A Tunger, not an Eburone

Look, the Eburones were big damn heroes. Everyone knows the story: Ambiorix lured the Romans out of their winter encampments into a hollow road, where they were ambushed by their native guides and slaughtered nearly to a man, sending a clear signal to Iulius Caesar that no, you will not take these lands without a fight. It was a brilliant feat of tactics.

Nobody, however, talks about the genocide, starting in 53 BCE. The Caesar pronounced a damnatio memoriae, every village in the Eburone territory was said to be put to the torch, their livestock and grain confiscated. And when we next hear about the area, Tacitus just mentions the Tungri. The Eburones are gone from history.

Or are they? I grew up in the area once thought of as the civitas Tungrorum, and everywhere you look, Ambiorix is lionized. He and the Eburones have been rehabilitated as culture heroes. There's a statue of him in the marketplace in Tongeren, the ancient capital not of the Eburones but the Tungri. And many, many family names got modified to be 'more Celtic' and end in -i(ck)x. Nobody mentions that their actions, however heroic, caused the end of their tribe.

The Tungri don't have clear origins, and the best we can guess, they're actually a composite people made up of a mixture of Germanic and Celtic tribes in an area massively unsettled by a campaign of destruction. Yet a few generations later, here they are, seemingly thriving under Roman rule.

The Tungri did the enormous job of recultivating, recivilizing, revitalizing the land, uniting the people, forming a government in what was nearly a post-apocalyptic reality for them. But they didn't give up, or give in, and they made life livable for themselves again.

The Eburones ended up dying for what they believed in, but the Tungri ended up living for it, every day. And that makes them big damn heroes in my book.


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