Italy: A Popular Account of the Country, Its People, and Its Institutions (Including Malta and Sardinia)

By W. Deecke; H. A. Nesbitt | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
History

THE history of this country, which has been important in every respect in its influence on the civilization of mankind, can only be treated here in its broadest outlines. It is only for the sake of completeness and of symmetry with the other volumes of the series that it is touched upon in a general way. Details must be relegated to the chapter on chorography.

Italy begins to take part in universal history from the time of the foundation of the Greek colonies in Sicily and Southern Italy. The first of these, Cumæ in the Gulf of Naples, built on an isolated trachyte rock opposite the island group of Ischia, is said by the ancients to have been founded in the eleventh century B.C. They say, and even if the date is not certain it is not an improbable one, that as early as the year 1000 B.C. certain Greeks landed on the Italian and Sicilian coasts and carried on trade with the natives. The Cumæans introduced the written characters which were adopted by the Etruscans and Italici, and became in a modified form the groundwork of the earliest native alphabets.

The Dorian migration in Greece gave the impulse for colonization on a larger scale. This, under the protection of the Delphic God, led to the foundation of flourishing communities, great in peace and war. The Chalcidians settled in the town of Naxos, near Mount Etna, in 735, and this again gave rise in 729 to Catania and Leontini. Zankle ( Messina) and Rhegium date from 730, and Syracuse, the mightiest of all the cities of Sicily, was founded by the Corinthians in the same period ( 734). Syracuse flourished in spite of numerous internal constitutional struggles, and resisted all attempts at conquest by Carthage, by the other Sicilian Greeks and by the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War ( 415-413). Judging from the remains of its fortifications it must have been a mighty city, strongly fortified and with an excellent harbour, an impregnable sanctuary for the Sicilian Greeks. Sybaris seems to have been the most ancient city on the mainland ( 720) followed by Croton, Tarentum and others, so that the whole circumference of the Bay of Tarentum was in Greek hands, and it thus deserved its name of Magna Græcia.

These colonies found native inhabitants in possession. In Sicily there were Sicani and Siculi, agricultural tribes who had come over from the mainland. In the south of the mainland there were Sallentini

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Italy: A Popular Account of the Country, Its People, and Its Institutions (Including Malta and Sardinia)
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Translator's Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Chapter I - Boundaries Extent and Contour 1
  • Chapter II - The Surrounding Seas 7
  • Chapter III - History of Discovery 14
  • Chapter IV - Relief of the Country 19
  • Chapter V - Geological Construction 35
  • Chapter VI - Climate 73
  • Chapter VII - Hydrography 85
  • Chapter VIII - Plants and Animals 112
  • Chapter IX - Population 126
  • Chapter X - History 152
  • Chapter XI - Products 168
  • Chapter XII - Commerce, Traffic and Manufactures 229
  • Chapter XIII - Political Institutions 245
  • Chapter XIV - The Church and Public Worship 298
  • Chapter XV - Art, Language and Science 312
  • Chapter XVI - Topography 340
  • Appendix I 467
  • Appendix II 469
  • Index 471
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