polybius declares that the Tuscans had formerly possessed the so-termed Phlegræan plains bordering on Capua and Nola. Velleius Paterculus informs us that according to some accounts Capua was built by the Tyrrheni forty-seven years before the foundation of Rome. Pomponius Mela likewise says that it was founded by the Tuscans.


In this country, the most part of which had previously belonged to tribes of the Opic nation, and which was afterwards conquered by the Samnites, a people speaking the same Opic or Oscan language and sprung from another branch of the Opic race, the Tuscans during the intermediate ages possessed many towns, and ruled over a great and opulent population. According to Strabo they had in Campania twelve principal cities.* Otfried Müller has collected the names of several towns which must probably have belonged to the number. In the first place were Capua and Nola, then Nuceria on the Sarnus, probably also Herculaneum and Pompeii, places which, according to Strabo, belonged at first to the Oscans, then to the Tyrrheni and Pelasgians, and afterwards to the Samnites. Further inland Sorrentum is said to have been a Tuscan city, as well as Marcina. Salernum is conjectured by Müller to have been the metropolis in this Southern Etruria. Suessa in the northern part of Campania, and the Circaan Aea, are mentioned as places built by the Tyrrheni; but it would appear that in this instance the term must mean Pelasgic, and not properly Etruscan; and this is one example among many of that ambiguity in the meaning of these names which puzzles those who attempt researches into the early ethnography of Italy.

The great population, wealth, and luxury for which Capua and Campania in general were famed, must be considered as of Tuscan growth, for the old Oscans were a rude people, and * Strabo, lib. v. p. 247.


had no great cities. According to Cato, Capua was built by the Tuscans 283 A.U.C., a statement which is rejected by Müller, who remarks that it could not have grown so rapidly into fame and opulence. In 331, scarcely fifty years afterwards, the Tuscan power was entirely destroyed in Campania. Müller has indeed shown that Capua has been mentioned as already existing in the history of an earlier period. Under the Tuscans it was termed Vulturnum, from the river Vulturnus. The Samnite conquerors of the country termed it Capua, or as the name is found on coins Kapfa: they called themselves Campanians, Kappano, or Kampano. Müller conjectures with probability that the old Oscan language was preserved in the country during the Tuscan domination, since it was afterwards the general idiom of the Samnite Campanians, and from the fact that no genuine Tuscan inscriptions have been discovered in Campania.

After these general remarks on the Etruscans, and on the extension of their race and lineage in Italy, I shall now proceed to their origin and early history.

SECTION IX. Of the Accounts left by the Ancients respecting the Origin of the Etruscans. Of the Opinions of Modern Writers. Reflections.

I have observed that the traditions collected by ancient writers relative to the population of Etruria and the origin of the Etruscans, represent them as foreigners who came to Italy at a particular period, and not as indigenous inhabitants. I shall advert to these accounts under two heads: first, traditions derived from the Greeks; secondly, native traditions, or stories handed down among the native Italians.

Paragraph 1.-Greek traditions respecting the colonisation of Etruria.

These traditions having a Grecian origin, may again be divided into two very distinct sets, namely, those which relate to the proper Etruscans, and secondly, various accounts referring to Pelasgian colonies in the northern parts of Italy. Greek traditions relating to the proper Etruscans. The prevalent account among the Greeks, adopted from

them by Roman poets, and afterwards believed even in the country whence the Etruscans are by it derived, is the story first given by Herodotus, which makes them a colony from Lydia.

Herodotus connects the migration of the Etruscans from Lydia with circumstances so extremely absurd as to lessen the credibility of the whole account. It is evident that he obtained his statement from the people of Lydia. They claimed, as he says, the invention of coinage, and of certain games which were discovered on the following occasion. All Lydia was long afflicted with famine; to alleviate this calamity the people betook themselves, not to agriculture or other resources for increasing subsistence, but to games, with which they so occupied themselves as to forget the want of food during alternate days, and thus to consume a smaller quantity. After eighteen years thus passed, they sought a more effectual remedy by sending half the population away. The emigrants, under Tyrrhenus, a son of king Atys, built for themselves ships at Smyrna, and arrived in Umbria, where they erected cities, and from the name of their leader, Tyrrhenus, the son of Atys, were named Tyrrheni.*

This story has been repeated by a great number of Greek and Latin writers, but generally in such terms as to leave no room for doubt that it was taken by each of them from the father of history. Thus Silius Italicus, in his fifth book:

"Lydius huic genitor, Tmoli decus, æquore longè
Mæoniam quondam in Latias advexerat oras
Tyrrhenus pubem.”

The only writer of antiquity who disbelieved this account was Dionysius of Halicarnassus. He rejected it entirely on the following considerations: first, "Xanthus the Lydian, who was as well acquainted with ancient history as any man, and whose testimony may be relied upon with regard to that of his own country," made no mention of any colony sent to Italy. He says that Lydus and Torrhebus were the sons of Atys, and that

Herod. lib. xciv.

Ann. lib. iv. Vell. Paterc. lib. i. mulo. Cicero, Fragm. de Consulatu. Statius, Silv. iv. Lycophron, v. 1352.

+ See Strabo, lib. v. Plin. Hist. Nat. lib. iii. c. 1. Solinus, cap. viii. Tacitus, Valerius Max. lib. ii. c. 4. Plutarch. in RoVirgil. Æn. ii. 8, 10. Horat. Sat. lib. i. Marcian, Heracl. apud Hudson.

the nation being afterwards divided followed these two names. His words are these: "From Lydus the Lydians, and from Torthebus the Torrhebi are so called. There is a little difference in their language, and they still borrow many words from each other, like the Ionians and Dorians."*

As the Torrhebi are plainly the same division of the Lydian people who by Herodotus are called Tyrrheni, the evidence of Xanthus seems to be strongly against the story given by Herodotus. The Torrhebi were said by Xanthus, as we are informed by Dionysius, to have remained in Asia Minor, but it does not follow from this that the Etruscans may not have been a colony from the country of the Torrhebi.

Secondly, Dionysius says that he does not believe the Tyrrheni to have been descended from the Lydians, because the two nations do not use the same language, or resemble each other in religion, laws, or institutions. Dionysius adds, that "those persons come nearest to the truth who look upon the Tyrrheni not as a foreign people but as natives of the country; since they are found to be a very ancient nation, and agree with no other either in their language or manner of living."

It may well be doubted whether Dionysius was possessed of sufficient knowledge either of the Lydian language or of the Tuscan to entitle his opinion on their entire diversity to any decisive weight; we can only infer with safety, from his testimony on this subject, that the Lydians and Etruscans were not known in his time to speak cognate languages, and that the natives of one country, if in point of fact the experiment was ever tried, would not understand those of the other in conversation. Yet on the whole it must be allowed that his arguments, and chiefly that derived from the silence of Xanthus, the Lydian historian, as to any such event as the migration recorded by Herodotus, weighs heavily against the credibility of this story.

Greek traditions relating to Pelasgic settlements in Italy.

Herodotus had no intention of connecting the Etruscans with the Pelasgians; and by Pliny and Dionysius, and most other

Dionys. Hal. lib. i. c. 29. Xanthus, the historian of Lydia, lived a short time before Herodotus, and compiled a work of great credit on the antiquities of his country in the Greek language. See Voss. Hist. Græc.

« PreviousContinue »