Alpes Poeninae

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Provincia Alpes Poeninae
Province of the Roman Empire

15 BC–476
Location of Alpes Poeninae
The Roman Empire c. 117 AD, with the province of Alpes Poeninae highlighted.
Capital Darantasia/Octodurum
Historical era Antiquity
 -  Created by Augustus 15 BC
 -  Deposition of Romulus Augustulus 476
Today part of  France

Alpes Poeninae [alˈpeːs ˈpoe̯nɪnae̯], also known as Alpes Graiae, was a small Alpine province of the Roman Empire, one of three such provinces in the western Alps between Italy and Gaul. It comprised the Val d'Aosta region (Italy) and the Canton Valais (Switzerland).

Its strongest indigenous tribe were the Salassi. Their territory was annexed by emperor Augustus in 15 BC. Its chief city was Augusta Praetoria Salassorum (Aosta).


The province was named for poeninus mons, the Roman name of the Great St Bernard Pass. Near the pass was a sanctuary dedicated to Jupiter Poeninus.[1]

Because the name Poeninus is similar to Poenus (Latin for "Carthaginian"), some Roman authors inferred that the Carthaginian general Hannibal crossed this part of the Alps in his famous march on Italy in 218 BC, using either the Great St Bernard or Little St Bernard passes. The Roman historian Livy explains that Poeninus was actually a corruption of Penninus, the name of a deity worshipped by a local tribe. Livy adds that it was implausible that Hannibal took such a northerly route, as these high mountain passes would have been inaccessible at the time.[2] Tacitus mentions the Alpes Poeninae in connection with the movements of Otho.[3]


  1. ^ Wilkes, J., S. Parker, R. Bagnall, W. Harris, A. Esmonde-Cleary, C. Wells, J. Drinkwater, R. Knapp, S. Mitchell, B. Z. Lund, R. Talbert, M. E. Downs, M. Joann McDaniel, J. Becker, S. Gillies, T. Elliott. "Places: 982257 (Alpes Graiae et Poeninae)". Pleiades. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ Livy XXI.38
  3. ^ Tac. Historiae 1.87.2