previous next


SCA´NDIA (Σκανδία) or SCANDINA´VIA. Until about the reign of Augustus the countries north of the Cimbrian Chersonesus were unknown to the ancients, unless we assume with some modern writers that the island of Thule, of which Pytheas of Massilia spoke, was the western part of what is now sometimes called Scandinavia, that is Sweden and Norway. The first ancient writer who alludes to these parts of Europe, Pomp. Mela, in the reign of Claudius, states (3.3) that north of the Albis there was an immense bay, full of large and small islands, between which the sea flowed in narrow channels. No name of any of these islands is mentioned, and Mela only states that they were inhabited by the Hermiones, the northernmost of the German tribes. In another passage (3.6) the same geographer speaks of an island in the Sinus Codanus, which, according to the common reading, is called Codanonia, or Candanovia, for which some have emended Scandinavia. This island is described by him as surpassing all others in that sea both in size and fertility. But to say the least it is very doubtful as to whether he alludes to the island afterwards called Scandia or Scandinavia, especially as Mela describes his island as inhabited by the Teutones. The first writer who mentions Scandia and Scandinavia is Pliny, who, in one passage (4.27), likewise speaks of the Sinus Codanus and its numerous islands, and adds that the largest of them was called Scandinavia; its size, he continues, is unknown, but it is inhabited by 500 pagi of Helleviones, who regard their island as a distinct part of the world (alter terrarum orbis). In another passage (3.30) he mentions several islands to the east of Britannia, to one of which he gives the name of Scandia. dia. From the manner in which he speaks in this latter passage we might be inclined to infer that he regarded Scandinavia and Scandia as two different islands; but this appearance may arise from the fact that in each of the passages referred to he followed different authorities, who called the same island by the two names Scandia and Scandinavia. Ptolemy (2.11. § § 33, 34, 35) speaks of a group of four islands on the east of the Cimbrian Chersonesus, which he calls the Scandiae Insulae (Σκανδίαι νῆσοι), and of which the largest and most eastern one is called Scandia, extending as far as the mouth of the Vistula. In all these accounts there is the fundamental mistake of regarding Scandinavia as an island, for in reality it is connected on the northeast with the rest of Europe. Pliny speaks of an immense mountain, Sevo, in Scandinavia, which may possibly be Mount Kjölen, which divides Sweden from Norway, and a southern branch of which still bears the name of Seve-Ryggen. The different tribes mentioned by Ptolemy as inhabiting Scandia are the Chaedini (Χαιδεινοί), Phavonae (Φαυόναι), Phiraesi (Φιραῖσοι), Gutae (Γοῦται), Dauciones (Δαυκίωνες), and Levoni (λευῶνοι). At a later time, Jornandes (de Reb. Get. p. 81, &c.) enumerates no less than twenty-eight different tribes in Scandinavia. Tacitus does not indeed mention Scandia, but the Sitones and Suiones (whence the modern name Swedes) must unquestionably be conceived as the most northern among the German tribes and as inhabiting Scandia (Germ. 44, 45). It is well known that according to Jornandes the Goths, and according to Paulus Diaconus (5.2) the [p. 2.928]Longobardi, originally came from Scandinavia. It deserves to be noticed that the southern part of the supposed island of Scandia, the modern Sweden, still bears the name Scania, Scone, or Schonen. Pliny (8.16) mentions a peculiar animal called achlis, and resembling the alcis, which was found only in Scandinavia. For further discussions about the various tribes of Scandinavia, which all the ancients treat as a part of Germania Magna, see Wilhelm, Germanien, p. 343, &c.; Zeuss, Die Deutschen, &c. pp. 77, 156, &c.


hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: