Графични страници
PDF файл

were a rude, primitive people, of simple habits and uncultivated manners. Their employments varied according to the requirements and the capabilities of the regions in which they found their lots respectively cast. In the plains, they would be engaged principally in the cultivation of the soil and the other occupations of lowland husbandry : in the mountains they would tend sheep, and eke out their hardy subsistence by the labours or the pleasures of the chase. In these conjectures, we are not guided by the delusive play of the fancy, or we should be liable to the same objection to which Mrs. Hamilton Gray continually exposes herself. The remnants of the Oscan tongue furnish us with the clue to our inferences. Niebuhr has remarked, that all the Latin words applied to the chase are derived from the Oscan. And on the strength of a like fact, we conclude that the Oscans were a hardy, brave, and warlike people. They were represented by the Greeks, with whom they came in contact as enemies on the borders of Magna Græcia, as savage and barbarous. The Opican, or Oscan name, was applied in after times as an epithet of indignity to the Ro. mans, and was subsequently regarded at Rome itself as sy. nonymous with "barbarian."* Their territories, or rather their migrations, extended from the southern shore of the Tiber to the boundaries of Magna Græcia. Within these limits they built towns, and divided themselves into distinct governments. If the population of any district became too dense, or famine visited their dwellings, or the pestilence indicated the wrath of heaven, they strove to propitiate their deities by vowing to their service whatever the next spring might produce,—this was called the vow of the ver sacrum. The children that might be born were dedicated to heaven, as well as all other births ; but they were retained at home until the age of maturity, and then sent abroad, under suit. able leaders, to colonize new settlements for themselves. These youths were called Sacrani.t The name became in time mistaken for that of a people, and the Sacranæ aciest

* Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rom. Introd. c. iv. Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. i., p. 54.

+ On the ver sacrum and the Sacrani, see Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rom. Introd. c. iv. Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. 1, pp. 59, 65. Mrs. Hamilton Gray, Hist. Etruria, vol. i., pp. 53, 367.

Sacrana acies, Virg. Æn. vii., 796. After a foolish derivation from the Corybantes, Servius (ad loc) adds, “Alii sacranas acies Ardearum volunt, qui aliquendo, cum pestilentia laborarent, ver sacrum voverunt, unde sacrani dicti sunt.

are enumerated by Virgil in his long array of troops that resisted Æneas and his Trojan followers. This mode of irregular colonization tended to disseminate the Oscan race, but it may be naturally supposed that the warlike strangers would freely amalgamate with whatever tribes they might settle among. Thus new names would be formed, old habits modified or abandoned, national characteristics changed, language altered, and a host of difficulties presented to those adventurous antiquarians who might endeavour, in long subsequent ages, to trace back their lineage.

This mode of colonization was by no means peculiar to the Oscan people. The religious formalities of the ver sa. crum might possibly be neglected elsewhere, but a similar custom of sending out a prescribed portion of their youth, may be noticed amongst most people in the early stages of their civilization. The story of the “Laconian Phalanthus," and the hundred legends connected with the origin of the Greek colonies, would indicate its observance in Greece. A remarkable passage in Livy would point to its remote exista ence at Rome. * In its religious aspect, it had a partial counterpart among the Jews.t The irruptions of the Northern hordes into the Southern climes, are thus to be explained, so are the frequent expeditions of the Vikingr or Sea-Kings of the Northmen. The custom prevailed among all the Scandinavian races,-and, in Jutland, it was perpetuated and legalized by a special statute. So far from being startled at it as a strange observance, we should rather concur with Michelet, that "it is to be found among all barbarous na. tions.”I

This practice, however, appears to have been most sys. tematically adhered to by the Sabellians. These were among the Oscan tribes, for the hypothesis of Zenodotus, that they were the offspring of the Umbri, cannot be sus. tained, unless in following Mrs. Hamilton Gray in the adoption of this theory, we follow her also in conceiving the Umbri to be the same with the Ausones or Osci.ll If,

* Liv. lib. 22, c. X., 96 1—7. It is referred to by both Niebuhr and Michelet.

+ Exod. c. 13, vv. 1-16. Michelet, Origines du Droit Français, liv. 1, c. 1. The Irish, previous to St. Patrick's visit, used to devote their younger children to Saman. Ibid. The same practice prevailed among the Phænicians and Carthaginians : in all instances it might have been originally a sacrifice, afterwards commuted into exile.

& History of Etruria, vol. 1, c. 16, p. 367. l Ejusd. vol. 1, c. 4, p. 78.

moreover, we can have faith in the opinion confidently expressed by Cornelius Bocchus,* and which has been followed by some moderns, that the Umbri were of Celtic blood, we may simplify our investigations by regarding the Sabines, the Umbri, the Ausones, and the other cognate Oscan tribes, as Celts. And yet the information which we might thus acquire, would be of sn general a character, that we would learn no more from thus assigning their origin, than if we were to term them all children of Japhet, or sons of Adam. We must be content to recognize that near affinity be: tween the Oscans and Sabellians, which is proved by idenlity of language and other strong testimony. The Umbri we must leave entirely out of the inquiry for the present.

The Sabellian colonists were termed Mamertini as well as Sacrani, this naine being given to them because they were especially devoted to the great Sabine deity Mamers, Mavors or Mars. Hence, when Romulus and Remus are represented as children of Mars by a Vestal, when Mars is termed “Romanæ gentis origo," or "generis auctor,"—the real significance of the expressions may have reference solely to the setilement of a band of Mamertini or Sabellian Sacrani on the Roman Hills. These colonists descended from Amiter. num and the heights of the Abruzzi, into the more tempting plains already possessed by their Oscan kindred of the lowlands. They went forth conquering and to conquer,--they swept every thing before them, and established themselves wherever chance or inclination led them. Sometimes they trusted to the guidance of their sacred animals. “One coloa ny was led by a woodpecker, the bird of Mamers, into Pice. num, then peopled by Pelasgians or Liburnians s another by an ox, into the land of the Opicans,—this became the great Samnite people; the Hirpinians were guided by a wolf.”+ As the numbers of these colonies increased, they sent out new expeditions in their turn, and thus possessed themselves of nearly the whole of the southern part of Italy, without the limits of the country already occupied by the Greek towns when their gradual progress had carried them so far: It must be understood, however, that many, nay, the most,

* Anthon, Class. Dict., Tit. 'Umbri' Serv. ad Virg. Æn: xii. 753,where he mentions a fabulous origin assigned to them by Marcus Antoninus.

† Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. 1, p. 65. cf. Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rome, Introd. c. 4.

of their acquisitions, were made long after the fabulous times of Romulus and Taljus. It was not until A. U. C. 314, that they obtained possession of Capua,* and they were not firmly established there until A. U. C. 328.7 But several of their conquests were subsequent to these times.

The simple habits and rude tastes of the Sabellians, strengthened and probably formed by their primitive abode among the mountain fastnesses of the Abruzzi,-the warlike disposition and hardy temperament thereby engendered, and perpetuated by their custom of leaving their towns, whether on the plain or on the hill-top, wholly without forti. fications,—the necessity, which had long grown into a custom, of sending out their youth to discover a country for themselves, or wrest it from their possessors,-lhe love of military adventure, wbich was indicated by their worship of Mamers,—all contributed to the formation of an aggressive and conquering people. Hence, when we see them rapidly spread over the central and southern portions of Italy, it is the result we might naturally have expected from the conditions of iheir previous existence. The only surprise is, that a people having such glorious destinies within their own grasp, as the Sabellian nations, and particularly the Samnites, undoubtedly had, should not have preceded the Roinans in acquiring the mastery of the world, and crushed the nascent Rome before its sinews and muscles had yet har. dened into maturity, instead of leaving the honour of universal dominion to a people who succeeded them, and reserving to themselves the melancholy renown of being their last and most dangerous opponents among the nations of the Penin. sula. The vigor, the energy, the valor, the greatness of the Samnites, was displayed signally in their coniest with the Romans, during the Samnite wars, and memorably exbibited at the Caudine Forks. But this was the last great Italian struggle for independence,-their negligence had disregarded the rise and progress of the adverse power,--they declined, while the Romans rose into rivalry, and at length they yielded the palm of victory to a city, which aforetime they might often have strangled. But this was the sure result of that innate love of individual independence, which might perbaps be traced to the mode in which each of their

* Niebuhr, Hist. Rome, vol. 1, p. 66.

+ Niebubr, Hist. Rome, vol. 1, p. 67. Michelet, Hist. Rép. Rom. Introd. C. 4, and Anthon's Class. Dict. Tit. 'Capua.'

tribes had originated, and which led them to isolate themselves from their kindred states, forget their brotherhood, and wage frequent wars upon each other. This peculiarity is, however, so forcibly and appropriately exhibited by Niebuhr, that we prefer employing his language to substituting our own for it :

“The Sabellians," says he, “would have made themselves masters of all Italy, had they been united in one state, or even firmly knit in a confederacy, so as to appropriate their conquests permanently, holding them in dependence, and securing them by colonies. But they differed from the Romans, in valuing the enjoying the highest possible degree of freedom above all things: more than greatness and power, more than the lasting preservation of the state. Hence the tribes they planted were not bound to the mother country, but immediately became alien, and often hostile, to the state they had issued from: whereas Rome, whose colonies were of small numbers, was secure of their fidelity ; while by their means, and by imparting subordinate civil rights to her conquered enemies, she converted a body, far superior to her colonists in numbers, into loyal subjects.” * * “The Samnites and the Marsian confederacy, the Samnites and the Lucanians, were hostile to each other: the ancient Sabines and the Picentines took no interest in the affairs of the rest. But the Samnites, even standing alone, would never have fallen before the Romans, if they had enjoyed a similar constitution, and that unity to which the nations of antiquity never attained, except by means of a predominant capital." *

The course of our remarks will sufficiently indicate how totally distinct the various early tribes of Italy soon became; the conquests of the Sabellians were principally made at the expense of their Oscan brethren,-sometimes they warred with their cognate nations, ---sometimes they conquered and absorbed them,and frequently they amalgamated with them. In the latter of these modes, arose the Latins, and in time the Romans, though these sprung from the admixture of multifarious races.

But, before proceeding to the consideration of other peoples, it may not be amiss to express the conclusions which we may arrive at, from the scanty facts gleaned from a fragmentary tradition, relative to the religion of the Oscan tribes. For these we must depend almost entirely upon the industry and erudite synthesis of Michelet. Mrs. Hamilton Gray, who sees little but the Etruscans, or the Rasena by the banks of the Euphrates, by the shores of the Nile, and

Niebuhr, Rom. Hist. vol. 1, p. 72. cf. Michelet, Hist Rép. Rom. Introd. c. 4.

« ПредишнаНапред »