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Eth. SA´LYES (Σάλυες) SA´LYI, SALLU´VII, or SA´LLYES (Steph. Byz. s. v.), a Ligurian people in Gallia. There are other varieties in the writing of the word. The early Greeks gave the name of Ligyes to these Salyes; and their territory, which was in the possession of the Massaliots, when Strabo wrote, was originally called Ligystice. (Strab. iv. p.203.) The geographer means to say that the old Greeks were not acquainted with the name of Salyes, but only with the name of the nation to which they belonged. Livy (5.34) speaks of the Phocaeans who founded Massilia being attacked by the Salyes, for in his time the name Salyes was familiar to the Romans.

Strabo speaks of the Salyes in his description of the Alps. He makes their country extend from Antipolis to Massilia, and even a little further. They occupied the hilly country which lies inland and some parts of the coast, where they were mingled with the Greeks (iv. p. 203). They extended west as far as the Rhone. The Salyes had also the country north of Massilia as far as the Druentia (Durance), a distance of 500 stadia; but on crossing the Druentia at Cabellio or Caballio (Cavaillon) a man would be in the country of the Cavares (Strab. iv. p.185), who extended from the Druentia to the Isara (Isère). [CAVARES] Strabo adds that the Salyes occupy both plains and the mountains above the plains. In this passage (Οἱ μὲν οὖν Σάλυες ἐν αὐτοῖς Groskurd (Transl. Strab. vol. i. p. 318) has altered Σάλυες into Καούαροι, and so he has spoiled the meaning. Ukert has defended the true reading, though he has not correctly explained ἐν αὐτοῖς. The Salyes occupied the wide plains east of Tarascon and Arles, one of the best parts of the country between the Durance and the Mediterranean; and so Strabo could correctly say that the Volcae Tectosages who reach to the Rhone had the Salyes extending along their border and opposite to them on the other side of the river, and the Cavares opposite to them (north of the Durance).

The Salyes are sometimes distinguished from the Ligures, as when Strabo (iv. p.178) speaks of the coast which the Massaliots possess and the Salyes as far as the Ligyes to the parts towards Italy and the river Varus, the boundary of the Narbonitis (Provincia Narbonensis) and Italy. Livy also (21.26) speaks of P. Cornelius Scipio sailing along the coast of Etruria and of the Ligures, and then the coast of the Salyes till he came to Massilia. This shows that the Ligurians of Gallia, or the country west of the Var, became known to the Romans by the name of Salyes. Strabo's remark that these Salyes, whom the early Greeks named Ligures, were called Celtoligyes by the later Greeks, may explain how Livy or his Epitomiser has called the Salyes both Ligurians ( “Transalpinos Ligures,” Epit. 47) and Galli (Epit. 60). They were a mixed race of Galli and Ligures.

The Salyes were a warlike people. They had both infantry and cavalry, distributed into ten tribes or divisions. They were the first of the Transalpine nations which the Romans subdued. (Florus, 3.2.) The Romans fought for a long time with the Ligurians east of the Var, and with the Salyes west of it, for these people being in possession of the sea-coast closed against the Romans the way into Spain. They plundered both by sea and land, and were so formidable that the road through their land was hardly safe for a large army. After eighty years of fighting the Romans with difficulty succeeded in getting a road of 12 stadia in width allowed for the free passage of those who went on the public service.

Livy (31.10) tells us that in the Second Punic War the Insubres, Cenomani, and Boii stirred up the Salyes and other Ligurians to join them; and all together under Hamilcar attacked Placentia. There is no ground, as Ukert remarks, to alter the reading “Salyis,” for we see no reason why the Salyes as well as other Ligurians or mixed Ligurians should not aid the enemies of Rome. Both the Ligurians and the Cisalpine Galli dreaded the arms and the encroachment of the Romans. The alliance with [p. 2.887]Massilia first brought the Romans into the country of the Salves; and in B.C. 154 the Oxybii and Deceates, or Deciates, who were threatening Massilia, were defeated by the consul Q. Opimius. The Salyes or Salluvii are not named on this occasion by the historians, and the Deceates and Oxybii, who were certainly Ligurians, may have been two smaller tribes included under the general name of Salyes or Salluvii. [DECIATES; OXYBII.] The consul M. Fulvius Flaccus in B.C. 125 defeated the Salyes, and in B.C. 123 the consul C. Sextius Calvinus completed the subjugation of this people, and founded Aquae Sextiae (Aix) in their territory.

Ptolemy (2.10.15) enumerates Tarascon, Glanum, Arelatum (Arelate) Colonia, Aquae Sextiae Colonia, and Ernaginum as the towns of the Salyes. Tarascon, Glanum (St. Remi), Arelate, and Ernaginum [ERNAGINUM] all lie west of Aquae Sextiae (Aix) and of Marseille; and we clude that the country of the Salyes is the western half of the tract between the Var and the Rhone, and between the Durance and the Mediterranean.

The tribes east of the Salyes, the Albici, Suetri, Nerusi, Oxybii, and Deciates, and there may be some others [COMMONI], were perhaps sometimes included under the name of the more powerful nation of the Salyes; but Strabo's statement does not appear to be strictly correct, when he makes the Salyes extend along the coast to Antipolis. The coast immediately west of the Var belonged to the Deceates and Oxybii. Pliny says “Ligurium celeberrimi ultra Alpes, Salluvii, Deciates, Oxybii” (3.5); the three tribes of Transalpine Ligures whose names occur in the history of the Roman conquestof this country.

In Pliny's list of the Coloniae in the interior of Narbonensis east of the Rhone there is “Aquae Sextiae Salluviorum,” and we may conclude that the head-quarters of the Salyes or Salluvii were in the plain country above Aix, and thence to Arles. Owing to their proximity to the Greeks of Massilia they would be the first of the Ligures or the mixed Galli and Ligurians who felt the effect of Greek civilisation, and there can be no doubt that their race was crossed by Greek blood. Possessing the town of Arelate, at the head of the delta of the Rhone, they would have in their hands the navigation of the lower part of the river. The history of this brave and unfortunate people is swallowed up in the blood-stained annals of Rome; and the race was probably nearly extirpated by the consul Calvinus selling them after his conquest.


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 5, 34
    • Livy, The History of Rome, Book 31, 10
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.10
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