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The Etruscans de Michael Grant

The Etruscans (original: 1980; edição: 1980)

de Michael Grant

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1813114,955 (3.14)1
Título:The Etruscans
Autores:Michael Grant
Informação:New York: Scribner, c1980. xv, 317 p., [24] p. of plates : ill., 24 maps ; 25 cm.
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
Etiquetas:Archaeology, Etruscan

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The Etruscans de Michael Grant (1980)


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In his brief introduction to the 1997 edition of this book, Grant noted that nothing truly major had changed in our understanding of the Etruscans between then and the book's original 1980 appearance. Taking a quick and very layman look at the Wikipedia and other sources on the Internet, that still seems to be true - with the exception of genetic studies of that seem to support Herodotus' contention of an Asia Minor origin for the Etruscans.

However, the whole question of Etruscan origins seems to annoy professional Etruscanologists. Etruscans became Etruscans in Italy regardless of where the people migrated from they argue. Besides, Grant points out the linguistic, logistical, and cultural evidence arguing against accepting Herodotus' claim of a migration from Lydia forced by famine.

The problem with studying the Etruscans is we have to rely on Roman and Greek sources. Besides badmouthing their morals - particularly the freedom women were allowed, fat Etruscan men, and creating stories of them as perpetual enemies of Rome, they also distorted our view of Etruscan politics and culture. There never was, argues Grant, an Etruscan League in any sense but a group that held periodic religious festivals. Instead, Grant organizes his book around the idea of Etruscan city states. These city states had satellite cities and sometimes warred with each other. They differed in their economic basis - though the wealth of most Etruscan cities was based on iron, copper, and tin which drew trade with Greek cities and the Carthaginians. Their burial customs varied as did the output of their artisans.

However, they were bound together by language and cultural similarities and probably the activity of political adventurers who founded new cities or overthrew the rulers of old ones and formed alliances with Greek colonies and, of course, Rome. The Eternal City itself was under Etruscan kings - for how long is a matter of dispute. The ambitious, most famous Etruscan of all - Lars Porsenna - may have actually taken Rome and set up its first consuls as his clients.

In the first part of the book, Grant lays out the influences that shaped Etruscan art, how villages consolidated into cities in the eighth century BC, and the Etruscan expansion north and south in the Italian peninsula. The second part of the book is a detailed look at the seven major Etruscan city states. Grant covers their art, economic wealth, and history. Particularly interesting are the cities of Clusium, with whom Rome had a long and cordial relationship, and Veii, Rome's nearest Etruscan neighbor and frequent rival. It was Veii's destruction at Roman hands in 396 BC that signaled - particularly when other Etruscan cities did not come to its aid - dominance of the peninsula passing from Etruscan to Roman hands.

It would be entirely possible to read just the last chapter, "Summing Up", and get a pretty good idea of Etruscan history and the problems pinning down their origins as a people if not a culture. The book ends with a four page chronological table showing simultaneous events in Etruria, South Italy and the Greek West, Latium and Rome, North Italy, Greece, and Phoenician and Carthaginian centers.

The book's maps are particularly good. All the places mentioned in the text - including those outside of Italy - are shown with each Etruscan city state getting its own territorial map. Of special interest, given their importance to Etruscan wealth, security, and trade, are navigable rivers and harbors which no longer exist in modern Italy.

The book's photos are all black and white, frankly inferior to stuff you can find on the internet. And you can find a lot of the historical and archaeological information there too. But those looking for a concise summary or just admirers of Grant's lucidity may still want to check this book out. ( )
  RandyStafford | Mar 11, 2012 |
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. After dallying for years on starting a study of the classical world, I finally stepped in and regret waiting so long. Michael Grant's writing style is very fun to read if you are a semi-serious historian. If not then you may find it dry and boring anyway. He uses nice turns of phrase and has a way of making dull textbook data on the geography of ancient Etruria seem more fun and easier to remember than alot of history writers out there. That's a nice touch. Anyway, on to the book itself. It is broken down into an introductory section, where the reader meets all the players (the cities and colonies) in the Mediterranean area of 800-400 BC, then there is a chapter devoted to each of the provinces controlled by the Etruscans. These chapters tell a story of how the different regions were at odds with each other and were not the 'all for one and one for all' generic Etruscans in the Greek and Roman histories. As the Etruscans have virtually no writings that have survived, and no one even knows where their language (or people) came from, these are the main sources of information on their culture, other than the archaeological digs of their cemeteries. There are virtually no remains of their cities as the hilltops and crags that they inhabited were occupied for who knows how long before the Etruscan golden era, and are still inhabited today. That leaves little room for traditional archaeology. And besides, when your enemy writes about you as being 'pirates' and 'raiders', they usually won't take the time to get the facts straight. In fact, the Romans were famous for rewriting their histories to make themselves appear in a better light. I should add that Etruria was directly bordering Rome to Rome's north, (roughly eqivalent to modern Tuscany, that being the northern west coast of Italy) across the Tiber River and you can make a point that Rome's domination began when Veii founded a colony on Rome's bank of the Tiber and the neighbors went to war over territory and the salt flats at the river mouth. Before all this, Rome was ruled by a series of semi-legendary Etruscan kings, whose overthrow led to the rise of the Republic culminating in the new government sending an army out to attack its Etruscan neighbor Veii and conquering it in 396 BC. The other Etruscan centers were happy to see their rich neighbor vanish and within a hundred years were all swallowed up by Imperial Rome on their way to dominating the main continent of Europe. Before their exit as an independent regional power, however, they managed to spread their version of the Phoenician alphabet northwards into what would become Gothic Germany and southwards into Rome and Latium, and we still use the alphabet and parts of the Latin language today. In fact, you are reading the Roman version of the Etruscan alphabet right now. Neat, huh? This should be an essential reference for anyone seriously interested in the Classical world, as it is probably the best source for information on this obscure era of pre-Roman history. ( )
  DirtPriest | Sep 13, 2010 |
I wanted to know more about the Etruscans: however, this book was so durned dry and boring that I did not get anything out of it. If time has buried all traces of the Etruscans, then certainly this book simply exhumed the remains and reinterred them. ( )
  nemoman | Feb 17, 2008 |
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