It is believed that about the same time certain barbarian people were entering Greece from the north, others came into the Italian peninsula from the same direction. A fusion with earlier inhabitants similar to that which took place in Greece produced the Italian people of recorded history. In terms of mountains, soil, mineral resources, and climate, there were similarities between the two countries, with Italy in general being the more favored. There was a significant difference: the relative lack of navigable rivers and natural harbors offered much less inducement for trade and commerce than was the case in Greece. Throughout Roman history, agriculture remained much more basic to the Italian economy than to the Greek. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "1. Rome: Republic and Empire. Pt. I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 44-53.