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LUGDU´NUM (Λούγδουνον: Eth. Λουγδουνήσιος, Eth. Lugdunensis: Lyon), a Roman settlement in Gallia, at the junction of the Arar (Saône) and Rhodanus. It was in the territory of the Segusiani, who were the neighbours of the Aedui (Caes. Gal. 1.10, 7.64): in Pliny's time the Segusiani had the title of Liberi. (Plin. Nat. 4.18.) Ptolemy incorrectly places Lugdunum among the cities of the Aedui; he calls it Lugdunum Metropolis.

The writing of the name does not seem to have been quite fixed. Dio Cassius (46.50, ed. Reim.) observes that the place was originally named Lugudunum (Λουγούδουνον), and then Lugdunum. In Stephanus (s. v.) the name is Lugdunus, and he refers to Ptolemy; but in Ptolemy (2.8.17) it is Lugdunum. It is also written “Lugdunus” in Ammianus Marcellinus. In the Treatise on Rivers printed among Plutarch's works (Ἄραρ, 100.4), the hill of Lyon is named Lugdunus; and it is added, on the authority of Clitophon, that Lugus means “a crow” and dunum “an eminence.” Though the explanation of dun is right, we cannot accept the explanation of the other part of the word.

The colonia of Lugdunum is said to have been settled B.C. 43, by L. Munatius Plancus, and the settlers were the people of Vienna (Vienne) who were driven from their homes by the Allobroges. (D. C. 46.50; Strab. pp. 192, 193.) The position, according to Dion, was the place between the Saône and the Rhone. Strabo says that it was “under” a hill, the position of which he determines by referring it to the junction of the two rivers; but this does not show exactly where the town was, and probably Strabo did not know. In the passage in Strabo, the word “under” (ὑπό) has been corrected to “upon” (ἐπί), which may be a true correction. The old town of Lugdunum was, on the right side of the Rhone, on the slope of a hill named Fourvière, which is supposed to be a corruption of Forum Vetus. The largest part of modern Lyon is between the Saône and the Rhone, but this is a modern addition, not earlier than the time of Louis XII. and Francis I.

In Strabo's time Lugdunum was the most populous of the Gallic towns after Narbonne: it was a place of trade, and the Roman governors had a mint there for coining gold and silver. Its great commercial prosperity was due to its excellent position, and to the roads which the Romans constructed in several directions from Lugdunum as a centre. [GALLIA TRANSALPINA Vol. I. p. 966.] In the time of the younger Pliny there were booksellers at Lugdunum, and Pliny's works might be got there (Plin. Ep. 9.11). The city was destroyed by fire in Seneca's time (Ep. 91), but shortly after it was restored through the liberality of the emperor Nero, to whom the inhabitants of Lugdunum continued faithful when Galba revolted (Tac. Ann. 16.13, Hist. 1.51). Lugdunum was plundered and again burnt by the soldiers of Septimius Severus (A.D. 197), after the defeat of Albinus near the city (Herodian, 3.23). It was an important position under the later Empire, but the name only occurs occasionally in the scanty historical notices of that time. When Julian was governor of Gallia, Lugdunum was near being surprised by a [p. 2.214]body of Alamanni (Ammian. Marcell. 16.11). The place is entitled Copia Claudia Augusta on some inscriptions, a name probably given to it in the time of the emperor Claudius.

In the angle between the Arar and the Rhodanus was the Ara Augusti, dedicated to Augustus by all the Gallic states. On this large altar there was an inscription which contained the names of the sixty states; and there were as many figures, intended to represent each state. If the figures were not reliefs on the altar, they may have been statues placed round the altar, or near it. The passage of Strabo (p. 192) appears to be corrupt; but, as it is explained by Groskurd (Transl vol. i. p. 331), there was also a large statue of Augustus, which may have been in the middle of the sixty. There was an annual solemn celebration at this altar, which was observed even when Dio Cassius was writing. (Dion, 54.32.) The time when this altar was built is fixed by the Epitome of Livy (Ep. 137) in the year in which there was a disturbance in Gallia on account of the census. This year was B.C. 12. Suetonius (Suet. Cl. 2) fixes the dedication of the Altar of Augustus in the consulship of Julius Antonius and Fabius Africanus (B.C. 10), on the first of August, which was the birthday of the emperor Claudius, who was a native of Lugdunum. The first priest of the altar was C. Julius Vercundaridubius, an Aeduan. The celebration at the altar of Lugdunum is alluded to by Juvenal in the line (1.44, and Heinrich's note),-- “Aut Lugdunensem rhetor dicturus ad aram.

Lugdunum was the seat of a Christian church at an early period. In the time of Marcus Aurelius (about A.D. 172, or perhaps A.D. 177, according to some computations) there was a furious persecution of the Christians at Lugdunum. The sufferings of the martyrs are told by Eusebius with some manifest absurdities and exaggerations; but, the fact of a cruel persecution cannot be disputed. The letter of the churches of Lugdunum and Vienna to the churches of Asia and Phrygia is preserved by Eu. sebius (Hist. Eccles. v. l); and it states that Aurelius, who was then at Rome, was consulted by the Gallic governor about the treatment of the Christians. The answer was that those who confessed to being Christians should be put to death, and that those who denied it should be set free. We have however only one version of the story, though no excuse can be made for the Roman philosophical emperor, if men were put to death only because they were Christians. Irenaeus, one of the Christian fathers, was bishop of Lugdunum. He is said to have succeeded Pothinus, who perished A.D. 177, in the religious persecutions at Lugdunum.

The part of Gallia which Caesar called Celtica became under Augustus Gallia Lugdunensis, of which Lugdunum was the capital; but Lugdunensis was contracted within narrower limits than Celtica by the extension of the province of Aquitania [AQUITANIA; GALLIA TRANS. Vol. I. p. 966].

The Romans covered the soil of Lyons with houses, temples, theatres, palaces and aqueducts. Nature made it to be the site of a large city. There are few remains of Roman Lugdunum. Time, the invasion of the barbarian, and the employment of old materials for other purposes, have left only scanty fragments of the works of the most magnificent of all city-builders. There are some remains on the Place des Minimes which are supposed to have been a theatre. On the west side of the Saône there are traces of a camp capable of holding several legions. It was bounded and defended on the west by the hills of the Forez, and on the north by the heights of Saint-Didier and of the Mont d'Or. The Saône defended it on the east side. The camp had no water, but the Romans found a supply in the chain of mountains which bounds it on the west. Water was brought along the valleys and the sides of the hills in a regular slope all the way, and under ground through a distance measured along its line of more than 24 miles. In its course the aqueduct collected water from seventeen streams or large sources. The height of the channel or passage for the water, measured inside, was near five feet; the vault or roof was semicircular. There were openings at intervals by which workmen could go in to clean and repair the channel. It was constructed with great care, and the two sides were covered with a double layer of cement. All this construction was buried in a cutting six feet and a half wide and near ten feet deep; and a great part of this cutting was made in the solid rock. Another aqueduct was constructed from Mont Pilat to the site of the hill of Fourvières, a distance of more than 50 miles along the course of the aqueduct. There were in all fourteen aqueduct bridges along this line: one of them at the village of Champonost still has ninety arches well preserved. There was a third aqueduct from Mont d'Or.

Two bronze tablets were dug up at Lyon in 1529, on which is inscribed the Oratio of the emperor Claudius on the subject of giving the Roman civitas to the Galli. (Tac. Ann. 11.24; and Oberlin‘s edition of Tacitus, vol. ii. p. 306; GALLIA TRANS. Vol. I. p. 968.) There are many modern works on Lyon and its antiquities. The principal are mentioned by Forbiger (Handbuch, &c. vol. iii. p. 210.)



hide References (8 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (8):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.10
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 7.64
    • Tacitus, Annales, 11.24
    • Tacitus, Annales, 16.13
    • Suetonius, Divus Claudius, 2
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.18
    • Pliny the Younger, Epistulae, 9.11
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.8
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