The word Taurini means "mountaineers", probably from Celtic Taur or Tor "high mountain".
In 218 BC, they were attacked by Hannibal since his allies were the Insubres. The Taurini and the Insubres had a long-standing feud. Their chief town (Taurasia) was captured by Hannibal's forces after a three-day siege. As a people they are rarely mentioned in history. It is believed that a Roman colony was established in 27 BC with the name Castra Taurinorum and afterwards Julia Augusta Taurinorum (modern Turin). Both Livy (v. 34) and Strabo (iv. p. 209) speak of the country of the Taurini as including one of the passes of the Alps, which points to a wider use of the name in earlier times.
The Taurini were the original ancient people of what is now present day Torino (Turin) (Celtic and Ligurian in origin (most likely from the Austrian Halstatt Celtic tribe from which all Celts descended) co-joining with the Ligurian tribes peacefully, hence they are more accurately described as Celto-Ligurian).
This small but strong Celto-Ligurian tribe was the origin of the city of Torino, Italy. The city symbol and coat of arms is the rampant bull, as Torino literally means "young bull". Their decline appears to have been when they refused alliance with the invading Hannibal, who had already allied with the weaker Celtic-Gaul tribes that were enemies of the Taurini, and who had been beaten by the Taurini in several unsuccessful raids of the Taurini village (Taurasia).
It took Hannibal's force of 30,000-40,000 troops plus 100 armoured war elephants three days and nights of battle against the Taurini's 3,800 warriors before the Taurini succumbed to the superior numbers of Hannibal's force. It is estimated that Hannibal lost 11,000 troops and 17 war elephants in that battle. So enraged was Hannibal at the loss of his troops, and concerned that surrounding tribes might be encouraged to put on a show of similar resistance, that Hannibal ordered the butchering of all but a few remaining prisoners to make an example and send a clear message to others that dared resist an alliance. The effect was decisive and the surrounding tribes allowed Hannibal free passage without resistance.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.
References and footnotes
- Livy XXI, 38: Taurini semigalli.
- William Hazlitt, The Classical Gazetteer: A Dictionary of Ancient Geography, Sacred and Profane, 1851, p. 336
- Polybius iii. 60, 8