Who were the Latins?
The Latins were the people that lived in the region of Latium, in Italy.
Latium (modern Lazio) was one of the many regions in Italy. Latium is located in the central part of the country.
The Latins had their own language (Latin), culture, religion, rituals, and traditions. And their culture was different from the culture of the other peoples that lived in Italy.
There were many cities and towns in Latium. Rome was one of them.
In the 7th century BC, the most powerful civilization in Italy was that of the Etruscans. The Etruscans lived just north of Rome, also in central Italy. So the Latin cities united in a league to defend themselves against them and against their other many enemies in Italy.
At the time, the leading Latin city was Alba Longa. But as time went by, the city of Rome became stronger. The other Latin cities felt threatened and went to war against Rome, but Rome subdued them.
With the Latin cities under control, Rome began conquering its other neighbors, like the Etruscans, Sabines, Umbrians, Oscans, Veneti, Gauls (Gauls had been living in Italy since the 4th century). By the 1st century BC, all of Italy was under the control of the city of Rome.
Since Rome was Latin, the Latin language and culture spread throughout Italy. And then, as Rome kept conquering ever more territory, their culture and language spread through most of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
But in their origins, the Latins were just one of the many peoples that inhabited Italy. They were not even the most numerous, and their region was rather small.
Some famous Latins? Julius Caesar, Cicero, both Catos, Scipio Africanus, and Marc Antony.
Latin gallery (click the pictures to enlarge them)