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Metus Gallicus, tumultus Cimbricus?

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The Possible Promulgation of a tumultus in the Cimbrian War (105-101 BCE )

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This article aims to contribute to an ongoing scholarly debate about crises in the Roman world. It presents a case study of Roman crisis management, the so-called tumultus. The main question it sets out to answer is whether the wars of the Romans against the Germanic Cimbri and Teutones (113-101) 1 —the Roman defeat at the Battle of Arausio (Orange) in 105 in particular—led to the promulgation of such a military emergency, which opened the possibility to facilitate the draft of extra troops by the Roman Senate. A prerequisite for this state of emergency was that the enemy had crossed the Alps and had set foot on Italian soil (tumultus Italicus), or at least entered the area north of the river Po, Cisalpine Gaul (tumultus Gallicus). Contrary to recent views on crisis management during the Roman Republic, it is stated here that the scattered literary sources related to the Cimbrian War all seem to suggest that on two occasions during this war a tumultus declaration may have been proclaimed in Rome; either directly after the news of Arausio reaching the city of Rome, or else after the Cimbrian invasion of Italy in 102.

Affiliations: 1: Radboud Universiteit Nijmegen, Faculteit der Letteren Erasmusplein 1, 6525 ht Nijmegen The Netherlands


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