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Latins,in ancient times, inhabitants of Latium, particularly of the great plain of Latium. The Latins established themselves in many small settlements. Gradually increasing in size, these settlements were joined in religious confederations that later took on political significance. Rome early took a dominant place among the cities of Latium and Roman hegemony was definitely established by 338 B.C.; the smaller states were absorbed and the larger states made subject allies by Rome. The Latins, however, continued to have a special status, and in theory the social and political equality of the Latins continued. There was some rebellion, especially late in the 2d cent. B.C., but generally the Latins remained loyal to Rome. They were admitted to Roman citizenship in 90 B.C. at the time of the Social War.
ancient Italic tribes that inhabited Latium (present-day Lazio).
Evidently the Latins, like other tribes of Indo-European origin, were newcomers to Italy. The time of the Latins’ arrival and the routes of their migration are still uncertain. The Latin archaeological culture, a variant of the Villanovan culture, is represented by burials in the Alban Hills, Lavinium, and other parts of Latium, and by the remains of settlements. Classical tradition and archaeological materials depict the Latin tribes as agricultural and, to an even greater degree, pastoral, living in clan settlements and retaining features of the primitive communal system but with clear signs that this system was disintegrating. The religion of the Latins was characterized by magic rituals and cults of farming and herding. The Latins were strongly influenced by the Etruscan culture. The Latins and the Sabine tribes were the founders of Rome (in 754–752 B.C., according to tradition).
In the beginning of the first millennium B.C., the Latins united in the Latin League headed by Alba Longa. With Rome’s ascendancy, power over the communes of Latium passed to Rome (in the sixth century B.C.).
A. I. NEMIROVSKII