Etruria, Or Tuseia, a division of ancient Italy, bounded W. by the Tyrrhenian sea, and separated on the N. W. from Liguria by the river Macra (now Magra), N. E. by the Apennines from Cispadine Gaul, and E. and S. by the Tiber from Umbria and Latium. It thus embraced the modern Tuscany, and some adjoining territories, and was a fertile and well cultivated country. Its principal mountains were the Ciminius (Monte di Viterbo) and So-racto (Monte di San Oreste). Its chief rivers were the Tiber and the Arnus (Arno); its chief lakes the Thrasymenus (lake of Perugia) the Lacus Vadimonis (Bassano), the Volsini-ensis ( Bolsena), and the Sabatinus (Brocciano). The testimony of ancient writers, and late discoveries of antique monuments, comprising walls, cloaca, tombs adorned with sculptures, vases, coins, etc, prove that Etruria was inhabited by a civilized and cultivated people long before the foundation of Rome. They were called Etrusci or Tusci by the Romans, and Tyrrheni or Tyrseni by the Greeks; their national name was Ras, or with the gentile termination Ras-ennae. They were distinguished from the Latin and Sabellian Italians, as well as from the Greeks, by their bodily structure, as the sculptures of the Etruscans exhibit only short sturdy figures with large heads and thick arms; by their religion, which was of a gloomy character, delighting in mystical handling of numbers and in horrible speculations and practices; and by the complete isolation of their language.
For these reasons no one has as yet succeeded in connecting the Etruscans with any other race. Many dialects have been examined, and sometimes tortured, with a view of discovering some affinity, but in vain. The geographical position of the Basque nation suggested that the Basque language might be cognate to the Etruscan; but no analogies of a decisive character have been brought forward. The scanty remains of the Ligurians, and the sepulchral towers called nuraghe, which are found by thousands in the Tuscan sea, and especially in Sardinia, fail to evince relationship with the Tuscan people. As the oldest Etruscan towns lay far inland, it was conjectured that they migrated into the peninsula by land, and perhaps over the Rhaetian Alps, for the oldest traceable settlers in the Grisons and Tyrol, the Rhseti, spoke Etruscan down to historical times, and their name has a resemblance to that of Ras. In strong contradiction to this opinion stands the view that the Etruscan language was Semitic, as well as the ancient tradition that the Etruscans were Lydians who had emigrated from Asia. The latter occurs in Herodotus; but Dionysius asserts that there was not the slightest apparent similarity between the Lydians and Etruscans in religion, laws, manners, or language.
It is possible that the belief rested on a mere verbal mistake. The Etruscans or Turs-ennoe (which seems to be the original form of the Greek and of the Roman Tusci, Etrusci) nearly coincide in name with the Lydian people, the and Thucydides confounded their maritime commerce with the piracy of the Lydians, and the Torrhebian pirates with the buccaneering Pelasgians. Schwegler's opinion is that the Etruscans were driven into Rhaetia by the Gauls. Livy's account is also at variance with the opinion given above (Mommsen's) that the Etruscans came from the north. The Roman historians generally represent the original Etruscan settlements to have been on the southern or Roman side of the Apennines, and that the Etruscans pushed forward northward to the Alps. It is thus still unexplained how the Etruscans came into Italy. They probably occupied at one time the plains of Lombardy, having subdued the Umbrians, and were then themselves driven out by the Celts or Gauls, about the time of Tarquinius Priscus, when part of them seem to have taken refuge in the mountains of Rhaetia, and the remainder to have proceeded toward the south. - The few Etruscan literary remains, as inscriptions on coins and tombs, fail to throw light on the question of their ethnological affinity, as the interpretation of the Etruscan language is still a matter of hypothesis.
Dionysius of Halicar-nassus and Bochart regard the Etruscan as an aboriginal language; Freret and Sir "William Betham make it Celtic; Ciampi and Kollar, Slavic; Micali, Albanese; Passeri, Gori, and Lanzi derive it from the Greek and Latin, and hold that the Umbric, Volscic, Oscic, and Samnitic are dialects of it; O. Muller thinks it akin to the Greek; others derive it from Rhaetia; others make it cognate to the Basque or the Finnish; and finally, Lami, Pfitzmaier, and others, suppose it to be Semitic, a hypothesis which in 1858 J. G. Stickel was thought to have demonstrated to be the truth. In 1873 Prof. Corssen announced that he was about to publish a work on the subject that would show entirely new results. Taylor's "Etruscan Researches" (London, 1874) again endeavors to establish a Turanian relationship. The alphabet is believed to consist of 21 letters, almost coincident in form with the ancient Greek letters, written from right to left, but corresponding in value to those of the Hebrew, though not used as numerical signs. Of several hundred short funeral inscriptions known, 17 have been published as proofs of the Semitic character of the language; some of them are bilingual, with a Latin part giving the name of the deceased.
There are also inscriptions on candelabra, drinking cups, and other utensils. Of inscriptions on coins there are but few. Under the Roman emperors the haruspices used Latin versions of Etruscan rituals. Such were the libri Etrusci, Etruscoe disciplinoe (religion); rituals on the manner of building cities, temples, and altars; on the sanctity of walls and gates; on the tribus, curioe, military order, etc.; fulgurales and haruspicini, and the prodigia; Tagetici, on the ceremonies (coeremonioe, from Caere or Agylla) of the earth-born god Tages; acherun-tici, on conciliation with the gods, etc. There were also ancient pastoral and augural songs. Varro preserved some fragments, and mentions Etruscan tragedies by Volumnius. The histories to which Varro alludes were probably superstitious inventions similar to those preserved in Plutarch's life of Sulla. In the speech of the emperor Claudius, preserved on bronze plates at Lyons, is cited a version of the adventures of Servius Tullius from Etruscan authorities, and, as Niebuhr thinks, from native annals beginning with the year 407 B. C. It seems, however, that the Etruscan testimony adduced by Claudius is not entitled to credit. -The scoffing and jocular Fescennine (so called from Fescennium, a city of Etruria) and Satur-nalian verses were also derived from the Tuscans. Cicero, Aulus Gellius, Caecina, Nigidius Figulus, and some later Romans translated and explained various Etruscan books, of which we have but fragments. - There is no doubt that the inhabitants of Etruria proper formed a confederacy of 12 cities with adjacent districts, which are supposed to have been the following: Caere (now Cerveteri, Old Caere), Tarquinii (in Roman history the cradle of the Tarquins), Rusellae (Roselle, remarkable for its monuments), Vetulonia (Torre Vecchia), Vola-terrae (Volterra), Arretium (Arezzo), Cortona, (Cotrone), Perusia (Perugia), Volsinii (Bolsena), Falerii (Civita Castellana), Veii (Isola Far- nese), and Clusium (Chiusi), the seat of King Porsena. They had flourishing colonies in Corsica, IIva (Elba), and in Campania, where they are supposed to have founded (about 800 B. C.) a confederacy similar to that of Etruria. Their navy was powerful on the Mediterranean at a very early period; a legend mentions an attack upon theArgo, the ship of the Argonauts, by Tyrrhenian mariners.
Their commercial vessels visited the eastern shores of the Mediterranean. The inhabitants of Caere were dreaded as pirates. Various remains attest their proficiency in the arts; the frequently occurring representations of festive entertainments, games, races, and dances, accompanied by music, prove their love of recreation, no doubt fostered by the mildness of the climate. They also had national assemblies for religious and political purposes, celebrated at the temple of Voltumna in Volsinii. Their religion resembled in most of its conceptions the polytheism of the Greeks and Romans; it appears, however, to have been deeper, gloomier, and less fanciful than that of the former. The names of many of their deities, who were divided into higher or hidden and other gods, and were believed to reside in the remotest north, seem to mark the transition from the Grecian to the Roman forms. Tina (Jupiter) presides over the council of 12 consentes or complices, probably personifications of the 12 constellations of the zodiac. They had lunar and solar divisions of time, and cycles of more than a century.
Of their numerous sacred books, the principal of which were believed to contain the revelations of the demon Tages, the so-called Acherontic taught how to propitiate the gods, to delay fate, and to deify the soul. Many of their religious rites, those of augury for instance, were adopted by the Romans, who also imitated their games, insignia, and triumphal distinctions. Their priests, called lucumos, appear at the same time as heads of noble families and as kings or rulers of cities. They formed the senate of the confederacy, which seems to have consisted of loosely connected independent and sovereign members, at a later period ruled by magistrates chosen annually. The common people were dependent upon the priestly aristocratic families in a kind of feudal clientship, whose forms appear more servile than in the similar Roman institution. Freemen also occur in the history of some of the confederate cities, but as a politically unimportant class. - Walls of cities, sewers, vaults, subterranean tombs, and bridges are the only existing monuments of Etrurian architecture. The Cloaca Maxima at Rome, which is believed to be an Etruscan work, shows that they were acquainted with the use of the arch. The paintings display archaic outlines and an unreal or fantastical coloring.
The painted vases usually termed Etruscan, which are found in large numbers in the tombs of Etruria, but also in Campania, Sicily, and Greece, were probably the work of Greek artisans. Authorities differ on the question whether the vases were imported into Etruria or made by Greek workmen settled there. The Etruscans showed great skill in the manufacture of pottery; but the only kinds now assigned to them are the red ware of Arretium and the black ware of Clusium. The specimens of sculpture and carving in marble and wood discovered in the tombs, though very numerous, are not of a very superior order, and the ancient writers do not greatly admire the Etruscans in these arts. But the bronze statues of Etruria were very famous; they filled the temples of Rome, and it is said that the city of Volsinii alone contained 2,000 of them. Some were very large and heavy; Pliny says that the Apollo on the Palatine was 50 ft. high, and as wonderful for its enormous weight as for its beauty. Their greatest fame rests, however, on the artistic designs and skilful execution of decorative objects, as thrones, chariots of state, chandeliers, shields, shells, rings and other jewelry.
Etruscan art was imitative rather than creative, and bore at every period the marks of foreign influence, especially Egyptian, Babylonian, and Hellenic - Some Egyptologists are of opinion that the Takkara nation, mentioned on an inscription among the allies of the Libyans, at the invasion of Egypt during the reign of Rameses III., in the 13th century B. 0., were Etruscans, and had a considerable fleet. Other authorities maintain, however, that the Etruscans did not dwell in Italy till a much later period. About 540 B. C. the Etruscans fought jointly with the Carthaginians the first naval battle recorded in the history of the western part of the Mediterranean, at Alalia, against the Phocaeans, whom they defeated, gaining thereby possession of the island of Corsica. The subsequent treaties made by the Etruscans with the Carthaginians, reciprocally renouncing piracy in each other's waters, and prohibiting the establishment of colonies on each other's territories, have not been preserved, and Aristotle is the only ancient historian who makes mention of them. The most flourishing period of the history of Etruria comprises some centuries before and after the foundation of Rome. Some believe that the Tarquins were Etruscans, but others hold that they were of Corinthian origin.
It does not seem probable that the Etruscans exercised a kind of dominion over their younger neighbor, as Muller, Becker, and Schwegler suppose. According to Livy, whose narrative is now, however, considered legendary, Porsena, king of Clusium, made war on Rome for the restoration of Tarquin the Proud, and compelled the Romans to a humiliating treaty. But scarcely had Rome gained peace from him when it commenced a protracted but eventually successful war with another Etruscan enemy, Veii. The distraction of the confederacy by frequent successful and devastating incursions of the Syracusans, by attacks of the Samnites upon its Campanian dependencies, the inroads of the Gauls under Brennus, and the two battles fought near the Vadimonian lake by Quintus Fabius (310) and Publius Cornelius Dolabella (283), finally broke the power of Etruria. The social relation to Rome, into which it entered in 280 B. C, was changed after the social war (90), in reward for its fidelity, into Roman citizenship. Soon afterward Etruria suffered greatly from the revenge taken by Sulla on the partisans of Marius in its cities.
Whole districts were given as confiscated estates to the veterans of the dictator, who afterward became the accomplices of Catiline (63-62). Octavianus, too, had his military colonies in Etruria. - Among the numerous writers who have treated of the antiquities of Etruria, the most instructive are Lanzi, Inghirami, Niebuhr, Ottfried Muller, Hey, Wachsmuth, Hormayr, Steub, Dorow, Micali, Abeken, Secki, Lepsius, Gerhardt, Dennis, Mrs. Gray, Bunsen, Rossignol, Witte, Winck-elmann, and Noel des Vergers (L'Etrurie et les Etrusques, 3 vols., Paris, 1864). In addition to the authorities mentioned in connection with the theories on the Etruscan language, see Dempster, Be Etruria Regali (Florence, 1723-'4); Gori, Difesa delV alfabeto degli antichi Tos-cani (Florence, 1742); Amaduzzi, Alphabetum Veterum Etruscorum (Rome, 1775); Vermiglio-li, Saggio di congetture, etc. (1824); Kollar, Staroitalia slavjanska (Vienna, 1853); Momm-sen, Nord-Etruskische Alphabete; Crawford, "Etruscan Inscriptions" (London, 1873); Uhden, Creuzer, Gesenius, Curtius, Heath, Du-reau de la Malle, Beule, Levy, Barges, Renan, and Dr. Frick, in archa3ological and philological periodicals. - The history of modern Etruria, a kingdom created by Napoleon in 1801, and given to Louis, crown prince of Parma, ruled after his death by his widow Maria Louisa of Spain as regent, and in 1807 annexed to France as a province, belongs to that of Tuscany (a name derived from the Roman Tuscia).