The name of “Trophy of the Alps” was not given by Ptolémée ( III.1.2) who called it Tropaïa Sebastou, or " Auguste's trophy ", which constituted a name of usage, Pline the Former (III.136) preferred the name Tropaeum Alpium, or " Trophy of The Alps " .
Without Pline's help, we would indeed find difficult to give sense to the numerous fragments of letters. J. Formigé, who imposed on the monument the aspect, sometimes debatable which one knows today, had the supposed text and the very split up number of letters among which certain words followed or preceded by an important blank which allowed him to place the end and the beginning of some lines, as well as some fragments running on two lines. From there he was able to deduce plausible conclusions as for the making-up of the text and its dimensions. The visible absence of doubloons and the discovery of the majority of the fragments on the same side of the monument incited him to suppose that the text appeared only once, on the "Gallic" side of the monument. On this point, it is advisable nevertheless to remain extremely careful, because of the extreme fragmentation of the text.

Thanks to Pline, the meaning is fortunately crystal clear: " To emperor César Auguste, son of the divine (Caesar), Supreme Pontiff, greeted fourteen times imperator, dressed in his seventeenth tribunician power, the Senate and the Roman People, because, under his leadership and his auspices, all the Alpine tribes which were between the Lower and Superior seas were returned under the authority of the Roman people: list of the peoples: Trumpilini, Camunni, Venostes, Vennonètes, Isarques, Breunies, Genaunes, Focunates, the four peoples of the Vindélices, Cosuanètes, Rucinates, Licates, Caténates, Ambisontes, Rugusques, Suanètes, Clucones, Brixénètes, Lépontes, Ubères, Nantuates, Seduni, Varagres, Salasses, Acitavopnes, Médulles, Ucennes, Caturiges, Brigiani, Veamini, Gallites, Triullates, Ecdiniens, Vergunni, Egui, Turi, Nematuri, Oratelli, Nerusi, Velauni, Suetri ".

This essential text teaches us that the monument was set up in 7 BC by decree of the Senate. In the detail, the aspect of the monument such as it was restored by Formigé leaves somewhat perplexed. S Binninger, resuming the study of the bas reliefs, showed that they resulted from different workshops and that it was probably necessary to imagine bas reliefs repeated on at least two sides of the monument. It was probably the same for the text. It is also likely that the environment of the site was also monumental: an aqueduct the tracks of which were found on mount Agel let us imagine one or several nymphaeum where travelers and animals should be able to quench their thirst in a monumental environment. The head, of rather small dimensions, attributed to Drusus would find besides more its place on a statue placed at ground level rather than on the monument itself.

The choice of the place was doubtlessly chosen at first because of the way which ran alongside. The monument, dominating Monaco, was at the same time situated at the top of this way (summa Alpine) and in the place, Monaco, where, according to certain ancient geographers, the Alps ended. On the other hand, it is likely that the Trophy was situated on the border between Alpes-Maritimes and Italy. A gloss of a manuscript of the IX-th century of Antonin's route, probably based on a document of the High - Empire, in fact the border of the Gaul, that is to say the border between Italy and the countries subject to the 40-th tax of Gaul (taxing the goods with a 2,5 % tax). One can not underestimate the role of the presence in Monaco of a temple dedicated to Hercule Monoïkos for the choice of the place. Hercule, human being's model, son of god and deified thanks to his merits, murderer of monsters and civilizor, was a frequently advanced model for the deification of Auguste who chose to celebrate his triple triumph the day of the festivities of Hercule's ara maxima. Whatever is the exact localization,(contested) of this temple, the association of the Trophy and of the temple should not be fortuitous.

Pascal ARNAUD

 

 

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