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Chapter I


THE division between ancient and modern history is not one of mere convenience; it has a reality, in that it marks the distinction in point of time, place, and character between the civilization of the old and new worlds.

Ancient history is in the main an account of the rise and fall of those peoples whose civilization had a common origin, and presented similar features. In each case, however, the individuality of each nation impressed its own peculiar stamp on the character of that civilization.

The Mediterranean Sea was the theater of the growth and decay of the great nations who may be included in the same cycle of civilization, and whose culture found its highest point in Thebes in Egypt, Carthage in Africa, Athens in Greece, Rome in Italy. When their work was finished, new peoples arose, a new cycle of civilization was begun, a new center was found in the Atlantic Ocean in place of the Mediterranean. The province of the Roman historian is to record the closing scene of the great drama of ancient history as enacted in Italy.

Geographically,this peninsula is formed by the mountain chain of the Apennines breaking off from the Western Alps and crossing the northern portion of the country in an easterly direction, thence turning southeast and south, and terminating finally at the strait that divides Italy from Sicily. It must be especially remembered that the ancient boundary of Italy on the north was not the Alps, but the Apennines; therefore, the flat country on the north, extending between the Alps and the Apennines as far down as the Abruzzi, does not belong geographically nor historically to the Italy of our history. As the Apennines nowhere rise precipitously, but inclose many valleys and tablelands connected by easy passes, the country is well adapted for human habitation. This is especially the case with the adjacent slopes and coast districts. On the east coast stretches the plain of Apulia, on the south well-watered and fertile lowlands adjoin the hill country of the interior, and on the west we find, not merely the extraordinarily rich and irrigated lands of Etruria, Latium, and Campania, but, owing to the action of the sea and of volcanoes, the country is varied with hill and valley, harbor and island. Although Italy lacks the island-studded sea which gave the Greeks their seafaring character, and is deficient in bays and harbors, except on the southwest coast, yet it resembles Greece in its temperate climate and wholesome mountain air, while it excels it in rich alluvial plains and grassy mountain slopes. AH Italian interests center in the west; the reverse is the case with Greece. Thus, the Apulian and Messapian coasts play a subordinate part in Italian, as Epirus and Acarnania did in Greek history. The two peninsulas lie side by side, but turn their backs on each other, and the Italians and Greeks rarely came into contact in the Adriatic Sea.

The history of Italy falls into two main sections, its internal history down to its union under the leadership of the Latin stock, and the history of its sovereignty over the world. It must be borne in mind that what has been called the conquest of Italy by the Romans is really the consolidation and union of the whole Italian stock—a stock of which the Romans were the most powerful branch, but still only a branch. Our attention must now be fixed on the first of the two sections—on the settlement of the Italian stock: on its external struggles for existence against Greek and Etruscan intruders; on its conquest of these enemies; finally, on its internal strife, and the contest between the Latins and Samnites for the leadership of Italy, resulting in the victory of the Latins, at the end of the fourth century before Christ.

With regard to the earliest migrations into Italy we have no evidence to guide us, not even the uncertain voice of tradition. No monuments of a savage primitive race have ever been unearthed, such as exist in France, Germany, and England. But the remains of the Italian languages show that the three primitive stocks were Iapygian, Etruscan, and Italian. The last is divided into two main branches: Latin and Umbro-Samnite, or more fully that branch to which the dialects of the Umbri, Marsi, Volsci, and Samnites belong. The center of Italy was inhabited, from a remote period, by the two divisions of the Italian people. Philological analysis of the Italian tongue shows that they belong to the Indo-Germanic

Hist. Nat. m I

family, and that the Italians are brothers of the Greeks and cousins of the Celts, Germans, and Slavonians.1

In regard to the graver problems of life, in moral, social, political, and religious development, we find a marked difference between the Greeks and the Italians. In the Greek world we see the full and free play of individual life, and individual thought, whether in the political arena or that of literature, whether in the games at Olympia or in religious festivals. The whole was sacrificed to its parts, the nation to the township, the township to the citizen. Thus, solemn awe of the gods was lessened and at last extinguished by that freedom of thought which invested them with human attributes and then denied their existence. The Romans, on the contrary, merged the individual in the state, and regarded the progress and prosperity of the latter as the ideal for which all were bound to labor unceasingly. With them the son was bound to reverence the father, the citizen to reverence the ruler, all to reverence the gods. This distinction becomes more evident when we consider the length to which paternal and marital authority was carried by the Romans, and the merciless rigor with which a slave was treated by them. The meager and meaningless character of individual names among the Romans, when contrasted with the luxuriant and poetic fullness of those among the Greeks, points to the wish of the Romans to reduce all to one uniform level, instead of promoting the development of distinctive personality. But we must not forget that the basis was the same with both nations. In both, the clan arose from the family and the state from the clan; but, as the relations in a Roman household differed widely from those in a Greek, so the position of a clan, as a separate power, in a Greek, was far higher than in a Roman state. Again, although the fundamental ideas of the Roman constitution—a king, a senate, and an assembly authorized merely to accept or reject proposals submitted to it—are also found in Greek states, as in the earlier constitution of Crete, yet widely different was the development

i Since Mommsen wrote this the whole subject of the relationship of primitive peoples has been revolutionized by the investigations of the ethnologists, whose conclusions are now being accepted by the philologists also. The Greeks and Latins are admitted to be related to each other, and are members of the great Mediterranean or Eurafrican race, but no race affinity is admitted by many between them and the Celts, Germans, and Slavs, who are supposed to have come from the east and to have conquered and mixed with certain sections of the Mediterranean race. For a popular exposition of this view see Sergi, "The Mediterranean Race, a Study of the Origin of European Peoples." London, 1901. Hist. Nat. in 2

which these ideas received in each nation. So, too, in religion, both nations founded their faith on the same common store of symbolic and allegorical views of nature. But the Greek lost sight of the spiritual abstractions, and gave all the phenomena of nature a concrete and corporeal shape, clothing all with the riches of his poetic fancy. The Roman, casting aside all mythical legends of the gods, sanctified every action of life by assigning a spirit to everything existing—a spirit which came into being with it, and perished with it; and thus the very word Religio, "that which binds," shows what a hold this faith in the unseen and this power of spiritual abstraction had upon the Roman mind. Thus the two nations in which the civilization of antiquity culminated stand side by side, as different in development as they were in origin identical. The points in which the Hellenes excel the Italians are more universally intelligible, and reflect a more brilliant luster; but the deep feeling in each individual, that he was only a part of the community, a rare devotedness and power of self-sacrifice for the common weal, an earnest faith in its own gods, form the rich treasure of the Italian nation. Wherever in Hellas a tendency towards national union appeared, it was based not on elements directly political, but on games and art; the contests at Olympia, the poems of Homer, the tragedies of Euripides, were the only bonds that held Hellas together. Resolutely, on the other hand, the Italian surrendered his own personal will for the sake of freedom, and learned to obey his father that he might know how to obey the state. Amid this subjection individual development might be marred, and the germs of fairest promise might be arrested in the bud; the Italian gained in their stead a feeling of fatherland and of patriotism such as the Greek never knew, and, alone among all civilized nations of antiquity, succeeded in working out national unity in connection with a constitution based on self-government— a national unity which at last placed in his hands the mastery, not only over the divided Hellenic stock, but over the whole known world.

Chapter II


753 B.C.

WE have no data enabling us to accurately determine the migration of the Italians into Italy. The Italian names Novla or Nola (new town), Campani, Capua, Volturnus, Opsci (laborers), show that an Italian and probably Latin stock, the Ausones, were in possession of Campania before the Samnite and Greek immigrations; but all traces of the Itali, who were the primitive inhabitants of the country subsequently occupied by the Lucani and Bruttii, were entirely obliterated by these two races. It is also not improbable that the Latins in primitive times spread over Latium, Campania, Lucania, and the eastern half of Sicily. But those settled in Sicily, Magna Graecia, and Campania came into contact with the Greeks at a time when they were unable to resist so superior a civilization, and were consequently, as in Sicily, completely Hellenized, or so weakened that they fell an easy prey to Sabine hordes. The Latins, however, who settled just north of Campania, in Latium, where no Greek colony was founded, succeeded in maintaining their ground against the Sabines and more northern foes. Latium itself is a plain traversed by the Tiber and Anio, bounded on the east by the mountains of the Sabines and Aequi, which form part of the Apennines; on the south, by the Volscian range, which is separated from the main chain of the Apennines by the ancient territory of the Hernici; on the west, by the sea, whose harbors on this part of the coast are few and poor; on the north, by the broad highlands of Etruria, into which it imperceptibly merges. This plain is dotted with isolated hills, and the Alban range, free on every side, stands between the Volscian chain and the Tiber. Here were settled the old Latins (Prisci Latini), as they were later on called, to distinguish them from the Latins settled outside Latium. But in early times the Tiber formed the northern boundary, and only the center of the region between the Tiber, the spurs of the Apennines, the Alban mount, and the sea, consisting of some seven hundred square miles,

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