When people think of ancient Italy, the Romans are usually the first and last people that come to mind, but long before Rome was built by Latin-speaking people, the culture of Italy was dominated by the Etruscans. Although the Etruscans may not comprise the core of most histories of the ancient Mediterranean, they exerted a profound influence on the region from the 8th-5th centuries BCE that continued to resonate for centuries after as the Romans carried on many of their traditions. Today, much of what is known about the Etruscans comes from the ancient Roman and Greek writers who had a deep respect for them but saw them as exotic and foreign. As the famous Roman philosopher Seneca wrote about the Etruscans, "Whereas we believe lightning to be released as a result of the collision of clouds, they believe that the clouds collide so as to release lightning: for as they attribute all to deity, they are led to believe not that things have a meaning insofar as they occur, but rather that they occur because they must have a meaning."
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