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Eth. SA´NTONES or SA´NTONI (Eth. Σάντονες,Eth. Σάντονοι, Eth. Σάντωνες), a people of South-western Gallia, in the Celtogalatia Aquitania of Ptolemy (2.7.7), who names their capital Mediolanium. [MEDIOLANUM] They were in the Celtica of Caesar, being north of the Garumna (Garonne). The Roman poets make the quantity of the word suit their verse, as Lucan does when he says (1.422), “gaudetque amoto Santonus hoste;” and Juvenal and Martial when they use the word Santonicus.

Caesar, who first mentions the Santones (B. G. 1.10), says that when the Helvetii were preparing to leave their country with their families and moveables, their intention was to make their way to the territory of the Santones, “who are not far distant from the borders of the Tolosates.” He gives us no means for conjecturing why the Helvetii proposed to cross the whole width of Gallia and settle themselves in a country on the coast of the Atlantic which was full of people. The position of the Santones is defined by Ptolemy, who places them between the Pictones and the Bituriges Vivisci, one of whose towns was Burdigala (Bordeaux). Strabo (iv. pp. 190. 208) fixes the position of the Santones still clearer when he ways that the Garumna flows into the sea between the Bituriges Iosci (Vivisci) and the Santones, both of which are Celtic nations. In another passage he places the Pictones and Santones on the shores of the Atlantic, and the Pictones north of the Santones; which completes the description of their position.

Caesar never made any campaign against the Santones, or, if he did, he has said nothing about it. He got ships from the Pictones and Santones for his naval war with the Veneti (B. G. 3.11), from which we learn that the Santones and Pictones were a maritime people. When Vercingetorix (B.C. 52) was stirring up the Gallic nations against Caesar, he secured the assistance of the Pictones and “all the rest of the states that border on the ocean,” an expression which includes the Santones, though they are not mentioned. But the Santones sent 12,000 men to the siege of Alesia. (B. G. 7.75.) In Pliny's enumeration of the Gallic people (4.33) the Santones are named Liberi.

The Santones gave name to that division of France before the revolution which was named Saintonge, the chief part of which is included in the French department of Charente Infèrieure. The coast of the territory of the Santones is low and marshy; the interior is generally level and fertile. D'Anville supposed that the territory of the Santones comprehended the diocese of Saintes, and the small province of Aunis on the north-west.

The wormwood of this country is spoken of by various writers, Pliny (27.38), and Martial (Mart. 9.95):-- “Santonica medicata dedit mihi pocula virga.

Martial (14.128) and Juvenal (8.145) mention a “cucullus” with the name “Santonicus.” It appears that some thick coarse woollen cloths were imported from Gallia into Italy.

Havercamp in his edition of Orosius (6.7) gives a coin with the name “Arivos,” and on the other side the legend “Santonos” in Roman capitals with the figure of the horse in action. He gives also another coin with the same legend; and a third with the abbreviated name “Sant” and the name of “Q. Doci” on it.


hide References (4 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (4):
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 27.38
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 14.128
    • Martial, Epigrammata, 9.95
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.7
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