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A Smaller History of Rome
written by "Smith, William, Sir, 1813-1893"
...ains; and the vine is cultivated in every part of the peninsula, the vineyards of northern Campania being the most celebrated in antiquity. The early inhabitants of Italy may be divided into three great classes—the Italians proper, the Iapygians, and the Etruscans, who are clearly distinguished from each other by their respective languages. (1.) The Italians proper inhabited the centre of the peninsula. They were divided into two branches, the Latins and the Umbro-Sabellians, including the Umbrians, Sabines, Samnites, and their numerous colonies. The dialects of the Latins and Umbro-Sabellians, though marked by striking differences, still show clearest evidence of a common origin, and both are closely related to the Greek. It is evident that at some remote period a race migrated from the East, embracing the ancestors of both the Greeks and Italians—that from it the Italians branched off—and that they again were divided into the Latins on the west and the Umbrians and Sabellians on the east. (2.) The Iapygians dwelt in Calabria, in the extreme southeast corner of Italy. Inscriptions in a peculiar language have here been discovered, clearly showing that the inhabitants belonged to a different race from those whom we have designated as the Italians. They were doubtless the oldest inhabitants of Italy, who were driven toward the extremity of the peninsula as the Latins and Sabellians pressed farther to the south. (3.) The Etruscans, or, as they called themselves, Rasena, form a striking contrast to the Latins and Sabellians as well as to the Greeks. Their language is radically different from the other languages of Italy; and their manners and customs clearly prove them to be a people originally quite distinct from the Greek and Italian races. Their religion was of a gloomy character, delighting in mysteries and in wild and horrible rites. Their origin is unknown. Most ancient writers relate that the Etruscans were ...

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