Roman experience is an indispensable starting-point for the historical reconstruction of the international legal tradition. Although the concept of international law is relatively recent, modern scholars, who were divided between the idea of a natural hostility or friendship among ancient communities, have discussed whether the concept can be applied to antiquity. In order to understand ancient international law, it is worth recognising that various ancient communities lived in a basic form of necessary co-existence that was not initially based on war. As law is a social product, the creation of a body of law (international law) was the specific outcome of the inter-community society. A pertinent theme which divides past scholarship from contemporary views concerns the original meaning ascribed to the term hostis. The etymology of this word provides additional evidence for either the state of primal hostility or that of harmony which existed between Rome and other Italic and Mediterranean communities.