How was the Etruscan culture different from other Eastern Mediterranean cultures?

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teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Etruscan culture differed from that of other Eastern Mediterranean cultures in terms of language, women's roles, and art. 

In terms of language, the Etruscans used the Greek alphabet; however, Etruscan words bore no similarities to Greek words and were unrelated to other Indo-European languages.

In regard to women's roles, it was said that Etruscan women were sexually uninhibited and highly promiscuous creatures. Unlike Greek women, Etruscan women enjoyed the same rights as men and often indulged in lustful extra-marital relationships. It was said that Roman women participated in the social sphere much as Etruscan women did. However, unlike Estruscan women, Roman women did not engage in the ecclesiastical or political spheres. Etruscan women were said to be feminists long before the word came into existence.

As for the Greeks, it was said that they were appalled by the Etruscans' lax rules regarding male and female public discourse. Etruscan wives attended public banquets side by side with their husbands. The Greeks considered it uncouth for men and women to dine together. In fact, the only Greek women who openly dined with men were prostitutes. Also, while Etruscan women were featured nude in paintings, the Greeks and Romans considered female nudity in art vulgar. So, Etruscan social mores differed from those in other Eastern Mediterranean countries. While Greek fathers decided the fate of their children, Etruscan families often raised illegitimate children side by side with legal siblings.


1) Aztec Treasure House by Evan Connell.

2) Encyclopedia of Women in the Ancient World by Joyce E. Salisbury

teachsuccess eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Because Greek culture (as an Eastern Mediterranean culture) was closely connected to the Etruscan culture, you may also wish to compare the architecture of the respective temples. 

Etruscan architects often placed columns at the front of the building. The columns would create a porch area at the entrance to the temple. In contrast, Greek architects placed columns and steps all around the temple, making the front and back of the building indistinguishable. Unlike Greek temples, Etruscan temples also often had three cellas, which housed three Etruscan gods: Uni, Tinia, and Menrva.

More information and differences between Greek and Etruscan temples can be found here.

Source: Gardner's Art through the Ages: Backpack Edition, Book A: Antiquity by Fred S. Kleiner