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The Huns compel the Halani on the Tanais to join them, either by force of arms or by treaties; they invade the Goths, and drive them from their homes.


The Huns, then, having overrun the territories of those Halani (bordering on the Greuthungi) to whom usage has given the surname Tanaites, killed and plundered many of them, and joined the survivors to themselves in a treaty of alliance; then in company with these they made the more boldly a sudden inroad into the extensive and rich cantons of Ermenrichus, 1 [p. 397] a most warlike monarch, dreaded by the neighbouring nations because of his many and varied deeds of valour. [2] He was struck with consternation at the violence of this sudden storm; for a long time he did his best to maintain a firm and continued stand, but since rumour gave wide currency to 2 and exaggerated the horror of the impending dangers, he put an end to his fear of these great perils by a voluntary death. [3] After his demise Vithimiris was made king and resisted the Halani for a time, relying on other Huns, whom he had paid to take his side. But after many defeats which he sustained, he was overcome by force of arms and died in battle. In the name of his little son, Viderichus, the management of affairs was undertaken by Alatheus and Saphrax, experienced generals known for their courage; but since the stress of circumstances compelled them to abandon confidence in resistance, they cautiously retreated until they came to the river Danastius, 3 which flows through the wide extent of plain between the Hister and the Borysthenes. 4 [4] On learning of these unexpected events, Athanarichus, the chief of the Theruingi (against whom, as has been told before, 5 because of aid which he had sent to Procopius, Valens had recently taken the field) attempted to stand his ground, and if he too should be attacked like the rest, was ready to put forth all his strength. [5] Accordingly, he established his camp near the banks of the Danastius, conveniently at some distance from the stockade of the Greuthungi, and sent Munderichus, afterwards in charge of the frontier throughout Arabia, with Lagarimanus and some other men of high rank, to a distance of twenty miles in advance, to observe [p. 399] the advance of the enemy, while he himself in the meantime, disturbed by no one, was preparing his army for battle. [6] But the result was far other than he expected. For the Huns, who are shrewd in arriving at conclusions, suspecting that there was some large force farther off, disregarded the troops which they had seen, and who had disposed themselves to rest, as if there was nothing to disturb them; then, when the moon broke into the darkness of night, they chose what seemed to be the best course, crossed the river by a ford, and fearing lest some informer should get ahead of them and frighten off the enemy who were at a distance, they made a swift attack on Athanaricus himself. [7] As he was stunned by their first onset, they forced him to take speedy refuge in the steep mountains, after losing a few of their own men. Athanaricus, troubled 6 by this unexpected attack and still more through fear of what might come, had walls built high, skirting the lands of the Taifali from the banks of the river Gerasus 7 as far as the Danube, thinking that by this hastily but diligently constructed barrier 8 his security and safety would be assured. [8] But while this well-planned work was being pushed on, the Huns swiftly fell upon him, and would have crushed him at once on their arrival had they not been so loaded down with booty that they gave up the attempt.

Yet when the report spread widely among the other Gothic peoples, that a race of men hitherto unknown had now arisen from a hidden nook of the earth, like a tempest of snows from the high mountains, and was seizing or destroying everything in its way, the greater part of the people, who, [p. 401] worn out by lack of the necessities of life, had deserted Athanaricus, looked for a home removed from all knowledge of the savages; and after long deliberation what abode to choose they thought that Thrace offered them a convenient refuge, for two reasons: both because it has a very fertile soil, and because it is separated by the mighty flood of the Hister from the fields that were already exposed to the thunderbolts of a foreign war 9 ; and the rest of the nation as if with one mind agreed to this plan.

1 Called Ermanarich in Jordanes' Gothic History.

2 For vulgatius, cf. xv. 3, 6; xvii. 4, 9.

3 Also called the Tyras, to-day the Dniester.

4 To-day the Dnieper.

5 Cf. xxvii. 5, 6.

6 Cf. cura constrictus, xx, 4, 19.

7 To-day the Pruth on the eastern frontier of ancient Dacia.

8 For lorica in this sense, cf. 15, 4, below.

9 Or perhaps war-god, since Mars was born in Thrace; see Manilius, iv. 691, Threce Martem sortita colonum; cf. Arnobius, Adv. Gentes, iv. 25.

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load focus Latin (John C. Rolfe, Ph.D., Litt.D., 1935)
hide References (3 total)
  • Cross-references to this page (3):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), DA┬┤CIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GOTHI
    • Smith's Bio, Alathe'us
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