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Ancient Rome - Index

Roman Index / Timeline Italy before the Romans Romulus and Remus Birth and Rise of Rome Early Roman Republic
The Twelve Tables Punic Wars Late Roman Republic Consuls of the Republic Trouble in the Republic
Julius Caesar Julius Caesar Play and Brutus Trial Antony and Cleopatra Octavian Late Republic Poetry
Early Roman Empire Caesar Augustus Basics of Christianity Pontius Pilate The New Testament
Bishops of Rome / Popes Late Roman Empire Attack of the Barbarians Roman Emperors Roman Emperors List

to 753 BC - Italy before the Romans
 

Etruscans

700 BC

  • Etruscans borrow alphabet from Greeks

650 BC

  • Etruscans spread to Capua and Pompeii

535 BC

  • Etruscans and Carthaginians join in battle against the Greeks at Alalia
  • Weakens Greek position, causing withdrawal
  • Etruscans capture Corsica
 
    • Herodotus Histories, I.94  The Lydians have very nearly the same customs as the Hellenes, with the exception that these last do not bring up their girls the same way. So far as we have any knowledge, the Lydians were the first to introduce the use of gold and silver coin, and the first who sold good retail. They claim also the invention of all the games which are common to them with the Hellenes. These they declare that they invented about the time when they colonized Tyrrhenia [i.e., Etruria], an event of which they give the following account. In the days of Atys the son of Manes, there was great scarcity through the whole land of Lydia. For some time the Lydians bore the affliction patiently, but finding that it did not pass away, they set to work to devise remedies for the evil. Various expedients were discovered by various persons: dice, knuckle-bones, and ball, and all such games were invented, except checkers, the invention of which they do not claim as theirs. The plan adopted against the famine was to engage in games one day so entirely as not to feel any craving for food, and the next day to eat and abstain from games. In this way they passed eighteen years.
    • Still the affliction continued, and even became worse. So the king determined to divide the nation in half, and to make the two portions draw lots, the one to stay, the other to leave the land. He would continue to reign over those whose lot it should be to remain behind; the emigrants should have his son Tyrrhenus for their leader. The lot was cast, and they who had to emigrate went down to Smyrna, and built themselves ships, in which, after they had put on board all needful stores, they sailed away in search of new homes and better sustenance. After sailing past many countries, they came to Umbria, where they built cities for themselves, and fixed their residence. Their former name of Lydians they laid aside, and called themselves after the name of the king's son, who led the colony, Tyrrhenians.
 
    • Livy History of Rome, Book 5.1: The Veientines, on the other hand, tired of the annual canvassing for office, elected a king. This gave great offence to the Etruscan cantons, owing to their hatred of monarchy and their personal aversion to the one who was elected. He was already obnoxious to the nation through his pride of wealth and overbearing temper, for he had put a violent stop to the festival of the Games, the interruption of which is an act of impiety. The Etruscans as a nation were distinguished above all others by their devotion to religious observances, because they excelled in the knowledge and conduct of them....
    • Book 7.2. But the violence of the epidemic was not alleviated by any aid from either men or gods, and it is asserted that as men's minds were completely overcome by superstitious terrors they introduced, amongst other attempts to placate the wrath of heaven, scenic representations, a novelty to a nation of warriors who had hitherto only had the games of the Circus. They began, however, in a small way, as nearly everything does, and small as they were, they were borrowed from abroad. The players were sent for from Etruria; there were no words, no mimetic action; they danced to the measures of the flute and practiced graceful movements in Etruscan fashion. Afterwards the young men began to imitate them, exercising their wit on each other in burlesque verses, and suiting their action to their words. This became an established diversion, and was kept up by frequent practice. The Etruscan word for an actor is istrio, and so the native performers were called histriones. These did not, as in former times, throw out rough extempore effusions like the Fescennine verse, but they chanted satyrical verses quite metrically arranged and adapted to the notes of the flute, and these they accompanied with appropriate movements.
    • Several years later Livius for the first time abandoned the loose satyrical verses and ventured to compose a play with a coherent plot. Like all his contemporaries, he acted in his own plays, and it is said that when he had worn out his voice by repeated recalls he begged leave to place a second player in front of the flutist to sing the monologue while he did the acting, with all the more energy because his voice no longer embarrassed him. Then the practice commenced of the chanter following the movements of the actors, the dialogue alone being left to their voices. When, by adopting this method in the presentation of pieces, the old farce and loose jesting was given up and the play became a work of art, the young people left the regular acting to the professional players and began to improvise comic verses. These were subsequently known as exodia [after-pieces], and were mostly worked up into the Atellane Plays. These farces were of Oscan origin, and were kept by the young men in their own hands; they would not allow them to be polluted by the regular actors.
 

Latins

 

An Italian tribe that is the origin of the Latin lanuage. Rome's founders, Romulus and Remus, were members of the Latin tribe.

 

Greek Westward Movement / Beginning of Etruscan Civilization

750 BC

  • First successful Greek colony in Italy at Cumae in south-central near present day Naples
  • Other Greek movement leads to Etruscan influence in Italy
    • Herodotus Histories, 1.94, p. 40. According to Herodotus, a severe famine caused King Atys of Lydia to divide the population "into two groups and determined by drawing lots which should emigrate and which should remain at home. He appointed himself to rule the section whose lot determined that they should remain, and his son Tyrrhenus to command the emigrants. The lots were drawn, and one section...finally reached Umbria in the north of Italy, where they settled and still live to this day. Here they changed their name from Lydians to Tyrrhenians [Greek name for the Etruscans], after the King's son Tyrrhenus, who was their leader."


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