The Etruscans were a loose conglomeration of city-states that took control of the area that later became Rome, introducing a number of improvements and reforms that transformed the town into a true city. The Etruscans also introduced Greek culture to the Romans.
Although the myth of Romulus and Remus remains popular, the true origins of Rome lie with the Etruscans, who lay to the north of the Tiber River. The Etruscans sought to envelop Rome and turn it into an autonomous city-state that answered to an imperial government. They introduced rectangular urban planning to the Romans, drained the marshes, installed underground sewers and built public works, baths, aqueducts, roads and bridges. Their influence can also be seen in later depictions of Christian demons, who bear a strong resemblance to Etruscan demons.
The Etruscans controlled Rome until roughly 500 BC. By then their efforts had turned Rome into a powerful city-state that dominated its neighbors. The Greeks, who were the Etruscans' primary rivals for trade and sea power, began to attack ; seizing the opportunity, the Romans took up arms to shake off Etruscan rule. However, the Etruscans remained an aggressive and powerful enough force that Rome did not begin on its own path to conquest until nearly a century after.