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.
The Etruscans were reputed to be tenacious pirates. Is this reputation deserved? The answer requires a look at the ancient sources.
Sculptures featuring the goddess Aphrodite (Venus) crouching were popular in the Graeco-Roman world. Why would that be?
Were ancient figures all that they were cracked up to be? A brief look at the historiography of Epaminondas should make us wary of accepting everything we read in our sources.
One of the most dynamic heroes of the Trojan Cycle is Aeneas, whose depiction can be found throughout Italy before Rome usurped him as a national icon.
The early history of Rome is dominated by its rivalry with the Etruscan city of Veii, just up the Tiber. Until now, Anglophone readers had few resources to explore the latter’s story.
Classics in Extremis (2019), edited by Edmund Richardson, looks to the “margins” to better understand classical receptions.
Few Greek vases have spawned as much discussion as one found in Cerveteri and dating to the seventh century BC.
A well-known legend of early Rome describes Horatius Cocles almost single-handedly defending a bridge against Etruscan aggressors.
Many mosaics from Pompeii are on display in the archaeological museum of Naples, including one that depicts a lion attacking a leopard.
Many ancient Greek and Roman epics were left either unfinished or had enough loose strings to warrant continuation by later writers.