Now that I have described Iberia
and the Celtic and Italian tribes, along with the islands near by, it will be next in order to speak of the remaining parts of Europe
, dividing them in the approved manner. The remaining parts are: first, those towards the east, being those which are across the Rhenus
and extend as far as the Tanaïs1
and the mouth of Lake Maeotis,2
and also all those regions lying between the Adrias3
and the regions on the left of the Pontic Sea that are shut off by the Ister4
and extend towards the south as far as Greece and the Propontis;5
for this river divides very nearly the whole of the aforesaid land into two parts. It is the largest of the European rivers, at the outset flowing towards the south and then turning straight from the west towards the east and the Pontus. It rises in the western limits of Germany, as also near the recess of the Adriatic (at a distance from it of about one thousand stadia), and comes to an end at the Pontus not very far from the outlets of the Tyras6
and the Borysthenes,7
bending from its easterly course approximately towards the north. Now the parts that are beyond the Rhenus and Celtica are to the north of the Ister; these are the territories of the Galatic and the Germanic tribes, extending as far as the Bastarnians and the Tyregetans and the River Borysthenes. And the territories of all the tribes between this river and the Tanaïs and the mouth of Lake Maeotis extend up into the interior as far as the ocean8
and are washed by the Pontic Sea. But both the Illyrian and the Thracian tribes, and all tribes of the Celtic or other peoples that are mingled with these, as far as Greece, are to the south of the Ister. But let me first describe the parts outside the Ister, for they are much simpler than those on the other side.
Now the parts beyond the Rhenus, immediately after the country of the Celti, slope towards the east and are occupied by the Germans, who, though they vary slightly from the Celtic stock in that they are wilder, taller, and have yellower hair, are in all other respects similar, for in build, habits, and modes of life they are such as I have said9
the Celti are. And I also think that it was for this reason that the Romans assigned to them the name “Germani,” as though they wished to indicate thereby that they were “genuine” Galatae, for in the language of the Romans “germani” means “genuine.”10
The first parts of this country are those that are next to the Rhenus, beginning at its source and extending a far as its outlet; and this stretch of river-land taken as a whole is approximately the breadth of the country on its western side. Some of the tribes of this river-land were transferred by the Romans to Celtica, whereas the others anticipated the Romans by migrating deep into the country, for instance, the Marsi; and only a few people, including a part of the Sugambri,11
are left. After the people who live along the river come the other tribes that live between the Rhenus and the River Albis,12
and traverses no less territory than the former. Between the two are other navigable rivers also (among them the Amasias,13
on which Drusus won a naval victory over the Bructeri), which likewise flow from the south towards the north and the ocean; for the country is elevated towards the south and forms a mountain chain14
that connects with the Alps and extends towards the east as though it were a part of the Alps; and in truth some declare that they actually are a part of the Alps, both because of their aforesaid position and of the fact that they produce the same timber; however, the country in this region does not rise to a sufficient height for that. Here, too, is the Hercynian Forest,15
and also the tribes of the Suevi, some of which dwell inside the forest, as, for instance, the tribes of the Coldui,16
in whose territory is Boihaemum,17
the domain of Marabodus, the place whither he caused to migrate, not only several other peoples, but in particular the Marcomanni, his fellow-tribesmen; for after his return from Rome this man, who before had been only a private citizen, was placed in charge of the affairs of state, for, as a youth he had been at Rome and had enjoyed the favor of Augustus, and on his return he took the rulership and acquired, in addition to the peoples aforementioned, the Lugii (a large tribe), the Zumi, the Butones, the Mugilones, the Sibini,18
and also the Semnones, a large tribe of the Suevi themselves. However, while some of the tribes of the Suevi dwell inside the forest, as I was saying, others dwell outside of it, and have a common boundary with the Getae.19
Now as for the tribe of the Suevi,20
it is the largest, for it extends from the Rhenus to the Albis; and a part of them even dwell on the far side of the Albis, as, for instance, the Hermondori and the Langobardi; and at the present time these latter, at least, have, to the last man, been driven in flight out of their country into the land on the far side of the river. It is a common characteristic of all the peoples in this part of the world21
that they migrate with ease, because of the meagerness of their livelihood and because they do not till the soil or even store up food, but live in small huts that are merely temporary structures; and they live for the most part off their flocks, as the Nomads do, so that, in imitation of the Nomads, they load their household belongings on their wagons and with their beasts turn whithersoever they think best. But other German tribes are still more indigent. I mean the Cherusci, the Chatti, the Gamabrivii and the Chattuarii, and also, near the ocean, the Sugambri, the Chaubi, the Bructeri, and the Cimbri, and also the Cauci, the Caülci, the Campsiani, and several others. Both the Visurgis22
and the Lupias23
Rivers run in the same direction as the Amasias, the Lupias being about six hundred stadia distant from the Rhenus and flowing through the country of the Lesser Bructeri.24
Germany has also the Salas River;25
and it was between the Salas and the Rhenus that Drusus Germanicus, while he was successfully carrying on the war, came to his end.26
He had subjugated, not only most of the tribes, but also the islands along the coast, among which is Burchanis,27
which he took by siege.
These tribes have become known through their wars with the Romans, in which they would either yield and then later revolt again, or else quit their settlements; and they would have been better known if Augustus had allowed his generals to cross the Albis in pursuit of those who emigrated thither. But as a matter of fact he supposed that he could conduct the war in hand more successfully if he should hold off from those outside the Albis, who were living in peace, and should not incite them to make common cause with the others in their enmity against him. It was the Sugambri, who live near the Rhenus, that began the war, Melo being their leader; and from that time on different peoples at different times would cause a breach, first growing powerful and then being put down, and then revolting again, betraying both the hostages they had given and their pledges of good faith. In dealing with these peoples distrust has been a great advantage, whereas those who have been trusted have done the greatest harm, as, for instance, the Cherusci and their subjects, in whose country three Roman legions, with their general Quintilius Varus, were destroyed by ambush in violation of the treaty. But they all paid the penalty, and afforded the younger Germanicus a most brilliant triumph28
—that triumph in which their most famous men and women were led captive, I mean Segimuntus, son of Segestes and chieftain of the Cherusci,and his sister Thusnelda, the wife of Armenius, the man who at the time of the violation of the treaty against Quintilius Varus was commander-in-chief of the Cheruscan army and even to this day is keeping up the war, and Thusnelda's three-year-old son Thumelicus; and also Sesithacus, the son of Segimerus and chieftain of the Cherusci, and Rhamis, his wife, and a daughter of Ucromirus chieftain of the Chatti, and Deudorix,29
a Sugambrian, the son of Baetorix the brother of Melo. But Segestes, the father-in-law of Armenius, who even from the outset had opposed30
the purpose of Armenius, and, taking advantage of an opportune time, had deserted him, was present as a guest of honor at the triumph over his loved ones. And Libes too, a priest of the Chatti, marched in the procession, as also other captives from the plundered tribes—the Caülci, Campsani, Bructeri, Usipi, Cherusci, Chatti, Chattuarii, Landi, Tubattii. Now the Rhenus is about three thousand stadia distant from the Albis, if one had straight roads to travel on, but as it is one must go by a circuitous route, which winds through a marshy country and forests.
The Hercynian Forest is not only rather dense, but also has large trees, and comprises a large circuit within regions that are fortified by nature; in the center of it, however, lies a country (of which I have already spoken31
) that is capable of affording an excellent livelihood. And near it are the sources of both the Ister and the Rhenus, as also the lake32
between the two sources, and the marshes33
into which the Rhenus spreads.34
The perimeter of the lake is more than three hundred stadia, while the passage across it is nearly two hundred.35
There is also an island in it which Tiberius used as a base of operations in his naval battle with the Vindelici. This lake is south of the sources of the Ister, as is also the Hercynian Forest, so that necessarily, in going from Celtica to the Hercynian Forest, one first crosses the lake and then the Ister, and from there on advances through more passable regions—plateaus—to the forest. Tiberius had proceeded only a day's journey from the lake when he saw the sources of the Ister. The country of the Rhaeti adjoins the lake for only a short distance, whereas that of the Helvetii and the Vindelici, and also the desert of the Boii, adjoin the greater part of it. All the peoples as far as the Pannonii, but more especially the Helvetii and the Vindelici, inhabit plateaus. But the countries of the Rhaeti and the Norici extend as far as the passes over the Alps and verge toward Italy, a part thereof bordering on the country of the Insubri and a part on that of the Carni and the legions about Aquileia. And there is also another large forest, Gabreta;36
it is on this side of the territory of the Suevi, whereas the Hercynian Forest, which is also held by them, is on the far side.
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 kettle37
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.38
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.
Poseidonius is right in censuring the historians for these assertions, and his conjecture is not a bad one, that the Cimbri, being a piratical and wandering folk, made an expedition even as far as the region of Lake Maeotis, and that also the “Cimmerian” Bosporus39
was named after them, being equivalent to “Cimbrian,” the Greeks naming the Cimbri “Cimmerii.” And he goes off to say that in earlier times the Boii dwelt in the Hercynian Forest, and that the Cimbri made a sally against this place, but on being repulsed by the Boii, went down to the Ister and the country of the Scordiscan Galatae,40
then to the country of the Teuristae41
and Taurisci (these, too, Galatae), and then to the country of the Helvetii—men rich in gold but peaceable; however, when the Helvetii saw that the wealth which the Cimbri had got from their robberies surpassed that of their own country, they, and particularly their tribes of Tigyreni and of Toygeni, were so excited that they sallied forth with the Cimbri. All, however, were subdued by the Romans, both the Cimbri themselves and those who had joined their expeditions, in part after they had crossed the Alps into Italy and in part while still on the other side of the Alps.
Writers report a custom of the Cimbri to this effect: Their wives, who would accompany them on their expeditions, were attended by priestesses who were seers; these were grey-haired, clad in white, with flaxen cloaks fastened on with clasps, girt with girdles of bronze, and bare-footed; now sword in hand these priestesses would meet with the prisoners of war throughout the camp, and having first crowned them with wreaths would lead them to a brazen vessel of about twenty amphorae;42
and they had a raised platform which the priestess would mount, and then, bending over the kettle,43
would cut the throat of each prisoner after he had been lifted up; and from the blood that poured forth into the vessel some of the priestesses would draw a prophecy, while still others would split open the body and from an inspection of the entrails would utter a prophecy of victory for their own people; and during the battles they would beat on the hides that were stretched over the wicker-bodies of the wagons and in this way produce an unearthly noise.
Of the Germans, as I have said,44
those towards the north extend along the ocean;45
and beginning at the outlets of the Rhenus, they are known as far as the Albis; and of these the best known are the Sugambri and the Cimbri; but those parts of the country beyond the Albis that are near the ocean are wholly unknown to us. For of the men of earlier times I know of no one who has made this voyage along the coast to the eastern parts that extend as far as the mouth46
of the Caspian Sea; and the Romans have not yet advanced into the parts that are beyond the Albis; and likewise no one has made the journey by land either. However, it is clear from the “climata” and the parallel distances that if one travels longitudinally towards the east, one encounters the regions that are about the Borysthenes and that are to the north of the Pontus; but what is beyond Germany and what beyond the countries which are next after Germany—whether one should say the Bastarnae, as most writers suspect, or say that others lie in between, either the Iazyges, or the Roxolani,47
or certain other of the wagon-dwellers48
—it is not easy to say; nor yet whether they extend as far as the ocean along its entire length, or whether any part is uninhabitable by reason of the cold or other cause, or whether even a different race of people, succeeding the Germans, is situated between the sea and the eastern Germans. And this same ignorance prevails also in regard to the rest of the peoples that come next in order on the north; for I know neither the Bastarnae,49
nor the Sauromatae, nor, in a word, any of the peoples who dwell above the Pontus, nor how far distant they are from the Atlantic Sea,50
nor whether their countries border upon it.
As for the southern part of Germany beyond the Albis, the portion which is just contiguous to that river is occupied by the Suevi; then immediately adjoining this is the land of the Getae, which, though narrow at first, stretching as it does along the Ister on its southern side and on the opposite side along the mountain-side of the Hercynian Forest (for the land of the Getae also embraces a part of the mountains), afterwards broadens out towards the north as far as the Tyregetae; but I cannot tell the precise boundaries. It is because of men's ignorance of these regions that any heed has been given to those who created the mythical “Rhipaean Mountains”51
and also to all those false statements made by Pytheas the Massalian regarding the country along the ocean, wherein he uses as a screen his scientific knowledge of astronomy and mathematics.53
So then, those men should be disregarded; in fact, if even Sophocles, when in his role as a tragic poet he speaks of Oreithyia,54
tells how she was snatched up by “Boreas” and carried ““over the whole sea to the ends of the earth and to the sources of night55
and to the unfoldings of heaven56
and to the ancient garden of Phoebus,”
his story can have no bearing on the present inquiry, but should be disregarded, just as it is disregarded by Socrates in the Phaedrus
But let us confine our narrative to what we have learned from history, both ancient and modern.