Page:Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire vol 1 (1897).djvu/95

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21
OF THE ROMAN EMPIRE

Apennine. The Ligurians dwelt on the rocky coast, which now forms the republic of Genoa.[1] Venice was yet unborn; but the territories of that state, which lie to the east of the Adige, were inhabited by the Venetians.[2] The middle part of the peninsula, that now composes the duchy of Tuscany and the ecclesiastical state, was the ancient seat of the Etruscans and Umbrians; to the former of whom Italy was indebted for the first rudiments of a civilized life.[3] The Tiber rolled at the foot of the seven hills of Rome, and the country of the Sabines, the Latins, and the Volsci, from that river to the frontiers of Naples, was the theatre of her infant victories. On that celebrated ground the first consuls deserved triumphs, their successors adorned villas, and their posterity have erected convents.[4] Capua and Campania possessed the immediate territory of Naples; the rest of the kingdom was inhabited by many warlike nations, the Marsi, the Samnites, the Apulians, and the Lucanians; and the sea-coasts had been covered by the flourishing colonies of the Greeks. We may remark, that when Augustus divided Italy into eleven regions, the little province of Istria was annexed to that seat of Roman sovereignty.[5]

The Danube and Illyrian frontier The European provinces of Rome were protected by the course of the Rhine and the Danube. The latter of those mighty frontier streams, which rises at the distance of only thirty miles from the former, flows above thirteen hundred miles, for the most part to the south-east, collects the tribute of sixty navigable rivers, and is, at length, through six mouths, received into the Euxine, which appears scarcely equal to such an accession of waters.[6] The provinces of the Danube soon acquired the general appellation of Illyricum, or the Illyrian frontier,[7] and were esteemed the most warlike of the empire; but they deserve to be more particularly considered under the names of Rhætia, Noricum,

  1. [We shall find late Greek historians calling the Genoese Ligurians (Λιγούριοι). It sounds odd, but serves to remind us that the great city of Liguria did not preserve the ancient name of the territory like her eastern rival, the great city of Venetia.]
  2. The Italian Veneti, though often confounded with the Gauls, were more probably of Illyrian origin. See M. Freret, Mémoires de l'Académie des Inscriptions, tom, xviii.
  3. See Maffei Verona illustrata, I. .
  4. The first contrast was observed by the ancients. See Florus, 1. 11. The second must strike every modern traveller.
  5. Pliny (Hist. Natur. I. iii. [6]) follows the division of Italy, by Augustus.
  6. Tournefort, Voyages en Grèce et Asie Mineure, lettre xviii.
  7. The name of Illyricum originally belonged to the sea-coast of the Adriatic, and was gradually extended by the Romans from the Alps to the Euxine Sea. See Severini Pannonia, I. i. c. 3.