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Eth. FRISII (Frisnnes, Paul. Diac. 6.37; Frigones, Geogr. Rav. 4.23; and Frisei, Frisaei, or Frisaevones, in inscriptions; Φρίσσιοι, Ptol. 2.11.11; [p. 1.917]Φρείσιοι, D. C. 54.32; Φρίσσονες, Procop. B.G. 4.20), one of the great tribes of North-western Germany, belonging to the Ingaevones. They inhabited the country about Lake Flevo and other lakes, between the Rhine and Ems, so as to be bounded on the south by the Bructeri, and on the east by the Chauci. Tacitus (Germ. 34) distinguishes between Frisii Majores and Minores, and it is supposed that the latter dwelt on the west of the canal of Drusus in the north of Holland, and the former between the rivers Flevus and Amisia, that is, in the country still bearing the name of Friesland. Pliny mentions a tribe, under the name of Frisiabones, as dwelling in Northern Gallia between the Sunici and Betasii. They have been identified by many writers with the lesser Frisii, but without sufficient reason. [FRRISIABONES.]

The Frisians joined the Romans from the first, and remained faithful to them after the undertakings of Drusus, until, in A.D. 28, irritated by the oppression of the governor Olennius, they rose in arms, and expelled or massacred the Romans. (Tac. 2.24, 4.72, 11.19; D. C. 54.32.) Corbulo's attempt to reconquer them in A.D. 47, was unsuccessful, as he was recalled. Under Nero, they invaded the Roman dominion on the Rhine, but were obliged to retreat. On this occasion, their kings Verritus and Malorix went to Rome to negotiate, and were honoured with the Roman franchise, though they behaved with noble independence. (Tac. Ann. 13.54.) During the fourth and fifth centuries, the Frisians were allied with the Saxons, with whom they sailed across to Britain, and shared their conquests. (Procop. B. G. 4.20.) Their chief occupation was agriculture and the breeding of cattle. (Tac. Ann. 4.72, 13.54; comp. Latham on Tac. Germ. p. 116.).


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  • Cross-references from this page (3):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 13.54
    • Tacitus, Annales, 4.72
    • Claudius Ptolemy, Tetrabiblos, 2.11
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