Thursday, July 10, 2008

The Amphitheater of the Three Gauls (Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules)




















The oldest origins of Lyon is supposed to go back to 47 BC, when the Romans built a settlement on the Fourvière hill. This is not completely true. It has been settlements in what is Lyon today back to Neolithic times and when the Romans arrived there were an older Gallic town located on the slope of the Croix Rousse Hill on the rivers Saônes east bank.


On the Fourvière hill you find one of the two main sites in Lyon dating back to the Roman era. The other is the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls (Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules). This arena has a sinister history connected to it. The name of the arena points to ancient Lyon's role as capital of the Three Gauls (the Roman Regions Lugdunensis, Belgica, and Aquitania).

The Amphithéâtre des Trois Gaules was the centerpiece of Condate when built in 19 BC. Condate was a Gallic town that went back centuries before the Romans arrived. It is hard to get an impression of the size of the arena. In fact at the time of construction it had room for 20,000 spectators.

Various accounts have members of Gallic tribes meeting here in the earliest example of a parliamentary system. Based on that information, France's 2,000th anniversary was celebrated in Lyon in 1989.

It was at this amphitheater that the first Christian martyrs in Lyon were thrown to the lions in 177 AD. The most famous martyr to suffer here was St. Blandine. According to tradition, Blandine was thrown into the amphitheatre with the lions, but they refused to eat her. The lions were replaced by a bull, which also refused to harm her. Finally, Roman soldiers took matters into their own hands and killed her with their swords.

There are three plaques commemorating the arena. Here is the French text. I am afraid that I have failed to write a good translation, but it tells the story of the arena, the martyrdom of 177 and a visit by the Pope John Paul 2nd.

L’AMPHITHEATRE DES TROIS GAULES EST EDIFIE EN L’AN 10 PAR CAIUS JULIUS RUFUS PRETRE DE ROME ET D’AUGUSTE CETTE ARENE FUT ILLUSTREE EN JUIN ET AOUT 177 PAR LES MARTYRES DES CHRETIENS DON’T ESCLAVE BLANDINE QUI PERIT APRES AVOIR SOUTENU LE COURAGE DE SES FRERES.












ACUIELLI PAR LES RESPONSABLES DES EGLISES ET LE PEUPLE CHRETIEN DE LYON EN CE LIEU OU PERIRENT EN 177 LES MARTYRES DE VIENNE ET DE LYON JEAN PAUL II LE 4 OCTOBRE 1986 LA FETE DE ST FRANCOIS D’ASSISE APRES UBE INTENSE PIERE CECUMENT QUE LA LANCE AU MONDE UN APPEL A LA TREVE DES ARMES ET LA CONSTRUCTION DE LA PAIX











A PROXIMITE DE CE LIEU IL YA 2000 ANS LE 1ER AOUT DE L’AN 12 AVANT J.C. NERO CLAUDIUS DRUSES BEAU-FILS DE L’EMPEREUR INAUGURA L’AUTEL FEDERAL DEDIE ROME ET A AUGUSTE PAR 60 NATIONS DES TROIS GAULES DON’T LES DELEGUES CONSTITUERENT LE PREMIER PARLEMENT NATIONAL.



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