previous next


Eth. JA´ZYGES, IA´ZYGES (Ἰαζυγες, Steph. B. sub voce Iazyx), a people belonging to the Sarmatian stock, whose original settlements were on the Palus Maeotis. (Ptol. 3.5.19; Strab. vii. p.306; Arrian, Arr. Anab. 1, 3; Amm. Marc. 22.8.31.) They were among the barbarian tribes armed by Mithridates (Appian, App. Mith. 69); during the banishment of Ovid they were found on the Danube, and in Bessarabia and Wallachia (Ep. ex Pont. 1.2, 79, 4.7, 9, Trist. 2.19. 1.) In A.D. 50, either induced by the rich pastures of Hungary, or forced onwards from other causes, they no longer appear in their ancient seats, but in the plains between the Lower Theiss and the mountains of Transylvania, from which they had driven out the Dacians. (Tac. Ann. 12.29; Plin. Nat. 4.12.) This migration, probably, did not extend to the whole of the tribe, as is implied in the surname “Metanastae;” henceforward history speaks of the IAZYGES METANASTAE (Ἰάζυγες οἱ Μετανάσται), who were the Sarmatians with whom the Romans so frequently came in collision. (Comp. Gibbon, c. xviii.) In the second century of our era, Ptolemy (iii; 7) assigns the Danube, the Theiss, and the Carpathians as the limits of this warlike tribe, and enumerates the following towns as belonging to them:--USCENUM (Οὔσκενον); BORMANUM or GORMANUM (Βόρμανον, al. Γόρμανον); ABIETA or ABINTA (Ἀβίητα, al. Ἄβιντα); TRISSUM (Τρισσόν); CANDANUM (Κάνδάνον); PARCA (Πάρκα); PESSIUM (πέσσιον); and PARTISCUM (Πάρτισκον). These towns were, it would seem, constructed not by the Iazyges themselves, who lived in tents and waggons, but by the former Slave inhabitants of Hungary; and this supposition is confirmed by the fact that the names are partly Keltic and partly Slavish. Manner and Reichard (Forbiger, vol. iii. p. 1111) have guessed at the modern representatives of these places, but Schafarik (Slav. Alt. vol. i. p. 514) is of opinion that no conclusion can be safely drawn except as to the identity of Pesth with Pessium, and of Potisije with Partiscum.

The Iazyges lived on good terms with their neighbours on the W., the German Quadi (Tac. Hist. 3.5), with whom they united for the purpose of subjugating [p. 2.8]the native Slaves and resisting the power of Rome. A portion of their territory was taken from them by Decebalus, which, after Trajan's Dacian conquests, was incorporated with the Roman dominions. (D. C. 48.10, 11.) Pannonia and Moesia were constantly exposed to their inroads; but, A.D. 171, they were at length driven from their last holds in the province, and pushed across the Danube, by M. Aurelius. In mid-winter they returned in great numbers, and attempted to cross the frozen stream; the Romans encountered them upon the ice, and inflicted a severe defeat. (D. C. 71.7, 8, 16.) At a later period, as the Roman Empire hastened to its fall, it was constantly exposed to the attacks of these wild hordes, who, beaten one day, appeared the next, plundering and laying waste whatever came in their way. (Amm. Marc. 17.12, 13, 29.6.) The word “peace” was unknown to them. (Flor. 4.12.)

They called themselves “Sarmatae Limigantes,” and were divided into two classes of freemen and slaves, “Sarmatae Liberi,” “Sarmatae Servi.” Ammianus Marcellinus (17.13.1) calls the subject class “Limigantes” (a word which has been falsely explained by “Limitanei” ), and St. Jerome (Chron.) says that the ruling Sarmatians had the title “Arcagarantes.” By a careful comparison of the accounts given by Dio Cassius, Ammianus, Jerome, and the writer of the Life of Constantine, it may be clearly made out that the Sarmatian Iazyges, besides subjugating the Getae in Dacia and on the Lower Danube, had, by force of arms, enslaved a people distinct from the Getae, and living on the Theiss and at the foot of the Carpathians. Although the nations around them were called, both the ruling and the subject race, Sarmatians, yet the free Sarmatians were entirely distinct from the servile population in language, customs, and mode of life. The Iazyges, wild, bold riders, scoured over the plains of the Danube and Theiss valleys on their unbroken horses, while their only dwellings were the waggons drawn by oxen in which they carried their wives and children. The subject Sarmatians, on the other hand, had wooden houses and villages, such as those enumerated by Ptolemy (l.c.); they fought more on foot than on horseback, and were daring seamen, all of which peculiarities were eminently characteristic of the ancient Slaves. (Schafarik, vol. i. p. 250.)

The Slaves often rose against their masters, who sought an alliance against them among the Victofali and Quadi. (Ammian. l.c.; Euseb. Vit. Constant. 4.6.) The history of this obscure and remarkable warfare (A.D. 334) is, given by Gibbon (c. xviii.; comp. Le Beau, Bas Empire, vol. i. p. 337; Manso, Leben Constantins, p. 195). In A.D. 357--359 a new war broke out, in which Constantius made a successful campaign, and received the title “Sarmaticus.” (Gibbon, c. xix.; Le Beau, vol. ii. pp. 245-273.) In A.D. 471 two of their leaders, Benga and Babaï, were defeated before Singidunum (Belgrade) by Theodoric the Ostrogoth. (Jornand. de Reb. Get. 55; comp. Gibbon, c. xxxix.; Le Beau, vol. vii. p. 44.) The hordes of the Huns, Gepidae, and Goths broke the power of this wild people, whose descendants, however, concealed themselves in the desert districts of the Theiss till the arrival of the Magyars.

Another branch of the Sarmatian Iazyges were settled behind the Carpathians in Podlachia, and were. known in history at the end of the 10th century of our era; it is probable that they were among the northern tribes vanquished by Hermanric in A. D 332--350, and that they were the same people as those mentioned by Jornandes (de Reb. Get. 3) under the corrupt form INAUNXES.

There is a monograph on this subject by Hennig (Comment de Rebus Iazygum S. Iazvingorum, Regiomont, 1812); a full and clear account of the fortunes of these peoples will be found in the German translation of the very able work of Schafarik, the historian of the Slavish races.

In 1799 a golden dish was found with an inscription in Greek characters, now in the imperial cabinet of antiquities at Vienna, which has been referred to the Iazyges. (Von Hammer, Osman. Gesch. vol. iii. p. 726.)


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