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The Sicani, Siculi, and Aborigines its earliest inhabitants—The Trojan colony-History of the Latins-Division of Latium into Antiquum and Novum, including the territories of the ancient Rutuli, Hernici, Volsci, Ausones, and Aurunci-Description-Roman ways.
THE earliest records of Italian history, as we are assured by Dionysius of Halicarnassus, (I. 9.) represented the plains of Latium as first inhabited by the Siculi, a people of obscure origin, but who would be entitled to our notice from the circumstance above mentioned, even had they not acquired additional historical importance from their subsequent migration to the celebrated island from thence named Sicily. It has been questioned however, and apparently on sufficient grounds, whether the statement of Dionysius, in regard to the first possession of Latium by the Siculi, be correct; for on their arrival in Sicily they are said to have found that island already occupied by the Sicani, who, as Thucydides Sicani. relates, (VI. 2.) came originally from the banks of the river Sicanus in Spain, having been driven from their country by the Ligurians; and as it is not probable that this people crossed over directly from Spain to Sicily, we must admit, with Freret, that
a It is called Sicoris by others. (Servius ad Æn. VIII. 328.) and
is generally supposed to be the
they likewise traversed Italy, and having gradually
Est antiquus ager Tusco mihi proximus amni,
EN. XI. 316.
Tum manus Ausoniæ et gentes venere Sicanæ.
EN. VIII. 328.
Rutuli veteresque Sicani.
EN. VII. 795.
Aulus Gellius also cites a passage from Phavorinus, in which the Sicani are noticed among the most early possessors of Latium; (I. 10.) and Pliny enumerates them with other ancient tribes belonging to that country which had in his day ceased to exist. (III.5. Cf. Macrob. Saturn. I.5. Amm. Marcell. XXX. 4.) Some authors, however, seem to have confounded them with the Siculi. (Solin. 7. Serv. ad Æn. VIII. 328.) But their authority is of little weight, and cannot outbalance the united testimony of Thucydides, Philistus, Diodorus Siculus, and others.
Respecting the Siculi, it is not easy to ascertain
b Freret has shewn satisfactorily, that we must ascribe to the Sicanian colony the traces of Iberian customs and lan
guage which existed in Corsica in the time of Seneca, as that philosopher asserted. (Mem. de I'Acad. t. xviii. p. 78.)
what was their origin, or the country which they occupied prior to their settlement in Italy. So remote indeed was the period of this event, that Dionysius appears to have considered them as settled there from time immemorial. (II. 1.) But this opinion is too unsatisfactory to allow the modern antiquary to acquiesce in it; accordingly we find many systems advanced by writers of that class respecting the origin of this ancient people. Olivieri concluded that they came from Greece, because Ancona is said by Pliny to have been founded by the Siculi, while other writers expressly call it a Greek city. But it is much more probable that by the Siculi of Pliny we are to understand a Syracusan colony, of which Strabo makes mention, and to which Juvenal alludes, when he calls the city in question the Doric Anconad. Freret, on the other hand, contended, that the Siculi were an Illyrian nation, who settled in Italy not long after the Liburni, a people of the same race, had established themselves in that country. This learned writer has not made us acquainted on what authority he grounded this assertion; but it is probable that he relied chiefly on a passage in Pliny, in which the Siculi are mentioned in conjunction with the Liburni, as having anciently possessed a considerable tract of country in the province which was afterwards called Picenum: he might also be induced to think that his opinion derived some support from Ptolemy, who mentions the Siculiotæ as a people
Dissert. sulla Fondazione di Pesaro. Hist. Letter. d'Italia, t. vi. p. 752.
a See vol. i. p. 281.
e Mem. de l'Acad. des Inscript. t. xviii. p. 76.
See vol. i. p. 279.
of Dalmatia. It would hardly be advisable, however, to adopt this opinion of Freret without further evidence, especially as it is found to be at variance with the express testimony of a writer whose authority, on matters connected with the history of Sicily, ought not to be hastily rejected, I mean that of Philistus of Syracuse, who, as Dionysius reports, (I. 22.) asserted, that the Siculi were Ligurians, and that having been driven from Italy by the Umbri and Pelasgi, they crossed over into Sicily. This is also the account which Silius Italicus has followed.
Post dirum Antiphate sceptrum et Cyclopia regna,
Not only, therefore, is the above notion of the origin of the Siculi preferable to that of Freret, as being grounded at least upon positive historical evidence, but as affording likewise as clear and intelligible a connection of events as we can hope to trace at so remote and obscure an epoch in the history of Italy.
There is no point so clearly established with respect to the Siculi as that of their having occupied, at a very early period, the Latin plains, and part of Etruria. Placed therefore on the western coast of. Italy, their connection with Liguria may readily be conceived, while their Illyrian origin becomes proportionably improbable. On the same supposition likewise we can well understand how this people may have been driven south along the western coast