), a tribe which in conjunction with the Teutones and others invaded the south of Europe, and successively defeated six Roman armies, until in the end they were conquered by C. Marius, B.C. 101, in the Campi Raudii near Vercellae. Previous to their joining the Teutones, they had traversed and devastated Gaul and Spain, and in the battle against Marius they are said to have lost 100,000 or even 140,000 men. Who these Cimbri were, what country they inhabited, and what was the cause of their wandering southward, are points which are not clearly defined in our ancient authorities, and modern investigations seem to have made the matter almost more obscure. All our authorities state that the original country of the Cimbri was the Chersonesus Cimbrica, the modern peninsula of Jutland,
and it is a well known fact that Cimbri continued to dwell there as late as the time of the Roman emperors. (Tac. Germ.
37; Plin. Nat. 4.27
; Ptol. 2.11.12
; Mela, 3.3.)
This fact is further established by the very name of the peninsula, which Pliny calls Promontorium Cimbrorum. Posidonius (ap. Strab. vii. p.293
) does not say what country they inhabited, and only describes them as roving pirates; and Strabo (vii. pp. 291, 294), mentioning them by the side of the Bructeri and Chauci, states that they occupied the country west of the Elbe.
This statement, however, cannot invalidate the testimony of Tacitus, Pliny, and Strabo, that their original home was in Jutland.
In the reign of Augustus, moreover, the Cimbri sent an embassy to that emperor from the Cimbrian Chersonesus, to offer him presents and to sue for pardon for what they had done to the Romans a century before. (Strab. vii. p.293
; Monum. Ancyr. in Wolf's edit. of Sueton. vol. ii. p. 375.) Lastly, it is attested by all the ancients that Cimbri came from the north, and not, as some moderns assert, from the [p. 1.623]
east. (Strab. l.c.; Diod. 5.32
; Justin, 38.3
; Amm. Marc. 31.5
; Claud. Bell. Get.
The question as to the nationality of the Cimbri is involved in greater obscurity. Mere resemblance of name led some of the ancients to identify the Cimbri with the Cimmerians in Asia. (Strab. l.c.; Plut. Mar. 10
; Polyaen. 8.10
; Diod. 5.32
; Steph. Byz. s. v. Ἅβιοι.
) This supposition has justly been abandoned by all modern writers, though they are still divided in opinion, some regarding the Cimbri as a tribe of the great Celtic nation, and others as being a Germanic tribe.
The testimony of the ancients, which ought not to be set aside, except for most weighty reasons, must here decide the question.
The ancients are almost unanimous in representing the Cimbri as Celts or Gauls. (Sal. Jug. 114
; Flor. 3.3
; Appian, de Reb. Illyr.
4, Bell. Civ.
1.29, 4.2; Diod. l.c.
and 14.114; Plut. Cam. 15
; D. C. 44.42
; Just. 24.8
; Oros. 5.16
.) Against this statement modern critics have urged, that the names Galli, Celtae,
are used very vaguely and loosely by the ancients, and that sometimes they are applied to Germans also; a second objection is, that a Celtic tribe should have dwelt so far north as Jutland,
and so far away from other Celtic tribes These objections, however, do not weigh very heavily against the facts, that the very name of the Cimbri bears a strong resemblance to that of the Celtic Kymri; and that the armour and customs of the Cimbri, as described by Plutarch (Plut. Mar. 25
) and Strabo (vii. p.294
), are very different from those of the Germans. All these circumstances render it in the highest degree probable that the Cimbri were a Celtic or Gallic and not a Germanic nation. (Comp. H. Müller, Die Marken des Vaterlandes,
p. 131, fol.)
The circumstances which led the Cimbri to migrate southward, were undoubtedly the same as those which, during those centuries, so often set nations in motion, viz. the love of adventure and warlike enterprise, or the pressure of other immigrating people from the East.
The statement that the Cimbri were driven from their country by a fearful inundation of the sea, is a mere invention without any foundation. (Strab. vii. p.293
.) Their name is said to signify “robbers.” (Plut. Mar. 11
; Fest. p. 43, ed. Müller.) For further details respecting the Cimbri, see H. Müller, l.c.;
Zeuss, Die Deutschen,
p. 141, foll.; Wilhelm, Germ.
p. 172, foll.; Schiern, De Cimbrorum Originibus et Migrationibus,
Havniae, 1842; Latham, Appendix
to his edit. of Tac. Germ.
p. clv. foll.)