The Expansion of the Etruscan City States

Michael Grant describes how the most essential single fact in the whole history of the Etruscans was their division into separate city states.

The joint editorship of History Today by Peter Quennell and Alan Hodge has constituted a memorable epoch. Like so many others I greatly admire their success during these twenty-nine years. They have done an enormous amount to make popularization the respectable word it deserves to be. They have made history enjoyable. It is very sad that Alan Hodge has not lived to read this number of their journal, designed as a tribute to the achievement of himself and his colleague.

The subject I have chosen as a part of this tribute is one which I believe would have appealed to him, and will, I hope, be of interest to Peter Quennell also, not because I can lay claim to any special merits in my treatment of it, but because of the nature of the questions the theme itself raises. For any study of the Etruscans involves a peculiar and piquant combination of various kinds of historical evidence, for the most part hard to assess - and thus presents a problem that none could be better equipped to appreciate than the editors of History Today.

Authorities on the topic do not like hearing Etruscans referred to as ‘mysterious’, with all that word’s undertones of cranky, over-dramatic theories. Yet it must at least be admitted that they need a good deal of careful investigation before they yield a picture that is anything but obscure.

Etruria, their traditional homeland, was one of the most beautiful and diversified regions of the ancient world. It corresponded roughly with the modern Tuscany and the northern half of Lazio. That is to say, it extended from the Arno in the north to the Tiber in the south. Towards the east, the upper Tiber was its boundary, with Umbria beyond. Where the Etruscans who inhabited this territory ‘came from’ has always been a famous conundrum.

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