Name of Italy

The etymology of the name of Italy has been the subject of reconstructions by linguists and historians. Considerations extraneous to the specifically linguistic reconstruction of the name have formed a rich corpus of solutions that are either associated with legend (the existence of a king named Italus) or in any case strongly problematic (such as the connection of the name with the grape vine, vitis in Latin).[1]

One theory is that that the name derives from the word Italói, a term with which the ancient Greeks designated a tribe of Sicels who had crossed the Strait of Messina and who inhabited the extreme tip of the Italic Peninsula, near today's Catanzaro.[2] This is attested by the fact that the ancient Greek peoples who colonized present-day Calabria by integrating with the pre-existing peoples, referred to themselves as Italiotes, that is, inhabitants of Italy.[3] This group of Italian people had worshiped the simulacrum of a calf (vitulus, in Latin), and the name would therefore mean "inhabitants of the land of calves".[2] In any case, it is known that in archaic times the name indicated the part located in the extreme south of the Italian Peninsula.[3]

The name of Italy originally applied only to the tip of the Italian boot.[3] As time progressed, the name "Italia" was extended further and further north until it reached the Alps in Roman times and became synonymous with the whole Italian geographical region.[4]

  1. ^ Alberto Manco, Italia. Disegno storico-linguistico, 2009, Napoli, L'Orientale, ISBN 978-88-95044-62-0.
  2. ^ a b "Quale è l'origine del nome Italia?" (in Italian). Retrieved 16 September 2021.
  3. ^ a b c Guillotining, M., History of Earliest Italy, trans. Ryle, M & Soper, K. in Jerome Lectures, Diciassettesima serie, p.50
  4. ^ "La riorganizzazione amministrativa dell'Italia. Costantino, Roma, il Senato e gli equilibri dell'Italia romana" (in Italian). Retrieved 19 November 2021.