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| The Etruscans and Rome | Origin of the Etruscans | Etruscan social structure | Etruscan wealth and economic dominance | Etruscan Art | Etruscan downfall |A lot about Ancient Rome |
The ancient Romans took much from their precursors the Etruscans who preceded them by some 400 years (apogee during 7th century to 4th century BC). Both populated central Italy: the Etruscans in Etruria whilst the Romans in Latium. Etruria was just to the north of Latium.
In spite of these neighbours being opponents for a long time there is frequent reference within Roman literature to the Etruscans written with tone of respect. From the Etruscans, the Romans learned many of the notions of civilisation, religion and civil afairs if not their loose socio-political structure.
Myth would have it that Rome was founded in 753BC but it wasn't until the fourth century that their presence began to be felt on an international level. (At this time the Greek civilisation was in full swing and wonders such as the Parthenon for example were just being built.) However, in spite of this, it is said by some that the consolidated spread of Greek culture was in fact owed to the extent of ancient Rome's dominion. Ancient Rome admired and assimilated what the Greeks had to teach them in terms of philosophy, literature, politics and art.
Where the ancient Romans were most successful was in managing to establish the homogeneous social and political structure which the ancient Etruscans had never achieved leading to a much needed concentration of objectives, resources and strength. The real miracle was in their ability to assimilate the ways and cultures of those they conquered and perhaps more meaningfully of reshaping their structure of government, from Kings and Kingdom through to Republic, Empire and so on.
The ancient Roman miracle has never ceased to provoke fascination and even today it is difficult not to look to it as something which can hardly be repeated - stability, continuity and unity over such a vast geographical area such that it is said that a Roman citizen could walk across the empire without so much as being bothered by brigands.
Along the way they shaped much of the western civilisation we know of today. They were not great scientists and mathematicians but rather very practical engineers capable of dominating and using the surroundings and leaving behind order and structure, roads, villas, farms and cities. An extreme example of this is to be seen in what was before and after the Roman invasion of Britain and how the aftermath of Romanisation was in fact a regression to barbarism as those who were left behind were incapable of running the social structure and machinery they had inherited.
The ancient Roman empire is considered to have ended in the fifth century ad (it was so large it couldn't suddenly collapse but rather fold in on itself slowly). What it did achieve was to break itself into two halves: Emperor Constantine in the fourth century ad not only created a new Rome of the east (Constantinople - now known as Istanbul) but also made Christianity the corner stone of the Empire. In spite of the collapse of the Western Empire, the Empire of the East, called Byzantium, lasted through to the early Renaissance at which point Constantinople was taken by both Turks and Venetians (Fifteenth century).
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written by Giovanni Milani for www.mariamilani.com : Rome apartments