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SOME of the accounts which we receive respecting the Cimbri are not worthy of credit, while others seem likely enough: for instance, no one could accept the reason given for their wandering life and piracy, that, dwelling on a peninsula, they were driven out of their settlements by a very high tide;1 for they still to this day possess the country which they had in former times, and have sent as a present to Au- gustus the caldron held most sacred by them, supplicating his friendship, and an amnesty for past offences; and having obtained their request, they returned home. Indeed, it would have been ridiculous for them to have departed from their country in a pet, on account of a natural and constant phenomenon, which recurs twice every day. It is likewise evidently a fiction, that there ever occurred an overwhelming flood-tide, for the ocean, in the influences of this kind which it experiences, receives a certain settled and periodical increase and decrease.2 Neither is it true, as has been related,3 that the Cimbri take arms against the flood-tides, or that the Kelts, as an exercise of their intrepidity, suffer their houses to be washed away by them, and afterwards rebuild them; and that a greater number of them perish by water than by war, as Ephorus relates. For the regular order the flood-tides observe, and the notoriety of the extent of the country subject to inundation by them, could never have given occasion for such absurd actions. For the tide flowing twice every day, how could any one think for an instant that it was not a natural and harmless phenomenon, and that it occurs not only on their coasts, but on all others bordering on the ocean? Is not this quite incredible? Neither is Clitarchus to be trusted,4 when he says that their cavalry, on seeing the sea flowing in, rode off at full speed, and yet scarcely escaped by flight from being overtaken by the flood; for we know, by experience, that the tide does not come in with such impetuosity, but that the sea advances stealthily by slow degrees. And we should think, besides, that a phenomenon of daily occurrence, which would naturally strike the ear of such as approached it, before even they could see it with their eyes, could not by any means terrify them so as to put them to flight, as if they had been surprised by some unexpected catastrophe. [2]

For such fables as these, Posidonius justly blames these writers, and not inaptly conjectures that the Cimbri, on account of their wandering life and habits of piracy, might have made an expedition as far as the countries around the Palus Mæotis, and that from them has been derived the name of the Cimmerian Bosphorus, or what we should more correctly denominate the Cimbrian Bosphorus, for the Greeks call the Cimbri Cimmerii.

He likewise tells us that the Boii formerly inhabited the Hercynian Forest, and that the Cimbri, having made an incursion into those parts, were repulsed by them, and driven towards the Danube, and the country occupied by the Scordisci, a Galatic tribe, and from thence to the Tauristæ, or Taurisci, a people likewise of Galatic origin, and farther to the Helvetii, who were at that time a rich and peaceful people; but, perceiving that the wealth of these freebooters far exceeded their own, the Helvetii, and more especially the Tigureni and the Toygeni, associated themselves with their expeditions. But both the Cimbri and their auxiliaries were vanquished by the Romans, the one part when they crossed the Alps and came down upon Italy, the others on the other side of the Alps. [3]

It is reported that the Cimbri had a peculiar custom. They were accompanied in their expeditions by their wives; these were followed by hoary-headed priestesses,5 clad in white, with cloaks of carbasus6 fastened on with clasps, girt with brazen girdles, and bare-footed. These individuals, bearing drawn swords, went to meet the captives throughout the camp, and, having crowned them, led them to a brazen vessel containing about 20 amphoræ, and placed on a raised platform, which one of the priestesses having ascended, and holding the prisoner above the vessel, cut his throat; then, from the manner in which the blood flowed into the vessel, some drew certain divinations; while others, having opened the corpse, and inspected the entrails, prophesied victory to their army. In battle too they beat skins stretched on the wicker sides of chariots, which produces a stunning noise. [4]

As we have before stated, the northernmost of the Germans inhabit a country bordering on the ocean; but we are only acquainted with those situated between the mouths of the Rhine and the Elbe, of which the Sicambri7 and Cimbri8 are the most generally known: those dwelling along the coast9 beyond the Elbe are entirely unknown to us; for none of the ancients with whom I am acquainted have prosecuted this voyage towards the east as far as the mouths of the Caspian Sea, neither have the Romans as yet sailed coastwise beyond the Elbe, nor has any one travelling on foot penetrated farther into this country. But it is evident, by the climates and the parallels of distances, that in following a longitudinal course towards the east we must come to the countries near the Dnieper, and the regions on the north side of the Euxine. But as for any particulars as to Germany beyond the Elbe, or of the countries which lie beyond it in order, whether we should call them the Bastarnæ, as most geographers suppose, or whether other nations intervene, such as the Jazyges,10 or the Roxolani,11 or any others of the tribes dwelling in waggons, it is not easy to give any account. Neither can we say whether these nations extend as far as the [Northern] Ocean, along the whole distance, or whether [between them and the Ocean] there are countries rendered unfit for habitation by the cold or by any other cause; or whether men of a different race are situated between the sea and the most eastern of the Germans.

The same uncertainty prevails with regard to the other nations12 of the north, for we know neither the Bastarnæ nor the Sauromatæ;13 nor, in a word, any of those tribes situate above the Euxine: we are ignorant as to what distance they lie from the Atlantic,14 or even whether they extend as far as that sea.

1 See also book ii. chap. 3, § 6. Festus relates that the Ambrones abandoned their country on account of this tide. The Ambrones were a tribe of the Helvetii, and more than once joined with the Cimbri.

2 The French translation has happily paraphrased, not translated, this passage as follows: ‘For although it is true that the ocean has tides of more or less height, still they occur periodically, and in an order constantly the same.’

3 Aristotle, Ethics, Eudem. lib. iii. cap. 1, Nicolas of Damascus, and Ælian, Var. Histor. lib. xii. cap. 23, have attributed the like extravagant proceedings to the Kelts or Gauls. Nicolas of Damascus, Reliq. pp. 272, 273, says that the Kelts resist the tides of the ocean with their swords in their hands, till they perish in the waters, in order that they may not seem to fear death by taking the precaution to fly.

4 It is probable that Clitarchus obtained his information from the Gauls. As for the sudden influx of the tide, there are several other examples of the kind, in which the troops surprised were not so successful in getting off.

5 Tacitus, De Morib. Germanor. cap. viii., says that these priestesses were held in great reputation, and mentions one Veleda as ‘diu apud plerosque numinis loco habitam.’

6 Pliny, lib. xix. cap. 1, describes this carbasus as very fine flax, grown in the neighbourhood of Tarragona in Spain. The Père Hardouin considers that the carbasus or fabric manufactured of this flax was similar to the French batiste.—The flax and the fabric were alike called carbasus.

7 The Sicambri, or Sugambri, dwelt to the south of the Lippe.

8 The Cimbri occupied Jutland, the ancient Cimbrica Chersonesus.

9 The shores of the Baltic.

10 Gossellin places the Jazyges in the southern districts of the Ukraine, between the Dniester and the Sea of Azoff.

11 Gossellin considers that the name of Russia is derived from these Roxolani.

12 The Bastarne and Tyregetæ, mentioned in chap. i. § I, of this book, to whom, in book ii. chap. v. § 30, Strabo adds also the Sauromatæ.

13 The Sauromatæ, or Sarmatians, living to the east of the Sea of Azoff and along the banks of the Don.

14 The term Atlantic was applied with much more latitude by Strabo and Eratosthenes than by us.

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