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or Tuscia (Τυρρηνία, Τυρσηία). A country of Italy once inhabited by the people known as the Etruscans (Tusci). It lay west of the river Tiber and the Apennines, extending to the sea, and including the valley of the Arno. When authentic history begins, the Etruscans, in addition to this territory, held also the valley of the Padus (Etruria Circumpadana) and a further strip south of the Tiber (Etruria Campaniana). From the former territory they were crowded southward by the Gauls (see Celtae), and from the latter the Romans subsequently drove them. Etruria Proper was a confederation of twelve States or cities (duodecim populi Etruriae), of which no complete list has reached us, though it is fairly certain that the following towns were eleven of the twelve: Veii, Caeré, Tarquinii, Clusium, Cortona, Perusia, Volsinii, Vulci, Vetulonia, Volaterrae, and Arretium. The twelfth was in all probability either Falerii, Populonia, or Rusellae. Of the northern league, the following were important towns: Felsina (Bononia), Mantua, Ravenna, Chiavenna, and Hatria or Hadria, which gives its name to the Hadriaticum Mare. In the south, Capua and Nola were rich and powerful cities. Like Etruria Proper, the northern league was one of twelve States.

Ethnology.—The earliest traditions to which we now have access make the Etrurians a Lydian people (Herod.i. 94 166 171). But this theory, which was carefully considered by Dionysius of Halicarnassus in his work on the origins of Rome, appears to rest upon no convincing evidence. Dionysius notes that it is not mentioned by Xanthus, the historian of Lydia, and sums up the results of his own investigations by saying that “the Etruscans do not resemble any other people either in language or in manners.” This conclusion is interesting, for Dionysius had given much thought and time to the consideration of the question, and is said to have written a work on the Etruscans in twenty books, during the reign of Augustus, when there was a sort of Etrurian revival, in which everything Etruscan was the fashion. The identification of the Etruscans with the Lydians was very likely due to a confusion of the Lydian Τορρηβοί with the name Τυρσηνοί or Τυρρηνοί, applied to the Etruscans by the Greeks. (Cf. Hesiod, Theog. 1015; Ovid, Met. iii. 577 foll.; Plin. H. N. iii. 19; Tac. Ann. iv. 24; and see Mommsen, Hist. of Rome, bk. i. ch. ix.) The confusion was easier because of the maritime prowess of both peoples and their piratical practices (Herod. vi. 22; Strab. 219).

Modern investigators have not been deterred by the ill success of Dionysius from attempting to solve the problem of the ethnological affinities of the Etruscans; but no definite and generally accepted conclusions have yet been reached. For purposes of investigation there have been collected some 6000 or more Etruscan inscriptions, the characters resembling Pelasgian or early Greek. There are also vast collections of their pottery,

Map or Ancient Etruria.

bronzes, jewels, and other works of Tuscan art. Fifteen bilingual inscriptions give some further aid on the side of the language, but less than one might suppose, for they consist only of proper names. The longest inscription yet discovered is that found at Perugia in 1822, consisting of fortysix lines, in red, upon two sides of a block of stone (the “Cippus Perusinus”). These records are in the main mortuary records taken from tombs, walls, or the labels and seals of mortuary niches, or still oftener painted upon urns or cut into sarcophagi. They usually give the name, parentage, age, and rank of the deceased, with a list of the offices that he held. The most noted investigations of the origins and affinities of the Etruscans have been those of K. O. Müller, whose dissertation on the subject in two volumes (Breslau, 1828; 2d ed. Stuttgart, 1877) received a prize from the Academy of Sciences at Berlin, and Wilhelm Corssen (q.v.), who also published two elaborate volumes (Leipzig, 1874-75). Later works are those of Deecke and Pauli.

By these scholars some progress has been made towards a knowledge of the peculiarities of the Etruscan language. Besides proper names, some 200 other words have been deciphered, among them a number of numerals, including the first six digits, the common words denoting relationships, and several verbal forms. As a matter of general interest, the following list of Etruscan words may be given from Pauli:

clan...........son. thu.............five.
puia...........wife. huth............six.
sekh...........daughter. suthinese........urn-niches.
lautni..........a freedman. tular............pillar (cippus).
cvil (cver), dedication. amce...........fuit. ma.............est.
ci..............two. ture.............dat.
zal............three. turce............dedit.
sa.............four. arce.............habuit.

Relationship is expressed by separate words (as above), or (more commonly) by suffixes: thus, Aulesa, “wife of Aulé,” Theprisa, “wife of Thepri,” etc. Other linguistic facts that have been satisfactorily established regarding the Etruscan tongue are these: the existence of gender, the use of enclitics, the genitive singular in -s, the dative in -si or -thi, the absence of distinction between the nominative and accusative in nouns, and the formation of a plural in -r or -l.

The Egyptian monuments speak of a people called Tursha as taking part with the Sardinians, Teucri, and other people from the coasts of “the North” in an invasion of Egypt about B.C. 1200; but the Tursha can not be definitely identified with the Tyrrhenians any more than can the Tyrrhenians with the Etruscans. Support is given to the Lydian hypothesis by the discovery made in 1886 by two French scholars, who found in the island of Lemnos a sepulchral monument with two Etruscan inscriptions, though of a dialectic character. Now, Thucydides states that Lemnos was inhabited by Tyrrheni, so that in the finding of these inscriptions Pauli sees evidence of the identity of the two peoples. See Bréal in the Bulletin de Correspondance Hellénique, vol. x. (1886); and Pauli, Eine vorgriechische Inschrift von Lemnos (Leipzig, 1886).

An interesting discovery was made in 1891 by Prof. Krall of Vienna. About 1850, a mummy was deposited in the Museum of Agram by an Austrian traveller who had brought it from Egypt. When unrolled, it was found that the linen cloths in which it had been wrapped were covered with written characters. These, when examined in 1867 by Brugsch Pasha, were pronounced by him to be Ethiopic. In 1877 Sir Richard Burton explained them as Nabathean. It remained for Prof. Krall to prove that the characters are Etruscan, and that the words which they embody are found in the existing inscriptions of Etruria. They form, in fact, a book, of which the text originally consisted of twelve columns. More than two hundred lines are intact, including the last paragraph of the book. The mummy around which the linen bands were wrapped is that of a woman, and the gilding on the face and shoulders proves it to belong to the Greek or Roman period. Now, as Etruscan was still spoken and read in the first century A.D., it is easy to see how an Etruscan book could have found its way to Egypt, when both Etruria and Egypt were parts of the same Empire. The few words of the book that had been identified in 1893 make it probable that it is one of the semireligious, semi-magical works for which the Etruscans were celebrated. With the material for study and comparison afforded by the continuous text of this book, the problem of the Etruscan language seems likely to be brought at least measurably near to a satisfactory solution. The transcription and photographs of the text, with an account of Prof. Krall's discovery, were published by the Imperial Academy of Vienna in 1892 (Die Etruskischen Mumienbinden des Agramer National-Museums). See, also, an article by Prof. Sayce in the Fortnightly Review for February, 1893.

Until lately philologists were in the main divided into two great camps on the question of the racial and linguistic affinities of the Etruscans—one set of scholars holding to the theory of a Semitic origin and the other to that of an Aryan. (See Indo-European Languages.) But the actual failure of Dr. Corssen to establish the Aryan hypothesis has to some extent simplified the problem, and the controversy is now carried on over the Semitic theory and the Ugro-Altaic, this last having been very ingeniously, though not convincingly, set forth by Dr. Isaac Taylor in his Etruscan Researches (London, 1874). There are many coincidences that make the Semitic hypothesis seem plausible. There are Semitic peculiarities traceable in the language—e. g. the reduplication of consonants, the omission of short vowels, and the retrograde writing. The religion of the Etruscans was a species of mysticism like that of the Semites of Carthage; their ruling class was a priesthood and their theology a system of casuistry, as with the Jews; while their rites were gloomy and horrible, like those of the Phœnicians. Again, their art possesses the peculiar rigidity, the conventionality, and the lack of expression that mark the art and architecture of the Asiatic Semites. Finally, their physical characteristics were Semitic in that the Etruscans depicted themselves upon their monuments as short, thickset, with large heads and clumsy limbs (cf. Georg. ii. 193), and the aquiline nose that is one of the most noticeable peculiarities of the Semitic peoples. But while these coincidences are striking, they are not conclusive, and perhaps the most reasonable view is that of Müller, who regards the Etruscans as an Asiatic non-Aryan people intermingled with Aryan elements derived from the tribes which they gradually conquered and subdued. Their earliest home in Italy was on the Padus, and as late as Livy 's time the people of the Rhaetian Alps spoke a dialect of Etruscan (Livy, v. 33; Plin. H. N. iii. 20; Justin. xx. 5; and Oberziner, I Reti [1883]). The theory of a blending of two races, or rather of the grafting of an Aryan branch upon a nonAryan stock, would account for the two main features that present themselves in the Etruscan problem—the fact that, in the main, the Etruscans have nothing in common with their neighbours of Italy, and the additional fact that their language does seem to show some slight traces of Aryan influence—about as much, for instance, as that of the British Kelts left upon the dialect of their Teutonic conquerors. This hypothesis is at least reasonable, unless we are willing to accept the conclusion of the scholars who disparagingly regard the Etruscan people and the Etruscan language as sui generis, representing a race and a speech that have become extinct.

Conestabile and others hold that the Etrurian people contained two distinct elements—the one

Etruscans. (Painting from Caeré.)

native and servile, the other foreign and occupying the relation of lordship. Caeré and Cortona are said to have been Pelasgic cities before they were possessed by the Etruscans; and certain inscriptions once classed as Etruscan are now ascribed to the more ancient Pelasgi (q.v.). Livy states that the dialect of the Etrurians who inhabited the towns differed from that of the Etrurians of the country districts. Again, as Dr. Taylor points out, the rapid destruction of the Etrurian power in Campania and in the valley of the Padus makes it probable that it was a dominion of conquest rather than of colonization, and that the Rasena, or Etruscans proper, were a ruling aristocracy, of high culture and great ability, but few in number. All this is, in the main, corroborative of Müller's view.

Government and Civilization.—The Etrurian government was a federal league of the twelve cities already mentioned, each ruled by magistrates annually elected from a class of priestly nobles of hereditary rank. These magistrates bore the titles Lauchmé (Lucumo), Purtsvana (Porsena), and Marunuch, roughly corresponding to the Roman officers of Consul, Imperator, and Dictator. The official insignia afterwards used in Rome—the purple robe, the praetexta, the lictors and fasces, the sella curulis, and the apparitores—were derived from Etruria. The representatives of the twelve towns met at the temple of Voltumna at a place not now known (cf. Livy, iv. 23). Books of laws existed in accordance with which the internal affairs of the State were managed (Libri Disciplinae), as well as the religious rites and the division of the people. (See Festus, s. v. Rituales).

That the civilization of the Etruscans was a highly developed one is shown by the little that we know of their social laws as well as by the evidences of their wealth, luxury, and power. The position of women was a high one; the wife was the social equal of the husband, as is shown by the sepulchral honours paid her, and by the pictures of domestic life pourtrayed on the sarcophagi and the vases. For a long time the Etruscans ranked as one of the three great naval powers of the Mediterranean. They are known, also, to have been familiar with the sciences, to have been skilled in mining, metallurgy, astronomy, and medicine, while their knowledge of engineering was conspicuous in the massive walls of their cities, built of huge blocks, perfectly fitted without cement, and in their roads, tunnels, and chambered tombs.

In art and art-manufactures, the Etruscans stand very high. Their jewellery, which is in patterns formed by soldering on minute grains of gold, excites admiration, while their bronze-work, coinage, and mirrors are of very fine workmanship. Vast numbers of painted vases, found chiefly in tombs, possess both an historical and an artistic value. See Fictile; Vas.

The religion of the Etruscans played a most important part in their lives, since they were proverbially devoted to the exercises of their faith, and we have, in fact, already noted that their very form of government was largely a system of sacerdotalism. Hence Livy describes the nation as gens ante omnes alias dedita religionibus (v. 1; see also i. 56 and v. 15); the early Fathers of the Christian Church denounced Etruria as genetrix et mater superstitionis; and Dionysius even went so

Etruscan Canal in the Valley of the Marta. (Reber.)

far as to derive the name Tuscus from θυοσκόος= thurifer. Their sepulchral monuments show them to have entertained a belief in a future life; while Varro, Cicero, and Martianus Capella all speak of the important part which divination played in their daily life—their affairs of State, even, being regulated by haruspices and augurs. The deities of Greece and Rome appear in their mythology [e. g. Ani (Ianus), Maris (Mars), Nethuns (Neptunus), Uni (Iuno), Artumes (Artemis), Velch (Vulcanus)], besides whom there are a number of native gods, such as Fufluns, Tinia, Turms, Thesan, answering roughly to Bacchus, Iupiter, Mercury, and Aurora. The Sun and Moon figure as Usil and Lala. Other gods, some of whom are occasionally mentioned by the Roman writers, are Manius and Mania, king and queen of the lower world, Nortia (Fortuna), into the door of whose temple at Volsinii nails (clavi annales) were driven to mark the successive years, Summanus, the god of night, Vertumnus, the god of Autumn, and the Novensiles, a collective name of all the gods who hurled thunderbolts.

History.—Varro records a tradition that the Etruscan State was founded in the year B.C. 1044, and the Roman legends represent the Etruscans as a powerful and wealthy people at the time when Rome was founded. Later, but still during the early years of Rome, Etruria figures in history as a great naval power, allied with Carthage against the Greeks, and having kings of its own race dominant over the Romans, as the Roman historians themselves admit in recording the legend of the migration of the Tarquins from Tarquinii to Rome, and the sway of the Tarquinian dynasty. An Etruscan cemetery has been discovered on the Esquiline at Rome; the Caelian Hill bears the name of an Etruscan chief, Caeles Vibenna, while one of the oldest quarters of the city near the Palatine bore the name Vicus Tuscus. (See Mommsen, i. 4, p. 80; id. 9, p. 174 of the American ed.; cf. also Varr. L. L. v. 46). That the period of Etruscan domination at Rome was one of much prosperity to the city is seen by the stories that have been transmitted to us of the magnificence of the Tarquins, and more forcibly by the vastness of the engineering works constructed at that time, such as the Cloaca Maxima, the Capitoline temple, and the Servian Wall. See Cloaca.

Even after the expulsion of the kings from Rome, Etruria was still the greatest military power in Italy, and for a century the young Republic of Rome taxed all its energies in resisting the single Tuscan State of Veii, whose people in B.C. 476 actually succeeded in capturing the Ianiculum. During the period from B.C. 540 to 474, the Etruscans divided with the Greeks and Carthaginians the control of the Mediterranean, expelling the Greek colonists from Corsica (B.C. 538), an island which they still held in 453. In B.C. 525 they attacked the Greeks in Cumae, but in 474, Hiero of Syracuse, in a great naval battle fought off the Campanian coast, broke their naval power, and won a victory which is celebrated by Pindar in an extant ode (Pyth. i. 72). In 414, however, a contingent of their Etruscan ships was sent to aid the Athenians in their ill-fated expedition against Sicily. From this time the power of Etruria rapidly declined. In Campania, the Greeks of Cumae, aided by the Samnites, routed the Etruscan forces, and the Samnites carried Capua by storm; while in the north of Italy the Gauls swept down from the Alps, and, after overwhelming city after city, crossed the Apennines and made their way into the heart of Etruria. The rich Etruscan city of Melpum fell in B.C. 396, and not many years later, attacked by the Romans on the south, the

Remains of the Servian Wall upon the Aventine, Rome.

southern province submitted to the Latin arms (B.C. 351). In 311, the Romans crossed the boundary formed by the Ciminian Forest, in spite of several successive defeats sustained by them at the hands of the Etruscans, and won a decisive victory in the year 283 at the Vadimonian Lake. Tarquinii almost immediately fell; and in 280 Volaterrae, the great northern fortress of the Etruscans, having succumbed, the long struggle ended with the complete triumph of the Roman arms.

Though conquered, the Etruscan cities appear to have been treated with mildness and consideration, and to have sustained towards Rome the position of allies rather than subjects. In the Second Punic War they furnished supplies to the Roman fleet, and later they were actually admitted to the Roman franchise (B.C. 89). Some of the greatest names in the later history of the Roman State are the names of men of Etruscan lineage. Pompeius Magnus (Pompu), Maecenas, and the family of Caecina were among these; and under the emperors many other distinguished men show in their lineage kinship with the noble families of Etruria. In fact, as stated above, during the Augustan age an Etruscan fad generally prevailed at Rome, like our Anglomania of to-day or the Gallomania of 1856-70; and Etruscan ancestry was a thing to be proud of.

The debt of Rome to her Etruscan neighbours has been variously regarded. In the Latin language, apart from a comparatively few terms of religion, augury, and warfare, there are no real traces of Etrurian influence. To the Romans, the Etruscans were always an alien race (Cic. N. D. ii. 4; Plaut. Curc. 150), with whom, indeed, they traded and fought, and whose divination they employed; yet they never owned kinship with them, but rather let them hold the same relation towards Rome as did the Carthaginians, with whom the Latins also fought and traded. Yet the sway of the Etruscan kings at Rome did add much to the Roman ceremonial and the usages of Roman life. To Etruria are due the insignia of office, the fasces, the curule chair; and to the same source Rome owed the circus, the gladiatorial shows, the races, the triumph, the early monetary system, the rudiments of military science, the knowledge of augury, the tibicines, the lituus, and the art of building substantial houses, aqueducts, and sewers.

Bibliography.—See K. O. Müller, Die Etrusker, 2d ed. (Stuttgart, 1877); Lepsius, Inscriptiones Umbricae et Oscae (Leipzig, 1841); Corssen, Ueber die Sprache der Etrusker (Leipzig, 1874-75); Deecke, Corssen und die Sprache der Etrusker (Stuttgart, 1875); id. Etruskische Forschungen (1875-76); Isaac Taylor, Etruscan Researches (London, 1874); Mommsen, Unteritalische Dialekte (Leipzig, 1840); id. Hist. of Rome, bk. i. ch. 9; Pauli, Etruskische Studien; id. Inschriften Nordetruskischen Alphabets (Leipzig, 1885); Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (London, 1878); Rochette, Lectures on Ancient Art, ch. iv. (London, 1854); Gray, History of Etruria (London, 1843); the Earl of Crawford, Etruscan Inscriptions (London, 1872); Oberziner, I Reti (Rome, 1883); Ellis, The Asiatic Affinities of the Old Italians (London, 1870); id. Etruscan Numerals (London, 1872); id. Sources of the Etruscan and Basque Languages (London, 1886); and Bugge, Der Ursprung der Etrusker (Christiania, 1886). For the Etruscan inscriptions see Fabretti's Corpus Inscr. Ital. and Pauli's Corp. Inscr. Etrusc. (now appearing).

hide References (13 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (13):
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.166
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.171
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.94
    • Herodotus, Histories, 6.22
    • Strabo, Geography, 5.3
    • Ovid, Metamorphoses, 3.577
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.193
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.24
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.20
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 23
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 33
    • Cicero, de Natura Deorum, 2.4
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