As for the Cimbri, some things that are told about them are incorrect and others are extremely improbable. For instance, one could not accept such a reason for their having become a wandering and piratical folk as this—that while they were dwelling on a Peninsula they were driven out of their habitations by a great flood-tide; for in fact they still hold the country which they held in earlier times; and they sent as a present to Augustus the most sacred kettle1
in their country, with a plea for his friendship and for an amnesty of their earlier offences, and when their petition was granted they set sail for home; and it is ridiculous to suppose that they departed from their homes because they were incensed on account of a phenomenon that is natural and eternal, occurring twice every day. And the assertion that an excessive flood-tide once occurred looks like a fabrication, for when the ocean is affected in this way it is subject to increases and diminutions, but these are regulated and periodical.2
And the man who said that the Cimbri took up arms against the flood-tides was not right, either; nor yet the statement that the Celti, as a training in the virtue of fearlessness, meekly abide the destruction of their homes by the tides and then rebuild them, and that they suffer a greater loss of life as the result of water than of war, as Ephorus says. Indeed, the regularity of the flood-tides and the fact that the part of the country subject to inundations was known should have precluded such absurdities; for since this phenomenon occurs twice every day, it is of course improbable that the Cimbri did not so much as once perceive that the reflux was natural and harmless, and that it occurred, not in their country alone, but in every country that was on the ocean. Neither is Cleitarchus right; for he says that the horsemen, on seeing the onset of the sea, rode away, and though in full flight came very near being cut off by the water. Now we know, in the first place, that the invasion of the tide does not rush on with such speed as that, but that the sea advances imperceptibly; and, secondly, that what takes place daily and is audible to all who are about to draw near it, even before they behold it, would not have been likely to prompt in them such terror that they would take to flight, as if it had occurred unexpectedly.