The Italic Branch

The Italic branch of the Indo-European language family consists of but one sub-branch today, a “twig”, so to speak, encompassing the Romance languages, so-called because of their shared ancestor Roman, the language of the Romans, obviously better known as Latin, the language of the people of Latium, the area around the city of Rome. The languages belonging to this sub-family are Portuguese, Spanish, Catalan, French (including the langue d’oïl, the basis of modern French, originally spoken in the northern half of the country, and the langue d’oc, once common across the southern half but now spoken by a minority), Italian and Romanian, which is even named after the original speakers of the language. There are also some lesser-known local languages based on Latin in the valleys of the Alps, such as Romansh, as well as many different dialects spoken in Portugal, Spain, and Italy, which could be classified as languages themselves, depending on the definitions of language and dialect.

Before the supremacy of the Roman Empire, there were multiple sisters of Latin throughout the Apennine Peninsula, except for the far north, which was inhabited by Celtic and Etruscan speakers, and the south, which spoke Greek due to early Greek colonialism. All of these languages slowly but surely went extinct with the rise of Rome, not without leaving a mark on some of the modern Italian dialects, however. The Romans, of course, are the most famous of the Italic peoples, creating one of the biggest empires in human history and influencing European and – by extension – world history, like barely any other people to set foot on the European stage. As mentioned previously, many of Europe’s languages today are direct descendants of Latin, any every European language contains Latin vocabulary to a certain extent, either due to contact with the Roman Empire itself or due to the role of Latin as a liturgical language and a language of science in later centuries and millennia.

The history of Europe is unimaginable without the Romans, but they rose from humble beginnings as just one of many inhabitants of what is now Italy. On this page, you will find articles concerning the history of the speakers of these ancient Italic languages, including the Romans, regarding their origins and their relation to each other. More articles, concerning aspects of Italic and Roman history, mythology, and culture may be added in the future.

The Ancient Italic Peoples

Apart from the Latins, the ancestors of the Romans, the Italian peninsula was inhabited by a multitude of Italic Peoples, such as the Umbrians, Veneti, Samnites, Messapians and Apulians.

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