Italy Country Name Part I

By | February 23, 2022

According to Antiochus of Syracuse (Dion. Halic., I, 35), the name of Italy derived from that of a powerful prince of wine lineage, Italo, who would begin by reducing the extreme territory of the Italian peninsula under himself, between the Strait of Messina and the gulfs of Squillace and Sant’Eufemia, and, called this region by itself Italy, it would later conquer many other cities. This is one of the usual legends with an eponymic scheme, but we wanted to deduce that the original extension of the name of Italy did not cross the borders of the extreme tip of the peninsula, of which confirmation was sought in Hecatheus, of which we have fragments, which assign Medma, Locri, Caulonia to Italy; but it cannot be excluded that he also attributed other localities to Italy, and in the extension assigned by Antioco to the original name of Italy it is not lic. to see more than a simple author’s conjecture. What is certain is that, at the time he lived, the name of Italy designated the region between the Strait of Messina, the River Lao and the eastern border of the territory of Metaponto, as can be seen from Strabo (VI, 24) , and indeed Herodotus places Taranto in Italy (I, 93; III, 136, cfr. Dion. Halic., I, 73), but since even for Thucydides (VII, 33, 4) Italy begins in Metaponto, it is better stick to this boundary by then.

Aristotle ( Polit ., VIII, 1329  b ), following Antiochus, also derived the name of Italy from King Italo. Hellanicus, on the other hand (Dion. Hal., I, 35), recounted that, while Heracles was crossing Italy to bring the herd kidnapped from Geryon to Greece, a head of cattle escaped him, and, searching for it he frantically, and having learned that , according to the indigenous idiom, the beast had the name  vitulus , he called the whole region Ούιταλίαν. The essential of this story is the reconnection of the name of Italy with the voice  vitulus , which was also affirmed by Timaeus and Varro, when they justified that name as follows:  quoniam boves Graeca vetere lingua  ἰταλοι  vocitati sunt , quorum in Italia magna copia fuerit  (Gell,  N. A.  , XI, 1), because it is evident that ἰταλός in the sense of  vitulus would  in any case be an entry derived from Latin in the Greek of southern Italy. A figurative expression of the same reconnection occurs in the Oscan coins struck during the social war with the figure of the bull and in the epigraph  Viteliu , whether this word alludes to the capital of the Italics, Corfinio, which we see by writers as Italica, or must be understood as the name of the goddess Italy (see  Corp. Inscr .  Lat .  , IX, al. n. 6088).

If in accordance with these views of the ancients we admit this reconnection, we can simply explain it with the wealth in cattle of the region, especially in that part from which the name originated, or it may even be thought that the calf was the  totem  of the lineage. degl’Itali, remembering how the names of other Italic populations also derive from animals. And, after all, it is more likely that the region took its name from the people than vice versa.

However, the etymology of Italy from  vitulus  (Umbrian  vitlu ) flatters: the fall of the  initial  can easily be explained by having been the word transmitted to the Romans by means of the Greeks of southern Italy, and with the same reason o with the metric requirements we can explain the length of  the  initial i of  Italy  in front of  the short  of the first syllable of  vitulus . But if this derivation is accepted by most, there is no lack of historians, such as Niese, and glottologists, such as Walde, who consider it uncertain, and there are those who even deny it, such as M. Orlando.

During the century. IV a. C. the name of Italy extended, on the one hand, to Posidonia and, on the other, including Taranto (Dionys., I, 74, 4 and Strab., V, 209); around 300 a. C. extended to Campania (Theophr. At Athen., II, 43  b ). When then in the first decades of the century. III a. C. the whole peninsula, from the Arno and Aesis to the Strait of Messina, was administratively and militarily unified under Roman domination, and the different lineages that inhabited it, Latins, Sabelli, Etruscans, Apuli and Greeks were forced to fight under the insignia of Rome with the common designation of  togati , that is men of the toga, the name of Italy embraced the whole peninsula within the limits indicated.

Finally, the conquest of the Po Valley and the awareness of the geographical unity of the peninsula meant that during the century II the name Italy, while strictly retaining the political meaning up to the Arno-Aesis limit, actually extended to the whole territory between the Alps and the two Italian seas. The earliest records of this wider use of the name are in Polybius and Cato. And the official extension of the name to the whole peninsula was completed when Ottaviano in 42 abolished the Cisalpine province created by Silla and also included northern Italy in its division into regions (see below).

According to allcountrylist, the administrative union of Sicily, Sardinia and Corsica, which until then had formed a separate province, only occurred in Italy with Diocletian, who included the three islands in the  Italian diocese . It is also curious to note how the subdivision of the Italician diocese diocese into  annonaria  and  urbicaria  (the first corresponding to almost northern Italy with the Rezia, the second to central and southern Italy with the islands, and governed respectively by the  vicarius Italiae  resident in Milan, and by the  vicarius Urbis  residing in Rome) ensured that at the same time as the designation  Italy in a broad sense it also embraced the islands, on the other hand, in a more restricted sense it excluded not only the islands themselves, but also all or almost all of peninsular Italy.

Italy Country Name 1