The Arvernes ( Latin Arverni in ) were a Gallic people Massif Central. They were one of the most powerful people of Gaulle power station, being opposed on several occasions to the Roman power. The “Arvernes” bequeathed their name to the Auvergne. Their name would mean “those which are higher”.
Their capital, at the time of the war of Gaules, Gergovie, was on a plate which dominates the current town of Clermont-Ferrand. Previously, their capital seems to be found in the oppida of Corent and Gondole. The excavations currently carried out on these sites allowed exceptional discoveries: collective burials of horses and riders, pregnant nun intended for the banquets given by the kings arvernes with temples, material monetarist and remainders of the offerings (animal bones and Amphora S).
Hegemony arverne and monarchy
The difficult knowledge of people of the Protohistoire
As for the other Gallic people of the Antiquity, Arvernes did not leave us written sources. They are thus known for us only by the accounts made by foreign, Greek and Roman people. If it is Jules César which especially enables us to know them to I er, Arvernes earlier make their appearance in our sources, at the time of their confrontation with the Romans during the II E (see below) and by the accounts of the Greek Poseidonios. This last having travelled as a Celtic Gaulle at the beginning of I er, collected former traditions there. Its work was lost but extracts were safeguarded by Strabon, Diodore of Sicily and Athénée. With other Greek sources (Appien) and Latin (see below), it enables us to go up until the medium of the II E. The first mention of Arvernes in our sources is still former: according to Tite-Live, at the time of the Second Punic War, an ambassador arverne would have met, on the Languedocien coast, the Carthaginian Hasdrubal, which came to support Hannibal in Italy and would have made him warm welcome, in particular by guiding it (XXVII, 39). These literary sources marked by the prejudices of their time must be confronted with the increasingly rich lesson which the Archéologie delivers to us.
Thus when Arvernes enter the history, towards -200 - -150, they constitute already well identified people, politically powerful and organized. The installation of the cultural entity arverne is thus quite former. Archeology can confirm this seniority: the Céramique arverne is rather specific and present very elaborate decorations. Its antecedents probably go back to the beginning of the III E.
A hegemony and not an empire
The gréco-Romans sources present to us for the medium of the II E a monarchy imposing its hegemony to the people of the center and the south of the Gaulle. According to Strabon (IV, 2,3) hegemony arverne would have extended from the Languedoc and the territory Marseilles, until the ocean and with the the Rhine. The Greek term that one can include/understand by hegemony, or power, sometimes was translated by territory, or worsens. Thus was born the erroneous idea from an empire arverne which would have had an immense extension to the second century, preceding the French national unit. It of it was nothing. It is necessary to include/understand the passage of Strabon like describing a hegemony, i.e. the superiority diplomatic, military and political temporary of a city, with the image of hegemonies which knew the traditional Greek history around the cities of Athens, Sparte and Thèbes. It is as necessary to remember as the Roman generals having overcome Arvernes had also interest, after -121 to amplify their power passed for better emphasizing their glory present.
That Arvernes were a political and military power impossible to circumvent as a Gaulle at that time is however undeniable, and it is probable that they held for enough a long period the top of the powers de Gaulle power station, directing a rather vast network of alliances with more or less close and powerful people and exerting a more direct constraint on the small people which were their neighbors, like the Gabales. This hegemony was of course soldier and warlike - the war playing a central social role and political in the Gallic aristocracies. Jean-Baptiste Colbert de Beaulieu put forth the assumption that this hegemony could be perceived through the Gallic currencies of this time. If its assumptions were partly corrected, it does not remain about it less than the coining arverne is well the reflection of prosperous and rich people. The currencies arvernes are clearly individualized at the latest in the middle of the II E. Their iconography is typical and was worked out starting from a prestigious Greek model, Statère S carrying the head of Apollon.
The richness and the fame of the kings arvernes are then with his roof, the prodigality of Luernios thus remained legendary, and its banquets, its distributions of money are known to us by the testimony of Poseidonios. The excavations of Corent undoubtedly found a sanctuary which was the place of such practices. It is about a vast quadrilateral space of approximately fifty meters on side, surrounded by a covered gallery and a high palisade. Forty-eight posts supported there a six meters broad gantry. Two twin buildings were built there, and tanks libatoires, many animal remainders and monetary material were found. Monarchy arverne was a charismatic capacity strongly based on the personal prestige gained with the war and by the redistribution of the richnesses to the community, in carefully organized ceremonies. The ancient texts also show us on this occasion the importance of the bards: their talent is there to relay the capacity of the king, to affirm it, perennialize it. The charisma gained with the war could appear by the heads cut of overcome, the Greek texts telling us the pride of the Gallic chiefs exhibant craniums of the overcome enemies. There still, archeology returns a remarkable echo to them: a ceramics was found with Aulnat where one sees the drawing of a warrior arverne to horse, the neck of mounting being decorated cut heads. The king thus seems to have preserved his capacity by affirming his warlike power vis-a-vis the other aristocrats and by cultivating his generosity for the greatest part of the people, support essential with his capacity.
Sources of the power
It is from now on clear that the power arverne was initially agricultural and demographic. As in the other de Gaulle areas the habitat is organized at the second century in rather wide hamlets. But in Auvergne, in the very fertile plain of the Limagne, they are extremely close and dense. That then explains the width of the troops mobilized by the kings arvernes. That can then explain the richness of their coining, in particular that of gold. The territory arverne is not one of most gold bearing, unlike that of their neighbors Lémovices. The gold of coining arverne thus seems to be acquired either by commercial exchanges, or by spoils of war, or still by operations of mercenariat, sometimes very far from Gaulle. However the military and diplomatic power arverne was put at evil by the Roman victories related to the conquest of the Narbonnaise between -124 and -121: Bituitos, wire of Luernios there was overcome and captured
Arvernes of -121 with Jules César
Monarchy with an aristocratic government
If the Roman victories of the end of the second century reflect fine with hegemony arverne, it reflect however fine neither with the power nor with the independence of the city which ceased only with the Guerre of Gaules.
But the exile of Bituitos and its son after the defeat of -121 had had undoubtedly important political consequences in the middle of the city arverne. As for good of other Celtic people at that time, the royalty yields the place to an aristocratic government: at the first century before the Christian era, Arvernes were directed by an assembly of magistrates who were perhaps called Vergobret as for other Gallic people. It is possible that this rise to power of the aristocracy corresponded to a concentration relative of the land and buildings to the profit richest (see below). The great number of name of people on the currencies arvernes of the first century and the mobility of the settlement let think that the political power at the same time unstable and was disputed. Always it is that this aristocratic mode did not achieve the unanimity, that the partisans of a popular royalty were undoubtedly still numerous. The political tensions remained very strong. Celtillos, father of Vercingétorix, being in position of power, would have, according to César, aspired to the royalty: his/her companions then reflect it with death.
An always required hegemony
César at the beginning of its account of the war of Gaules teaches us that Arvernes had not given up their claims with a military and diplomatic power as a Gaulle. Since -121 at least, their rivals were the Éduens. In first half of I er, two systems of alliances seem to be opposite around Arvernes and of Éduens. César teaches us how the latter were overcome when Arvernes were combined with the Séquanes and with the Germains. Little time before the arrival of César as a Gaulle, Éduens had been found subjected to Séquanes then with the German chief Arioviste. Do Arvernes seem on the other hand less present - sign perhaps of interior dissensions, or which it had been satisfied with the lowering of their enemy? Always it is that they observed initially a careful and distant neutrality vis-a-vis César.
The war of Gaules is also a political conflict between Gaulois
At the time of the last part of the War of Gaules, Vercingétorix, noble arverne, asserts the royalty for him again. It also runs up him against the other aristocrats, and in particular against his uncle Gobannitio. Escaping, it is pressed on the people of the campaigns to impose and take the title of king. This political change obtained, it takes the head of the Gallic coalition against César. When César comes to defy it on its grounds, at the time of the Siège of Gergovie, it can push back the Roman army. Overcome with Alésia, it is captured by César.
César after its victory shows leniency and of political direction, it spares Arvernes and returns twenty thousand prisoners to them, no doubt that it wants to be based on the part of the aristocracy which had been favorable to him before. Arvernes thus find a government directed by an assembly of magistrates and the notable ones. It is Epasnactos which takes the head of the city. Described like a large friend of Rome by César, he also is known to us by currencies marked EPAD, of which one very great number was found with Gergovie. Epasnactos proves its fidelity in Rome by delivering to César the cadurque chief Luctérios.
The Arverne city integrated into the Roman empire
A new capital
The city of Arvernes is then integrated into the new province of Aquitaine. It seems to have known a certain prosperity then. Gergovie its capital is moved in Augustonemetum, current Clermont-Ferrand, towards the end of I er: Augustan age marks one time of relative rupture. Ancient town planning remains little known about it, but it was organized according to an orthogonal plan, as many Roman cities. Today only one ancient vestige is still visible in the city, it acts of the “Wall of Sarrazins”, thus named with the medieval time.
Hydropathic establishments were found near Clermont-Ferrand, with Royat and Chamalières - a sanctuary associated with sources preserved very many ex-votos, now visible with the Bargoin museum of Clermont-Ferrand, with one of the longest inscriptions in Gallic Langue.
There is not thus solution of continuity with the past: the romanisation is built on the Gallic past and not against him. Thus the sanctuary of Corent it is refitted on the basis of the former plan, but with techniques of Roman construction, and a Fanum is high, in addition to the two small temples. The abandonment of Corent for Gergovie, then for Clermont, thus did not mean the end of the religious role of this sanctuary.
The notable discrete ones, industrial people
Little Arvernes is known under the empire, and so some integrated the equestrian order or the senatorial order, they remained to us unknown. At the third century we know that notable a arverne had bonds with powerful the Timésithée. At the end of antiquity however the character of Sidoine Apollinaire watch importance and richness of the nobility arverne and its bonds with Rome.
The recent archaeological prospections carried out around Clermont-Ferrand, revealed a dense agricultural site network ('' villae '') which structured the rural areas of the Limagne and was set up at the 1st century. Very many villae was identified in a radius of 20 to 30 km of the city, with strong densities for the most fertile grounds, attesting of an intense agricultural development and of an important demographic occupation. A rather great number of these villae take again in fact the site of an exploitation of the time of Tène. Other indices of continuity exist, it would seem in fact that one period of concentration of the rural properties took place at the beginning of I er: there thus would have been a relative social continuity of the elites arvernes between the end of the period of independence and the time of the Roman empire.
In addition, the agricultural production seems to have taken a larger importance at the 1st century, the previous period testifying to practices to dominant pastoral. The production undoubtedly was initially turned towards cereals as can let it think the discovery of a hydraulic mill of the Martres of Veyre. It is possible that there was also vine growing. The maximum densities seem reached at the 2nd century. A rather strong continuity is however noted in the occupation of the villae , in particular for richest, which are maintained with the Low Empire and even sometimes with the Early middle ages
At the end of the 1st century, the workshops of Céramique of Lezoux were a considerable success, exporting to them sigillée Céramique in most of the Roman occident, with the image of other Gallic ceramic workshops like that of Graufesenque. The shapes of this ceramics, the signatures of the potters, are invaluable indices for the archeologists, in particular to date the site where ceramics was found.
These testimonys of an undeniable prosperity, an important romanisation and a good insertion in the exchanges which animated the empire, thus make all the more enigmatic our weak knowledge of the elites of the city arverne under the empire. But it is true that it is also the case for other Gallic cities.
The Mercury worship
During the 1st century, the city obtains a rich person temple dedicated to Mercure, which undoubtedly corresponds to that whose remainders were found at the top of the Puy de Dôme. Pline Old the preserved us the description of the colossal statue that the sculptor Zénodore had set up for this sanctuary. It is possible that it is also the sanctuary of Vassogalate about which speaks Gregoire de Tours. According to this last, it would have been plundered and set fire to by the Alamans carried out by king Chrocus in 259. It is however generally considered that the temple of Vassogalate corresponds to the structures found in the current district of Jaude. The interest for the statue of Zénodore was started again in April 2007 by the discovery, in the south of the ancient agglomeration of Clermont-Ferrand, of a foot of monumental statue ancient of great dimension (60cm, is a statue of approximately 4 meters) and of a realization of exceptional quality: if nothing indicates that it is about a fragment of the statue of Zénodore, this discovery testifies to the presence of a large statuary of quality in the capital arverne at the time Roman.
Mercury arverne was the direct heir to the Gallic god Lug. Inscriptions - found in sites sometimes very far away from Auvergne - qualify Arvernus or of Arvernorix .
Bituitos : king of Arvernes of the second century BC, wire of Luernios.
- Luernios : king of Arvernes of the second century BC, father of Bituitos.
- Celtillos : notable arverne of the first century BC, father of Vercingétorix.
- Gobannitio : first half of the first century BC, uncle de Vercingétorix.
- Vercingétorix : -80 (?) -46
- Vercassivellaunos : first half of the first century BC, cousin of Vercingétorix.
- Epasnactos : first half of the first century BC, arverne chief favorable to César.
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