, SYGAMBRI, SUGAMBRI, or SUCAMBRI (Σύγαμβροι, Σούγαμβροι,
), a powerful German tribe, occupying in the time of Caesar the eastern bank of the Rhine; and extending from the Sieg
to the Lippe.
It is generally assumed that this tribe derived its name from the little river Sieg,
which falls into the Rhine a little below Bonn,
and during the middle ages was called Sega, Segaha, but is not mentioned by any ancient writer; this assumption, however, is at least only a probable conjecture, though it must be admitted that in the time of Caesar they inhabited the country north and south of the Sieg,
and to the north of the Ubii. (Caes. Gal. 4.16
, foll., 6.35; Strab. vii. pp. 290, 291; D. C. 39.48
.) When the Usipetes and Tencteri were defeated by Caesar, the remnants of these tribes took refuge in the country of the Sicambri, who took them under their protection. Caesar then demanded their surrender; and this being refused, he built his famous bridge across the Rhine to strike terror into the Germans. The Sicambri, however, did not wait for his arrival, but, on the advice of the Usipetes and Tencteri, quitted their own country and withdrew into forests and uninhabited districts, whither Caesar neither would nor could follow them.
A few years later, B.C. 51, during the war against the Eburones, we find Sicambri fighting against the army of Caesar on the left bank of the Rhine, and nearly defeating the Romans; Caesar's arrival, who had been in another part of Gaul, alone saved his legions. The Sicambri were then obliged to return across the Rhine. In B.C. 16 the Sicambri, with the Usipetes and Tencteri, again invaded Gallia Belgica, and M. Lollius, who had provoked the barbarians, sustained a serious defeat.
A similar attack which was made a few years later, was repelled by Drusus, who pursued the Germans into their own country.
After the withdrawal of the Romans, the Sicambri formed a confederation among their countrymen against the common enemy, and as the Chatti who had received the country of the Ubii on the right bank of the Rhine, refused to join them, the Sicambri made war upon them; and as they left their own territory unprotected, Drusus penetrated through it into the interior of Germany.
After the death of Drusus, Tiberius undertook the completion of his plans against Germany. None of the tribes offered a more vigorous resistance than the Sicambri; but in the end they were obliged to submit, and 40,000 Sicambri and Suevi were transplanted into Gaul, where as subjects of Rome they received settlements between the lower course of the Meuse
and the Rhine.
In that country they subsequently formed an important part of the nation or confederacy of the Franks. Those Sigambri who were not transplanted into Gaul seem to have withdrawn into the hills of Mons Retico, and for a long time they are not mentioned in history; they reappear in the time of Ptolemy (2.11.8
), when they are spoken of as neighbours of the Bructeri Minores. The Sicambri are described as bold, brave, and cruel, and we hear nothing of towns in their country; they seem in fact to have lived in villages and isolated farms. (Caes. Gal. 4.19
; comp. Tac. Ann. 2.26
; Suet. Aug. 21
9; Eutrop. 7.9
; Oros. 6.21
; Hor. Carm. 4.2.36
, 14. [p. 2.975]
51; Ov. Amor. 1.14
49; Venant. Fort. de Charib. Rege,
6.4; Gregor. Turon. 2.31; Procop. Bell. Goth.
1.12; Lydus, de Magistr.
1.50, 3.36; Zeuss, Die Deutschen,
p. 83, foll.; Wilhelm, Germanien,
p. 142, foll.)