World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article


Article Id: WHEBN0002254871
Reproduction Date:

Title: Tyrrhenoi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Etruscan civilization, Pelasgians, Tiras
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


The Tyrrhenians (Attic Greek: Τυρρηνοί - Turrhēnoi) or Tyrsenians (Ionic: Τυρσηνοί - Tursēnoi; Doric: Τυρσανοί - Tursānoi[1]) is an exonym used by Greek authors to refer to a non-Greek people.

Earliest references

The origin of the name is uncertain. It is only known to be used by Greek authors, but apparently not of Greek origin. It has been connected to tursis, also a "Mediterranean" loan into Greek, meaning "tower" (see there). Direct connections with Tusci, the Latin exonym for the Etruscans, from Turs-ci have also been attempted.[2] See also Turan, tyrant.

The earliest instances in literature are in Hesiod and the Homeric hymn to Dionysus. Hesiod has

And they [the sons of Circe] ruled over the famous Tyrsenians, very far off in a recess of the holy islands.[3]

The Homeric hymn to Dionysus has Tyrsenian pirates seizing Dionysus,

Presently there came swiftly over the sparkling sea Tyrsenian pirates on a well-decked ship — a miserable doom led them on.[4]

Possible identification with the Etruscans

Later, in the 6th to 5th centuries BC, the name referred specifically to the Etruscans, for whom the Tyrrhenian Sea is named, according to Strabo.[5] In Pindar,[6] the Tyrsanoi appear grouped with the Carthaginians as a threat to Magna Graecia:

I entreat you, son of Cronus, grant that the battle-shouts of the Carthaginians and Etruscans stay quietly at home, now that they have seen their arrogance bring lamentation to their ships off Cumae.

The name is also attested in a fragment by Sophocles.[7]

The name becomes increasingly associated with the generic Pelasgians. Herodotus[8] places them in Crestonia in Thrace, as neighbours of the Pelasgians. Similarly, Thucydides[9] mentions them together with the Pelasgians and associates them with Lemnian pirates and with the pre-Greek population of Attica.

Lemnos remained relatively free of Greek influence up to Hellenistic times, and interestingly, the Lemnos stele of the 6th century BC is inscribed with a language very similar to Etruscan. This has led to the postulation of a "Tyrrhenian language group" comprising Etruscan, Lemnian and Raetic.

There is thus evidence that there was indeed at least a linguistic relationship between the Lemnians and the Etruscans. The circumstances of this are disputed; a majority of scholars, at least in Italy, would ascribe Aegean Tyrrhenians to the Etruscan expansion from the 8th to 6th centuries, putting the homeland of the Etruscans in Italy and the Alps particularly because of their relation to the Alpine Raetic population.

Another hypothesis[according to whom?] connecting the Tyrrhenians and the Eruscans posits that the Etruscans derive at least partially from a 12th-century BC invasion from the Aegean and Anatolia imposing itself over the Italic Villanovan culture, with some scholars claiming a relationship or at least evidence of close contact between the Anatolian languages and the Etruscan language. There is no archaeological evidence from material culture of such a cultural shift, but adherents of this latter school of thought point to the legend of Lydian origin of the Etruscans referred to by Herodotus (Histories 1.94) and the statement of Livy that the Raetians were Etruscans driven into the mountains by the invading Gauls. Critics of this theory point to the very scanty evidence of a linguistic relationship of Etruscan with Anatolian, and to Dionysius of Halicarnassus who decidedly argues against an Etruscan-Lydian relationship.

Identification with the name Spard

"Spard" or "Sard", another name closely connected to the name Tyrrhenian, was the capital city of the land of Lydia, the original home of the Tyrrhenians; it was referred to by the Greeks as "Sardis". The name preserved by Greek and Egyptian renderings is "Sard," for the Greeks call it "Sardis" and the name appears in the Egyptian inscriptions as "Srdn."[10]


This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from World eBook Library are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.