1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Etruria

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ETRURIA, an ancient district of Italy, the extent of which varied considerably, and, especially in the earliest periods, is very difficult to define (see section Language). The name is the Latin equivalent of the Greek Τυρρηνία or Τυρσηνία, which is used by Latin writers also in the forms Tyrrhenia, Tyrrhenii; the Romans also spoke of Tusci, whence the modern Tuscany (q.v.). In early times the district appears to have included the whole of N. Italy from the Tiber to the Alps, but by the end of the 5th century B.C. it was considerably diminished, and about the year 100 B.C. its boundaries were the Arnus (Arno), the Apennines and the Tiber. In the division of Italy by Augustus it formed the seventh regio and extended as far north as the river Macra, which separated it from Liguria.

History.—The authentic history of Etruria is very meagre, and consists mainly in the story of its relations with Carthage, Greece and Rome. At some period unknown, prior to the 6th century, the Etrurians became a conquering people and extended their power not only northwards over, probably, Mantua, Felsina, Melpum and perhaps Hadria and Ravenna (Etruria Circumpadana), but also southwards into Latium and Campania. The chronology of this expansion is entirely unknown, nor can we recover with certainty the names of the cities which constituted the two leagues of twelve founded in the conquered districts on the analogy of the original league in Etruria proper (below). In the early history of Rome the Etruscans play a prominent part. According to the semi-historical tradition they were the third of the constituent elements which went to form the city of Rome. The tradition has been the subject of much controversy, and is still an unsolved problem. It is practically certain, however, that there is no foundation for the ancient theory (cf. Prop. iv. [v.] 1. 31) that the third Roman tribe, known as Luceres, represented an Etruscan element of the population, and it is held by many authorities that the tradition of the Tarquin kings of Rome represents, not an immigrant wave, but the temporary domination of Etruscan lords, who extended their conquests some time before 600 B.C. over Latium and Campania. This theory is corroborated by the fact that during the reigns of the Tarquin kings Rome appears as the mistress of a district including part of Etruria, several cities in Latium, and the whole of Campania, whereas our earliest picture of republican Rome is that of a small state in the midst of enemies. For this problem see further under Rome: History, section “The Monarchy.”

After the expulsion of the Tarquins the chief events in Etruscan history are the vain attempt to re-establish themselves in Rome under Lars Porsena of Clusium, the defeat of Octavius Mamilius, son-in-law of Tarquinius Superbus, at Lake Regillus, and the treaty with Carthage. This last event shows that the Etruscan power was formidable, and that by means of their fleet the Etruscans held under their exclusive control the commerce of the Tyrrhenian Sea. By this treaty Corsica was assigned to the Etruscans while Carthage obtained Sardinia. Soon after this, decay set in. In 474 the Etruscan fleet was destroyed by Hiero I. (q.v.) of Syracuse; Etruria Circumpadana was occupied by the Gauls, the Campanian cities by the Samnites, who took Capua (see Campania) in 423, and in 396, after a ten years’ siege, Veii fell to the Romans. The battle of the Vadimonian Lake (309) finally extinguished Etruscan independence, though for nearly two centuries still the prosperity of the Etruscan cities far exceeded that of Rome itself. Henceforward Etruria is finally merged in the Roman state.

Etruscan Antiquities

The large recent discoveries of Etruscan objects have not materially altered the conclusions arrived at a generation ago. It is not so much our appreciation of the broad lines of the manners and arts of the Etruscans that has altered as our understanding of the geographic and social causes which made them what they were. One great difficulty in the study of the remains is that a very large portion of them have been found by unofficial excavators who have been naturally unwilling to tell whence they came, and that certain other excavations, such as those carried out by Comm. Barnabei for the Villa Giulia museum, have been carried out under conditions which help but little towards increasing our knowledge.[1] The increase has, however, been steady, even if not all one could wish.

Ethnology.—The origin of the Etruscans will most likely never be absolutely fixed,[2] but their own tradition (Tacitus, Ann. iv. 55) that they came out of Lydia seems not impossible. Herodotus (i. 94) and Strabo (v. 220) tell of Lydians landing at the mouth of the Po and crossing the Apennines into Etruria. Thus it seems certain that though the earliest immigrants, known to the later Etruscans as the Rasena, may have come down from the north, still they were joined by a migration from the east before they had developed a civilization of their own, and it is this double race that became the Etruscans as we know them in tradition and by their works. To give a date to the migration of the Rasena from the north, for which the only evidence is the fact that the Etruscan language is found in various parts of north Italy,[3] is impossible, but we can perhaps give an approximate one to the coming of the Lydians or Tyrrhenians (Thuc. iv. 109; Herod. i. 57). We know that there was a great wave of migration from Greece to Italy about 1000 B.C., and as the earliest imported Greek objects found in the tombs cannot be dated many generations later than this, this year may be considered as giving us roughly the time when the real Etruscan civilization began.

It has been, and still is, a common mistake to speak of the Etruscans as though they were closely confined to that part of Italy called Etruria on the maps, but it is quite certain that in the early stages of their development they were differentiated from the Umbrians on the north-east and the Latins on the south in ways due rather to the locality than to race or essential character.[4] To primitive peoples open seas or deserts are a greater hindrance to intercourse than mountains or rivers, and even these did not cut off Etruria from the neighbouring regions of Italy. The Apennines that separated her from Umbria were not difficult to cross, and the Tiber which formed the boundary between her and Latium has been a far greater element of separation in the minds of modern authors than it ever was in reality. Narrow, not particularly swift, often shallow, such a stream can never have caused more than a moment’s delay to the hardy Etruscans. When Rome was founded, the river of course could be used like a moat round a castle as a means of defence, but that is very different from its being a permanent bar to the spread of a given culture. The fact that the alphabets used in other parts of Italy besides Etruria are derived from the Etruscan or from similar Grecian sources, that Rome was ruled by Etruscan kings, that the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline was decorated by Etruscan artists (Livy x. 23; Pliny, H.N. xxxv. 157), that the decorations of the temple found by Signor Mazzoleni near Conca (Notizie degli scavi, 1896) are of the same kind as others found in Etruria, show that the influences which grew to their clearest development in the region west of the Tiber had a marked effect over a broader region than is usually admitted. This too was the belief of the Greek historians, many of whom considered Rome as a Tyrrhenian city.[5]

Cities and Organization.—The chief cities of Etruria proper were Veii, Tarquinii, Falerii, Caere, Volci, Volsinii, Clusium, Arretium, Cortona, Perusia, Volaterrae (Volterra), Rusellae, Populonium and Faesulae. That the country was thickly settled is made plain by the ruins that have been found. It was governed by kings who were elected for life, but whose power depended largely on the leaders (lucumones) of the separate states or regions and on the aristocracy (Censorinus, De die natali, iv. 13). Later the office of king was abolished and replaced by annual magistrates (Livy v. 1). Below the aristocracy came the free people, who were divided into curiae (Serv. ad Aen. x. 202), and then the slaves. There can be little doubt that the early organization of the people at Rome was typical of Etruria (Niebuhr, Röm. Gesch. 2nd ed. i. 389).

A league of twelve cities is mentioned by the ancients (Livy iv. 23), whose delegates met at the temple of Voltumna, but we are not told which cities formed the league, and there can be little doubt that the list changed from time to time. A glance at the map makes clear some of the general relations of these cities to one another and to the outer world. They are well spread all over the country, and by no means only along the coast. None of the important ones is among the mountains. This means that the earliest inhabitants of the country were not roving traders like the Mycenaean Greeks, and that the cities drew their wealth and strength from agricultural pursuits, for which the country was well suited, as the three rivers, Arnus, Umbro and Tiber, with their feeders (not to mention several lesser streams), channel it in all directions. We get a hint as to the government of the cities from the fact that many of the Roman forms and apanages of office were derived from the Etruscans (Dion. Hal. iii. 61); for instance, the diadem worn by those honoured with a triumph, the ivory sceptre and the embroidered toga (Tertull. De Cor. 13), and so too the golden bulla and the praetexta (Festus, s.v. “Sardi”). Such things give us an idea as to the aristocratic basis of the government. Of the actual laws we know something also. Cicero (Div. ii. 23) tells the story of the miraculous uncovering by a ploughboy of a child who had the wisdom of a sage, and how the child’s words were written down by the amazed folk, and became their archives and the source of their law. Coming down to historic times we find that their code, known as the libri disciplinae Etruscae, consisted of various parts (Festus, s.v. “Ritualis”). There were the libri haruspicini (Cic. Div. i. 33, 72), which dealt with the interpretation of the will of the gods by means of sacrifice; the libri fulgurales, which explained the messages of the gods in the thunder and lightning; and finally the libri rituales, which held the rules for the conduct of daily life—how to found cities, where to place the gates, how to take the census, and the general ordering of the people both in peace and war.

Natural Resources and Commerce.—Such was the country and such the laws. The people were a warrior stock with little commercial skill. Much of their wealth was due to trade, but they were not the restless, conquering blood that goes in search of new markets. They waited for the buyers to come to them. That their wealth and consequent power were gathered contemporaneously with that of Greece is shown by various facts. One of these is that Dionysius of Phocaea settled in Sicily after the Ionian revolt (in which his native city took part) had been quelled by Darius, and thence harried the Etruscans (Herod. vi. 17). Their power is also shown by the fact that they made an alliance with the Carthaginians, with the result that they obtained control of Corsica (Herod. i. 166), and this union continued for many generations.[6] That this treaty was no exceptional one is shown by Aristotle (Pol. iii. 96, Op. ii. 261), who says that there were numerous treatises, concerning their alliances and mutual rights, between the two peoples. That the Greeks held the Etruscans in considerable dread is suggested by the fact that Hesiod (Theog. 1011 foll.) names one of their leaders Agrios, “the Wild Man,” and by the fear they had of the straits of Messina, where they imagined Scylla and Charybdis, which, unless the whirlpools were of very different character then than now, were as likely to be the pirate bands of Carthaginians and Etruscans who guarded the channel. And this explanation is strengthened by Euripides (Med. 1342, 1359), whose Medea compares herself to “Scylla, who dwells on the Tyrrhenian shore.” The wealth that was the source of this power of the Etruscans must in the main have been drawn from agriculture and forestry. The rich land with its many streams could scarcely be surpassed for the raising of crops and cattle, and the hills were heavily timbered. That it was such material as this, which leaves no trace with the passing of time, that they sold cannot be doubted, for there is plenty of evidence that their country was visited by foreign traders of many lands, and that they bought largely of them, especially of metals. Metals also suggest that another source of their wealth was that of the middleman. Their towns were the centres of exchange, where the north and west met the south and east. They had no mines of gold or tin, but the carriers of tin, iron or amber[7] from the north met in the markets of Etruria the Phoenician and Greek merchants bringing gold and ivory and the other luxuries of the East. The quantities of gold, silver and bronze found in Etruscan tombs prove this clearly. Of these metals the only one found in unworked form, in what are practically pigs, is bronze. This in the form of aes rude has frequently been found in considerable quantities, and the larger and better formed bits of metals known as aes signatum are not rare. Both forms are usually spoken of as the earliest forms of money, but as the aes rude generally bears no marks of valuation or of any mint, and as the aes signatum is far too large and heavy for ordinary circulation, it is probable that these shapes of metal are not to be considered strictly or alone as coins, but as forms given to the alloy of tin and copper made and sold by the Etruscans to the foreigners for purposes of manufacture. This of course does not exclude their use as money. Where the copper for this bronze came from is not certain, but probably a great part was from the mines at Volaterrae. Still another proof that what the Etruscans sold was the product of their fields or crude metals imported from the north, is the fact that though in the museum at Carthage and elsewhere there are a few vases and other objects which probably come from Etruria, still such objects are extremely uncommon. On the other hand, articles obviously imported from the East are by no means uncommon in Etruria. Such are the ostrich shells from Volci,[8] the Phoenician cups from Palestrina,[9] the Egyptian glazed vases and scarabs found on more than one site.[10] All this goes to show that the Etruscans lacked in their earlier days skilful workers in the arts and crafts.

Habits and Customs.—The lack of literary remains of the Etruscans does not cramp our knowledge of their habits as much as might be supposed, owing to the numerous paintings that are left. These paintings are on the walls of the tombs at Veii, Corneto, Chiusi (Clusium), and elsewhere,[11] and give a varied picture of the dress, utensils and habits of the people. The evidence of many ancient authors cannot be questioned that as a race the Etruscans in historic times were much given to luxurious living. So much so in fact that Virgil (Georg. ii. 193) speaks of the pinguis Tyrrhenus (a trumpeter at the altar) and Catullus (xxxix. 11) of the obesus Etruscus. Diodorus (v. 40) gives a succinct account in which he says that “their country was so fertile they derived therefrom not only sufficient for their needs but enough to supply them with luxuries. Twice a day they partook of elaborate repasts at which the tables were decked with embroidered cloths and vessels of gold and silver. The servants were numerous and noticeable for the richness of their attire. The houses, too, were large and commodious. In fact, giving themselves up to sensuous enjoyments they had naturally lost the glorious reputation their ancestors had won in war.” This last remark shows that Diodorus recognized the important difference between the early Etruscans who built up the country and the later ones who merely enjoyed it. Naturally courtesans flourished in such a community. Timaeus and Theopompus tell how the women lived and ate and even exercised with the men (Athen. xii. 14; cf. iv. 38), habits which of course gave the Roman satirists many openings for attack (Plaut. Cist. ii. 3. 563; cf. Herod, i. 98; Strabo xi. 14). In dress they differed but little from the Romans, both wearing the toga and the tunic. Hats too, often of pointed form, were common (Serv. ad Aen. ii. 683), as the paintings show, but it was their shoes for which they were particularly famous. One author (Lydus, de Magistr. i. 17. 36) suggests that Romulus borrowed from Etruria the type of shoe he gave the senators, and this may well be true, though the form mentioned, the kampagus, is of late origin. At any rate σανδάλια Τυρρηνικά are frequently mentioned. From the pictures and remains we know that they had wooden soles strengthened with bronze, and that the uppers were of leather and bound with thongs.

Their occupations of trade and agriculture have been already mentioned. For their leisure hours they had athletic games including gladiatorial shows (Athen. iv. 153; cf. Livy ix. 40. 7; Strabo v. 250), hunting, music and dancing. All these are shown in the tomb pictures, and all, with the exception of the hunting, developed first as a part of religious service, and their importance is shown by the strictness of the rules that governed them (Cicero, De harusp. resp. ii. 23). Did a dancer lose step, or an attendant lift his hand from the chariot, the games lost their value as a religious service. An idea of the splendour of the triumphs that accompanied victorious generals and of the parades at the games is given by Appian (De reb. Punic. viii. 66) and Dionysius (vii. 92). The music that was an accompaniment of all their occupations, even of hunting (Aelian, De natur. anim. xii. 46), was mainly produced by the single or double flute, the mastery of which by the Etruscans was known to all the world. They also had small harps and trumpets.

For the regularization of all these duties and pleasures there was a calendar and time-division for the day. It is noteworthy that the beginning of the day was for them the moment when the sun was at the zenith (Serv. ad Aen. v. 738). In this they differed from the Greeks, who began their day with the sunset, and the Romans, who reckoned theirs from midnight. The weeks were of eight days, the first being market day and the day when the people could appeal to the king, and the months were lunar. The years were kept numbered by the annual driving of a nail into the walls of the temple of Nortia at Volsinii (Livy vii. 3. 7), a custom later adopted by the Romans, who used the Capitoline temple for the same purpose. In Rome this rite was performed on the Ides of September, and it is likely that it took place in Etruria on the same date, the natural end of the year among an agricultural folk. A still longer measure of time was the saeculum, which was supposed to be the length of the longest life of all those born in the year in which the preceding oldest inhabitant died (Censorinus, De die natali, 17. 5; cf. Zosimus ii. 1). According to later writers[12] the Etruscan race was to last ten saecula, and the emperor Augustus in his memoirs (Serv. ad. Bucol. ix. 47) says that the comet of the year 44 B.C. was said by the priests to betoken the beginning of the tenth saeculum. The earliest saecula had been, according to Varro, 100 years long. The later ones varied in length from 105 to 123 years. The round number 100 is obviously an ex post facto approximation, and the accuracy of the others is probably more apparent than real, but if we reckon back some 900 years from the date given by Augustus we arrive at just about the time when the archaeological evidence leads us to believe that the Etruscans in Italy were beginning to recognize their individuality.

Religion.—To retrace the religious development of the Etruscans from its mystic beginnings is beyond our power, and it is unlikely that any future discoveries will help us much. We are, however, able to draw a clear, if not a detailed, picture of the worship paid to the various divinities, partly from the direct information we have concerning them and partly from the analogies which may safely be drawn between them and the Romans.

The frequency of sacrifice among them and their belief in the short duration of the race[13] show clearly their belief in a good and a bad principle, and the latter seems to have been predominant in their minds. Storms, earthquakes, the birth of deformities, all gave evidence of evil powers, which could be appeased sometimes only by human sacrifice. We miss here the Greek joy in human life and the beauties of earth. The gods (aesar) were divided into two main groups, the Dii Consentes and a vaguer set of powers, the Dii Involuti (Seneca, Quaest. Nat. ii. 41), to whom even Jupiter bowed. They all dwelt in various parts of the heavens (Martianus Capella, De nupt. Phil. i. 41 ff.). Of the Dii Consentes the most important group consisted of Jupiter (Tinia), Juno (Uni) and Minerva (Menrva). In some towns, such as Veii and Falerii, Juno was the chief deity, and at Perusia she was worshipped like the Greek Aphrodite in conjunction with Vulcan (the Greek Hephaestus). This shows that though in exterior form the Etruscan gods were influenced by the Greeks, still their character and powers betoken different beliefs. An interesting point to note about Minerva (Menrva) is that she was the goddess of the music of flutes and horns. The myth of Athena and Marsyas probably originated in Asia Minor, and a Pelasgian Tyrrhenian founded in Argos the temple of Athena Salpinx (Paus. ii. 21. 3). The evident connexion between Asia Minor and Etruria in these facts cannot be overlooked. Besides these deities there were Venus (Turan), Bacchus (Fufluns), Mercury (Turms), Vulcan (Sethlans). Of these, Sethlans is in a way the most important, for he shows a connexion in prehistoric times between Etruria and the East.[14] Other deities of Greek origin there were—Ares, Apollo, Heracles, the Dioscuri; in fact, as the centuries passed, the Greek divinities were adopted almost without exception. Besides these there were also many gods of Latin or Sabine origin, of whom little is known but their names; these may often be local appellations for the same god. Among these were Voltumna at Volsinii and Vertumnus at Rome, Janus, Nortia, goddess of Fortuna, Fēronia, whose temple was at a town of the same name at the foot of Soracte,[15] Mantus, Pales, Vejovis, Eileithyia and Ceres. Such were the leading gods; in addition there was the world of spirits whom we know in Rome as the Manes, Lares and Penates. The latter were of four classes, pertaining to Jove, Neptune, the gods of the lower world, and to men.[16] The Lares too were of various sorts (familiares, compitales, viales), and with them the souls of the dead, after the performance of due expiatory rites, took their place as dii animales (Serv. ad Aen. iii. 168 and 302). The Manes are the vaguest group of all and were confined almost wholly to the lower world (Festus, s.v. “Mundus”; Apuleius, De deo Socratis). Over all these ruled Mantus and Mania, the counterparts of Pluto and Persephone in Greece. As a result of this complete hierarchy of divine powers the priesthood of Etruria was large, powerful, and of such fame that Etruscan haruspices were sent for from distant places to interpret the sacrifices and the oracles (Livy v. i. 6, xxvii. 37. 6).

Art.—The evidence drawn from tradition and custom which we have so far considered in relation to the origin and beliefs of the Etruscans has taken us into the prehistoric times much earlier than those when the handicrafts developed into true fine arts. The contents of the earliest graves[17] show but few traces of any feeling for art either in architecture or in the lesser forms of household and personal decoration. Gradually, however, as one comes down towards the more fixed historic periods, certain objects, obviously imported from the eastern Mediterranean, occur, and these are the first signs of an interest in the beauty or curiosity of things, an interest that local workmen could not yet satisfy, but which stirred them to endeavour. It was probably during the 9th century that this began, not long after the period when foreign trade began to flourish.

The history of Etruscan art has usually been wrongly estimated owing to the widespread delusion that objects found in Etruria were in the true sense products of native artists and indicative of native-grown culture. It is only recently, and not even yet completely, that the term “Etruscan” has been given up as the name for the terra-cotta vases (which were found in the 19th century by the earlier archaeologists of the modern scientific school in great quantities in the Etruscan tombs); these are now known to have been made by Greek potters. There are few books on the subject of Etruscan art. The best known is Jules Martha’s L’Art étrusque (2nd ed., 1889), a book which, though full of accurate data, shows absolute lack of discrimination between those works that are of Etruscan fabric and those that were brought from other lands, particularly Greece and the Greek colonies of Magna Graecia and Sicily. These latter are too generally forgotten in the study both of Greek and of Etruscan art, and all works which show the Greek spirit are vaguely supposed to have been produced on the Greek mainland. As much of the following must be to some extent controversial in character, a concrete illustration may serve to prevent misconception as to this important distinction. The beautiful throne in the Ludovisi collection representing the birth of Aphrodite is commonly spoken of as though made by some sculptor in Greece. It seems at least as likely that it comes from Sicily. Not only is the character of the modelling similar to what we find on Sicilian sculptures and coins, and not quite so sharp as on most works from Greece, but there is a lyrical feeling for nature in the pose of the figures and in the pebbled soil on which the main group stands, which seems to answer to the Sicilian feeling as we know it in poetry rather than to the Greek.

The houses of the earliest times were, to judge by the burial urns known from their shape as hut-urns, small single-room constructions of rectangular plan similar to certain types of the capanne used by the shepherds to-day. Probably the walls were wattled and the roofs were Architecture. certainly thatched, for the urns show plainly the long beams fastened together at the top and hanging from the ridge down each side. Tombs cut in the rock offer other and later models of house construction, but give no suggestion that the Etruscans had any artistic sense in architecture. Such tombs are mostly later than the 5th century B.C., and show the most simple form of wood construction. Posts or columns hold up the walls and the sloping roofs, the latter made of beams with boards laid lengthwise, covered by others from ridge to eave, the intervening space forming a coffer, sometimes decorated. Though the walls of such tombs are often covered with paintings, the relation of the various parts (and, let it be remembered, these tombs represent the houses of the living) shows but the coarsest sense of proportion. The elements of the decoration, such as capitals, mouldings, rosettes, patterns, are borrowed from Greece, Egypt or elsewhere, and are used redundantly and with no refinement.[18]

The temples did not differ from those in Greece in any essential principal of construction except that they were generally square, from the desire to make them answer to the templum or quadripartite division of the heavens elaborated by the priests. In Roman times, “Etruscan style” was the term used for colonnades with wide intercolumniations, and this shows how the early builders used wood with its possibility of long architrave beams rather than stone as in Greece. The interior arrangements of the temple also varied from the Grecian models, for owing to the fact that the gods of Etruria were often worshipped in groups of three the cella was divided into three chambers. The decoration—metopes, friezes, acroteria, &c.—was of terra-cotta fastened by nails to the wooden walls.

Though we know that the Etruscans were famous for their games,[19] still there are no remains of circi, and so too, though the satyristae were well known,[20] no theatres are left. They were obviously a race of no literary taste or culture. The theatre at Fiesole which is often referred to as Etruscan unquestionably dates from Roman times.

Underground tombs have already been mentioned in their relation to house-architecture, but there are the tumuli such as that called la Cucumella at Volci, that of the Curiatii at Albano, or that of Porsena at Clusium, which Pliny describes as one of the wonders of Italy (H.N. xxxvi. 19). These great walled-in mounds with their complex of interior chambers are interesting as reminiscent of tombs in Lydia, but architecturally they are barbaric and show no developed skill.

There remains one monument which has always been supposed to show a real advance made by the Etruscans in the art of architecture—the cloaca maxima in Rome. This round-arched drain was supposed to have been built by Etruscans, and it was only in 1903 that Commendatore Boni in excavating the Forum proved that the drain was originally uncovered, and that the arch was built at the end of the Republic. Thus the honour, not of discovering the arch, for it was known to the East, but of popularizing its use, does not belong to the Etruscans, though they did use it at a comparatively late time for city gates, as at Volterra.[21] The false arch and dome of the Mycenaeans seems to have been familiar to them, though there are but few cases of its use on a large scale. The best-known instances are the Tullianum or Mamertine prison in Rome, the Regulini-Galassi tomb at Cervetri,[22] one at Sesto Fiorentino near Florence,[23] at Cortona,[24] at Chiusi, and also those in Latium.[25]

Although there was, therefore, but little development in the greater arts of literature and architecture among the Etruscans, it is evident enough that there was much desire to possess the products of the lesser arts, such as sculpture, jewelry and household ornaments. But here too the study has been made difficult by the failure to distinguish between native and imported products. Before studying the objects themselves it is well to recall the legendary character of Etruscan chronology as reckoned in saecula. Helbig[26] showed that we cannot consider any of the traditional dates as being accurate until about 644 B.C., the beginning, that is, of the fifth saeculum. This is probably about one hundred years after the introduction of the Chalcidian (Ionic) alphabet into the country. One of the earliest examples of the use of it is on a vase found in the Regulini-Galassi tomb. In considering the trade of the country it has been pointed out that its chief political connexions were with Carthage, but the artistic sense of Carthaginians or other Phoenicians was not more developed than that of the Etruscans. They were traders, and doubtless brought the Etruscans some of the Egyptian and Eastern objects which have been found in their tombs, articles that date from the 7th and 6th centuries B.C. But beside the Phoenicians the Ionian Greeks from the 9th century had been trading and colonizing in Sicily and Italy. Herodotus (i. 163) tells how the Phocaeans were the first of the Greeks to take long voyages, and that they discovered the Adriatic and Tyrrhenian seas and Iberia. Thucydīdes (vi. 3. 1) says that it was Chalcidians from Euboea who first settled in Sicily. Pliny (Hist. Nat. xxxv. 12. 43) writes in the same sense, for he tells of Demaratus who came from Corinth with the artists Eucheir, Diopus, Eugrammus, about 650 B.C., and first started sculpture in Italy. These traditions of the coming of Ionian Greeks to Italy are completely borne out by the archaeological remains found in Ionian lands and in Etruria, and it is agreed that a great part of what has hitherto been considered Etruscan is no more Etruscan than the Moorish plates of the 15th century found in Italy are Florentine. The best works in most of the smaller arts are almost without exception Greek, the earlier Ionian, the later Attic; the remainder are made with the distinct intention of imitating Greek models, and so should be considered as Greek, inasmuch as they do not show a natural, original expression of feeling on the part of the Etruscan workman. The Etruscans were dull artists in all lines. They were skilful copyists, nothing more, as is absolutely proved by the simple fact that we know of no Etruscan artist by name. If one takes the articles which are of obviously local manufacture, such as the burial urns[27] or the ordinary bronze mirrors, or the pottery, it would be hard to find a similar quantity of work by any other race so lacking in originality of conception or high excellence of technique.

In the study of the monuments a division must be made distinguishing between the obviously Greek works, the works done with a desire to copy Greek models and the work of native artists. To separate the objects in the way suggested required a very considerable familiarity with Greek art, and though in many cases the result may be doubtful, still so much must be taken from the Etruscans that they are shown to have little more artistic feeling than the Romans. In the earlier centuries a strong eastern influence appears in the copying of sphinxes and similar eastern motives, but this soon gave way to the stronger Greek influence, as was natural, for the intercourse with the Phoenicians was spasmodic whereas that with the Greeks was constant. But even with the Greeks to kindle their imaginations, the Etruscans produced no school of art; no steady progression is traceable. In various towns there were various fashions of pottery or jewelry, but good, bad and indifferent constantly occur together in a way possible only among a people who possessed no natural artistic capacities and had no widespread standards of cultivated taste. The Ionians have been mentioned as having strongly affected the arts in Etruria, and, though in the later centuries Athens undoubtedly exported heavy consignments to Italy, the taste of the Etruscans seems generally to have preferred the rather heavy loose style of the Ionians, even when direct contact with them was lost and its place taken by direct relations with Athens and her colonies.

Pottery[28] practised enormously by the Etruscans shows as clearly as possible their essential strength and weakness as artists. Even the black ware called bucchero is now known to have been manufactured in other lands and not to be an exclusively Etruscan style. In the earlier tombs this Pottery. ware is present in greater numbers than any other, and the vases exhibit considerable dexterity of manufacture so far as form goes. But it is evident from comparisons with early Ionian vases that the better proportioned of the shapes are direct copies of the Ionian. The decoration of the bucchero is either engraved, in which case it is almost always extremely rude, or formed by figures modelled or pressed by a mould on to the body of the vase. In these two last cases the figures are often suggestive of the farther East (Egyptian and Mesopotamia), but still more frequently they are taken from Greek originals, and the natural tendency of the Etruscan artist to be a copyist is very marked. Whence the moulds for these vases came is not known, but analogy with other classes of work makes it practically certain that some were imported and some made by the imitating workmen. There are other classes of vases which at first sight look as though they were imported from Greece, but by the nature of their clay are recognized to be Etruscan imitations of Greek originals. The imitation is often very skilful, for the Etruscan artist rivalled his Grecian master in deftness of hand, if not in imagination. Such, for instance, are the large amphoras decorated with bands of animals in the Corinthian style. Besides these native Vases the tombs have yielded great quantities of others which used to be called Etruscan, but are now known to have been imported from Greece. Until the 6th century B.C. these vases are mostly Ionian, but at that time the trade of the Phocaeans was waning before that of Athens, and henceforward the Athenian ware is the commonest. Intercourse with Athens, however, came to an end about 480, when the Sicilian Greeks mastered the trade of the western Mediterranean, so that in the Etruscan tombs later than this date we find fewer and fewer imported vases, and more and more native imitations. It is generally taken for granted that these Attic vases were brought to Etruria by Greek traders, but considering how little the Greek historians, even Herodotus, knew of that country, this is unlikely. Then, too, the chief products Etruria had to give Greece were metals, so it is more likely that it was the Etruscan traders who, having carried metal to Greece (where Etruscan bronze was famous[29]), brought back the vases.

Though most collections make no distinction between Greek and Etruscan scarabs the differences, though slight, are quite certain, and consist in the greater elaboration of the borders, edges and backs of the Etruscan examples. The commonest material for these gems is red carnelian, and Scarabs. agate frequently occurs. The beetle shape is undoubtedly due to the Phoenicians, who familiarized the Etruscans with the Egyptian scarab and with its signification as an amulet; while in technique they are more Greek, in use they are more Egyptian, for they were used not only as seals but as ornaments—as in the decoration of necklaces.[30] What we learn from them merely serves to strengthen what we learn from the pottery—that the Etruscans depended on the Greek world for their artistic conceptions. Though many Phoenician gems (in fact, scarcely any other kind) have been found in Sardinia, these are comparatively rare in Etruria, where the earliest gems occur about 650 B.C. Some of these earliest show the Ionian influence, which is also shown in certain gold rings, but most of them represent the Attic style as seen on the black-figured vases of Athens. To understand them one has but to know Attic sculpture, the complete history of which is repeated in these small and beautifully worked stones. At first one finds the single figures, awkward in form and modelling, but full of life in composition—one finds the same mistakes in anatomy (i.e. the muscles of the stomach); and then come the figures beautifully worked and accurately observed, but with the slight hardness and rigidity that belongs to all pre-Raphaelite work; and finally one sees the figures carved with the easy assurance of the master, sometimes single, sometimes in groups, but always Attic in their unrivalled representation of the beauties of the human figure, and in the innumerable lovely scenes taken from everyday life. Not infrequently inscriptions are cut in the gem, but these are not as on Greek gems the name of the carver or the owner, but the name of the Greek hero represented. In regard to technique one point is specially noteworthy. Many of the gems are carved with the round drill, and the disks made by this are not modelled into any real semblance of a figure. This is not a sign of the antiquity of the gem, for there are examples in which together with this method will be seen a figure finished with the greatest care; it is thus evident that the gem-cutter left the marks of his round drill because of their decorative value. This they undoubtedly possess, and it is one of the few cases in which the Etruscans showed any art sense.

Bronze was used extensively. Weapons of course were fashioned of it, but these are simple in shape and decoration; no such examples as those from Mycenae occur. Objects of large size, as the bronze doors of Veii,[31] the chariots of Perugia in the New York museum, or large Bronze. tripods or shields, show that the artisans had large quantities of the material at their disposal. As with the vases or gems, so in these metal objects the distinction must be drawn between pure Etruscan work and the work that was done by Greek workmen or by artisans copying the Greek style. As Etruscan art has been wrongly estimated through forgetfulness of the Greek influence, so Greek bronzes have possibly received credit that does not belong to them. Etruscan candelabra and vases were famous among the Greeks (Ath. i. 28. 6; xv. 700 c). The chariots above mentioned and the tripods in the Harvard museum are plainly Greek; the round shields with ornament in bands are native. Antefixes of tombs were of bronze, and in some cases the eyes of the figures were inlaid with glass paste. The best-known articles of bronze are the mirrors,[32] which are very dependent on Greece for their models, though the poor style in which the scenes that decorate them are in most cases carved shows that these articles of common use were produced, as was natural, mainly by ordinary workmen. In rare cases the figures are not engraved but are given in low relief. These mirrors seem to have been mainly intended for women, and the scenes on them in large numbers of cases are of such a character as to bear out this idea; for instead of scenes of battle such as occur on the gems, scenes with satyrs and maenads are commoner, or the story of Helen or the labours of Hercules. So far as development goes they pass through the same stages as the gems, though owing to their larger surface they are more generally decorated with groups of figures.[33] Another well-known class of work is the cistae or cylindrical bronze boxes found mostly at Praeneste, where they seem to have been especially popular. The engraved figures on them are of the same character as those on the mirrors, and it is noteworthy that these figures are often better in style than the figures modelled in the round that serve as handles, or than the legs which also are modelled. This, taken together with the fact that the same figures are repeated in several cases on more than one gem or mirror, makes it probable that the workmen, like the later potters of Arezzo, had a stock of models brought from Greece, which they repeated and combined to suit their fancy.

The paintings and contents of the tombs have made it plain that the wealth of the Etruscans was very considerable, and that they spent much on jewelry, gold and silver.[34] Their extravagance in this regard was well known,[35] and the rings, the necklaces, the diadems, the bracelets and Gold and silver. the earrings show that there was a large class of well-to-do people. The eastern and Greek influences are clearly marked in the figures used in decoration, and in certain shapes of rings, but in one technical matter the Etruscans seem to have made a discovery: it was in the use of granulated ornament, that is, ornament made by soldering on to the gold object infinitely small globules of the same metal laid in various designs and patterns, each globule soldered by itself. Though this style of ornament occurs in Egypt, Cyprus, Rhodes and Magna Graecia, nowhere is it accomplished with such extraordinary minuteness as in Etruria. That they should do this was natural. The difficulty of it seems to have pleased them, for it is commoner than the earlier filigree work made of wire soldered on to the gold base. Reference has been made to the scarabs set as ornament in the gold necklaces, and similarly we find amber used and, in the later work, precious stones and pearls.

As in Greece the Etruscans first carved their figures out of wood,[36] but what these figures were like we can only imagine. The earliest known figures in the round are even less successful than the contemporary Greek work. An early attempt at a female bust[37] is made not by casting but by Sculpture. riveting plates of bronze together. A half life size bust in the Tyszkiewicz collection[38] made probably about 600 B.C. is cast solid. Later they learned the art of hollow-casting, but their attempts to reproduce figures in the round are generally lacking in skill. One reason for this was the lack of good marble, the quarries at Carrara not having been used till Roman times. Terra-cotta was the material most commonly used, and their skill in modelling and colouring this was great. The earlier statues of large size have perished; but there are three famous sarcophagi which show the work of Ionian Etruscan artists;[39] one is in the British Museum, one in the Louvre and one in the Villa di Papa Giulio at Rome. The elaborate detail and careful work, the types of the figures and the style of their dress all point to the same Ionic origin as that of the bronze chariots already mentioned. The type of sarcophagus illustrated by these examples became very common, and in the figures that decorate the covers can be traced the various influences that affected the whole of Etruscan art. In an example from Volci[40] the later Attic influence is strongly marked. Such work shows little power of origination, but much of the interest taken by careful workmen by copying carefully, and the tendency that such workmen almost invariably display of overloading the subject with too much ornament and detail. The small ash-urns, either of stone or terra-cotta, are in certain ways more interesting than the more elaborate sarcophagi, for on these urns the heads of the figures reclining on one elbow which form the usual decoration of the covers are often obvious attempts at portraiture. Single busts[41] show this same desire for accurate likeness of the person represented, and in this one line of art the Etruscans showed a new feeling, one that found its finest expression in the hands of the later Roman portraitists. The main difference between such portraits and the Greek ones is that the Greek artist thought of his subject as illustrating character that showed itself in ways of repose and thought—the essential, lasting individuality. The Etruscan and Roman portraitist thought, on the other hand, of his subject as illustrating character in ways of action; hence pure Etruscan and Roman portraits are much more tense in line, and the expression of the eye is not dreamy but distinctly focussed. They are different, but, as art, one is as fine as the other. The scenes on the sides of these urns are, as in the case of the gems and mirrors, very frequently taken from Greek story, and often are scenes of battle.[42] Work in relief for the friezes and the other decorations of temples was very common, and shows remarkable skill in the mere processes of modelling and baking the slabs of terra-cotta that were fastened by nails to the beams. So far as the figures themselves are concerned, they seem to have but little meaning in connexion with the building they decorate. Satyrs and maenads, chariot-races and such scenes taken over from Greek models are perhaps the commonest. In none of the obviously native work is there any more instinctive feeling for the greater qualities of sculpture than in the gems. Little is original, almost everything dependent on earlier masters. There is no absorption of the artist by his work which produces great work, great because the beholder thinks rather of the work produced than of the artist who produces it. For this reason such figures as the bronze chimaera or the bronze Athena in the Florence museum are presumably not Etruscan but Greek.

There is no evidence that the Etruscans had easel-paintings like the Greeks, but their skill in painting is well illustrated by the pictures with which they frequently covered the inner walls of their tombs. The wall was prepared with a coating of fine white stucco on which the figures were Painting. painted with a large variety of tints. The best of them have been found at Tarquinii, Chiusi, Volci, Caere, Veii.[43] The paintings exhibit the usual Greek influences. They show a certain ponderous realism, but as works of art they are of little value. As pictures of the life and customs of the people they are of great importance.

As works of art their coins[44] are the worst efforts of the Etruscans. Gold, silver and bronze were used, but no examples can be dated earlier than the beginning of the 5th century B.C. The coins are struck according to four Coins. different standards of weight, due perhaps to different trade-connexions. The bronze coinage shows a distinct scale of reduction in weight due to the increasing use of the precious metals. Many examples show a design only on one side. The designs of the majority of the types are taken from Greek models, but strangely enough the die-cutters show no such skill as that of the makers of gems.

Arms and Armour.—In the early periods the chief weapons (besides bows and arrows which bore flint or bronze heads) were few and simple, and were of bronze. Iron ones have been found, and their rarity is doubtless partly due to their having rusted away. Spears of very various weights were common and also swords and daggers. These latter had straight two-edged blades with the handle either of the same piece or of some other material fastened on with rivets. The blades of the daggers are generally engraved with lines and zigzags. Shields were of circular and oval shape. These two were of bronze, the round ones decorated in Homeric fashion with concentric circles of ornament, the motives being geometric patterns or an animal repeated endlessly. Breastplates with overlapping shoulder-straps and belts, broader in front than behind, with decoration of the same kind as the bucchero vases, are not uncommon. Greaves and helmets completed their equipment. The former seem to have been less ornate than those the Greeks wore; the latter were of various shapes, the commonest being round caps with a knob on the top, or a deeper shape with a crest from front to back. Some are shown with side-pieces raised like wings, but these are perhaps merely cheek-pieces raised on hinges. In later times they had trumpets and axes, and their arms became practically the same as the Roman, as one sees from the representations in the tombs.  (R. N.) 


1. By “Etruscan” is meant the language spoken by the people called Etrusci (more commonly Tusci) by the Romans, Turskum numen (i.e. Tuscum nomen) by their neighbours the Umbrians of Iguvium (q.v.), and Τυρσηνοί (later, e.g. in Strabo’s time, Τυρρηνοί) by the Greeks. Their own name for themselves was Rasénna (or Raséna), according to Dionysius Halic. (i. 30), but it seems now to be fairly probable that this was no more than the name of a leading house (represented later on in Pisa and elsewhere) dominant at some fairly early date in some one locality (see below). Niebuhr attempted on slender grounds (Rom. Hist., ed. 3 [Eng. trans.], i. p. 41) to distinguish between the Τυρρηνοί and the Tusci in order to accept the strongly supported tradition of a Lydian origin for the “Tyrrhenes” (see below), while rejecting it for the “Tuscans,” but no one has since attempted to maintain the distinction (Dittenberger, Hermes, 1906, p. 85, footnote, regards the form -ηνοί as a “Graecized form of a local name” equivalent to Tusci), and we now know enough of the morphology of Etruscan names to recognize Tur-s-co- and Tur-s-ēno- as closely parallel Etrusco-Latin stems, cf. Venu-c-ius: Venu-senus both from Etr. venu (Schulze, Lat. Eigennamen, p. 405) and Ras-ena: Ras-c-anius (ibid. p. 92); or Voluscus, Volscus: Volusēnus (where the formative suffixes in each word are Etrusco-Latin whether the root be the same or not). But the analysis of the names cannot be entirely satisfactory until the first syllable of Etrusci—in Greek writers sometimes Ἕτρουσκοι, e.g. in Strabo—ed. Meineke—has been explained.

2. The extent of territory over which this language was spoken varied considerably at different epochs, but we have only a few fixed points of chronology. From two separate sources, both traditional and probably sound (Dion. Hal. i. 26, and Plutarch, Sulla, 7; cf. Varro, quoted by Censorinus c. 17. 6), we should ascribe the first appearance of the Etruscans in Italy to the 12th century B.C. The intimate connexion in form between the names Roma, Romulus and the Etruscan gentes rumate, rumulna (Romatia, Romilia, &c.), and the fact that many of the early names in Rome (e.g. Ratumenna, Capena, Tities, Luceres, Ramnes) are characteristically Etruscan, justifies the conclusion that the foundation of the city, in the sense at least of its earliest fortification, was due to Etruscans (Schulze, p. 580). The most likely interpretation of Cato’s date for the Etruscan “foundation” of Capua is 598 B.C. (Conway, Italic Dialects, pp. 99 and 83). In 524 B.C. (Dion. Hal. vii. 2) the Etruscans were defeated by Aristodemus of Cumae, and in 474 by Hiero of Syracuse in a great naval battle off Cumae. Between 445 and 425 (It. Dial. l.c.) they were driven out of Capua by the Samnites, but they lingered in parts of Campania (as far south as Salernum) till at least the next century, as inscriptions show (ib. pp. 94 ff., 53), as at Praeneste and Tusculum (ib. p. 310 ff.) till the 3rd century or later. In Etruria itself the oldest inscriptions (on the stelae of Faesulae and Volaterrae) can hardly be later than the 6th century B.C. (C. Pauli, Altital. Forsch. ii. part 2, 24 ff.); the Romans had become dominant early in the 3rd century (C.I.L. xi. 1 passim), but the bulk of the Etruscan inscriptions show later forms than those found in the old town of Volsinii destroyed by the Romans in 280 B.C. (C. Pauli, ib. i. 127). In the north of Italy we find Etruscan written in two alphabets (of Sondrio and Bozen) between 300 and 150 B.C. (id. ib. pp. 63 and 126). The evidence of an Etruscan linen book wrapped round a mummy (see below) seems to suggest that there was some Etruscan colony at Alexandria in the period of the Ptolemies. At least one Etruscan suffix has passed into the Romance languages, -iθa or -ita in Etr. lautniθa (from lautni “familiaris,” or “libertus”), and Etr.-Lat. Iulitta, which became Ital. -etta, Fr.-Eng. -ette.

3. Finally must be mentioned the remarkable pre-Hellenic epitaph discovered on the island of Lemnos in 1885 (Pauli, Altital. Forsch. ii. 1 and 2), the language of which offers remarkable resemblances to Etruscan, especially in the phrase śialχveiz aviz (? = “fifty years old”); cf. Etr. cealχus avils (? “twenty years old”); and the pair of endings -ezi, -ale in consecutive words; cf. Etr. larθiale hulχniesi; the style of the sculptural figure has also parallels in the oldest type of Etruscan monuments. The alphabet of this inscription is identical (Kirchhoff, Stud. Griech. Alphab., 4th ed., p. 54) with that of the older group of Phrygian inscriptions, which mention King Midas and are therefore older than 620 B.C. With this should be combined the fact that a marked peculiarity of the South-Etruscan alphabet (↑ = f, but earlier = the Greek digamma) has demonstrably arisen out of = q on Phrygian soil, see Class. Rev. xii., 1898, p. 462. Despite the reasonable but not unanswerable difficulty of Kretschmer (Einleitung in d. Geschichte d. griech. Sprache, 1896, p. 240), the weight of the evidence appears to be distinctly in favour of the Etruscan character of the language, and Pauli’s view is now generally accepted by students of Etruscan; hence the inclusion of the inscription in the Corpus Inscc. Etruscarum.

4. The first attempt to interpret Etruscan inscriptions was made by Phil. Buonarroti (Explic. et conject. ad monum. &c., Florence, 1726), who, as was almost inevitable at that epoch, tried to explain the language as a dialect of Latin. But no real study was possible before the determination of the alphabet by Lepsius (Inscc. Umbr. et Oscae, Leipzig, 1841), and his discovery that five of the Tables of Iguvium (q.v.), though written in Etruscan alphabet, contained a language akin to Latin but totally different from Etruscan, though some of the non-Italic peculiarities of Etruscan had been already pointed out by Ottfried Müller (Die Etrusker, Breslau, 1828). The earliest inscriptions, e.g. the terra-cotta stele of Capua of the 5th century B.C., are written in “serpentine boustrophedon,” but in its common form of the 3rd century B.C. the alphabet is retrograde, and has the following nineteen letters:—

On older monuments = k occurs as an archaic form of c; = q; , a sibilant of some kind; and = , this last mostly in foreign words. In the earlier monuments the cross-bars of e and v and h have a more decidedly oblique inclination, and s is often angular (). The mediae b, g, d, though they often occur in words handed down by writers as Etruscan, are never found in the Etruscan inscriptions, though the presence of the mediae in the Umbrian and Oscan alphabets and in the abecedaria shows that they existed in the earliest form of the Etruscan alphabet, O is very rare. The form ↑ (earlier ↑) = f in south Etruscan and Faliscan inscriptions should also be mentioned. Its combination with h shows that it had once served to denote the sound of digamma just as Latin F. The varieties of the alphabet in use between the Apennines and the Alps were first examined by Mommsen (Inschriften nord-etruskischen Alphabets, 1853), and have since been discussed by Pauli (Altitalische Forschungen, 1885–1894, esp. vol. iii., Die Veneter, p. 218, where other references will be found, see also Veneti).

5. The determination of the alphabet was followed by a large number of different attempts to explain the Etruscan forms from words in some other language to which it was supposed that Etruscan might be akin; Scandinavian and Basque and Semitic have been tried among the rest. These attempts, however ingenious, have all proved fruitless; even the latest and least fanciful (Remarques sur le parenté de la langue étrusque, Copenhagen, 1899; Bulletin de l’Académie Royale des Sciences et des Lettres de Danemark, 1899, p. 373), in which features of some living dialects of the Caucasus are cautiously compared by Prof. V. Thomsen (as independently by Pauli, see § 12), is at the best premature, and as to the numerals probably misleading. Worst of all was the effort of W. Corssen (Die Sprache der Etrusker, 1875), in whom learning and enthusiasm were combined with loose methods of both epigraphy and grammar, to revive the view of Buonarroti. The only solid achievement in the period of Corssen’s influence (1860–1880) was the description of the works of art (tombs, vases, mirrors and the like) from the different centres of Etruscan population; Dennis’s Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria (1st ed., 1848; 2nd, 1878) contributes something even to the study of the language, because many of the figures in the scenes sculptured or engraved bear names in Etruscan form (e.g. usils, “sun”; or “of the sun,” on the templum of Placentia; fuflunś;, “Bacchus”; tuχulχa, a demon or fury; see Dennis, Cities, 2nd ed., frontispiece, and p. 354).

6. The reaction against Corssen’s method was led first by W. Deecke, Corssen und die Sprache der Etrusker (1876), Etruskische Forschungen (1875–1880), and continued by Carl Pauli at first jointly with Deecke and afterwards singly with greater power (Etruskische Studien, 1873), Etr. Forschungen u. Studien (Göttingen-Stuttgart, 1881–1884), Altitalische Studien (Hanover, 1883–1887); Altitalische Forschungen (Leipzig, 1885–1894). Of the work achieved during the last generation by him and the few but distinguished scholars associated with him (Danielsson, Schaefer, Skutsch and Torp) it may perhaps be said that, though the positive knowledge yet reaped is scanty, so much has been done in other ways that the prospect is full of promise. In the first place, the only sound method of dealing with an unknown language, that of interpreting the records of the language by their own internal evidence in the first instance (not by the use of imaginary parallels in better known languages whose kinship with the problematic language is merely assumed), has been finally established and is now followed even by scholars like Elia Lattes, who still retain some affection for the older point of view. By this means enough certainty has been obtained on many characteristic features of the language to bring about a general recognition of the fact that Etruscan, if we put aside its borrowings from the neighbouring dialects of Italy, is in no sense an Indo-European language. In the second place, the great undertaking of the Corpus Inscriptionum Etruscarum, founded by Carl Pauli, with the support of the Berlin Academy, conducted by him from 1893 till his death in 1901, and continued by Danielsson, Herbig and Torp, for the first time provided a sound basis for the study in a text of the inscriptions, edited with care and arranged according to their provenance. The first volume contains over four thousand inscriptions from the northern half of Etruria. Thirdly, the discoveries of recent years have richly increased the available material, especially by two documents each of some length. (1) The 5th-century stele of terra-cotta from S. Maria di Capua already cited, published by Buecheler in Rhein. Museum, (lv., 1900, p. 1) and now in the Royal Museum at Berlin, is the longest Etruscan inscription yet found. Its best preserved part contains some two hundred words of continuous text, and is divided into paragraphs, of which the third may be cited in the reading approved by Danielsson and Torp, and with the division of words adopted by Torp (in his Bemerkungen zur etrusk. Inschr. von S. Maria di Capua, Christiania, 1905), to which the student may be referred. “iśvei tule ilucve, an priś laruns ilucuθuχ, nun: tiθuaial χues χaθc(e) anulis mulu rizile, ziz riin puiian acasri, ti-m an tule, leθam sul; ilucu-per priś an ti, ar vus; ta aius, nunθeri.” (2) The linen wrappings of an Egyptian mummy (of the Ptolemaic period) preserved in the Agram museum were observed to show on their inner surface some writing, which proved to be Etruscan and to contain more than a thousand words of largely continuous text (Krall, “Die etruskischen Mumienbinden des Agramer. Museums,” Denkschr. d. k. Akad. d. Wissenschaften, 41, Vienna, 1892). The writing has probably nothing to do with the mummy as it is on the inner surface of the bands, and these are torn fragments of the original book. The alphabet is of about the 3rd century B.C.

7. From the recurrence of a number of particular formulae with frequent numerals at intervals, the book seems to be a liturgical document. Torp has pointed out that the two documents have some forty words in common, and, with Lattes (“Primi Apprenti sulla grande iscriz. Etrusca,” &c., in Rendic. d. Reale Inst. Lomb., serie ii. vol. xxxviii., 1900, p. 345 ff.), has shown that both contain lists of offerings made to certain gods (among them Suri, Leθam, and Calu); and Skutsch (Rhein. Mus. 56, 1901, p. 639) has added a plausible conjecture as to the occasions of the offerings, based on the phrase “flerχva neθunsl” “Neptuni statua” (or “statuae pars”); Torp has made it very probable that the words vacl (or vacil) and nun, which recur at regular intervals in both, mean “address,” “recite,” “pray,” or the like, preceding or following spoken parts of the ritual.

8. Along with the growth of the material, some positive increase in knowledge of the language has been attained. Independently of the work done upon particular inscriptions, such as that which has just been described, a considerable addition has come from the elaborate study of Latin proper names already mentioned by Prof. W. Schulze of Berlin (Zur Geschichte lateinischer Eigennamen, Berlin, 1904), which has incidentally embodied and somewhat extended the points of Etruscan nomenclature previously observed. The chief results for our purpose may be briefly stated. It will be convenient to use the following terms:—

(1) praenomen = personal name of the individual.

e.g. Vel or Lar of a man, Larθi or θana of a woman.

(2) nomen = family name.

e.g. Tite or Vipi or Tetna, of men.
Titi or Vipinei or Tetinei, of women.

(3) cognomen = additional family name.

e.g. Faru or Petru of men, Farui, Vetui of women.

(4) agnomen = special cognomen derived from the cognomen of the father.

e.g. Hanusa (in Latin spelling Hannossa) or Pultusa (also Pultus) of a man; Hanunia of a woman.

All these are commonly in the “nominative” (as the examples just quoted from Schulze, pp. 316–327) in sepulchral inscriptions.

Besides these, we have certain other descriptions used in forms which may be called a “genitive-dative” case, or a “derivative possessive” Adjective. These may be entitled:—

(5) paternum (a) = praenomen of father, used generally after the nomen of son or daughter.

e.g. arnθal “of Arnθ.” more commonly simply ar, so ls for Laris-al, to which clan “son,” often abbreviated c, and seχ or sec (abbrev. s) “daughter,” are sometimes added.

paternum (b) = nomen of father, used only after the praenomen of a daughter (e.g. θana velθurnas, “Thana daughter of Velthurna”), to which seχ “daughter,” often abbreviated s, is sometimes added.

(6) maternum (a) = nomen of mother.

e.g. pumpunial, “of Pumpuni” (in Lat. form Pomponia); alfnal “of Alfnei” (Lat. Alfia); hetarias, “of Hetaria.”

maternum (b) = cognomen of mother.

e.g. vetnal, “of Vetui,” or “of Vetonia,” hesual, “of Hesui.”

maternum (c) = agnomen of mother.

e.g. cumeruniaś, “of Cumerunia,” i.e. “of a daughter of the cumeru-family.”

(7) maritale—(i.) nomen, or (ii.) cognomen, or (iii.) agnomen of husband, used directly after the nomen of the wife, the word puia, “wife,” being often added.

e.g. (i.) larθi cencui larcnasa, “Larthia Cenconia, wife of a Largena”; (ii.) larθia pulfnei spaspusa, “Larthia Pulfennia, wife of a Spaspo”; this form being the same as that used for the agnomen of a man (see above)—(iii.) hastia cainei leusla, “Hastia Caia, wife of a son of a Leo”; and with a longer and possibly not synonymous form of suffix, θania titi latinial śec hanuslisa, “Thania Titia, daughter of Latinia, wife of a Hanusa”—these secondary derivatives in -sla, &c., being an example of what is called genetivus genetivi, a characteristic Etruscan formation, not confined to this feminine use.

These examples will probably enable the reader to interpret the great mass of the names on Etruscan tombs. It should be added (1) that no clear distinction can be drawn between the use of the cognomina and the nomina, though it is probable that in origin the cognomen came from some family connected with the gens by marriage; and (2) that the praenomen generally comes first, but sometimes second (especially when both nomen and praenomen are added in the genitive to the name of a son or daughter).

9. The examples given illustrate also the few principles of inflexion and word-formation that are reasonably certain, for example, the various “genitival” endings. Those in -ś and -l are also found in dedications where in Latin a dative would be used:—e.g. (mi) θuplθaś alpan turce “(hoc) deae Thupelthae donum dedit,” where turce shows the only verbal inflection yet certainly known; cf. amce, “was,” arce, “made,” zilacnuce, “held the office of a Zilaχ,” lupuce, “passed away.” More important are the formative principles which the proper names display. Endings -a, -u, -e and -na are common in the “Nominative”—and in Etruscan there appears to be no distinction between this case and the Accusative—of men’s names; the endings -i, -ei, -nei, -nia and -unia are among the commonest for women’s names. But no trace of gender has yet been observed in common nouns or adjectives. Nor is it always easy to distinguish a “Case” from a noun-stem. The women’s names corresponding to the men’s names in -u are sometimes -ui, sometimes -nei, sometimes longer forms (ves-acnei, beside ves-u, hanunia from hanu). And the so-called Genitives can themselves be inflected, as we have seen. The form neθunsl “of Neptune,” may even have swallowed up the nominatival -s of the Italic Neptunus.

10. In view of the protracted discussion as to the numerals and the dice on which the first six are written, it should be added that only the following points are certain: (1) that maχ = one; (2) that the next five numbers are somehow represented by ci, θu, huθ, sa and zal; (3) and the next three somehow by cezp-, semφ- and muv; (4) that the suffix -alχ- denotes the tens, or some of them, e.g. cealχ- beside ci (? 50 and 5); (5) that the suffix -z or -s is multiplicative (es(a)ls from zal). It is almost certain that zal must mean either 2 or 6, and of these a stronger case can, perhaps, be made for the latter meaning. Zathrum appears to be the corresponding ten (? 60). Skutsch’s article in Indogerm. Forschungen, v. p. 256, remains the best account.

In close connexion with the numerals on sepulchral inscriptions appear the words ril, “old, aged,” avils, “annorum,” or “aetatis,” and tivr, “month” (from tiv, “moon”).

11. Schulze has shown (e.g., p. 410) that a large number of familiar endings (e.g. those which when Latinized become -acius, -alius, -annius, -arius, -asius, -atius, -avus, -avius, -ax, and a similar series with -o-, -ocius, &c.), and further those with the elements, -lno-, -lino-, -enna, -eno-, -tern-, -turn-, -tric-, &c., exhibit different methods by which nomina were built up from praenomina in Etruscan. Finally it is of considerable historical importance to observe that a great mass of the praenomina used for this purpose are clearly of Italic origin, e.g. Helva, Barba, Vespa, Nero, Pedo, from all of which (and many more) there are derivatives which at one stage or other were certainly or probably Etruscan. It is this incorporation of Italic elements into the Etruscan nomenclature—itself a familiar and inevitable feature of the pirate-type of conquest and settlement, under which many women who bear and nurse and first name the children belong to the conquered race—that has entrapped so many scholars into the delusion that the language itself was Indo-European.

12. So far the language has been discussed without any reference to ethnology. But the facts stated above in regard to the extension of the language in space and time are clearly adverse to the hypothesis that it came into Italy from the north, and fully bear out Livy’s account (v. 33. 11) that the Etruscans of the Alpine valleys had been driven into that isolation by the invasion of the Gauls (beginning about 400 B.C.). And the accumulating evidence of a connexion with Asia Minor (see e.g. above § 3) justifies confidence in the unbroken testimony of every Roman writer, which cannot but represent the traditions of the Etruscans themselves, and the evidence of similar traditions from the Asiatic side given by Herodotus (i. 97) to the effect that they came to Italy by sea from Lydia. Against this there has never been anything to set but the silence of “the Lydian historian Xanthus” (Dion. Hal. i. 28; cf. 30) who may have had many excellent reasons for it other than a disbelief of the tradition, and of whom in any case we know nothing save the vague commendation of Dionysius. And it is not merely the miscellanies of Athenaeus (e.g. xii. 519) but the unimpeachable testimony of the Umbrian Plautus (Cistellaria, 2. 3. 19), singularly neglected since Dennis’s day, that convicts the Etruscans of an institution practised by the Lydians and other non-Indo-European peoples of Asia Minor, but totally repugnant to all the peoples among whom the Etruscans moved in their western settlement. The reader may be referred to Dennis’s introductory chapter for a very serviceable collection of the other ancient testimony as to their origin. In the present state of our knowledge of the language it is best to disregard its apparent or alleged resemblances to various features of various Caucasian dialects pointed out by Thomsen (see above) and Pauli (Altit. Forsch. ii. 2, p. 147 ff.), and to acquiesce in Kretschmer’s (op. cit. p. 408) non liquet as to the particular people of Asia Minor from whom the Etruscans sprang. But meanwhile it is clear that such evidence as has been obtained by epigraphic and linguistic research is not in any sense hostile but distinctly favourable to the tradition of their origin which they themselves must have maintained.

Authorities.—Beside those mentioned in the text, see Professor F. Skutsch’s article “Etruskisch,” in the new current (1908) edition of Pauly-Wissowa’s Encyclopaedia; A. Torp’s Etruskische Beiträge, and other shorter writings; E. Lattes’s Correzioni, giunte, postille al C.I. Etrusc. (Florence, 1904), and his most valuable Iscriz. paleolatine di provenienza Etrusca (1895); Schaefer’s articles in Pauli’s Altitalische Studien (see above), and, with caution, Deecke’s revision of Müller’s Etrusker (Stuttgart, 1877). Some account of the relations of Etruscans with different Italic communities will be found in the relevant chapters of R. S. Conway’s edition of the remains of The Italic Dialects (1897). Newly discovered Etruscan inscriptions are regularly published in the Notizie degli scavi di antichità, the official Italian journal of excavations (published by the Reale Accad. dei Lincei, but procurable separately). Fabretti’s Corpus Inscc. Italicarum with its supplements was formerly useful, but in any doubtful reading its authority is worth little, and its commentary and glossary represent the epoch of Corssen. The regular contributions of Prof. Skutsch (under the general heading “Lateinische Sprache”) to Vollmer’s Jahresbericht f. d. Fortschritte der romanischen Sprachwissenschaft; and of Prof. Herbig to Bursian’s Jahresbericht über die Fortschritte der classischen Altertumswissenschaft will both be of service. The present writer is indebted to both Professor Skutsch and Professor Torp for valuable guidance and instruction.  (R. S. C.) 

  1. For Barnabei’s excavations see Fausto Benedetti, Gli Scavi di Narce ed il Museo di Villa Giulia (1900).
  2. For a further discussion see ad fin., section Language.
  3. See Pauli, Altitalische Forschungen, vol. i.; also sect. Language (below).
  4. Cf. the contents of the graves found by Boni in the Roman Forum (Notizie degli Scavi, 1902, 1903, 1905) with the objects represented in the plates of Montelius, La Civilisation primitive en Italie, pt. i. For the cemeteries at Novilara cf. Brizio, Monumenti antichi, vol. v.
  5. τήν τε Ῥωμην αὐτὴν τῶν συγγραφἐων Τυρρηνίδα πόλιν εἶναι ὑπέλαβον, Dion. Hal. i. 29; but see sect. Language for meaning of Τυρρηνία.
  6. For the wars of the Greeks against the Carthaginians and the Etruscans see Busolt, Griechische Geschichte, ii. 218 ff.
  7. Pliny (H.N. xxxvii. 11). He says that amber was brought by the Germans down the valley of the Po. Thence the trade-route crossed the Apennines to Pisa (Scylax in Geographi minores, ed. Didot, i. p. 25). In the consideration of problems suggested by amber it is too often forgotten that a very beautiful dark amber is found in Sicily.
  8. Montelius, Civilization primitive en Italie, ii. pl. 265; cf. Petrie. Naukratis, i. pl. 20, fig. 15, and Perrot-Chipiez, Histoire de l’art, iii.
  9. Monumenti dell’ Inst. Arch. Rom. x. pl. 31; Museo Etrusco Vaticano, i. pl. 63-69; cf. Annali dell’ Inst. Arch., 1896, p. 199 ff.
  10. Vase with hieroglyphs found at Santa Marinella, Bollettino dell’ Inst. Arch., 1841, p. 111; Mon. antichi, viii. p. 88.
  11. G. Dennis, Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria.
  12. Varro ap. Serv. ad Aen. viii. 526; see Helbig, Bull. dell’ Inst. Arch. (1876), 227.
  13. Censorinus, De Die Nat. 17.
  14. See Preller, Röm. Myth. s.v. “Volcanus.” Opposed to this see Wissowa, Religion u. Kultus der Römer, who seems to misinterpret the evidence.
  15. Strabo v. 2. 39; cf. Livy i. 30; Dion. Hal. iii. 32.
  16. Nigidius Figulus ap. Arnob. adv. Nat. iii. 40; cf. Nig. Fig. reliquiae, ed. Ant. Swoboda (1888), p. 83.
  17. Montelius, Civ. Prim. en Italie.
  18. For an illustration of the Corneto tomb see Architecture, vol. ii. p. 559.
  19. Appian viii. 66; Tertullian, De spect. 5; Plutarch, Qu. Rom. 107.
  20. Dion. Hal. vii. 72.
  21. Montelius, Civ. Prim. ii. pl. 172.
  22. Ib. pl. 333; cf. 343.
  23. Ib. pl. 166.
  24. Ib. pl. 173.
  25. Monum. Ant. xv. p. 151; Bull. d. Com. Arch. di Roma, 1898, p. 111.
  26. Annali dell’ Inst. Arch., 1876, 230.
  27. Gerhard, Etruskische Spiegel; Körte, Rilievi delle urne Etrusche.
  28. See Pottier, Catalogue des vases antiques, II. L’École Ionienne, Boehlau, Aus ionischen und italischen Nekropolen; Karo, De arte vascularia antiquissima; Endt, Ionische Vasenmalerei. See further Ceramics, § Etruscan.
  29. Athen. i. 28.
  30. Martha, L’Art étrusque, pl. I, 4; Bull. dell’ Inst. (1837) p. 46.
  31. Plutarch, Camillus, 12.
  32. Gerhard, Etr. Spiegel (continued by Klugmann and Körte).
  33. Mirrors of Greek style, Gerhard, 111, 112, 116, 240, 305, 352; Klugmann-Körte, 107, 131, 160.
  34. See plates in Martha and in Monumenti dell’ Inst., also Mon. Ant. iv. and Milani’s Studie materiali.
  35. Juvenal v. 164; Ovid, Am. iii. 13. 25 ff.
  36. Pliny, H.N. xiv. 9; xvi. 216.
  37. From the Polledrara tomb at Vulci, Martha fig. 335.
  38. Coll. Tyszkiewicz, pl. 13.
  39. Mon. dell’ Inst. vi. pl. 59, cf. Annali (1861), p. 402; Mon. Ant. viii. pl. xiii.-xiv.
  40. Mon. dell’ Inst. viii. pl. 20; Martha p. 347.
  41. Martha pp. 333, 348.
  42. See Körte, Rilievi delle urne Etrusche.
  43. See Mon. dell’ Inst. i. pl. 32-33, v. 16, 17, 33, 34, vi. 30-32, 79, viii. 36, ix. 13-15; Micali, Mon. Ined. pl. 58. Cf. Helbig, Annali (1863) p. 336, (1870) pp. 5-74; Brunn, ib. (1866), p. 442.
  44. Mommsen, Röm. Münzwesen; G.F. Hill, Handbook of Greek and Roman Coins; Deecke, Etruskische Forschungen; also article Numismatics.