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Eth. ARVERNI (Eth. Ἀρουέρνοι, Strab. p. 190), a nation of Celtica, and in Caesar's time one of the most powerful of the Gallic nations, and the rival of the Aedui for the supremacy (B. G. 1.31). In the great rising of the Galli under Vercingetorix, B.C. 52, the Eleutheri Cadurci, Gabali, and Vellauni are mentioned (B. G. 7.75) as being accustomed to yield obedience to the Arverni. It is doubtful if Eleutheri is a qualification of the name Cadurci: it is probable that under this corrupt form the name of some other people is concealed. The reading Vellauni is also doubtful: the people are called Vellavi in Strabo's text (p. 190; Walckenaer, Géog. des Gaules, &c., vol. i. p. 339).

On the SE. Caesar makes the Mons Cebenna ( Cévennes) the boundary of the Arverni, and their neighbours on this side were the Helvii in the Provincia, afterwards called Gallia Narbonensis (B. G. 7.8). But the proper territory of the Arverni did not extend so far, for the Vellavi and the Gabali lay between them and the Helvii. Strabo makes their territory extend to the Loire. They seem to have possessed the valley of the Elaver (Allier), perhaps nearly to its junction with the Loire, and a large part of the highlands of central France. The name is still perpetuated in that of the mountain region of Auvergne. Their neighbours on the E. were the Aedui, on the W. the Lemovices, and on the NW. the Bituriges. The Cadurci were on the SW. Their actual limits are said to coincide with the old dioceses of Clermont and S. Flour, a determination which is only useful to those who can consult the maps of the old diocesan divisions of France. The Arverni are represented by Strabo as having extended their power as far as Narbonne and the frontiers of Marseille; and even to the Pyrenees, the Rhine, and the Ocean. (Strab. p. 191.) If this statement is true, it does not represent the extent of their territory, but of their power or influence when they were the dominant people in Gallia. In Caesar's time, as we have seen, the states in subjection to them were only those in their immediate neighbourhood. Their pretended consanguinity with the Romans (Lucan 1.427)--if it means any thing at all, and is not a blunder of Lucan--may merely indicate their arrogance before they felt the edge of the Roman sword. Livy (5.34) mentions Arverni among those who accompanied Bellovesus in the Gallic migration into Italy.

The position of the Arverni is determined with some precision by that of their capital Augastonemetum, which Strabo calls Nemossus, which is now Clermont, the chief town of the Auvergne. Caesar does not mention this place. In his time the capital of the Arverni was Gergovia (B. G. 7.36), which he unsuccessfully besieged.

When Hasdrubal passed into Gallia on his road to Italy, to join Hannibal, the Arverni received him in a friendly way. (Liv. 27.39.) Whether any of them joined him does not appear. A king of the [p. 1.229]Arverni, named Luer, is mentioned by Strabo, who's he rode in his chariot used to throw about him gold and silver coin, for the people to pick up. He was the father of Bituitus, king of the Arverni at the time of the campaign of Fabius Maximus.

The Romans seem to have first met the Arverni in B.C. 121. The Aedui and Allobroges were at war, and the Allobroges had the Arverni and Ruteni as allies. Q. Fabius Maximus defeated the Allobroges and their allies with great slaughter, at the confluence of the Rhone and the Isère. (Florus, 3.2; Vell. 2.10; Oros. 5.14.) The Allobroges were made Roman subjects, but the Arverni and the Ruteni lost none of their territory (B. G. 1.45). In fact their position defended them, for the wall of the Cévennes was the natural boundary of the Provincia on the NW. Some years before Caesar was proconsul of Gallia the Arverni had joined the Sequani in inviting Ariovistus and his Germans into Gallia, in order to balance the power of the Aedui, who were allies of the Romans. The German had become the tyrant of the Sequani, but the territory of the Arverni had not been touched by him when Caesar entered Gallia (B.C. 58). In B.C. 52, when Gallia was tranquillized, as Caesar says, a general rising of the Galli took place. The Carnutes broke out first; and next Vercingetorix, an Arvernian, whose father had held the chief power (principatus) in all Gallia, roused his countrymen. This was the beginning of a great contest and the last struggle of the Galli. Vercingetorix commanded the combined forces (B. G. 7.63, 64). The war was finished by the capture of Alesia, and Vercingetorix fell into the hands of Caesar. He was carried to Rome, and kept a prisoner till Caesar's great triumph, when the life of this brave and unsuccessful Gaul was ended in Roman fashion by the hands of the executioner, after he had adorned the barbaric pomp of the procession. (D. C. 43.19.)

In the division of Gallia under Augustus the Arverni were included in the extended limits of Aquitania. Pliny (4.19) calls them “liberi;” and, if this is correct, we must suppose that in Pliny's time the Arverni enjoyed the privileges which, under the Roman government, were secured to those provincials who had the title of “liberae civitates.”


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Lucan, Civil War, 1.427
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.19
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 34
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 27, 39
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