Brettii is the name of an Italic people whose history, although brief, represents the history of all Calabria. Between the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, this region was inhabited by the Oenotrians and the Ausones.
Then, at the end of the VIII Century BC, the Achaean settlers arrived from Greece: they founded new colonies, including that of Sybaris.
Later on, the Lucans moved from Samnium to Calabria, entering into conflict with the Greeks and enslaving the local Italic peoples, eventually leading to a slave revolt, banditry, and the subsequent birth of an independent Confederation, with a new capital – Cosenza – and its own coinage of gold, silver and bronze, in imitation of the Greeks.
Subsequently, the Brettii – organized into autonomous cantons controlled by hilltop towns – expanded, gathering in arms against the Italiotic cities which they stormed and looted.
In respect to their origins, the Brettii were bilingual: they spoke Greek and Oscan, an Italic language, and when they were not engaged in wars and raids, they were dedicated to agriculture, textile production and especially to pastoralism, at one time their primary occupation.
But the most famous of their traditional products, appreciated at the time even in Athens, was undoubtedly Brettian pitch, produced in the forests of the Sila mountain range and used to seal jars, and for waterproofing.
Although, on one hand, clashes with the Italiotic settlers were fierce, on the other, the influence of the refined Greek culture on Brettian society is evident: the majority of the few vases, ornaments and weapons found in archaeological excavations, is, in fact, of Greek or Magno – Grecian manufacture.