CHAPTER XVI
ETRURIA AND ROME

WHAT place in European history should be allotted to this people who came so secretly out of the mists and crept back again into the mists, whose existence as a nation measures itself within a few hundreds of years? Not for a moment are we justified in regarding their passage across the history of Italy as a detached interlude, as the dropping of a stone into the river of years, the waters of which close over it and flow on as before. Rather is it a case of a scientific species of organism appearing in the line of evolution of European nationalities, having taken origin from other species, interacting with its contemporaries, and, above all, transmitting to far scattered and diversified generations of descendants its very life-blood. That vitalizing stream, throughout all the Christian era, has been nourishing in ways which are being more and more justly appreciated the genius of the Italian race. The increasing interest taken in Italy in this lost but still potent people is therefore understandable. Further, Roman Italy fixed the destiny of much of southern and western Europe; hence, in addition to the scholar's innate craving after truth as an abstraction, there is close personal interest to arouse the curiosity of many a non-Italian.

The field of investigation may be explored by putting a few hypothetical questions and seeking for answers to them amongst the information we possess concerning the Etruscans and the nations whose history touched theirs directly.

-218-

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