What role did the the Etruscans play in civilizing the Romans?
The Etruscans played a very significant role in civilizing the Romans. The Etruscans were strong before the Romans. They were in contact with Greece and influenced by Greek civilization before the Romans were. It was the Etruscans who gave Rome its start and who influenced much of the development of Roman civilization.
The Etruscans were powerful in their area of Italy before Rome was. In fact, it was the Etruscans who started to build real cities in the region. Rome was one of the cities that they built. The Etruscans built the first roadbed of the Sacred Way through Rome (the most important street in the city). It was under them that Rome came to have temples and markets and other things characteristic of a real city.
The Etruscans also passed along much of Greek culture to the Romans. One example of this is their alphabet. The Etruscans used an alphabet borrowed from the Greeks. The Romans modified that alphabet slightly to make their Roman alphabet. Another very important example is religion. The Romans did not worship gods in human form until they were influenced by the Etruscans. It was the Etruscans who introduced the Romans to the Greek pantheon of gods and goddesses.
In these ways, and many others, the Etruscans can be said to have civilized the Romans.