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time to which it must be referred. If the endeavour be a bold and sacrilegious one, on those who have preceded us in the almost hopeless task must rest the blame. We shall only plant our uncertain footsteps on the difficult path which they have already imperfectly explored, and be guided, so far as we may, by the dim and dusky lamps which they have hung out for the guidance of the traveller.
Of the various races who peopled Italy in remote times, the Aborigines, the Siceli, the Ausones, and the Pelasgi, have been differently esteemed to be the primitive settlers. Who the Aborigines were, we cannot know with certainty. It is evidently a name given subsequently to their possession of the land, by the tribes that drove them out. It was applied to a particular race by Callias, about 470 years before Christ. It may have been employed at a period long antecedent to this : for, though its significance and application may be analogous to the appellation of Autochthones, which the Athenians boastfully claimed for themselves, as Niebuhr explains it,* its lise can never have originated among themselves as a national name, for the vanity on which this could be predicated does not belong to a primitive tribe, but to a nation already proud of its ancestry, and jealous of the honours of other races. And this is confirmed by the inference which we may draw, from the mode in which the Athenian custom is mentioned by Thucydides, t for it did not prevail in Attica until the citizens had attained to peaceful and civilized habits of life, and laid aside those barbarons practices which had been incident to themselves, in common with all nations, while they remain rude and uncultivated.
Cluverius, following Dionysius of Halicarnassus, has conceived the Aborigines to have been identical with the Pelasgi, which, however, is an untenable hypothesis. The name would indicate that they were the earliest settlers in Italy, and yet certain legends represent them as having been driven from their settlements by the Sicani or Siculi.I Niebuhr considers the Siculi as the same with the Pelasgi, and Virgil apparently consounds them with the Sicani. The latter are sometimes said to have been the earliest inhabitants of the country, and to have been driven out by the Aborigines : sometimes they are asserted to have been preceded by the Pelasgi. Indeed, both of these opinions are stated by Servius in different and conflicting parts of his useful, but tedious and unsafe commentary.* The Fauni are also termed by him indigenous,t-hence they must have been considered in some accounts as the primitive people. Every thing is, accordingly, in the utmost confusion : and we have thus five races, the Aborigines, the Sicani, the Siculi, the Pelasgi and the Fauni, confounded and mixed up together, and all claiming the honours of the first occupation of the Italian soil. We know some of the towns of the Aborigines,—the name of their capital, Lista,—their earliest settlements,-the course of their migrations, their principal deities, and four of their kings, Saturn, Picus, Faunus and Latinus. The migrations of the Sicani and the Siculi remain also on record, but they are given with such varying circumstances, that further confusion is produced, and we need not array the various passages relating to them with the prospect of only eliciting a very lame conclusion.
* Niebuhr, Hist. Rome-vol. i., p. 60. † Thucyd. lib., i., c. vi.
"Veleresque Sicani,” Virg. Æn. vii., 795. Bene veteres : nam ubi nunc Roma est, ibi fuerunt Sicani: quos postea pepulerunt Aborigines. Servius ad loc. 19
VOL. VII.-NO. 14.
It is possible, however, to introduce some little order into the vague wilderness of discrepance and error, in which the ancients leave us with respect to these tribes. The name of Faunus unites and identifies the Fauni and the Aborigines, who are connected with the Latini by that of Latinus. It is stated by Servius, f that the Aborigines and Sicani were amalgamated together in Latium, and formed the Latini. Servius appears to have blundered in giving the name of Sicani to the Siculi of Latium. These Siculi were probably the Pelasgians of Latium, and hence the tradition which represents the Pelasgians and the Sicani as both being the earliest settlers, is not necessarily contradictory, though it may be unfounded. There was an old tradition that the Aborigines were driven out from their pristine abodes, by certain wandering hordes who straggled down from Illyria along the eastern coasts of the Peninsula, and that when they occupied new regions they re-appeared under the names
• In the passage cited in the preceding note, and in the Comm. ad Virg. Æn. viii., 600, on the words 'veleres sacrâsse Pelasgos." Hi primum Italiam tenuisse pertubentur.
+ Fauni indigenæ. Servius ad Virg. Æn. viii., 328. 1 Ausones et Sicani convenæ. Serv. ad Virg. Æn. viii., 328. It will be seen that the Ausones were Aborigines. Virgil is accused of having confounded the Sicani with the Siculi, -vii. 795, viii. 342.
of Sabini, Casci, or Latini Prisci.* But Casci is merely another form of Osci, and thus we introduce a new element into our inquiry, apparently only with the prospect of increasing the confusion already sufficiently great, but in reality to furnish the thread which may guide us through the maze in which we are involved. The Osci, of which word the radical form is Opici, were therefore the same with the Aborigines, the Fauni, the Sabini, the Casci, the Latini Prisci, and, according to Niebuhr, with the Sacrani, the Lavici, the Pelasgi, hence with the Siculi of Latium ; but we cannot agree with him in identifying the Osci and Pelasgi, though this would still further reconcile the legends respecting the original settlement of the country. To this list add the Sabini, Apuli, Messapii, Campani, according to Micali; and the Volsci, Falisci, Sabelli, and Samnites, according to Michelet. With the most of these additions, the opinions of Niebuhr agree. The Ausones and Aurunci are, by the admission of all parties, only other forms of the name Osci.
Our reason for venturing to differ from Niebuhr, in regarding the Osci and the Pelasgi as from the same stock, is. easily given. In his own words, there is an evident affinity between the ungreek element of the Latin language and the Oscan;"4 and, in anotner place, he notices the discrepance between the Oscan and the Greek. The Oscan is undoubtedly the parent of the Latin, and its Greek element is still more indubitably to be deduced from the Pelasgian. This alone would lead us to dissent from the opinion of Niebuhr. We may admit, on the authority of Michelet, that the Oscan, Sabine and Latin languages were cognate, I but they were so from the large admixture of the Oscan in all of them, though the Pelasgian entered into the composition of the Latin.
We may now conclude that the Aborigines were the earliest inhabitants of Italy, and that they and the Osci were one people. Osci appears to be purely a national name,-it is one which the people bearing it might have given to themselves, and in its uncontracted form points to its own derivation- Opici-ops, whence also are derived opes, and opus. Michelet conjectures that the race may have been composed of two principal tribes,--the inhabitants of the mountains, Sabelli, and the lowlanders, Osci.* These would rather represent differences produced by habits of life, and geographical situation, than indicate radical dissimilarities or a distinct origin.
* Anthon, Class, Dict. Tit. Osci. Niebuhr, Hist. Rom., vol. i., pp. 59-60. † Hist. Rome, vol. I, p. 61, and compare p. 55.
Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rom., Introd. c. iv. $ Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rom., Introd. c. iv., cf. Buttmann's Lexiloglis., sem. 1, p. 68, n. 1, 2d ed.
"It is a frequent source of the most perplexing confusion, with regard to the ages of legendary history," says Niebuhr, "that many nations in early times consisted of several tribes, which are sometimes spoken of under their own name, some. times under the common one”t of the whole race. Hence, it is useless to attempt to distinguish too nicely between the several subdivisions into which a people of common descent becarne severed. The history of our own continent may teach us a lesson, which may be profitably remembered, while we are engaged in the examination of the Ante-Roman Races. The whole country was at one time ranged over by distinct bands of Indians,-they have a thousand and one different names, according to the time or the place of their appearance. The Yemassees of South-Carolina vanished after their signal defeat by Gov. Craven, and are supposed to have re-appeared in Florida as the Seminoles. In the same way, those who were once Muscoghees are now Creeks. Often, they have united with other tribes : the names of the Tuscaroras and the Lenni-Lennapi are heard no longer,the remains of those nations are swallowed up in the Six Nations of Canada. The Senecas are mixed with the Shawnees, the Peorias with the Kaskaskias, the Sacs with the Foxes, the Ottowas with Pottawatomies. Many tribes have disappeared entirely,—the Miamis, from the ravages of the small-pox, but recently; the Catawbas of this State are rapidly fading away; the last of the Mohicans; De Tocqueville met the last of the Iroquois in the course of his travels, and we have ourselves seen and known the last family of the pure blood of the Hurons. But all of these tribes are equally Indians, and we may readily conceive what inextricable confusion would ensue, if we were to attribute to the Indians generally, what was true of a particular collection of wigwams, or to one tribe what was true of another, or to the same one at all periods, what existed only at a particular time and in a particular settlement. And this obscurity
* Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rom., Introd. c. iv. + Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. i., p. 53.
would be infinitely increased, if we distinguished the ludian people from the separate tribes that entered into their composition. Yet this was universally the process by which the Greek and Roman antiquarians conducted their investigations into the primitive history of Italy; and we need not therefore be surprised at the maze of error in which they have involved themselves, to the singular discomfiture of any completely successful research by modern students.
We might have illustrated the obscurity of these ancient accounts by a reference to the history of England, from Julius Cæsar to the Conquest. The multiplicity of petty nations, all more nearly or remotely connected with each other,—their frequent amalgamations and disunions,—their subjection by foreign races, or admixture by them, would have furnished us with an instance of parallel difficulty, but at the same time have partially cleared up the subject, by explaining its cause. We have preferred to cite the case of the Indians, because it is immediately before our eyes, both as to time and place, and because we have available information respecting them.
If the numerous tribes of the Oscans were the race which first peopled Italy, they need not necessarily have been descended from the same apparent stock. The dissimilarities of the Indian languages have led to the presumption, that the multitude of Indian tribes must be referred to three fountain heads, but the discrepances between them are nowhere so great as to excite a doubt of their real affinity, or of the propriety of their general classification as one people. In the same way, it is sufficient for our purpose, if we conceive the Oscans to be all cognate, without attributing their origin in Italy to a single definite head.
We must not, however, overlook the fact, that at very early periods they became fused among themselves, and also amalgamated with foreign races, so that it would be hazardous to assert the pure Oscan blood of any tribe, during those ages to which our feeble traditions extend. This, however, is not necessary to enable us to arrive at those general conclusions, with respect to their manners and customs, and to their influence upon Roman institutions, which is all the knowledge that we can reasonably expect, at this late day, to attain unto.
It may then be assumed, as well from the name, as from the other information possessed by us, that the Osci of Italy