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Latium ( ), the cradle of Romemarker, consisted originally of the coastal plain from the mouth of the Tiber to the Circeian promontorymarker, and its adjacent foothills.

Its area constituted a part of the much larger modern Italianmarker Regione of Lazio, also called Latium in Latin, and occasionally in modern English. The ancient language of the region was to become the basis of Latin.

Latium has played an important role in history owing to its status as the cradle of the Roman Empire and the city of Romemarker. Consequently, it is home to celebrated works of art andarchitecture.

History

The region that would become Latium had been home to settled agricultural populations since the early Bronze Age, and was known to the Ancient Greeks. It was populated by a mixture of Indo-European and non-Indo-European language speakers. The name is most likely derived from the Latin word "latus", meaning "wide", expressing the idea of "flat land" (in contrast to the local Sabine high country) but the name may originate from an earlier, non Indo-European one. The Etruscansmarker, from their home region of Etruria (modern day Tuscany) exerted a strong cultural and political influence on Latium from about the 8th century B.C. onward. However, they were unable to assert political hegemony over the region, which was controlled by small, autonomous city-states in a manner roughly analogous to the state of affairs that prevailed in Ancient Greece. Indeed, the region's cultural and geographic proximity to the cities of the Greekmarker mainland had a strong impact upon its early history. The Phoeniciansmarker, who had a long tradition of trading with Italian people and possessed much of Sicily, are also believed to have influenced the region's development.

One of the earliest recorded non-Etruscan settlements in Latium is the quasi-mythical city of Alba Longamarker located somewhat southeast of the present-day city of Romemarker. According to Livy and other ancient authorities, it was here that the Latin League was founded, a coalition of city-states intended as a bulwark against Etruscan expansion.

The city-state of Romemarker emerged as the dominant political and military power in the region, following Rome's destruction of Alba Longa in the middle of the 7th century B.C.

References

  • Strabo - Geographica book V chapter 3 - Rome 20 BC
  • Athanasius Kircher - Latium - 1669 - Amsterdam 1671
  • G. R. Volpi - Vetus Latium Profanum et Sacrum - Rome 1742
  • T. J. Cornell - The beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars - London 1995
  • C. H. Smith - Early Rome and Latium. Economy and Society, c. 1000 - 500 BC, "Oxford Classical Monographs" - Oxford 1996


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