But when the Romans showed signs of attacking the Allobroges in their own territory, he offered his mediation, the rejection of which was followed by his taking the field with all his forces to help the Allobroges; whereas the Haedui embraced the side of the Romans. On receiving accounts of the rising of the Arverni, the Romans sent the consul of 633, Quintus Fabius Maximus, to meet in concert with Ahenobarbus the impending attack. On the southern border of the canton of the Allobroges at the confluence of the Isere with the Rhone, on the 8th of August 633, the battle was fought which decided the mastery of southern Gaul. King Betuitus, when he saw the innumerable hosts of the dependent clans marching over to him on the bridge of boats thrown across the Rhone and the Romans who had not a third of their numbers forming in array against them, is said to have exclaimed that there were not enough of the latter to satisfy the dogs of the Celtic army. Nevertheless Maximus, a grandson of the victor of Pydna, achieved a decisive victory, which, as the bridge of boats broke down under the mass of the fugitives, ended in the destruction of the greater part of the Arvernian army. The Allobroges, to whom the king of the Arverni declared himself unable to render further assistance, and whom he advised to make their peace with Maximus, submitted to the consul; whereupon the latter, thenceforth called Allobrogicus, returned to Italy and left to Ahenobarbus the no longer distant termination of the Arvernian war. Ahenobarbus, personally exasperated at king Betuitus because he had induced the Allobroges to surrender to Maximus and not to him, possessed himself treacherously of the person of the king and sent him to Rome, where the senate, although disapproving the breach of fidelity, not only kept the men betrayed, but gave orders that his son, Congonnetiacus, should likewise be sent to Rome. This seems to have been the reason why the Arvernian war, already almost at an end, once more broke out, and a second appeal to arms took place at Vindalium (above Avignon) at the confluence of the Sorgue with the Rhone. The result was not different from that of the first: on this occasion it was chiefly the African elephants that scattered the Celtic army. Thereupon the Arverni submitted to peace, and tranquillity was re-established in the land of the Celts.(3)

Province Of Narbo

The result of these military operations was the institution of a new Roman province between the maritime Alps and the Pyrenees. All the tribes between the Alps and the Rhone became dependent on the Romans and, so far as they did not pay tribute to Massilia, presumably became now tributary to Rome. In the country between the Rhone and the Pyrenees the Arverni retained freedom and were not bound to pay tribute to the Romans; but they had to cede to Rome the most southerly portion of their direct or indirect territory- the district to the south of the Cevennes as far as the Mediterranean, and the upper course of the Garonne as far as Tolosa (Toulouse). As the primary object of these occupations was the establishment of a land communication between Italy and Spain, arrangements were made immediately thereafter for the construction of the road along the coast. For this purpose a belt of coast from the Alps to the Rhone, from 1 to 1 3/4 of a mile in breadth, was handed over to the Massiliots, who already had a series of maritime stations along this coast, with the obligation of keeping the road in proper condition; while from the Rhone to the Pyrenees the Romans themselves laid out a military highway, which obtained from its originator Ahenobarbus the name of the -Via Domitia-.

Roman Settlements In The Region Of The Rhone

As usual, the formation of new fortresses was combined with the construction of roads. In the eastern portion the Romans chose the spot where Gaius Sextius had defeated the Celts, and where the pleasantness and fertility of the region as well as the numerous hot and cold springs invited them to settlement; a Roman township sprang up there--the "baths of Sextius," Aquae Sextiae (Aix). To the west of the Rhone the Romans settled in Narbo, an ancient Celtic town on the navigable river Atax (Aude) at a small distance from the sea, which is already mentioned by Hecataeus, and which even before its occupation by the Romans vied with Massilia as a place of stirring commerce, and as sharing the trade in British tin. Aquae did not obtain civic rights, but remained a standing camp;(4) whereas Narbo, although in like manner founded mainly as a watch and outpost against the Celts, became as "Mars' town," a Roman burgess-colony and the usual seat of the governor of the new Transalpine Celtic province or, as it was more frequently called, the province of Narbo.

The Advance Of The Romans Checked By The Policy Of The Restoration

The Gracchan party, which suggested these extensions of territory beyond the Alps, evidently wished to open up there a new and immeasurable field for their plans of colonization,--a field which offered the same advantages as Sicily and Africa, and could be more easily wrested from the natives than he Sicilian and Libyan estates from the Italian capitalists. The fall of Gaius Gracchus, no doubt, made itself felt here also in the restriction of acquisitions of territory and still more of the founding of towns; but, if the design was not carried out in its full extent, it was at any rate not wholly frustrated. The territory acquired and, still more, the foundation of Narbo--a settlement for which the senate vainly endeavoured to prepare the fate of that at Carthage--remained standing as parts of an unfinished structure, exhorting the future successor of Gracchus to continue the building. It is evident that the Roman mercantile class, which was able to compete with Massilia in the Gallo-Britannic traffic at Narbo alone, protected that settlement from the assaults of the Optimates.

Illyria Dalmatians Their Subjugation

A problem similar to that in the north-west had to be dealt with in the north-east of Italy; it was in like manner not wholly neglected, but was solved still more imperfectly than the former. With the foundation of Aquileia (571) the Istrian peninsula came into possession of the Romans;(5) in part of Epirus and the former territory of the lords of Scodra they had already ruled for some considerable time previously.

Italian Books
Theodor Mommsen
Classic Literature Library

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