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THE SEA BATTLE OF CUMAE, 474 BC

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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The prow and ram of the modern trireme Olympias.

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After  the  Etruscan  defeat  in  the  land  battle  of  Cumae  (524  BC),  the  Cumaeans  and  the  Etruscans  (or  Tyrrhenians or Tyrsenians) did  not  come  into  heavy  fighting  until  505  BC.  That  year,  the  Latins  of  the  small  city-state  Aricia  called  for  help  the  Cumaeans  against  the  Etruscans.  In  505  BC  the  Aricians,  the  Romans  and  the  other  Latins  revolted  against  the  Etruscan  rule,  gaining  their  independence,  but  the  Tyrrhenians  had  returned  under  the  leadership  of Larth  Porsena, the powerful  warlord  of  the  city-state  Clusium  (Etruscan  Clevsin).  Porsena  was  sent  by  the  Etruscan  Confederacy  (‘Dodekapolis’)  and  managed to recapture  rebellious  Rome.  Then  he  returned  to  Clusium  to  deal  with  other  enemies  of  the  Tyrrhenians,  leaving  Larth  Aruns, his  son,  to  reconquer  the  other  cities  of  Latium.

The  Aricians  called  the  Cumaeans  for  help,  who  acceded  to  their  request  in  order  to  accomplish  a  preventative  blow  to  their  Tyrrhenian  enemies.  The  aristocratic  rulers  of  Cumae  dispatched    a  military  expedition  to  Aricia under  Aristodemos,  a veteran  hero  of  the  battle  of  Cumae.  The  Cumaeans  knew  that  sooner  or  later  the  Etruscans  would  again  march  against  them.  The  Greek  ships  sailed  to  the  Latin  coast  and landed in  the  territory  of  the  Laurentes,  the  people  of  the  city-state  Lavinium.  The  Greek  military  force  disembarked and  marched  to  Aricia.  The  city  was  under  siege  by  the  Etruscans  under  Aruns.  The  Cumaeans  joined  forces  with  the  Aricians  and  other  Latins  and  confronted  the  Tyrrhenians  in  a  hoplite  battle  (the  main  battle  troops  of  the  Etruscans,  Greeks  and  Latins  of  this  period  were  their  Greek-style  hoplite  phalanxes). Continue reading

ON THE TYPES OF THE ETRUSCAN HELMETS

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By Periklis Deligiannis

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A typical Negau helmet.
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The Etruscan weaponry was probably the most diversiform in the ancient world. The archaeological finds denote that the Etruscans (or Tyrrhenians or Tyrsenians) were very fond of their weaponry and armoury. They were taking much care of their weapons, in order to be effective and forceful but also elegant. Some of the Tyrrhenian weapons were real works of art, but always lethal. It has been estimated that the Etruscan armies had a magnificent appearance. During the seven centuries of their military history, the Tyrrhenians were using defensive armour and offensive weapons of Anatolian, native Italian (mostly Umbrian and Early Oscan), Venetic (ancient Venetian), Archaic and Classical Greek (Southern mainland and Macedonian), Assyrian, Punic and other Semitic, Iberian, Celtic (La Tene culture), Hellenistic Greek, Late Oscan, Campanian and other origins. But it would be wrong to consider them as common copyists. Although they ‘borrowed’ a large part of their weaponry from other peoples and warlike cultures, they developed it enough to produce their own distinct types of effective and elegant weapons.

etruscan visor mask.Vulci, V c B.C.

Etruscan visor for the protection of the cheeks and the chin. It was added to Negau, ‘hat’-type or other ‘open’ types of helmet (Vulci, V cent B.C.)

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ETRUSCAN WARFARE: ARMY ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS (Part II)

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Larth Porsena’s Etruscan army is concentrating outside Rome (top left) – a classic artwork by Peter Connolly. Porsena on the right is giving orders. A large variety of Tyrrhenian/Τyrsenian weaponry is depicted. The strong Greek influence is obvious, as well as the Italian elements.
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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Continued from  Part I

Despite Titus Livius’ reference to the “numerous Etruscan warriors”, they would be quite more numerous if their society was organized more democratically, a brilliant evolution of the Greek city-states which the Tyrsenians persistently refused to follow mainly because of ethno-social reasons. Livy quotes that in 225 BC the Etruscans and the Sabini raised 50,000 infantry and 4,000 cavalry to assist Rome against the Celts. Taking into account that in this year the heavy-populated Southern Etruria was already Roman territory, and some other parameters, we reach an estimate of 80,000 combatants (men able for service) for late 6th century BC Etruria. A poor figure for a country that as has been calculated by British and Italian scholars, it had a population of around 600,000-800,000 (higher and lower trustworthy estimates). In comparison, the Greek regions of Italy and Sicily had a significantly higher percentage of combatants on their total population, because of their higher politico-economic system, mainly their democratic or milder aristocratic regime. Because of this lack of combatants, a significant portion of the armies of the Tyrsenians consisted of their vassals, allies or mercenaries, such as the Umbrians, Latins, Oscans, Golaseca culture Celts and others.
Besides the infantry, the Etruscan armies had also strong cavalry units. However the Tyrrhenian horsemen used to fight on foot, ie their horses were mostly a transport. They were fighting on horseback only when they had to confront enemy cavalrymen. That is why their equipment was essentially hoplite. The harness of the horses belonged to Greek types. The war chariot was introduced in Etruria around the late 8th century BC, but it is very doubtful if it was used as a shock weapon. After the prevalence of the Greek-type hoplite phalanx it became a transport of the Etruscan generals, until the 5th century BC when it disappeared from the battlefields. After that, the chariot was used for the Triumphs of the Tyrsenian generals, a legacy that was inherited to the Triumphs of the Roman consuls.

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ETRUSCAN WARFARE: ARMY ORGANIZATION AND TACTICS (Part I)

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chariotA Tyrrhenian war chariot, used especially in ceremonies.
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By Periklis Deligiannis

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In antiquity, at least ten different ethno-linguistic groups shared the Italian Peninsula and the neighboring islands. Its fertile land attracted invaders and colonizers coming from various other regions. Only two of these ethno-linguistic families were Italian (Italic); the Latin group and the Osco-Umbrian group, which were a minority among the peoples of the newcomers. All the rest were migrants from elsewhere:  The Iapyges (Iapygians) and the Piceni of eastern Italy spoke Proto-Illyrian languages, originating partly from the opposite Dalmatian coast. The Ligurians in the north-west were a very ancient people who formerly used to live in much of Western Europe. The Veneti or Eneti of the north-eastern country, ancestors of the modern Venetians, were in a similar ethno-linguistic position. Many scholars believe that they were an Illyrian people.

The Siculi (or Sikels), Sardi and Corsi who lived in Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica respectively, have been linked by the modern researchers to two of the renowned “Sea Peoples” of the Aegean Sea who created havoc around the Eastern Mediterranean at the end of the Bronze Age, namely the Shekelesh (Shklsh) and the Sherden or Shardana (Shrdn). These two migrant seafaring tribes, rather of Anatolian origin, were possibly mixed with the Ligurian and Iberian natives of these islands to produce the aforementioned peoples. The Corsi seem to have been an offshoot of the Sherden/Sardi. The other two peoples of Sicily, namely the Elymi (Elymians) and the Sikani had rather ‘Iberian origins’ accorging to the ancient Greek writers, that is to say rather being natives of the local Mediterranean pre-IE ethnolinguistic substratum. The same goes for the natives of Sardenia and Corsica (living at those isles before the coming of the Sea Peoples). The Phoenicians, skillful Canaanite sailors and colonists, settled later in Sicily and Sardinia.

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