Fall of the Etruscan Power-the Celts

Etrusco-Carthaginian Maritime Supremacy

In the previous chapters we have presented an outline of the development of the Roman constitution during the first two centuries of the republic; we now recur to the commencement of that epoch for the purpose of tracing the external history of Rome and of Italy. About the time of the expulsion of the Tarquins from Rome the Etruscan power had reached its height. The Tuscans, and the Carthaginians who were in close alliance with them, possessed undisputed supremacy on the Tyrrhene Sea. Although Massilia amidst continual and severe struggles maintained her independence, the seaports of Campania and of the Volscian land, and after the battle of Alalia Corsica also,(1) were in the possession of the Etruscans. In Sardinia the sons of the Carthaginian general Mago laid the foundation of the greatness both of their house and of their city by the complete conquest of the island (about 260); and in Sicily, while the Hellenic colonies were occupied with their internal feuds, the Phoenicians retained possession of the western half without material opposition. The vessels of the Etruscans were no less dominant in the Adriatic; and their pirates were dreaded even in the more eastern waters.

Subjugation of Latium by Etruria

By land also their power seemed to be on the increase. To acquire possession of Latium was of the most decisive importance to Etruria, which was separated by the Latins alone from the Volscian towns that were dependent on it and from its possessions in Campania. Hitherto the firm bulwark of the Roman power had sufficiently protected Latium, and had successfully maintained against Etruria the frontier line of the Tiber. But now, when the whole Tuscan league, taking advantage of the confusion and the weakness of the Roman state after the expulsion of the Tarquins, renewed its attack more energetically than before under the king Lars Porsena of Clusium, it no longer encountered the wonted resistance. Rome surrendered, and in the peace (assigned to 247) not only ceded all her possessions on the right bank of the Tiber to the adjacent Tuscan communities and thus abandoned her exclusive command of the river, but also delivered to the conqueror all her weapons of war and promised to make use of iron thenceforth only for the ploughshare. It seemed as if the union of Italy under Tuscan supremacy was not far distant.

Etruscans Driven Back from Latium—Fall of the Etrusco-Carthaginian Maritime Supremacy—Victories of Salamis and Himera, and Their Effects

But the subjugation, with which the coalition of the Etruscan and Carthaginian nations had threatened both Greeks and Italians, was fortunately averted by the combination of peoples drawn towards each other by family affinity as well as by common peril. The Etruscan army, which after the fall of Rome had penetrated into Latium, had its victorious career checked in the first instance before the walls of Aricia by the well-timed intervention of the Cumaeans who had hastened to the succour of the Aricines (248). We know not how the war ended, nor, in particular, whether Rome even at that time tore up the ruinous and disgraceful peace. This much only is certain, that on this occasion also the Tuscans were unable to maintain their ground permanently on the left bank of the Tiber.

Soon the Hellenic nation was forced to engage in a still more comprehensive and still more decisive conflict with the barbarians both of the west and of the east. It was about the time of the Persian wars. The relation in which the Tyrians stood to the great king led Carthage also to follow in the wake of Persian policy —there exists a credible tradition even as to an alliance between the Carthaginians and Xerxes—and, along with the Carthaginians, the Etruscans. It was one of the grandest of political combinations which simultaneously directed the Asiatic hosts against Greece, and the Phoenician hosts against Sicily, to extirpate at a blow liberty and civilization from the face of the earth. The victory remained with the Hellenes. The battle of Salamis (274) saved and avenged Hellas proper; and on the same day—so runs the story—the rulers of Syracuse and Agrigentum, Gelon and Theron, vanquished the immense army of the Carthaginian general Hamilcar, son of Mago, at Himera so completely, that the war was thereby terminated, and the Phoenicians, who by no means cherished at that time the project of subduing the whole of Sicily on their own account, returned to their previous defensive policy. Some of the large silver pieces are still preserved which were coined for this campaign from the ornaments of Damareta, the wife of Gelon, and other noble Syracusan dames: and the latest times gratefully remembered the gentle and brave king of Syracuse and the glorious victory whose praises Simonides sang.

The immediate effect of the humiliation of Carthage was the fall of the maritime supremacy of her Etruscan allies. Anaxilas, ruler of Rhegium and Zancle, had already closed the Sicilian straits against their privateers by means of a standing fleet (about 272); soon afterwards (280) the Cumaeans and Hiero of Syracuse achieved a decisive victory near Cumae over the Tyrrhene fleet, to which the Carthaginians vainly attempted to render aid. This is the victory which Pindar celebrates in his first Pythian ode; and there is still extant an Etruscan helmet, which Hiero sent to Olympia, with the inscription: "Hiaron son of Deinomenes and the Syrakosians to Zeus, Tyrrhane spoil from Kyma."(2)

Maritime Supremacy of the Tarentines and Syracusans—Dionysius of Syracuse

While these extraordinary successes against the Carthaginians and Etruscans placed Syracuse at the head of the Greek cities in Sicily, the Doric Tarentum rose to undisputed pre-eminence among the Italian Hellenes, after the Achaean Sybaris had fallen about the time of the expulsion of the kings from Rome (243). The terrible defeat of the Tarentines by the Iapygians (280), the most severe disaster which a Greek army had hitherto sustained, served only, like the Persian invasion of Hellas, to unshackle the whole might of the national spirit in the development of an energetic democracy. Thenceforth the Carthaginians and the Etruscans were no longer paramount in the Italian waters; the Tarentines predominated in the Adriatic and Ionic, the Massiliots and Syracusans in the Tyrrhene, seas. The latter in particular restricted more and more the range of Etruscan piracy. After the victory at Cumae, Hiero had occupied the island of Aenaria (Ischia), and by that means interrupted the communication between the Campanian and the northern Etruscans. About the year 302, with a view thoroughly to check Tuscan piracy, Syracuse sent forth a special expedition, which ravaged the island of Corsica and the Etruscan coast and occupied the island of Aethalia (Elba). Although Etrusco-Carthaginian piracy was not wholly repressed—Antium, for example, having apparently continued a haunt of privateering down to the beginning of the fifth century of Rome—the powerful Syracuse formed a strong bulwark against the allied Tuscans and Phoenicians. For a moment, indeed, it seemed as if the Syracusan power must be broken by the attack of the Athenians, whose naval expedition against Syracuse in the course of the Peloponnesian war (339-341) was supported by the Etruscans, old commercial friends of Athens, with three fifty-oared galleys. But the victory remained, as is well known, both in the west and in the east with the Dorians. After the ignominious failure of the Attic expedition, Syracuse became so indisputably the first Greek maritime power that the men, who were there at the head of the state, aspired to the sovereignty of Sicily and Lower Italy, and of both the Italian seas; while on the other hand the Carthaginians, who saw their dominion in Sicily now seriously in danger, were on their part also obliged to make, and made, the subjugation of the Syracusans and the reduction of the whole island the aim of their policy. We cannot here narrate the decline of the intermediate Sicilian states, and the increase of the Carthaginian power in the island, which were the immediate results of these struggles; we notice their effect only so far as Etruria is concerned. The new ruler of Syracuse, Dionysius (who reigned 348-387), inflicted on Etruria blows which were severely felt. The far-scheming king laid the foundation of his new colonial power especially in the sea to the east of Italy, the more northern waters of which now became, for the first time, subject to a Greek maritime power. About the year 367, Dionysius occupied and colonized the port of Lissus and island of Issa on the Illyrian coast, and the ports of Ancona, Numana, and Atria, on the coast of Italy. The memory of the Syracusan dominion in this remote region is preserved not only by the "trenches of Philistus," a canal constructed at the mouth of the Po beyond doubt by the well-known historian and friend of Dionysius who spent the years of his exile (368 et seq.) at Atria, but also by the alteration in the name of the Italian eastern sea itself, which from this time forth, instead of its earlier designation of the "Ionic Gulf",(3) received the appellation still current at the present day, and probably referable to these events, of the sea "of Hadria."(4) But not content with these attacks on the possessions and commercial communications of the Etruscans in the eastern sea, Dionysius assailed the very heart of the Etruscan power by storming and plundering Pyrgi, the rich seaport of Caere (369). From this blow it never recovered. When the internal disturbances that followed the death of Dionysius in Syracuse gave the Carthaginians freer scope, and their fleet resumed in the Tyrrhene sea that ascendency which with but slight interruptions they thenceforth maintained, it proved a burden no less grievous to Etruscans than to Greeks; so that, when Agathocles of Syracuse in 444 was making preparations for war with Carthage, he was even joined by eighteen Tuscan vessels of war. The Etruscans perhaps had their fears in regard to Corsica, which they probably still at that time retained. The old Etrusco-Phoenician symmachy, which still existed in the time of Aristotle (370-432), was thus broken up; but the Etruscans never recovered their maritime strength.

The Romans Opposed to the Etruscans in Veii

This rapid collapse of the Etruscan maritime power would be inexplicable but for the circumstance that, at the very time when the Sicilian Greeks were attacking them by sea, the Etruscans found themselves assailed with the severest blows oil every side by land. About the time of the battles of Salamis, Himera, and Cumae a furious war raged for many years, according to the accounts of the Roman annals, between Rome and Veii (271-280). The Romans suffered in its course severe defeats. Tradition especially preserved the memory of the catastrophe of the Fabii (277), who had in consequence of internal commotions voluntarily banished themselves from the capital(4) and had undertaken the defence of the frontier against Etruria, and who were slain to the last man capable of bearing arms at the brook Cremera. But the armistice for 400 months, which in room of a peace terminated the war, was so far favourable to the Romans that it at least restored the -status quo- of the regal period; the Etruscans gave up Fidenae and the district won by them on the right bank of the Tiber. We cannot ascertain how far this Romano-Etruscan war was connected directly with the war between the Hellenes and the Persians, and with that between the Sicilians and Carthaginians; but whether the Romans were or were not allies of the victors of Salamis and of Himera, there was at any rate a coincidence of interests as well as of results.

The Samnites Opposed to the Etruscans in Campania

The Samnites as well as the Latins threw themselves upon the Etruscans; and hardly had their Campanian settlement been cut off from the motherland in consequence of the battle of Cumae, when it found itself no longer able to resist the assaults of the Sabellian mountain tribes. Capua, the capital, fell in 330; and the Tuscan population there was soon after the conquest extirpated or expelled by the Samnites. It is true that the Campanian Greeks also, isolated and weakened, suffered severely from the same invasion: Cumae itself was conquered by the Sabellians in 334. But the Hellenes maintained their ground at Neapolis especially, perhaps with the aid of the Syracusans, while the Etruscan name in Campania disappeared from history —excepting some detached Etruscan communities, which prolonged a pitiful and forlorn existence there.

Events still more momentous, however, occurred about the same time in Northern Italy. A new nation was knocking at the gates of the Alps: it was the Celts; and their first pressure fell on the Etruscans.

The Celtic, Galatian, or Gallic nation received from the common mother endowments different from those of its Italian, Germanic, and Hellenic sisters. With various solid qualities and still more that were brilliant, it was deficient in those deeper moral and political qualifications which lie at the root of all that is good and great in human development. It was reckoned disgraceful, Cicero tells us, for the free Celts to till their fields with their own hands. They preferred a pastoral life to agriculture; and even in the fertile plains of the Po they chiefly practised the rearing of swine, feeding on the flesh of their herds, and staying with them in the oak forests day and night. Attachment to their native soil, such as characterized the Italians and the Germans, was wanting in the Celts; while on the other hand they delighted to congregate in towns and villages, which accordingly acquired magnitude and importance among the Celts earlier apparently than in Italy. Their political constitution was imperfect. Not only was the national unity recognized but feebly as a bond of connection—as is, in fact, the case with all nations at first—but the individual communities were deficient in concord and firm control, in earnest public spirit and consistency of aim. The only organization for which they were fitted was a military one, where the bonds of discipline relieved the individual from the troublesome task of self-control. "The prominent qualities of the Celtic race," says their historian Thierry, "were personal bravery, in which they excelled all nations; an open impetuous temperament, accessible to every impression; much intelligence, but at the same time extreme mobility, want of perseverance, aversion to discipline and order, ostentation and perpetual discord—the result of boundless vanity." Cato the Elder more briefly describes them, nearly to the same effect; "the Celts devote themselves mainly to two things—fighting and -esprit-."(6) Such qualities—those of good soldiers but of bad citizens—explain the historical fact, that the Celts have shaken all states and have founded none. Everywhere we find them ready to rove or, in other words, to march; preferring moveable property to landed estate, and gold to everything else; following the profession of arms as a system of organized pillage or even as a trade for hire, and with such success at all events that even the Roman historian Sallust acknowledges that the Celts bore off the prize from the Romans in feats of arms. They were the true soldiers-of-fortune of antiquity, as figures and descriptions represent them: with big but not sinewy bodies, with shaggy hair and long mustaches—quite a contrast to the Greeks and Romans, who shaved the head and upper lip; in variegated embroidered dresses, which in combat were not unfrequently thrown off; with a broad gold ring round the neck; wearing no helmets and without missile weapons of any sort, but furnished instead with an immense shield, a long ill-tempered sword, a dagger and a lance—all ornamented with gold, for they were not unskilful at working in metals. Everything was made subservient to ostentation, even wounds, which were often subsequently enlarged for the purpose of boasting a broader scar. Usually they fought on foot, but certain tribes on horseback, in which case every freeman was followed by two attendants likewise mounted; war-chariots were early in use, as they were among the Libyans and the Hellenes in the earliest times. Various traits remind us of the chivalry of the Middle Ages; particularly the custom of single combat, which was foreign to the Greeks and Romans. Not only were they accustomed during war to challenge a single enemy to fight, after having previously insulted him by words and gestures; during peace also they fought with each other in splendid suits of armour, as for life or death. After such feats carousals followed as a matter of course. In this way they led, whether under their own or a foreign banner, a restless soldier-life; they were dispersed from Ireland and Spain to Asia Minor, constantly occupied in fighting and so-called feats of heroism. But all their enterprises melted away like snow in spring; and nowhere did they create a great state or develop a distinctive culture of their own.

Celtic Migrations—The Celts Assail the Etruscans in Northern Italy

Such is the description which the ancients give us of this nation. Its origin can only be conjectured. Sprung from the same cradle from which the Hellenic, Italian, and Germanic peoples issued,(7) the Celts doubtless like these migrated from their eastern motherland into Europe, where at a very early period they reached the western ocean and established their headquarters in what is now France, crossing to settle in the British isles on the north, and on the south passing the Pyrenees and contending with the Iberian tribes for the possession of the peninsula. This, their first great migration, flowed past the Alps, and it was from the lands to the westward that they first began those movements of smaller masses in the opposite direction—movements which carried them over the Alps and the Haemus and even over the Bosporus, and by means of which they became and for many centuries continued to be the terror of the whole civilized nations of antiquity, till the victories of Caesar and the frontier defence organized by Augustus for ever broke their power.

The native legend of their migrations, which has been preserved to us mainly by Livy, relates the story of these later retrograde movements as follows.(8) The Gallic confederacy, which was headed then as in the time of Caesar by the canton of the Bituriges (around Bourges), sent forth in the days of king Ambiatus two great hosts led by the two nephews of the king. One of these nephews, Sigovesus, crossed the Rhine and advanced in the direction of the Black Forest, while the second, Bellovesus, crossed the Graian Alps (the Little St. Bernard) and descended into the valley of the Po. From the former proceeded the Gallic settlement on the middle Danube; from the latter the oldest Celtic settlement in the modern Lombardy, the canton of the Insubres with Mediolanum (Milan) as its capital. Another host soon followed, which founded the canton of the Cenomani with the towns of Brixia (Brescia) and Verona. Ceaseless streams thenceforth poured over the Alps into the beautiful plain; the Celtic tribes with the Ligurians whom they dislodged and swept along with them wrested place after place from the Etruscans, till the whole left bank of the Po was in their hands. After the fall of the rich Etruscan town Melpum (presumably in the district of Milan), for the subjugation of which the Celts already settled in the basin of the Po had united with newly arrived tribes (358?), these latter crossed to the right bank of the river and began to press upon the Umbrians and Etruscans in their original abodes. Those who did so were chiefly the Boii, who are alleged to have penetrated into Italy by another route, over the Poenine Alps (the Great St. Bernard): they settled in the modern Romagna, where the old Etruscan town Felsina, with its name changed by its new masters to Bononia, became their capital. Finally came the Senones, the last of the larger Celtic tribes which made their way over the Alps; they took up their abode along the coast of the Adriatic from Rimini to Ancona. But isolated bands of Celtic settlers must have advanced even far in the direction of Umbria, and up to the border of Etruria proper; for stone-inscriptions in the Celtic language have been found even at Todi on the upper Tiber. The limits of Etruria on the north and east became more and more contracted, and about the middle of the fourth century the Tuscan nation found themselves substantially restricted to the territory which thenceforth bore and still bears their name.

Attack on Etruria by the Romans

Subjected to these simultaneous and, as it were, concerted assaults on the part of very different peoples—the Syracusans, Latins, Samnites, and above all the Celts—the Etruscan nation, that had just acquired so vast and sudden an ascendency in Latium and Campania and on both the Italian seas, underwent a still more rapid and violent collapse. The loss of their maritime supremacy and the subjugation of the Campanian Etruscans belong to the same epoch as the settlement of the Insubres and Cenomani on the Po; and about this same period the Roman burgesses, who had not very many years before been humbled to the utmost and almost reduced to bondage by Porsena, first assumed an attitude of aggression towards Etruria. By the armistice with Veii in 280 Rome had recovered its ground, and the two nations were restored in the main to the state in which they had stood in the time of the kings. When it expired in the year 309, the warfare began afresh; but it took the form of border frays and pillaging excursions which led to no material result on either side. Etruria was still too powerful for Rome to be able seriously to attack it. At length the revolt of the Fidenates, who expelled the Roman garrison, murdered the Roman envoys, and submitted to Lars Tolumnius, king of the Veientes, gave rise to a more considerable war, which ended favourably for the Romans; the king Tolumnius fell in combat by the hand of the Roman consul Aulus Cornelius Cossus (326?), Fidenae was taken, and a new armistice for 200 months was concluded in 329. During this truce the troubles of Etruria became more and more aggravated, and the Celtic arms were already approaching the settlements that hitherto had been spared on the right bank of the Po. When the armistice expired in the end of 346, the Romans on their part resolved to undertake a war of conquest against Etruria; and on this occasion the war was carried on not merely to vanquish Veii, but to crush it.

Conquest of Veii

The history of the war against the Veientes, Capenates, and Falisci, and of the siege of Veii, which is said, like that of Troy, to have lasted ten years, rests on evidence far from trustworthy. Legend and poetry have taken possession of these events as their own, and with reason; for the struggle in this case was waged, with unprecedented exertions, for an unprecedented prize. It was the first occasion on which a Roman army remained in the field summer and winter, year after year, till its object was attained. It was the first occasion on which the community paid the levy from the resources of the state. But it was also the first occasion on which the Romans attempted to subdue a nation of alien stock, and carried their arms beyond the ancient northern boundary of the Latin land. The struggle was vehement, but the issue was scarcely doubtful. The Romans were supported by the Latins and Hernici, to whom the overthrow of their dreaded neighbour was productive of scarcely less satisfaction and advantage than to the Romans themselves; whereas Veii was abandoned by its own nation, and only the adjacent towns of Capena and Falerii, along with Tarquinii, furnished contingents to its help. The contemporary attacks of the Celts would alone suffice to explain the nonintervention of the northern communities; it is affirmed however, and there is no reason to doubt, that this inaction of the other Etruscans was primarily occasioned by internal factions in the league of the Etruscan cities, and particularly by the opposition which the regal form of government retained or restored by the Veientes encountered from the aristocratic governments of the other cities. Had the Etruscan nation been able or willing to take part in the conflict, the Roman community would hardly have been able —undeveloped as was the art of besieging at that time—to accomplish the gigantic task of subduing a large and strong city. But isolated and forsaken as Veii was, it succumbed (358) after a valiant resistance to the persevering and heroic spirit of Marcus Furius Camillus, who first opened up to his countrymen the brilliant and perilous career of foreign conquest. The joy which this great success excited in Rome had its echo in the Roman custom, continued down to a late age, of concluding the festal games with a "sale of Veientes," at which, among the mock spoils submitted to auction, the most wretched old cripple who could be procured wound up the sport in a purple mantle and ornaments of gold as "king of the Veientes." The city was destroyed, and the soil was doomed to perpetual desolation. Falerii and Capena hastened to make peace; the powerful Volsinii, which with federal indecision had remained quiet during the agony of Veii and took up arms after its capture, likewise after a few years (363) consented to peace. The statement that the two bulwarks of the Etruscan nation, Melpum and Veii, yielded on the same day, the former to the Celts, the latter to the Romans, may be merely a melancholy legend; but it at any rate involves a deep historical truth. The double assault from the north and from the south, and the fall of the two frontier strongholds, were the beginning of the end of the great Etruscan nation.

The Celts Attack Rome—Battle on the Allia—Capture of Rome

For a moment, however, it seemed as if the two peoples, through whose co-operation Etruria saw her very existence put in jeopardy, were about to destroy each other, and the reviving power of Rome was to be trodden under foot by foreign barbarians. This turn of things, so contrary to what might naturally have been expected, the Romans brought upon themselves by their own arrogance and shortsightedness.

The Celtic swarms, which had crossed the river after the fall of Melpum, rapidly overflowed northern Italy—not merely the open country on the right bank of the Po and along the shore of the Adriatic, but also Etruria proper to the south of the Apennines. A few years afterwards (363) Clusium situated in the heart of Etruria (Chiusi, on the borders of Tuscany and the Papal State) was besieged by the Celtic Senones; and so humbled were the Etruscans that the Tuscan city in its straits invoked aid from the destroyers of Veii. Perhaps it would have been wise to grant it and to reduce at once the Gauls by arms, and the Etruscans by according to them protection, to a state of dependence on Rome; but an intervention with aims so extensive, which would have compelled the Romans to undertake a serious struggle on the northern Tuscan frontier, lay beyond the horizon of the Roman policy at that time. No course was therefore left but to refrain from all interference. Foolishly, however, while declining to send auxiliary troops, they despatched envoys. With still greater folly these sought to impose upon the Celts by haughty language, and, when this failed, they conceived that they might with impunity violate the law of nations in dealing with barbarians; in the ranks of the Clusines they took part in a skirmish, and in the course of it one of them stabbed and dismounted a Gallic officer. The barbarians acted in this case with moderation and prudence. They sent in the first instance to the Roman community to demand the surrender of those who had outraged the law of nations, and the senate was ready to comply with the reasonable request. But with the multitude compassion for their countrymen outweighed justice towards the foreigners; satisfaction was refused by the burgesses; and according to some accounts they even nominated the brave champions of their fatherland as consular tribunes for the year 364,(9) which was to be so fatal in the Roman annals. Then the Brennus or, in other words, the "king of the army" of the Gauls broke up the siege of Clusium, and the whole Celtic host—the numbers of which are stated at 70,000 men—turned against Rome. Such expeditions into unknown land distant regions were not unusual for the Gauls, who marched as bands of armed emigrants, troubling themselves little as to the means of cover or of retreat; but it was evident that none in Rome anticipated the dangers involved in so sudden and so mighty an invasion. It was not till the Gauls were marching upon Rome that a Roman military force crossed the Tiber and sought to bar their way. Not twelve miles from the gates, opposite to the confluence of the rivulet Allia with the Tiber, the armies met, and a battle took place on the 18th July, 364. Even now they went into battle—not as against an army, but as against freebooters—with arrogance and foolhardiness and under inexperienced leaders, Camillus having in consequence of the dissensions of the orders withdrawn from taking part in affairs. Those against whom they were to fight were but barbarians; what need was there of a camp, or of securing a retreat? These barbarians, however, were men whose courage despised death, and their mode of fighting was to the Italians as novel as it was terrible; sword in hand the Celts precipitated themselves with furious onset on the Roman phalanx, and shattered it at the first shock. The overthrow was complete; of the Romans, who had fought with the river in their rear, a large portion met their death in the attempt to cross it; such as escaped threw themselves by a flank movement into the neighbouring Veii. The victorious Celts stood between the remnant of the beaten army and the capital. The latter was irretrievably abandoned to the enemy; the small force that was left behind, or that had fled thither, was not sufficient to garrison the walls, and three days after the battle the victors marched through the open gates into Rome. Had they done so at first, as they might have done, not only the city, but the state also must have been lost; the brief interval gave opportunity to carry away or to bury the sacred objects, and, what was more important, to occupy the citadel and to furnish it with provisions for the exigency. No one was admitted to the citadel who was incapable of bearing arms—there was not food for all. The mass of the defenceless dispersed among the neighbouring towns; but many, and in particular a number of old men of high standing, would not survive the downfall of the city and awaited death in their houses by the sword of the barbarians. They came, murdered all they met with, plundered whatever property they found, and at length set the city on fire on all sides before the eyes of the Roman garrison in the Capitol. But they had no knowledge of the art of besieging, and the blockade of the steep citadel rock was tedious and difficult, because subsistence for the great host could only be procured by armed foraging parties, and the citizens of the neighbouring Latin cities, the Ardeates in particular, frequently attacked the foragers with courage and success. Nevertheless the Celts persevered, with an energy which in their circumstances was unparalleled, for seven months beneath the rock, and the garrison, which had escaped a surprise on a dark night only in consequence of the cackling of the sacred geese in the Capitoline temple and the accidental awaking of the brave Marcus Manlius, already found its provisions beginning to fail, when the Celts received information as to the Veneti having invaded the Senonian territory recently acquired on the Po, and were thus induced to accept the ransom money that was offered to procure their withdrawal. The scornful throwing down of the Gallic sword, that it might be outweighed by Roman gold, indicated very truly how matters stood. The iron of the barbarians had conquered, but they sold their victory and by selling lost it.

Fruitlessness of the Celtic Victory

The fearful catastrophe of the defeat and the conflagration, the 18th of July and the rivulet of the Allia, the spot where the sacred objects were buried, and the spot where the surprise of the citadel had been repulsed—all the details of this unparalleled event—were transferred from the recollection of contemporaries to the imagination of posterity; and we can scarcely realize the fact that two thousand years have actually elapsed since those world-renowned geese showed greater vigilance than the sentinels at their posts. And yet —although there was an enactment in Rome that in future, on occasion of a Celtic invasion no legal privilege should give exemption from military service; although dates were reckoned by the years from the conquest of the city; although the event resounded throughout the whole of the then civilized world and found its way even into the Grecian annals—the battle of the Allia and its results can scarcely be numbered among those historical events that are fruitful of consequences. It made no alteration at all in political relations. When the Gauls had marched off again with their gold—which only a legend of late and wretched invention represents the hero Camillus as having recovered for Rome—and when the fugitives had again made their way home, the foolish idea suggested by some faint-hearted prudential politicians, that the citizens should migrate to Veii, was set aside by a spirited speech of Camillus; houses arose out of the ruins hastily and irregularly—the narrow and crooked streets of Rome owed their origin to this epoch; and Rome again stood in her old commanding position. Indeed it is not improbable that this occurrence contributed materially, though not just at the moment, to diminish the antagonism between Rome and Etruria, and above all to knit more closely the ties of union between Latium and Rome. The conflict between the Gauls and the Romans was not, like that between Rome and Etruria or between Rome and Samnium, a collision of two political powers which affect and modify each other; it may be compared to those catastrophes of nature, after which the organism, if it is not destroyed, immediately resumes its equilibrium. The Gauls often returned to Latium: as in the year 387, when Camillus defeated them at Alba—the last victory of the aged hero, who had been six times military tribune with consular powers, and five times dictator, and had four times marched in triumph to the Capitol; in the year 393, when the dictator Titus Quinctius Pennus encamped opposite to them not five miles from the city at the bridge of the Anio, but before any encounter took place the Gallic host marched onward to Campania; in the year 394, when the dictator Quintus Servilius Ahala fought in front of the Colline gate with the hordes returning from Campania; in the year 396, when the dictator Gaius Sulpicius Peticus inflicted on them a signal defeat; in the year 404, when they even spent the winter encamped upon the Alban mount and joined with the Greek pirates along the coast for plunder, till Lucius Furius Camillus, the son of the celebrated general, in the following year dislodged them—an incident which came to the ears of Aristotle who was contemporary (370-432) in Athens. But these predatory expeditions, formidable and troublesome as they may have been, were rather incidental misfortunes than events of political significance; and their most essential result was, that the Romans were more and more regarded by themselves and by foreigners as the bulwark of the civilized nations of Italy against the onset of the dreaded barbarians—a view which tended more than is usually supposed to further their subsequent claim to universal empire.

Further Conquests of Rome in Etruria—South Etruria Roman

The Tuscans, who had taken advantage of the Celtic attack on Rome to assail Veii, had accomplished nothing, because they had appeared in insufficient force; the barbarians had scarcely departed, when the heavy arm of Latium descended on the Tuscans with undiminished weight. After the Etruscans had been repeatedly defeated, the whole of southern Etruria as far as the Ciminian hills remained in the hands of the Romans, who formed four new tribes in the territories of Veii, Capena, and Falerii (367), and secured the northern boundary by establishing the fortresses of Sutrium (371) and Nepete (381). With rapid steps this fertile region, covered with Roman colonists, became completely Romanized. About 396 the nearest Etruscan towns, Tarquinii, Caere, and Falerii, attempted to revolt against the Roman encroachments, and the deep exasperation which these had aroused in Etruria was shown by the slaughter of the whole of the Roman prisoners taken in the first campaign, three hundred and seven in number, in the market-place of Tarquinii; but it was the exasperation of impotence. In the peace (403) Caere, which as situated nearest to the Romans suffered the heaviest retribution, was compelled to cede half its territory to Rome, and with the diminished domain which was left to it to withdraw from the Etruscan league, and to enter into the relationship of subjects to Rome which had in the meanwhile been constituted primarily for individual Latin communities. It seemed, however, not advisable to leave to this more remote community alien in race from the Roman such communal independence as was still retained by the subject communities of Latium; the Caerite community received the Roman franchise not merely without the privilege of electing or of being elected at Rome, but also subject to the withholding of self-administration, so that the place of magistrates of its own was as regards justice and the census taken by those of Rome, and a representative (-praefectus-) of the Roman praetor conducted the administration on the spot—a form of subjection, which in state-law first meets us here, whereby a state which had hitherto been independent became converted into a community continuing to subsist -de jure-, but deprived of all power of movement on its own part. Not long afterwards (411) Falerii, which had preserved its original Latin nationality even under Tuscan rule, abandoned the Etruscan league and entered into perpetual alliance with Rome; and thereby the whole of southern Etruria became in one form or other subject to Roman supremacy. In the case of Tarquinii and perhaps of northern Etruria generally, the Romans were content with restraining them for a lengthened period by a treaty of peace for 400 months (403).

Pacification of Northern Italy

In northern Italy likewise the peoples that had come into collision and conflict gradually settled on a permanent footing and within more defined limits. The migrations over the Alps ceased, partly perhaps in consequence of the desperate defence which the Etruscans made in their more restricted home, and of the serious resistance of the powerful Romans, partly perhaps also in consequence of changes unknown to us on the north of the Alps. Between the Alps and the Apennines, as far south as the Abruzzi, the Celts were now generally the ruling nation, and they were masters more especially of the plains and rich pastures; but from the lax and superficial nature of their settlement their dominion took no deep root in the newly acquired land and by no means assumed the shape of exclusive possession. How matters stood in the Alps, and to what extent Celtic settlers became mingled there with earlier Etruscan or other stocks, our unsatisfactory information as to the nationality of the later Alpine peoples does not permit us to ascertain; only the Raeti in the modern Grisons and Tyrol may be described as a probably Etruscan stock. The Umbrians retained the valleys of the Apennines, and the Veneti, speaking a different language, kept possession of the north-eastern portion of the valley of the Po. Ligurian tribes maintained their footing in the western mountains, dwelling as far south as Pisa and Arezzo, and separating the Celt-land proper from Etruria. The Celts dwelt only in the intermediate flat country, the Insubres and Cenomani to the north of the Po, the Boii to the south, and—not to mention smaller tribes —the Senones on the coast of the Adriatic, from Ariminum to Ancona, in the so-called "country of the Gauls" (-ager Gallicus-). But even there Etruscan settlements must have continued partially at least to subsist, somewhat as Ephesus and Miletus remained Greek under the supremacy of the Persians. Mantua at any rate, which was protected by its insular position, was a Tuscan city even in the time of the empire, and Atria on the Po also, where numerous discoveries of vases have been made, appears to have retained its Etruscan character; the description of the coasts that goes under the name of Scylax, composed about 418, calls the district of Atria and Spina Tuscan land. This alone, moreover, explains how Etruscan corsairs could render the Adriatic unsafe till far into the fifth century, and why not only Dionysius of Syracuse covered its coasts with colonies, but even Athens, as a remarkable document recently discovered informs us, resolved about 429 to establish a colony in the Adriatic for the protection of seafarers against the Tyrrhene pirates.

But while more or less of an Etruscan character continued to mark these regions, it was confined to isolated remnants and fragments of their earlier power; the Etruscan nation no longer reaped the benefit of such gains as were still acquired there by individuals in peaceful commerce or in maritime war. On the other hand it was probably from these half-free Etruscans that the germs proceeded of such civilization as we subsequently find among the Celts and Alpine peoples in general.(10) The very fact that the Celtic hordes in the plains of Lombardy, to use the language of the so-called Scylax, abandoned their warrior-life and took to permanent settlement, must in part be ascribed to this influence; the rudiments moreover of handicrafts and arts and the alphabet came to the Celts in Lombardy, and in fact to the Alpine peoples as far as the modern Styria, through the medium of the Etruscans.

Etruria Proper at Peace and on the Decline

Thus the Etruscans, after the loss of their possessions in Campania and of the whole district to the north of the Apennines and to the south of the Ciminian Forest, remained restricted to very narrow bounds; their season of power and of aspiration had for ever passed away. The closest reciprocal relations subsisted between this external decline and the internal decay of the nation, the seeds of which indeed were doubtless already deposited at a far earlier period. The Greek authors of this age are full of descriptions of the unbounded luxury of Etruscan life: poets of Lower Italy in the fifth century of the city celebrate the Tyrrhenian wine, and the contemporary historians Timaeus and Theopompus delineate pictures of Etruscan unchastity and of Etruscan banquets, such as fall nothing short of the worst Byzantine or French demoralization. Unattested as may be the details in these accounts, the statement at least appears to be well founded, that the detestable amusement of gladiatorial combats—the gangrene of the later Rome and of the last epoch of antiquity generally—first came into vogue among the Etruscans. At any rate on the whole they leave no doubt as to the deep degeneracy of the nation. It pervaded even its political condition. As far as our scanty information reaches, we find aristocratic tendencies prevailing, in the same way as they did at the same period in Rome, but more harshly and more perniciously. The abolition of royalty, which appears to have been carried out in all the cities of Etruria about the time of the siege of Veii, called into existence in the several cities a patrician government, which experienced but slight restraint from the laxity of the federal bond. That bond but seldom succeeded in combining all the Etruscan cities even for the defence of the land, and the nominal hegemony of Volsinii does not admit of the most remote comparison with the energetic vigour which the leadership of Rome communicated to the Latin nation. The struggle against the exclusive claim put forward by the old burgesses to all public offices and to all public usufructs, which must have destroyed even the Roman state, had not its external successes enabled it in some measure to satisfy the demands of the oppressed proletariate at the expense of foreign nations and to open up other paths to ambition—that struggle against the exclusive rule and (what was specially prominent in Etruria) the priestly monopoly of the clan-nobility—must have ruined Etruria politically, economically, and morally. Enormous wealth, particularly in landed property, became concentrated in the hands of a few nobles, while the masses were impoverished; the social revolutions which thence arose increased the distress which they sought to remedy; and, in consequence of the impotence of the central power, no course at last remained to the distressed aristocrats— e. g. in Arretium in 453, and in Volsinii in 488—but to call in the aid of the Romans, who accordingly put an end to the disorder but at the same time extinguished the remnant of independence. The energies of the nation were broken from the day of Veii and Melpum. Earnest attempts were still once or twice made to escape from the Roman supremacy, but in such instances the stimulus was communicated to the Etruscans from without—from another Italian stock, the Samnites.

Notes for Book II Chapter IV

1. I. X. Phoenicians and Italians in Opposition to the Hellenes

2. —Fiaron o Deinomeneos kai toi Surakosioi toi Di Turan apo Kumas.—

3. I. X. Home of the Greek Immigrants

4. Hecataeus (after 257 u. c.) and Herodotus also (270-after 345) only know Hatrias as the delta of the Po and the sea that washes its shores (O. Muller, Etrusker, i. p. 140; Geogr. Graeci min. ed. C. Muller, i. p. 23). The appellation of Adriatic sea, in its more extended sense, first occurs in the so-called Scylax about 418 U. C.

5. II. II. Coriolanus

6. -Pleraque Gallia duas res industriosissime persequitur: rem militarem et argute loqui- (Cato, Orig, l. ii. fr. 2. Jordan).

7. It has recently been maintained by expert philologists that there is a closer affinity between the Celts and Italians than there is even between the latter and the Hellenes. In other words they hold that the branch of the great tree, from which the peoples of Indo-Germanic extraction in the west and south of Europe have sprung, divided itself in the first instance into Greeks and Italo-Celts, and that the latter at a considerably later period became subdivided into Italians and Celts. This hypothesis commends itself much to acceptance in a geographical point of view, and the facts which history presents may perhaps be likewise brought into harmony with it, because what has hitherto been regarded as Graeco-Italian civilization may very well have been Graeco-Celto-Italian—in fact we know nothing of the earliest stage of Celtic culture. Linguistic investigation, however, seems not to have made as yet such progress as to warrant the insertion of its results in the primitive history of the peoples.

8. The legend is related by Livy, v. 34, and Justin, xxiv. 4, and Caesar also has had it in view (B. G. vi. 24). But the association of the migration of Bellovesus with the founding of Massilia, by which the former is chronologically fixed down to the middle of the second century of Rome, undoubtedly belongs not to the native legend, which of course did not specify dates, but to later chronologizing research; and it deserves no credit. Isolated incursions and immigrations may have taken place at a very early period; but the great overflowing of northern Italy by the Celts cannot be placed before the age of the decay of the Etruscan power, that is, not before the second half of the third century of the city.

In like manner, after the judicious investigations of Wickham and Cramer, we cannot doubt that the line of march of Bellovesus, like that of Hannibal, lay not over the Cottian Alps (Mont Genevre) and through the territory of the Taurini, but over the Graian Alps (the Little St. Bernard) and through the territory of the Salassi. The name of the mountain is given by Livy doubtless not on the authority of the legend, but on his own conjecture.

Whether the representation that the Italian Boii came through the more easterly pass of the Poenine Alps rested on the ground of a genuine legendary reminiscence, or only on the ground of an assumed connection with the Boii dwelling to the north of the Danube, is a question that must remain undecided.

9. This is according to the current computation 390 B. C.; but, in fact, the capture of Rome occurred in Ol. 98, 1 = 388 B. C., and has been thrown out of its proper place merely by the confusion of the Roman calendar.

10. I. XIV. Development of Alphabets in Italy

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