GUTTONES (THE GOTHS)
The Ethnology of the Goths.
It is of great importance for any Lithuanian scholars to delve
into the past of the Gothic people, because there are mighty good evidences
indicating that the vanished Gothic nation was closely akin to the Lithuano-Prussian
Guttones, otherwise named Guddae, Goths, Gottheudi, Getae, Getvi,
Gytae, ---belonged to the Aestian race (R. G. Latham, The Germania of Tacitus,
Notes on Section XLV, p. 166-171).
The Gothic nation branched itself into several tribes, namely:
Austrogudae (Amali), Balthi (Baltgudae, Visigoths, or Thervingi), Heruli, Gepidae,
Rugians, Brenti, Varni, etc.
The history of the powerful Goths is interesting and amazing:
interesting, because in a short time they succeded in dominating half of the
European continent and demolishing the Roman Empire; amazing, because those
blue-eyed, fair-complexioned, athletic, mead-drinking "barbarians"
were not at all barbarous. Goths, for their valor, endurance, perseverance,
firmness, justice, mercy, and decency in family life, were admired by the highly
civilized Romans. Whenever the Goths were victorious over the Roman army, Roman
inhabitants rejoiced as if it were their salvation. And indeed it was less troublesome
and better for the Romans to live under the Gothic dominion than under the tyranny
of their own rulers.
Queer enough, that such a mighty nation, risen to such a height
of greatness, vanished altogether, leaving behind them neither important literature,
nor any treasures of art, nor any relics of their culture. Consequently, the
origin of the Goths is puzzling to the ethnologists; and the Gothic history
is a true complex. Certain German and Scandinavian scholars endeavored to claim
the Goths, depending on the tales of Jornandes and Wulfila's (the Germanized
Greek) Bible. But there are many prominent scientists that do not agree with
Grimm's, Mullenhof's, Lembke's, Niebuhr's, Zeuss's inferences, and are skeptical
concerning the "Teutonic" origin of the Goths. And why should there
be no doubts, if nobody ever called the Germans "GOTHI", and even
lately nobody calls them so? The Poles, the Russians, the Czechs and all other
Slavonic people call Germans "niemcy"; the Lithuanians call Germans
"vokie…iai"; the Frenchmen call them "l'Allemands"; the
English people call them "Germans"; even the Germans call themselves
That the Gothic nation was the nearest kindred to the Lithuanian
nation, is proven by the following facts:---
1. THE GEOGRAPHIC PROOF. The original geographic area of the Gothic
people coincides with the present Lithuanian territory.
(a) Ptolomaeus (A.D. 161-182), the famous ancient geographer, mathematician and astronomer, in his treatise Geogr. lib. 3. cap. 5. writes:
Elattova de eunh vemetai Saomatian, paoa men ton Ouistoulan potamon. Upo touj Ouenedaj, Guuwnej. Eita Finnoi. Eita Boulanej. Uf ouj Foougondiwvej. Eita Auaohnoi, paoa thn cefalhn tou Ouistoula potamou.
This, when translated into English, means: "The less significant
people abide in Sarmatia, near the mouth of the Vistula river. Beyond the Venedi
are Guthones. Then the Finns. Then the Boulanes (= Poles). Beyond them are the
Frugundians. Then the Avarens, near the head of the Vistula river". Here
we notice, that Ptolomaeus enumerated different nations starting from north
southward. Hence his statement "beyond the Venedi, are Guthones" is
correct. Venedi were the ancient people living near Vindau, in Latvia; and the
Guthones living alongside Venedi surely could be no other people but the inhabitants
of old Lithuania.
(b) Tacitus (ca. A.D. 100), the prominent Roman historian, in his
treatise de situ, moribus et populis Germaniae c. XLIII. writes:
"Trans Lygios Gothones regnantur, paullo jam adductius, quam ceterae Germannorum gentes, nondum tamen supra libertatem. Protimus deinde ab Oceano Rugii, et Lemovii:"
Tacitus' statement "trans Lygios" (= beyond the Poles)
is remarkably precise, and he chose to enumerate the nations from the south
northwards. If Tacitus wrote that "trans Lygios" the Gothones live
and near by the Ocean there are the Rugians and the Livonians, neighbors of
the Courlanders, ---then it is evident that the Goths lived within Lithuanian
(c) Pytheas, who lived ca. 320 before the Christian era, according
to Plinius' statement in his HIST. NATUR. I. XXXVII, c. 2. has recorded the
following information about the Goths: "Pytheas credidit Guttonibus Germaniae
genti, accoli Aestuarium oceani, MENTO NOMON nomine, spatio stadiorum sex millium.
Ab hoc die navigatione insulam abesse Abalum. Illo vero fluctibus advehi et
esse concreti maris purgamentum. Incolas pro ligno ad eo uti, proximique Teutonis
vendere". This, when translated into English, means: "Pytheas believed
that the Guttones were of German race, living by the Aestuarian sea (Baltic
sea), at the mouth of the river named NOMON, at the stretch of 6,000 stadii.
Sailing a day from here there is Abalum island. Here indeed the waves cast out
the amber and this is a petrified manure of the sea. The natives burn it instead
of wood, and sell it to the neighboring Teutons."
From the statements of Pytheas we get quite definite information,
namely:--- that the native land of the Goths was by the Aestuarian sea (by the
Baltic sea), exactly where the Aestians (Aestii = Lithuanian ancestors) lived.
The same author is still more definite when he points out that they lived nowhere
else but at the mouth of NEMON river. Plinius copying down what is written in
Pytheas' manuscripts, and fearing lest he might mislead his readers, copied
down the name exactly as it was written in Greek, namely "MENTO NOMON".
And in the original Greek manuscript would be Men to Nouon. Hence the word "MENTO" equals the Greek men to which means "MOUTH
of the RIVER"; --- and the word "NOMON" means "NEMON"
Compare with § (a) Ptolomaeus' expression men
ton Ouistoulan, in which men ton means "the
mouth of the river".
II. AMBER LAND, was the common fatherland of the Goths as well as of the Aestians. Ancient writers, when mentioning the Goths, add that in their country amber is found. Tacitus and others writing about the Aestiorum gentes (Old Prussians, Courlanders, Galindians, Samogitians, Getvingians and other Lithuanian tribes) always state that they have plenty of amber.
III. The ancestors of the Danes, Swedes and Norwegians, called the Prusso-Lithuanian territory "Reið-gota-land". --- "En austr fra Polena er Reið-gota-land". (= "East of Poland, there is Reið-Got-hic-land") --- Zeuss p. 500, fragm. Fornaldar Sogur.
IV. In the Anglo-Saxon MS. from VII-X century, known as "Codex Exoniensis", in Widsid's poem, the Prussian cheiftain is called "Hreð-cyninges"; and the Prusso-Goths are called "Hreð-Gotum".
|“He mid Ealh-hilde||“He with Ealk-gild,|
|Faerle freoþu-webban.||Faithful peace-weaver,|
|Forman siþe,||For the first time,|
|Hreð-cyninges||Of the Prussian king|
|Ham gesohte,||Has seen the home,|
|Eastan of Ongle;”||East of Ongles;”|
|“Ic waes mid Hunum||“I was with the Huns|
|and mid Hreð-Gotum,”||And with the Prusso-Goths,”|
|“Ful oft þaer wig ne a-laeg“||Plenty there of constant wars,|
|Þonne Hraeda here,||Where the Prussian warriors,|
|Heardum swoerdum,||With hard swords,|
|Ymb Wistla-wudu,||About Vistula's wooded shores|
|Wergan sceoldon,||Had to defend,|
|Ealdne eþel-stol||Their ancient native settlement|
|Aetlan leodum.”||Against the Aetlan tribe.”|
From Widsid's poem we can't surmise anything else, because here
he plainly relates that the native land of "Hreð-Gotum", and "Hraeda
here" was situated on the shores of Vistula river, east from Angles. I
am not the only one who firmly believes that the Hreð-Gotum really were the
Prusso-Lithuanians. Many other famous scholars stated that Hreð-Gota was the
ancient name for the Lithuanian people. For instance, one of the most prominent
of England's ethnologists and philologists, Dr. R. G. Latham, in his book "The
Germania of Tacitus, Epilogomena XLIX, c. 5" says:--- "In the name
Reudingi, the Reud--- may, possibly, be the Hreð--- in Hreð-Gotans. Now the
Hret-Gotan were Lithuanians".
V. SLAVONIC PEOPLE (the Poles, Russians etc.) USED TO CALL LITHUANIANS AND PRUSSIANS "GUCI", "GOCI" etc., which means "the GOTHS". In old chronicles, the synonym for Lithuanians and Prussians was "Gethos":
(a) Adam Bremensis (A.D. 1073), in his chronicle De Situ Daniae, c. 224, & Scriptor. rer. Livon. I. p. 322, writes "Gethas id est Litwanos."
(b) W. Kadlubek, chronicler of the XII century, writes: "Gete dicuntur omnes Lithuani, Prutheni et aliae ibidem gentes"--- Scriptores rer. Prussicarum, I. 201.
(c) "Sunt autem Pollexiani Getharum seu Prussorum genus, gens atrocissima...." ---Kadlubkonis Historia Polon. lib. III. c. 19.
(d) "Gethe seu Prussi" --- Boguchwal, Script. rer. Pruss. I. 753, 7544.
(e) "Gethos id est Letwanos" --- Chronicon Polono --- Silesiacum. Pertz. Monum. Germ. hist. Scriptores XVIII, 558; 559; 562-3; 565.
(f) "Preterea licet terra Sudorum sive Gettarum que mediat inter terram Lythuaniam et Prussiam......" --- Prochaska. Codex Epistolaris Vitoldi. p. 468.
VI. Not very long ago, the people about Koenigsberg, when they wanted to express their contempt towards Prussians, Samogitians and Lithuanians, used to call them "Guddae". Undoubtedly this irritated the people so much that Praetorius wrote a book on Orbis Gothicus, A.D. 1688, in which he devotes two sections to discussing this question:--- "Unde nominis Guddae contemptus hodie in Prussia?" In one of the passages he says: "Guddarum infidelium nomen existit, adeo ut Gothus sive Guddus idem iis qui paganus et ethnicus, hostisque Christianitatis audierit".
VII. Up to date the Lithuanians of Prussia, when inclined to reproach a Samogitian, call him "Gudas" (=Goth); Samogitians apply the name "Gudai" to the Lithuanians of Dzuka's dialect living in the Vilna district; and the Dzukes fling the name "Gudai" upon all the Russianized Lithuanians of Grodno and Minsk districts. There must be a historical reason if Lithuanians call each other "Gudas", just because his neighbor speaks a slightly different dialect. If Guttones (the Goths) would have been a Germanic people, then why do the Lithuanians not call the Germans "Gudai"? Why is it that neither Slavs, nor French, nor any other people adjoining Germany do not call the Germans "Guddae"? It is obvious that Guttones, in other words the Goths, did not belong to a Germanic, but to a LITHUANO-PRUSSIC race!
VIII. The term "guda", "goda" (= "honor") by itself is purely Lithuanian. The verb "gudoti" means "to honor"; "pa-godoti" means "to exalt". Gudonai (Guttones), then, means "noble, honorable people".
IX. In old documents the Samogitian territory is called "Samo-getia". On ancient Lithuanian coins we note "Samogitia". And up till now the Lower Lithuania (ðemaitija) is called in Latin "Samogitia". Now the word "Samo-getia" means "Low Getia", or "the Lower Gothia". Let us bear in mind this fact that the Latin alphabet has no "Z". In its place, "S" is used. Hence the Lithuanian word "ðEMA", meaning "Low", was written "Sama" or "Samo" by the medieval Latin scribes; and "ðema Gudija" (= Low Gothia) was written "Samo-getia" or "Samo-gitia".
X. In Lithuania over 40 per cent of the inhabitants have Gothic surnames, such as:
1. Rugii means the Rugian people that lived in ancient times in the vicinity of Riga. Historians believe that the city of Riga was named after "Rugai" (Rugii). Vadakaris (Odovakar), the king of the Heruli was also the ruler of the Rugii. [Back]
2. Lemovii is another name for the Livonians, who were neighbors to the Curi (Courlanders). Duisburg mentions Terra Lamotina. Pomponius Sabinus (A.D. 1480) also mentioned about the Laemonii in his writings. [Back]