Latins , or Latini  (la-tī´ni ), or Romans .—The ancient Latins inhabited Latium, on the west coast of central Italy, before the existence of Rome. It would seem that they had branched off from the Aryan stem next after the Celts, and upon entering Italy soon united with the primitive Liguirians, later forming a confederation or league of which Alba Longa became the head.

Out of the Latins, Etruscans  (which see) and Sabines (another primal stock), the Roman people were originally formed, each speaking a most marked variety of the original Italic mother-tongue. The principal element was Latin, as the language shows. The next in importance was the Sabine, and the third, in order both of time and of influence, was the Etruscan. But with the spread of the Roman arms (the Romans were Latins), all were absorbed by the Latin variety, which still lives in its modern progeny—Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Langue d'Oc (South France), Langue d'Oïl (North or Standard French), Roumanian, Walloon of Belgium, Rumansch or Ladin and Vaudois of Switzerland. Thus half of Europe has been Latinized, while the different nationalities still retain their distinctive physical and mental characters.