The goddess Soio is mentioned in a single inscription engraved on an altar, dating from the middle of the 2nd c. AD. It was discovered in 1848 in the ruins of the chapel Saint-Gervais, located on the culminating point of the plateau of Malpas, overhanging the village of Soyons, situated south of Valence (Ardèche) (fig. 60). The dedication is the following: Deae Soioni Aug(sutae) Luccius Marcia(nus) et Sennius Marianus de suo posuerunt loco privato Upeior(um) pupillor(um), ‘To the Auguste goddess Soio, Luccius Marcianus and Sennius Marianus erected (this altar) on the property belonging to the wards of the Upeii’ (fig. 61).1215 On top of that dedication, various archaeological elements were unearthed on the plateau, which tends to prove that a sanctuary dedicated to the goddess was located there.1216 An oppidum*, excavated on the hill, is supposedly the pre-Roman fortified city of the tribe of the Segovellauni, mentioned by Pliny, or of the Segallaunii, mentioned by Ptolemy.1217 The name of the village of Soyons is reminiscent of the name of the goddess: its ancient form Soïo survived until the 13th c.1218 As the inscription was found on the plateau of the Malpa, Soio can be regarded as the embodiment of the mount and the protectress of the fortified city unearthed at its top. For Delamarre and Olmsted, the significance of her name remains obscure, but Lacroix suggests that Soio could be derived from a root soio-, *sogio-, possibly related to the Celtic root seg- meaning ‘victory’ and ‘strength’, comprised in the divine names Segeta or Segomanna (see Chapter 3).1219 This idea is interesting, for the place where the inscription was discovered was the chief centre of the Segovellauni or of the Segallaunii, whose names are based on the same root.
CIL XII, 2656 ; RE, vol 2, p. 337 ; Toutain, 1920, p. 294 and note 9 ; CAG, 07, Ardèche, 2001, p. 403.
CAG, 07, Ardèche, 2001, p. 403.
Pliny, Natural History, III, 3, 4 ; Ptolemy, Geography, II, 9 ; Courtial, 1999 ; Blanc & Valette, 1958, pp. 74-79 ; CAG, 07, Ardèche, 2001, pp. 395-404 ; Barruol, 1999, pp. 267-272.
Lacroix, 2007, p. 15 ; CAG, 07, Ardèche, 2001, p. 396.
Barruol, 1999, p. 284, note 2 ; Lacroix, 2007, p. 15.