previous next


ETRU´RIA one of the principal divisions of Central Italy, bounded on the N. by the Apennines, on the E. by the Tiber, and on the W. by the Tyrrhenian Sea.


It is almost universally called Etruria by the Latin writers of the best times: though the form TUSCIA is often found in later writers (Lib. Colon. p. 211; Amm. Marc. 27.3, &c.): and appears in the later ages of the Roman Empire to have become the official designation of the district in question, whence it is of frequent occurrence on inscriptions, and is found in the Notitia, and the Itineraries. (Not. Dign. ii. p. 63; Itin. Ant. p. 289; Tab. Peut.; Orell. Inscr. 1100, 1181, &c.) Hence it passed into general use in the middle ages, and is still preserved in the modern appellation of Toscana or Tuscany. On the other hand, the people were called indifferently Etruscans, ETRUSCI, or Tuscans, TUSCI; both of which forms are used without distinction by Livy, Varro, and other writers of the best age: though Tuscus and Tusci appear to be the most ancient forms, and perhaps the only ones in use in the time of Cato or Plautus. The Greeks on the contrary universally called them TYRRHENIANS or TYRSENIANS (Τυρρηνοί, Τυρσηνοί), and thence named their land TYRRHENIA (Τυρρηνία); a custom which they retained even under the Roman Empire: though the geographers sometimes render the Latin name by Ἐτροῦσκοι or Τοῦδκοι (Strab. v. p.219; Ptol. 3.1, § § 4, 47): and very late writers, such as Zosimus and Procopius, adopt Τονσκία for the name of the country (Zosim. 5.41; Procop. B. G. 1.16). The forms Hetruria and Hetruscus, as well as Thuscus, which are not unfrequently found in the MSS. of Latin authors, appear to be certainly incorrect.

There is little doubt that the two forms of the Latin name, Etruscus and Tuscus, are merely two modifications of the same, and that this was originally written Turscus, a form still preserved in the Eugubine Tables. (Lepsius, Inscr. Umbr. tab. i. b.) It is easy to go a step further and identify the Turscus or Tursicus of the Romans with the Τυρσηνός of the Greeks, a conclusion which has been generally adopted by modern scholars, though denied by some philologers. (Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. p. 100; Niebuhr, vol. i. not. 219, 244, p. 112; Abeken, Mittel-Italien, p. 126.) The inquiry as to the origin and derivation of these names must be deferred till we come to consider the national affinities of the Etruscans themselves. But one point of the highest importance has been preserved to us by Dionysius, namely, that the native name of the people was different from all these, and that they called themselves Rasena or Rasenna (Dionys. A. R. 1.30, where the editions have Ῥασένα, but the best MSS. give the form Πασέννα. See Schwegler, Röm. Gesch. vol. i. p. 255, note 8).


The general limits of Etruria have been already indicated: its more precise boundaries appear to have been generally recognised and clearly defined. On the NW. it was bounded by the river Macra (Magra), which separated it from Liguria: from the banks of that river to the sources of the Tiber, the main chain of the Apennines formed the boundary between Etruria and Cisalpine Gaul: while the Tiber from its source (or a point very near its source) to its mouth constituted the eastern limit of Etruria, dividing it first from Umbria, afterwards from the Sabines, and lastly from Latium. The length of the sea-coast from the mouth of the Macra to that of the Tiber is estimated by Pliny at 284 Roman miles, and by Strabo at 2500 stadia (312 1/2 M. P.), both of which estimates exceed the truth: the actual distance is little more than 200 geographical or 250 Roman miles. The Maritime Itinerary gives 292 M. P., which, after allowing for the subdivision into a number of small distances, closely agrees with the statement of Pliny. (Plin. Nat. 3.5. s. 8; Strab. v. p.222; Itin. Marit. pp. 498--501.) The eastern frontier, formed by the course of the Tiber, has a length of about 180 R. miles, without taking account of the minor windings of the river: the greatest breadth of Etruria is justly estimated by Strabo (l.c.) at something less than half its length.

The region thus limited is extremely varied in its character, the tracts in the northern and north-eastern districts, immediately on the slope of the high Apennines, being very mountainous; while the greater part of the central region between the Arnus and the Tiber is occupied by masses and groups of great; [p. 1.856]hills, many of them rugged, and attaining to a considerable elevation, though hardly any can be said to assume the rank of mountains, with the exception of the lofty Monte Amiata, which forms the centre of a volcanic group, in the very heart of the province, and rises to the height of 5794 feet above the level of the sea. There are, however, considerable level tracts of rich alluvial soil, the most important of which are those on the banks and at the mouth of the Arnus; the valley of the Clanis, which connects the basin of that river with that of the Tiber; and a spacious tract along the coast, between the hills of the interior and the sea, now known as the Maremma. This last district is of very various width and irregular extent, owing to the manner in which the hills encroach upon it and throw out bold arms or detached masses quite down to the coast, of which the most conspicuous are the promontory of Populonium or Piombino, and the Mons Argentarius. With these exceptions, the coast is for the most part low and flat, with extensive marshes in some parts, which render the whole tract of the Maremma noted for its unhealthiness, a character it seems to have already earned as early as the days of the younger Pliny, and which was sometimes unjustly extended to the whole of Etruria. (Plin. Ep. 5.6.2; Sidon. Apoll. Ep. 1.5.)

It is very difficult to group the ranges of mountains or hills, with which almost the whole of Etruria is occupied, into any system of geographical arrangement. The two great valleys of the Arnus and the Tiber, the one having a general direction from E. to W., the other from N. to S., may be considered as forming the key to the geography of the country. Both these important streams rise in the central range of the Apennines, at no very great distance from one another, and follow for some space a nearly parallel direction, until the Arnus makes an abrupt turn near Arretium, and flows from thence towards the NW. till within a few miles of Florence, when it turns again, and pursues a course nearly due W. from thence to the sea. From the, point where the Arnus thus suddenly turns off at Arretium, the remarkable trough-like depression or valley of the Clanis (the Val di Chiana) extends nearly S. as far as Clusium, from whence its waters find their way to the Tiber: thus separating the general mass of the Etrurian hills from those on the W. bank of the Tiber. So level is this singular valley that its stagnant waters may be led off at pleasure either into the Arnus on the N., or the Tiber on the S. [CLANIS]

The portion of Etruria N. of the Arnus is occupied principally by the offshoots and ranges of the Apennines, the main chain of which forms its northern boundary, while it sends off towards the S. several minor ranges or arms, some of them however of elevation little inferior to the central chain. Of these the most conspicuous are the lofty and rugged group now called the Alpi Apuani, which separates the valley of the Macra from that of the Ausar (Serchio); a second, of inferior elevation, which separates the basin of Lucca from that of Pistoja, and sends out its ramifications to the banks of the Arnus between Pisa and Florence; thirdly, the range which separates the basin of Pistoja and valley of the Ombrone from that of the Sieve; fourthly, the much more lofty range, now called Prato Magno, which intervenes between the lower valley of the Arnus and its source, and causes the great bend of that river already noticed; and, lastly, the ridge called Alpe delta Catenaja, which separates the upper valley of, the Arnus from that of the Tiber. This last range (which rises in its highest point to 4590 feet) is continued by the great hills that extend at the back of Arretium and Cortona to the banks of the lake Thrasimene and Perusia, and are thence prolonged, though on a still diminishing scale, along the W. bank of the Tiber. Between these successive ranges and the Arnus, and, in some cases, almost enclosed by the mountains, lie several basins or valleys, affording. a considerable extent of fertile plain, for the most part so perfectly level as to be subject to frequent inundations, and (in ancient times especially) abounding in marshes and great pools or lakes of, stagnant water. Such are, besides the plain at the mouth of the Arnus and Ausar, the basin in which was situated the city of Luca, the nearly similar valley of Pistoria, and that in which stands the city of Florence, the modern capital of Tuscany.

S. of the Arnus, almost the whole breadth of; Etruria is occupied by a range of hills, or, more correctly speaking, by a broad tract of hilly country, extending from the valley of the Clanis to the sea, and from the banks of the Arnus to the mouth of the Umbro. The greater part of these hills, many of which rise to a height of not less than 2000 feet, and some even considerably exceed 3000, belong to the formation termed by geologists the Subapennine, and present comparatively easy declivities and gently sloping sides, forming a marked contrast to the bold abrupt forms of the central Apennines. At the same time, they may all be considered as dependent upon the same system; though much broken and diversified, their ranges preserve a general parallelism to the direction of the central chain of the Apennines from NW. to SE. But about 40 miles S. of Siena there rises a range of a totally different character, and almost wholly isolated from the hills to the N. of it,--the volcanic group of which Monte Amiata already noticed is the centre, and the Monte Labro and Monte di Radicopani form the two extremities; the general direction of this range is nearly from E. to W. A short distance S. of this again (nearly on the present confines of Tuscany and the Papal States) commences the great volcanic tract which occupies almost the whole, of Southern Etruria, and is di. rectly connected with that of Latium and the Campagna di Roma. This district includes the extinct volcanic craters of the Lago di Bolsena (Lacus Vulsiniensis), Lago di Vico (Lacus Ciminus), and Lago di Bracciano (Lacus Sabatinus), all of them now occupied by lakes, as well as the smaller Lago di Martignano (Lacus Alsictinus) and the now dry basin of Baccano. None of these volcanic foci of eruption have been in a state of activity within historical memory, though of very recent date in a geological sense. Nor do any of the volcanic hills of Southern Etruria rise to any considerable elevation, like the Alban hills of Latium; but the range or tract of which the Mons Ciminus is the centre, forms a kind of hilly barrier extending, from E. to W., from the Tiber nearly to the sea-coast, which bounds the view of the Roman Campagna, and was for a long time the limit of the Roman arms. [CIMINUS MONS.]

The low tract of the Maremma already noticed extends between the hills of the interior and the sea: it may be considered as commencing a little to the N. of the mouth of the Caecina, and extending from thence as far as Centumcellae (Civita Vecchia); [p. 1.857]but it is far from presenting an unbroken and uniform plain, and rather forms a succession of basins between the uplands and the sea, separated by intervening ridges of hills, which descend in places quite to the sea-coast, and constitute the natural limits of these separate districts, now known as the Maremma di Volterra, Maremma di Grosseto, &c. Of these, the last-mentioned, which may be called the basin of the Ombrone (Umbro), and extends along the coast from the promontory of Populonium to the Mons Argentarius, is the most extensive. S. of Centumcellae the hills descend quite to the sea-coast, and continue to skirt it at a very short distance, till within a few miles of the Tiber.

The minor rivers of Etruria may be readily classed into three groups: 1. those which fall into the Arnus; 2. those which fall into the Tiber; and 3. those which flow direct to the sea. 1. Of the first group it is singular that not a single ancient name has been preserved to us, except that of the AUSER or Serchio, which now no longer joins the Arnus, but pursues its own course to the sea. The most important tributaries of the Arno are the Sieve and the Ombrone from the N., and the Elsa and Era on the S. side. 2. Of the affluents of the Tiber, the only considerable one which joins it from the W. or Etruscan bank is the CLANIS already mentioned, together with its tributary the Pallia or Paglia (Pallia, Tab. Peut.): several small streams, however, bring down to it the waters of the Etruscan hills; but the only one of which the ancient name is recorded is the CREMERA between Rome and Veii. 3. The rivers which discharge their waters directly into the sea are more numerous and considerable. Proceeding S. from the mouth of the Arnus, we find: the CAECINA (Cecina), which watered the territory of Volaterrae; the UMBRO (Ombrone), which flowed beneath the walls of Rusellae, and is the most considerable stream between the Arno and the Tiber; the Albinia (Albegna), between Portus Telamonis and Cosa; the Armina or Armenta (Arnine, Armine, Itin. Marit. p. 499; Armenta, Tab. Peut.), now called the Fiora, which constitutes the modern boundary between Tuscany and the Roman States; the Marta (Tab. Peut.; Itin. Ant. p. 291), still called Marta, which carries off the waters of the lake of Bolsena, and flows beneath the walls of Tarquinii; and the MINIO (Mignone), a small stream, but better known than the preceding from the mention of its name in Virgil (Aen. 10.183). Besides these, the name of the Ossa (Osa), a very small stream between the Albinia and Portus Telamonis, is recorded by Ptolemy (3.1.4); and that of the Alma (Alma), also a trifling rivulet, between the Umbro and Populonium, by the Maritime Itinerary (p. 500). N. of the Arnus, the Aventia and Vesidia of the Tabula may probably be identified with the river Lavenza, which descends from the mountains of Carrara; and the Versiglia, which flows from those of Serravezza.

Of the lakes of Etruria the most considerable is the LACUS TRASIMENUS, still called the Lago Trasimeno or Lago di Perugia, about 36 miles in circumference, and celebrated for the great victory of Hannibal over the Romans in B.C. 217; next to this in magnitude is the LACUS VOLSINIENSIS, or Lago di Bolsena, so called from the city of the same name, a crater-formed lake, as well as the more southerly LACUS SABATINUS (Lago di Bracciano) aud the much smaller LACUS CIMINUS (Lago di Vico) and LACUS ALSIETINUS (Lago di Martignano). The LAKE OF CLUSIUM, on the contrary (Lago dt Chiusi), was a mere stagnant accumulation of water connected with the river Clanis: and the APRILIS LACUS or Prelius Lacus of Cicero, was a kind of lagoon or marshy pool on the sea-coast, not far from the mouth of the Umbro, now called the Paduli di Castiglione. Several similar lagoons or marshy lakes exist at different points along the coast of Etruria, of which the ancient names have not been preserved; as well as on the N. side of the Arnus, where the Paduli di Fucecchio and Lago di Bientina are evidently only the remains of far more extensive waters and marshes, which previously occupied this part of Etruria. [ARNUS] The Vadimonian Lake (LACUS VADIMONIS), noted as the scene of two successive defeats of the Etruscans by the Romans, is a mere sulphureous pool of very small extent, now called the Laghetto or Lago di Bassano, a few miles from the town of Orte (HORTA) and close to the Tiber.

The most prominent physical features of the coast of Etruria are the promontory of POPULONIUM and that of the MONS ARGENTARIUS, which seems to have been better known to the Romans by the name of Promontorium Cosanum: the latter is a; remarkable, detached, and almost insulated mountain, joined to the mainland only by two narrow strips of sand. Several small islands are situated off the coast of Etruria, and between that country and Corsica. Of these by far the most considerable is ILVA called by the Greeks Aethalia, celebrated for its iron mines, and separated from the promontory of Populonium by a strait only six miles wide. S. of Ilva lay the small low island of PLANASIA (Pianosa) and the still smaller OGLASA (Monte Cristo). Off the promontory of Cosa were IGILIUM (Giglio) and DIANIUM (Giannuti): and N. of Ilva, between the mouth of the Arnus and Corsica, lay URGO or Gorgon (Gorgona) and Capraria (Capraja). Besides these Pliny mentions several smaller islets, probably mere rocks, of which Maenaria may probably be identified with Meloria, immediately opposite to the port of Livorno; Columbaria may be Palmajola, in the straits between Ilva and the mainland; and Barpana and Venaria may be the small islets off the Portus Telamonis now called the Formiche di Grosseto. (Plin. Nat. 3.6. s. 12.) But these last identifications are merely conjectural.


There are few problems that have in modern times more exercised the ingenuity of scholars and philologers than that of the origin of the Etruscan nation, and few upon which opinions still remain more divided. Without attempting to notice all the various hypotheses that have been advanced and derivations that have been found for this remarkable people, it will be necessary to review the most important of them, beginning with the statements found in ancient authors on the subject.

The opinion generally received in ancient times, and almost universally adopted by Roman writers, ascribed to the Etruscans a Lydian origin. The earliest authority for this statement is that of Herodotus, who relates it according to the tradition reported to him by the Lydians. Their account (mixed up with many fabulous and legendary details) was, in substance, that a certain Atys, king of Lydia, had two sons, Lydus and Tyrsenus, the one of whom had remained in Lydia and given name to [p. 1.858]the people of that country; the other, having been compelled by a great famine to emigrate with one-half of the existing population of Lydia, had ultimately settled in the land of the Umbrians, and given to his people the name of Tyrseni. (Hdt. 1.94.) The internal improbabilities of this narrative are obvious: and the fables with which it is mingled, as well as the introduction of the eponymous heroes Lydus and Tyrrhenus, impart to it a strongly mythical character. But the same tradition appears to have been related with some little variation by several other authors (Dionys. A. R. 1.28), among the rest by Timaeus (Fr. 19. ed. Didot), and is alluded to by Lycophron (Alex. 1351). It was also adopted by many Greek writers of later times, and, as already mentioned, became almost universally received among the Romans. (Scymn. Ch. 220; Strab. v. p.219; Plut. Rom. 2; a long list of Roman authorities is collected by Dennis, Etruria, vol. i. p. xxxii.) We have, unfortunately, no means of knowing whether it existed as a national tradition among the Etruscans themselves, or, as appears more probable, was merely adopted by them, in the same manner as the legend of Aeneas and the Trojan colony was by the Romans.

But this view of the subject seems to have been far less generally received at the earliest period of historical research. We learn from Dionysius (1.28) that Xanthus the Lydian historian (an elder contemporary of Herodotus) made no mention of this colonisation of Tyrrhenia, though he mentioned other less important settlements of the Lydians; and that he represented the two sons of Atys as being named Lydus and Torrhebus, and giving name to the two tribes of Lydians and Torrhebians: this latter name is known to us from other sources as that of an Asiatic people bordering upon the Lydians. (Steph. Byz. s. v. Τορρηβος). Hence it seems very probable that the legend related to Herodotus had confounded the two nations of Tyrrhenians and Torrhebians. On the other hand, Hellanicus represented the Tyrrhenians of Etruria as Pelasgians, whom he described, according to the custom of the logographers, as migrating direct from Thessaly to Italy, where they first founded the city of Spina near the mouth of the Padus, and thence pressed through the interior of the peninsula, and established themselves in Tyrrhenia. (Hellan. Fr. 1. ed. Didot; Dionys. A. R. 1.28.) Dionysius himself, the only author of a later period who rejects the Lydian tradition, discards the view of Hellanicus also, and says that the Etruscans in his day were wholly distinct from every other people in their language, as well as manners, customs, and religious rites; hence he inclines to consider them as an aboriginal or autochthonous people. (Id. 1.30).

Among modern authors, many have adopted the Lydian tradition as an historical fact, and have sought to support it by pointing out analogies and resemblances in the manners, religious rites, and architecture of the Etruscans with those of the Lydians and other nations of Asia Minor. (Dennis, Etruria, vol. i. p. xxxvii. &c.; Newman, Regal Rome, p. 100.) Others, while they reject this tradition, but admit the strongly oriental character of many of the customs and institutions of the Etruscans, have derived them from the Phoenicians, Egyptians, and other oriental nations: while Micali, a modern Tuscan writer of celebrity, is content to acquiesce in the opinion of Dionysius, that the Etruscans were an indigenous people of Italy, at the same time that he regards many of their arts and institutions as imported directly from Egypt. (Micali, Antichi Popoli Italiani, vol. 1.100.7. pp. 99, 140, &c.)

Niebuhr was the first to point out that the population of Etruria was of a mixed character, and that in all inquiries into its origin we must discriminate between two different races, which existed simultaneously in the country, during the period when we have any knowledge of its history. Of these two elements the one he regards as Pelasgic, composing the bulk of the population, especially of the more southern parts of Etruria, but existing in a state of serfdom or vassalage, having been conquered by a, nation of invaders from the north, descending in the, last instance from the mountains of Rhaetia. It is this conquering race whom he considers as the true Rasena, or Etruscans properly so called, while the name of Tyrrhenians (applied by the Greeks to the whole people) belonged of right only to the Pelasgic or subject population. The Rasena thus formed a dominant aristocracy, which however gradually became mingled into one people with the subject race, in the same manner as the Normans and Saxons in England. (Niebuhr, vol. i. pp. 109--142, Lect. on Rom. Hist. vol. i. pp. 57--67.)

The theory of C. O. Muller is in fact nothing more than an ingenious modification of the Lydian tradition of Herodotus, so contrived as to adapt it to the fact (which he recognises in common with Niebuhr and most recent inquirers) of the Pelasgic origin of a large part of the population of Etruria. He considers the Tyrrhenians of Italy to be identical with those Tyrrhenian Pelasgians (Τυρσηνοί Πελασγοί Soph. Fr. 256), the existence of which as a sea-faring people on the islands and coasts of the Aegaean Sea is a fact attested by many ancient authors. [PELASGI] A body of these Pelasgians he supposes to have been settled on the coast of Lydia, where they obtained the name of Tyrrhenians from a city of the name of Tyrrha; and that, being compelled at a later period to emigrate from thence, they repaired to the coasts of Etruria, where they founded the cities of Tarquinii and Agylla, and gradually acquired so much influence as to impart to the whole people whom they found there the name of Tyrrhenians. This previously existing population he supposes to have been the Rasena or Etruscans proper, and inclines with Niebuhr to derive them from the mountains of Rhaetia. (Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. Einleit. 100.2, Hetrurien,in Kl. Schr. vol. i. pp. 136--140.)

Of the more recent theories, that of Lepsius (Tyrrhenische Pelasger in Etrurien, 8vo. Leipzig, 1842) deserves especial mention. He discards altogether the hypothesis of a separate nation of Rasena, and considers the Etruscans as resulting from a mixture of the invading Pelasgians with the Umbrians, who, according to several authorities, previously occupied the country afterwards known as Etruria.

To the above speculations must be added the results of recent inquiries into the language of the ancient Etruscans. Unfortunately, the materials which exist for these are so scanty as to afford a very insecure basis for ethnological conclusions; The greater part of the inscriptions extant are merely sepulchral, and contain therefore but a very few words, besides proper names. A single inscription preserved at Perugia extends to 46 lines: but has hitherto defied all attempts at its interpretation. But the researches of recent philologers, and a careful comparison of this Perugian inscription with a few shorter ones, which have been discovered in the more southerly parts of Etruria, seem to justify the following [p. 1.859]conclusions:--1. The Etruscan or Tuscan language is one radically different from the other languages of Italy by which it was surrounded. This is in accordance with the express statement of Dionysius (1.30) and with several passages of the Roman writers which represent the Tuscan as a language wholly unintelligible to the Latins. (Liv. 9.36; Gel. 11.7). 2. A comparison with the Eugubine Tables proves it to be quite distinct from the Umbrian, its nearest neighbour, though they would seem to have had words and inflections common to the two, a circumstance which would naturally arise from their proximity, and still more probably from the subjection of a part of the Umbrians. by the Etruscans. 3. It contains unquestionably a Greek or Pelasgic element: this is found so much more strongly in some inscriptions, discovered in the southern part of Etruria, as to raise a suspicion that they are almost purely Pelasgic. (Lepsius, Tyrrhen. Pelasger, pp. 40--43; Donaldson, Varronianus, pp. 166--170.) This, however, does not apply to the Perugian inscription, or others found in the more central and northern parts of the country. The existence of this Pelasgian or old Greek element explains the partial success of Lanzi in his elaborate attempt to interpret the Etruscan language by means of Greek analogies (Saggio di Lingua Etrusca, 3 vols. 8vo. Rome, 1789), while its total failure as a whole proves the main ingredients of the language to be radically different. 4. Besides these two partial elements, one akin to the Umbrian, the other to the old Greek, there exists a third, probably the most important of all, wholly distinct from both, and which may be called the Rasenic element, being in all probability the language of the Etruscans properly so called. Of this we can only assert, in the present state of our knowledge, that although distinct from the Pelasgic or Greek family of languages on the one hand, and from that of the Umbrians, Oscans, and Latins on the other, there are good reasons for believing it to belong. to the same great family, or to the class of languages commonly known as the Indo-Teutonic. Some arguments have lately been brought forward to show that its nearest affinities are with the Gothic, or Scandinavian group. (Klenze, Philol. Abhandl. p. 64, note; Schwegler, Röm. Gesch. vol. 1. pp.172,268; Donaldson, Varronianus, chap. v.)

The result of these philological inquiries is in accordance with, and strongly confirms, that of the latest historical researches. Both alike point to the inference that the Etruscans were a mixed people: that the bulk of the population, at least of Southern Etruria, was a Pelasgic race, closely akin to the people who formed the substratum of the population of Latium, as well as of Southern Italy, but who appear to have been the most cultivated and civilised of the early Italian races, and to have preserved most strongly many peculiarities of their original character and institutions; but that this people had been subdued, before the period when they first figure in Roman history, by a more warlike race from the north, who established their dominion over the previously existing population, whom they reduced to the condition of serfs (πενεσταί, Dionys. A. R. 9.5.): the conquerors retained their own language, though not without modification, as well as their sacerdotal and aristocratic institutions, while they received to a great extent the arts and civilisation of the people whom they conquered. A third element which must not be overlooked in the population of Etruria, was that of the Umbrians, who, according to the general tradition of antiquity, were the original inhabitants of this part of Italy. (Plin 3.5. s. 8, 14. s. 19; Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. p. 102.) They are generally represented as subdued or expelled by the Etruscans, but Pliny says that they were driven out by the Pelasgians, and these in their turn by the Etruscans. In either case it cannot be supposed that the whole people would be expelled or exterminated, and there is reason to believe that the subject Umbrians always continued to form a considerable ingredient in the population of Northern Etruria, as the Pelasgians did in that of the south. (Lepsius, l.c. pp. 27--34; Schwegler, l.c. p, 270.)

The period, as well as the circumstances, of these successive migrations and conquests are wholly unknown to us. Hellanicus (ap. Dionys. 1.28) represented the Pelasgians as invading the land afterwards called Tyrrhenia from the north, and establishing the seat of their power first at Croton (Cortona), from whence they gradually spread themselves over the whole country. There can be no doubt that the same course was pursued by the later invaders, the Rasena: but it is remarkable, on the other hand, that there exist numerous traditions and mythical legends which point in the opposite direction, and represent the S. of Etruria, especially Tarquinii, as the centre from whence emanated all that was peculiar in the Etruscan rites, customs, and institutions. (Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. pp. 72, 73.) The name of Tarquinii itself, and that of its eponymous hero Tarchon, who was represented in some accounts as the founder of all the twelve cities of Etruria (Strab. v. p.219); present strong analogies with those of the Tyrrhenians and Tyrsenus. These traditions have been frequently used as arguments to show that the Pelasgian or Tyrrhenian population came by sea and settled first on the coast, from whence it extended its influence over the interior. But we know that the Tyrrhenians were at an early period spread over the coasts of Latium and Campania as well as those of Etruria: and there is nothing improbable in the fact that their settlements in a maritime and fertile tract were really the first to attain to that degree of culture and civilisation which ultimately became common to all the Etruscan cities. The difference of these two classes of traditions, pointing to two different quarters for the birth-place of the Etruscan polity and their national institutions, may perhaps proceed from the combination of two national elements in the people who were collectively designated by the Romans as Etruscans or Tuscans, and by the Greeks as Tyrrhenians. But it is impossible for us to separate, in the historical traditions or legends that have been transmitted to us, the part that refers to the Etruscans properly so called, from what belongs to the Tyrrhenians or Pelasgic races. The same difficulty continually presents itself with regard to their sacred rites, political institutions, arts, manners, and customs.

The connection of the Rasena or conquering race of Etruscans with the Rhaetians, admitted both by Niebuhr and Müller, rests principally on the authority of a passage of Livy, in which he tells us that the Alpine nations, particularly the Rhaetians, were undoubtedly of Tuscan origin, but had lost their ancient civilisation from the nature of the country, retaining only the language, and even that much corrupted. (Liv. 5.33.) The same thing is told us by Pliny and [p. 1.860]Justin, who add that the Rhaetians were driven into the mountains when the plains of Northern Italy were invaded by the Gauls. (Plin. Nat. 3.20. s. 24; Justin, 20.5.) A modern author has attempted (not altogether without success) to prove the same thing by an examination of the local names and appellations still existing in the country of the Grisons and the Tyrol (Steub, über die Urbewohner Rhätiens, Munich, 1843), and several philologers consider the names Rhaeti and Rasena to be connected with one another. Assuming the correctness of Livy's statement, on a point with which, as a native of Patavium, he was likely to be well acquainted, that the Rhaetians really spoke a language closely akin to that of the Etruscans, it is certainly most probable that the relation between them was the converse of that stated by Pliny and Justin, and that it was from the Rhaetian Alps that the Rasenic invaders [descended into the plains of Northern Italy, and from thence advanced into Etruria properly so called. This hypothesis, however, by no means renders it necessary to assume that the Rhaetian Alps were their original abode, but merely that it was from thence they first invaded Italy.


1. Early history and greatness of Etruria.

Our knowledge of the history of Etruria, during the most flourishing period of the nation, is extremely vague and imperfect; and the few facts recorded to us, with the exception of the wars of the Etruscans with the Romans, are almost wholly devoid of chronological data. But the general fact of their early power and prosperity, and the extent of their empire, is sufficiently attested. Livy tells us that before the period of the Roman dominion the power of the Etruscans was widely extended both by sea and land: the amount of their influence both on the shores of the Upper and Lower Sea was sufficiently proved by the name of Tyrrhenian or Tuscan given to the latter, and that of Adriatic to the former, from the Tuscan colony of Adria. They are said to have formed two principal states or communities, the one on the S. side of the Apennines, in the country commonly known as Etruria, the other on the N. of those mountains, in the great plains of the Padus, where we are told that they extended their dominion quite to the foot of the Alps, with the exception of the territory of the Veneti. (Liv. 5.33; Strab. v. p.219; Schol. Veron. ad Aen, 10.200.) Each of these states was composed of twelve principal cities, of which those on the N. of the Apennines were regarded as colonies of those in Etruria Proper (Liv. l.c.), though others considered them as Pelasgian settlements, emanating from the city of Spina near the mouth of the Padus (Diod. 14.113).

The existence of this Etruscan state in the country N. of the Apennines may be regarded as an unquestionable historical fact, though we are wholly unable to determine the period of its establishment. But those writers who adopt the hypothesis of the Rhaetian or northern origin of the Etruscans naturally regard these settlements in the plains of the Padus as prior in date, instead of subsequent, to their establishment S. of the Apennines. The Etruscans maintained their ground in this part of Italy until they were expelled or subdued by the invading Gauls; but though their national existence was at this time broken up, it is probable that in many other cities of Cisalpine Gaul, as we are told was the case in Mantua (Verg. A. 10.203; Plin. Nat. 3.19. s. 23), they continued to form no inconsiderable part of the population. The only cities, however, in this part of Italy which are expressly noticed as of Tuscan origin are Felsina, afterwards called Bononia, Mantua, and Adria, to which may doubtless be added Melpum, a city known to us only by the notice of its destruction. Ravenna also appears to have been at one period a Tuscan city. (For a further account of the Etruscan settlements in this part of Italy and the history of their subjugation, see GALLIA CISALMPINA). There is reason to believe that during the same period the Etruscans had extended their power along the coast of the Adriatic, and occupied, or at least established colonies in, the country afterwards known as Picenum. Here the second Adria was in all probability a Tuscan foundation, as well as the city of the same name already mentioned [ADRIA]: both the name and origin of Cupra in the same region, are designated as Etruscan. (Strab. v. p.241; Muller, Etrusker, vol. i. p. 145).

At the same time as the Etruscan power was thus extended towards the N. so far beyond the limits within which it was afterwards confined, it appears to have attained a corresponding extension on the S. also. Though our accounts of the Etruscan settlements in this direction are still more vague and indefinite than those of their dominion in the north, there is no doubt of the fact that they had at one period established themselves in the possession of the greater part of Campania, where, according to Strabo, they founded twelve cities in imitation of the confederacy of Central Etruria. (Strab. v. p.242; Pol. 2.17.) It is impossible to determine the names of all these: Capua, called by the Tuscans Vulturnum, was the chief among them: Nola also is referred by several authorities to a Tuscan origin, and several minor cities in the plain must certainly have been occupied, if not founded, by the same people. To these may be probably added the maritime towns of Pompeii, Herculaneum, Surrentum, Marcina, and Salernum, all of which are described as at one period or other Tyrrhenian towns, though it is possible that in some of these cases Tyrrhenian Pelasgians, rather than Etruscans, are meant. (Strab. v. pp. 247, 251; Miller, Etr. vol. i. p. 168.) The Etruscans, however, never made themselves masters of the Greek cities on the coast, Cumae, Dicaearchia, and Neapolis, though they continued to occupy the rest of Campania till they were themselves reduced by the Samnites. [CAMPANIA] The period of their first establishment in these countries is very uncertain, the date assigned by Cato for the foundation or occupation of Capua differing by more than three centuries from that adopted by other authors. (Veil. Pat. 1.7.) Miller follows the view of these last authorities, and refers the first establishment of the Etruscans in Campania to a period as early as B.C. 800: Niebuhr, on the contrary, adopts the statement of Cato, and considers the Etruscan dominion in Campania as of brief duration and belonging to a comparatively late period. The account preserved by Dionysius of the attack on Cumae, about B.C. 525, by a great host of barbarians, among whom the Tyrrhenians (Etruscans) took the lead, may in this case be regarded as marking the first appearance of that people in this part of Italy. (Dionys. A. R. 7.3; Niebuhr, vol. i. pp. 75, 76; Muller, Etr. vol. i. pp. 166, 172.)

Contemporary with this great extension of the Etruscan power by land was the period of their maritime and naval supremacy. Numerous statements, [p. 1.861]of Greek writers especially, attest that the Tyrrhenians were a bold and hardy race of navigators; they are repeatedly mentioned as fitting out great fleets for naval warfare, and exercising an almost undisputed supremacy over the sea which derived from them the name of the Tyrrhenian; while their expeditions on a smaller scale had earned for them a disgraceful reputation as pirates and corsairs. It is probable that these habits were principally confined to the southern Etrurians: the circumstance that Populonium was the only maritime city further north renders it evident that the inhabitants of Central and Northern Etruria were not a seafaring people; and there is great reason to suppose that these maritime enterprises originated with the Pelasgian population of the south, and continued to be carried on almost exclusively by them, not only after they had fallen under the dominion of the Rasena, but even after their subjection to the power of Rome. The circumstance that these piratical habits were common to the Tyrrheno-Pelasgians of the islands and shores of the Aegaean Sea is an argument in favour of this hypothesis; we find also the inhabitants of Antium, who appear to have been of Tyrrhenian or Pelasgic origin, and closely connected with the people of Southern Etruria [ANTIUM], following the same course, and addicted both to navigation and piracy. (Strab. v. p.232.)

The few chronological data we possess prove the naval power of the Etruscans to have extended over a period of considerable duration. The first distinct mention of it that occurs in history is in B.C. 538, on occasion of the Phocaean settlement at Alalia in Corsica, when the Tyrrhenians and Carthaginians combined their fleets to expel the new colonists, each nation furnishing 60 ships of war; and though defeated in the sea-fight that ensued, they attained their object of compelling the Phocaeans to quit the island. (Hdt. 1.166, 167.) Their piratical expeditions must, however, date from a much earlier period. We find them engaged in maritime hostilities with the Greek colonists of Lipara soon after its foundation (Diod. 5.9; Strab. vi. p.275; Paus. 10.11.3, 16.4); and Ephorus even represented the fear of the Tyrrhenian pirates as one of the causes which long prevented the Greeks from establishing colonies in Sicily (Ephor. ap. Strab. vi. p.410). At a later period we find Anaxilas, despot of Rhegium (B.C. 494--476), fortifying the Scyllaean rock for the purpose of preventing the Tyrrhenian pirates from passing the Straits of Messana. (Strab. vi. p.257.) Shortly after this, the maritime power of the Etruscans sustained a severe blow by the great defeat of their fleet, combined with that of the Carthaginians, by Hieron of Syracuse, who had been called in by the Cumaeans to their assistance, B.C. 474. (Diod. 11.51; Pind. P. 1.136-146.) The union on this occasion, as well as in the expedition against Alalia, of the Etruscan and Carthaginian fleets seems to show that these people were in general on friendly terms, and we learn from an incidental notice that they had concluded treaties regulating their respective navigation and commerce in the Mediterranean (Arist. Pol. 3.5), while they evidently regarded the Greeks as interlopers and common enemies. But after the great battle of Cumae, we hear no more of any direct enterprises on the part of the Etruscans against the Greek cities: the growing power of those of Sicily in particular enabled them, on the contrary, to assume the offensive, and in B.C. 453 the Syracusan commanders Phayllus and Apelles, sent out to punish the Tyrrhenian piracies, ravaged the coasts of Etruria, together with those of Corsica and Aethalia (Ilva), with a fleet of 60 ships, and even. made themselves masters of the latter island, from which they carried off a great booty. (Diod. 11.88.) Hence it was evidently the hostile feeling of the Tyrrhenians against Syracuse which led them to send an auxiliary force to the support of the Athenians in Sicily, B.C. 414. (Thuc. 6.89, 105, 7.53.) Thirty years later, B.C. 384, Dionysius of. Syracuse made an expedition in person to the coast of Etruria, where he landed in the territory of Caere, and plundered the wealthy temple of Pyrgi. (Diod. 15.14; Pseud.-Arist. Oeconom. ii 21.) By this time it is clear that the great power of the Etruscans was much broken: the Gauls had expelled them from the fertile plains on the banks of the Padus; the Samnites had conquered their, Campanian settlements; and the cities of Central Etruria were engaged in an arduous struggle against the Gauls in the N., and the Romans in the S. The capture of Veil by the latter, which took place in the same year with the fall of Melpum, N. of the Apennines, B.C. 396, may be regarded as the turning-point of Etruscan history. The Tyrrhenians are, however, still mentioned by Greek historians as sending auxiliaries or mercenaries, sometimes to the assistance of the Carthaginians, at others to that of Agathocles, as late as B.C. 307. (Diod. 19.106, 20.61, 64.)

During the period of the naval greatness of the Etruscans, they appear to have founded colonies in the island of Corsica, and exercised a kind of sovereignty over it: this was probably established after the expulsion of the Phocaean colonists, and we find the island still mentioned near a century. later, B.C. 453, as in a state of dependence on the Etruscans. (Diod. 11.88.) With the decline of their naval power it appears to have passed into the hands of the Carthaginians. The evidences of their having extended similar settlements to Sardinia, al e far from satisfactory. (Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. p. 183.) Strabo, indeed, speaks distinctly of that island having been occupied by Tyrrhenians prior to the arrival of Iolaus and the sons of Hercules (Strab. v. p.225); but it is very doubtful whether any historical value can be attached to a statement referring to so mythical a period, and we have no account of Etruscan or Tyrrhenian colonies, properly so called, in the island. The attempts that have been made to prove the existence of an Etruscan population in Sardinia from the works of art discovered there, especially the curious architectural monuments called Nuraghe, will be considered elsewhere. [SARDINIA]

2. Wars and relations of Etruria with Rome.

The history which has been preserved to us of Etruria in its relations to Rome, has much more appearance of a chronological and authentic character than the scattered notices above referred to: but, unfortunately, a critical examination proves it to be almost equally fragmentary and uncertain, for the three first centuries after the foundation of the city. The Roman traditions concur in representing the Etruscan state (i. e. the twelve cities of Etruria Proper) as already constituted and powerful at the period of the foundation of Rome; nor is there any reason to question this fact, though there appear good grounds for supposing that it did not attain to its greatest power till a later [p. 1.862]period. The position of Rome itself on the immediate frontiers of Latium and Etruria, necessarily brought it into relations with the Etruscans from the very earliest periods of its existence. Accordingly We find Romulus himself, as well as Tullus Hostilius, represented as engaged in wars with the Veientines, the Etruscan state whose territory immediately bordered on that of the rising city. (Liv. 1.15, 27, 30.) That a part of the population of Rome itself was of Tuscan origin, is attested by numerous ancient traditions, though the time and circumstances of its settlement are very variously reported. In the legendary history of Rome we find three principal points of contact with Etruria: 1. the traditions connected with Caeles Vibenna, an Etruscan chieftain, who is represented as a kind of Condottiere, or leader of an independent mercenary force, and not the chief magistrate or general of any of the Etruscan states. He is said to have brought with him a considerable body of Tuscan troops, who settled on the Caelian hill (Mons Caelius), which derived its name from their leader. (Tac. Ann. 4.65; Fest. v. Caelius, p. 44, v. Tuscus Vicus, p. 355; Varr. L.L. 5.8.46; Dionys. A. R. 2.36.) But the period to which this immigration is referred was very uncertain, some assigning it to the reign of Tarquinius Priscus, which view appears to have been confirmed by the Tuscan annals cited by the emperor Claudius (See Orelli, Exc. ad Tac. Ann. xi.), others carrying it back to the age of Romulus. Tacitus himself considers the settlement of the Tuscans in the quarter which bore from them the name of Tuscus Vicus as connected with the same event, though Livy and other writers referred this to the expedition of Porsena. (Liv. 2.14; Fest. p. 355.) 2. The traditions which point to the establishment of an Etruscan dynasty at Rome under the later kings, represented in the narrative of the received history by the reigns of the two Tarquins. It is remarkable that Dionysius represents the elder Tarquin as establishing his supremacy over the whole of Etruria, after a war of nine years' duration (3.59--62), an event of which neither Livy nor Cicero takes the least notice, and which cannot be regarded as historically true; but it seems probable that the rule of the Tarquins in Rome was coincident with the period of the greatest power of the Etruscans, and that at this time their sway was extended not only over Rome itself, but a great part of Latium also. (Niebuhr, vol. i. pp. 383--387.) Müller, with much plausibility, regards the dominion of the Tarquinii at Rome as representing a period during which the city of Tarquinii had established its power over the other cities of Etruria, as well as over Rome itself. (Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. pp. 118--122; Biogr. Dict. art. TARQUINIUS.) To the period of Etruscan domination at Rome were assigned, by universal tradition, the great architectural works of the Cloaca Maxima and the Capitol, which strongly resembled similar constructions in the cities of Etruria itself. 3. A little later than the period of the Tarquins occurs a somewhat similar extension of the Etruscan power under Porsena, king of Clusium. There is, perhaps, no part of the Roman history that bears more manifest marks of falsification than the legends connected with this prince: traditions of a wholly different kind were, however, preserved, which leave little doubt that he really conquered Rome (Biogr. Dict. art. PORSENA), and extended his dominion over a great part of Latium, until his conquests were checked at Aricia, by the assistance of the Greeks of Cumae. This last fact, which is placed by Dionysius about 506 B.C. and was, in all probability, derived from Cumaean chronicles, may fairly be depended upon as historical. (Dionys. A. R. 7.5.)

From the brief notices above given (the fuller development of which in this place is obviously impossible), it may fairly be inferred that the period when the Etruscan power was at its height, so far as we gather from the Roman traditions, was during the second and third centuries of the city, or about 620--500 B.C.; a result which accords with that previously derived from other sources. It is remarkable that after the war with Porsena, the Roman annals make no mention of hostilities with the Etruscans for above twenty years; and when they recommence (B.C. 483), it is the Veientines alone with whom the arms of the republic were engaged. The petty wars between these two neighbouring states were continued, with occasional interruptions and intervals of repose, for a period of nearly ninety years, till they ended in the capture of Veii by Camillus, B.C. 396. Throughout this whole interval we do not find that the other cities of Etruria lent any efficient aid to the Veientines: even when the progress of the Roman arms threatened Veil with destruction, the efforts of the Capenates and Faliscans to induce the other cities of the league to espouse its cause proved unavailing, while they served only to draw down the vengeance of Rome upon themselves.

The fall of Veii was the first step that marked the decline of the Etruscan power in their central dominions, or Etruria Proper. Previous to that event they had already lost the greater part, if not the whole, of their possessions N. of the Apennines: the fall of Melpum, one of the most considerable of their cities N. of the Padus, is said to have been precisely contemporary with that of Veii. (Corn. Nep. ap. Plin. 3.17. s. 21.) Before the same period, also, the Samnites had wrested from them the fertile plains of Campania, and the central Etrurians now stood alone, assailed by the growing power of Rome in the S., and exposed to the formidable attacks of the Gauls on their northern frontier. It was probably the danger that threatened them from this quarter that prevented their cities from combining to resist the Roman arms, which in consequence continued to gain ground in Southern Etruria. Capena appears to have fallen into the power of Rome shortly after Veii: Falerii, though not conquered, was compelled to sue for peace; and already before the Gaulish invasion, B.C. 390, the Romans had carried their arms as far as Sutrium, and engaged in hostilities with the powerful city of Volsinii. (Diod. 14.98, 109; Liv. 5.24, 27, 31, 32.) Even that great calamity only interrupted their progress for a short time. we find them, within a few years after, not only carrying on warfare against the Etruscans in the neighbourhood of Sutrium and Nepete, but establishing Roman colonies in both those towns, which became in consequence an important barrier against the power of Etruria. In the subsequent wars it was sometimes Tarquinii, at others Volsinii (at this time one of the most powerful cities of Central Etruria), that took the lead; but in B.C. 351 the Tarquinians concluded a truce for forty years, which appears to have been observed on both sides: and it was not till 311 that mention again occurs of an Etruscan war. The next year (B.C. 310) was rendered remarkable by the passage of the Ciminian [p. 1.863]forest, a barrier never before crossed by the Roman arms. On this occasion the whole Etruscan confederacy appears to have really taken part in the war: the Perusians, Cortonans, and Arretians are mentioned as concluding a separate peace, and the combined forces of the other Etruscans were defeated by Q. Fabius Maximus at the Vadimonian lake,--a battle which, according to Livy (9.39), gave the first decisive blow to the ancient power of Etruria. The constant progress of the Roman arms is marked in subsequent campaigns by the circumstance that their victories were gained near Rusellae and Volaterrae, (Liv. 10.4, 13),--places far in advance of the scene of their earlier wars. A brief period now ensued, during which the Etruscans and Umbrians united with, the Samnites, and even with their ancient enemies the Senonian Gauls, against the rising power of Rome; but their efforts were unsuccessful, and two great defeats of the combined forces--the one at Sentinum in Umbria, B.C. 295, the other, in B.C. 283, at the same Vadimonian lake which had already proved disastrous to the Etruscans--appear to have finally crushed the power of that people. They were, however, still in arms two years later, when the consul Q. Marcius Philippus celebrated a triumph for the last time over the Etruscans in general (de Etrusceis, Fast. Triumph.). The following year, B.C. 281, the Volsinians and Volcientes alone protracted the now hopeless contest, and were at length reduced to submission. (Fast. Triumph. 1. c.) But as late as B.C. 265, the Volsinians were once more in arms; and though this contest appears to have arisen out of civil disturbances in their own city, the statement of Florus (1.21) is probably correct, that they were the last of all the Italian states that accepted the supremacy of Rome. This event occurred the very year before the commencement of the First Punic War. The causes that led the Faliscans, who had so long been friendly to Rome, to engage in a hopeless contest with that formidable power, after the close of the war with Carthage, B.C. 241, are wholly unknown to us. (Liv. Epit. xix.; Eutrop. 2.28.)

3. Etruria under the Romans.

We have no detailed account of the last years of the contest between Etruria and Rome, the leading events of which have been just recapitulated: and we are almost wholly in the dark as to the terms on which the several cities were received to submission, and the relations which in consequence subsisted between them and the dominant republic. That the terms were in general favourable, and that the Etruscan cities for the most part enjoyed a more privileged position than the generality of the Italians, may be inferred from various circumstances. In the Second Punic War they continued uniformly faithful to the Romans, and are mentioned as taking the lead in furnishing voluntary supplies towards fitting out the fleet of Scipio, in a manner that clearly indicates their semi-independent position. (Liv. 28.45.) It is probable that most of them retained the rank of “allied cities” (civitates foederatae). Roman colonies were established only in the S. of Etruria, with the exception of Pisae and Luca (Liv. 40.43, 41.13), which were obviously founded as a barrier against the Ligurians, not with a view of controlling the Etruscans themselves. Hence, it is a complete mistake to suppose, as many writers have done, that the Roman conquest put an end to the national existence of Etruria: its inhabitants retained until a much later period their language, arts, religious rites, and national peculiarities. The immediate neighbourhood of the imperial city doubtless became early Romanised, but it was not till towards the close of the Republic that the same process was extended to the more distant portions of the country. The Etruscans were admitted to the Roman franchise in B.C. 89: they had taken no part in the general revolt of the Italians in the preceding year, but, after the war had continued for above a year, their fidelity began to waver, and the Romans hastened to forestal their defection by granting them the full rights of citizens. (Appian, App. BC 1.49.) In the civil wars of Marius and Sulla they were among the first to espouse the cause of the former (Ib. 67), and adhered to it steadfastly, long after the rest of his partisans had been subdued; the almost impregnable fortress of Volaterrae having defied the arms of Sulla himself for nearly two years (Strab. v. p.223; Cic. pro Rose. 7). Hence, the whole weight of the vengeance of Sulla fell upon Etruria; and the manner in which he ravaged the country during the war, followed up by the confiscations of property, and the numerous military colonies which he established in different parts of the country, gave the death-blow to the nationality of Etruria. Other events contributed in rapid succession to the same result: the northern districts of Etruria became the head-quarters of the revolt of Catiline [FAESULAE], and in consequence suffered a second time the ravages of civil war; while Caesar, and the triumvirs after his death, followed up the policy of Sulla, by establishing military colonies throughout the land, until there came to be scarcely a city of Etruria whose territory had not been thus assigned to new settlers. (Lib. Colon. pp. 211--225; Zumpt, de Coloniis, pp. 251, 253, 303.) The civil war of Perusia, B.C. 41, appears to have been closely connected with these changes, and the capture and destruction of that city crushed the last effort of the Etruscans to revive their expiring nationality. (Propert. 2.1, 29.)

But notwithstanding all these calamities there appears to have still remained a strong element of the native Etruscan race. The language had not fallen altogether into disuse, down to a late period of the Roman empire: many extant monuments and works of art belong to the same epoch; and inscriptions attest that the Etruscans not only retained a municipal organisation, but that the “Quindecim Populi Hetruriae” still formed a kind of league or confederacy,--probably, however, only for sacred objects. (Orell. Inscr. 96, 3149; Müller, Etruskeir, vol. i. pp. 357, 358.) For administrative purposes Etruria constituted the seventh region of Italy, according to the division of Augustus: in the reign of Constantine it was united into one province with Umbria, an arrangement which appears to have subsisted as late as A.D. 400, when we find in the Notitia a “Consularis Tusciae et Umbriae.” (Notit. Dign. p. 63; Böcking, ad loc. p. 430; Mommsen, Die Lib. Col. p. 207.) A new distinction, however, occurs under the later Roman empire, between “Tuscia suburbicaria” and “Tuscia annonaria” (Amm. Marc. 27.3.1; Mommsen, l.c.), of which the latter appears to have comprised the district N. of the Arnus: hence the expression met with in later writers, such as Cassiodorus and Jornandes, of “Tuscia utraque” (Cass. Var. 4.14; Jorn. de Reb. Get. 60; Geogr. Rav. 4.29). It was not till a much later period that the distinction was established between Tuscany, in the modern sense of the term, and the provinces adjoining Rome, including [p. 1.864]Viterbo, Bolsena, and Corneto, which are now subject to the Papal dominion. The foundation of this division seems to have been laid during the period of the Lombard rule.


Imperfect as is our information concerning the history of Etruria,--its internal history especially,--we cannot wonder that our knowledge of its government and political institutions should be very incomplete. All ancient writers concur in representing the Etruscans as not united into one regular state under a national government, but forming a confederacy of twelve cities, each of which was a sovereign and independent state, possessing not only the right of internal self-government, but that of making war or peace on its own account. They were indeed in the habit of holding general assemblies of deputies from all the cities, analogous to those of the Latins at the Lucus Ferentinae, and which took place in like manner at a national sanctuary called the Fanum Voltumnae, the site of which cannot be determined with certainty. These meetings, which were held regularly once a year, appear to have been in the first instance rather of a religious than a political character; and the election of a head priest or pontiff, to officiate in the name of the twelve cities of Etruria (Liv. 5.1), must have had reference to these annual solemnities. They became, however, the usual occasion for deliberating on all political matters affecting the common welfare of the Etruscan nation; and besides these regular assemblies, it was not unusual to hold extraordinary ones at the same place, if any unusual emergency called for them. (Liv. 2.44, 4.23, 25, 61, 5.1, 6.2, 10.16; Müller, Etrusker, 2.1.) It is, however, manifest that the decisions of this congress were not considered binding upon the several states, which we find in many instances acting wholly independently; and we have no evidence that, even in time of war, there was any supreme authority established and recognised throughout the confederacy, though there must necessarily have been some general appointed to the chief command of the combined armies when actually in the field.

The cities which composed the league of Central Etruria or Etruria Proper (the only one with which we are here concerned) are universally reckoned as twelve in number: and Livy expressly tells us that the same number of cities was established in the territory N. of the Apennines in imitation of this parent league. (Liv. 4.23, 5.33; Dionys. A. R. 6.75; Strab. v. p.219.) But no ancient writer has preserved to us a list of the cities that composed the confederacy, and it is impossible to determine with certainty which were the sovereign twelve, there being considerably more than that number of names that would seem to have an equal claim to the distinction. Hence the lists proposed by modern writers have varied greatly: the cities that appear to have the most unquestionable claim to be included are Tarquinii, Veii, Volsinii, Clusium, Volaterrae, Vetulonia, Perusia, Cortona, and Arretium: to these may probably be added Caere and Falerii: but the claims of Faesulae, Rusellae, Pisae, and Volci are nearly equally strong. Populonium, which appears to have been a powerful and flourishing city, is generally rejected as having been a colony of Volaterrae, but it is certain that it was at one period an independent state, and the same may be said of Capena, Luna, and several other towns in Etruria. It is probable indeed that, as in the case of the Achaean League, while the number was always preserved. the constituent members varied, from time to time, with the rise and fall, the growth and decay, of the different Etruscan cities. (Niebuhr, vol. i. pp. 118--121; Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. pp. 344--355; Dennis, Etrusria, vol. i. p. xxviii.) But besides these, we find several other towns in Etruria which appear on different occasions as assuming an independent position and acting like sovereign states: the nature of the relations between these and the heads of the League are wholly unknown to us. But, so fully recognised was the existence of the regular confederacy, that the “Twelve states of Etruria” (duodecim Etruriae populi) was become a common designation for the whole Etruscan nation, like the “triginta populi Latini” for that of the Latins.

Of the internal government and constitution of the several Etruscan cities we know little more than that it was essentially aristocratic, and that the dominant body, like the patricians at Rome in the early days of the city, fortified their political power by sacerdotal influence, retaining in their own hands the exclusive possession of all the sacred offices and the discharge of the numerous and complicated functions and observances of their religious ritual. It is apparently this aristocratic body in each city which is commonly designated by Roman writers as the “Principes,” and it appears that it was they alone who assisted at the general councils of the nation already mentioned. (Liv. 2.44, 6.2, 10.16.) The exact meaning of the term Lucumo, an Etruscan word which appears to have designated certain members of this privileged order, cannot now be determined. It is not unfrequently misunderstood by Roman writers as a proper name, while others use it as equivalent to nobles in general (Censorin. 4.13; Val. Max. de Nom. § 18), and others again regard it as corresponding to a chief magistrate or even king (Serv. ad Aen. 2.278). The genuine Etruscan form seems to have been Lauchme. (Müller, Etr. vol. i. p. 363), whence Propertius uses the form Lucmo (5.1. 29). Besides this privileged body, there must have existed, at least in the towns of Etruria, a commonalty or free population analogous to the plebeians at Rome, but whose political power seems to have been very limited. The mass of the country population was composed of serfs (πενέσται), in all probability the descendants of the conquered people, the Umbrians and Pelasgians: these Penestae were led out to battle, like the Spartan Helots, by their respective lords, the nobles of the superior race. (Dionys. A. R. 9.5; Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 121; Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. pp. 377, 378.) It is probable that the account of the civil dissensions at Volsinii, which are said to have thrown the political power into the hands of the slaves, must refer to a somewhat similar class of vassals or dependents (Niebuhr, vol. i. p. 124), but the version transmitted to us is too vague to be of much value.

The earliest traditions concerning Etruria, especially those of a mythical character, make frequent mention of kings of the several cities, of which Porsena, king of Clusium, is one of the test instances. But in the period of the wars of Etruria with Rome the regal dignity had been abolished throughout the Etruscan cities, and an aristocratical government with annual chief magistrates established, probably not much unlike that of Rome in the first years of the republic. So strong, indeed, was at this time their objection to the monarchical form of government [p. 1.865]that they even refused to assist the Veientines against Rome, because they had returned to it, and placed themselves again under the rule of a king. (Liv. 5.1.) Tolumnius, also, is called king of Veii about 40 years earlier. (Id. 4.17.)


The Etruscans were celebrated beyond almost any other people of antiquity for their devotion to their national religion, and for the zeal and scrupulous care with which they practised the various observances of its rites and ceremonies. Livy calls them “gens ante omnes alias eo magis dedita religionibus, quod excelleret arte colendi eas” (5.1). Hence they became the instructors of the Romans in many of their religious rites, and that people adopted from them a considerable part of what was in later ages received as the established national religion of Rome. Hence arises one great difficulty in regard to all inquiries into the Etruscan religion, that, as we have no account of it in its native purity, it is almost impossible to say what was truly Tuscan, and to separate it from other elements with which it had become in later ages intimately blended. Equally difficult is it to determine the precise extent and influence of the Greek religion upon that of Etruria. Much of what appears common to the two was probably derived through the Pelasgic population of Southern Etruria, but the fact appears incontestable that the operation of direct Hellenic influences at a much later period may be extensively traced in the Etruscan mythology. This is particularly obvious in the works of art which have been discovered in Etruria, and here the difficulty is still increased by the great influence which Hellenic art undoubtedly exercised over that of the Etruscans, irrespective of any direct religious operation. [See below, p. 868.] Hence this class of monuments, which, considering the vast numbers of them that have been preserved, would seem likely to throw so much light upon the subject, can only be employed with the utmost caution. It is impossible here to enter into the discussion of this abstruse and complicated subject: a few leading results only can be briefly stated.
  • 1. The Etruscan religious system was not one wholly foreign to the other nations of Italy: it had many points in common with those especially of the Sabines and Latins; and though in many cases this may arise from the confusion of later writers, and the impossibility of distinguishing, in the 7th and 8th centuries of the Roman state, which of its religious institutions were really derived from Etruria, it seems impossible to doubt that the Etruscan mythology really contained much that was common to the two people just mentioned, and that had been derived by all three from some common source.
  • 2. Some portions of the Etruscan mythology and religion unquestionably point to an Eastern origin. The number and importance of these evidences of Oriental influence have been greatly exaggerated by those writers who have insisted on the Lydian, or other Oriental, extraction of the Etruscans; but the existence of such an element in their religious system cannot be denied; though it is a question how far it proves in any particular case direct transmission from an oriental source.
  • 3. There are not wanting indications which would connect the religious mythology of Etruria with that of the northern nations of Europe. The name of Aesar, which was the Etruscan appellation for the gods in general (Suet. Aug. 97), at once recals the Asar of the Scandinavians (Müller, vol. ii. p. 81; Donaldson, Varronianus, p. 151); and much of the gloomy worship of the infernal deities, which forms so prominent a part of the Etruscan religion, presents a strong similarity with the northern mythology. (Gerhard, Die Gottheiten der Etrusker, p. 17.)
  • 4. But whatever extent may be allowed to these last sources of influence, a much greater one was exercised by the Pelasgic element of the Etruscan people. With every reasonable allowance for the operation of later Hellenic ideas, and especially for the introduction on works of art of foreign deities, and a different cycle of mythology, there remains a pervading similarity with the religious system of the early Greeks, which can hardly be accounted for otherwise than by referring them to a common Pelasgic origin. From the same source, probably, proceeded much of that which we find common to the southern Etruscans and to their neighbours in Latium.

Of the special deities that were worshipped by the Tuscans, the most important were Tina or Tinia, corresponding to the Latin Jupiter; Cupra, who was identified with Juno; and Minerva, whose name was the same in the Tuscan language, and appears on Etruscan monuments as Menerfa. These three deities seem to have been regarded as the chief gods, whence we are told that every Etruscan city had three temples dedicated to them (as was the case in the Capitol at Rome), and three gates which bore their names. (Serv. ad Aen. 1.422). Besides these, we find particularly mentioned as Etruscan deities, and bearing names of clearly Etruscan origin: Vertumnus, whose worship seems to have especially prevailed at Volsinii, from whence it was transferred to Rome; Nortia, the Etruscan goddess of Fortune, also worshipped at Volsinii, apparently identical with the Fortuna of Antium and Praeneste; and Voltumna, whose sanctuary was the meeting-place of the whole Etruscan nation. To these must be added, partly from notices of ancient writers, partly from extant monuments: Vulcan, whose Etruscan name, as we learn from works of art, was Sethlans, the special object of worship at Perusia; Mercury, called by the Etruscans Turms, a name of frequent occurrence on mirrors; Venus, who appears in similar works under the name of Turan; Mantus, probably a genuine Etruscan name, and one of the principal infernal deities; Vedius or Vejovis, also an infernal power; Summanus, the god of nocturnal thunder, and one of the rulers of the shades. These two last names are Latin, and perhaps the deities themselves belong properly to Latium. Ancharia, who was the tutelary goddess of Faesulae, and Horta, who gave name to the town of that name near the foot of Soracte, are, apparently, mere local divinities, but of native Tuscan origin. Apollo and Hercules, whose names are written on Etruscan bronzes Aplu or Apulu, and Herecle or Hercle, would seem to be foreign divinities that had originally no place in the mythological system of Etruria, though their worship was at a later period extensively diffused in that country; and the same thing was still more clearly the case with the Greek Bacchus, though there existed an Etruscan divinity named Phuphluns with whom he appears to have been identified or confounded. On the other hand, Usil (Sol), the god of the sun, and Losna or Luna, as they bear native names, were probably also genuine Etruscan deities. The worship of Janus at Falerii, of Silvanus and Inuus at Caere, and of Saturnus at Saturnia (called [p. 1.866]by the Tuscans. Aurinia), is also attested by Roman writers, but the Etruscan names of these deities are unknown to us.

Besides these names of individual divinities, a few more general notices of the Etruscan mythology have been preserved to us, which bear more distinctly the stamp of its peculiar national character. Such is the statement, that, in addition to the supreme deity, Tinia or Jupiter, there were twelve other divinities, six male and six female,whose proper names were unknown, but who were termed collectively the Dii Consentes, and formed the counsellors of Tinia; they were regarded as presiding over the powers of nature and not eternal, but destined to perish at some future time with the natural order of things over which they presided. Notwithstanding the statement that their real names were unknown, the more powerful of the divinities above enumerated seem to have been generally ranked among the Consentes. (Arnob. adv. Nat. 3.40; Varr. R. R. 1.1; Müller, Etr. vol. ii. pp. 81--86; Gerhard, l.c. pp. 22, 23.) But superior to these, and to Tinia himself, were certain mysterious deities, called the Dii Involuti, apparently somewhat analogous to the Fates, who were supposed to exercise an irresistible controlling power over the gods themselves, while their own names and attributes remained unknown. (Arnob. l.c.; Seneca, Nat. Qu. 2.41.) Another class of divinities which is expressly referred to the Etruscan religion are the Dii Novensiles, the nine deities to whom alone the power of hurling the thunderbolts was conceded; this classification appears to have had no reference to that of the Consentes, but must have included many of the same gods. (Plin. Nat. 2.53; Arnob. 3.38.)

Of purely Etruscan origin also was the doctrine of the Genii, of such frequent occurrence in the Roman religion, though the Etruscan word corresponding to the Latin Genius is unknown. As the Genius was the tutelary or presiding spirit of every individual man, so were the Lares those of the house or family; the word Lar is unquestionably Etruscan, and the Lasa or Lara, a kind of fortune or attendant genius (often represented on works of art under the form of a winged female figure), appears to. be connected with the same notion. This idea of a class of intermediate beings, inferior to the true gods, but the immediate agents through which the affairs of mankind were controlled (imperfectly developed in the Greek Daemones), appears to have pervaded the whole Etruscan system of religions faith. It reappears in their conceptions of the infernal powers, where we find, besides the gloomy Mantus (the Pluto of their mythology), and the corresponding female deity, Mania, the numerous class of the Dii Manes,--“the good gods” as they were called by a natural euphemism,--who are aptly compared with the Lares and Genii of the upper world. (Serv. ad Aen. 3.63, 6.743; Gerhard, l.c. pp. 13--16.) The name of these is probably Latin, but the worship of them certainly prevailed in Etruria. Etruscan works of art abound in representations of infernal spirits or furies, sometimes as female figures, winged and armed with serpents, at others under forms the most hideous and horrible; one of these, characterised by his commonly bearing a great hammer, and apparently representing the messenger of death, bears in several instances the Greek name of Charon (XAPYN), a clear proof how much the mythologies of the two nations have become intermingled on extant works of art. On the other hand, we find on these the genuine Etruscan names of Leinth, Mean, Snenath, Nathum, and Munthuch, all applied to deities of unknown power, but apparently goddesses of fate or destiny. (For fuller details concerning the religious system of the Etruscans, see Müller, Etrusker, vol. ii. book 3, ch. 3, 4; Gerhard, Die Gottheiten der Etrusker, Berlin, 1847.)

The Etruscan religion was especially characterised by the number and minuteness of its ritual observances, and particularly by those which had reference to the different modes of divination. Hence Etruria is called by Arnobius “genitrix et mater superstitionis.” (Arnob. 7.26.) To interpret the divine will, and to avert the divine wrath, were the objects which they proposed to themselves in their various religious ceremonies, and the modes of doing this constituted what was termed by the Romans the “disciplina Etrusca.” This system had, according to the native tradition, been first revealed by a miraculous youth named Tages, who sprung out of the earth in the territory of Tarquinii, and had from thence been diffused throughout the twelve states of Etruria, where it was preserved and transmitted by the families of the Lucumones or chief nobles. (Cic. de Div. 2.2. 3; Censorin. 4.13; Fest. v. Tages; Lucan 1.636.) Many of its rules were (in later times at least) committed to writing, but much was still preserved by oral tradition; and the exclusive possession of these precepts, without which no political or public affairs could be transacted, was one of the great engines of power in the hands of the sacerdotal aristocracy of Etruria. Hence the young nobles were trained up by a long course of study to the possession of this hereditary knowledge; and even after Etruria had fallen into dependence upon Rome, it was thought necessary to provide by special regulations for its perpetuation. (Cic. de Div. 1.4. 1, de Legg. 2.9, ad Fam. 6.6; Tac. Ann. 11.15.

The modes of divination were principally three: 1. By augury, or observation of the flight of birds, a practice common to all the early nations of Italy, as well as in a less degree to the most ancient Greeks. 2. By inspection of the entrails of victims, a mode also familiar to the Greeks, and practised by other Italian nations, but which appears to have been reduced to a more systematic form and regular body of rules by the Etruscans than by any other people. On this account we find the Romans throughout all periods of their history consulting the Etruscan Haruspices. (Liv. 5.15, 25.16, 27.37; Cic. Cat. 3.8, de Div. 2.4; Lucan 1.584.) But though the name of these functionaries appears to be certainly connected with this peculiar branch of divination (Müller, Etr. vol. ii. p. 12), they did not confine themselves to it, but undertook to interpret portents and prodigies of all descriptions. 3. The divination from thunder and lightning was more peculiarly Etruscan than either of the two preceding modes. Its principles were embodied in certain books called libri fulgurales and tonitruales, which appear to have been still extant in the time of Cicero (Cic. de Div. 1.3. 3; Lucret. 6.380); and some of the numerous distinctions which they established between the different kinds of thunderbolts (of which there were eleven in all) have been preserved to us. (Plin. Nat. 2.52, 53.) But this doctrine, like most others of the same kind, appears to have contained much that was secret and abstruse, and this formed part of the Disciplina Etrusca which was transmitted by oral, and often hereditary, tradition. Even under the Roman empire the art of the Haruspices [p. 1.867]appears to have remained principally in the hands of the Etruscans; but it had fallen to a great degree into disrepute, and, though an attempt was made by the emperor Claudius to restore it (Tac. Ann. 11.15), it gradually sunk into contempt, and the Tuscan Haruspex was regarded, like the Chaldaean astrologer, as a mere vulgar impostor. The superstition itself, however, continued down to the latest ages of the empire, and is mentioned in A.D. 408 during the wars of Alaric in Italy. (Zosim. 5.41.)

VII. Arts and Sciences.

It is especially from the still extant monuments and works of art discovered in Etruria that there has arisen in modern times a high, and in some degree certainly exaggerated, notion. of the civilisation of the ancient Etruscans. But all accounts agree in representing them as by far the most cultivated and refined people of ancient Italy, and especially devoted to the practice of arts and handicrafts of various kinds. (Athen. 15.700e.; Heraclid. 16.) It was from them that the Romans confessedly derived many of the arts and inventions that conduced to the comfort of daily life, as well as many objects of luxury and magnificence. To the latter class belong the ornamental attire worn in the triumphal processions,--themselves probably an Etruscan custom (Appian, 8.66),--as well as by the kings and chief magistrates of Rome: the Toga picta, the Praetexta, the golden Bulla, the ivory curule chair, &c. (Diod. 5.40; Flor. 1.5; Macr. 1.6; Liv. 1.8; Strab. v. p.220.) The numerous objects of an ornamental character found in the Etruscan tombs fully confirm the testimony of ancient writers to their proficiency in this branch of art, while the paintings on the walls of some of their sepulchres afford some insight into their habits of daily life, and lead us to infer that they were really, as represented by the Greeks, a luxurious and sensual people. The account of their abandoned vices and profligacy given by Theopompus (ap. Athen. 12.517) is obviously much exaggerated; but Virgil also bears testimony to the general belief in their habits of debauchery (Aen. 11.736; see also Plant. Cistell. 2.3, 20). Diodorus, however, represents these luxurious and voluptuous habits as belonging to the degeneracy of the Etruscans, consequent on. their long prosperity, and characteristic therefore only of their decline. (Diod. 5.40.) And it must always be borne in mind that almost all the extant works of art belong to a late period of their national existence. They were especially noted for their devotion to the pleasures of the table, whence we find the Etruscans ridiculed in Roman times for their corpulence. ( “Pinguis Tyrrhenus,” Verg. G. 2.193; “Obeses Etruscus,” Catull. 39. 11.)

In the higher departments of art, it is clear that the Etruscans had made great progress in architecture, sculpture, and painting.

1. Architecture.

Of Etruscan Architecture our knowledge is really but very limited. The so-called Tuscan order of architecture, as applied to the construction of temples and similar edifices, is really nothing more than a modification o. the Doric, which it resembles too closely to have had a separate and independent origin. The principal difference was in the greater width between the columns, which admitted only of the use of timber instead of stone for the architrave; and in the arrangement of the cell, which occupied only half the length of the interior area of the temple. The general effect was, according to Vitruvius, unfavourable; the temples built according to the Tuscan order (of which there were several at Rome, including that of Jupiter in the Capitol) having a low and heavy aspect. This must have been aggravated by the custom, characteristic of the Tuscan architecture, of loading the outside of the pediment with statues. (Vitr. 3.3.5, 4.7; Plin. Nat. 35.12. s. 45, 46; Müller, Arch. d. Kunst. § 169.) The external architectural decorations of some of the Etruscan sepulchres (especially the facades of those hewn in the rock at Castel d'Asso, Norchia, &c.) present the same close approximation to the Hellenic, and particularly the Doric, style. The existing monuments of Etruscan architecture are confined to works of a more massive and simple description, among which the most remarkable are the fragments of their city walls, especially those of Faesulae, Volaterrae, Cortona, and Rusellae. In all these instances the masonry, which is of the most massive character, is composed of large irregular blocks, not united with cement, but rudely squared, and laid in horizontal courses. There is, however, little doubt that the difference of construction between these Etruscan walls and those of Latium and the Central Apennines is not a national characteristic, but results merely from the difference of material--the walls of Cosa and Saturnia, which are composed of the hard limestone of the Apennines, being of the same polygonal construction with those of the Latin and Volscian cities. (Specimens of both styles of construction are figured by Micali, Popoli Antichi Italiani, pl. 9--12.)

Of their edifices for the exhibition of games, such as theatres or amphitheatres, we have no distinct knowledge: they could hardly have been without something of the kind, as we are told that both the theatrical exhibitions of the Romans, and their gladiatorial combats, were derived from the Etruscans, who moreover delighted in horse-races and pugilistic contests. (Liv. 1.35, 7.2; Athen. 4.153; V. Max. 2.4.4; Tertull. de Spect. 5.) But the theatre at Faesulae, (repeatedly referred to by Niebuhr as a great Etruscan work), and the amphitheatre at Sutrium, to which very exaggerated importance has been attached by some writers, are in all probability Roman works of comparatively late date. The Etruscans appear to have paid especial attention to the more practically useful objects of architecture, such as the laying out of streets and sewers. Of their skill in the latter, the Cloaca Maxima at Rome--the construction of which is universally attributed to the Etruscan monarchs of the city--is a striking example: the same monument proves also that they were acquainted at a very early period with the true principle of the arch, and possessed great skill in its practical application. Closely connected with this class of works were those for the drainage and outlet of stagnant waters by subterranean emissaries or tunnels,--an art for which the Etruscans appear to have been early celebrated. Of their domestic architecture we can judge only from some of their sepulchres, which bear unquestionable evidence of being intended to imitate, as closely as possible, the abodes of the living. (Dennis, Etruria, vol. i. p. lxvi.) But the common tradition of the Romans represented the Atrium, the most peculiar feature in the construction of a Roman house, as an Etruscan invention; and hence the most ancient and simple form of it was called Tuscanicum. (Varr. L.L. 5.33.161; Vitr. 6.3; Diod. 5.40.)

The sepulchres of the Etruscans have attracted [p. 1.868]so much attention as to require a brief notice. They present many varieties in their construction and decoration, so that none of these styles can be fixed upon as peculiarly national or characteristic. They are sometimes chambers hewn out in a cliff or wall of solid rock, occasionally with architectural decorations cut in the same (Castel d'Asso, Bieda, Norchia); more frequently without such ornaments, or with a mere door cut in the rock: sometimes subterranean chambers surmounted by tumuli, either of loose earth and stones, or built up with masonry into a more regular form (Tarquinii, Volaterrae); often mere chambers sunk in the earth without any trace of such superstructure: again these chambers are sometimes circular, sometimes square; the entrances not unfrequently arched or vaulted, while the chamber itself is usually flat-roofed, and often has the ceiling adorned with beams and coffers, in imitation of the abodes of the living. The internal walls of some of the tombs are adorned with paintings, and this decoration is found both in those hewn in the rock, and those sunk beneath the level of the soil: it is, however, peculiar to Southern Etruria, and is by no means general even there. In one respect the sepulchres of Etruria are distinguished from those of the Romans, that they are always subterranean, never mere structures raised for the purpose of containing the tomb; there are in many instances, as already mentioned, superstructures of an architectural kind, but the actual chamber in which the dead bodies are deposited is sunk beneath these, often at a considerable depth below the surface. The account preserved to us by Pliny (36.13. s. 19) of the tomb of Porsena is certainly exaggerated and fabulous in its details and dimensions, but had doubtless some foundation in truth; and some analogies to it have been remarked in the existing remains of several Etruscan monuments. (Dennis, vol. ii. p. 389.) A labyrinth, such as is said to have existed at the base of this tomb, has been also discovered in the Poggio Gajella, near Chiusi. [CUSIUM.]

2. Sculpture.

Of Etruscan Sculpture, in the stricter sense of the term, as confined to works carved out of stone or wood, we hear but little from ancient authors; and, the existing remains, though numerous, are mostly of inferior interest, from the late period to which they belong. Of this class are especially the numerous sarcophagi and urns or chests for ashes found at Volterra, Perugia, and Chiusi, the fronts of which are adorned with reliefs, generally representing subjects from the Greek mythology or poetical history, while on the lid is a recumbent figure of the deceased personage. These urns are carved in a soft sandstone or alabaster, and are for the most part of indifferent execution, and certainly belong to a declining period of art, though bearing unquestionable evidence of Greek influence, both in the subjects chosen and in the mode of their treatment. There remain, however, a few statues of figures in a sitting position, found only at Chiusi, which present a much more archaic character: as well as certain cippi or stelae with. figures in a very low, almost flat, relief, and a strong rigidity or severity of style resembling the Egyptian. (Dennis, vol. ii. pp. 336--338; Micali, Pop. Ant. Ital. pl. 54--58.) But the Etruscans excelled in many other branches of the Plastic Arts, and especially in all kinds of works in bronze. Their skill in this department is celebrated by many ancient authors, and is attested also by specimens still extant. The “Tuscanica signa,” which, according to Pliny (34.7. s. 16), were dispersed not only over all Italy, but other parts of the world also, were principally of this material: and so numerous were they, that the city of Volsinii alone was said to have contained two thousand bronze statues. (Ibid.) They were characterised by a stiff, archaic style of art, resembling the early Greek or what has been called the Aeginetan style, but which seems to have been retained in Etruria for a much greater length of time than in Greece. Some of the extant specimens, however, present more freedom of design and great beauty of execution. The best examples of Etruscan works of art of this character are the celebrated She-Wolf in the Capitol, the Chimaera in the gallery at Florence, the “Arringatore” or Orator in the same collection, and a statue of a boy in the museum at Leyden. (All these are figured by Micali, Ant. Pop. Ital. pl. 42--44.)

Innumerable smaller figures in bronze have beer found in Etruria, and evidently represent the “Tyrrhena sigilla” of the Romans (Hor. Ep. 2.2. 181; Tertull. Apol. 25): besides these, they were particularly celebrated for their bronze candelabra, which were eagerly sought after both by Greeks and Romans (Athen. 15.700), and of which many beautiful specimens still remain; as well as for a variety of other ornamental utensils in the same material. (Ib. i. p. 28. b.; Micali, ib. pl. 32--41.) Another branch of art which appears to have been peculiarly Etruscan, was that of the engraved bronze mirrors (erroneously termed Paterae), of which some hundreds have been discovered, and no doubt can exist of their being of native Etruscan manufacture, the inscriptions which occur on them being uniformly in Etruscan characters; their style of execution, however, varies greatly, and is often of a very rude description. (Gerhard, fiber die Metallspiegel der Etrusker, Berlin, 1838.) Nor were they less skilful workmen in other metals; their embossed cups of gold were celebrated among the Greeks, even in their best days, and the beauty of their necklaces and other ornamental goldsmith's work is sufficiently proved by existing specimens.

Not less celebrated were the Etruscan works in earthenware or Terra Cotta. These were not confined to small objects, such as vases or domestic utensils, but included whole figures and statues, many of them of large size. with which they adorned the exterior, as well as the interior, of their temples. Hence the custom was introduced at Rome, where even the temple of Jupiter in the Capitol was in early times surmounted by earthenware statues of Tuscan manufacture. (Vitr. 3.3.5; Cic. de Div. 1.1. 0; Plut. Popl. 13; Plin. Nat. 35.12. s. 45.) Closely connected with this branch of art was the Etruscan pottery, in the manufacture of which they undoubtedly excelled; but the only descriptions of works of this kind that can be regarded as of true native origin are the red ware of Arretium, which seems to have been much used in Roman times, and the black ware of Clusium, adorned with figures in relief, many of them of a grotesque and strongly oriental character. [CLUSIUM] The painted vases, on the contrary, which have been found in great numbers at Clusium, Tarquinii, and especially of late years at Vulci, though commonly known by the name of ETRUSCAN vases, bear unquestionable evidence of Greek origin. This is proved by their perfect similarity, and, in many cases, even identity, with similar works found in. Campania, [p. 1.869]the south of Italy, and Sicily, as well as in Greece itself; and by the fact that they uniformly represent subjects taken from the Greek mythology or heroic legends, and bear, inscribed on them, Greek names and words as well as in several instances the names of Greek artists: but while it is now generally admitted that this branch of art was a foreign importation, it is a still a disputed question whether the vases themselves were of foreign manufacture, or were made in Etruria by Greek artists settled there. The latter opinion has been maintained by Millingen and Gerhard; the former by Müller, Bunsen, Kramer, and Thiersch. (Müller, Arch. d. Kunst. § 177, Kl. Schriften, vol. ii. pp. 692--708; Gerhard, Rapporto sui Vasi Volcenti, in the Ann. d. Inst. Arch. 1831; Bunsen, in the same Annali, for 1834; Millingen, On the late Discoveries in Etruria, in the Trans. of Roy. Soc. of Lit. 1830 and 1834; Kramer, über den Styl u die Herkunft der bemahlten Griechischen Thongefässe, Berlin, 1837; Thiersch, über die Hellenischen bemahlten Vasen, 1841; Abeken, Mittel-Italien, pp. 289--300.)

3. Painting

Of the skill of the Etruscans in Painting we can judge only from the specimens remaining in their sepulchres, the walls of many of many of which, especially at Tarquinii, Caere, and Clusium, are decorated with paintings. These are of very unequal merit: some of very rude design, and fantastic in their colouring; others showing much more progress in the art, though retaining a stiffness and formality of character akin to the style of the earliest Greek works, the influence of which is as unquestionable upon this as upon other branches of Etruscan art. The custom of thus adorning the interior of their sepulchres appears, however, to have continued down to a late period, and some of the painted tombs found at Tarquinii belong, without doubt, to the period of the Roman dominion. (Dennis, vol. i. pp. 303--306.)

Etruscan arts.

The character of Etruscan art in general is well summed up by K. O. Müller in the remark that it was rather receptive than creative, and that it always retained the marks of a plant of exotic growth, which, not being indigenous to the soil, began to fade and decline as soon as the vivifying rays of Greek influence were withdrawn from it. (Müller, Kl. Sch. vol. i. p. 208; Arch. d. Kunst. § 178.)

Of the proficiency of the Etruscans in the more useful arts appertaining to ordinary life, there can be no doubt. They were noted for their skill in agriculture; and not only knew how to turn to the best account the natural fertility of the soil, but, by great works of drainage, and regulating the course of rivers, to bring under profitable cultivation tracts like those at the mouths of the Padus and the Arnus, which would otherwise have been marshy and pestilential. The Etruscans are also generally regarded as the parents, or first inventors, of the peculiar modes of limitation and division of land in use among the Romans: an art which was indeed closely connected with the rules of the “disciplina Etrusca” appertaining to augury. (Hygin. de Limit. p. 166, Fragom. de Limit. p. 350.) The iron mines of Ilva, as well as the copper mines of the interior of Etruria itself, were worked by them from a very early period; and their skill in metallurgy was obviously connected with their proficiency in the more ornamental arts of working in bronze, gold, &c. Arretium, especially, seems to have been the seat of considerable manufacturing industry, and, at the time of the Second Punic War, was capable of furnishing a vast quantity of arms and armour to the fleet of Scipio. (Liv. 28.45.) The abundance of copper, probably, also gave rise to the peculiar system of coinage in use among the Etruscans, as well as the other nations of Central Italy, and which must certainly have been of native origin, being wholly opposed to that in use among the Greeks. The Etruscan coinage, like the early Roman, was exclusively of copper, or rather bronze; and the coins themselves, which were of a large size, were cast in moulds instead of being struck with a die. (Müller, Etrusker, vol. i. pp. 303--308; Eckhel, vol. i. pp. 85--89.) This early introduction of coined money, as well as the accounts of their naval power, sufficiently proves that the Etruscans must have carried on an extensive commerce, but we have very little account of its details. Their luxurious habits of life would necessarily conduce to the same result, and we learn that they maintained close relations of amity with the Sybarites in Southern Italy, as well as with the Carthaginians. (Arist. Pol. 3.5; Athen. 12.519b.)

The art of writing was represented by the traditions of the Etruscans themselves as introduced from Greece, and recent researches have led to the same result,--that the Etruscan alphabet was received by them directly from the Greeks, and not, as has been contended by some modern writers, from a common Oriental source. (Müller, Etr. vol. ii. pp. 290-309; Mommsen, Unt. Ital. Dial. pp. 3--7, 7, 40.) But the Etruscans introduced, in the course of time, some changes in the forms and values of the letters; while, on the other hand, they retained down to the latest period the mode of writing from right to left, which had been early abandoned by the Greeks. Hence, even in the days of Cicero, their books were, as Lucretius phrases it, read backwards. ( “Tyrrhena retro volventem carmina frustra,” Lucr. 6.381.) Of their literature we have no remains, and it may well be doubted whether they ever had anything worthy of the name. Besides their ritual books of various kinds, the “Libri Fulgurales” (alluded to by Lucretius in the above passage), “Libri Augurales,” &c., the only works of which we find any mention are Histories or Annals (cited by Varro and by the emperor Claudius), but which appear to have been compiled as late as the second century B.C.; and Tragedies written by one Volnius, a native Etruscan, who seems to have flourished not long before the time of Varro, so that his literary attempts were evidently not of a truly national character. (Varr. L.L. 5.55; Id. ap. Censorin. 17.6.)

The scientific attainments of the Etruscans appear to have been almost confined to those branches of study directly connected with their religious rites and ceremonies, such as the observance of astronomical and meteorological phenomena, the calculation of eclipses, the regulation of the calendar, &c. Their doctrine of Saecula, or ages of varying length, was very peculiar (Censorin. 17. § § 5, 6; Plut. Sull. 7): ten of these ages they regarded as the period allotted to the duration of their nation; and they even went so far as to assign a limit (like the Scandinavians) to the existence of the world, and of the gods themselves. (Varro, ap. Arnob. 3.40.) It was from the Etruscans that the Romans derived their peculiar mode of dividing the months by the Ides, Nones, &c. (Macr. 1.15; Varr. L. L. 6.28.) Of unquestionable Etruscan origin was also the Roman system of numerals, which has been transmitted [p. 1.870]through the latter people down to our own times. In the divisions of their money, weights, and measures, as well as in many of their other institutions, we trace a predilection for the duodecimal system, which was adopted from them by the Romans.

(For fuller information concerning the arts and sciences of the Etruscans, as well as their institutions, religious rites, &c., the reader may consult the work of C. O. Müller, Die Etrusker, 2 vols. 8vo. Breslau, 1828; and an excellent abridgment by the same author in the article Hetrurien, in Ersch and Gruber's Encyclopaedia, 1830, republished in Mülller's Kleine Schriften, vol. i. pp. 129--219: also Micali, Storia deli Antichi Popoli Italiani, 3 vols. Florence, 1832; and Abeken, Mittel-Italien, 8vo. Stuttgart, 1843. The extant monuments and remains are fully described by Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, 2 vols. 8vo. Lond. 1848. Illustrations of the works of art will be found in the plates to Micali's work above cited, and in his Monumenti Inediti, 1844. A more numerous suite is given in the older work of Dempster, Etruria Regalis, 3 vols. fol. 1723--1767, and by Inglirami, Monumenti Etruschi, 7 vols. 4to. 1821--1826; also in the Monumenti Inediti published by the Instituto di Corrispondenza Archeologica at Rome, a work of which the text or Annali also contains much valuable information concerning Etruscan antiquities.)


The physical features of Etruria have been already described, and it therefore only remains to notice the towns, which may be enumerated according to the natural divisions of the country. 1. N. of the Arnus were: LUNA, LUCA, PISAE, PISTORIA, FAESULAE, and FLORENTIA all considerable towns, which are described in separate articles. Besides these, we find in Ptolemy (3.1.47) the names of Viracelum, supposed to be Verrucola in the upper valley of the Serchio, and Bondelia, which cannot be identified: but he places in this part of Etruria also a colony of the name of LUCUS FERONIAE which cannot therefore be the same place with the one mentioned by Pliny and other writers in Southern Etruria: but it is very doubtful whether this is not a mere error on the part of Ptolemy. [FERONIAE LUCUS.] 2. Between the Arnus and the Umbro were: SENA, VOLATERRAE, POPULONIUM, and RUSELLAE together with several smaller places or ports on the coast, which must have been dependencies of the inland cities: viz. Portus Pisanus, Portus Herculis Labronis or Liburni, Vada Volaterrana, Portus Faleria, and Portus Trajanus. 3. In the valley of the Clanis, or between that river and the Tiber, were the four powerful cities of ARRETIUM, CORTONA, CLUSIUM, and PERUSIA 4. S. of the Umbro and proceeding from that river to the Tiber were the important cities of VOLSINII, VETULONIA, COSA, VULCI, TARQUINII, CAERE, VEII, and FALERII But besides these there were in this part of Etruria a number of other towns, some of them scarcely inferior to those just mentioned, others known to us from the occurrence of their names in the early wars of the Romans with the Etruscans, others again whose names are found only in Pliny or Ptolemy, but which are proved by existing remains to have been places of consideration, and ancient Etruscan sites. Of these the following must be mentioned. Between the Umbro and the Marta were SATURNIA, SUANA, STATONIA, SUDERTUM, and TUSCANIA Eba, mentioned only by Ptolemy (3.1.49), is placed by him within the same limits: and the Verentum or Vesentum of Pliny (3.5. s. 8) may probably be placed near the Lake of Bolsena. Further to the S. were FERENTUM, BLERA, SUTRIUM, NEPETE, FORUM CASSII, FORUM CLODII, SABATE, and CAPENA: and in the valley of the Tiber, N. of Falerii, were FESCENNIUM, HORTA, POLIMARTIUM, and HERBANUM Along the coast (proceeding from the mouth of the Umbro to that of the Tiber) were the PORTUS TELAMONIS, PORTUS HERCULIS or Cosanus, GRAVISCAE, CENTUMCELLAE, CASTRUM NOVUM, PYRGI, ALSIUM, FREGENAE, and the PORTUS AUGUSTI at the mouth of the Tiber. This southern portion of Etruria contained also numerous watering-places, which were frequented in the time of the Roman dominion, and probably at an earlier period also, on account of their mineral waters: among these may be mentioned the AQUAE APOLLINARES, AQUAE PASSERIS, and AQUAE TAURI at which last a considerable town had grown up, so that the “Aquenses Taurini” are enumerated by Pliny (3.5. s. 8) among the municipal communities of Etruria. The Aquae Caeratanae also had given rise to a town, which in Strabo's time was better peopled than the ancient city of Caere (Strab. v. p.220), of which it nevertheless continued a dependency, as did the Aquae Populoniae and Aquae Volaterranae of the respective cities from which they derived their name. Martial alludes (6.42) to the abundance and fashionable repute of these Etruscan watering-places in his time. Two other sites which must be placed also in this part of Etruria were the FANUM VOLTUMNAE the meetingplace of the federal assemblies of the Etruscans; and the LUCUS FERONIAE which seems to have been situated near the foot of Soracte.

In the above enumeration of Etruscan towns, the mere stations or obscure villages on the high roads, known only from the Itineraries, have been omitted. Their names will be found in the articles of the Viae on which they were situated. Of these, there were three great high roads proceeding from Rome and traversing Etruria almost in its whole extent. 1. The VIA AURELIA which led from Rome to Alsium, and from thence followed the line of the seacoast as closely as possible all the way to Pisae, and from thence to Luna, where it was joined by the Via Clodia. 2. The VIA CASSIA led from Rome through the heart of Etruria by Sutrium, Vulsinii, and Clusium to Arretium, from whence it was continued across the mountains to Bononia (Cic. Phil. 12.9; Liv. 39.2), while another branch led from Arretium to Florentia, and thence by Pistoria to Luca. This last line is called in the Itinerary of Antoninus the Via Clodia, and that name, though not mentioned by Cicero, seems to have in later times become the prevalent one (Orell. Inscr. 3143). 3. The VIA CLODIA properly so called, was intermediate between the other two; and led by Blera, Tuscania, Saturnia, Rusellae, and Sena, to Florentia, where it joined the preceding route. There is, however, some confusion between the two, which is discussed under the articles VIA CASSIA and VIA CLODIA Besides these, the first part of the Via Flaminia, from the Mulvian bridge till it recrossed the Tiber near Ocriculum, lay through Etruria; as well as the Via Amerina, which branched off from the Cassia at Baccanae, and led through Nape and Falerii to Ameria. [AMERIA]


hide References (86 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (86):
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.88
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.113
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.98
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 11.51
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 14.109
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 15.14
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.166
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.167
    • Herodotus, Histories, 1.94
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.11.3
    • Pausanias, Description of Greece, 10.16.4
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.105
    • Thucydides, Histories, 6.89
    • Appian, Civil Wars, 1.6.49
    • Cicero, Against Catiline, 3.8
    • Cicero, Philippics, 12.9
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 4
    • Vergil, Aeneid, 10.203
    • Vergil, Georgics, 2.193
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 3.3.5
    • Vitruvius, On Architecture, 6.3
    • Tacitus, Annales, 11.15
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.65
    • Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, 6.381
    • Suetonius, Divus Augustus, 97
    • Lucan, Civil War, 1.584
    • Lucan, Civil War, 1.636
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 36.13
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.19
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.20
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.5
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.6
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.52
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 2.53
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 34.7
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 35.12
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 5.6.2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 41, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 39, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 23
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 31
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 13
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 39
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 14
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 24
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 32
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 33
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 10, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 9, 36
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 25, 16
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 37
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 2, 44
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 27
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 27
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 30
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 35
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 8
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 61
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 6, 2
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 28, 45
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 40, 43
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 1, 15
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 4, 25
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 1
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 7, 2
    • Thucydides, Histories, 7.53
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 2.2
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 1.1
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 1.4
    • Cicero, De Divinatione, 1.3
    • Gellius, Noctes Atticae, 11.7
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 27.3
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 27.3.1
    • Plutarch, Sulla, 7
    • Plutarch, Romulus, 2
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.40
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 5.9
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 19.106
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 20.61
    • Diodorus, Historical Library, 20.64
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 3.1
    • Valerius Maximus, Facta et Dicta Memorabilia, 2.4.4
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 12
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 15
    • Athenaeus, of Naucratis, Deipnosophistae, 4
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: