Monday, February 16, 2009

Caesar Augustus' "Conquered Alpine Peoples" - Part 2

The Celts

We can take a more in-depth look at these various pre-Roman peoples, like the Celts, at a later time. The Celts did indeed invade Northern Italy, like they did so many other regions of Europe, and even beyond Europe, like Turkey. It should be noted that some sources even place them in Northern Italy much earlier (sixth century BC), and even as a place of possible origin. However, it's usually accepted that the first Celtic culture really thrived in the area that is now modern southern Germany and nearby areas of central Europe, although some place the origin in more northern Germany and Holland.

The Celts are sometimes thought of as more of a culture than an ethnic type. However, early Greek and Roman historians describe them as generally being quite tall. The concept of them as being similar to a red haired "Irish" type of people may not be accurate. They may have been more dark haired, but the picture is really not entirely clear, and evidence surfaces from time to time that changes archeologists and anthropologists view of the Celts. With their centuries long wanderings, they may have started out as more of a particular ethnic type, and later morphed into more of a culture, with scattered regional groups.

Celtic Gaul

Pre-Roman Gaul was a Celtic nation in the area that is now France. Although made up of separate tribes, it would still constitute a nation, as they united to defend themselves against the invading Romans. It should also be pointed out that these pre-Roman regions and tribes were also certainly pre-Christian. They had various pagan beliefs. Druidism, for example, is a Celtic-originated tradition. All of these areas are so expansive, but I want to stick with Northern Italian Celts, just prior to their being conquered by the Romans. It is important to know that they did invade Northern Italy from Gaul. It was probably somewhere between the definition of a migration and an invasion. It is known that they pushed the Etruscans south on many occasions.

From Wikipedia webpage for Celts: "Alps and Po Valley

"There was an early Celtic presence in northern Italy since inscriptions dated to the sixth century BC have been found there. In 391 BC Celts "who had their homes beyond the Alps streamed through the passes in great strength and seized the territory that lay between the Appeninne mountains and the Alps" according to Diodorus Siculus. The Po Valley and the rest of northern Italy (known to the Romans as Cisalpine Gaul) was inhabited by Celtic-speakers who founded cities such as Milan. Later the Roman army was routed at the battle of Allia and Rome was sacked in 390 BC by the Senones.

"At the battle of Telemon in 225 BC a large Celtic army was trapped between two Roman forces and crushed.

"The defeat of the combined Samnite, Celtic and Etruscan alliance by the Romans in the Third Samnite War sounded the beginning of the end of the Celtic domination in mainland Europe, but it was not until 192 BC that the Roman armies conquered the last remaining independent Celtic kingdoms in Italy.

"The Celts settled much further south of the Po River than many maps show. Remnants in the town of Doccia, in the province of Emilia-Romagna, showcase Celtic houses in very good condition dating from about the 4th century BC."

The subject of the Celts is so expansive and ambiguous, that I have to hold myself back from really wanting to dive into it and go on and on. It's such a fascinating subject. I want to go more into this in later entries, and keep this to the era just prior to the Roman period (in the Italian Alps). The following link, which shows interactive Celt and Roman maps, shows a Celtic territory that is more expansive than I have been reading in other sources. The first map shown is from about 800 BC., and shows territory in Northern Italy.

From Wikipedia webpage for "Cisalpine Gaul

"Cisalpine Gaul (Latin: Gallia Cisalpina, meaning "Gaul on this side of the Alps") was the Roman name for a geographical area (later a province of the Roman Republic), in the territory of modern-day northern Italy (including Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Liguria, Lombardy, Piedmont, Trentino-Alto Adige/S├╝dtirol and Veneto), inhabited by the Celts. Sometimes referred to as Gallia Citerior (Hither Gaul), Provincia Ariminum, or Gallia Togata (Toga-wearing Gaul, indicating the region's early Romanization). Gallia Transpadana denoted that part of Cisalpine Gaul between the Padus (now Po) and the Alps, while Gallia Cispadana was the part to the south of the river. The province was governed from Mutina (modern-day Modena), where in 73 BC forces under Spartacus defeated the legion of Gaius Cassius Longinus, the provincial governor.

"The River Rubicon marked its southern boundary with Italia proper, and it was upon crossing this river in 49BC that Julius Caesar, with his battle-hardened legions which resulted from the conquest of Gaul, precipitated a civil war throughout the Roman Republic that led to the eventual establishment of the Roman Empire.

"The province was merged into Italia about 43–42 BC, as part of Octavian's "Italicization" program during the Second Triumvirate. The end of the provincia required a new governing law or lex, though its contemporary title is unknown. The parts of it that are inscribed on a bronze tablet preserved in the museum at Parma are entirely concerned with arranging the judiciary; the lex appoints two viri and four viri juri dicundo. The lex also mentions a Prefect of Mutina. Virgil and Livy were born in Gallia Cisalpina, and were two famous sons of the Province."

It's important to note that the Roman invasion of Cisalpine Gaul (Alpine Italy) was long after the Etruscans were gone. Although called a "southern Gaul" by the Romans, it was actually populated by both ancient Italic tribes and Celtic tribes. The first few names of Caesar Augustus' "conquered Alpine peoples" were Italic Alpine tribes, due to their fearsome resistance. Therefore, it would be false to assume that the Celts were the only ones who bravely resisted. It was both cultural groups. It reads from the Wikipedia "Trophy of Augustus" link: "The Trophy of the Alps or Trophy of Augustus was built by the Roman emperor Augustus to celebrate his definitive victory over the ancient Celto-Ligurian tribes who populated the region and who had harassed merchants along Roman roads." The term "Celto-Ligurian" was just a catch-all word, but, as mentioned in part one, not all the Italic Alpine tribes were Ligures.

From Wikipedia entry for List of Celtic tribes: "Cisalpine Gaul (Northern Italy)

"Cisalpine Gaul, meaning literally "Gaul on this side of the Alps", was the Roman name for a region of Italy inhabited by Gauls, roughly corresponding with modern northern Italy.

"* Salassi - Aosta Valley and Canavese (Northern Piedmont) (Ivrea)
* Graioceles - Northwestern Piedmont in the Graian Alps
* Seguses (or Cotties) - Western Piedmont on Cottian Alps (Susa)
* Taurini - Piedmont (Turin)
* Vertamocorii - Eastern Piedmont (Novara)
* Insubres - Western Lombardy (Milan)
* Orobii or Orumbovii - Central Lombardy (Bergamo)
* Cenomani - Eastern Lombardy (Brixia, Cremona)
* Boii - Central Emilia-Romagna (Bologna)
* Lingones - North-eastern Emilia-Romagna (Ferrara), Po Valley
* Senones - South-eastern Emilia-Romagna (Rimini) and Northern Marche (Senigallia)"

See the Trophy of Augustus link for a list of all the major tribes who were conquered in Cisalpine Gaul (Italics and Celts), and direct links to many of those tribes. Also see the List of Celtic tribes for direct links to many of the various Celtic tribes mentioned above. I would also like to take this time to say that I would like to symbolically designate the above flag, which is fictional, as the flag of the Celto-Ligurian federation which opposed Rome. Not as an anti-Roman sentiment, but as a symbol of what we were at one time, and for the bravery they displayed in standing up to one of the greatest, if not THE greatest army the world has ever known. The historical record shows clearly that they fought them tooth and tail. The symbol is a Celtic one, which was used in Northern Italy, not to be confused with the Celtic Sun of the Alps symbol, which was also used by the Northern Italian Celti. The colors can reflect the ruggedness of the ancient Alps, and it has the sun symbolism on it.

The ancient Alpine region, just prior to Roman invasion, colonization, and Christianization, was more undeveloped and much more heavily forested. The Italic tribes and their Celtic neighbors were living peacefully together. Last fall, I visited a mountainous and heavily forested area. It was later in the day. Houses were very sporadically located in this area, and it was rather dark due to the large trees blocking out the sun. I really feel that this was a visual glimpse of what much of the ancient Alps looked like, at least the more pre-Alpine mountain valleys. Game was much more abundant. Believe it or not, lions once lived in Europe, and maybe in the lower Alpine valleys. They were probably very similar to Asiatic lions, with short manes. There were a lot more bears and wolves in those forests as well. It was rugged and beautiful.

The Romans had to get through the Celto-Ligurians first, before they could conquer other regions. I seriously doubt that the reason for the invasion was the harassment they suffered along Roman roads, but was probably more due to simple imperialism. Those roads also had to be made entirely safe if they wanted to guarantee their supply lines for the invasion of the more northern lands. Also, they wanted to get at that timber, which probably looked unlimited. Centuries later, the Arabs would almost totally deforest Sicily in only two centuries. Natural resources are always a motivation for invasion, much more than the official reason (to stop the harassment on Roman roads). The truth of this history is also a very inconvenient fact against the irresponsible concept of "Italians (Romans) invading Northern Europe (Celtic Gaul)." In reality, they had to conquer the fierce Alpine peoples first.


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Brixia Fidelis said...