The Oxybii (Ὀξύβιοι) were a Ligurian tribe dwelling on the Mediterranean coast during the Iron Age and the Roman period.


They are mentioned as Oxubíōn (Ὀξυβίων) by Polybius (2nd c. BC) and Strabo (early 1st c. AD),[1] and as Oxubi by Pliny (1st c. AD).[2][3]

Patrizia de Bernardo Stempel has proposed to interpret the name Oxybii as 'the inhabitants of a high place' or else as 'the ox-slayers', from an Indo-European root oxso- ('ox') or uxso- ('high').[4]


The Oxybii dwelled on the Mediterranean coast. Their territory was located east of the Suelteri and Verucini, and either east of the Deciates (near the Vediantii) or west of them (near the river Argens in the Massif de l'Esterel).[5][6][7]

The exact location of the sea-port of the Oxybii, named Aegitna and located west of the river Apro, has been debated. The most popular propositions are Théoule (with the river Siagne), west of the Deciates, and Cagnes (with the river Cagne), east of the Deciates.[5][6]

According to historian Guy Barruol, the Oxybii were part of the Saluvian confederation.[8][9]


In 155 BC, the Ligurians besieged the Massaliote colonies of Nicaea (Nice) and Antipolis (Antibes), which caused the Romans to send the legates Flaminius, Popilius Laenas and Lucius Pupius to the region. The Oxybii tried to prevent them from landing in their territory at Aegitna, but finding that Flaminius had already done so, they wounded him, killed two of his servants and drove the rest back into the sea. The Roman Senate, on hearing of the incident, dispatched an army under the consul Quintus Opimius. They first took Aegitna by assault, sold the inhabitants into slavery and sent the ringleaders to Rome. The Oxybii then collected a force to attack the Romans, and were eventually joined by the Deciates. After the Ligurian defeat, Quintus Opimius granted a great part of their territory to Massalia.[10][11]

The Decietae now arrived in full force, thinking that they would take part in the battle side by side with the Oxybii, but arriving after all was over, received the fugitives into their ranks; they shortly afterward attacked the Romans with great spirit and resolution, but when worsted in the fight at once unconditionally surrendered themselves and their city. Opimius having overcome these tribes added as much of their territory as he thought fit to that of Marseilles, and compelled the Ligurians to give the Massaliots in future hostages for certain periods.

— Polybius 2010. Historíai, 39:10.


  1. ^ Polybius. Historíai, 33:9; Strabo. Geōgraphiká, 4:1:10.
  2. ^ Pliny. Naturalis Historia, 3:47.
  3. ^ Falileyev 2010, s.v. Oxubii.
  4. ^ de Bernardo Stempel 2006, p. 46.
  5. ^ a b Barruol 1969, pp. 212–215.
  6. ^ a b Rivet 1988, pp. 34–35.
  7. ^ Talbert 2000, Map 16: Col. Forum Iulii-Albingaunum.
  8. ^ Barruol 1969, p. 188.
  9. ^ Rivet 1988, p. 16.
  10. ^ Dyson 1985, pp. 147–148.
  11. ^ Rivet 1988, pp. 32–33.
Primary sources
  • Polybius (2010). The Histories. Loeb Classical Library. Translated by Paton, W. R.; Walbank, F. W.; Habicht, Christian. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0-674-99637-3.
  • Strabo (1923). Geography. Loeb Classical Library. Translated by Jones, Horace L. Harvard University Press. ISBN 978-0674990562.
  • Barruol, Guy (1969). Les Peuples préromains du Sud-Est de la Gaule: étude de géographie historique. E. de Boccard. OCLC 3279201.
  • de Bernardo Stempel, Patrizia (2006). "From Ligury to Spain: Unaccented *yo > (y)e in Narbonensic votives ('gaulish' DEKANTEM), Hispanic coins ('iberian' -(sk)en) and some theonyms". Palaeohispanica. 6: 45–58. ISSN 1578-5386.
  • Dyson, Stephen L. (1985). The Creation of the Roman Frontier. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-1-4008-5489-9.
  • Falileyev, Alexander (2010). Dictionary of Continental Celtic Place-names: A Celtic Companion to the Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. CMCS. ISBN 978-0955718236.
  • Rivet, A. L. F. (1988). Gallia Narbonensis: With a Chapter on Alpes Maritimae : Southern France in Roman Times. Batsford. ISBN 978-0-7134-5860-2.
  • Talbert, Richard J. A. (2000). Barrington Atlas of the Greek and Roman World. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0691031699.

Further readingEdit

  • Cosson, Pierre (1995) Civitas Antipolitana: Histoire du Municipe Romain d'Antipolis. Nice, Serre Editeur. ISBN 2-86410-219-6