Paris in July: Circa 52BC

Did you ever consider that Parisians could be speaking Italian and be called Lutetians? No, I guess not. Doesn’t have quite the same allure, does it? But it could have happened, if the Roman Empire hadn’t collapsed in a heap.

Amongst the many books relating to Paris– novels set in Paris, French cookbooks, French tourist tomes, memoirs of famous French residents and those from other countries who have chosen to make France their home – one ancient literary endeavour may have been overlooked. Julius Caesar was probably the first author to use France (or to be precise, Gaul, which includes a few other modern countries) as the backdrop for his de Bello Gallico, a series of commentaries on the Gallic Wars. Now I’m sure you don’t need me boring you with a history lesson, suffice to say that, like any author, Caesar had an agenda. His commentaries were pure political propaganda aimed at establishing his military reputation. Worth a read if you like history.

But, back to the Lutetians. The name Paris stems from the Parisii, a Celtic tribe that inhabited the area around the Ȋle de la Cité from the first to the third century BC. However, in 52BC, when the Parisii broke their agreement with the Romans in order to support the Gallic war leader Vercingetorix, the city was captured and burned by the Romans and a new town Lutetia established on the Left Bank of the Seine It was not until the decline of the Roman Empire in the third century AD that the name Paris was resurrected. So, as I said there was a possibility that we could have been celebrating Lutetia in July!

The Louvre is home to a wonderful array of Roman artefacts and the busts of several Roman Emperors. Not half as attractive as the current Parisians though :-)

Emperor Hadrian

Marcus Aurelius

Septimius Severus

1 Comment

  1. I recall being addicted to Asterix & Obelisk in primary school & was fascinated to find out they were actually in France!

    Reply

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