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Eth. SE´QUANI (Σηκουανοί), a Celtic nation in the upper valley of the Arar or Saône. Lucan (1.425) follows the quantity of the Greek form:-- “Optima gens flexis in gyrum Sequana fraenis.

Caesar fixes the position of the Sequani. Their territory extended to the Rhine. (B. G. 1.1.) The Jura separated them on the east from the Helvetii; and the narrow pass between the Jura and the Rhone at Fort l'Ecluse was in the possession of the Sequani (B. G. 1.6, 8). The southern boundary of their territory from Fort l'Ecluse was the Rhone; but they did not possess all the country in the angle between the Rhone and the Saône, for part of it was held by the Allobroges (B. G. 1.12), and part by the Segusiani (B. G. 1.10) and by the Ambarri, who were dependent on the Aedui (B. G. 1.11). When Caesar describes the march of the Helvetii from Fort l'Ecluse to the Saône, he says that the Helvetii first passed through the territory of the Sequani, and then entered the territory of the Aedui, which they plundered. But they had not yet reached the Saône, as Caesar's narrative shows, and it is clear from this passage (B. G. 1.11) and those already cited, that a large tract of country between the Rhone and Saône did not belong to the Sequani, for the line of march of the Helvetii from Fort l'Ecluse to the Saône would probably bring them to the Saône at a point not much lower down than Mâcon. The western boundary of the Sequani was the Arar, also called the Sauconna, a name which appears to be the same as the name of the Sequani. Their neighbours on the west side of the Saône were the Aedui, with whom the Sequani had disputes about the river tolls (Strab. iv. p.192). On the north their neighbours were the Leuci and Lingones. Strabo (iv. p.186) describes the Arar and Dubis (Doubs) as flowing through the country of the Sequani. D'Anville has an argument to show that the part of the dioceses of Châlon-sur-Saône and Mâcon which is east of the Saône belonged to the old territory of the Sequani, which may be true; but the towns Matisco (Mâcon) and Cabillonum (Châlon) were on the west side of the Saône and in the territory of the Aedui (B. G. 7.90).

In another passage besides that already referred to, Caesar shows that the Sequani extended to the Rhine, for in describing the course of this river from south to north, he says that it passes by the territory of the Helvetii, Sequani, Mediomatrici and Trihocci. (B. G. 4.10.)

The Sequani belonged to the division of Belgica under the Empire (Plin. Nat. 4.17; Ptol. 2.9.21). The territory of the Sequani contained much good land, some of the best in Gallia. Their chief town was Vesontio (Besançon) on the Doubs, and they bad other towns also. They fed hogs, and their hams and bacon were exported to Rome as Strabo (iv. p.192) says; and Varro (de R. R. 2.4) may mean to say the same, when he speaks of Gallic bacon.

The Sequani had kings, sometimes at least; for Gallic kings were not perpetual. (B. G. 1.3.) Before Caesar went into Gallia, the Arverni and Aedui had been the two most powerful peoples. The Sequani were in league with the Arverni, who occupied the centre of all Gallia, but hostile to their neighbours the Aedui. To maintain themselves against the Aedui, the Arverni and Sequani hired Germans to come over the Rhine. The Germans came in great numbers, and in Caesar's time it was computed that there were 120,000 of them in Gallia. This is the first historical notice of a permanent settlement of Germans in these parts. The Sequani with the assistance of their allies defeated and humbled the Aedui, but they gained nothing by this victory. Ariovistus, the king of these German mercenaries, took from the Sequani a third part of their lands, and was threatening to take a second third, when Caesar drove the Germans into the Rhine, after defeating them near that river. If the Germans were all destroyed or driven away from the territory of the Sequani by Caesar, they came again, for the country on the west bank of the Rhine, which belonged to the Sequani, the Upper Alsace, has been German for many centuries.

In B.C. 52, the Sequani were among the nations who sent their contingent to attack Caesar before Alesia.


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