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The whole of the shores of this sea as far as the Scaldis1, a river of Germany, is inhabited by nations, the dimensions of whose respective territories it is quite impossible to state, so immensely do the authors differ who have touched upon this subject. The Greek writers and some of our own countrymen have stated the coast of Germany to be 2500 miles in extent, while Agrippa, comprising Rhætia and Noricum in his estimate, makes the length to be 6862 miles, and the breadth 1483. (14.) The breadth of Rhætia alone however very nearly exceeds that number of miles, and indeed we ought to state that it was only subjugated at about the period of the death of that general; while as for Germany, the whole of it was not thoroughly known to us for many years after his time. If I may be allowed to form a conjecture, the margin of the coast will be found to be not far short of the estimate of the Greek writers, while the distance in a straight line will nearly correspond with that mentioned by Agrippa.

There are five German races; the Vandili4, parts of whom are the Burgundiones5, the Varini6, the Carini7, and the Gutones8: the Ingævones, forming a second race, a portion of whom are the Cimbri9, the Teutoni10, and the tribes of the Chauci11. The Istævones12, who join up to the Rhine, and to whom the Cimbri13 belong, are the third race; while the Hermiones, forming a fourth, dwell in the interior, and include the Suevi14, the Hermunduri15, the Chatti16, and the Cherusci17: the fifth race is that of the Peucini18, who are also the Basternæ, adjoining the Daci previously mentioned. The more famous rivers that flow into the ocean are the Guttalus19, the Vistillus or Vistula, the Albis20, the Visurgis21, the Amisius22, the Rhine, and the Mosa23. In the interior is the long extent of the Hercynian24 range, which in grandeur is inferior to none.

1 Now the Scheldt.

2 In a straight line, of course. Parisot is of opinion that in forming this estimate Agrippa began at the angle formed by the river Piave in lat. 46°4′, measuring thence to Cape Rubeas (now Rutt) in lat. 54°25′. This would give 8°21′, to which, if we add some twenty leagues for obliquity or difference of longitude, the total would make exactly the distance here mentioned.

3 As Parisot remarks, it is totally impossible to conceive the source of such an erroneous conclusion as this. Some readings make the amount 248, others 268.

4 As already mentioned, Zeuss has satisfactorily shown that the Vandili or Vindili properly belonged to the Hermiones. Tacitus mentions but three groups of the German nations; the Ingævones on the ocean, the Hermiones in the interior, and the Istævones in the east and south of Germany. The Vandili, a Gothic race, dwelt originally on the northern coast of Germany, but afterwards settled north of the Marcomanni on the Riesengebirge. They subsequently appeared in Dacia and Pannonia, and in the beginning of the fifth century invaded Spain. Under Genseric they passed over into Africa, and finally took and plundered Rome in A.D. 455. Their kingdom was finally destroyed by Belisarius.

5 It is supposed that the Burgundiones were a Gothic people dwelling in the country between the rivers Viadus and Vistula, though Ammianus Marcellinus declares them to have been of pure Roman origin. How they came into the country of the Upper Maine in the south-west of Germany in A.D. 289, historians have found themselves at a loss to inform us. It is not improbable that the two peoples were not identical, and that the similarity of their name arose only from the circumstance that they both resided in "burgi" or burghs. See Gibbon, iii. 99. Bohn's Ed.

6 The Varini dwelt on the right bank of the Albis or Elbe, north of the Langobardi. Ptolemy however, who seems to mention them as the Avarini, speaks of them as dwelling near the sources of the Vistula, on the site of the present Cracow. See Gibbon, iv. 225. Bohn's Ed.

7 Nothing whatever is known of the locality of this people.

8 They are also called in history Gothi, Gothones, Gotones and Gutæ. According to Pytheas of Marseilles (as mentioned by Pliny, B. xxxvii. c. 2), they dwelt on the coasts of the Baltic, in the vicinity of what is now called the Fritsch-Haff. Tacitus also refers to the same district, though he does not speak of them as inhabiting the coast. Ptolemy again speaks of them as dwelling on the east of the Vistula, and to the south of the Venedi. The later form of their name, Gothi, does not occur till the time of Caracalla. Their native name was Gutthinda. They are first spoken of as a powerful nation at the beginning of the third century, when we find them mentioned as 'Getæ,' from the circumstance of their having occupied the countries formerly inhabited by the Sarmatian Getæ. The formidable attacks made by this people, divided into the nations of the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, upon the Roman power during its decline, are too well known to every reader of Gibbon to require further notice.

9 The inhabitants of Chersonesus Cimbrica, the modern peninsula of Jutland. It seems doubtful whether these Cimbri were a Germanic nation or a Celtic tribe, as also whether they were the same race whose numerous hordes successively defeated six Roman armies, and were finally conquered by C. Marius, B.C. 101, in the Campi Raudii. The more general impression, however, entertained by historians, is that they were a Celtic or Gallic and not a Germanic nation. The name is said to have signified "robbers." See Gibbon, i. 273, iii. 365. Bohn's Ed.

10 The Teutoni or Teutones dwelt on the coasts of the Baltic, adjacent to the territory of the Cimbri. Their name, though belonging originally to a single nation or tribe, came to be afterwards applied collectively to the whole people of Germany. See Gibbon, iii. 139. Bohn's Ed.

11 Also called Cauchi, Cauci, and Cayci, a German tribe to the east of the Frisians, between the rivers Ems and Elbe. The modern Oldenburg and Hanover are supposed to pretty nearly represent the country of the Chauci. In B. xvi. c. 1. 2, will be found a further account of them by Pliny, who had visited their country, at least that part of it which lay on the sea-coast. They are mentioned for the last time in the third century, when they had extended so far south and west that they are spoken of as living on the banks of the Rhine.

12 Mentioned by Tacitus as dwelling in the east and south of Germany.

13 It has been suggested by Titzius that the words "quorum Cimbri," "to whom the Cimbri belong," are an interpolation; which is not improbable, or at least that the word "Cimbri" has been substituted for some other name.

14 This appears to be properly the collective name of a great number of the German tribes, who were of a migratory mode of life, and spoken of in opposition to the more settled tribes, who went under the general name of Ingævones. Cæsar speaks of them as dwelling east of the Ubii and Sygambri, and west of the Cherusci. Strabo makes them extend in an easterly direction beyond the Albis or Elbe, and southerly as far as the sources of the Danube. Tacitus gives the name of Suevia to the whole of the east of Germany, from the Danube to the Baltic. The name of the modern Suabia is derived from a body of adventurers from various German tribes, who assumed the name of Suevi in consequence of their not possessing any other appellation.

15 A large and powerful tribe of Germany, which occupied the extensive tract of country between the mountains in the north-west of Bohemia and the Roman Wall in the south-west, which formed the boundary of the Agri Decumates. On the east they bordered on the Narisci, on the north-east on the Cherusci, and on the north-west on the Chatti. There is little doubt that they originally formed part of the Suevi. At a later period they spread in a north-easterly direction, taking possession of the north-western part of Bohemia and the country about the sources of the Maine and Saale, that is, the part of Franconia as far as Kissingen and the south-western part of the kingdom of Saxony. The name Hermunduri is thought by some to signify highlanders, and to be a compound of Her or Ar, "high," and Mund, "man."

16 One of the great tribes of Germany, which rose to importance after the decay of the power of the Cherusci. It is thought by ethnographers that their name is still preserved in the word "Hessen." They formed the chief tribe of the Hermiones here mentioned, and are described by Cæsar as belonging to the Suevi, though Tacitus distinguishes them, and no German tribe in fact occupied more permanently its original locality than the Chatti. Their original abode seems to have extended from the Wester- wald in the west to the Saale in Franconia, and from the river Maine in the south as far as the sources of the Elison and the Weser, so that they occupied exactly the modern country of Hessen, including perhaps a portion of the north-west of Bavaria. See Gibbon, vol. iii. 99. Bohn's Ed.

17 The Cherusci were the most celebrated of all the German tribes, and are mentioned by Cæsar as of the same importance as the Suevi, from whom they were separated by the Silva Bacensis. There is some difficulty in stating their exact locality, but it is generally supposed that their country extended from the Visurgis or Weser in the west to the Albis or Elbe in the east, and from Melibocus in the north to the neighbourhood of the Sudeti in the south, so that the Chamavi and Langobardi were their northern neighbours, the Chatti the western, the Hermunduri the southern, and the Silingi and Semnones their eastern neighbours. This tribe, under their chief Arminius or Hermann, forming a confederation with many smaller tribes in A.D. 9, completely defeated the Romans in the famous battle of the Teutoburg Forest. In later times they were conquered by the Chatti, so that Ptolemy speaks of them only as a small tribe on the south of the Hartz mountain. Their name afterwards appears, in the beginning of the fourth century, in the con federation of the Franks.

18 The Peucini are mentioned here, as also by Tacitus, as identical with the Basternæ. As already mentioned, supposing them to be names for distinct nations, they must be taken an only names of individual tribes, and not of groups of tribes. It is generally supposed that their first settlements in Sarmatia were in the highlands between the Theiss and the March, whence they passed onward to the lower Danube, as far as its mouth, where a portion of them, settling in the island of Peuce, obtained the name of Peucini. In the later geographers we find them settled between the Tyrus or Dniester, and the Borysthenes or Dnieper, the Peucini remaining at the mouth of the Danube.

19 According to Parisot, the Guttalus is the same as the Alle, a tributary of the Pregel. Cluver thinks that it is the same as the Oder. Other writers again consider it the same as the Pregel.

20 Or Elbe.

21 Now the Weser.

22 The modern Ems.

23 The Meuse.

24 The 'Hercynia Silva,' Hercynian Forest or Range, is very differently described by the writers of various ages. The earliest mention of it is by Aristotle. Judging from the accounts given by Cæsar, Pomponius Mela, and Strabo, the 'Hercynia Silva' appears to have been a general name for almost all the mountains of Southern and Central Germany, that is, from the sources of the Danube to Transylvania, comprising the Schwarzwald, Odenwald, Spessart, Rhön, Thuringer Wald, the Hartz mountain (which seems in a great measure to have retained the ancient name), Raube Alp, Steigerwald, Fichtelgebirge, Erzgebirge, and Riesengebirge. At a later period when the mountains of Germany had become better known, the name was applied to the more limited range extending around Bohemia, and through Moravia into Hungary.

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  • Commentary references to this page (1):
    • W. W. How, J. Wells, A Commentary on Herodotus, 7.216
  • Cross-references to this page (12):
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), BURGUNDIO´NES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHATTI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHAUCI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), CHERUSCI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GERMA´NIA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GOTHI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), GUTTALUS
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HERCY´NIA SILVA
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), HERMIONES
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), SUEVI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), VANDALI
    • Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography (1854), VARI´NI
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