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Eth. ATRE´BATES or ATREBATI (Eth. Ἀτρέβατοι, Strab. p. 194), one of the Belgic nations (Caesar, Caes. Gal. 2.4), or a people of Belgium, in the limited sense in which Caesar sometimes uses that term. They were one of the Belgic peoples who had sent settlers to Britannia, long before Caesar's time (B. G. 5.12); and their name was retained by the Atrebates of Britannia. The Atrebates of Belgium were between the rivers Somme and the Schelde, and the position of their chief town Nemetocenna (B. G. 8.46) or Nemetacum, is that of Arras, in the modern French department of Pas de Calais, on the Scarpe. The Morini were between the Atrebates and the sea. Their country in Caesar's time was marshy and wooded. The name Atrebates is partly preserved in Arras, and in the name of Artois, one of the ante-revolutionary divisions of France. In the middle-ago Latin Artois is called Adertisus Pagus. But it is said that the limits of the Atrebates are not indicated by the old province of Artois, but by the extent of the old diocese of Arras. Atrecht, the German name of Arras, is still nearer to the form Atrebates.

In Caesar's Belgic War, B.C. 57, the Atrebates supplied 15,000 men to the native army (B. G. 2.4), and they were defeated, together with the Nervii, by Caesar, in the battle on the banks of [p. 1.320]the Sambre. (B. G. 2.23.) Caesar gave the Atrebates a king, named Comm (B. G. 4.21), whom he sent over to Britannia, before his first expedition, in order to induce the Britanni to acknowledge the Roman supremacy. Comm was also in Britannia during Caesar's second expedition (5.22). Though Caesar had exempted the Atrebates from imposts and allowed them to enjoy their liberty, as a reward for Comm's services, and had also attached the Morini to the government of Comm, the Belgian joined his countrymen in the general rising against Caesar, under Vercingetorix. (B. G. 7.76.) He finally submitted (8.47).

The Atrebates were included in Gallia Belgica under the empire. (Plin. Nat. 4.7.) It seems that a manufacture of woollen cloths existed among the Atrebates in the later imperial period. (Trebellius Poll. Gallien. 100.6, and the notes of Salmasius, Hist. Aug. Scriptores, pp. 280, 514.)


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  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 2.4
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.7
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