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Battle of Aquae Sextiae
Part of Cimbrian War
The migration of the Teutons and the Cimbri
The migration of the Teutons and the Cimbri
Date 102 BC
Location modern Aix-en-Provence, France
Result Decisive Roman victory
Belligerents
Teutones Roman Republic
Commanders
Teutobod # Gaius Marius
Strength
about 120,000 warriors 40,000 men (6 legions with cavalry and auxiliaries)
Casualties and losses
about 90,000 killed,
20,000 captured
less than 1,000 killed

The Battle of Aquae Sextiae (Aix-en-Provence) took place in 102 BC. After a string of Roman defeats (see Battle of Arausio), the Romans under Gaius Marius finally defeated the Teutones and Ambrones.

The battle

Marius took up a strong position on a carefully selected hill and enticed the Teutones to attack him there using his cavalry and light infantry skirmishers (most of whom were allied Ligurians). The leading Teutone elements, the Ambrones, took the bait and attacked. They were soon foolishly followed by the rest of the horde. Meanwhile, Marius had hidden a small Roman force of 4,000 nearby. At the battle's height this force launched an ambush, attacking the Teutones from behind, and throwing them into confusion and rout. The Roman accounts claim that in the ensuing massacre 90,000 Teutones were slain and 20,000 including their King Teutobod, were captured. The only surviving reports are Roman, which exaggerate the one-sidedness of the battle, but certainly the complete annihilation of the Teutones and Ambrones speaks to the crushing nature of their defeat.

Plutarch mentions (Marius 10, 5-6) that during the battle, the Ambrones began to shout "Ambrones!" as their battle-cry; the Ligurian troops fighting for the Romans, on hearing this cry, found that it was identical to an ancient name in their country which the Ligurians often used when speaking of their descent ("οὕτως κατὰ ὀνομάζουσι Λίγυες"), so they returned the shout, "Ambrones!". The captured women committed mass suicide, which passed into Roman legends of Germanic heroism (cf Jerome, letter cxxiii.8, 409 AD [1]):

By the conditions of the surrender three hundred of their married women were to be handed over to the Romans. When the Teuton matrons heard of this stipulation they first begged the consul that they might be set apart to minister in the temples of Ceres and Venus; and then when they failed to obtain their request and were removed by the lictors, they slew their little children and next morning were all found dead in each other's arms having strangled themselves in the night.

See also

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