The Allobroges (Ancient Greek: Άλλόβριγες, Άλλόβρυγες, Άλλόβρoγες) were a Gallic tribe of ancient Gaul, located between the Rhône River and the Lake of Geneva in what later became Savoy, Dauphiné, and Vivarais. Their cities were in the areas of modern-day Annecy, Chambéry and Grenoble, the modern departement of Isère, and modern Switzerland. Their capital was today's Vienne.
The location of the Allobroges is deduced from mention of them in ancient writings. Caesar says that the Segusiavi were the "first tribe outside the province" (Gallia Transalpina) on "the far side of the Rhône" and that he marched from the Allobroges to the Segusiavi; that is, the former occupied the east bank of the Rhône and were in the Roman province. On the north, the Rhône divided the Helvetii from the Allobroges; i.e., the latter were on the south bank of the river and Lake Léman from which it flows. Geneva was Allobrogian. Caesar says the Allobroges were "recently subdued."
In 123 BC, the Allobroges gave shelter to King Tutomotulus (or Teutomalius), of the tribe of the Salluvii which Rome had conquered, and refused to hand Tutomotulus over. Rome declared war and moved against the Allobroges. On August 8, 121 BC the legions of Quintus Fabius Maximus defeated them and forced them to submit; Maximus earned the cognomen Allobrogicus for this feat.
The Allobroges additionally played a rather important part in deciding to foil the second Catilinarian Conspiracy of 63 BC, 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, who happened to be in Rome during the planning of the conspiracy. Since the Allobrogian 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.
A generation later, Emperor Augustus placed the 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 tolls from traffic passing up Via Agrippa and various other Roman roads.
From the "Palace of Mirrors" baths at Saint-Romain-en-Gal, across the river from modern Vienne, but part of ancient Vienne, comes a statue of the town's tutelary goddess. North-east of Vienne and north of Cularo (modern Grenoble), is a major healing sanctuary at the modern town of Aix-les-Bains. This was dedicated to a southern Gaulish healing god Borvo, and not to Apollo as might have been expected of such a Romanised people.
- Long, George (1873). "Allobroges". In Smith, William. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography. Volume I. London: John Murray. p. 105.
- Caesar BG, Book I, Section 10.
- Caesar BG, Book I, Section 6.
- Cicero, In Catilinam III.4; Sallust, Bellum Catilinae XL
- Cicero, In Catilinam III.6; Sallust, Bellum Catilinae XLV
- Initial material derived from the public domain Lemprière's Classical Dictionary of 1824.
- Caesar, Julius. De Bello Gallico.