The Northern Way

JORDANE'S
THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS

X


(61) Then Cyrus, king of the Persians, after a long interval of almost exactly six hundred and thirty years (as Pompeius Trogus relates), waged an unsuccessful war against Tomyris, Queen of the Getae. Elated by his victories in Asia, he strove to conquer the Getae, whose queen, as I have said, was Tomyris. Though she could have stopped the approach of Cyrus at the river Araxes, yet she permitted him to cross, preferring to overcome him in battle rather than to thwart him by advantage of position. And so she did. (62) As Cyrus approached, fortune at first so favored the Parthians that they slew the son of Tomyris and most of the army. But when the battle was renewed, the Getae and their queen defeated, conquered and overwhelmed the Parthians and took rich plunder from them. There for the first time the race of the Goths saw silken tents. After achieving this victory and winning so much booty from her enemies, Queen Tomyris crossed over into that part of Moesia which is now called Lesser Scythia--a name borrowed from great Scythia,--and built on the Moesian shore of Pontus the city of Tomi, named after herself.
      (63) Afterwards Darius, king of the Persians, the son of Hystaspes, demanded in marriage the daughter of Antyrus, king of the Goths, asking for her hand and at the same time making threats in case they did not fulfil his wish. The Goths spurned this alliance and brought his embassy to naught. Inflamed with anger because his offer had been rejected, he led an army of seven hundred thousand armed men against them and sought to avenge his wounded feelings by inflicting a public injury. Crossing on boats covered with boards and joined like a bridge almost the whole way from Chalcedon to Byzantium, he started for Thrace and Moesia. Later he built a bridge over the Danube in like manner, but he was wearied by two brief months of effort and lost eight thousand armed men among the Tapae. Then, fearing the bridge over the Danube would be seized by his foes, he marched back to Thrace in swift retreat, believing the land of Moesia would not be safe for even a short sojourn there.
      (64) After his death, his son Xerxes planned to avenge his father's wrongs and so proceeded to undertake a war against the Goths with seven hundred thousand of his own men and three hundred thousand armed auxiliaries, twelve hundred ships of war and three thousand transports. But he did not venture to try them in battle, being overawed by their unyielding animosity. So he returned with his force just as he had come, and without fighting a single battle.
      (65) Then Philip, the father of Alexander the Great, made alliance with the Goths and took to wife Medopa, the daughter of King Gudila, so that he might render the kingdom of Macedon more secure by the help of this marriage. It was at this time, as the historian Dio relates, that Philip, suffering from need of money, determined to lead out his forces and sack Odessus, a city of Moesia, which was then subject to the Goths by reason of the neighboring city of Tomi. Thereupon those priests of the Goths that are called the Holy Men suddenly opened the gates of Odessus and came forth to meet them. They bore harps and were clad in snowy robes, and chanted in suppliant strains to the gods of their fathers that they might be propitious and repel the Macedonians. When the Macedonians saw them coming with such confidence to meet them, they were astonished and, so to speak, the armed were terrified by the unarmed. Straightway they broke the line they had formed for battle and not only refrained from destroying the city, but even gave back those whom they had captured outside by right of war. Then they made a truce and returned to their own country.
      (66) After a long time Sitalces, a famous leader of the Goths, remembering this treacherous attempt, gathered a hundred and fifty thousand men and made war upon the Athenians, fighting against Perdiccas, King of Macedon. This Perdiccas had been left by Alexander as his successor to rule Athens by hereditary right, when he drank his destruction at Babylon through the treachery of an attendant. The Goths engaged in a great battle with him and proved themselves to be the stronger. Thus in return for the wrong which the Macedonians had long before committed in Moesia, the Goths overran Greece and laid waste the whole of Macedonia.



XI


(67) Then when Buruista was king of the Goths, Dicineus came to Gothia at the time when Sulla ruled the Romans. Buruista received Dicineus and gave him almost royal power. It was by his advice the Goths ravaged the lands of the Germans, which the Franks now possess. (68) Then came Caesar, the first of all the Romans to assume imperial power and to subdue almost the whole world, who conquered all kingdoms and even seized islands lying beyond our world, reposing in the bosom of Ocean. He made tributary to the Romans those that knew not the Roman name even by hearsay, and yet was unable to prevail against the Goths, despite his frequent attempts. Soon Gaius Tiberius reigned as third emperor of the Romans, and yet the Goths continued in their kingdom unharmed. (69) Their safety, their advantage, their one hope lay in this, that whatever their counsellor Dicineus advised should by all means be done; and they judged it expedient that they should labor for its accomplishment. And when he saw that their minds were obedient to him in all things and that they had natural ability, he taught them almost the whole of philosophy, for he was a skilled master of this subject. Thus by teaching them ethics he restrained their barbarous customs; by imparting a knowledge of physics he made them live naturally under laws of their own, which they possess in written form to this day and call belagines. He taught them logic and made them skilled in reasoning beyond all other races; he showed them practical knowledge and so persuaded them to abound in good works. By demonstrating theoretical knowledge he urged them to contemplate the twelve signs and the courses of the planets passing through them, and the whole of astronomy. He told them how the disc of the moon gains increase or suffers loss, and showed them how much the fiery globe of the sun exceeds in size our earthly planet. He explained the names of the three hundred and forty-six stars and told through what signs in the arching vault of the heavens they glide swiftly from their rising to their setting. (70) Think, I pray you, what pleasure it was for these brave men, when for a little space they had leisure from warfare, to be instructed in the teachings of philosophy! You might have seen one scanning the position of the heavens and another investigating the nature of plants and bushes. Here stood one who studied the waxing and waning of the moon, while still another regarded the labors of the sun and observed how those bodies which were hastening to go toward the east are whirled around and borne back to the west by the rotation of the heavens. When they had learned the reason, they were at rest. (71) These and various other matters Dicineus taught the Goths in his wisdom and gained marvellous repute among them, so that he ruled not only the common men but their kings. He chose from among them those that were at that time of noblest birth and superior wisdom and taught them theology, bidding them worship certain divinities and holy places. He gave the name of Pilleati to the priests he ordained, I suppose because they offered sacrifice having their heads covered with tiaras, which we otherwise call pillei. (72) But he bade them call the rest of their race Capillati. This name the Goths accepted and prized highly, and they retain it to this day in their songs.
(73) After the death of Dicineus, they held Comosicus in almost equal honor, because he was not inferior in knowledge. By reason of his wisdom he was accounted their priest and king, and he judged the people with the greatest uprightness.

 

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