The modern country of Italy corresponds more or less to what was referred to in ancient times as Italia, also referred to by modern commentators as the Italic peninsula. In the north, the region was inhabited by Celts, Ligurians, and other assorted peoples. Etruscans lived in what is today Tuscany.

Actual Italic-speaking peoples lived in Umbria, Marche, Latium, and other regions in the central and southern parts of the peninsula. The Greeks founded important cities in Southern Italy and Sicily from the eighth century BC onwards. The Greek presence became so influential that the Romans would later refer to that area as Magna Graecia or “Great Greece”. In addition, the Carthaginians also founded cities in the western parts of Sicily.

Rome was originally one of many city-states on the Italic peninsula. It managed to slowly seize control of the entire region, subjugating the Etruscans, the other Italic peoples, the Greeks, the Sicilians, and the peoples living in the Po Valley and other territories on the Italic side of the Alps. Rome would slowly engulf the entire Mediterranean and become the largest empire the world had thus far seen.

Crouching Aphrodite


Crouching Aphrodite

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Sculptures featuring the goddess Aphrodite (Venus) crouching were popular in the Graeco-Roman world. Why would that be?