The kingdom of Alba Longa has a very important place in Roman History.It is said that Romulus(the founder of Rome) is the son of an Alban princess.Also, Alba Longa was one of Romes most bitter rivals during her early years.The history of this kingdom can be traced far back to the fall of Troy and the escape of the great Trojan hero Aeneas.
Before there was Rome
One of the greatest works of literature is an ancient Greek work called the Illiad.This story chronicles the events of the Trojan war which led to the eventual razing of the city of Troy by the Greeks.
After the destruction of Troy many refugees were thought to have fleed the city.One such person is Aeneas who was the son of Priam,the former king of Troy.Aeneas was a great Trojan hero second only to the mighty Hector.Legend has it that he fled Troy carrying his elderly father on his back and leading his son,Ascanios, by hand.This legend was the beginning of the journey of Aeneas which was made into a famous epic by the Roman poet,Virgil.
After fleeing Troy, Aeneas journeyed to Thrace and the islands of the Medeterranian before landing in Carthage.The queen of Carthage,Dido,fell passionately in love with Aeneas and wanted him to stay in Carthage.When he refused and left Carthage,Dido commited suicide.
Aeneas's further travels brought him to Latium on the Italian penninsula where he had an armed conflict with the king of Latium who was later defeated.Aeneas ,however,made peace with the king and married his daughter,Lavinia.Aeneas then ruled in the kings place when he died until he ,himself, was killed in a battle with the Etruscians.
Upon the death of his father,Ascanios became king of Latium.H e thought that the city that his father had ruled from was too small so he founded Alba Longa at the foot of the Alban hills and made it his chief city.
Ascanios was succeeded by his son Silvius and it came a common practice for future kings to take the name of Silvius as all future kings succeeded their father.Silvius was ,in turn, succeeded by his son Aeneas Silvius who was succeeded by his son Latinus Silvius. Latinus was responsible for the establishment of Alban colonies on the penninsula.Latinus Silvius was succeeded by his son Albus who was succeeded Atys , Capys, Capetus and Tiberinus Silvius respectivly.An interesting note an Tiberinus is that he was drowned while crossing the river that would be named after him,the Tiber. Tiberinus was succeeded by his son Agrippa Silvius who was succeeded by his son Romulus Silvius.Romulus was succeeded by his son Aventinus who is the namesake of the Aventine hill.Aventinus was succeeded by his son Proca.
Proca had two sons, Numitor and Amulius it is with them that the saga of Rome begins.Proca had named Numitor his successor but ,as the story goes, he was later usurped by Amulius.Amulius had the daughter of Numitor, Rhea Silvia, made a Vestal fearing that she could have male children who would endanger his claim to the throne (Vestals could not concieve children). It did not work out that way for Amulius and what happened next would go down in history as one of the greatest legends of all time.From the Death of Aeneas to the Birth of Romulus and Remus,the descendants of Aeneas had ruled Alba Longa for 300 years.
When one thinks of
great Italian civilizations,the first peoples to cross their mind are the
Romans.The Romans may be the most well known occupiers of the land called
Italy but there is a civilization that , 800 years before Christ, had achieved
all that the Romans would later achieve while Rome was but a group of huts
on the Tiber.This society is that of the Etruscans and they leave a legacy
of mystery and wonder as the precursser to the great Roman empire.
Emergence of the Etruscans
During the later part of the second millennium and the beginning of the first millennium
BC the Mediterranian world had witnessed great technological advances due to the Bronze and Iron ages respectivly. These advances had helped to advance the great civilizations of the time. Suprisingly, however, Italy all but remained untouched by these new advances and was still stuck in a primitive stone age world. The Italian countryside was dotted with small
tribes of Latine people who lived a hunters way of life and was a place where the seeds of civilization had not yet taken hold.
Out of this primative land emerged the Etruscans, the first great Italian civilization. In the span of a couple hundred years, this society had completly reformed the Italian countryside with great cities, monuments and roads.One major question that still rips at the minds of historians to this day is "Who are the Etruscans and how did they accomplish so much in such a short period of time?" There are many theories of the origins of the Etruscans that range from them being an off shot of the Greeks to them being migrants from Troy(from Asia Minor). The later legend is probably the most reliable, however, because, even though the Etruscans had adopted Greek customs and ideas, they were still enemies of the Greeks.
Geographic Location of the Etruscans
Etruria, the homeland of the Etruscans, was located in the western part of Central Italy
in the area of modern day Tuscany(so named after the Etruscans). Their origional boundries were small and only measured about 146 miles vertically and 94 miles horizontally.At it's southernmost tip, Etruria bordered on the Tiber River, which would later put it in direct contact with the early Romans.
Over their history, the Etruscans expanded way beyond the origional boundries of Etruia to the south and north. At their height,the Etruscans had settlements in all of Campania after sucessfully taking the land from the Greek colonists. This glory in Campania did not last for long, however, and the Etruscans were soon brought up in conflict with the Greek colonists that were their enemies as well as neighbours. By the 4th century BC, the Etruscan
settlements on Campania were so weak and had proved to be no match for the Greek occupiers of Italy and many of their major settlements in the region began to fall into decay
Important Etruscan Cities
The Etruscans reached
the height of their power and prosperity in the years between 800 and 500 BC. During this time their cities grew and their trade flourished and they sent trade envoys as far as the Orient.It is during this time that the Etruscans built most of their lavish tombs that we are still discovering today.
During their golden period,the Etruscans had many major cities which acted as the chief administrative and commercial areas of Etruria.Three of the most important Etruscan cities
were Cere,Tarquinia and Vulci
Cere was a chief sea trading city and underwent major development which made it Etruia's port to the Orient.The city continued to prosper until it clashed with the Roman
power in the 3rd century BC where it suffered defeat and lost it's port land.This defeat deprived it of it's main source of income and contributed to it's eventual extinction in the 1st century AD.
At the height of the Etruscan power, Tarquinia was one of the major cities of the truscans. From the 6th Century BC to the 4th century BC, this city reached the height of it's power but, like Cere, this city also fell prey to the Roman conquorers. In 261 BC, Tarquinia lost a series of wars with Rome which resulted in the relinquishment of their ports and coastal land to the Romans.
The Etruscan city of Vulci was famous throughout the Mediterranian for it's trade, works of art and farming. By the 6th century, works of bronze that were manufactured here were highly regarded throughout the Mediterranian world because of their fine craftmanship.Like all ther Etruscan cities, Vulci felt the wrath of the growing Roman power and, upon defeat in 280 BC, it had to give up all it's port and farmland to the Romans which caused it to decline rapidly and dissapear.
The Etruscans and Rome
Throughout the early history of Rome, the Etruscans have always been a major player and many of their traditions had managed to weave themselves into Roman society. The
early Roman religious practices were influenced by those of the Etruscans
and the most notable Etruscan piece of mythology that weaved it's self into Roman society is that of Aeneas. Also, the Etruscans influenced Roman calander, architecture and art. What kept Rome from becomming totally Etruscanized was the fact that it still kept it's own uniform language, Latin, and many of it's origional customs.
In her early history, Rome was ruled by a series of seven kings, two of which were of definate Etruscan origin. The first Etruscan king of Rome was Lucius Tarquinius Priscus
who ruled from 616 BC to 579 BC and, later, his son, the last king of Rome, the notorious Tarquinius Superbus (Tarquin the Proud) who ruled from 534 BC to 510 BC. Upon the expulsion of the Etruscan kings from Rome, they hatched a plan in which to recapture Rome and have it ruled by Etruscans once again. Rome crushed the Etruscans in their attempt to reclaim power
which started both societies on the Road to becomming enemies.
By the time of the Punic Wars, Etruscian culture was all but dead and most Etruscans were Romanized. It is known that some wealthy Etruscan towns helped Rome during the second Punic War.
Once the republic was instituted, Rome's power began to rise as she became the mistress of Italy and later of the Mediterranian. By the late republic, Rome had complete control over Italy and the Etruscan settlements, most of which were dying due to lack of an economy, and by the 1st century AD most Etruscan settlements in Italy had been destroyed.
With the destruction of their cities,the Etruscans became Roman citizens and their culture virtually vanished. They left a strong legacy of elasborate burial tombs,great cities and fine art and have the destinction of being the least known of the great ancient civilizations