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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]


This is a part of Section I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.