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BITU´RIGES

Eth. BITU´RIGES Livy (5.34) represents the Bituriges as the chief people of Gallia Celtica in the time of Tarquinius Priscus. They gave a king to the Celtic nation, and his name was Ambigatus. Livy calls the Celtae the third part of Gallia, in which he follows Caesar's division (1.1); but in the time of Ambigatus, the name Celtica must have comprehended what was afterwards Gallia Narbonensis, and perhaps all Transalpina Gallia. However, the list of peoples whom Livy represents as emigrating into Italy under Bellovesus, the nephew of Ambigatus, comprehends only those who were within the limits of Caesar's Celtica; and among the emigrants were Bituriges. In Caesar's time (7.5) the Bituriges were under the supremacy of the Aedui, and the boundary between them was the upper part of the Ligeris or Loire, below the junction of the Loire and the Allier. D'Anville makes the territory of the Bituriges correspond to the old diocese of Bourges, which extended beyond the province of Berri into a part of Bourbonnois, and even into Touraine. The Bituriges were altogether within the basin of the Loire, and part of the course of the Indre, and the greater part of that of the Cher, were within their territory. Caesar describes their capital Avaricum (Bourges), as almost the finest town in all Gallia (7.15).

At the commencement of the insurrection under Vercingetorix (B.C. 52), when Caesar was preparing to attack Avaricum, above twenty cities of the Bituriges were burnt in one day, with the consent of the Gallic confederates, to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Romans. The Bituriges intreated earnestly that Avaricum might be excepted; and finally, against the opinion of Vercingetorix, it was resolved that Avaricum should be defended against Caesar. [AVARICUM] These are the Bituriges to whom Strabo (p. 190) arid Pliny (4.19) give the name of Bituriges Cubi. The same appears on the naumachia of Lyon, where it indicates the place which was reserved for the representatives of these people at the games; and it occurs in several other inscriptions. The Bituriges had iron mines in their territory (Strab. p. 191); and Caesar (Caes. Gal. 7.22), when describing the siege of Avariclum, speaks of the people as skilled in driving galleries, and in the operations of mining, as they had great iron works (magnae ferrariae) in their country. (Comp. Rutilius, Itin. 1.351: “Non Biturix largo potior stricture metallo.” ) Pliny (14.2) speaks of the good quality of the Bituric wines, and also Columella; but they may perhaps be speaking of the wines of the Bituriges Vivisci.

The Bituriges were included in the extended province of Aquitania [AQUITANIA], and Pliny calls them “liberi,” a term which implies a certain degree of independence under Roman government, the nature of which is now well understood.

[G.L]

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