Some Observations about the Ancient Sources on the Praetentura Italiae et Alpium




Praetentura Italiae et Alpium, wars with German and Sarmatian tribes, Marcomanni, Quadi, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus, Cassius Dio, Historia Augusta, ancient sources


The Marcomannic Wars were the largest and most extensive armed conflict between the Roman army and the barbarian tribes of the central Danube region – the Marcomanni, the Quadi and the Sarmatians, along with other tribes. The wars with the Germanic tribes had their first signs in the time of Antoninus Pius, the peace-loving predecessor of Marcus Aurelius, who carefully tempered the aspirations of the usurpers with a consistent pacifism. In Pannonia, missions from the Germanic kingdoms across the Danube came to disturb Pannonia with news of the movements of barbarian peoples from the north. The trade of barbarian peoples with Roman citizens on the borders of the Roman state and the migration of the Germanic tribes in the Germanic basin of the tribes in the limes belt represented their aspirations for an additional habitat within the empire. Apian writes that missions of these tribes even came to Rome to the Emperor An­toninus Pius and asked to be admitted into the empire. The relentless and continuous pressure escalated probably in AD 166, when a large part of the Roman garrison was stationed on the eastern border to fight the Parthians. Limes was poorly defended during this period as legions stationed from the Rhine to the Danube were sent to the front with the Parthians. Despite the efforts of the imperial viceroys in both Pannoniae to prevent the outbreak of war on the fortified Danube border, the barbarians succeeded in breaking through the limes and consequently spilling across the country as far as Aquileia and Opitergium. The painful awareness of Italy’s vulnerability, lulled for generations by the Peace of Augustus (Pax Romana), meant a sudden turn in defence. The present text examines the two main pri­mary sources for the events of the German-Sarmatian War and raises questions about the absence of references to an important defence system, the so-called Praetentura Italiae et Alpium.


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27. 09. 2023




How to Cite

Kovačič, Blanka, and Gregor Pobežin. 2023. “Some Observations about the Ancient Sources on the Praetentura Italiae Et Alpium”. Clotho 5 (1): 47-64.

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