Friday, February 13, 2009

Caesar Augustus' "Conquered Alpine Peoples" - Part 1

I wanted to expand a little bit on the Italian Alpine region at the end of pre-Roman times.


The original inhabitants of the Italian Alps and the lowlands just south of them, that we know of, were early Italic peoples. In the west-central they were known as the Ligures, in the central-east they sometimes are referred to as being of the "Euganei" race, and in the eastern reaches there was the Adriatic Veneti. All of these groups may have been more-or-less similar, but had different language groups and some different cultural characteristics.

From Wikipedia: "Ligures

"The Ligures (singular Ligus or Ligur; English: Ligurians, Greek: Λίγυες) were an ancient people who gave their name to Liguria, which once stretched from Northern Italy into southern Gaul. According to Plutarch they called themselves Ambrones which means ¨people of the water¨. The Ligures inhabited what now corresponds to Liguria, northern Tuscany, Piedmont, part of Emilia-Romagna, part of Lombardy, and parts of southeastern France.

"Classical references and toponomastics suggest that the Ligurian sphere once extended further into central Italy (Taurisci): according to Hesiod's Catalogues (early 6th century BC) they were one of the three main "barbarian" peoples ruling over the Western border of the known world (the others being Aethiopians and Scythians). Avienus, in a translation of a voyage account probably from Marseille (4th century BC) speaks of the Ligurian hegemony extending up to the North Sea, before they were pushed back by the Celts. Ligurian toponyms have been found in Sicily, the Rhône valley, Corsica and Sardinia.

"It is not known for certain whether they were a pre-Indo-European people akin to Iberians; a separate Indo-European branch with Italic and Celtic affinities; or even a branch of the Celts or Italics. Kinship between the Ligures and Lepontii has also been proposed. Another theory traces their origin to Betica (modern Andalusia).

"The Ligures were assimilated by the Romans, and before that by the Gauls, producing a Celto-Ligurian culture.


"Numerous tribes of Ligures are mentioned by ancient historians, among them:

* Apuani
* Bagienni
* Briniates
* Cerdiciates
* Commoni
* Deciates
* Euburiates
* Friniates
* Garuli
* Hercates
* Ilvates
* Ingauni
* Intemellii
* Lapicini
* Laevi
* Marici
* Oxybii
* Statielli
* Sueltri (or Suelteri)
* Taurini (or Taurisci)
* Tiguli
* Vagienni (an alternative name for the Bagienni"

Note: For a description of most of these tribes, see the "Ligures link" in the first paragraph

From Wikipedia: "Euganei

"The Euganei (fr. Lat. Euganei, Euganeorum; cf. Gr. εὐγενής (eugenēs) 'well-born') is a semi-mythical proto-Italic ethnic group that dwelt near present-day Verona. They were according to Titus Livius' The History of Rome defeated by the Adriatic Veneti and the Trojans. Their descendants settled west of the Athesis (Adige) river, around the lakes Sebinus, Edrus, and Benacus, where they occupied 34 towns, which were admitted by Augustus to the rights of Latin cities."

There were numerous regional Euganei tribes, who seem to have predated the others, having a culture that artifacts point to as going back many thousands of years.

From Wikipedia: "Adriatic Veneti

"The Veneti (Enetoi Ενετοί in Greek) were an ancient people who inhabited north-eastern Italy, in an area corresponding to the modern-day region of the Veneto. They spoke Venetic, an independent Indo-European language, which is attested in approximately 300 short inscriptions dating from 6th to 1st centuries BC. Venetic appears to share several similarities with Latin and the Italic languages, but also has some affinities with other IE languages, especially Germanic as well as Celtic.


"The north-eastern portion of Italy was also once home to an indigenous group known as the Euganei. They superseded and later mixed with the group that came to be known as the Veneti. In Italy these ancient Veneti are sometimes referred to as Paleoveneti so as to distinguish them from the modern-day Veneti in Italy. The extent of their territory before their incorporation by the Romans is uncertain. It was at first included in Cisalpine Gaul, but later became known as the tenth region of Italy. It was bounded on the west by the Athesis (Adige), or according to others, by the Addua (Adda); on the north by the Alps; on the east by the Timavus (Timavo river in Friuli-Venezia Giulia, known as Timâf) and on the south by the Adriatic Gulf. From the earliest times the Veneti appear to have been a peaceful people, chiefly engaged in commercial pursuits.

"Historical references

"According to Livy, himself one of the Veneti from Patavium, the Veneti were formed by a merging of the indigenous peoples known as the Euganei and a Trojan-Paphlagonian tribe known as the Eneti (or Enetoi in Greek) who had settled in the area between the Alps and the Adriatic sea. Homer and perhaps more significantly, Pliny the Elder points out that with the death of king Pylaemenes of the Paphlagonians, Antenor the Trojan led the Eneti across the Mediterranean towards the coast of north-east Italy near the Brenta river where their descendants, the Veneti lived (Natural History, vi.2.5). Homer (Iliad, ii.852) speaks of the Paphlagonian Eneti as breeders of "wild mules" and their fondness for horses is regarded as proof of their descent from the "horse-taming" Trojans. This is further stipulated by Pliny the Elder who indicates the Veneti ancestry as being Trojan (Natural History, iii.130). Dionysius, tyrant of Syracuse, who assisted the Veneti to repel the attacks of the Liburnian pirates, is said to have kept a stud in their country (Strabo v.1.4).

"Recent studies

"The ancient Veneti traded metals and in particular gold. Many archeological excavations are still underway in the Veneto today with particular focus on the traditional Paleoveneto sites such as Este, Padua, Oderzo, Adria, Vicenza, Verona and Altinum to name but a few. Studies are also being done on the vast influence of the Greeks in the Adriatic and their interaction with the Veneti, particularly focusing on the Euboeans, Phocaeans and Corinthians. Villanovan and more significantly, Etruscan activity in the region and their strong links to the Veneti are also attested to.


"Dr. Anna Maria Chieco Bianchi compiled the Italia Omnium Terrarum Alumna (1988) academic reference point for all studies on the Italic peoples which provides a thorough account of the Veneti and the various inscriptions from Este. Chieco Bianchi and Dr. Capuis have established a thorough literary body, predominantly in Italian, of studies on the Veneti. Dr. Capuis, an Associate Professor in Pre-Roman Italian Civilsation at the University of Padua, has contributed along with Doctors De Min, Serafini, Malnati and others under the auspices of the Veneto regional government on a collaborative effort. The Superintendent for the Archaeological Heritage of the Veneto Region has released a recent series of publications with the aforementioned professors on the ancient Veneti and Etruscans as part of a project which commenced in 2003 and was aimed at bringing together all of the foremost archaeological experts on this topic.

"Venetic language

"This work and others on the Venetic languages stems predominantly from the foundations laid by Aldo Prosdocimi and Giovanni Pellegrini with La Lingua Venetica (1967) and Michel Lejeune's Manuel de la langue vénète (1974). Prosdocimi has gone on to publish in 2002 several other articles and catalogues concerning the Venetic script. In particular a study on the alphabet and inscriptions and an article on the names Veneti, Eneti, Euganei, Ateste where specific references are made to inscriptions cross-referenced with archaeological materials at the site of Ateste. Another of the most recent major publications on the ancient Venetic language has been entered in the Cambridge Encyclopedia of the World’s Ancient Languages by Dr. Rex Wallace [6] from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This was done as a part of several Italic language submissions to the University for inclusion in the 2004 tome along with the Sabellian chapter also by Wallace, Latin by J.P.T. Clarkson and Etruscan by Helmut Rix.Many tribes thought to be Illyrians are actually Veneti.


"The ancient Veneti are not to be confused with the later Venetians, who traditionally speak Venetian, a Romance language; both of whom originate from the modern-day Veneto region and are known in Italian as Veneti.

"Peoples of the name Veneti are also historically attested to in Gaul (see Veneti (Gaul)) and other parts of Europe, but it should be emphasized that these were not one and the same people."

To keep things in chronological order, at one point, Etruscan civilization was present in most of the area between modern Naples and southern Lombardy. The Umbri, Volsci, and other peoples who lived south of the Etruscans, all similar in many ways to the Etruscans, lived in a part of the north-central area of the ancient Italian peninsula. The earlier mentioned Italic Alpine tribes lived in the Alpine region. All seemed to co-exist quite well, with the advance of Etruscan civilization being a peaceful one, promoted mainly by trade.

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