Tigurini

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The Tigurini were a pagus of the Helvetii.
«Die Helvetier zwingen die Römer unter dem Joch hindurch» ("The Helvetians force the Romans to pass under the yoke"). Romantic painting by Charles Gleyre (19th century) celebrating the Tigurini victory over the Romans at Agen (107 BCE) under Divico's command.

The Tigurini were a clan or tribe forming one out of four pagi (provinces) of the Helvetii.[1] The Tigurini were the most important group of the Helvetii, mentioned by both Caesar and Poseidonius, settling in the area of what is now the Swiss canton of Vaud, corresponding to the bearers of the late La Tène culture in western Switzerland. Their name has a meaning of "lords, rulers" (cognate with Irish tigern "lord"). The other Helvetian tribes included the Verbigeni and the Tougeni (sometimes identified with the Teutones), besides one tribe that has remained unnamed.

The name of the Tigurini is first recorded in the context of their alliance with the Cimbri in the Cimbrian War of 113–101 BCE. They crossed the Rhine to invade Gaul in 109 BCE,[2] moved south to the Roman region of Provence in 107 BCE and defeated a Roman army under Lucius Cassius Longinus near Agen.[3][4] The Tigurini followed the Cimbri in their campaign across the Alps, but they did not enter Italy, instead remaining at the Brenner Pass. After the end of the war, they returned to their earlier homes, settling in the western Swiss plateau and the Jura mountains north of Lake Leman.[5] The names of the Tigurini and the Helvetii had retained a connotation of a "barbarian" threat from the north for the Romans, employed by Julius Caesar as a motivation for his expedition to Gaul by suggesting that these tribes were "on the move again". In 58 BCE the Helvetii encountered the armies of Caesar, and were defeated and massacred in the battles of the Aar and the Bibracte, allegedly leaving 228,000 dead.[6] These battles were the initial events in the Gallic Wars, fought between 58 and 49 BCE. After the Roman conquest, the Helvetii participated in the uprising of Vercingetorix in 52 BC, losing their status as foederati. As a means of ascertaining control over the military access routes to Gaul, the Romans established the Colonia Iulia Equestris at the site of the Helvetian settlement of Noviodunum (Nyon). There was still a fortified oppidum in Bois de Châtel in the later 1st century BC, but it was destroyed in the early 1st century AD, its population presumably moving to the newly established Helvetian capital of Aventicum. The Helvetii seem to have retained their division into four pagi, and a certain autonomy, until the 60s AD. They supported Galba in the civil war following the death of Nero in AD 68. Their forces were routed at Bözberg Pass (Mount Vocetius) in AD 69. After this, the population was quickly romanized, losing its former tribal identities.


In early modern Switzerland, the pagus Tigurinus was assumed to correspond to the territory of Zurich, due to the similarity in name with the Latin name of the city, Turicum. Tigurinus therefore came to be used as a learned neo-Latin adjective referring to Zurich during the 16th to 19th centuries, e.g. in the title of the Consensus Tigurinus of 1549,[7] or in Kelleri Tiguro, the latinate name used by gunfounder Jean-Jacques Keller of Zurich in the service of the French Crown. Only in the 20th century, with the discovery of an inscription mentioning pag[us] Tigor[inus] near Avenches, was it established that the Tigurini did not, in fact, live anywhere near Zurich.[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The Celtic Encyclopedia by Harry Mountain p.231 [1] p.180 [2]
  2. ^ Mountain p.231
  3. ^ Mountain p.231
  4. ^ The Celts by Dáithí Ó hÓgáin p.143 [3]
  5. ^ Mountain p.231
  6. ^ Mountain p.231
  7. ^ A history of Christian doctrine William Greenough Thayer Shedd p.467 [4]
  8. ^ CIL XIII 5076 (1940): Genio / pag(i) Tigor(ini) / P(ublius) Graccius / Paternus / t(estamento) p(oni) i(ussit) / Scribonia Lucana / h(eres) f(aciendum) c(uravit)