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CEBENNA MONS or CEVENNA, as it is generally written in the editions of Caesar (Caes. Gal. 7.8: also called Gebenna, Plin. Nat. 3.4; Cebennici Montes, Mela, 2.5; τὸ Κέμμενον ὄρος, Strab. p. 177; τὰ Κέμμενα ὄρη, Ptol. 2.8; and Κεμμένη, Strab. p. 177: Cévennes), a range of mountains in Southern Gallia which bounds the lower valley of the Rhone on the west, and separated Gallia Narbonensis from the part of Gallia, which is to the west and north-west. Strabo describes the Cebenna as running in a direction at right angles to the Pyrenees, through the plain country of Gallia, and terminating about the middle of the plain country near Lugdunum (Lyon). He makes the length 2000 stadia, or 250 Roman miles. He does not say that it is connected with the Pyrenees, as some modern writers misunderstand him; for he knew that there was an easy road from Narbonne by the valley of the Atax (Aude) to Toulouse, in the valley of the Garonne, and to the western ocean. This road is in the depression in which the canal of Languedoc is made. He says that the Cebenna approaches nearest to the Rhone at the part which is opposite to the junction of the Rhone and the Isara (Isère). Perhaps, however, he included the high lands south of the valley of the Aude, which belong to the Pyrenees, in the name Cebenna, for he mentions in order from S. to N. the rivers Atax, Obris or Orbis (Orb), and Araura, the Arauris or Araris (Hérault), as flowing from the Cebenna into Gallia Narbonensis. He correctly describes the Illiberris (Tech) and Ruscino (Tet), which are south of the valley of the Aude as flowing from the Pyrenees; but the Aude also has its sources in the Pyrenees. He had not, however, a very exact notion of the relative position of the Pyrenees and the Cebenna. He correctly describes the offsets or lower parts (ὑπώρειαι) of the Cebenna as extending eastward towards the Rhone. The high mountain Lesura (La Lozère, in the department of Lozère) is mentioned by Pliny, as a district famed for its cheese (11.42).

When Caesar commenced his winter campaign of B.C. 52, he crossed the Cebenna from Gallia Narbonensis, then called the Provincia. He describes the Cebenna as separating the Helvii, who were in the Provincia, from the Arverni, who were on the west side of the mountains. He cut his way through snow six feet deep and surprised the Arverni, who thought that the Cebenna protected them like a wall. (B. G. 7.8.) The steep side of this rugged range is turned towards the valley of the Rhone. The Gallic tribes on the east side of the Cebenna in the Roman Provincia were the Helvii and the Volcae Tectosages. On the west side were the Vellavi and [p. 1.579]Gabali, the chief part of whose territory was in the mountain region of the Cebenna; for the Gabali whom Caesar does not mention (B. G. 7.8) were between the Helvii and the Arverni. South of the Arverni, on the west side of the Cebenna and in the basin of the Garonne, were the Ruteni, the southern part of whose territory, even in Caesar's time, was within the limits of the Roman Provincia.

The extent of the mountainous country comprehended under the name Cévennes is much less than the Cebenna of Strabo. The direct distance from the most southern source of the Orb to La Lozère, (4890 ft. high), is about 80 miles. The sources of the Allier, a branch of the Loire, and of the Lot and the Tarn, branches of the Garonne, are in the mountain regions of the Lozère. The direct distance from La Lozère to Mont Mezene, which is as far north perhaps as we can extend the name of Cévennes, is about 45 miles. Mont Mezene (5820 feet high), near which are the sources of the Loire, is nearly in the latitude of the junction of the Rhone and the Isère, where Strabo states that the Cebenna approaches nearest to the Rhone. It is true that this part of the Cévennes is nearer to the Rhone than any part of the range to the south of it, for the direction of the range is from SW. to NE.; but Strabo, as already observed, makes the Cebenna extend further north to the latitude of Lyon.


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 7.8
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.4
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.8
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