previous next


SARMA´TIA (Σαρμάτια: Eth. Σαρμάται), Eth. Sarmatata, the name of a country in Europe and Asia. For the earlier and Greek forms of the word see SAUROMATAE

That S-rm is the same root as S-rb, so that Sarmatae and Serbi, Servi, Sorabi, Srb, &c., may be, not only the name for the same populations, but also the same name, has been surmised, and that upon not unreasonable grounds. The name seems to have first reached the Greeks through the Scythians of the lower Dnieper and Don, who applied it to a non-Scythic population. Whether this non-Scythic population used it themselves, and whether it was limited to them by the Scythians, is uncertain. It was a name, too, which the Getae used; also one used by some of the Pannonian populations. It was, probably, the one which the Sarmatians themselves used partially, their neighbours generally, just like Galli, Graeci, and many others.

More important than the origin of the name are the questions concerning (1) the area, (2) the population to which it applied. Our chief authority on this point is Ptolemy; Strabo's notices are incidental and fragmentary.

The area given by Strabo to the Galatae and Germani, extends as far as the Borysthenes, or even the Don, the Tyrigetae being the. most western of the non-German countries of the southeast, and the Bastarnae being doubtful,--though, perhaps, German (vii. p. 289). Of a few particular nations, such as the Jazyges, Hamaxobii, and Roxolani, a brief notice is given, without, however, any special statement as to their Sarmatian or non-Sarmatian affinities. In Asia, the country of the Sauromatae is called the plains of the Sarmatae, as opposed to the mountains of Caucasus. The inordinate size given to Germany by Strabo well nigh obliterates, not only Sarmatia, but Scythia in Europe as well.

Pliny's notices are as incidental as Strabo's, and nearly as brief,--the development of Germany eastwards [p. 2.915]being also inordinate. He carries it as far as the country of the Bastarnae.

The Germany of Tacitus is bounded on the east by the Sarmatae and Daci. The Sarmatae here are the population of a comparatively small area between the Danube and Theiss, and on the boundaries of Hungary, Moldavia, and Gallicia. But they are something more. They are the type of a large class widely spread both eastward and northward; a class of equal value with that of the Germani. This, obviously, subtracts something from the vast extent of the Germania of Strabo (which nearly meant Northern Europe); but not enough. The position of the Bastarnae, Peucini, Venedi, and Finni, is still an open question. [SCYTHIA]

This prepares us for something more systematic, and it is in Ptolemy that we find it. The SARMATIAE of Ptolemy fall into (1) the EUROPEAN, and (2) the ASIATIC.


The western boundary is the Vistula; the northern the Baltic, as far as the Venedic gulf and a tract of unknown country; the southern, the country of the Jazyges Metanastae and Dacia; the eastern, the isthmus of the Crimea, and the Don. This gives us parts of Poland and Gallicia, Litlhuania, Esthonia, and Western Russia. It includes the Finni (probably a part only), and the Alauni, who are Scythians eo nomine (Ἀλαῦνοι Σκύθαι). It includes the Bastarnae, the Peucini, and more especially the Venedi. It also includes the simple Jazyges, as opposed to the Jazyges Metanastae, who form a small section by themselves. All these, with the exception of the Finni, are especially stated to be the great nations of Sarmatia (to which add the Roxolani and Hamaxobii), as opposed to the smaller ones.

Of the greater nations of Samatia Europaea, the Peucini and Bastarnae of Ptolemy are placed further north than the Peucini and Bastarnae of his predecessors. By later writers they are rarely mentioned. [VENEDI.] Neither are the Jazyges, who are the Jazyges Sarmatae of Strabo. These, along with the Roxolani, lay along the whole side (ὅλην τὴν πλευρὰν) of the Maeotis, say in Kherson, Tauris and Ekaterinoslav. [ROXOLANI] Hamaxobii is merely a descriptive term. It probably was applied to some Scythian population. Pliny writes Hamaxobii aut Aorsi, a fact of which further notice is taken below. The Alauni, notwithstanding an Ἀλαῦνον ὄρος, and other complications, can scarcely be other than the Alani of Caucasus; the ἀλκήεντες Ἄλαυνοι of the Periegesis (1. 302) are undoubted Scythians. Nestor, indeed has a population otherwise unknown, called Uliczi, the czi being non-radical, which is placed on the Dniester. It does not, however, remove the difficulty.

The Peucini were best known as the occupants of one of the islands at the mouth of the Danube. They may also, however, have extended far into Bessarabia. So manifold are the changes that a word with Sarmatian or Scythian inflexion can undergo, that it is not improbable that Peuc-ini may be the modern words Budjack and Bess, in Bess-arabia. The following are the actual forms which the name of the Patz-inacks, exactly in the country of the Peuc-ini, undergoes in the mediaeval and Byzantine writers. Πατζινακῖται, Pecenatici, Pizenaci, Pincenates, Postinagi, Peczenjezi (in Slavonic), Petinei, Pecinei (the nearest approach to Peucini.) Then, in the direction of Budziak and Bessi, Behnakije, Petschnakije, Pezina-völlr (in Norse), Bisseni and Bessi, (Zeuss, Die Deutschen, &c. s. vv. Pecinaci and Cumani). The Patzinaks were Scythians, who cannot be shown to be of recent origin in Europe. They may, then, have been the actual descendants of the Peucini; though this is not necessary, for they may have been a foreign people who, on reaching the country of the Peuc-ini, took the name; in such a case being Peuc-ini in the way that an Englishman is a Briton, i. e. not at all. The difference between the Peucini and Bastarnae was nominal. Perhaps the latter were Moldavian rather than Bessarabian. The Atmoni and Siaones of Strabo were Bastarnae.

The geography of the minor nations is more obscure, the arrangement of Ptolemy being some-what artificial. He traces them in two parallel columns, from north to south, beginning, in both cases with the country of the Venedi, and taking the eastern bank of the Vistula first. The first name on this list is that of the Gythones, south of the Venedi. It is not to be understood by this that the Venedi lay between the Gythones and the Baltic, so as to make the latter an inland people, but simply that the Venedi of the parts about Memel lay north of the Gythones of the parts about Elbing. Neither can this people be separated from the Guttones and Aestyii, i. e. the populations of the amber country, or East Prussia.

The Finni succeed (Γύθωνες εἶτα Φίννοι). It is not likely that these Finns (if Finns of Finland) can have laid due south of East Prussia; though not impossible. They were, probably, on the east.

The Bulanes (Sulones?), with the Phrugundiones to the south, and the Avareni at the head of the Vistula, bring us to the Dacian frontier. The details here are all conjectural. Zeuss has identified the Bulanes with the Borani of Zosimus, who, along with the Goths, the Carpi, and the Urugundi, attacked the empire under Gallus. In Nestor a population called Sul-iczi occupies a locality between the Dnieper and Dniester: but this is too far east. In Livonia, Henry the Lett gives prominence to the nation of the Selones, a likelier identification.

For Bulanes (supposing this to be the truer reading) the word Polyane gives us the most plausible signification. Nestor uses it frequently. It is Pole, primarily meaning occupants of plains. Wherever, then, there were plains they might be Polyane; and Nestor actually mentions two divisions of them; the Lekhs, or Poles of the Vistula, and the Polyane of the Dnieper.

The Phrugundiones of Ptolemy have always been a crux geographica. Name for name, they are so like Burgundiones as to have suggested the idea of a migration from Poland to Burgundy. Then there are the Urugundi and Burgundi of the Byzantine writers (see Zeuss, s. vv. Borani, Urugundi), with whom the Ptolemaean population is, probably, identical. The writer who is unwilling to assume migrations unnecessarily will ask whether the several Burgundys may not be explained on the principle suggested by the word Polyane, i. c. whether the word may not be the name of more than one locality of the same physical conditions. Probably, this is the case. In the German, and also in the Slavonic languages, the word Fairguni, Fergund, Vergunt, Virgunda, Virgunndia, and Viraunnia, mean hill-range, forest, elevated tract. [p. 2.916]Of these there might be any amount,--their occurrence in different and distant parts by no means implying migrations.

The Avareni may be placed in Gallicia.

South of them come the Ombrones, and the Anarto-phracti. Are these the Arnartes of Caesar? The Anartes of Caesar were on the eastern confines of the Hercynian forest (Bell. Gall. 6.24, 25), conterminous with the Daci, a fact which, taken along with the physical conditions of the country, gives us Western Gallicia, or Austrian Silesia, for the Anarto-phracti. Then come the Burgiones, then the Arsiaetae (compare with Aorsi), then the Saboki, then the Piengitae, and then the Bessi, along the Carpathian Mountains. Gallicia, with parts of Volhynia, and Podolia give us ample room for these obscure, and otherwise unnamed, populations.

The populations of the second column lie to the east of those just enumerated, beginning again with the Venedi (ὑπὸ τοῦς Οὐενέδας πάλιν). Vilna, Grodno, with parts of Minsk, Volhynia, Podolia, and Kiev give us an area over which we have six names to distribute. Its southern boundary are the Peucinian mountains (Bukhovinia?).

(1.) The Galindae.--These are carried too far east, i.e. if we are right in identifying them with the Galinditae of the Galandia and Golenz of the middle ages, who are East Prussians on the Spirding Lake.

(2.) The Sudeni.--These, again, seem to be the Sudo-vitae (the termination is non-radical in several Prussian names) conterminous with the Galinditae, but to the north-east of them. Their district is called Sudovia.

(3.) The Stavani-Concerning these, we have the startling statement, that they extend as far as the Alauni (μέχρι τῶν Ἀλαύνων). Is not Ἄλαυνοι an erroneous name developed out of some form of Γαλίν-δαι̣ The extension of either the Stavani to Caucasus, or of the Alani to Prussia, is out of the question.

(4.) The Igylliones.--Zeuss has allowed himself (s. v. Jazwingi) to hold that the true form of this word is Ἰτυγγιώνες, and to identify this with a name that appears in so many forms as to make almost any conjecture excusable,--Jazwingi, Jacwingi, Jaczwingi, Jecwesin, Getuinzitae, Getwezitae, Jentuisiones, Jentuosi, Jacintiones, Jatwjazi, Jatwjezi, or Getwesia, and Gotwezia, all actual forms. The area of the population, which was one of the most powerful branches of the Lithuanian stock in the 13th century, was part of Grodno, Minsk, and Volhynia, a locality that certainly suits the Igylliones.

(5.) The Costoboci in Podolia.

(6.) The Transmontani.--This is a name from the Latin of the Dacians,--perhaps, however, a translation of the common Slavonic Za-volovskaje, i. e. over-the-watershed. It was applied, perhaps, to the population on the northern frontier of Dacia in general.

The third list, beginning also with the Venedi, follows the line of the Baltic from Vilna and Courland towards Finland, and then strikes inland, eastwards and southwards. Immediately on the Venedic gulf lie the

(1) Veltae (Οὔελται). Word for word, this is the Vylte and Wilzi of the middle ages; a form which appears as early as Alfred. It was German, i. e. applied by the Franks to certain Slavonic population. It was also native, its plural being Weletabi. Few nations stand out more prominently than these Wilts of the Carlovingian period. They lie, however, to the west of Prussia, and indeed of Pomerania, from which the Oder divided them. In short, they were in Mecklenburg, rather than in Livonia or Esthonia, like the Veltae of Tacitus. Word for word, however, the names are the same. The synonym for these western Wiltae or Welatabi was Liut-ici (Luticzi). This we know from special evidence. A probable synonym for the Veltae of Tacitus was also some form of Lit-. This we infer from their locality being part of the present Lith-uania and Lett-land. Add to this that one writer at least (Adam of Bremen) places Wilzi in the country of Ptolemy's Veltae. The exact explanation of this double appearance of a pair of names is unknown. It is safe, however, to place the Veltae in Lett-land, i. e. in the southern parts of Livonia, and probably in parts of Lithuania Proper and Courland. Constantine Porphyrogeneta mentions them as Veltini. North of the Veltae--

(2.) The Osii (Ossii), probably in the isle of Oesel. It should be added, however, the root ves-, wes-, appears frequently in the geography of Prussia. Osilii, as a name for the occupants of Oesel, appears early in mediaeval history.

(3.) The Carbones, north of the Osii. This is a name of many explanations. It may be the Finn word for forest == Carbo. It may be the root Cur-(or K-r), which appears in a great number of Finn words,--Coralli (Karelian), Cur-(in Cur-land), Kur-(in Kur-sk), &c. The forms Curones and Curonia (Courland) approach it, but the locality is south instead of north. It more probably==Kar-elia. It almost certainly shows that we have passed from the country of the Slavonians and Lithuanians to that of the Esthonians, Ingrians, and Finlanders. Then, to the east,--

(4.) The Kar-eotae.--Here the Kar-is the common Finn root as before. Any part of the government of Novogorod or Olonetz might have supplied the name, the present Finns of both belonging to the Karelian division of the name (the--el-being non-radical). Then--

(5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, &c.) The Sali, south of whom the Agathyrsi, then the Aorsi and Pagyritae, south of whom the Savari, and Borusci as far as the Rhipaean mountains. Then the Akibi and Naski, south of whom the Vibiones and Idrae, and south of the Vibiones, as far as the Alauni, the Sturni. Between the Alauni and Hamaxobii the Karyones and Sargatii. At the bend of the Tanais the Ophlones and Tanaitae.

There are few points in this list which are fixed. The bend of the Tanais (==Don) would place the Ophlones in Ekaterinoslav. The Borusci, if they reached the Rhipaean mountains, and if these were the Uralian rather than the Valdai range, must have extended far beyond both European and Asiatic Sarmatia. The Savari bear a name very like one in Nestor--the Sjevera, on the Desna, Sem, and Sula,--a word that may merely mean northern. It is a name that reappears in Caucasus--Sabeiri.

The Aorsi may be the Ersad (the d is infexional), a branch of the Mordvins, occupant at the present time of a tract on the Oka. The Pa-gyritae may have been the tribes on (po =on) the Gerrhus, such compounds being common in Slavonic, e. g. Po-labi (on the Elbe), Po-morania (on the sea), &c. The whole geography, however, is indefinite and un-certain. [p. 2.917]

For Agathyrsi, see HUNNI The Sargatii are mentioned in Ptolemy.

South of the Tanaitae came the Osuli (? Sol-iczi of Nestor), reaching as far as the Roxolani, i. e. occupying parts of Cherson and Ekaterinoslav.

Between the Roxolani and Hamaxobii the Rhakalani and Exobugitae. The statement of Pliny that the Hamaxobii were Aorsi, combined with similarity of name between Aorsi and Ersad, will not help us here. The Ersad are in the governments of Penza and Tamlov; the direction of the Hamaxobii is more westward. Rhakalani seems but another form of Roxolani. In Exo-bug-itae the middle syllable may give us the root Bug, the modern name of the Hypanis. It has been surmised that this is the case with Sa-bok-ae, and Costo-boc-i. The locality would suit.

Between the Peucini and Basternae (this difference between two nations otherwise identified creates a complication) lie the Carpiani, above whom the Gevini and Budini.

The Carpi must have been near or on the Carpathian Mountains. They appear as a substantive nation in the later history of Rome, in alliance with the Sarmatae, &c. of the Dacian frontier. We have a Victoria Carpica Arpi; Carpiani and Καρποδάκαι (which Zeuss renders Carpathian Dacians) are several forms of this name [CARPI]. They, along with the Costoboci, Armadoci, and Astingi, appear as the most important frontagers of Northern Dacia.

Between the Basternae and Roxolani the Chuni, and under their own mountains (ὑπὸ τὰ ἴδια ὄρη) the Amadoci and Navari, and along the lake (marsh) of Byke the Torekkadae, and along the Achillaean Course (Ἀχιλλέως δρόμον) the Tauroscythae, and south of the Bastarnae in the direction of Dacia the Tagri, and south of them the Tyrangetae.

For Tauroscythae and Tyrangetae, see s. vv. and SCYTHIA

Tagri looks like a modified form of Zagora (tramontane), a common Slavonic geographical name, applicable to many localities.

The Amadoci occupied ἰδία ὄρη, or the Mons Amadocus of Ptolemy. There was also a λίμνη Ἀμαδόκη. This juxta-position of a mountain and lake (pool, or swamp, or fen) should fix their locality more closely than it does. Their history connects them with the Costoboci. (Zeuss, s. vv. Costoboci, Amadoci.) The physical conditions, however, come out less clearly than our present topographical knowledge of Podolia, Minsk, &c. explains. For the Navari see NEURI

The name Chuni is important. [See HUNNI]

In Torek-kad-ae and Exo-bug-itae we have two elements of an apparent compound that frequently occurs in Scytho-Sarmatian geography--Tyn-get-ae, &c., Costo-bok-i, Sa-boc-i. The geography is quite compatible in the presence of these elements.

RIVERS.-From the Vistula eastwards, the Chronus, the Rhubon, the Turuntus, the Chersinos,--the order of the modern names being the Pregel, Memel, Duna, Aa, and Neva. For the drainage of the Black Sea, see SCYTHIA

MOUNTAINS.-Peuce, the Montes Amadoci, the Mons Budinus, the Mons Alaunus, the Mons Carpathus, the Venedic mountains, the Rhipaean mountains. None of these are definitely identified. It is difficult to say how Ptolemy named the most important range of so flat a tract as Russia, viz., the Valdai Mountains. On the other hand, the names of his text imply more mountains than really exist. All his mountains were, probably, spurs of the Carpathians, just as in Sarmiatia Asiatica they were of Caucasus.



The boundaries are--the Tanais, from its sources to its mouth, European Sarmatia from the sources of the Tanais northwards, the Maeotis and Cimmerian Bosporus, the Euxine as far as the river Corax, the range of Caucasus, the Caspian as far as the river Soana, the Volga as far as its bend (Scythia being on the east of that river),--and on the north an Unknown Land. Without knowing the point at which this terra incognita begins, it is impossible to give the northern limits of Sarmatia Asiatica. It is included, however, in the governments of Caucasus, Circassia, Astrakhan, Don, Kosaks, Saratov, Simbirsk, Kazan, Viatka, Kostroma, Vladimir (?), Nizhni Novogorod, Riazan (?), Tambov, and Penza; all the governments, in short, on the water system of the Volga; a view which makes the watershed between the rivers that empty themselves into the White Sea and the rivers that fall into the Caspian and Euxine a convenient provisional boundary.

For the obscure geography of Asiatic Sarmatia, the bend of the Tanais is our best starting point. To the north of it dwelt the Perierbidi, a great nation; to the south the Iaxamatae, the former in Don Kosaks, Voronezh, and Tambov, Saratov, the latter in Astrakhan. North of the Perierbidi come the Asaei, the Suardeni, the Zacatae, the Hippophagi Sarmatae, the Modocae, the Royal Sarmatians, the Hyperborean Sarmatians, the Unknown Land. In Kazan and Simbirsk we may place the Chaenides, and on the east of the Volga the Phtheirophagi and Materi. The Νγσιῶτις χώρα must be at the mouth of the Volga. If so, the order in which the names have been given is from north to south, and the Phtheirophagi are in Eastern Kazan, the Materi in Saratov.

The remaining populations are all (or nearly all) in the governments of Caucasus and Circassia, in the northern spurs of the Caucasian range. They are the Siraceni, the Psessii, the Thymeotae, the Turambae, the Asturicani, the Arichi, the Zicchi, the Conapoeni, the Meteibi, the Agoritae, the Melanchlaeni, the Sapothraeni, the Scymnitae, the Amazones, the Sunani, the Sacani, the Orinaei, the Vali, the Servi, the Tusci, the Diduri, the Vodae, the Olondae, the Isondae, the Gerrhi. The Achaei, Kerketi, Heniochi, Suanocolchi, and Sanaraei are truly Caucasian, and belong to the geography of the mountain range rather than the Sarmatian plains and steppes--for such they are in physical geography, and such was the view of Strabo, so far as he noticed Sarmatia at all.

It is difficult to determine the source of Ptolemy's information, difficult to say in what language we are to seek for the meaning of his names. The real populations, as they actually existed, were not very different from those of the Herodotean Scythia; yet the Herodotean names are wanting. These were, probably, Scythian,--the northern populations to which they applied being Ugrian. Are the names native? For the parts due north of Caucasus they may be so; indeed it is possible that the greater number of them may be due to a Caucasian source. At the present time, when we are fairly supplied with [p. 2.918]data both as to the names by which the populations of the parts in question designate themselves, as well as those by which they are designated by their neighbours, there are no satisfactory identifications at all. There are some that we may arrive at by a certain amount of assumption; but it is doubtful whether this is legitimate. In the names, for instance, beginning with sa-(Sa-boci, &c.) we may see the Slavonic for trans; in those with po-the Slavonic ad,--both of which are common. in the geographical terminology of the Russians, &c. But these are uncertain, as are the generality of the other coincidences.

In Siberia, for instance, a Samoyed tribe is named Motor-zi: name for name, this may be Materi; whether, however, it denote the same population is another question.

Are the Sarmatiae of Ptolemy natural divisions? Subject to an hypothesis, which will be just stated in the present article, but which will be exhibited in full in SCYTHIA, the Sarmatiae of Ptolemy are objectionable, both for what it contains and what it omits. The whole of Asiatic Sarmatia is, more or less, arbitrary. It seems to be a development of the area of the Herodotean Sauromatae. In the north it comprised Finn or Ugrian, in the south Circassian and Georgian, populations. The Alauni were Scythian, as were several other tribes. It is therefore no ethnological term. Neither are its boundaries natural, if we look at the physical conditions of the country. It was defined upon varying and different principles,--sometimes with a view to physical, sometimes to ethnological, sometimes to political geography. It contains more than a natural Sarmatia.

On the other hand, the Vistula was no ethnological line of demarcation. The western half of Poland was Sarmatian, in respect to its climate, surface, and the manners of its inhabitants. The Lygii, however, having been made part of Germania, remained so in the eyes of Ptolemy. That the populations on each side of the Lower Vistula, i. e. of West and East Prussia, were the same, is certain; it is certain, at least, that they were so at the beginning of the historical period, and all inference leads us to hold that they were so before. The Vistula, however, like the Rhine, was a good natural boundary.

The Jazyges Metanastae were most probably Sarmatian also. Pliny calls them Jazyges Sarmatae (4.25); the name Metanastae being generally interpreted removed. It is, however, quite as likely to be some native adjunct misunderstood, and adapted to the Greek language.

The other Jazyges (i. e. of the Maeotis) suggested the doctrine of a migration. Yet, if the current interpretation be right, there might be any amount of Jazyges in any part of Sarmatia. It is the Slavonic for language, and, by extension, for the people who speak a language:--“a po Ocje rjeje, gde wteczet‘ w Wolgu, jazyk swoj Muroma, i Czeremisi swoj jazyk, e Mordwa swoj jazyk;” --translated, “On the Oka river, where it falls into the Volga, a particular people, the Muroma, and the Tsheremis, a peculiar people, and the Mordwins, a peculiar people.” (Zeuss, s. v. Ostfinnen). Hence it has at least a Slavonic gloss. On the other hand, it has a meaning in the Magyar language, where Jassag == bowman, a fact which has induced many scholars to believe that there were Magyars in Hungary before the great Magyar invasion, indeed before the Hun. Be this as it may, the district of the Jazyges Metanastae is called the Jassag district at the present moment.

More than one of the Dacian populations were Sarmatian,--the difference between Dacia, the name of the Roman Province, and Sarmatia, the country of an independent and hostile population, being merely political. Indeed, if we look to the distribution of the Sarmatae, their south-eastern limit must have the parts about Tormi. [See SAUROMATAE] Here, however, they were intrusive.

ETHNOLOGY.--The doctrine upon this point is merely stated in the present notice. It is developed in the article on SCYTHIA It is to the effect that, in its proper application, Sarmatian meant one, many, or all of the north-eastern members of the Slavonic family, probably, with some members of the Lithuanic, included.

HISTORY.--The early Sarmatian history is Scythian as well [SCYTHIA], and it is not until Pannonia becomes a Roman province that the Sarmatian tribes become prominent in history, and, even then, the distribution of the several wars and alliances between the several nations who came under the general denomination is obscure. In doing this there is much that in a notice like the present may be eliminated. The relations of the Greeks and earlier Romans with Sarmatia were with Scythia and the Getae as well, the relations of the latter being with the provincials of Pannonia, with the Marcomanni, and Quadi, &c. Both are neighbours to a tribe of Jazyges.

The great Mithridatic Empire, or, at any rate, the Mithridatic Confederacy, contained Sarmatians eo nomine, descendants of the Herodotean Sauromatae. Members of this division it must have been whom the Marcus, the brother of Lucius Lucullus, chastised and drove beyond the Danube, in his march through Moesia. Those, too, it was with whom the Cis-Danubian nations in general were oftenest in contact,--Jazyges, Roxolani, Costoboci, &c., who though (almost certainly) Sarmatian in their ethnological affinities, are not, eo nomine, Sarmatian, but, on the contrary, populations with more or less of an independent history of their own. Thirdly, the Sarmatians, who, in conjunction with Getae, Daci, Moesians, Thracians, &c., may have been found in the districts south of the Danube, must be looked upon as intrusive and foreign to the soil on which they are found.

On the other hand, it must be remembered that the Sarmatae eo nomine fall into two divisions, divided from each other by the whole extent of the Roman province of Dacia, the area of those of the east being the parts between the Danube and the Don, the area of those of the west being the parts between the Danube and Theiss. The relations of the former are with the Scythians, Roxolani, the kings of Pontus, &c., over whom, some years later, M. Crassus triumphed. His actions, however, as well as those of M. Lucullus, so far as they were against the Sarmatae, were only accidental details in the campaigns by which Moesia was reduced. The whole of the Trans-Danubian frontier of Moesia, east of Viminiacum, was formed by Dacia.

The point at which the Romans and Sarmatians would more especially come in contact was the country about Sirmium, where the three provinces of Pannonia, Illyricum, and Moesia joined, and where the pre-eminently Sarmatian districts of the nations between the Danube and Theiss lay northwards--pre-eminently Sarmatian as opposed to the Dacians, [p. 2.919]on one side, and the Quadi, &c., of the Regnum Vannianum, on the other. In the general Pannonian and Dalmatian outbreak of A.D. 6, the Sarmatians of these parts took a share (Vell. 2.110), as they, doubtlessly, did in the immediately previous war of the Marcomanni, under Maroboduus; the Marcomanni, Quadi, Jazyges, and western Daci, and Sarmatae being generally united, and, to all appearances, the members of a definite confederacy.

The Regnum Vannianum gives us the continuation of the history of these populations (A.D. 19-50). It is broken up; Vannius (? the Ban) himself displaced, and Vangio and Sido, strongly in the interest of Rome, made kings of the parts between the Marus and Cusus (Moravia) instead. To the Vannian confederacy (a Ban-at) the Sarmatae and Jazyges supply the cavalry, the occupants of the Banat itself the infantry (Tac. Annal. 12.29).

For A.D. 35, we find an interesting notice in Tacitus, which gives definitude to the Sarmatia Asiatica of Ptolemy. It is to the effect that, in a war with Parthia, Pharasmanes entered into an alliance with the Albanians of the coast of the Caspian and the Sarmatae Sceptuchi (? Βασίλειοι). (Tac. Ann. 6.33.

A.D. 69. Two pregnant sentences tell us the state of the Sarmatian frontier at the accession of Galba: “Coortae in nos Sarmatarum ac Suevorum gentes; nobilitatus cladibus mutuis Dacus” (Hist. 1.2). The Suevi (who here mean the Quadi and Marcomanni) and Sarmatae (foot and horse) are united. Dacia is paving the way to its final subjection. The Jazyges seem to fall off from the alliance; inasmuch as they offer their services to Rome, which are refused. The colleague of Sido is now Italicus, equally faithful to Rome. (Hist. 3.5.) In the following year it is Sarmatae and Daci who act together, threatening the fortresses of Moesia and Pannonia (4.54).

An invasion of Moesia by the Roxolani took place A.D. 69. This is a detail in the history of the Eastern branch.

The conquest of Dacia now draws near. When this has taken place, the character of the Sarmatian area becomes peculiar. It consists of an independent strip of land between the Roman Province and Quado-Marcomannic kingdom (Banat); its political relations fluctuating. When Tacitus wrote the Germania, the Gothini paid tribute to both the Quadi and Sarmatae; a fact which gives us a political difference between the two, and also a line of separation. The text of Tacitus is ambiguous: “Partem tributorum Sarmatae, partem Quadi, ut alienigenis imponunt” (Germ. 43). Were the Sarmatae and Quadi, or the Quadi alone, of a different family from that of the Gothini? This is doubtful. The difference itself, however, is important.

There were Sarmatians amongst the subjects as well as the allies of Decebalus; their share in the Dacian War (A.D. 106) being details of that event. They were left, however, in possession of a large portion of their country, i. e. the parts between the Vallum Romanum and the frontier of the Suevi, Quadi, or occupants of Regnum Vannianum; the relations of this to the Roman and non-Roman areas in its neighbourhood being analogous to that of the Decumates Agri, between the Rhine and Upper Danube.

In the Marcomannic War (under M. Antoninus) the Sarmatae are as prominent as any members of the confederacy; indeed it is probable that some of the Marcomanni may have been Sarmatae, under another name. This is not only compatible with the undoubtedly German origin of the name Marcomanni (Marchmen), but is a probable interpretation of it. German as was the term, it might be, and very likely was, applied to a non-German population. There were two Marches: one held by Germans for Rome and against the Sarmatians, the other held by the Sarmatians for themselves. The former would be a March, the other an Ukraine. In the eyes of the Germans, however, the men of the latter would just as much be Marchmen as themselves. What the Germans in the Roman service called a neighbouring population the Romans would call it also. We shall soon hear of certain Borderers, Marchmen, or men of the Ukraine, under the name of Limigantes (a semi-barbarous form from Limes); but they will not be, on the strength of their Latin names, Latins. The Solitudines Sarmatarum of the Roman maps was more or less of a Sarmatian March. The Jazyges and Quadi are (as usual) important members of the confederacy.

A.D. 270. Aurelian resigns the province of Dacia to the Barbarians; a fact which withdraws the scene of many a Sarmatian inroad from the field of observations,--the attacks of the Barbarians upon each other being unrecorded. Both before and after this event, however, Sarmatian inroads along the whole line of the Danube, were frequent. Sarmatians, too, as well as Daci (Getae) were comprehended under the general name of Goth in the reigns of Decius, Claudius, &c. Add to this that the name of Vandal is now becoming conspicuous, and that under the name of Vandal history we have a great deal that is Sarmatian.

The most important effect of the cession of Dacia was to do away with the great block of Roman, Romanising, or Romanised territory which lay between the Sarmatians of Pannonia and the Sarmatians of Scythia. It brought the latter within the range of the former, both being, then, the frontagers of Moesia. Add to this the fact of a great change in the nomenclature being effected. The German portion of the Marcomanni (Thervings and Grutungs) has occupied parts of Dacia. The members of this section of the German name would only know the Sarmatae as Vandals. Again, the Hun power is developing itself; so that great material, as well as nominal, changes are in the process of development. Finally, when the point from which the Sarmatae come to be viewed has become Greek and Constantinopolitan, rather than Latin and Roman, the names Slaveni and Servi will take prominence. However, there is a great slaughter of the Sarmatians by Carus, on his way eastwards. Then there is the war, under Constantine, of the Sarmatae of the Border,--the Sarmatae Limigantes,--a Servile War. [See LIMIGANTES] The authors who tell us of this are the writers of the Historia Augusta and Ammianus; after whose time the name is either rarely mentioned, or, if mentioned, mentioned on the authority of older writers. The history is specific to certain divisions of the Sarmatian population. This was, in its several divisions, hostile to Rome, and independent; still, there were Sarmatian conquests, and colonies effected by the transplantation of Sarmatae. One lay so far east as Gaul. “Arvaque Sauromatum nuper metata coloni” (Auson, Mosella) [p. 2.920]

applies to one of these. There were more of them. The general rule, however, is, that some particular division of the name takes historical prominence, and that the general name of Sarmatia, as well as the particular Sarmatae of the parts between Dacia and Pannonia, and those between Scythia and Persia, disappears. [See VANDALI; THAIFALAE.]


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Tacitus, Annales, 12.29
    • Tacitus, Annales, 6.33
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: