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AQUITA´NIA, AQUITA´NI (Ἀκυϊτανία, Ἀκυιτανοί, Strab.). Caesar (Caes. Gal. 1.1) makes Aquitania one of the three divisions of the country which he calls Gallia. The Garumna (Garonne) divided the Aquitani from the Celtae or the Galli, as the Romans called them. Aquitania extended from the Garumna to the Pyrenees: its western boundary was the ocean. Its boundaries are not more accurately defined by Caesar, who did not visit the country until B.C. 50. (B. G. 8.46.) In B.C. 56 he sent P. Crassus into Aquitania with a force to prevent the Aquitani assisting the Galli (B. G. 3.11, 20, &c.); and he informs us incidentally that the towns of Tolosa (Toulouse), Carcaso (Cercassone), and Narbo (Narbonne) were included within the Roman Gallia Provincia, and thus enables us to fix the eastern boundary of Aquitania at this time within certain limits. A large part of the Aquitani submitted to Crassus. Finally all the cities of Aquitania gave Caesar hostages. (B. G. 8.46.) Augustus, B.C. 27, made a new division of Gallia into four parts (Strab. p. 177); but this division did not affect the eastern boundary of the Aquitani, who were still divided as before from the Celtae (who were included in Narbonensis) on the east by the heights on the Cevenna (Cévennes); which range is stated by Strabo not quite correctly to extend from the Pyrenees to near Lyon. But Augustus extended the boundaries of Aquitania north of the Garumna, by adding to Aquitania fourteen tribes north of the Garonne. Under the Lower Empire Aquitania was further subdivided. [GALLIA.]

The chief tribes included within the Aquitania of Augustus were these: Tarbelli, Cocosates, Bigerriones, Sibuzates, Preciani, Convenae, Ausci, Garites, Garumni, Datii, Sotiates, Osquidates Campestres, Sucasses, Tarusates, Vocates, Vasates, Elusates, Atures, Bituriges Vivisci, Meduli; north of the Garumna, the Petrocorii, Nitiobriges, Cadurci, Ruteni, Gabali, Vellavi, Arverni, Lemovices, Santones, Pictones, Bituriges Cubi. The Aquitania of Augustus comprehended all that country north of the Garonne which is bounded on the east by the Allier, and on the north by the Loire, below the influx of the Allier, and a large part of the Celtae, were thus included in the division of Aquitania. Strabo indeed observes, that this new arrangement extended Aquitania in one part even to the banks of the Rhone, for it took in the Helvii. The name Aquitania was retained in the middle ages; and after the dismemberment of the empire of Charlemagne, Aquitania formed one of the three grand divisions of France, the other two being the France of that period in its proper restricted sense, and Bretagne; and a king of Aquitaine, whose power or whose pretensions extended from the Loire to the Pyrenees, was crowned at Poitiers. (Thierry, Lettres sur l'Histoire de France, No. xi.) But the geographical extent of the term Aquitania was limited by the invasions of the Basques or Vascones, who settled between the Pyrenees and the Garonne, and gave their name Gascogne to a part of the SW. of France. The name Aquitania became corrupted into Guienne, a division of France up to 1789, and the last trace of the ancient name of Aquitania.

The Aquitani had neither the same language, nor the same physical characters as the Celtae. (Caes. Gal. 1.1; Strab. pp. 177, 189; Amm. Marc. 15.11, who here merely copies Caesar.) In both these respects, Strabo says, that they resembled the Iberi, more than the Celtae. When P, Crassus invaded this country, the Aquitani sent for and got assistance from their nearest neighbours in Spain, which, in some degree, confirms the opinion of their being of Iberian stock. When they opposed Crassus, they had for their king, or commander-in-chief, Adcantuannus, who had about him a body of 600 devoted men, called Soldurii, who were bound to one another not to survive if any ill luck befel their friends. The Aquitani were skilled in countermining, for which operation they were qualified by working the minerals of their country. The complete reduction of the Aquitani was effected B.C. 28, by the proconsul M. Valerius Messalla, who had a triumph for his success. (Sueton. Aug. 21; Appian. B.C. 4.38; Tibullus, 2.1. 33.) As. the Aquitani had a marked nationality, it was Roman policy to confound them with the Celtae, which was effected by the new division of Augustus. It has been conjectured that the name Aquitani is derived from the numerous mineral springs (aquae) which exist on the northern slope of the Pyrenees; which supposition implies that Aq is a native name for “water.” Pliny (4.19), when he enumerates the tribes of Aquitanica, speaks of a people called Aquitani, who gave their name to the whole country. In another passage (4.17), he says, that Aquitanica was first called Armorica; which assertion may perhaps be reckoned among the blunders of this writer. [ARMORICA.]

The Aquitania of Caesar comprised the flat, dreary region south of the Garonne, along the coast of the Atlantic, called Les Landes, and the numerous valleys on the north face of the Pyrenees, which are drained by the Adour, and by some of the branches of the Garonne. The best part of it contained the modern departments of Basses and Hautes Pyrênêes.


hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.1
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 4.19
    • Ammianus Marcellinus, Rerum Gestarum, 15.11
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