Merenptah of Egypt (reigned 13th century BC) provides the earliest reference to the people of Tiras, as the Tursha (or Turusha), and referring to them as invaders from the north. The Greeks later knew them as the Tyrsenoi, a nation of marauding pirates. Josephus identifies them as the tribe known to the Romans as the Thirasians, and who we now know as the Thracians. They were a ‘ruddy and blue-eyed people’ who spent most of their time in state of ‘tipsy excess’. Tiras himself was worshipped by his descendants as Thuras (Thor), the god of war. The river Athyras was named after him, and it is not at all unlikely that the Etruscans, a nation of hitherto mysterious provenance, owe to him both their name and descent. The ancient city of Troas (Troy) appears to perpetuate his name, as does also the Taurus mountain range. —Bill Cooper
Consider the third image from the top, labelled “Japheth:Tiras”, at Creation — The Written Truth.
Thracians, Teutons, Germans, Scandinavian, Anglo-Saxon, Jutes
In the genealogical table of the Noachidæ, Tarshish is given as the second son of Javan and is followed by Kittim and Dodanim (Gen. 10:4; I Chron. 1:7). As with all these names, Tarshish denotes a country; in several instances, indeed, it is mentioned as a maritime country lying in the remotest region of the earth. Thus, Jonah flees to Tarshish from the presence of YHWH (Jonah 1:3, 4:2). With Pul, Tubal, and Javan, it is mentioned as one of the remote places that have not heard of YHWH (Isa. 66:19, comp. lx. 9; Ps. 72:10; Ezek. 38:13). Any large vessel capable of making a long sea-voyage was styled a “ship of Tarshish,” though this did not necessarily mean that the vessel sailed either to or from Tarshish (Ps. 48:7; I Kings x. 22, xxii. 48; Isa. 2:16; et al.). It seems that in parallel passages referring to Solomon’s and Jehoshaphat’s ships (I Kings l.c.) the author of Chronicles did not understand the meaning of “ships of Tarshish” (II Chron. 9:21, 20:36).
Tarshish appears to have had a considerable trade in silver, iron, tin, and lead (Jer. 10:9; Ezek. 27:12). It gave its name, besides, to a precious stone which has not yet been satisfactorily identified (See Gems). The Targum of Jonathan renders the word “Tarshish” in the prophetical books by “sea,” which rendering is followed by Saadia. Moreover, the term “ships of Tarshish” is rendered by Jewish scholars “sea-ships” (comp. LXX., Isa. 2:16, πλοῖα θαλαρρης). Jerome, too, renders “Tarshish” by “sea” in many instances; and in his commentary on Isaiah (l.c.) he declares that he had been told by his Jewish teachers that the Hebrew word for “sea” was “tarshish.” In Isa. 23:1 the Septuagint, and in Ezek. 27:12 both the Septuagint and the Vulgate, render “Tarshish” by “Carthage,” apparently suggested by Jewish tradition. Indeed, the Targum of Jonathan renders “Tarshish” in I Kings 22:48 and Jer. 10:9 by “Afriḳi,” that is, Carthage.
Josephus (“Ant.” i. 6, § 1), apparently reading “Tarshush,” identifies it with Tarsus in Cilicia. This identification was adopted by Bunsen and Sayce (“Expository Times,” 1902, p. 179); but it seems from Assyrian inscriptions that the original Hebrew name of Tarsus was not “Tarshush.” Bochart (in his “Phaleg”), followed by many later scholars, identifies Tarshish with Tartessus, mentioned by Herodotus and Strabo as a district of southern Spain; he thinks, moreover, that “Tartessus” is the Aramaic form of “Tarshish.” On the other hand, Le Page Renouf (“Proc. Soc. Bibl. Arch.” xvi. 104 et seq.) refutes this theory, declaring besides that Tartessus never really existed. Renouf’s opinion is that “Tarshish” means a coast, and, as the word occurs frequently in connection with Tyre, the Phenician coast is to be understood. Cheyne (in “Orientalische Litteraturzeitung,” iii. 151) thinks that “Tarshish” of Gen. 10:4, and “Tiras” of Gen. 10:2, are really two names of one nation derived from two different sources, and might indicate the Tyrsenians or Etruscans. Thus the name may denote Italy or the European coasts west of Greece.
Excerpt from The History of Rome by Mike Duncan, podcast number 2: Youthful Indiscretions
The early days of Rome stand in stark contrast to its later greatness. To say the empire came from humble roots would be a gross understatement and entirely misleading. Founded by a man who killed his own brother and was raised by a whore; the cities initial inhabitants were thieves, crooks and beggars; such an unappealing lot that they could not find a single woman that would have them, they resorted to kidnapping; to protect their ill-gotten wives they then proceeded to make war on their in-laws. There is not a single sympathetic figure in the whole bunch. You almost find yourself rooting for the Etruscans to put this rabble down and restore some decency to the world. But alas, the Romans were strong and would not be conquered, even if they where total bastards. And this is the moral of Rome’s birth. The Romans won and grew and thrived, not because they were right or good or moral or god’s chosen people, but because they were strong and knew how to win battles. Might may not make right, but it will make a thousand–year civilisation.
Featured Image: National Flag of the Italian Republic [Wikimedia Commons]