Map of the Roman Empire - Pannonia

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Ancient Pannonia Important Roman province located between the Danube River and the Alps.

Pannonia. A Roman province between the Danube and the Alps, separated on the west from Noricum by the Mons Cetius, and from Upper Italy by the Alpes Iuliae, on the south from Illyria by the Savus, on the east from Dacia by the Danube, and on the north from Germany by the same river. It corresponded, therefore, to the eastern part of Austria, Carinthia, Styria, Carniola, and Hungary with Slavonia and part of Croatia and Bosnia.

The Pannonians (Pannonii) were probaof Illyrian origin. They were a brave and warlike people, and were conquered by the Romans in the time of Augustus (about B.C. 33). In A.D. 7 the Pannonians joined the Dalmatians and the other Illyrian tribes in their revolt from Rome, but were conquered by Tiberius after a struggle which lasted three years (A.D. 7-9). Pannonia was originally only one province, but was afterwards divided into two provinces, called Pannonia Superior and Pannonia Inferior. The principal towns were Carnuntum, Siscia (Sissek), Poetovio (Pettau), Sopianae (Fünfkirchen), and Aquincum (Altofen). - Harry Thurston Peck. Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities. New York. Harper and Brothers. 1898.

Pannonia is an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia. Pannonia was located over the territory of the present-day western half of Hungary with parts in Austria, Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Slovakia and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Its original inhabitants were the Pannonii (Pannonians), a group of tribes akin to Illyrians. From the 4th century BC it was invaded by various Celtic tribes. Little is heard of Pannonia until 35 BC, when its inhabitants, allies of the Dalmatians, were attacked by Augustus, who conquered and occupied Siscia (Sisak). The country was not, however, definitely subdued until 9 BC, when it was incorporated into Illyricum, the frontier of which was thus extended as far as the Danube.

In AD 6, the Pannonians, with the Dalmatians and other Illyrian tribes, revolted, and were overcome by Tiberius and Germanicus, after a hard-fought campaign which lasted for three years. After the rebellion was crushed in AD 9, the province of Illyricum was dissolved, and its lands were divided between the new provinces of Pannonia in the north and Dalmatia in the south. The date of the division is unknown, most certainly after AD 20 but before AD 50. The proximity of dangerous barbarian tribes (Quadi, Marcomanni) necessitated the presence of a large number of troops (seven legions in later times), and numerous fortresses were built on the bank of the Danube.

Some time between the years 102 and 107, between the first and second Dacian wars, Trajan divided the province into Pannonia Superior (the western), and Pannonia Inferior (the eastern) portion. According to Ptolemy, these divisions were separated by a line drawn from Arrabona (Győr) in the north to Servitium (Gradiška) in the south; later, the boundary was placed further east. The whole country was sometimes called the Pannonias (Pannoniae).

Pannonia Superior was under the consular legate, who had formerly administered the single province, and had three legions under his control: Pannonia Inferior at first under a praetorian legate with a single legion as garrison, after Marcus Aurelius under a consular legate, still with only one legion. The frontier on the Danube was protected by the establishment of the two colonies Aelia Mursia (Osijek) and Aelia Aquincum (Óbuda) by Hadrian. - Wikipedia


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PANNO´NIA (?a?????a, Ptol. 2.1.12; or ?a????a, Zosim. 2.43), one of the most important provinces of the Roman empire, on the south and west of the Danube, which forms its boundary in the north and east; in the south it bordered on Illyricum and Moesia, while in the west it was separated from Noricum by Mount Cetius, and from Italy by the Julian Alps. The country extended along the Danube from Vindobona (Vienna) to Singidunum, and accordingly comprised the eastern portions of Austria, Carinthia, Carniola, the part of Hungary between the Danube and Save, Slavonia, and portions of Croatia and Bosnia. After its subjugation by the Romans, it was divided into Pannonia Superior (? ??? ?a?????a) and Pannonia Inferior (? ??t? ?a?????a), by a straight line running from Arabona in the north to Servitium in the south, so that the part west of this line constituted Upper Pannonia, and that on the east Lower Pannonia. (Ptol. 2.15.16.) In consequence of this division the whole country is sometimes called by the plural name Pannoniae (?a?????a?, Ptol. 2.16.1 ; Zosim. 2.43; Plin. Nat. 37.11. s. 2). In the fourth century, the emperor Galerius separated the district of Lower Pannonia between the Raab, Danube, and Drave, and constituted it as a separate province under the name of Valeria, in honour of his wife who bore the same name. (Aur. Vict. de Caes. 40; Ammian. 16.10, 28.3.) But as Lower Pannionia seemed by this measure to be too much reduced, Constantine the Great added to it a part of Upper Pannonia, viz., the districts about the Upper Drave and Save; and Upper Pannonia was henceforth called Pannonia Prima, and Lower Pannonia, Pannonia Secunda. (Ammian. 15.3, 17.12.) All these three provinces belonged to the diocese of Illyricum. It should be observed, however, that Pannonia Secunda is sometimes also called Inter. amnia, Savia, or Ripensis. (Sext. Ruf. Brev. 11 Notit. Imp.) The three provinces into which Pannonia was thus divided were governed by three different officers, a praeses residing at Sabaria, a consular residing at Sirmium, and a praefect who had his seat at Siscia. The part bordering upon Germany, which stood most in need of protection, had always the strongest garrisons, though all Pannonia in general was protected by numerous armies, which were gradually increased to seven legions. Besides these troops the fleet stationed at Vindobona was the strongest of the three fleets maintained on the Danube.

Dio Cassius (49.36) mentions an unfortunate etymology of the name of Pannonia from “pannus,” “a rag or piece of cloth,” referring to a peculiar article of dress of the inhabitants, though he also states at the same time that the natives called themselves Pannonians, whence it follows that the name can have nothing to do with the Latin pannus. As to the identity of the name with that of Paeonians we shall have occasion to speak presently.

In its physical configuration, Pannonia forms a vast plain enclosed only in the west and south by mountains of any considerable height, and traversed only by hills of a moderate size, which form the terminations of the Alpine chains in the west and south, and are for this reason called by Tacitus (Tac. Hist. 2.28) and Tibullus (4.1. 109) the Pannonian Alps. The separate parts of these ramifications of the Alps are mentioned under the names of Mount CARVANCAS, CETIUS, ALBII MONTES, CLAUDIUS, and ALMA or ALMUS. The mountains on the western and southern frontiers contain the sources of some important rivers, such as the DRAVUS and SAVUS which flow almost parallel and empty themselves into the Danube. Only one northern tributary of the, Dravus is mentioned, viz., the MURIUS; while the Savus receives from the south the NAUPORTUS, CARCORUS, COLAPIS, OENEUS, URPANUS, VALDASUS, and DRINUS. The only other important river in the north-west is the ARRABO The northern part of Pannonia contained a great lake called the PELSO or PEISO (the Plattensee), besides which we may notice some smaller lakes, the ULCAEI LACUS between the Save and the Drave, near their mouth. The climate and fertility of Pannonia are described by the ancients in a manner which little corresponds with what is now known of those countries. It is said to have been a rough, cold, rugged, and not very productive country (Strab. vii. p.317; D. C. 49.37; Herodian, 1.6), though later writers acknowledge the fertility of the plains. (Solin. 21; comp. with Vell. 2.110.) Both statements, however, may be reconciled, if we recollect how much the emperors Probus and Galerius did to promote the productiveness cf the country by rooting out the large forests and rendering the districts occupied by them fit for agriculture. (Plin. Nat. 3.28; Appian, App. Ill. 22; Hygin. de Limit. Const. p. 206, Aurel. de Caes. 40.) As the forests in those times were probably much more extensive than at present, timber was one of the principal articles of export from Pannonia, and great quantities of it were imported into Italy. (Solin. 22.) Agriculture was not carried on to any great extent, and was for the most part confined to the rearing of barley and oats, from which the Pannonians brewed a kind of beer, called Sabaia (D. C. 49.36; Ammian. 26.8), and which formed the chief articles of food for the natives. Olives and vines do not appear, at least in early times, to have grown at all in Pannonia, until the emperor Probus introduced the cultivation of the vine in the neighbourhood of Sirmium. (Vopisc. Prob. 1, 18 ; Eutrop. 9.17; Aurel. Vict. de Caes. 37.) Among the valuable productions of the vegetable kingdom, the fragrant saliunca is mentioned (Plin. Nat. 21.20), and among the animals dogs excellent for the chase are spoken of by Nemesianus (Cyneg. 126), the cattae by Martial (13.69), and the charax or black-cock by Athenaeus (ix. p. 398). The rivers must have provided the inhabitants with abundance of fish. The ancients do not speak of any metals found in Pannonia, either because the mines were not worked, or because the metals imported from Pannonia were vaguely said to come from Noricum, where mining was carried on to a great extent.

The inhabitants of Pannonia (Pannonii, ?a???????, ??????e?, or ?a???e?) were a very numerous race, which, in the war against the Romans, could send 100,000 armed men into the field. (Appian, App. Ill. 22.) Appian (l.c. 14) states that the Romans regarded them as belonging to Illyricum. Some have inferred from this that the great body of the people were Illyrians; and some tribes, such as the Pyrustae, Mazani, and Daesitiatae, are actually described by some as Illyrian and by others as Pannonian [2.542] tribes. The fact that most Greek writers called them Paeonians, and that Tacitus (Germ. 43) speaks of the Pannonian language as different from that of the German tribes, seems to favour the supposition that they were a branch of the Thracian Paeonians, who had gradually spread to the banks of the Danube and the confines of Italy. It must however be observed that Dio Cassius (49.36), who knew the. people well, denies that they Paeonians. There can, however, be no doubt that Celtic tribes also existed in the country, and in the early part of the Roman empire Roman civilisation and the Latin language had made considerable progress. They are described as a brave and warlike people, which, at the time when the Romans became acquainted with them, lived in a very low state of civilisation, and were notorious for cruelty and love of bloodshed (Dio Cass. 1. c.; Appian, App. Ill. 14; Strab. vii. p.318; Stat. Silv. 3.13), as well as for faithlessness and cunning (Tib. 4.1. 8). But since their subjugation by the Romans, the civilisation of the conquerors produced considerable changes (Vell. 2.110); and even the religion of the Pannonians (some of their gods, such as Latobius, Laburus, Chartus, are mentioned in inscriptions) gave way to that of the Romans, and Pannonian divinities were identified with Roman ones (Spart. Sever. 15; Lamprid. Alex. 7). The Romanisation of the country was promoted and completed by the establishment of colonies and garrisons, so that at the time of the migration of nations, the country was completely Romanised.

The following are the principal tribes noticed by the ancients in Pannonia ; some of them, it must be observed, are decidedly Celtic. In Upper Pannonia we meet with the AZALI, CYTNI, BOII, COLETIANI, OSERIATES, SERRETES, SERRAPILLI, SANDRIZETES, LATOBICI, and VARCIANI and perhaps also the IAPODES or IAPYDES, the COLAPIANI and SCORDISCI though some of these latter may have extended into Illyricum. In Lower Pannonia, we have the ARABISCI, HERCIJNIATAE, ANDIANTES, IASII, BREICI, AMANTINI (AMANTES), and CORNUCATES. Besides these, Pliny (3.26) mentions the ARIVATES, BELGITES, and CATARI, of whom it is not known what districts they inhabited. Towns and villages existed in the country in great numbers even before its conquest by the Romans (Dio Cass 4.29; Jornand. Get. 50) ; and Appian's statement (Illyr. 22), that the Pannonians lived only in villages and isolated farms, probably applies only to some remote and more rugged parts of the country. The most important towns were VINDOBONA, CARNUINTUM, SCARBANTIA, SABARIA, ARRABO, PAETOVIS, SISCIA, AEMONA, NAUPORTUS; and in Lower Pannonia, BREGETIO, AQUINCUM, MURSIA, CIBALAE, ACIMINCUM, TAURUNUM, and SIRMIUM

The history of Pannonia previous to its conquest by tile Romans, is little known. We learn from Justin (24.4, 32.3, 12) that some Celtic tribes, probably remnants of the hosts of Brennus, settled in the country. Most of the tribes seem to have been governed by their own chiefs or kings. (Veil. Pat. 2.114; Sext. Ruf. Brev. 7; Jornand. de Reg. Suc. 50.) The obscurity which hangs over its history begins to be somewhat removed in the time of the triumvirate at Rome, B.C. 35, when Octavianus, for no other purpose but that of giving lis troops occupation and maintaining them at the expense of others, attacked the Pannonians, and by conquering the town of Siscia broke the strength of the nation. (D. C. 49.36; Appian, App. Ill. 13, 22, foil.) His general Vibius afterwards completed the conquest of the country. But not many years after this, when a war between Maroboduus, king of the Marcomanni, and the Romans was on the point of breaking out, the Pannonians, together with the Dalmatians and other Illyrian tribes, rose in a great insurrection against their oppressors, and it were was not till after a bloody war of several years' duration that Tiberius succeeded in reducing them, and changing the country into a Roman province, A.D. 8. (D. C. 4.24, 28, 29; Suet. Tib. 15, 20; Veil. Pat. 2.110, foil.) Henceforth a considerable army was kept in Pannonia to secure the submission of the people. When the soldiers received the news of the death of Augustus, they broke out in open rebellion, but were reduced by Drusus. (Tac. Ann. 1.15, foil. 30; D. C. 57.4.) During the first century Pannonia formed only one province, under the administration of a lieutenant of the emperor. Respecting its division in the second century, we have already spoken. Until the time of the migration of nations, Pannonia remained a part of the Roman empire; many colonies and municipia were established in the country, and fortresses were built for its protection; military roads also were constructed, especially one along the Danube, and a second through the central part of the country from Vindobona to Sirmium. The Romans did indeed much to civilise the Pannonians, but they at the same time derived great benefits from them; the military valour of the natives was of great service to them, and formed always a considerable portion of the Roman legions. About the middle of the fifth century Pannonia was lost to the Romans in consequence of the conquests made by the Huns, to whom the emperor Theodosius II. was obliged formally to cede Pannonia. (Prisc. Exc. de Leg. p. 37, ed. Paris.) On the dissolution of the empire of the Huns by the death of Attila, the country fell into the hands of the Ostrogoths (Jornand. Get. 50), from whom it passed, about A.D. 500, into those of the Longobardi, who in their turn had to give it up to the Avari in A.D. 568.

The ancient authorities for the geography of Pannonia are Ptolemy (2.15 and 16), Pliny (2.28), Strabo (iv. p.206, foil., v. p. 213, foil., vii. p. 313, foil.), Dio Cassius (49.34--38, 4.23, 24). Velleius Paterculus (2.110, foil.), Tacitus (Tac. Ann. 1.16, foil.), Appian, Jornandes (ll. cc.). Among modern writers the following deserve to be consulted: Schönleben, Carniola antique et nova, and Annales Corniolae antiquae et novae, Labacus, 1681, fol.; Katanesich, Comment. in C. Plinii Secundi Pannoniam, Buda, 1829; Niebuhr, Lect. on Ancient Hist. vol. i. p. 164, foll. - Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854) William Smith, LLD, Ed.

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