According to legend, the Etruscan
League of 12 cities was founded by two Lydian noblemen; Tarchun and his brother
Tarchun lent his name to the city of Tarchna, or Roman
Tarquinnii. Tyrrhenus gave his name to the Tyrrhenians - the alternative name
for the Etruscans.
Although there is no total consensus on which cities
were in the league, the following list may be close to the mark: Arretium
(Caere or modern Cerveteri), Clevsin,(Clusium
or modern Chiusi), Curtun
(modern Cortona, Perusna
Pupluna (Populonia), Veii, Tarchna
(Tarquinii or modern Tarquinia-Corneto), Vetluna
(Volaterrae or modern Volterra), Velzna
(Volsinii or modern day Bolsena), and Velch
(Vulci or modern day Volci).
Some modern authors include Rusellae.
The league was mostly an economic and religious league, or a loose
confederation, similar to the Greek states. During the later imperial times when
Etruria was just one of many regions controlled by Rome, the number of cities in
the league increased by three. This is noted on many later Grave stones from the
2nd Century onwards.
According to Livy, the twelve city states met once
a year at the Fanum Voltumnae at Volsinii, where a leader was chosen to
represent the league.
As well as the "dodecapoli" of Etruria itself,
there were two other Etruscan leagues, that of Campania, the main city of which
was Capua, and the Po Valley City States in the North, which included Spina and
It has been suggested by some authors that the
number 12 is of ritual significance, and is also associated with the Eastern
origins of the Etruscan civilisation. Ionia, with whom Etruria had a long
association, also consisted of a league of 12 city states. There is a
considerable discrepancy in the spelling of some of the names, depending on the
sources, much of it stemming from spelling differences between the various
cities, grammatical cases etc. In some cases, we can only guess at the original