Italy, the Greatest Land on Earth!

Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Roman Antiquities (1.36)

There is another story told by the inhabitants, that before the reign of Zeus, Kronos ruled in that land, and the period of life named after him was fruitful in all of the things which the seasons produce, and that it was fruitful for no one more than themselves. If anyone wished to take away the mythical part of this story and examine closely the excellence of the land, from which the race of humans has harvested so much of the greatest happiness born immediately either (as the old story has it) from the earth or otherwise, they would not find any land more suitable than this.

For, to compare one land with another as great in size, not only in Europe but in all the world, it seems to me that Italy is the greatest of all. Indeed, it does not escape me that I might seem to relate some things which are incredible to many people, when they set their spirits on Egypt, Libya, Babylon, and any other lands which may be blessed in their way. But I do not place the wealth of the earth in one type of produce, nor am I possessed of a desire for a life in which there are only fertile fields but little or nothing of other useful things; rather, I consider as the best the land which is most self-sufficient and for the most part in little need of imported goods, and I am persuaded that Italy is the land beyond all other lands in its abundant fertility and beneficence.

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῎Εστι δέ τις καὶ ἕτερος λόγος ὑπὸ τῶν ἐπιχωρίων μυθολογούμενος, ὡς πρὸ τῆς Διὸς ἀρχῆς ὁ Κρόνος ἐν τῇ γῇ ταύτῃ δυναστεύσειε, καὶ ὁ λεγόμενος ἐπ’ ἐκείνου βίος ἅπασι δαψιλὴς ὁπόσοις ὧραι φύουσιν οὐ παρ’ ἄλλοις μᾶλλον ἢ παρὰ σφίσι γένοιτο. καὶ εἴ τις ἄλλως ἀφελῶν τὸ μυθῶδες τοῦ λόγου χώρας ἀρετὴν ἐξετάζειν θελήσειεν, ἐξ ἧς γένος τὸ ἀνθρώπων πλείστας εὐφροσύνας ἐκαρπώσατο γενόμενον εὐθὺς εἴτ’ ἐκ γῆς ὡς ὁ παλαιὸς ἔχει λόγος, εἴτ’ ἄλλως πως, οὐκ ἂν εὕροι ταύτης τινὰ ἐπιτηδειοτέραν. ὡς γὰρ μία γῆ πρὸς ἑτέραν κρίνεσθαι τοσαύτην τὸ μέγεθος, οὐ μόνον τῆς Εὐρώπης, ἀλλὰ καὶ τῆς ἄλλης ἁπάσης κρατίστη κατ’ ἐμὴν δόξαν ἐστὶν ᾿Ιταλία. καίτοι με οὐ λέληθεν ὅτι πολλοῖς οὐ πιστὰ δόξω λέγειν, ἐνθυμουμένοις Αἴγυπτόν τε καὶ Λιβύην καὶ Βαβυλῶνα καὶ εἰ δή τινες ἄλλοι χῶροί εἰσιν εὐδαίμονες· ἀλλ’ ἐγὼ τὸν ἐκ γῆς πλοῦτον οὐκ ἐν μιᾷ τίθεμαι καρπῶν ἰδέᾳ οὐδ’ εἰσέρχεταί με ζῆλος οἰκήσεως, ἐν ᾗ μόνον εἰσὶν ἄρουραι πίονες, τῶν δ’ ἄλλων οὐδὲν ἢ βραχύ τι χρησίμων, ἀλλ’ ἥτις ἂν εἴη πολυαρκεστάτη τε καὶ τῶν ἐπεισάκτων ἀγαθῶν ἐπὶ τὸ πολὺ ἐλάχιστον δεομένη, ταύτην κρατίστην εἶναι λογίζομαι. τοῦτο δὲ τὸ παμφόρον καὶ πολυωφελὲς παρ’ ἡντινοῦν ἄλλην γῆν ᾿Ιταλίαν ἔχειν πείθομαι.

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