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A brief description of the various parts of Gaul and of the course of the Rhone.

In early times, when these regions lay in darkness as savage, they are thought to have been threefold, 1 divided into Celts (the same as the Gauls), the Aquitanians, and the Belgians, differing in language, habits and laws. [2] Now the Gauls (who are the Celts) are separated from the Aquitanians by the Garonne river, which rises in the hills of the Pyrenees, and after running past many towns disappears in the Ocean. [3] But from the Belgians this same nation is separated by the Marne and the Seine, rivers of identical size; they flow through the district of Lyons, and after encircling in the manner of an island a stronghold of the Parisii called Lutetia, 2 they unite in one channel, and flowing on together pour into the sea not far from Castra Constantia. 3 [4] Of all these nations the Belgae had the reputation in the ancient writers of being the most valiant, for the reason that being far removed from civilised life and not made effeminate by imported luxuries, they warred for a long time with the Germans across the Rhine. [5] The Aquitanians, on the contrary, to whose coasts, as being near at hand and peaceable, imported wares are conveyed, had their characters weakened to effeminacy and easily came under the sway of Rome. [6] All the Gauls, ever since under the perpetual pressure of wars 4 they yielded to the dictator Julius, have been governed by an administration divided into four parts. Of these Gallia Narbonensis by itself comprised the districts of Vienne and Lyons; the [p. 191] second had control of all Aquitania; Upper and Lower Germany, as well as the Belgians, were governed by two administrations at that same time. [7] But now the provinces over the whole extent of Gaul are reckoned as follows: The first province (beginning on the western front) is Lower, or Second, Germany, fortified by the wealthy and populous cities of Cologne and Tongres. [8] Next comes First, or Upper, Germany where besides other free towns are Mayence and Worms and Spires and Strasburg, famous for the disasters of the savages. 5 [9] After these the First province of Belgium displays Metz and Treves, splendid abode of the emperors. 6 [10] Adjoining this is the Second province of Belgium, in which are Amiens, a city eminent above the rest, and Chalôns 7 and Rheims. [11] In the Seine province we see Besançon and Augst, more important than its many other towns. The first Lyonnese province is made famous by Lyons, Châlon-sur-Saône, Sens, Bourges, and Autun with its huge ancient walls. [12] As for the second Lyonnese province, Rouen and Tours make it distinguished, as well as Evreux and Troyes. The Graian and Pennine Alps, not counting towns of lesser note, have Avenche, a city now abandoned, to be sure, but once of no slight importance, as is even yet evident from its half-ruined buildings. These are the goodly provinces and cities of Gaul. [13] In Aquitania, which trends towards the Pyrenees mountains and that part of the Ocean which extends [p. 193] towards Spain, the first province is Aquitania, much adorned by the greatness of its cities; leaving out numerous others, Bordeaux and Clermont are conspicuous, as well as Saintorige and Poitiers. [14] The “Nine Nations” 8 are ennobled by Auch and Bazas. In the Narbonese province Eauze, Narbonne, and Toulouse hold the primacy among the cities. The Viennese province rejoices in the distinction conferred by many cities, of which the most important are Vienne itself, Aries and Valence; and joined to these is Marseilles, by whose alliance and power we read that Rome was several times supported in severe crises. [15] Near these are Aix-en-Provence, Nice, Antibes, and the Isles d'Hyères. [16] And since we have reached these parts in the course of our work, it would be unfitting and absurd to say nothing of the Rhone, a river of the greatest celebrity. Rising in the Pennine Alps from a plenteous store of springs, the Rhone flows in headlong course towards more level places. It hides its banks with its own stream 9 and bursts into the lagoon called Lake Leman. This it flows through, nowhere mingling with the water outside, but gliding along the surface of the less active water on either hand, it seeks an outlet and forces a way for itself by its swift onset. [17] From there without any loss of volume it flows through 10 Savoy and the Seine Province, 11 and, after going on for a long distance, it grazes the Viennese Province on the left side and the Lyonnese on the right side. Next, after describing many meanders, it receives the Arar, [p. 195] which they call the Sauconna, 12 flowing between Upper Germany and the Seine Province, and gives it its own name. This point is the beginning of Gaul, and from there they measure distances, not in miles but in leagues. [18] After this the Rhone, enriched by the tributary waters of the Isère, carries very large craft, which are frequently wont to be tossed by gales of wind, and having finished the bounds which nature has set for it, its foaming waters are mingled with the Gallic Sea through a broad bay which they call Ad Gradus 13 at about the eighteenth milestone distant from Arles. Let this suffice for the topography of the region; I shall now describe the appearance and manners of its people.

1 With this part of the account, cf. Caesar, B.G., i. 1.

2 Paris.

3 The site of Harfleur.

4 Referring to Cæsar's campaigns, 58–49 B.C.

5 At the battle of Argentoratus (Strasburg); see xvi. 12.

6 Augusta Trevirorum was the headquarters of the Roman commanders on the Rhine, and a frequent residence of the Roman emperors; Ausonius, in his Ordo Urbium Nobilium gives it sixth place.

7 Châlons-sur-Marne.

8 The country between the Garonne and the Pyrenees, Aquitania in the narrower sense. The names of the nine nations are not known.

9 That is, it receives no tributaries, yet fills its channel full.

10 Really “between.”

11 Maxima Sequanorum.

12 Saône.

13 The Gulf of Lyons; of. Grau-du-Roi.

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load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1940)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1939)
load focus Introduction (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
hide References (16 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (16):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), AQUITA´NIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ARAR
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), ARGENTORATUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), AUGUSTONE´METUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CATALAUNI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), COSSIO
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GA´LLIA TRANSALPINA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GRADUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LEMANUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), LI´MONUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MEDIOLA´NUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), MOGONTIACUM
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), NOVIOMAGUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SAMAROBRI´VA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SAPAUDIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SE´QUANA
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