(Autun) Saône-et-Loire, France.
Chief city of the Aedui, in central Gaul, which
derives its name from Augustus' decision to replace
Bibracte, the former capital of the Aedui, with a new
city. At the time of Sacrovir's revolt in A.D. 21 it was
a wealthy town (Tac. Ann
. 3.43); yet a few dozen years
before, Strabo was familiar only with Bibracte. Situated
on the great roads linking Lugdunum (Lyon) with the
cities of the Senones and the Parisii and the Saône and
Loire valleys, between the territories of the Sequani and
the Bituriges, Augustodunum was a faithful ally of the
Romans and enjoyed great prosperity, as its monuments
attest. During the 2d c. A.D. the first Christian communities were set up, outside the walls around St. Pierre-de-Lestrier. The city declined after it was besieged and captured by Tetricus in 269. Constantius Chlorus, a
benefactor of the town, took steps to restore its former
splendor, as we know from the speeches made by Eumenius between 297 and 311, but these efforts were in
vain: it shrank to the area around the high city, which
later acquired a surrounding wall, mostly mediaeval.
The city that Augustus founded had a regular plan
defined by the two highway axes. One of these, running
S-N, linked the Porte de Rome with the present-day
Porte d'Arroux (ca. 1200 m long); the E-W road connected the Porte St. André with the Porte St. Andoche.
Two of these gateways are well preserved, but only a
tower remains of the last one, while the first has been
completely destroyed. The E-W decumanus had an angle
toward the middle; this was due to the placement of the
gates, determined by the roads coming from outside the
city but not by the geometric path of the axes. The circuit of the rampart was dictated by the lie of the land,
a gentle slope from S to N which gave the city a lozenge-shaped plan.
The fortifications are ca. 6 km long and enclose an
area of close to 200 ha. The curtains, 2.5 m thick, were
flanked by round towers (4.5-4.6 m). The walls had a
filling of rough rubble set in a bed of mortar; the facings
consisted of small blocks of sandstone placed in regular,
horizontal courses. This meticulous and regular masonry,
with no reused material suggests an early date, probably
fairly close to the time the city was founded. The wall
is all of one date, even at the spot level with the theater,
which has sometimes been thought to be a later enlargement. Two of the gateways are among the best-preserved
Roman monuments at Autun: the Porte d'Arroux to the
N and the Porte St. André to the E. They are very similar
in design and dimensions. Each has a central structure
flanked by two towers, one of which, at the Porte St.
André, is well preserved. The towers on the outside of
the rampart are rounded, those on the inside rectangular.
The facade of the Porte St. André was 19.18 m long, the
Porte d'Arroux 18.55 m. Each gate had four passageways
with semicircular vaults, two in the middle for vehicles
and one on either side for pedestrians (4.43 and 1.67 m
wide at the Porte d'Arroux; 4.1 and 2 m at the Porte
St. André). An upper story allowed free passage between
the wall walks; it was protected on the outside by an
attic of Corinthian columns with blind arcades (total
ht.: Porte d'Arroux 16.7 m; Porte St. André 14.6 m). An
error was made in restoring the upper gallery of the
Porte St. André where an arched passageway was put up;
the Porte d'Arroux shows that the gallery was unroofed.
For the most part the gateways are built of regular
courses of large blocks: sandstone in the subfoundations
and limestone in the upper sections. The use of sandstone
in the upper story of the Porte St. André raises the problem of chronology; however, this was a repair. The date
of the gateways has been a matter of dispute: early 4th c.
A.D. according to Eumenius; others vary from the Augustan period to that of Vespasian. The evidence, however,
places the gateways as a whole in the Augustan period:
the plan, type of masonry, the style of the Corinthian
capitals, the molding of the bases and pilasters, all confirm the date. Later the upper story of the Porte St.
André was rebuilt, at some time before the 3d c. A.D.
The other extant monuments are the theater and the
Temple of Janus. The city had both an amphitheater and
a theater, attested by the texts and by 16th and 17th c.
accounts, but only the theater has survived. It was one
of the largest theaters in Gaul, indeed in the Roman
world (max. diam. 147.8 in, orchestra 44.8 m). The
tiers of seats were arranged in three praecinctiones consisting, from bottom to top, of 16 seats in probably 12
rows; vertically, the cavea was divided into 16 cunei. The
eight vomitoria opened on the first praecinctio. Along
the top there was probably a portico. For the most part
the theater is built of well-cut small blocks faced with a
solid mass of mortar, a technique similar to that of the
ramparts. In some sections the facing consisted of courses
of large blocks. It is certain that theater and amphitheater were included in the Augustan plan of the city. But
were they built as early as this period? The building technique undoubtedly belongs to the 1st c. A.D., but the discovery of a coin of Vespasian stuck in the mortar shows
that construction was still under way at the end of the
There were many religious monuments in the Aeduan
city, judging from texts mentioning the temples of Berecyntia, Apollo, and Diana. Euinenius speaks of the Temple of Apollo, and the Capitolium, which was dedicated
to Jupiter, Minerva, and Juno, but nothing remains of
them. Standing alone in the countryside are the high walls
of a building known as the Temple of Janus, one of a
series of indigenous temples or fana. The plan is roughly
square (16.75 x 16.25 m), but only the S and W cella
walls, 23.75 m high, are standing. At a height of 13.3 m
on each wall were three windows; the horizontal wooden
lintels have left their imprint on the mortar. Over each
window was a brick relieving arch. Inside there is a
semicircular niche (3.4 m high, 1.8 wide) in the middle
of the W wall, flanked by arcades. The S wall is decorated with a central arcade 3 m wide, the rear wall of
which has been breached by quarrying, and on each side
of the arcade is a niche. On the outside of both walls
are niches with a blind arcade, flat in back. The 17th c.
writers mention a mosaic floor in the cella, as well as
traces of a pedestal or altar. The latter may possibly be
confirmed by the recent discovery of the base of a religious statue inside a cella of the same type.
The cella had the usual courtyard around it: the
foundations of the colonnade 5.3 m from the cella walls
and parallel to them have been found, and two rows
of post-holes for beams in the outer facings of the walls.
The masonry is mortared rubble, with mortar and uncut
blocks inside and a facing of small cut stones laid in
regular courses. The great thickness of the walls (2.2 m)
and the slight batter resulting from the offset of the walls
at a height of 17.25 m suggest that the cella was vaulted
over, as was recently found to be the case in the Vesunna
Tower at Périgueux. There is no evidence for a building
The famous schools of Augustodunum described by
Eumenius, then their principal, at the end of the 3d c.
A.D. were in the center of the city, near the forum. They
probably consisted of huge covered areas with porticos;
the rear walls were covered with maps of the Empire.
An effective instrument of the policy of Romanization,
education was conspicuous in Autun, and was noted by
Tacitus only a few dozen years after the city was founded.
Augustodunuin was surrounded by vast necropoleis
which have not been completely explored. All that remains of a large funerary monument on the road to
Lyon, known as the Pierre de Couard, is the core, consisting of sandstone rubble set in a solid mortar. Excavations in the 19th c., however, determined that the
monument consisted of a square subfoundation, 10.5 m
high and 22.65 m on a side, topped by a pyramid 22.65
in high, the sides of which had an angle of 63 degrees.
The subfoundation facings were covered with masonry
of large Prodhun sandstone blocks, but the pyramid was
faced with blocks of white limestone. No funerary chamber has been found inside the base.
The Musée Rollin has a collection of stelai from the
necropoleis which are an important source of information on ancient trades, worship, and costume. There is
also a mosaic bearing a portrait of Anakreon, with some
lines from one of the poet's odes.
H. de Fontenay & A. de Charmasse,
Autun et ses monuments
(1889) still essential; Grenier,
V, 1 (1931) 337-44 (ramparts); III, 1 (1958)
234-44 (city); III, 2 (1958) 689-91, 799-803 (amphitheater & theater); P. Wuilleuinier, REA
(theater); gates: H. Kähler, JdI
57 (1942) 29I
; P. M.
(1950-51) 26f. 81f; Mem. Soc. Eduenne