Gaul in the 1st century BC, showing the relative position of the Allobroges tribe.] The Allobroges were a warlike Celtic tribe in Gaul located between the Rhône River and the Lake of Geneva in what later became Savoy, Dauphiné, and Vivarais. Their cities were in areas of modern-day Lyon, Saint-Etienne and Grenoble and the modern _fr. "departement" of Isère and in the modern Switzerland. Their capital was today's Vienne.

First recorded reference to Allobroges is from Greek historian Polybius in 150-130 BC. He tells how they unsuccessfully resisted Hannibal when he crossed the Alps in 218 BC.

Relations with Romans

Allobroges were famous for their warriors, wealth and import of wheat. They controlled most of the Rhone river valley and various important mountain passes to Italy, e.g. "Via Agrippa".

In 123 BC Allobroges gave shelter to king Tuto-Motulus of the Salluvii tribe Rome had conquered and refused to hand him over. Rome declared war and moved against them. In August 8, 121 BC legions of Quintus Fabius Maximus defeated them and forced them to submit; Maximus earned a moniker "Allobrogicus" for this feat.

The Allobroges additionally played a rather important part in deciding to foil the second Catiline Conspiracy of 63 BCE, an attempt to foment civil war throughout Italy and simultaneously burn down Rome. It was a plot by ostracized high political Roman elites and allied plebeian military connected to their cause. The conspirators made the mistake of attempting to recruit the Allobroges via their ambassadors delegation, that happened to be in Rome during the planning of the conspiracy. Since the Allobroge delegation was in Rome seeking relief from the oppression of their Roman governor, one of the Catiline conspirators, Lentulus Sura instructed Publius Umbrenus, a businessman with dealings in Gaul, to offer to free them of their miseries to throw off the heavy yoke of their governor--if they would join the Catiline conspiracy against Rome. The conspiracy was revealed to the Allobroges, however their diplomatic envoys informed the current consul Cicero. Cicero instructed the Allobroges envoys to get tangible proof of the conspiracy. Thinking they were gaining allies, five of the leading conspirators wrote letters to the Allobroges so that the envoys could show their people that there was hope in a real conspiracy. However, these letters were intercepted instead in transit to Gaul. Then, Cicero had the incriminating letters read before the Senate the following day, in the first of his Catiline Orations. With the plot spoiled, its intricate planning was unable to work properly, and its ringleaders were rounded up rather quickly or sacrificed themselves mostly in unprepared pitched battles that occurred around Rome.

In short, Rome might have been burned down except for the Roman loyalty of the Allobroges.

However, they rebelled on their own shortly thereafter. In 61 BC chief Catugnatus revolted but Gaius Pomptinus defeated them at Solonium.

Next, loyal once more, Allobrogian warriors joined Julius Caesar during his conquest of Gaul.

A generation later, Emperor Augustus placed Allobroges in the region of Gallia Narbonensis and later Gallia Viennensis. Under the Roman Empire, Vienne grew and in 100 AD Tacitus described it as "historic and imposing". Archaeological excavations have revealed extensive warehouses. They collected toll from traffic passing up Via Agrippa and various other Roman roads.


It is noteworthy first of all which deities are not represented. From the "Palace of Mirrors" baths at Saint-Romain-en-Gal, across the river from the modern town of Vienna, but part of ancient Vienne, comes a statue of the tutelary goddess of Vienne. North-East of Vienne, north of modern Grenoble, is a major healing sanctuary at the moren town of Aix-les-Bains (the name indicates that this function continued for some time). This was dedicated to a southern Gaulish healing god Barvos, and not to Apollo as might have been expected of such a Romanised people.

ee also

* List of peoples of Gaul


* [ Allobroges and Hannibal]
* "Initial material derived from the public domain Lemprière's Classical Dictionary of 1824".

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