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LUTE´TIA PARISIO´RUM

LUTE´TIA PARISIO´RUM (Λουκοτεκία, Ptol. 2.8.13; Λουκοτοκία, Strabo, p. 194), the city of the Parisii, a Gallic people on the Seine. Lutetia is mentioned by Caesar (Caes. Gal. 6.3), who held a meeting of the Gallic states there in the spring of B.C. 53. He calls it Lutetia Parisiorum ; and in his narrative of the operations of Labienus in B.C. 52, he says (B. G. 7.57) that Lutetia is on an island in the Sequana (Seine). Strabo copies this description from Caesar. Vibius Sequester (p. 17 ed. Oberlin) also describes Lutecia, as he writes it, as being on an island.

The Parisii were the neighbours of the Senones. There had been some kind of political union between the Parisii and the Senones before Caesar's Gallic campaigns (B. G. 6.3), but at the time when Caesar mentions them, they seem to have been separate states. When Vercingetorix (B.C. 52) rose against the Romans, the Senones, Parisii, and others joined him immediately; and the Parisii sent 8000 men to oppose Caesar at Alesia (B. G. 7.4, 75). Though a part of the little territory of the Parisii was north of the Seine, we must conclude from Caesar's narrative that they were a Celtic people. The diocese of Paris represents the territory of the Parisii.

Lutetia, like many other Gallic towns, finally took the name of the people, and was called Civitas Parisiorum, whence the modern name of Paris. Zosimus (3.9) calls it Parisium. It appears from the Notit. Dign. that the Romans had a fleet at Paris; and from the words in the Notitia, “Praefectus classis Anderitianorum Parisiis,” D'Anville conjectures that the name “Anderitiani” implies a place Anderitium, which he further supposes to be Andrési, immediately below the junction of the Seine and Oise. An inscription dug up in 1711 among other ancient monuments in the church of Notre Dame at Paris, contained the words “Nautae Parisiaci ;” and De Valois observes that as the people of Paris had always a fleet before their eyes, they may from this circumstance have taken the ship which appears in the arms of the city.

The position of Lutetia at Paris is determined by the description of the place, the name, and the measurements of the roads from Agedincum (Sens), Rotomagus (Rouen), and Genabum (Orléans), which meet at Lutetia. . When Caesar held the meeting of the states of Gallia at Lutetia, the town was confined [p. 2.221]fined to the island which afterwards was called La Cité (civitas), a name given to the old Roman part of several French towns. But the island on which stands the church of Notre Dame was then and for a long time after of less extent than it is now; for the site of the Place Dauphine was once two small islands which were not joined together and united to the Cité before the sixteenth century; and the spot called Le Terrein was another addition produced by the ruins of the buildings which were erected in this part of the city. Paris was never a large place under the Roman dominion. Ammianus (15.11) calls it a Castellum, and Julian (Misopogon, p. 340) and Zosimus name it a small city (πολίχνη). Zosimus, who was no great geographer, places it in Germania. Lutetia may probably have occupied some ground on the north or on the south side of the river, or even on both sides, for the island was joined to the mainland by bridges in Caesar's time (B. G. 7.58), made of wood, as we may assume. Julian spent a winter in Paris, A.D. 358, and was proclaimed Augustus there. (Ammian. Marcell. 17.2, 8, 20.4.) The Franks under Clovis took Paris about the close of the fifth century, A. D.; and about A.D. 508 Clovis made Paris his residence.

  • A. A. The river Sequana (Seine).
  • B. B. The river Matrona (Marne).
  • 1. Lutetia (Paris), on an island.
  • 2. Melodunum (Melun), on an islander point. The scale is in English miles.

When Caesar (B.C. 52) was setting out to attack Gergovia, he sent Labienus with four legions against the Senones and Parisii. (B. G. 7.34.) Labienus advanced upon Lutetia from Agedincum, where he left his stores. His march was along the left bank of the Seine. The commander of the Gallic forces occupied a marshy tract, the water of which. ran into the Seine, and here he waited, with the intention of preventing the Romans from crossing the river (B. G. 7.57) to Lutetia. Labienus attempted to make a road across the marsh, but, finding it impossible, he left his camp silently in the night, and, returning by the route by which he had advanced, he reached Melodunum (Melun), a town of the Senones on an island in the Seine. He there seized about fifty vessels, and easily got possession of Melun. After repairing the bridge from the island to the right bank of the river, he carried over his men to the right side, and marched again upon Lutetia. He took the vessels with him, and used them, as we must suppose, for crossing the Matrona (Marne), though the Marne is not mentioned in the narrative. Before Labienus could reach Paris, the Galli set Lutetia on fire, and broke down the bridges which united the island to the main. They also quitted the marsh, and placed themselves on the banks of the Seine opposite to Lutetia and to the camp of Labienus, which was on the right side of the river. In the meantime Caesar's defeat before Gergovia was known, and Labienus was threatened from the north by the Bellovaci in his rear. In front of him, on the opposite side of the river, were the Parisii and their allies. His safety depended on getting to the left bank of the Seine, and he accomplished it by a clever movement. Soon after nightfall he left half a legion in his camp; he ordered another half legion, with their baggage, to march up the river, making a loud noise; and he sent up the river, in the same direction as the half legion as many boats as he could collect, which made a great splashing with their oars. He sent. the ships that he brought from Melodunum four miles down the river, and, soon after despatching the half legion up the river, he marched with his three legions down the stream in great silence, and found his ships. The scouts of the enemy, who were placed all along the stream, were surprised and slaughtered; for there was a great storm raging, and they were off their guard. The three legions were. carried across the river in the vessels. The enemy were confounded by the unusual noise purposely made in the Roman camp, by the boats moving up the river, and by the news of the enemy crossing lower down. Accordingly, the Galli left part of their forces to watch the opposite camp, and sent another part up the river towards Metiosedum, as it is in Caesar's text, which is either a mistake for Melodunum, or it is some place higher up the Seine than Paris. Either supposition will explain Caesar. The Galli led the rest of their forces to oppose the three legion which had crossed the Seine with Labienus, and, after a hard fight, they were defeated and dispersed. Labienus led his troops back to Agedincum, where his stores and baggage were. This is the substance of Caesar's narrative, which is correctly explained by D'Anville (Notice, &c., art. Melodunum), and Ukert (Gallien, p. 476) has done well in following him. Some of the old critics completely misunderstood Labienus' movements; and even, of late years, the passage has been wrongly explained.

The Romans built both on the island La Cité and on both sides of the Seine, but the Roman memorials of Paris are very few. Some sculptured stones were dug up under the choir of Notre Dame. The inscriptions were of the time of Tiberius Caesar, and show that the Roman and Gallic deities were worshipped jointly. The remains of a subterranean aqueduct have been discovered both on the north and south sides of the river. The materials of the Roman city were doubtless employed for more recent constructions, and thus Roman Lutetia has disappeared.

[G.L]

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