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Are Italians the direct descendents of Romans?


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#1 General_Zhaoyun

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 10:17 PM

As my knowledge on Roman history is lacking, I hope someone can clarify my doubt.

I'm just wondering. Are today's Italian the direct descendents of the ancient Romans?

How do ancient Romans look like? Do they have the "meditarraneans look" (with black hair) like today's Italian, Spanish?
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#2 kaiselin

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 10:35 PM

Not all Italians are dark Mediterranean type. You find blonds in northern Italy.

Edited by kaiselin, 21 August 2008 - 10:35 PM.

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#3 mariusj

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Posted 21 August 2008 - 10:47 PM

But Romans are really like Americans, a bunch of different people from different places gathered in one place [in this case, a city instead of a country] for a reason [in this case, been captured instead of searching for a dream], so you have man with black hair like southern Italians, sandy blond like Pompeii and red blonds like Sulla and golden blond like Caesar [all of whom at one point were not Romans]

Besides, I would say the Greeks are more like decedents of the Romans then the Italians simply due to the fact that the Greeks were under Roman influence longer then the Italians.

#4 RinKew

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 12:12 AM

But Romans are really like Americans, a bunch of different people from different places gathered in one place [in this case, a city instead of a country] for a reason [in this case, been captured instead of searching for a dream], so you have man with black hair like southern Italians, sandy blond like Pompeii and red blonds like Sulla and golden blond like Caesar [all of whom at one point were not Romans]

Besides, I would say the Greeks are more like decedents of the Romans then the Italians simply due to the fact that the Greeks were under Roman influence longer then the Italians.


According to Roman mythology, and Vergil :) Romans are descendants of Trojans from Asia minor. Aeneas killed a local Etruscan prince and took up with a wife there. Romulus and Remus (the founders that Romans themselves attribute their origins) are born from that lineage. Aeneas made his landing in Italy first not Greece.

it's incorrect to say that Greeks were under Roman influence first before Italians. Because the local people living in what is now Italy were killed off and then married with Trojans to give birth to the start of the Roman nation. The ironic thing is... Aeneas left Troy because of Agamemnon (a Greek) wanted his wife back from Paris. So the Greeks destroyed Troy. Later the Trojans gave it back to the Greeks in the form of Romans :)

Greece became a province of Roman rule after the the Third Punic War where they destroyed Carthage, wikipedia lists it at 146 BCE.

Lol! My first historical post and it's about Romans... great :P

*I edited it because I decided to correctly capitalize words :P I probably sound more official :)*

Edited by RinKew, 22 August 2008 - 12:17 AM.


#5 taiji in motion

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 12:40 AM

Not all Italians are dark Mediterranean type. You find blonds in northern Italy.


The Blondish people in northern Italy is a result of Germanic tribe invasion/settlement - they are the germanic Lombard and the region is called Lombardy (capital Milan). During the barbarian invasion of western europe after the Roman Empire declined, the germanic tribes streamed into western Europe: the Anglo-Saxon to Britain, the Franks into France, the Lombards into northern Italy, the Visi Goths into Spain, etc...
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#6 changsham

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 12:54 AM

Hi all, I am of Italian descent and have looked into this in the past. I can agree with Mariusj that Italy has been a European, west Asia and North African melting pot perhaps more so than anywhere else until modern times. While Roman is the foundation for Italian culture the actual population could have any of dozens of diferent peoples in the mix.
But I would dispute that Greeks are closer to Romans than Italians. I think Mariusj is refering to the Eastern Roman Empire which was based in Constantinople after the fall of Rome. The empire in its heyday was centered on Rome and all Italian culture stems from there. Italian has a latin culture and language in a direct line from Roman culture whilst Greece has a unique language and culture and share similarities to other eastern countries in Europe and Asia.

It must be remembered that Italy was never a unified country from Roman times and up until the late 19th century. In between it was fragmented into numerous small states and Kingdoms.

Italian peoples can have any or all of the below combinations mixed into their ancestral blood depending where they came from.

Italy has always seen numerous immigrants over the centuries starting from Roman times which complicate things further. It is also worth noting that the Chinese are currently the 4th largest immigrant minority in Italy.


Heres a broad outline of ethnic influences.
Celts, Slavs and Germanic people in the North.
Latins including Romans.
Other Italic peoples
Arabs and North African in the south.
Greeks and Albanians in the south.
Scandinavians, Greeks and Arabs in Sicily.
Numerous ancient peoples of Indo European, Semetic and Aboriginal heritage such as Etruscans and Illyrians.

In sum total, Italians can be considered descendants from Romans and a mixture of inhabitants from the rest of the Roman Empire with some later barbarian invaders.

Edited by changsham, 22 August 2008 - 02:27 AM.

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#7 Yun

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 02:32 AM

Besides, I would say the Greeks are more like decedents of the Romans then the Italians simply due to the fact that the Greeks were under Roman influence longer then the Italians.


If you mean descent in terms of cultural heritage, then the Italians and Greeks are both cultural descendants of the Roman Empire, but in different ways. The Greeks owe their heritage to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which became culturally very different from the early Roman Empire. The Italians owe much of their cultural heritage to the Italian Renaissance, which was to a large extent a revival of pre-Christian Roman culture without its religious elements. So the Romanness of the modern Italians is based on an early type of Romanness, while that of the modern Greeks is based on a late type of Romanness.

Genetically speaking, the Romans of Italy have received genes from Greeks, Goths, Lombards, and Franks during the first millennium AD, while the Greeks have received genes from Slavs, Italians, and Turks at least up to the Greek War of Independence.

The ancient Romans were largely brunettes and not very tall, with a type of mildly hooked, high-bridged nose that is popularly known as the Roman Nose: http://en.wikipedia....i/Aquiline_nose
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#8 liuzg150181

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 03:50 AM

It must be remembered that Italy was never a unified country from Roman times and up until the late 19th century. In between it was fragmented into numerous small states and Kingdoms.


Like what Mitternich,the shrewd Austrian Chancellor during 19th century, had said about Italy:"Italy is just a geographical expression."

#9 mariusj

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 05:12 AM

According to Roman mythology, and Vergil :) Romans are descendants of Trojans from Asia minor. Aeneas killed a local Etruscan prince and took up with a wife there. Romulus and Remus (the founders that Romans themselves attribute their origins) are born from that lineage. Aeneas made his landing in Italy first not Greece.

it's incorrect to say that Greeks were under Roman influence first before Italians. Because the local people living in what is now Italy were killed off and then married with Trojans to give birth to the start of the Roman nation. The ironic thing is... Aeneas left Troy because of Agamemnon (a Greek) wanted his wife back from Paris. So the Greeks destroyed Troy. Later the Trojans gave it back to the Greeks in the form of Romans :)

Greece became a province of Roman rule after the the Third Punic War where they destroyed Carthage, wikipedia lists it at 146 BCE.

Lol! My first historical post and it's about Romans... great :P

*I edited it because I decided to correctly capitalize words :P I probably sound more official :)*


And of the 32 clans of Rome, how many were with Romulus and Remus?

Like I said, Cato the Censor, or called Elder, was not from Rome but he is perhaps the staunchest of the Romans; and please read my post as I don't feel repeat myself on other famous Romans whose ancestors were not from Roma. My point been that Rome took many immigrants and its no longer homogeneous even during its Monarch days.

Then, I said Greece was under Roman influence far longer then Italians, not earlier. Greece was part of the Roman Empire far longer then Italy, it became minor bits and pieces of forgotten glory while the eagle standard still fly on today's Greek soil. So you mistake me and assume I am speaking of the Greeks and the Italians during the Republic days while I am speaking of the Imperial days.

#10 mariusj

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 05:35 AM

If you mean descent in terms of cultural heritage, then the Italians and Greeks are both cultural descendants of the Roman Empire, but in different ways. The Greeks owe their heritage to the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire, which became culturally very different from the early Roman Empire. The Italians owe much of their cultural heritage to the Italian Renaissance, which was to a large extent a revival of pre-Christian Roman culture without its religious elements. So the Romanness of the modern Italians is based on an early type of Romanness, while that of the modern Greeks is based on a late type of Romanness.

Genetically speaking, the Romans of Italy have received genes from Greeks, Goths, Lombards, and Franks during the first millennium AD, while the Greeks have received genes from Slavs, Italians, and Turks at least up to the Greek War of Independence.

The ancient Romans were largely brunettes and not very tall, with a type of mildly hooked, high-bridged nose that is popularly known as the Roman Nose: http://en.wikipedia....i/Aquiline_nose


Well, again, I think I got in to trouble with these comments, but still, these are what I think.

I answer the question of are Italians direct decedents of the Romans, in which several possible answers [and we will completely ignore the fake Czars, and Kaizers, and other different versions of non-Roman claims] among them the Greeks and the Italians are perhaps the best and only glimpse of the once great and glorious civilization.

However, if we were to speak on if there are any direct decedents, then the answer would be Europe is. The concept of Italians are direct decedents of Romans can only be base on two claims [both of which are valid in circumstances] one is that they were part of the Roman Empire [WERE] and two is that the Italian Renaissance. If we were to only speak of the Roman Republic, then certainly they are definitely the only visible and traceable heirs, but Romans later built a vast and wide Empire that span throughout Europe, and the claim that Italians were part of Roman Empire were clearly beaten by the Greeks as the Greeks were under Roman Influence even after the Western Empire fall apart. We might call them Eastern and Western Empire, but I am quite sure if I were to jump back in time and ask them, in Greek, if they are from the Western or Eastern they would reply to me that they are the Roman Empire. So the first claim that Italians were somehow a better heir due to a historic influence was beaten by the Greeks.

Then on the concept of Italian Renaissance, it is less dependable then the historic influence one b/c EVERYONE was influenced by it. Its not like the Italians got a patent on the Roman scrolls etc etc, so how does one justify that its b/c the Renaissance that Italians gets to be the direct decedents? How was everyone else [the French, the Brits, the Prussians, or whatever they call themselves back then]

Then I must went back to the Italians were more like the Western Empire while the Greeks got the Eastern Empire story.

In truth, the Italians in fact have LESS claim historically simply b/c the Italians were Allies of People and the Senate of Rome, while the Greeks were governed by Roman governors during the Republic era. I would bet that there are more Romans in Greece then there were Romans [not in Roma] in Italy. Most people were either Latin Rights holder or.... third class citizen. So in contemporary sense of direct association, the Greeks have to follow Roman laws while the Italian govern themselves, what does this tell you of the Italians?
---------
Now, allow me to express further that I am not looking down on Italians or Greeks or the Romans [or whatever else], I am simply speaking my mind.
----------

So in the Republic days the Italians have to fight a war to try to get their citizenship [the Civic War, I believed], which tells you they are at maximum no better off then the Greeks - now I realize someone will say but the Greeks fought against Rome in several occasion, one of which was during Sulla's reign, but that is
just like the Persians rolling over everyone else, you can either die now or perhaps die tomorrow which the obvious choice was die tomorrow, perhaps.

Then during the Imperial days, citizenships were given to random barbaric tribes that would make Cato swallow even more hot coals and turn in his grave, in that sense, how were the Italians have any better claim then everyone who got their citizenship? Its like all Americans are equal, b/c there is nothing special if everyone is special. And like my previous claims that the Greek were under Roman reign longer then the Italians, it also apply to other regions like the Balkans that were under Roman control longer then Italy was [and Italy was not under Roman control, but like a very lose feudal contract b/w the Senate and whatever leadership Italy manage to provide until the Civic War - though a pity they did not win, then we won't even have this discussion]

#11 mariusj

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 05:48 AM

Hi all, I am of Italian descent and have looked into this in the past. I can agree with Mariusj that Italy has been a European, west Asia and North African melting pot perhaps more so than anywhere else until modern times. While Roman is the foundation for Italian culture the actual population could have any of dozens of diferent peoples in the mix.
But I would dispute that Greeks are closer to Romans than Italians. I think Mariusj is refering to the Eastern Roman Empire which was based in Constantinople after the fall of Rome. The empire in its heyday was centered on Rome and all Italian culture stems from there. Italian has a latin culture and language in a direct line from Roman culture whilst Greece has a unique language and culture and share similarities to other eastern countries in Europe and Asia.

Yes, there are many many people whose nick name is the forbidden N word b/c that word in Latin [well, could be Greek.... beats me] meant black hair, while Caesar meant, well.... blond hair. [Note. When I use the nick name, I don't meant Rofus the Red, but rather as in Geneus [first] Strabo [nick] Pompeii [clan] where Strabo meant crosseye, there are other names like Caesar, meant man of blond hair, N----- ment man of black [I think its both black and curly] hair, Rufus meant man of red hair, there are other names such as surviver of the twins, etc etc. Now, other people add more names to their long name where you curse them b/c you have to remember them for your history exam, like, Germania, would be something hinting the conquering of Germans, etc etc]

The culture mix was there long before any of the Germanic invasion. There are Celts, Jews, Arabs [I believe the term already came to use... ?], Africans [depends on which part...] and Asia Minor people [Asian Minorians ?haha]

But as for the Empire in its heyday was centered in Rome, I have to disagree. The reason why the Capital was moved was because the Empire reach its heyday, and that Rome was simply to far for many places within the Empire.

Then the two Emperor system [whatever cool scholarly names you got for those?] where Augustus was the senior and Caesar was the minor [Caesar would roll in his grave] tells you which part is the center of the Empire, the Augustus Constantine or Caesar Roma.

Then on language, I must remind EVERYONE that the ROMANS speak GREEK. GREEK was the cultured language, much like French when France kicked a** [well... I actually don't know when it began or when it will end, but since I think it is still in Olympic, I assume French will be there for a long time to come that have nothing to do with their military might or cultural strength.] Latin was considered the uncultured form of language and everyone in Italy speaks it, except for the Romans - if you speak Latin you were considered uneducated, when Marius entered the Senate, people try to fight him by claiming his Greek has a hint of Asian accent [Persians] and that attack worked.

So I don't think the Italians have any better claim when Romans just straight up speaks Greek.

It must be remembered that Italy was never a unified country from Roman times and up until the late 19th century. In between it was fragmented into numerous small states and Kingdoms.

Italian peoples can have any or all of the below combinations mixed into their ancestral blood depending where they came from.

Like someone said, its an expression :)

But seriously, there was any Italian nationalism till the 19th century [well I am sure there are some Italian nationalism before that.... but nothing serious] and that Italy was never unified save in the form of Roman Empire [not even the Republic] and that the Empire wasn't just Italy, [in the sense that you can say Chinese Empire is China, Roman Empire cannot be equate to Italy ------ very loosely usage of Chinese, just to express my case] but a giant chunk of Europe [I don't think Roman influence ever went to the Lithuanian or Polish area..... correct me though if I am wrong]

Italy has always seen numerous immigrants over the centuries starting from Roman times which complicate things further. It is also worth noting that the Chinese are currently the 4th largest immigrant minority in Italy.

I think Italy was perhaps the biggest immigrant recipient back then, after Catherage was destroyed. Mainly due to its need for talents and service and labor. With it as the only real water trading running around, it needs more hand and labor then it ever before, and I think that is one reason why Rome was quite prosperous.

Edited by mariusj, 22 August 2008 - 05:52 AM.


#12 LongMa

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 06:05 AM

The Blondish people in northern Italy is a result of Germanic tribe invasion/settlement - they are the germanic Lombard and the region is called Lombardy (capital Milan). During the barbarian invasion of western europe after the Roman Empire declined, the germanic tribes streamed into western Europe: the Anglo-Saxon to Britain, the Franks into France, the Lombards into northern Italy, the Visi Goths into Spain, etc...



There were Germans and Celts in Rome long before the Lombards who were part of the military or incorporated into Roman territory (Southern Germania was part of the Roman Empire since...I believe the 12-9 BCE (in the time right after Caesar...maybe Marcus Arillius).

Genetic tests have shown Etruscans (the people the early Romans absorbed and intermarried with came from Asia Minor).

he origin of the Etruscan people has been a source of major controversy for the past 2,500 years and several hypotheses have been proposed to explain their language and sophisticated culture, including an Aegean / Anatolian origin. To address this issue, we analyzed the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 322 subjects from three well-defined areas of Tuscany and compared their sequence variation with that of 55 Western Eurasian populations. Interpopulation comparisons reveal that the modern population of Murlo a small town of Etruscan origin is characterized by an unusually high frequency (17.5%) of Near Eastern mtDNA haplogroups. Each of these haplogroups is represented by different haplotypes, thus dismissing the possibility that the genetic allocation of the Murlo people is due to drift. Other Tuscan populations do not show the same striking feature; however, overall ~5% of mtDNA haplotypes in Tuscany are shared exclusively between Tuscans and Near Easterners and occupy terminal positions in the phylogeny. These findings support a direct and rather recent genetic input from the Near East a scenario in agreement with the Lydian origin of Etruscans. Such a genetic contribution has been extensively diluted by admixture, but it appears that there are still locations in Tuscany, such as Murlo, where traces of its arrival are readily detectable.


http://dienekes.blog...-etruscans.html


This also corresponds with Greek myth. There language, although no complete, is thought to be non-INdoEuropean or a distant isolate to IndoEuropean languages.


I would assume they were not blond.

There were also Celts that lived in present day Switzerland to the North of Italy...the German's described Celts as mostly tall and fair haired. So mixture might have started with the earliest expansion as lower class Roman Citizens might have taken conquored women as wives. In fact the Romans did this in Rape of the Sabine Women.

Present day Italians are mostly indigenous, but most Italians were not Roman Citizens until quite late and many people (as has already been said) who were Germanic, Celtic, Semitic, etc. were brought into the Italian Peninsula and into Rome as slaves, some just came to work as skilled craftsmen, some came to join the military for a hope of citizenship. I would imagine as the empire started to collapses in the West most of these people never went home. They just stayed and I would imagine many of them stayed near urban areas...but those areas also suffered the heaviest population losses due to war and disease.
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#13 Sinoid

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 06:05 AM

It is also worth considering that not only are some Italians descendents of Romans, many other European nationalities have a Roman element in them and are finding out more and more about this heritage.

#14 mariusj

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 06:15 AM

One big influx of Germanic population was after Gaius Marius and Quintus Lutatius Catulus defeated the Germanic invasion [migration, I would call it.]

#15 heijingling

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Posted 22 August 2008 - 07:02 AM

But Romans are really like Americans, a bunch of different people from different places gathered in one place [in this case, a city instead of a country] for a reason [in this case, been captured instead of searching for a dream]

You're not taking into account , one one hand , all the warriors who volontarily engaged in the powerful roman army , actually "searching for a dream" , & on the other hand the millions of African slaves who were forced into an american nightmare

Then on language, I must remind EVERYONE that the ROMANS speak GREEK. GREEK was the cultured language, much like French when France kicked a** Latin was considered the uncultured form of language and everyone in Italy speaks it, except for the Romans - if you speak Latin you were considered uneducated,



Then how come the most famous roman writers , poets & historians wrote in latin , not in greek ?





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