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The origin and deeds 
of the goths 






The Origin and Deeds of the Goths 

in English Version 

Part of a Thesis 

Presented to the Faculty of Princeton University 

for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 



The Origin and Deeds of the Goths 

in English Version 

Part of a Thesis 

Presented to the Faculty of Princeton University 

for the degree of 

Doctor of Philosophy 



'"' O 

Copies of this dissertation may be obtained on application to the UNI- 
VERSITY LIBRARY, Princeton, New Jersey. The price for each copy is 50 
cents, which includes postage. 

Printed by 
Princeton University Press 


For the first time the story of the Goths recorded in 
the Getica of Jordanes, a Christian Goth who wrote his 
account in the year 551, probably in Constantinople, is 
now put in English form, as part of an edition of the 
Getica prepared by Mr. Mierow. Those who care for the 
romance of history will be charmed by this great tale of a 
lost cause and will not find the simple-hearted exaggera- 
tions of the eulogist of the Gothic race misleading. He 
pictured what he believed or wanted to believe, and his 
employment of fable and legend, as well as the naive 
exhibition of his loyal prejudices, merely heightens the 
interest of his story. Those who want coldly scientific 
narrative should avoid reading Jordanes, but should like- 
wise remember the truthful words of Delbrikk: "Le- 
gende und Poesie malen darum noch nicht falsch, weil sie 
mit anderen Farben malen als die Historic. Sie reden 
nur eine andere Sprache, und es handelt sich darum, 
aus dieser richtig ins Historische zu ubersetzen." 





The following version of the G e t i c a of Jordanes is 
based upon the text of Mommsen, as found in the 
Monumenta Germaniae Historica, A u c - 
tores Antiquissimi 5 (Berlin 1882). I have 
adhered closely to his spelling of proper names, especially 
the Gothic names, except in the case of a very few words 
which are in common use in another form (such as 
Gaiseric and Belisarius). 

I wish to express my sincere thanks to Dean Andrew F. 
West of the Princeton Graduate School for his unfailing 
interest in my work. It was in one of his graduate 
courses that the translation was begun, three years ago, 
and at his suggestion that I undertook the composition 
of the thesis in its present form. He has read the entire 
treatise in the manuscript, and has been my constant 
adviser and critic. Thanks are also due to Dr. Charles 
G. Osgood of the English Department of Princeton 
University for reading the translation. 


Classical Seminary, 

Princeton University, 
July 1908. 



[The Arabic numbers, printed in the Literary Analysis below and 
in the margin of the English version, correspond to the Arabic 
numbers which mark the sections in Mommsen's text.] 

Preface 1-3 

I Geographical Introduction 4-24 

Ocean 4-5 

The Eastern Islands 6 
The Western Islands 7-24 

Lesser Islands 7-8 

Britain 10-15 

ScandzaQ, 16-24 

II The United Goths 25-130 

1. Migration of the Goths under their first king, 
Berig, from Scandza to Gothiscandza and 
thence to the land of the Ulmerugi 25-26 
Migration to Scythia under Filimer 27-29 

[Description of Scythia 30-37] 
The three successive abodes of the Goths 38-42 
In Scythia near Lake Maeotis. 
In Moesia, Thrace and Dacia. 
In Scythia again, above the Sea of Pontus. 
[Their archery and heroes 43] 

2. The Goths in Scythia, near Lake Maeotis 44-57 

Exploits of King Tanausis 44-48 

[Description of the Don and Dnieper 


The Scythian Amazons in Asia Minor 49-57 
[Description of the Caucasus 52-55] 

3. The Goths in Moesia, Thrace and Dacia 58-81 

Tele f us and Eurypylus : the Trojan War 


Queen Tomyris defeats Cyrus 61-62 

King Antyrus defeats Darius 63-64 

Queen Gudila's daughter becomes the wife 

of Philip of Macedon 65 

Sitalces conquers Perdiccas 66 

King Buruista. The wise rule of Dicineus, 

a contemporary of Sulla 67, 69-72 

The Goths in the time of Caesar, Augustus 

and Tiberius 68 

Kings Comosicus and Coryllus 73 

[Description of Dacia and the Danube 

King Dorpaneus wars with Domitian 76-78 

[Genealogy of the Amali 78-81] 

4. The Goths again in Scythia beyond the Sea 
of Pontus 82-130 

Maximinus, the Goth, a Roman Emperor 


King Ostrogotha wars with Philip 89-92 

[Description of Marcianople 93] 
The Gepidae and their defeat at the hands of 
Ostrogotha 94-100 

King Cniva at war with Decius 101-103 
The Goths in the time of Gallus, Volusianus 
and Aemilianus 104-106 


The Goths plunder Asia Minor in the reign 
of Gallienus 107-109 

[Descriptive references to Chalcedon, 
Ilium and Anchiali 107-109] 
Deeds of the Goths in the times of Diocle- 
tian and his colleagues no 
The Goths under Ariaric and Aoric in the 
time of Constantine I. King Geberich con- 
quers the Vandals. 111-115 
King Hermanaric conquers the Heruli, Ve- 
nethi and Aesti 116-120 

[Origin and history of the Huns 121-128] 
Battle of Hermanaric with the Huns. His 
death. The Goths separate into Visigoths 
and Ostrogoths. 129-130 

III The Divided Goths 131-314 

i. The Visigoths 131-245 

Fritigern with the Visigoths enters Thrace 

and the two Moesias 131-137 

They defeat and slay the Emperor Valens 


King Athanaric makes peace with Gratian 

and Theodosius I. Dies at Constantinople 


The Visigoths, serving under Theodosius, 

conquer the usurper Eugenius 145 

Deeds of Alaric I in the time of Arcadius 

and Honorius. His death 146-158 

[Description of Ravenna 148-151] 
Deeds and death of King Athavulf 159-163 
King Segeric 163 


Deeds of King Valia 164-175 

[Digression: The Kingdom of the Van- 
dals 166-173] 

[Digression: Migration of the Amali to 
the Visigoths 174-175] 

First breach between King Theodorid I and 

the Romans 176-177 

[Character of Attila the Hun 178-183] 

League of the Visigoths and Romans against 

Attila 184-191 

Battle of the Catalaunian Plains. Death of 

Theodorid I 192-217 

Deeds and death of Thorismud. Continua- 
tion of Attila's career 218-228 

King Theodorid II 229-234 

King Eurich 235-244 

The Western Empire from the death of Va- 

lentinian III to Romulus Augustulus, the 

last Western Emperor 235-241 

The rule of Odoacer 242-243 

Alaric II, last King of the Visigoths 245 

2. The Ostrogoths 246-314 

King Vinitharius conquers the Antes and is 
conquered by the Huns 246-249 
King Hunimund 250 
King Thorismud 250 
Interregnum of forty years 251 
King Valamir 252-276 

Death of Attila and dissolution of the King- 
dom of the Huns 254-263 
Homes of the Goths along the Lower Dan- 
ube 264-266 


The Gothic origin of the author, Jordanes 

The Lesser Goths 267 
The Ostrogoths in Pannonia 268-276 
King Thiudimer. Seizure of Macedonia 

King Theodoric the Great, and the King- 
dom of the Ostrogoths in Italy 289-304 
King Athalaric. Amalasuentha 305-306 
The Ostrogoths overcome by the Emperor 
Justinian 307-314 
IV Conclusion 315-316 



Though it had been my wish to glide in my little boat 
by the shore of a peaceful coast and, as a certain writer 
says, to gather little fishes from the pools of the ancients, 
you, brother Castalius, bid me set my sails toward the 
deep. You urge me to leave the little work I have in 
hand, that is, the abbreviation of the Chronicles, and to 
condense in my own style in this small book the twelve 
volumes of the Senator on the origin and deeds of the 
Getae from olden time to the present day, descending 
through the generations of the kings. Truly a hard com- 
mand, and imposed by one who seems unwilling to realize 
the burden of the task. Nor do you note this, that my 
utterance is too slight to fill so magnificent a trumpet of 
speech as his. But above every burden is the fact that 
I have no access to his books that I may follow his 
thought. Still and let me lie not I have in times past 
read the books a second time by his steward's loan for a 
three days' reading. The words I recall not, but the 
sense and the deeds related I think I retain entire. To 
this I have added fitting matters from some Greek and 
Latin histories. I have also put in an introduction and 
a conclusion, and have inserted many things of my own 
authorship. | Wherefore reproach me not, but receive and 
read with gladness what you have asked me to write. If 
aught be insufficiently spoken and you remember it, do 

you as a neighbor to our race add to it, praying for me, 
dearest brother. The Lord be with you. Amen. 

( Geographical Introduction ) 

I Our ancestors, as Orosius relates, were of the 

opinion that the circle of the whole world was surrounded 

by the girdle of Ocean on three sides. Its three parts 

OCEAN tnev called Asia, Europe and Africa. Concerning this 

AND ITS threefold division of the earth's extent there are almost 

LESSER ISLES . ,,.,.. 

innumerable writers, who not only explain the situations 

of cities and places, but also measure out the number of 
miles and paces to give more clearness. Moreover they 
locate the islands interspersed amid the waves, both the 
greater and also the lesser islands, called Cyclades or 
Sporades, as situated in the vast flood of the Great Sea. 
But the impassable farther bounds of Ocean not only has 
no one attempted to describe, but no man has been al- 
lowed to reach; for by reason of obstructing seaweed and 
the failing of the winds it is plainly inaccessible and is 
unknown to any save to Him who made it. But the 
nearer border of this sea, which we call the circle of the 
world, surrounds its coasts like a wreath. This has 
become clearly known to men of inquiring mind, even 
to such as desired to write about it. For not only is the 
coast itself inhabited, but certain islands off in the sea 
are habitable. Thus there are to the East in the Indian 
Ocean, Hippodes, lamnesia, Solis Perusta (which though 
not habitable, is yet of great length and breadth), besides 
Taprobane, a fair island wherein there are towns or 
estates and ten strongly fortified cities. But there is yet 
another, the lovely Silefantina, and Theros also. These, 
though not clearly described by any writer, are neverthe- 
less well filled with inhabitants. This same Ocean has 


in its western region certain islands known to almost 
everyone by reason of the great number of those that 
journey to and fro. And there are two not far from the 
neighborhood of the Strait of Gades, one the Blessed 
Isle and another called the Fortunate. Although some 
reckon as islands of Ocean the tw ; n promontories of 
Galicia and Lusitania, where are still to be seen the 
Temple of Hercules on one and Scipio's Monument on 
the other, yet since they are joined to the extremity of 
the Galician country, they belong rather to the great land 
of Europe than to the islands of Ocean. However, it 
has other islands deeper within its own tides, which are 
called the Baleares; and yet another, Mevania, besides 
the Orcades, thirty-three in number, though not all in- 
habited. And at the farthest bound of its western ex- 
panse it has another island named Thule, of which the 
Mantuan bard makes mention : 

"And Farthest Thule shall serve thee." 

The same mighty sea has also in its arctic region, that is 
in the north, a great island named Scandza, from which 
my tale (by God's grace) shall take its beginning. For 
the race whose origin you ask to know burst forth like a 
swarm of bees from the midst of this island and came 
into the land of Europe. But how or in what wise we 
shall explain hereafter, if it be the Lord's will. 

II But now let me speak briefly as I can concerning 
the island of Britain, which is situated in the bosom of 
Ocean between Spain, Gaul and Germany. Although 
Livy tells us that no one in former days sailed around 
it, because of its great size, yet many writers have held 
various opinions of it. It was long unapproached by 
Roman arms, until Julius Caesar disclosed it by battle.* 


Caesar's two 
of Britain 
B. C. 55-54 

fought for mere glory. In the busy age which followed 
it became accessible to many through trade and by other 
means. Thus it revealed more clearly its position, which 
I shall here explain as I have found it in Greek and Latin 
authors. Most of them say it is like a triangle pointing 1 1 
between the north and west. Its widest angle faces the 
mouths of the Rhine. Then the island shrinks in breadth 
and recedes until it ends in two other angles. Its long 
doubled side faces Gaul and Germany. Its greatest 
breadth is said to be over two thousand three hundred 
and ten stadia, and its length not more than seven thou- 
sand one hundred and thirty-two stadia. In some parts 
it is moorland, in others there are wooded plains, and 
sometimes it rises into mountain peaks. The island is 
surrounded by a sluggish sea, which neither gives readily 
to the stroke of the oar nor runs high under the blasts 
of the wind. I suppose this is because other lands are 
so far removed from it as to cause no disturbance of the 
sea, which indeed is of greater width here than anywhere 
else. Moreover Strabo, a famous writer of the Greeks, 
relates that the island exhales such mists from its soil, 
soaked by the frequent inroads of Ocean, that the sun is 
covered throughout the whole of their disagreeable sort 
of day that passes as fair, and so is hidden from sight. 

Cornelius also, the author of the Annals, says that in 13 
the farthest part of Britain the night gets brighter and 
is very short. He also says that the island abounds in 
metals, is well supplied with grass and is more produc- 
tive in all those things which feed beasts rather than men. 
Moreover many large rivers flow through it, and the 
tides are borne back into them, rolling along precious 
stones and pearls. The Silures have swarthy features 
and are usually born with curly black hair, but the inhab- 

itants of Caledonia have reddish hair and large loose- 
jointed bodies. They are like the Gauls or the Spaniards, 

14 according as they are opposite either nation. Hence some 
have supposed that from these lands the island received 
its inhabitants, alluring them by its nearness. All the 
people and their kings are alike wild. Yet Dio, a most 
celebrated writer of annals, assures us of the fact that 
they have all been combined under the name of Caledo- 
nians and Maeatae. They live in wattled huts, a shelter 
used in common with their flocks, and often the woods 
are their home. They paint their bodies with iron-red, 
whether by way of adornment or perhaps for some other 

15 reason. They often wage war with one another, either 
because they desire power or to increase their possessions. 
They fight not only on horseback or on foot, but even 
with scythed two-horse chariots, which they commonly 
call essedae. Let it suffice to have said thus much on the 
shape of the island of Britain. 

1 6 HI Let us now return to the site of the island of SCANDZA 
Scandza, which we left above. Claudius Ptolemaeus, an 

excellent describer of the world, has made mention of it 
in the second book of his work, saying: "There is a 
great island situated in the surge of the northern Ocean, 
Scandza by name, in the shape of a juniper leaf with 
bulging sides that taper down to a point at a long end." 
Pomponius Mela also makes mention of it as situated in 
the Coclan Gulf of the sea, with Ocean lapping its shores. 
j~ This island lies in front of the river Vistula, which rises 
in the Sarmatian mountains and flows through its triple 
mouth into the northern Ocean in sight of Scandza, sep- 
arating Germany and Scythia. The island has in its 
eastern part a vast lake in the bosom of the earth, whence 
the Vagus river springs from the bowels of the earth and 

flows surging into the Ocean. And on the west it is sur- 
rounded by an immense sea. On the north it is bounded 
by the same vast unnavigable Ocean, from which by 
means of a sort of projecting arm of land a bay is cut off 
and forms the German Sea. Here also there are said to 18 
be many small islands scattered round about. If wolves 
cross over to these islands when the sea is frozen by 
reason of the great cold, they are said to lose their sight. 
Thus the land is not only inhospitable to men but cruel 
even to wild beasts. 

Now in the island of Scandza, whereof I speak, there 19 
dwell many and divers nations, though Ptolemaeus men- 
tions the names of but seven of them. There the honey- 
making swarms of bees are nowhere to be found on 
account of the exceeding great cold. In the northern part 
of the island the race of the Adogit live, who are said 
to have continual light in midsummer for forty days and 
nights, and who likewise have no clear light in the winter 
season for the same number of days and nights. By 2 
reason of this alternation of sorrow and joy they are like 
no other race in their sufferings and blessings. And why ? 
Because during the longer days they see the sun returning 
to the east along the rim of the horizon, but on the shorter 
days it is not thus seen. The sun shows itself differently 
because it is passing through the southern signs, and 
whereas to us the sun seem to rise from below, it seems 
to go around them along the edge of the earth. There 
also are other peoples. There are the Screrefennae, who 2 1 
do not seek grain for food but live on the flesh of wild 
beasts and birds' eggs ; for there are such multitudes of 
young game in the swamps as to provide for the natural 
increase of their kind and to afford satisfaction to the 
needs of the people. But still another race dwells there, 

the Suehans, who, like the Thuringians, have splendid 
horses. Here also are those who send through innumer- 
able other tribes the sappherine skins to trade for Roman 
use. They are a people famed for the dark beauty of 
their furs and, though living in poverty, are most richly 

22 clothed. Then comes a throng of various nations, Theu- 
stes, Vagoth, Bergio, Hallin, Liothida. All their habita- 
tions are in one level and fertile region. Wherefore they 
are disturbed there by the attacks of other tribes. Behind 
these are the Ahelmil, Finnaithae, Fervir and Gauthigoth, 
a race of men bold and quick to fight. Then come the 
Mixi, Evagre, and Otingis. All these live like wild ani- 

23 mals in rocks hewn out like castles. And there are be- 
yond these the Ostrogoths, Raumarici, Aeragnaricii, and 
the most gentle Finns, milder than all the inhabitants of 
Scandza. Like them are the Vinovilith also. The Suetidi 
are of this stock and excel the rest in stature. However, 
the Dani, who trace their origin to the same stock, drove 
from their homes the Heruli, who lay claim to preemi- 
nence among all the nations of Scandza for their tallness. 

24 Furthermore there are in the same neighborhood the 
Grannii, Augandzi, Eunixi, Taetel, Rugi, Arochi and 
Ranii, over whom Roduulf was king not many years ago. 
But he despised his own kingdom and fled to the embrace 
of Theodoric, king of the Goths, finding there what he 
desired. All these nations surpassed the Germans in size 
and spirit, and fought with the cruelty of wild beasts. 

(The United Goths) 

25 IV Now from this island of Scandza, as from a hive 
of races or a womb of nations, the Goths are said to have 
come forth long ago under their king, Berig by name. 
As soon as they disembarked from their ships and set 

How THE foot on the land, they straightway gave their name to the 
GOTHS CAME . . t , t1 , _ , . 

TO SCYTHIA place. And even to-day it is said to be called Gothi- 

scandza. Soon they moved from here to the abodes of , 
the Ulmerugi, who then dwelt on the shores of Ocean, 
where they pitched camp, joined battle with them and 
drove them from their homes. Then they subdued their 
neighbors, the Vandals, and thus added to their victories. 
But when the number of the people increased greatly and 
Filimer, son of Gadaric, reigned as king about the fifth 
since Berig he decided that the army of the Goths with 
their families should move from that region. In search 27 
of suitable homes and pleasant places they came to the 
land of Scythia, called Oium in that tongue. Here they 
were delighted with the great richness of the country, 
and it is said that when half the army had been brought 
over, the bridge whereby they had crossed the river fell 
in utter ruin, nor could anyone thereafter pass to or fro. 
For the place is said to be surrounded by quaking bogs 
and an encircling abyss, so that by this double obstacle 
nature has made it inaccessible. And even to-day one 
may hear in that neighborhood the lowing of cattle and 
may find traces of men, if we are to believe the stories 
of travellers, although we must grant that they hear these 
things from afar. 

This part of the Goths, which is said to have crossed 2 
the river and entered with Filimer into the country of 
Oium, came into possession of the desired land, and there 
they soon came upon the race of the Spali, joined battle 
with them and won the victory. Thence the victors hast- 
ened to the farthest part of Scythia, which is near the sea , ^ fc 
of Pontus ; for so the story is generally told in their early 
songs, in almost historic fashion. Ablabius also, a fa- 
mous chronicler of the Gothic race, confirms this in his 

29 most trustworthy account. Some of the ancient writers 
also agree with the tale. Among these we may mention 
Josephus, a most reliable relator of annals, who every- 
where follows the rule of truth and unravels from the 
beginning the origin of causes ; but why he has omitted 
the beginnings of the race of the Goths, of which I have 
spoken, I do not know. He barely mentions Magog 
of that stock, and says they were Scythians by race and 
were called so by name. 

Before we enter on our history, we must describe the 
boundaries of this land, as it lies. 

30 V Now Scythia borders on the land of Germany as 
far as the source of the river Ister and the expanse of the 

Morsian Swamp. It reaches even to the rivers Tyra, 


Danaster and Vagosola, and the great Danaper, extend- 
ing to the Taurus range not the mountains in Asia but 
our own, that is, the Scythian Taurus all the way to 
Lake Maeotis. Beyond Lake Maeotis it spreads on the 
other side of the straits of Bosphorus to the Caucasus 
Mountains and the river Araxes. Then it bends back to 
the left behind the Caspian Sea, which comes from the 
north-eastern ocean in the most distant parts of Asia, and 
so is formed like a mushroom, at first narrow and then 
broad and round in shape. It extends as far as the Huns, 
Albani and Seres. This land, I say,' namely, Scythia, 
stretching far and spreading wide, has on the east the 
Seres, a race that dwelt at the very beginning of their 
history on the shore of the Caspian Sea. On the west are 
the Germans and the river Vistula; on the arctic side, 
namely the north, it is surrounded by Ocean ; on the south 
by Persis, Albania, Hiberia, Pontus and the farthest 
channel of the Ister, which is called the Danube all the 
32 way from mouth to source. But in that region where 

Scythia touches the Pontic coast it is dotted with towns 
of no mean fame : Borysthenis, Olbia, Callipolis, Cher- 
son, Theodosia, Careon, Myrmicion and Trapezus. These 
towns the wild Scythian tribes allowed the Greeks to build 
to afford them means of trade. In the midst of Scythia is 
the place that separates Asia and Europe, I mean the 
Rhipaeian mountains, from which the mighty Tanais 
flows. This river enters Maeotis, a marsh having a cir- 
cuit of one hundred and forty- four miles and never sub- 
siding to a depth of less than eight fathoms. 

In the land of Scythia to the westward dwells, first of 33 
all, the race of the Gepidae, surrounded by great and 
famous rivers. For the Tisia flows through it on the 
north and northwest, and on the southwest is the great 
Danube. On the east it is cut by the Flutausis, a swiftly 
eddying stream that sweeps whirling into the Ister's 
waters. Within these rivers lies Dacia, encircled by the 34 
lofty Alps as by a crown. Near their left ridge, which 

inclines toward the north, and beginning at the source of 

fe fe _____- -- ---- -^-" ^ 

the Vistula, the populous race of the Venethi dwell, occu- 

pying a great expanse of land. Though their names are 
now dispersed amid various clans and places, yet they are 
chiefly called Sclaveni .and Antjes. The abode of the 35 
Sclaveni extends from the city of Noviodunum and the 
lake called Mursianus to the Danaster, and northward as 
far as the Vistula. They have swamps and forests for 
their cities. The Antes, who are the bravest of these 
peoples dwelling in the curve of the sea of Pontus, spread 
from the Danaster to the Danaper, rivers that are many 
days' journey apart. But on the shore of Ocean, where 36 
the floods of the river Vistula empty from three mouths, 
the Vidivarii dwell, a people gathered out of various 
tribes. Beyond them the Aesti, a subject race, likewise 


hold the shore of Ocean. To the south dwell the Acatziri, 
a very brave tribe ignorant of agriculture, who subsist 

37 on their flocks and by hunting. Farther away and above 
the Sea of Pontus are the abodes of the Bulgares, well 
known from the wrongs done to them by reason of our 
oppression. From this region the Huns, like a fruitful 
root of bravest races, sprouted into two hordes of people. 
Some of these are called Altziagiri, others Sabiri; and 
they have different dwelling places. The Altziagiri are 
near Cherson, where the avaricious traders bring in the 
goods of Asia. In summer they range the plains, their 
broad domains, wherever the pasturage for their cattle 
invites them, and betake themselves in winter beyond the 
Sea of Pontus. Now the Hunuguri are known to us from 
the fact that they trade in marten skins. But they have 
been cowed by their bolder neighbors. 

-g We read that on their first migration the Goths dwelt 

in the land of Scythia near Lake Maeotis. On the second THREE ABODES 

migration they went to Moesia, Thrace and Dacia, and 

after their third they dwelt again in Scythia, above the 

Sea of Pontus. Nor do we find anywhere in their 

written records legends which tell of their subjection to 

slavery in Britain or in some other island, or of their 

redemption by a certain man at the cost of a single horse. 

Of course if anyone in our city says that the Goths had an 

origin different from that I have related, let him object. 

For myself, I prefer to believe what I have read, rather 

than put trust in old wives' tales. 

39 To return, then, to my subject. The aforesaid race of 
which I speak is known to have had Filimer as king while 
they remained in their first home in Scythia near Maeotis. 
In their second home, that is in the countries of Dacia, 
Thrace and Moesia, Zalmoxes reigned, whom many writ- 


ers of annals mention as a man of remarkable learning in 
philosophy. Yet even before this they had a learned man 
Zeuta, and after him Dicineus; and the third was Zal- 
moxes of whom I have made mention above. Nor did 
they lack teachers of wisdom. Wherefore the Goths have 40 
ever been wiser than other barbarians and were nearly 
like the Greeks, as Dio relates, who wrote their history 
and annals with a Greek pen. He says that those of noble 
birth among them, from whom their kings and priests 
were appointed, were called first Tarabostesei and then 
Pilleati. Moreover so highly were the Getae praised that 
Mars, whom the fables of poets call the god of war, was 
reputed to have been born among them. Hence Virgil 
says : 

"Father Gradivus rules the Getic fields." 4 1 

Now Mars has always been worshipped by the Goths 
with cruel rites, and captives were slain as his victims. 
They thought that he who is the lord of war ought to be 
appeased by the shedding of human blood. To him they 
devoted the first share of the spoil, and in his honor arms 
stripped from the foe were suspended from trees. And 
they had more than all other races a deep spirit of relig- 
ion, since the worship of this god seemed to be really 
bestowed upon their ancestor. 

In their third dwelling place, which was above the Sea . 
of Pontus. they had now become more civilized and, as I 
have said before, were more learned. Then the people 
were divided under ruling families. The Visigoths served 
the family of the Balthi and the Ostrogoths served the 
renowned Amali. They were the first race of men to ,- 
string the bow with cords, as Lucan, who is more of a 
historian than a poet, affirms : 


"They string Armenian bows with Getic cords." 

In earliest times they sang of the deeds of their ances- 
tors in strains of song accompanied by the cithara ; chant- 
ing of Eterpamara, Hanala, Fritigern, Vidigoia and 
others whose fame among them is great; such heroes as 

44 admiring antiquity scarce proclaims its own to be. Then, 
as the story goes, Vesosis waged a war disastrous to 
himself against the Scythians, whom ancient tradition 
asserts to have been the husbands of the Amazons. Con- 
cerning these female warriors Orosius speaks in convinc- 
ing language. Thus we can clearly prove that Vesosis 
then fought with the Goths, since we know surely that he 
waged war with the husbands of the Amazons. They 
dwelt at that time along a bend of Lake Maeotis, from 
the river Borysthenes, which the natives call the Danaper, 

45 to the stream of the Tanais. By the Tanais I mean the THE RIVER DON 
river which flows down from the Rhipaeian mountains 

and rushes with so swift a current that when the neigh- 
boring streams or Lake Maeotis and the Bosphorus are 
frozen fast, it is the only river that is kept warm by the 
rugged mountains and is never solidified by the Scythian 
cold. It is also famous as the boundary of Asia and 
Europe. For the other Tanais is the one which rises in 
the mountains of the Chrinni and flows into the Caspian 

46 Sea. The Danaper begins in a great marsh and issues THE DNIEPER 
from it as from its mother. It is sweet and fit to drink 

as far as half-way down its course. It also produces fish 
of a fine flavor and without bones, having only cartilage 
as the frame-work of their bodies. But as it approaches 
the Pontus it receives a little spring called Exampaeus, 
so very bitter that although the river is navigable for the 
length of a forty days' voyage, it is so altered by the 
water of this scanty stream as to become tainted and 

unlike itself, and flows thus tainted into the sea between 
the Greek towns of Callipidae and Hypanis. At its mouth 
there is an island named Achilles. Between these two 
rivers is a vast land filled with forests and treacherous 

DEFEAT OF VI This was the region where the Goths dwelt when 47 

(SESOSTRIS) Vesosis, king of the Egyptians, made war upon them. 
Their king at that time was Tanausis. In a battle at the 
river Phasis (whence come the birds called pheasants, 
which are found in abundance at the banquets of the great 
all over the world) Tanausis, king of the Goths, met 
Vesosis, king of the Egyptians, and there inflicted a 
severe defeat upon him, pursuing him even to Egypt. 
Had he not been restrained by the waters of the impass- 
able Nile and the fortifications which Vesosis had long 
ago ordered to be made against the raids of the Ethio- 
pians, he would have slain him in his own land. But 
finding he had no power to injure him there, he returned 
and conquered almost all Asia and made it subject and 
tributary to Sornus, king of the Medes, who was then his 
dear friend. At that time some of his victorious army, 
seeing that the subdued provinces were rich and fruit- 
ful, deserted their companies and of their own accord 
remained in various parts of Asia. 

From their name or race Pompeius Trogus says the g 
stock of the Parthians had its origin. Hence even to-day 
in the Scythian tongue they are called Parthi, that is, 
Deserters. And in consequence of their descent they are 
archers almost alone among all the nations of Asia 
and are very valiant warriors. Now in regard to the 
name, though I have said they were called Parthi because 
they were deserters, some have traced the derivation of 
the word otherwise, saying that they were called Parthi 

because they fled from their kinsmen. Now when this 
Tanausis, king of the Goths, was dead, his people wor- 
shipped him as one of their gods. 

49 VII After his death, while the army under his suc- 
cessors was engaged in an expedition in other parts, a 
neighboring tribe attempted to carry off women of the 

Goths as booty. But they made a brave resistance, as THE 

they had been taught to do by their husbands, and routed ASIA MINOR 
in disgrace the enemy who had come upon them. When 
they had won this victory, they were inspired with greater 
daring. Mutually encouraging each other, they took up 
arms and chose two of the bolder, Lampeto and Marpesia, 

50 to act as their leaders. While they were in command, 
they cast lots both for the defense of their own country 
and the devastation of other lands. So Lampeto remained 
to guard their native land and Marpesia took a company 
of women and led this novel army into Asia. After con- 
quering various tribes in war and making others their 
allies by treaties, she came to the Caucasus. There she 
remained for some time and gave the place the name Rock 
of Marpesia, of which also Virgil makes mention : 

"Like to hard flint or the Marpesian Cliff." 

It was here Alexander the Great afterwards built gates 
and named them the Caspian Gates, which now the tribe 
5 ! of the Lazi guard as a Roman fortification. Here, then, 
the Amazons remained for some time and were much 
strengthened. Then they departed and crossed the river 
Halys, which flows near the city of Gangra, and with 
equal success subdued Armenia, Syria, Cilicia, Galatia, 
Pisidia and all the places of Asia. Then they turned to 
Ionia and Aeolia, and made provinces of them after their 
surrender. Here they ruled for some time and even 


founded cities and camps bearing their name. At Ephesus 
also they built a very costly and beautiful temple for 
Diana, because of her delight in archery and the chase 
arts to which they were themselves devoted. Then these 52 
Scythian-born women, who had by such a chance gained 
control over the kingdoms of Asia, held them for almost 
a hundred years, and at last came back to their own kins- 
folk in the Marpesian rocks I have mentioned above, 
namely the Caucasus mountains. 

Inasmuch as I have twice mentioned this mountain- 
range, I think it not out of place to describe its extent and 
situation, for, as is well known, it encompasses a great 
THE p art o t j ie ear th w ith its continuous chain. Beginning - 

at the Indian Ocean, where it faces the south it is warm, 
giving off vapor in the sun ; where it lies open to the 
north it is exposed to chill winds and frost. Then bend- 
ing back into Syria with a curving turn, it not only sends 
forth many other streams, but pours from its plenteous 
breasts into the Vasianensian region the Euphrates and 
the Tigris, navigable rivers famed for their unfailing 
springs. These rivers surround the land of the Syrians 
and cause it to be called Mesopotamia, as it truly is. Their 
waters empty into the bosom of the Red Sea. Then turn- 
ing back to the north, the range I have spoken of passes 
with great bends through the Scythian lands. There it 
sends forth very famous rivers into the Caspian Sea the 
A raxes, the Cyrus and the Cambyses. It goes on in con- 
tinuous range even to the Rhipaeian mountains. Thence 
it descends from the north toward the Pontic Sea, fur- 
nishing a boundary to the Scythian tribes by its ridge, and 
even touches the waters of the Ister with its clustered 
hills. Being cut by this river, it divides, and in Scythia 
is named Taurus also. Such then is the great range, 


almost the mightiest of mountain chains, rearing aloft its 
summits and by its natural conformation supplying men 
with impregnable strongholds. Here and there it divides 
where the ridge breaks apart and leaves a deep gap, thus 
forming now the Caspian Gates, and again the Armenian 
or the Cilician, or of whatever name the place may be. 
Yet they are barely passable for a wagon, for both sides 
are sharp and steep as well as very high. The range has 
different names among various peoples. The Indian calls 
it Imaus and in another part Paropamisus. The Parthian 
calls it first Choatras and afterward Niphates ; the Syrian 
and Armenian call it Taurus ; the Scythian names it Cau- 
casus and Rhipaeus, and at its end calls it Taurus. Many 
other tribes have given names to the range. Now that we 
have devoted a few words to describing its extent, let us 
return to the subject of the Amazons. 

56 VIII Fearing their race would fail, they sought mar- 

riage with neighboring tribes. They appointed a day for AMAZONS 
meeting once in every year, so that when they should 
return to the same place on that day in the following year 
each mother might give over to the father whatever male 
child she had borne, but should herself keep and train for 
warfare whatever children of the female sex were born. 
Or else, as some maintain, they exposed the males, de- 
stroying the life of the ill-fated child with a hate like 
that of a stepmother. Among them childbearing was 

57 detested, though everywhere else it is desired. The terror 
of their cruelty was increased by common rumor; for 
what hope, pray, would there be for a captive, when it 
was considered wrong to spare even a son? Hercules, 
they say, fought against them and overcame Menalippe, 
yet more by guile than by valor. Theseus, moreover, took 
Hippolyte captive, and of her he begat Hippolytus. And 


in later times the Amazons had a queen named Penthe- 
silea, famed in the tales of the Trojan war. These women 
are said to have kept their power even to the time of 
Aleander the Great. 

IX But say not "Why does a story which deals with 58 
the men of the Goths have so much to say of their wo- 
R EIC , N men?" Hear, then, the tale of the famous and glorious 

OF TELEFUS valor of the men. Now Dio, the historian and diligent 

AND ... 

EURYPYLUS investigator of ancient times, who gave to his work the 
title "Getica" (and the Getae we have proved in a pre- 
vious passage to be Goths, on the testimony of Orosius 
Paulus) this Dio, I say, makes mention of a later king 
of theirs named Telefus. Let no one say that this name 
is quite foreign to the Gothic tongue, and let no one who 
is ignorant cavil at the fact that the tribes of men make 
use of many names, even as the Romans borrow from the 
Macedonians, the Greeks from the Romans, the Sarma- 
tians from the Germans, and the Goths frequently from 
the Huns. This Telefus, then, a son of Hercules by 59 
Auge, and the husband of a sister of Priam, was of 
towering stature and terrible strength. He matched his 
father's valor by virtues of his own and also recalled the 
traits of Hercules by his likeness in appearance. Our 
ancestors called his kingdom Moesia. This province has 
on the east the mouths of the Danube, on the south 
Macedonia, on the west Histria and on the north the 
Danube. Now this king we have mentioned carried on ^o 
wars with the Greeks, and in their course he slew in battle 
Thesander, the leader of Greece. But while he was mak- 
ing a hostile attack upon Ajax and was pursuing Ulysses, 
his horse became entangled in some vines and fell. He 
himself was thrown and wounded in the thigh by a javelin 
of Achilles, so that for a long time he could not be healed. 




Yet, despite his wound, he drove the Greeks from his 
land. Now when Telefus died, his son Eurypylus suc- 
ceeded to the throne, being a son of the sister of Priam, 
king of the Phrygians. For love of Cassandra he sought 
to take part in the Trojan war, that he might come to the 
help of her parents and his own father-in-law; but soon 
after his arrival he was killed. 

X 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. 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, con- 
quered 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. 

Afterwards Darius, king of the Persians, the son of 
Hystaspes, demanded in marriage the daughter of Anty- 
rus, 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 

Cyrus the 

B. C. 559-529 


B. C. 529 

B. C 521-485 


B. C. 485-465 

Philip of 


B. C. 359-336 



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. Cross- 
ing 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. 

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 trans- 
ports. 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. 

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 re- 
lates, that Philip, suffering from need of money, deter- 
mined 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 con- 
fidence to meet them, they were astonished and, so to 
speak, the armed were terrified by the unarmed. Straight- 
way 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. 

55 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 succes- 
sor to rule Athens by hereditary right, when he drank his 
destruction at Babylon through the treachery of an at- 
tendant. 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. 

67 XI 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 al- 
most 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 

B. C. 82-79 




B. C. 49-44 


Roman name even by hearsay, and yet was unable to pre- 
vail against the Goths, despite his frequent attempts. 
A. D. 14-37 Soon Gains Tiberius reigned as third emperor of the 
Romans, and yet the Goths continued in their kingdom 
unharmed. Their safety, their advantage, their one hope 69 
lay in this, that whatever their counsellor Dicineus ad- 
vised 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 knowl- 
edge of physics he made them live naturally under laws 
of their own, which they possess in written form to this 
day and call belaglnes. 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 hun- 
dred 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. Think, I pray you, what 70 
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 investi- 
gating 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 

71 reason, they were at rest. These and various other mat- 
ters 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 

72 with tiaras, which we otherwise call pillei. 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 knowl- 
edge. By reason of his wisdom he was accounted their 
priest and king, and he judged the people with the great- 
est uprightness. 

XII When he too had departed from human affairs, 
Coryllus ascended the throne as king of the Goths and for 
forty years ruled his people in Dacia. I mean ancient 

74 Dacia, which the race of the Gepidae now possess. This 
country lies across the Danube within sight of Moesia, 
and is surrounded by a crown of mountains. It has only 
two ways of access, one by way of the Boutae and the 
other by the Tapae. This Gothia, which our ancestors 
called Dacia and now, as I have said, is called Gepidia, 
was then bounded on the east by the Roxolani, on the west 


by the lazyges, on the north by the Sarmatians and Bas- 
ternae and on the south by the river Danube. The lazyges 
are separated from the Roxolani by the Aluta river only. 

And since mention has been made of the Danube, I 

DANUBE think it not out of place to make brief notice of so excel- 

lent a stream. Rising in the fields of the>Alamanni, it 
receives sixty streams which flow into it here and there 
in the twelve hundred miles from its source to its mouths 
in the Pontus, resembling a spine inwoven with ribs like 
a basket. It is indeed a most vast river. In the language 
of the Bessi it is called the Hister, and it has profound 
waters in its channel to a depth of quite two hundred feet. 
This stream surpasses in size all other rivers, except the 
Nile. Let this much suffice for the Danube. But let us 
now with the Lord's help return to the subject from which 
we have digressed. 

A D D ni 8i-96 XHI Now after a lon g time > in the rei g n of the 76 

Emperor Domitian, the Goths, through fear of his avar- 

rice, broke the truce they had long observed under other 
emperors. They laid waste the bank of the Danube, so 
DOMITIAJ? long held by the Roman Empire, and slew the soldiers and 
their generals. Oppius Sabinus was then in command of 
that province, succeeding Agrippa, while Dorpaneus held 
command over the Goths. Thereupon the Goths made 
war and conquered the Romans, cut off the head of 
Oppius Sabinus, and invaded and boldly plundered many 
castles and cities belonging to the Emperor. In this plight 77 
of his countrymen Domitian hastened with all his might 
to Illyricum, bringing with him the troops of almost 
the entire empire. He sent Fuscus before him as his 
general with picked soldiers. Then joining boats to- 
gether like a bridge, he made his soldiers cross the river 
Danube above the army of Dorpaneus. But the Goths 73 





were on the alert. They took up arms and presently over- 
whelmed the Romans in the first encounter. They slew 
Fuscus, the commander, and plundered the soldiers' camp 
of its treasure. And because of the great victory they 
had won in this region, they thereafter called their lead- 
ers, by whose good fortune they seemed to have con- 
quered, not mere men, but demigods, that is Ansis. Their 
genealogy I shall run through briefly, telling the lineage 
of each and the beginning and the end of this line. And 
do thou, O reader, hear me without repining ; for I speak 

XIV Now the first of these heroes, as they them- 
selves relate in their legends, was Gapt, who begat 
Hulmul. And Hulmul begat Augis; and Augis begat 
him who was called Amal, from whom the name of the 
Amali comes. This Amal begat Hisarnis. Hisarnis 
moreover begat Ostrogotha, and Ostrogotha begat Hu- 
nuil, and Hunuil likewise begat Athal. -Athal begat 
Achiulf and Oduulf. Now Achiulf begat Ansila and 
Ediulf, Vultuulf and Hermanaric. And Vultuulf begat 
Valaravans and Valaravans begat Vinitharius. Vinitha- 
rius moreover begat Vandalarius; Vandalarius begat 
Thiudimer and Valamir and Vidimer; and Thiudimer 
begat Theodoric. Theodoric begat Amalasuentha ; Amal- 
asuentha bore Athalaric and Mathesuentha to her hus- 
band Eutharic, whose race was thus joined to hers in 
kinship. For the aforesaid Hermanaric, the son of 
Achiulf, begat Hunimund, and Hunimund begat Thoris- 
mud. Now Thorismud begat Beremud, Beremud begat 
Veteric, and Veteric likewise begat Eutharic, who mar- 
ried Amalasuentha and begat Athalaric and Mathesu- 
entha. Athalaric died in the years of his childhood, and 
Mathesuentha married Vitiges, to whom she bore no 





child. Both of them were taken together by Belisarius to 
Constantinople. When Vitiges passed from human af- 
fairs, Germanus the patrician, a cousin of the Emperor 
Justinian, took Mathesuentha in marriage and made her 
a Patrician Ordinary. And of her he begat a son, also 
called Germanus. But upon the death of Germanus, she 
determined to remain a widow. Now how and in what 
wise the kingdom of the Amali was overthrown we shall 
keep to tell in its proper place, if the Lord help us. 

But let us now return to the point whence we made our 
digression and tell how the stock of this people of whom 
I speak reached the end of its course. Now Ablabius the 
historian relates that in Scythia, where we have said that 
they were dwelling above an arm of the Pontic Sea, part 
of them who held the eastern region and whose king was 
Ostrogotha, were called Ostrogoths, that is, eastern 
Goths, either from his name or from the place. But the 
rest were called Visigoths, that is, the Goths of the west- 
ern country. 

XV As already said, they crossed the Danube and 
dwelt a little while in Moesia and Thrace. From the 
remnant of these came Maximinus, the Emperor succeed- 
ing Alexander the son of Mama. For Symmachus re- 
lates it thus in the fifth book of his history, saying that 
upon the death of Caesar Alexander, Maximinus was 
made Emperor by the army ; a man born in Thrace of 
most humble parentage, his father being a Goth named 
Micca, and his mother a woman of the Alani called 
Ababa. He reigned three years and lost alike his empire 
and his life while making war on the Christians. Now 
after his first years spent in rustic life, he had come from 
his flocks to military service in the reign of the Emperor 
Severus and at the time when he was celebrating his 




son's birthday. It happened that the Emperor was giving 
military games. When Maximinus saw this, although he 
was a semi-barbarian youth, he besought the Emperor in 
his native tongue to give him permission to wrestle with 
the trained soldiers for the prizes offered. Severus mar- 
velling much at his great size for his stature, it is said, 
was more than eight feet, bade him contend in wrestling 
with the camp followers, in order that no injury might 
befall his soldiers at the hands of this wild fellow. There- 
upon Maximinus threw sixteen attendants with so great 
ease that he conquered them one by one without taking 
any rest by pausing between the bouts. So then, when 
he had won the prizes, it was ordered that he should be 
sent into the army and should take his first campaign with 
the cavalry. On the third day after this, when the Em- 
peror went out to the field, he saw him coursing about 
in barbarian fashion and bade a tribune restrain him and 
teach him Roman discipline. But when he understood 
it was the Emperor who was speaking about him, he came 
forward and began to run ahead of him as he rode. Then 
the Emperor spurred on his horse to a slow trot and 
wheeled in many a circle hither and thither with various 
turns, until he was weary. And then he said to him "Are 
you willing to wrestle now after your running, my little 
Thracian?" "As much as you like, O Emperor," he 
answered. So Severus leaped from his horse and ordered 
the freshest soldiers to wrestle with him. But he threw 
to the ground seven very powerful youths, even as before, 
taking no breathing space between the bouts. So he alone 
was given prizes of silver and a golden necklace by Cae- 
sar. Then he was bidden to serve in the body guard of 
the Emperor. After this he was an officer under Anto- 
ninus Caracalla, often increasing his fame by his deeds, 



A. D. 193-211 



A. D. 198-217 

A. D. 217-218 



A. D. 218-222 

A. D. 222-235 


A. D. 235-238 

A. I). 238 





Philip pater 
A. 1). 244-249 
'The Arabian" 

and rose to many military grades and finally to the cen- 
turionship as the reward of his active service. Yet after- 
wards, when Macrinus became Emperor, he refused mili- 
tary service for almost three years, and though he held 
the office of tribune, he never came into the presence of 
Macrinus, thinking his rule shameful because he had won 
it by committing a crime. Then he returned to Elioga- 
balus, believing him to be the son of Antoninus, and 
entered upon his tribuneship. After his reign, he fought 
with marvellous success against the Parthians, under 
Alexander the son of Mama. When he was slain in an 
uprising of the soldiers at Mogontiacum, Maximinus 
himself was made Emperor by a vote of the army, with- 
out a decree of the senate. But he marred all his good 
deeds by persecuting the Christians in accordance with 
an evil vow and, being slain by Pupienus at Aquileia, left 
the kingdom to Philip. These matters we have borrowed 
from the history of Symmachus for this our little book, 
in order to show that the race of which we speak attained 
to the very highest station in the Roman Empire. But 
our subject requires us to return in due order to the point 
whence we digressed. 

XVI Now the Gothic race gained great fame in the 
region where they were then dwelling, that is in the 
Scythian land on the shore of Pontus, holding undisputed 
sway over great stretches of country, many arms of the 
sea and many river courses. By their strong right arm 
the Vandals were often laid low, the Marcomanni held 
their footing by paying tribute and the princes of the 
Ouadi were reduced to slavery. Now when the aforesaid 
Philip who, with his son Philip, was the only Christian 
emperor before Constantine ruled over the Romans, in 
the second year of his reign Rome completed its one 




thousandth year. He withheld from the Goths the tribute phili P filiu s 
due them; whereupon they were naturally enraged and 
instead of friends became his foes. For though they dwelt 
apart under their own kings, yet they had been allied to 

90 the Roman state and received annual gifts. And what 
more ? Ostrogotha and his men soon crossed the Danube 
and ravaged Moesia and Thrace. Philip sent the senator 
Decius against him. And since he could do nothing 
against the Getae, he released his own soldiers from mili- 
tary service and sent them back to private life, as though 
it had been by their neglect that the Goths had crossed the 
Danube. When, as he supposed, he had thus taken ven- 
geance on his soldiers, he returned to Philip. But when 
the soldiers found themselves expelled from the army 
after so many hardships, in their anger they had recourse 

91 to the protection of Ostrogotha, king of the Goths. He 
received them, was aroused by their words and presently 
led out three hundred thousand armed men, having as 
allies for this war some of the Taifali and Astringi and 
also three thousand of the Carpi, a race of men very ready 
to make war and frequently hostile to the Romans. But 
in later times when Diocletian and Maximian were Em- 
perors, the Caesar Galerius Maximianus conquered them 
and made them tributary to the Roman Empire. Besides 
these tribes, Ostrogotha had Goths and Peucini from the 
island of Peuce, which lies in the mouths of the Danube 
where they empty into the Sea of Pontus. He placed in 
command Argaithus and Guntheric, the noblest leaders 

92 of his race. They speedily crossed the Danube, devas- 
tated Moesia a second time and approached Marcianople, 
the famed metropolis of that land. Yet after a long siege 
they departed, upon receiving money from the inhabitants. 

93 Now since we have mentioned Marcianople, we may 








briefly relate a few matters in connection with its found- 
ing. They say that the Emperor Trajan built this city 
for the following reason. While his sister's daughter 
Marcia was bathing in the stream called Potamus a 
river of great clearness and purity that rises in the midst 
of the city she wished to draw some water from it and 
by chance dropped into its depths the golden pitcher she 
was carrying. Yet though very heavy from its weight 
of metal, it emerged from the waves a long time after- 
wards. It surely is not a usual thing for an empty vessel 
to sink ; much less that, when once swallowed up, it should 
be cast up by the waves and float again. Trajan mar- 
velled at hearing this and believed there was some divin- 
ity in the stream. So he built a city and called it Mar- 
cianople after the name of his sister. 

XVII From this city, then, as we were saying, the 
Getae returned after a long siege to their own land, en- 
riched by the ransom they had received. Now the race 
of the Gepidae was moved with envy when they saw them 
laden with booty and so suddenly victorious everywhere, 
and made war on their kinsmen. Should you ask how 
the Getae and Gepidae are kinsmen, I can tell you in a 
few words. You surely remember that in the beginning 
I said the Goths went forth from the bosom of the island 
of Scandza with Berig, their king, sailing in only three 
ships toward the hither shore of Ocean, namely to 
Gothiscandza. One of these three ships proved to be 
slower than the others, as is usually the case, and thus is 
said to have given the tribe their name, for in their 
language gepanta means slow. Hence it came to pass 
that gradually and by corruption the name Gepidae was 
coined for them by way of reproach. For undoubtedly 
they too trace their origin from the stock of the Goths, 



but because, as I have said, gepanta means something 
slow and stolid, the word Gepidae arose as a gratuitous 
name of reproach. I do not believe this is very far 
wrong, for they are slow of thought and too sluggish for 
quick movement of their bodies. 

96 These Gepidae were then smitten by envy while they 
dwelt in the province of Spesis on an island surrounded 
by the shallow waters of the Vistula. This island they 
called, in the speech of their fathers, Gepedoios ; but it is 
now inhabited by the race of the Vividarii, since the 
Gepidae themselves have moved to better lands. The 
Vividarii are gathered from various races into this one 
asylum, if I may call it so, and thus they form a nation. 

97 So then, as we were saying, Fastida, king of the Gepidae, 
stirred up his quiet people to enlarge their boundaries by 
war. He overwhelmed the Burgundians, almost annihi- 
lating them, and conquered a number of other races also. 
He unjustly provoked the Goths, being the first to break 
the bonds of kinship by unseemly strife. He was greatly 
puffed up with vain glory, but in seeking to acquire new 
lands for his growing nation, he only reduced the num- 

Q g bers of his own countrymen. For he sent ambassadors 
to Ostrogotha, to whose rule Ostrogoths and Visigoths 
alike, that is, the two peoples of the same tribe, were still 
subject. Complaining that he was hemmed in by rugged 
mountains and dense forests, he demanded one of two 
things, that Ostrogotha should either prepare for war 

QQ or give up part of his lands to them. Then Ostrogotha, 
king of the Goths, who was a man of firm mind, an- 
swered the ambassadors that he did indeed dread such a 
war and that it would be a grievous and infamous thing 
to join battle with their kin, but he would not give up 
his lands. And why say more? The Gepidae hastened 





A. D. 249-251 

to take arms and Ostrogotha likewise moved his forces 
against them, lest he should seem a coward. They met 
at the town of Galtis, near which the river Auha flows, 
and there both sides fought with great valor; indeed the 
similarity of their arms and of their manner of fighting 
turned them against their own men. But the better cause 
and their natural alertness aided the Goths. Finally night 
put an end to the battle as a part of the Gepidae were 
giving way. Then Fastida, king of the Gepidae, left the 
field of slaughter and hastened to his own land, as much 
humiliated with shame and disgrace as formerly he had 
been elated with pride. The Goths returned victorious, 
content with the retreat of the Gepidae, and dwelt in 
peace and happiness in their own land so long as Ostro- 
gotha was their leader. 

XVIII After his death, Cniva divided the army into 
two parts and sent some to waste Moesia, knowing that it 
was undefended through the neglect of the emperors. 
He himself with seventy thousand men hastened to 
Euscia, that is, Novae. When driven from this place by 
the general Callus, he approached Nicopolis, a very fa- 
mous town situated near the latrus river. This city 
Trajan built when he conquered the Sarmatians and 
named it the City of Victory. When the Emperor Decius 
drew near, Cniva at last withdrew to the regions of 
Haemus, which were not far distant. Thence he hastened 
to Philippopolis, with his forces in good array. When 
the Emperor Decius learned of his departure, he was 
eager to bring relief to his own city and, crossing Mount 
Haemus, came to Beroa. While he was resting his horses 
and his weary army in that place, all at once Cniva and 
his Goths fell upon him like a thunderbolt. He cut the 
Roman army to pieces and drove the Emperor, with a 




few who had succeeded in escaping, across the Alps again 
to Euscia in Moesia, where Gallus was then stationed 
with a large force of soldiers as guardian of the frontier. 
Collecting an army from this region as well as from 
Oescus, he prepared for the conflict of the coming war. 

103 But Cniva took Philippopolis after a long siege and then, 
laden with spoil, allied himself to Priscus, the commander 
in the city, to fight against Decius. In the battle that 
followed they quickly pierced the son of Decius with an 
arrow and cruelly slew him. The father saw this, and 
although he is said to have exclaimed, to cheer the hearts 
of his soldiers: ''Let no one mourn; the death of one 
soldier is not a great loss to the republic", he was yet 
unable to endure it, because of his love for his son. So 
he rode against the foe, demanding either death or ven- 
geance, and when he came to Abrittus, a city of Moesia, 
he was himself cut off by the Goths and slain, thus mak- 
ing an end of his dominion and of his life. This place 
is to-day called the Altar of Decius, because he there 
offered strange sacrifices to idols before the battle. 

104 XIX Then upon the death of Decius, Gallus and 
Volusianus succeeded to the Roman Empire. At this 
time a destructive plague, almost like death itself, such 
as we suffered nine years ago, blighted the face of the 
whole earth and especially devastated Alexandria and all 
the land of Egypt. The historian Dionysius gives a 
mournful account of it and Cyprian, our own bishop and 
venerable martyr in Christ, also describes it in his book 
entitled "On Mortality". At this time the Goths fre- 
quently ravaged Moesia, through the neglect of the Em- 

105 perors. When a certain Aemilianus saw that they were 
free to do this, and that they could not be dislodged by 
anyone without great cost to the republic, he thought that 

Capture of 


A. D. 250 

Death of 
Decius at 

A. D. 251 

A. D. 251-253 

A. D. 252-253 





A. D. 253 


The Plague 
A. D. 252-267 

A. D. 253-268 



A. D. 262 or 263 

he too might be able to achieve fame and fortune. So he 
seized the rule in Moesia and, taking all the soldiers he 
could gather, began to plunder cities and people. In the 
next few months, while an armed host was being gath- 
ered against him, he wrought no small harm to the state. 
Yet he died almost at the beginning of his evil attempt, 
thus losing at once his life and the power he coveted. 
Now though Callus and Volusianus, the Emperors we 106 
have mentioned, departed this life after remaining in 
power for barely two years, yet during this space of two 
years which they spent on earth they reigned amid uni- 
versal peace and favor. Only one thing was laid to their 
charge, namely the great plague. But this was an ac- 
cusation made by ignorant slanderers, whose custom it is 
to wound the lives of others with their malicious bite. 
Soon after they came to power they made a treaty with 
the race of the Goths. When both rulers were dead, it 
was no long time before Gallienus usurped the throne. 

XX While he was given over to luxurious living of 107 
every sort, Respa, Veduc and Thuruar, leaders of the 
Goths, took ship and sailed across the strait of the Helle- 
spont to Asia. There they laid waste many populous 
cities and set fire to the renowned temple of Diana at 
Ephesus, which, as we said before, the Amazons built. 
Being driven from the neighborhood of Bithynia, they 
destroyed Chalcedon, which Cornelius Avitus afterwards 
restored to some extent. Yet even to-day, though it is 
happily situated near the royal city, it still shows some 
traces of its ruin as a witness to posterity. After their 108 
success, the Goths recrossed the strait of the Hellespont, 
laden with booty and spoil, and returned along the same 
route by which they had entered the lands of Asia, sack- 
ing Troy and Ilium on the way. These cities, which had 




1 1 1 

scarce recovered a little from the famous war with Aga- 
memnon, were thus destroyed anew by the hostile sword. 
After the Goths had thus devastated Asia, Thrace next 
felt their ferocity. For they went thither and presently 
attacked Anchiali, a city at the foot of Haemus and not 
far from the sea. Sardanapalus, king of the Parthians, 
had built this city long ago between an inlet of the sea 
and the base of Haemus. There they are said to have 
stayed for many days, enjoying the baths of the hot 
springs which are situated about twelve miles from the 
city of Anchiali. There they gush from the depths of 
their fiery source, and among the innumerable hot springs 
of the world they are esteemed as specially famous and 
efficacious for their healing virtues. 

XXI After these events, the Goths had already re- 
turned home when they were summoned at the request 
of the Emperor Maximian to aid the Romans against the 
Parthians. They fought for him faithfully, serving as 
auxiliaries. But after Caesar Maximian by their aid had 
routed Narseus, king of the Persians, the grandson of 
Sapor the Great, taking as spoil all his possessions, to- 
gether with his wives and his sons, and when Diocletian 
had conquered Achilles in Alexandria and Maximianus 
Herculius had broken the Quinquegentiani in Africa, thus 
winning peace for the empire, they began rather to neg- 
lect the Goths. 

Now it had long been a hard matter for the Roman 
army to fight against any nations whatsoever without 
them. This is evident from the way in which the Goths 
were so frequently called upon. Thus they were sum- 
moned by Constantine to bear arms against his kinsman 
Licinius. Later, when he was vanquished and shut up 
in Thessalonica and deprived of his power, they slew him 




Constantine I 



with the sword of Constantine the victor. In like manner 1 12 
it was the aid of the Goths that enabled him to build the 
famous city that is named after him, the rival of Rome, 
inasmuch as they entered into a truce with the Emperor 
and furnished him forty thousand men to aid him against 
various peoples. This body of men, namely, the Allies, 
and the service they rendered in war are still spoken of in 
the land to this day. Now at that time they prospered 
under the rule of their kings Ariaric and Aoric. Upon 
their death Geberich appeared as successor to the throne, 
a man renowned for his valor and noble birth. 

GEBERICH XXII For he was the son of Hilderith, who was the XI 3 

TH VANDALS son ^ Ovida, who was the son of Nidada; and by his 
336 illustrious deeds he equalled the glory of his race. Soon 

he sought to enlarge his country's narrow bounds at the 
expense of the race of the Vandals and Visimar, their 
king. This Visimar was of the stock of the Asdingi, 
which is eminent among them and indicates a most war- 
like descent, as Dexippus the historian relates. He states 
furthermore that by reason of the great extent of their 
country they could scarcely come from Ocean to our fron- 
tier in a year's time. At that time they dwelt in the land 
where the Gepidae now live, near the rivers Marisia, 
Miliare, Gilpil and the Grisia, which exceeds in size all 
previously mentioned. They then had on the east the 114 
Goths, on the west the Marcomanni, on the north the 
Hennunduli and on the south the Hister, which is also 
called the Danube. At the time when the Vandals were 
dwelling in this region, war was begun against them by 
Geberich, king of the Goths, on the shore of the river 
Marisia which I have mentioned. Here the battle raged 
for a little while on equal terms. But soon Visimar him- 
self, the king of the Vandals, was overthrown, together 





with the greater part of his people. When Geberich, the 
famous leader of the Goths, had conquered and spoiled 
the Vandals, he returned to his own place whence he had 
come. Then the remnant of the Vandals who had es- 
caped, collecting a band of their unwarlike folk, left their 
ill-fated country and asked the Emperor Constantine for 
Pannonia. Here they made their home for about sixty 
years and obeyed the commands of the emperors like 
subjects. A long time afterward they were summoned 
thence by Stilicho, Master of the Soldiery, Ex-Consul and 
Patrician, and took possession of Gaul. Here they plun- 
dered their neighbors and had no settled place of abode. 
XXIII Soon Geberich, king of the Goths, departed 
from human affairs and Hermanaric, noblest of the 
Amali, succeeded to the throne. He subdued many war- 
like peoples of the north and made them obey his laws, 
and some of our ancestors have justly compared him to 
Alexander the Great. "Among the tribes he conquered 
were the Golthescytha ,Thiudos, Inaunxis, Vasinabron- 
cae, Merens, Mordens, Imniscaris, Rogas, Tadzans, Ath- 
aul, Navego, Bubegenae and Coldae. But though famous 
for his conquest of so many races, he gave himself no rest 
until he had slain some in battle and then reduced to his 
sway the remainder of the tribe of the Heruli, whose chief 
was Alaric. Now the aforesaid race, as the historian 
Ablabius tells us, dwelt near Lake Maeotis in swampy 
places which the Greeks call hele; hence they were named 
Heluri. They were a people swift of foot, and on that 
account were the more swollen with pride, for there was 
at that time no race that did not choose from them its 
light-armed troops for battle. But though their quickness 
often saved them from others who made war upon them, 
vet they were overthrown by the slowness and steadiness 





of the Goths; and the lot of fortune brought it to pass 
that they, as well as the other tribes, had to serve Her- 
manaric, king of the Getae. After the slaughter of the 119 
Heruli, Hermanaric also took arms against the Venethi. 
This people, though despised in war, was strong in num- 
bers and tried to resist him. But a multitude of cowards 
is of no avail, particularly when God permits an armed 
multitude to attack them. These people, as we started 
to say at the beginning of our account or catalogue of 
nations, though off-shoots from one stock, have now 
three names, that is, Venethi, Antes and Sclaveni. Though 
they now rage in war far and wide, in punishment for 
our sins, yet at that time they were all obedient to Her- 
manaric's commands. This ruler also subdued by his I2 o 
wisdom and might the race of the Aesti, who dwell on 
the farthest shore of the German Ocean, and ruled all the 
nations of Scythia and Germany by his own prowess 

XXIV But after a short space of time, as Orosius 121 
relates, the race of the Huns, fiercer than ferocity itself, 

ORIGIN flamed forth against the Goths. We learn from old tra- 

AND HISTORY ..... _.,. 

OF THE HUNS ditions that their origin was as follows : Filmier, king of 
the Goths, son of Gadaric the Great, who was the fifth in 
succession to hold the rule of the Getae after their de- 
parture from the island of Scandza, and who, as we have 
said, entered the land of Scythia with his tribe, found 
among his people certain witches, whom he called in his 
native tongue Haliurunnae. Suspecting these women, he 
expelled them from the midst of his race and compelled 
them to wander in solitary exile afar from his army. 
There the unclean spirits, who beheld them as they wan- 
dered through the wilderness, bestowed their embraces 
upon them and begat this savage race, which dwelt at 


first in the swamps, a stunted, foul and puny tribe, 
scarcely human, and having no language save one which 
bore but slight resemblance to human speech. Such was 
the descent of the Huns who came to the country of the 

123 This cruel tribe, as Priscus the historian relates, set- 
tled on the farther bank of the Maeotic swamp. They 
were fond of hunting and had no skill in any other 
art. After they had grown to a nation, they disturbed 
the peace of neighboring races by theft and rapine. At 
one time, while hunters of their tribe were as usual seek- 
ing for game on the farthest edge of Maeotis, they 
saw a doe unexpectedly appear to their sight and enter 
the swamp, acting as guide of the way; now advancing 

124 and again standing still. The hunters followed and 
crossed on foot the Maeotic swamp, which they had 
supposed was impassable as the sea. Presently the 
unknown land of Scythia disclosed itself and the doe 
disappeared. Now in my opinion the evil spirits, from 
whom the Huns are descended, did this from envy of the 

125 Scythians. And the Huns, who had been wholly ignorant 
that there was another world beyond Maeotis, were now 
filled with admiration for the Scythian land. As they 
were quick of mind, they believed that this path, utterly 
unknown to any age of the past, had been divinely re- 
vealed to them. They returned to their tribe, told them 
what had happened, praised Scythia and persuaded the 
people to hasten thither along the way they had found 
by the guidance of the doe. As many as they captured, 
when they thus entered Scythia for the first time, they 
sacrificed to Victory. The remainder they conquered 

I2 and made subject to themselves. Like a whirlwind of 
nations they swept across the great swamp and at once 


fell upon the Alpidzuri, Alcildzuri, Itimari, Tuncarsi and 
Boisci, who bordered on that part of Scythia. The Alani 
also, who were their equals in battle, but unlike them in 
civilization, manners and appearance, they exhausted by 
their incessant attacks and subdued. For by the terror 127 
of their features they inspired great fear in those whom 
perhaps they did not really surpass in war. They made 
their foes flee in horror because their swarthy aspect was 
fearful, and they had, if I may call it so, a sort of shape- 
less lump, not a head, with pin-holes rather than eyes. 
Their hardihood is evident in their wild appearance, and 
they are beings who are cruel to their children on the 
very day they are born. For they cut the cheeks of the 
males with a sword, so that before they receive the nour- 
ishment of milk they must learn to endure wounds. 
Hence they grow old beardless and their young men are 128 
without comeliness, because a face furrowed by the sword 
spoils by its scars the natural beauty of a beard. They 
are short in stature, quick in bodily movement, alert 
horsemen, broad shouldered, ready in the use of bow and 
arrow, and have firm-set necks which are ever erect in 
pride. Though they live in the form of men, they have 
the cruelty of wild beasts. 
FIRST When the Getae beheld this active race that had in- 129 

F va( l ec l many nations, they took fright and consulted with 
as early as their king how they might escape from such a foe. Now 
37! although Hermanaric, king of the Goths, was the con- 

queror of many tribes, as we have said above, yet while 
he was deliberating on this invasion of the Huns, the 
treacherous tribe of the Rosomoni, who at that time were 
among those who owed him their homage, took this 
chance to catch him unawares. For when the king had 
given orders that a certain woman of the tribe I have 


mentioned, Sunilda by name, should be bound to wild 
horses and torn apart by driving them at full speed in 
opposite directions (for he was roused to fury by her 
husband's treachery to him), her brothers Sarus and 
Ammius came to avenge their sister's death and plunged 
a sword into Hermanaric's side. Enfeebled by this blow, 
he dragged out a miserable existence in bodily weakness. 

130 jBalamber, king of the Huns, took advantage of his ill 

health to move an army into the country of the Ostro- 
goths, from whom the Visigoths had already separated 
because of some dispute. Meanwhile Hermanaric, who 
was unable to endure either the pain of his wound or the 
inroads of the Huns, died full of days at the great age of 
one hundred and ten years. The fact of his death enabled 
the Huns to prevail over those Goths who, as we have 
said, dwelt in the East and were called Ostrogoths. 
(The Divided Goths: Visigoths) 

131 XXV The Visigoths, who were their other allies and 
inhabitants of the western country, were terrified as their 
kinsmen had been, and knew not how to plan for safety 
against the race of the Huns. After long deliberation by 
common consent they finally sent ambassadors into Ro- 
mania to the Emperor Valens, brother of Valentinian, 
the elder Emperor, to say that if he would give them part 
of Thrace or Moesia to keep, they would submit them- 
selves to his laws and commands. That he might have 
greater confidence in them, they promised to become 
Christians, if he would give them teachers who spoke 

132 their language. When Valens learned this, he gladly and 
promptly granted what he had himself intended to ask. 
He received the Getae into the region of Moesia and 
placed them there as a wall of defense for his kingdom 
against other tribes. And since at that time the Emoeror 

Valentinian I 










Valens, who was infected with the Arian perfidy, had 
closed all the churches of our party, he sent as preachers 
to them those who favored his sect. They came and 
straightway filled a rude and ignorant people with the 
poison of their heresy. Thus the Emperor Valens made 
the Visigoths Arians rather than Christians. Moreover, 133 
from the love they bore them, they preached the gospel 
both to the Ostrogoths and to their kinsmen the Gepidae, 
teaching them to reverence this heresy, and they invited 
all people of their speech everywhere to attach themselves 
to this sect. They themselves as we have said, crossed 
the Danube and settled Dacia Ripensis, Moesia and 
Thrace by permission of the Emperor. 

XXVI Soon famine and want came upon them, as 134 
often happens to a people not yet well settled in a coun- 
try. Their princes and the leaders who ruled them in 
place of kings, that is Fritigern, Alatheus and Safrac, 
began to lament the plight of their army and begged 
Lupicinus and Maximus, the Roman commanders, to 
open a market. But to what will not the "cursed lust for 
gold" compel men to assent? The generals, swayed by 
avarice, sold them at a high price not only the flesh of 
sheep and oxen, but even the carcasses of dogs and un- 
clean animals, so that a slave would be bartered for a loaf 
of bread or ten pounds of meat. When their goods and ! 35 
chattels failed, the greedy trader demanded their sons in 
return for the necessities of life. And the parents con- 
sented even to this, in order to provide for the safety of 
their children, arguing that it was better to lose liberty 
than life; and indeed it is better that one be sold, if he 
will be mercifully fed, than that he should be kept free 
only to die. 

Now it came to pass in that troublous time that Lu- 





picinus, the Roman general, invited Fritigern, a chief- 
tain of the Goths, to a feast and, as the event revealed, 
devised a plot against him. But Fritigern, thinking 
no evil, came to the feast with a few followers. While 
he was dining in the praetorium he heard the dying 
cries of his ill-fated men, for, by order of the general, 
the soldiers were slaying his companions who were shut 
up in another part of the house. The loud cries of the 
dying fell upon ears already suspicious, and Fritigern at 
once perceived the treacherous trick. He drew his sword 
and with great courage dashed quickly from the banquet- 
ing-hall, rescued his men from their threatening doom 
and incited them to slay the Romans. Thus these valiant 
men gained the chance they had longed for to be free to 
die in battle rather than to perish of hunger and imme- 
diately took arms to kill the generals Lupicinus and 
Maximus. Thus that day put an end to the famine of the 
Goths and the safety of the Romans, for the Goths no 
longer as strangers and pilgrims, but as citizens and lords, 
began to rule the inhabitants and to hold in their own 
right all the northern country as far as the Danube. 

When the Emperor Valens heard of this at Antioch, 
he made ready an army at once and set out for the coun- 
try of Thrace. Here a grievous battle took place and the 
Goths prevailed. The Emperor himself was wounded and 
fled to a farm near Hadrianople. The Goths, not know- 
ing that an emperor lay hidden in so poor a hut, set fire 
to it (as is customary in dealing with a cruel foe), and 
thus he was cremated in royal splendor. Plainly it was 
a direct judgment of God that he should be burned with 
fire by the very men whom he had perfidiously led astray 
when they sought the true faith, turning them aside from 
the flame of love into the fire of hell. From this time the 





A. D. 378 











Visigoths, in consequence of their glorious victory, pos- 
sessed Thrace and Dacia Ripensis as if it were their 
native land. 

XXVII Now in the place of Valens, his uncle, the 
Emperor Gratian established Theodosius the Spaniard in 
the Eastern Empire. Military discipline was soon re- 
stored to a high level, and the Goth, perceiving that the 
cowardice and sloth of former princes was ended, became 
afraid. For the Emperor was famed alike for his acute- 
ness and discretion. By stern commands and by gener- 
osity and kindness he encouraged a demoralized army to 
deeds of daring. But when the soldiers, who had ob- 
tained a better leader by the change, gained new confi- 
dence, they sought to attack the Goths and drive them 
from the borders of Thrace. But as the Emperor Theo- 
dosius fell so sick at this time that his life was almost 
despaired of, the Goths were again inspired with courage. 
Dividing the Gothic army, Fritigern set out to plunder 
Thessaly, Epirus and Achaia, while Alatheus and Safrac 
with the rest of the troops made for Pannonia. Now the 
Emperor Gratian had at this time retreated from Rome to 
Gaul because of the invasions of the Vandals. When he 
learned that the Goths were acting with greater boldness 
because Theodosius was in despair of his life, he quickly 
gathered an army and came against them. Yet he put no 
trust in arms, but sought to conquer them by kindness and 
gifts. So he entered on a truce with them and made 
peace, giving them provisions. 

XXVIII When the Emperor Theodosius afterwards 
recovered and learned that the Emperor Gratian had 
made a compact between the Goths and the Romans, as 
he had himself desired, he took it very graciously and 
gave his assent. He gave gifts to King Athanaric, who 









had succeeded Fritigern, made an alliance with him and 
in the most gracious manner invited him to visit him in 
Constantinople. Athanaric very gladly consented and 
as he entered the royal city exclaimed in wonder "Lo, 
now I see what I have often heard of with unbelieving 
ears," meaning the great and famous city. Turning his 
eyes hither and thither, he marvelled as he beheld the 
situation of the city, the coming and going of the ships, 
the splendid walls, and the people of divers nations gath- 
ered like a flood of waters streaming from different re- 
gions into one basin. So too, when he saw the army in 
array, he said "Truly the Emperor is a god on earth, and 
whoso raises a hand against him is guilty of his own 
blood." In the midst of his admiration and the enjoy- 
ment of even greater honors at the hand of the emperor, 
he departed this life after the space of a few months. 
The emperor had such affection for him that he honored 
Athanaric even more when he was dead than during his 
life-time, for he not only gave him a worthy burial, but 
himself walked before the bier at the funeral. Now when 
Athanaric was dead, his whole army continued in the 
service of the Emperor Theodosius and submitted to the 
Roman rule, forming as it were one body with the impe- 
rial soldiery. The former service of the Allies under the 
Emperor Constantine was now renewed and they were 
again called Allies. And since the Emperor knew that 
they were faithful to him and his friends, he took from 
their number more than twenty thousand warriors to 
serve against the tyrant Eugenius who had slain Gratian 
and seized Gaul. After winning the victory over this 
usurper, he wreaked his vengeance upon him. 

XXIX But after Theodosius, the lover of peace and 
of the Gothic race, had passed from human cares, his 











Stilicho and 


Consuls in 




sons began to ruin both empires by their luxurious living 
and to deprive their Allies, that is to say the Goths, of the 
customary gifts. The contempt of the Goths for the 
Romans soon increased, and for fear their valor would be 
destroyed by long peace, they appointed Alaric king over 
them. He was of a famous stock, and his nobility was 
second only to that of the Amali, for he came from the 
family of the Balthi, who because of their daring valor 
had long ago received among their race the name Baltha, 
that is, The Bold. Now when this Alaric was made king, 
he took counsel with his men and persuaded them to seek 
a kingdom by their own exertions rather than serve others 
in idleness. In the consulship of Stilicho and Aurelian 
he raised an army and entered Italy, which seemed to be 
bare of defenders, and came through Pannonia and Sir- 
mium along the right side. Without meeting any resist- 
ance, he reached the bridge of the river Candidianus at 
the third milestone from the royal city of Ravenna. 

This city lies amid the streams of the Po between 
swamps and the sea, and is accessible only on one side. 
Its ancient inhabitants, as our ancestors relate, were 
called Ainetoi, that is, "Laudable". Situated in a corner 
of the Roman Empire above the Ionian Sea, it is hemmed 
in like an island by a flood of rushing waters. On the 
east it has the sea, and one who sails straight to it from 
the region of Corcyra and those parts of Hellas sweeps 
with his oars along the right hand coast, first touching 
Epirus, then Dalmatia, Liburnia and Histria and at last 
the Venetian Isles. But on the west it has swamps 
through which a sort of door has been left by a very 
narrow entrance. To the north is an arm of the Po, 
called the Fossa Asconis. On the south likewise is the 
Po itself, which they call the King of the rivers of Italy; 






and it has also the name Eridanus. This river was turned 
aside by the Emperor Augustus into a very broad canal 
which flows through the midst of the city with a seventh 
part of its stream, affording a pleasant harbor at its 
mouth. Men believed in ancient times, as Dio relates, 
that it would hold a fleet of two hundred and fifty vessels 

I 5 I in its safe anchorage. Fabius says that this, which was 
once a harbor, now displays itself like a spacious garden 
full of trees; but from them hang not sails but apples. 
The city itself boasts of three names and is happily placed 
in its threefold location. I mean to say the first is called 
Ravenna and the most distant part Classis ; while midway 
between the city and the sea is Caesarea, full of luxury. 
The sand of the beach is fine and suited for riding. 

J52 XXX But as I was saying, when the army of the 
Visigoths had come into the neighborhood of this city, 
they sent an embassy to the Emperor Honorius, who 
dwelt within. They said that if he would permit the 
Goths to settle peaceably in Italy, they would so live with 
the Roman people that men might believe them both to 
be of one race; but if not, whoever prevailed in war 
should drive out the other, and the victor should hence- 
forth rule unmolested. But the Emperor Honorius feared 
to make either promise. So he took counsel with his 
Senate and considered how he might drive them from the 

1 5 3 Italian borders. He finally decided that Alaric and his 
race, if they were able to do so, should be allowed to 
seize for their own home the provinces farthest away, 
namely, Gaul and Spain. For at this time he had almost 
lost them, and moreover they had been devastated by the 
invasion of Gaiseric, king of the Vandals. The grant 
was confirmed by an imperial rescript, and the Goths, 












A. D. 410 

consenting to the arrangement, set out for the country 
given them. 

When they had gone away without doing any harm 
in Italy, Stilicho, the Patrician and father-in-law of 
the Emperor Honorius, for the Emperor had married 
both his daughters, Maria and Thermantia, in succes- 
sion, but God called both from this world in their vir- 
gin purity this Stilicho, I say, treacherously hurried 
to Pollentia, a city in the Cottian Alps. There he fell 
upon the unsuspecting Goths in battle, to the ruin of all 
Italy and his own disgrace. When the Goths suddenly 
beheld him, at first they were terrified. Soon regaining 
their courage and arousing each other by brave shouting, 
as is their custom, they turned to flight the entire army 
of Stilicho and almost exterminated it. Then forsaking 
the journey they had undertaken, the Goths with hearts 
full of rage returned again to Liguria whence they 
had set out. When they had plundered and spoiled it, 
they also laid waste Aemilia, and then hastened toward 
the city of Rome along the Flaminian Way, which runs 
between Picenum and Tuscia, taking as booty what- 
ever they found on either hand. When they finally en- 
tered Rome, by Alaric's express command they merely 
sacked it and did not set the city on fire, as wild peoples 
usually do, nor did they permit serious damage to be done 
to the holy places. Thence they departed to bring like 
ruin upon Campania and Lucania, and then came to 
Bruttii. Here they remained a long time and planned to 
go to Sicily and thence to the countries of Africa. 

Now the land of the Bruttii is at the extreme southern 
bound of Italy, and a corner of it marks the beginning of 
the Apennine mountains. It stretches out like a tongue 
into the Adriatic Sea and separates it from the Tyrrhenian 




waters. It chanced to receive its name in ancient times 

1 5 7 from a Queen Bruttia. To this place came Alaric, king of 
the Visigoths, with the wealth of all Italy which he had 
taken as spoil, and from there, as we have said, he in- 
tended to cross over by way of Sicily to the quiet land of 
Africa. But since man is not free to do anything he 
wishes without the will of God, that dread strait sunk sev- 
eral of his ships and threw all into confusion. Alaric was 
cast down by his reverse and, while deliberating what he 
should do, was suddenly overtaken by an untimely death 

158 and departed from human cares. His people mourned for 
him with the utmost affection. Then turning from its 
course the river Busentus near the city of Consentia for 
this stream flows with its wholesome waters from the foot 
of a mountain near that city they led a band of captives 
into the midst of its bed to dig out a place for his grave. 
In the depths of this pit they buried Alaric, together with 
many treasures, and then turned the waters back into 
their channel. And that none might ever know the place, 
they put to death all the diggers. They bestowed the 
kingdom of the Visigoths on Athavulf his kinsman, a 
man of imposing beauty and great spirit ; for though not 
tall of stature, he was distinguished for beauty of face 
and form. 

l $9 XXXI When Athavulf became king, he returned 
again to Rome, and whatever had escaped the first sack 
his Goths stripped bare like locusts, not merely despoil- 
ing Italy of its private wealth, but even of its public 
resources. The Emperor Honorius was powerless to 
resist even when his sister Placidia, the daughter of the 
Emperor Theodosius by his second wife, was led away 

l6o captive from the city. But Athavulf was attracted by her 
nobilitv, beauty and chaste purity, and so he took her to 



A. D. 410 




wife in lawful marriage at Forum Julii, a city of Aemilia. 

Marries When the barbarians learned of this alliance, they were 

Galla Placidia ._ _ . J . 

414 the more effectually terrified, since the Empire and the 

Goths now seemed to be made one. Then Athavulf set 
out for Gaul, leaving Honorius Augustus stripped of his 
wealth, to be sure, yet pleased at heart because he was 
now a sort of kinsman of his. Upon his arrival the l ^ 1 
neighboring tribes who had long made cruel raids into 
Gaul, Franks and Burgundians alike,' were terrified 
and began to keep within their own borders. Now the 
Vandals and the Alani, as we have said before, had been 
dwelling in both Pannonias by permission of the Roman 
Emperors. Yet fearing they would not be safe even here 
if the Goths should return, they crossed over into Gaul. 
But no long time after they had taken possession of Gaul 162 
they fled thence and shut themselves up in Spain, for they 
still remembered from the tales of their forefathers what 
ruin Geberich, king of the Goths, had long ago brought 
on their race, and how by his valor he had driven them 
from their native land. And thus it happened that Gaul 
lay open to Athavulf when he came. Now when the 163 
Goth had established his kingdom in Gaul, he began to 
grieve for the plight of the Spaniards and planned to 
save them from the attacks of the Vandals. So Athavulf 
left at Barcelona his treasures and the men who were 
unfit for war, and entered the interior of Spain with a 
few faithful followers. Here he fought frequently with 
the Vandals and, in the third year after he had subdued 
Gaul and Spain, fell pierced through the groin by the 
sword of Euervulf, a man whose short stature he had 
KING been wont to mock. After his death Segeric was ap- 

4! 5 pointed king, but he too was slain by the treachery of his 


1 66 

own men and lost both his kingdom and his life even more 
quickly than Athavulf. 

XXXII Then Valia, the fourth from Alaric, was 
made king, and he was an exceeding stern and prudent 
man. The Emperor Honorius sent an army against him 
under Constantius, who was famed for his achievements 
in war and distinguished in many battles, for he feared 
that Valia would break the treaty long ago made with 
Athavulf and that, after driving out the neighboring 
tribes, he would again plot evil against the Empire. 
Moreover Honorius was eager to free his sister Placidia 
from the disgrace of servitude, and made an agreement 
with Constantius that if by peace or war or any means 
soever he could bring her back to the kingdom, he should 
have her in marriage. Pleased with this promise, Con- 
stantius set out for Spain with an armed force and in 
almost royal splendor. Valia, king of the Goths, met him 
at a pass in the Pyrenees with as great a force. Here- 
upon embassies were sent by both sides and it was decided 
to make peace on the following terms, namely that Valia 
should give up Placidia, the Emperor's sister, and should 
not refuse to aid the Roman Empire when occasion 

Now at that time a certain Constantine usurped impe- 
rial power in Gaul and appointed as Caesar his son Con- 
stans, who was formerly a monk. But when he had held 
for a short time the Empire he had seized, he was himself 
slain at Arelate and his son at Vienne. Jovinus and 
Sebastian succeeded them with equal presumption and 
thought they might seize the imperial power; but they 
perished by a like fate. 

Now in the twelfth year of Valia's reign the Huns 
were driven out of Pannonia by the Romans and Goths, 


Constantine III 









almost fifty years after they had taken possession of it. 
Then Valia found that the Vandals had come forth with 
bold audacity from the interior of Galicia, whither Atha- 
vulf had long ago driven them, and were devastating and 
plundering everywhere in his own territories, namely in 
the land of Spain. So he made no delay but moved his 
army against them at once, at about the time when Hier- 
ius and Ardabures had become consuls. 

XXXIII But Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, had al- 
ready been invited into Africa by Boniface, who had 
fallen into a dispute with the Emperor Valentinian and 
was able to obtain revenge only by injuring the empire. 
So he invited them urgently and brought them across the 
narrow strait known as the Strait of Gades, scarcely seven 
miles wide, which divides Africa from Spain and unites 
the mouth of the Tyrrhenian Sea with the waters of 
Ocean. Gaiseric, still famous in the City for the disaster 
of the Romans, was a man of moderate height and lame 
in consequence of a fall from his horse. He was a man 
of deep thought and few words, holding luxury in dis- 
dain, furious in his anger, greedy for gain, shrewd in 
winning over the barbarians and skilled in sowing the 
seeds of dissension to arouse enmity. Such was he who, 
as we have said, came at the solicitous invitation of Boni- 
face to the country of Africa. There he reigned for a 
long time, receiving authority, as they say, from God 
Himself. Before his death he summoned the band of his 
sons and ordained that there should be no strife among 
them because of desire for the kingdom, but that each 
should reign in his own rank and order as he survived 
the others ; that is, the next younger should succeed his 
elder brother, and he in turn should be followed by his 
junior. By giving heed to this command they ruled their 

:6 7 



kingdom in happiness for the space of many years and 
were not disgraced by civil war, as is usual among other 
nations; one after the other receiving the kingdom and 
ruling the people in peace. 

i jo Now this is their order of succession : first, Gaiseric 
who was father and lord, next, Huneric, the third 
Gunthamund, the fourth Thrasamund, and the fifth 
Ilderich. He was driven from the throne and slain 
by Gelimer, who destroyed his race by disregarding 

!7i his ancestor's advice and setting up a tyranny. But 
what he had done did not remain unpunished, for soon 
the vengeance of the Emperor Justinian was mani- 
fested against him. With his whole family and that 
wealth over which he gloated like a robber, he was taken 
to Constantinople by that most renowned warrior Beli- 
sarius, Master of the Soldiery of the East, Ex-Consul 
Ordinary and Patrician. Here he afforded a great spec- 
tacle to the people in the Circus. His repentance, when 
he beheld himself cast down from his royal state, came 
too late. He died as a mere subject and in retirement, 
though he had formerly been unwilling to submit to pri- 

1 7 2 vate life. Thus after a century Africa, which in the 
division of the earth's surface is regarded as the third 
part of the world, was delivered from the yoke of the 
Vandals and brought back to the liberty of the Roman 
Empire. The country which the hand of the heathen had 
long ago cut off from the body of the Roman Empire, 
by reason of the cowardice of emperors and the treachery 
of generals, was now restored by a wise prince and a 
faithful leader and to-day is happily flourishing. And 
though, even after this, it had to deplore the misery of 
civil war and the treachery of the Moors, yet the triumph 
of the Emperor Justinian, vouchsafed him by God, 

The six kings 

of the Vandals 












brought to a peaceful conclusion what he had begun. But 
why need we speak of what the subject does not require? 
Let us return to our theme. 

Now Valia, king of the Goths, and his army fought so 
fiercely against the Vandals that he would have pursued 
them even into Africa, had not such a misfortune recalled 
him as befell Alaric when he was setting out for Africa. 
So when he had won great fame in Spain, he returned 
after a bloodless victory to Tolosa, turning over to the 
Roman Empire, as he had promised, a number of prov- 
inces which he had rid of his foes. A long time after this 
he was seized by sickness and departed this life. Just at 
that time Beremud, the son of Thorismud, whom we have 
mentioned above in the genealogy of the family of the 
Amali, departed with his son Veteric from the Ostro- 
goths, who still submitted to the oppression of the Huns 
in the land of Scythia, and came to the kingdom of the 
Visigoths. Well aware of his valor and noble birth, he 
believed that the kingdom would be the more readily 
bestowed upon him by his kinsmen, inasmuch as he was 
known to be the heir of many kings. And who would 
hesitate to choose one of the Amali, if there were an empty 
throne? But he was not himself eager to make known 
who he was, and so upon the death of Valia the Visi- 
goths made Theoclorid his successor. Beremud came to 
him and, with the strength of mind for which he was 
noted, concealed his noble birth by prudent silence, for he 
knew that those of royal lineage are always distrusted by 
kings. So he suffered himself to remain unknown, that 
he might not bring the established order into confusion. 
King Theoclorid received him and his son with special 
honor and made him partner in his counsels and a com- 
panion at his board; not for his noble birth, which he 





knew not, but for his brave spirit and strong mind, which 
Beremud could not conceal. 

176 XXXIV And what more? Valia (to repeat what we 
have said) had but little success against the Gauls, but 
when he died the more fortunate and prosperous Theo- 
dorid succeeded to the throne. He was a man of the 
greatest moderation and notable for vigor of mind and 
body. In the consulship of Theodosius and Festus the 
Romans broke the truce and took up arms against him in 
Gaul, with the Huns as their auxiliaries. For a band of 
the Gallic Allies, led by Count Gaina, had aroused the 
Romans by throwing Constantinople into a panic. Now 
at that time the Patrician Aetius was in command of the 
army. He was of the bravest Moesian stock, born of his 
father Gaudentius in the city of Durostorum. He was a 
man fitted to endure the toils of war, born expressly to 
serve the Roman state ; and by inflicting crushing defeats 
he had compelled the proud Suavi and barbarous Franks 

T 77 to submit to Roman sway. So then, with the Huns as 
allies under their leader Litorius, the Roman army 
moved in array against the Goths. When the battle 
lines of both sides had been standing for a long time 
opposite each other, both being brave and neither side the 
weaker, they struck a truce and returned to their ancient 
alliance. And after the treaty had been confirmed by 
both and an honest peace was established, they both with- 

178 During this peace Attila was lord over all the Huns 
and almost the sole earthly ruler of all the tribes of 
Scythia ; a man marvellous for his glorious fame among 
all nations. The historian Priscus, who was sent to him 
on an embassy by the younger Theodosius, says this 
among other things : "Crossing mighty rivers namely, 

Consulship of 
Theodosius 439 






The Truce 

Embassy to 








Attila and Bleda 

joint kings 


Attila sole 


the Tisia and Tibisia and Dricca we came to the place 
where long ago Vidigoia, bravest of the Goths, perished 
by the guile of the Sarmatians. At no great distance 
from that place we arrived at the village where King 
Attila was dwelling, a village, I say, like a great city, 
in which we found wooden walls made of smooth-shining 
boards, whose joints so counterfeited solidity that the 
union of the boards could scarcely be distinguished by 
close scrutiny. There you might see dining halls of 
large extent and porticoes planned with great beauty, 
while the courtyard was bounded by so vast a circuit that 
its very size showed it was the royal palace." This was 
the abode of Attila, the king of all the barbarian world; 
and he preferred this as a dwelling to the cities he 

XXXV Now this Attila was the son of Mundiuch, 
and his brothers were Octar and Ruas who are said to 
have ruled before Attila, though not over quite so many 
tribes as he. After their death he succeeded to the throne 
of the Huns, together with his brother Bleda. In order 
that he might first be equal to the expedition he was 
preparing, he sought to increase his strength by murder. 
Thus he proceeded from the destruction of his own kin- 
dred to the menace of all others. But though he increased 
his power by this shameful means, yet by the balance of 
justice he received the hideous consequences of his own 
cruelty. Now when his brother Bleda, who ruled over 
a great part of the Huns, had been slain by his treachery, 
Attila united all the people under his own rule. Gath- 
ering also a host of the other tribes which he then held 
under his sway, he sought to subdue the foremost nations 
of the world the Romans and the Visigoths. His army 
is said to have numbered five hundred thousand men. 

1 79 


He was a man born into the world to shake the nations, 
the scourge of all lands, who in some way terrified all 
mankind by the dreadful rumors noised abroad concern- 
ing him. He was haughty in his walk, rolling his eyes 
hither and thither, so that the power of his proud spirit 
appeared in the movement of his body. He was indeed 
a lover of war, yet restrained in action, mighty in coun- 
sel, gracious to suppliants and lenient to those who were 
once received into his protection. He was short of stat- 
ure, with a broad chest and a large head; his eyes were 
small, his beard thin and sprinkled with gray ; and he had 
a flat nose and a swarthy complexion, showing the evi- 

183 deuces of his origin. And though his temper was such 
that he always had great self-confidence, yet his assur- 
ance was increased by finding the sword of Mars, always 
esteemed sacred among the kings of the Scythians. The 
historian Priscus says it was discovered under the fol- 
lowing circumstances : "When a certain shepherd beheld 
one heifer of his flock limping and could find no cause 
for this wound, he anxiously followed the trail of blood 
and at length came to a sword it had unwittingly trampled 
while nibbling the grass. He dug it up and took it 
straight to Attila. He rejoiced at this gift and, being 
ambitious, thought he had been appointed ruler of the 
whole world, and that through the sword of Mars supre- 
macy in all wars was assured to him." 

184 XXXVI Now when Gaiseric, king of the Vandals, 
whom we mentioned shortly before, learned that his mind 
was bent on the devastation of the world, he incited 
Attila by many gifts to make war on the Visigoths, for 
he was afraid that Theodorid, king of the Visigoths, 
would avenge the injury done to his daughter. She had 
been joined in wedlock with Huneric, the son of Gaiseric, 











and at first was happy in this union. But afterwards he 
was cruel even to his own children, and because of the 
mere suspicion that she was attempting to poison him, he 
cut off her nose and mutilated her ears. He sent her 
back to her father in Gaul thus despoiled of her natural 
charms. So the wretched girl presented a pitiable aspect 
ever after, and the cruelty which would stir even strang- 
ers still more surely incited her father to vengeance. 
Attila, therefore, in his efforts to bring about the wars 185 
long ago instigated by the bribe of Gaiseric, sent ambas- 
sadors into Italy to the Emperor Valentinian to sow 
strife between the Goths and the Romans, thinking to 
shatter by civil discord those whom he could not crush 
in battle. He declared that he was in no way violating 
his friendly relations with the Empire, but that he had a 
cjuarrel with Theodorid, king of the Visigoths. As he 
wished to be kindly received, he had filled the rest of the 
letter with the usual flattering salutations, striving to win 
credence for his falsehood. In like manner he despatched 1 86 
a message to Theodorid, king of the Visigoths, urging 
him to break his alliance with the Romans and reminding 
him of the battles to which they had recently provoked 
him. Beneath his great ferocity he was a subtle man, 
and fought with craft before he made war. 

Then the Emperor Valentinian sent an embassy to the 
Visigoths and their king Theodorid, with this message : 
"Bravest of nations, it is the part of prudence for us to 187 
unite against the lord of the earth who wishes to enslave 
the whole world; who requires no just cause for battle, 
but supposes whatever he does is right. He measures 
his ambition by his might. License satisfies his pride. 
Despising law and right, he shows himself an enemy to 
Nature herself. And thus he, who clearly is the common 

1 88 foe of each, deserves the hatred of all. Pray remember 
what you surely cannot forget that the Huns do not 
overthrow nations by means of war, where there is an 
equal chance, but assail them by treachery, which is a 
greater cause for anxiety. To say nothing about our- 
selves, can you suffer such insolence to go unpunished? 
Since you are mighty in arms, give heed to your own 
danger and join hands with us in common. Bear aid 
also to the Empire, of which you hold a part. If you 
would learn how needful such an alliance is for us, look 
into the plans of the foe." 

J8Q By these and like arguments the ambassadors of Va- 
lentinian prevailed upon King Theodorid. He answered 
them, saying "Romans, you have attained your desire; 
you have made Attila our foe also. We will pursue 
him wherever he summons us, and though he is puffed 
up by his victories over divers races, yet the Goths know 
how to fight this haughty foe. I call no war dangerous 
save one whose cause it weak; for he fears no ill on 

190 whom Majesty has smiled." The nobles shouted assent 
to the reply and the multitude gladly followed. All were 
fierce for battle and longed to meet the Huns, their foe. 

And so a countless host was led forth by Theodorid, king THE 


of the Visigoths, who sent home four of his sons, namely ALLIES 

Friderich and Eurich, Retemer and Himnerith, taking 
with him only the two elder sons, Thorismud and Theo- 
dorid, as partners of his toil. O brave array, sure de- 
fense and sweet comradeship! having as its solace the 
peril of those whose one joy is the endurance of the same 

1 9 1 On the side of the Romans stood the Patrician Aetius, 
on whom at that time the whole Empire of the West de- 
pended; a man of such wisdom that he had assembled 


warriors from everywhere to meet them on equal terms. 
Now these were his auxiliaries : Franks, Sarmatians, 
Armoricians, Liticians, Burgundians, Saxons, Riparians, 
Olibriones (once Roman soldiers and now the flower of 
the allied forces), and some other Celtic or German tribes. 
And so they met in the Catalaunian Plains, which are 192 
also called Mauriacian, extending in length one hundred 
Icuva, as the Gauls express it, and seventy in width. Now 
a Gallic leuva measures a distance of fifteen hundred 
paces. That portion of the earth accordingly became 
the threshing-floor of countless races. The two hosts 
bravely joined battle. Nothing was done under cover, 
but they contended in open fight. What just cause can 
be found for the encounter of so many nations, or what 
hatred inspired them all to take arms against each other? 
It is proof that the human race lives for its kings, for it is 
at the mad impulse of one mkid a slaughter of nations 
takes place, and at the whim of a haughty ruler that 
which nature has taken ages to produce perishes in a 

THE XXXVII But before we set forth the order of the 194 

E ^ N ^ G battle itself, it seems needful to relate what had already 

Ub itih, * 

STRIFE happened in the course of the campaign, for it was not 

only a famous struggle but one that was complicated and 
confused. Well then, Sangiban, king of the Alani, smit- 
ten with fear of what might come to pass, had promised 
to surrender to Attila, and to give into his keeping Aure- 
liani, a city of Gaul wherein he then dwelt. When Theo- JQ^ 
dorid and Ae'tius learned of this, they cast up great earth- 
works around that city before Attila's arrival and kept 
watch over the suspected Sangiban, placing him with his 
tribe in the midst of their auxiliaries. Then Attila, king 
of the Huns, was taken aback by this event and lost confi- 



I 9 7 


dence in his own troops, so that he feared to begin the 
conflict. While he was meditating on flight a greater 
calamity than death itself he decided to inquire into the 
future through soothsayers. So, as was their custom, 
they examined the entrails of cattle and certain streaks in 
bones that had been scraped, and foretold disaster to the 
Huns. Yet as a slight consolation they prophesied that 
the chief commander of the foe they were to meet should 
fall and mar by his death the rest of the victory and the 
triumph. Now Attila deemed the death of Aetius a thing 
to be desired even at the cost of his own life, for Aetius 
stood in the way of his plans. So although he was dis- 
turbed by this prophecy, yet inasmuch as he was a man 
who sought counsel of omens in all warfare, he began 
the battle with anxious heart at about the ninth hour of 
the day, in order that the impending darkness might come 
to his aid if the outcome should be disastrous. 

XXXVIII The armies met, as we have said, in the 
Catalaunian Plains. The battle field was a plain rising 
by a sharp slope to a ridge, which both armies sought to 
gain; for advantage of position is a great help. The 
Huns with their forces seized the right side, the Romans, 
the Visigoths and their allies the left, and then began a 
struggle for the yet untaken crest. Now Theodorid with 
the Visigoths held the right wing and Aetius with the 
Romans the left. They placed in the centre Sangiban 
(who, as said before, was in command of the Alani), 
thus contriving with military caution to surround by a 
host of faithful troops the man in whose loyalty they had 
little confidence. For one who has difficulties placed in 
the way of his flight readily submits to the necessity of 
fighting. On the other side, however, the battle line of 
the Huns was so arranged that Attila and his bravest 




A. D. 451 


followers were stationed in the centre. In arranging 
them thus the king had chiefly his own safety in view, 
since by his position in the very midst of his race he 
would be kept out of the way of threatening danger. 
The innumerable peoples of divers tribes, which he had 
subjected to his sway, formed the wings. Amid them 199 
was conspicuous the army of the Ostrogoths under the 
leadership of the brothers Valamir, Thiudimer and Vidi- 
mer, nobler even than the king they served, for the might 
of the family of the Amali rendered them glorious. The 
renowned king of the Gepidae, Ardaric, was there also 
with a countless host, and because of his great loyalty to 
Attila, he shared his plans. For Attila, comparing them 
in his wisdom, prized him and Valamir, king of the Ostro- 
goths, above all the other chieftains. Valamir was a 2O 
good keeper of secrets, bland of speech and skilled in 
wiles, and Ardaric, as we have said, was famed for his 
loyalty and wisdom. Attila might well feel sure that 
they would fight against the Visigoths, their kinsmen. 
Now the rest of the crowd of kings (if we may call them 
so) and the leaders of various nations hung upon Attila's 
nod like slaves, and when he gave a sign even by a glance, 
without a murmur each stood forth in fear and tremb- 
ling, or at all events did as he was bid. Attila alone was 201 
king of all kings over all and concerned for all. 

So then the struggle began for the advantage of posi- 
tion we have mentioned. Attila sent his men to take the 
summit of the mountain, but was outstripped by Thoris- 
mud and Aetius, who in their effort to gain the top of the 
hill reached higher ground and through this advantage 
of position easily routed the Huns as they came up. 

XXXIX Now when Attila saw his army was thrown 202 
into confusion by this event, he thought it best to encour- 


age them by an extemporaneous address on this wise: 

"Here you stand, after conquering mighty nations and 

subduing the world. I therefore think it foolish for me HIS MEN 

to goad you with words, as though you were men who 

had not been proved in action. Let a new leader or an 

203 untried army resort to that. It is not right for me to 
say anything common, nor ought you to listen. For what 
is war but your usual custom ? Or what is sweeter for a 
brave man than to seek revenge with his own hand? It 

204 is a right of nature to glut the soul with vengeance. Let 
us then attack the foe eagerly; for they are ever the 
bolder who make the attack. Despise this union of dis- 
cordant races! To defend oneself by alliance is proof of 
cowardice. See, even before our attack they are smitten 
with terror. They seek the heights, they seize the hills 
and, repenting too late, clamor for protection against 
battle in the open fields. You know how slight a matter 
the Roman attack is. While they are still gathering in 
order and forming in one line with locked shields, they 
are checked, I will not say by the first wound, but even 

205 by the dust of battle. Then on to the fray with stout 
hearts, as is your wont. Despise their battle line. Attack 
the Alani, smite the Visigoths ! Seek swift victory in 
that spot where the battle rages. For when the sinews 
are cut the limbs soon relax, nor can a body stand when 
you have taken away the bones. Let your courage rise 
and your own fury burst forth! Now show your cun- 
ning, Huns, now your deeds of arms ! Let the wounded 
exact in return the death of his foe; let the unwounded 

206 revel in slaughter of the enemy. No spear shall harm 
those who are sure to live ; and those who are sure to die 
Fate overtakes even in peace. And finally, why should 
Fortune have made the Huns victorious over so many 






nations, unless it were to prepare them for the joy of 
this conflict. Who was it revealed to our sires the 
path through the Maeotian swamp, for so many ages a 
closed secret? Who, moreover, made armed men yield 
to you, when you were as yet unarmed? Even a mass of 
federated nations could not endure the sight of the Huns. 
I am not deceived in the issue ; here is the field so many 
victories have promised us. I shall hurl the first spear 
at the foe. If any can stand at rest while Attila fights, 
he is a dead man." Inflamed by these words, they all 
dashed into battle. 

XL And although the situation was itself fearful, yet 2O 7 
the presence of their king dispelled anxiety and hesita- 
tion. Hand to hand they clashed in battle, and the fight 
grew fierce, confused, monstrous, unrelenting' a fight 
whose like no ancient time has ever recorded. There such 
deeds were done that a brave man who missed this mar- 
vellous spectacle could not hope to see anything so won- 
derful all his life long. For, if we may believe our 208 
elders, a brook flowing between low banks through the 
plain was greatly increased by blood from the wounds 
of the slain. It was not flooded by showers, as brooks 
usually rise, but was swollen by a strange stream and 
turned into a torrent by the increase of blood. Those 
whose wounds drove them to slake their parching thirst 
drank water mingled with gore. In their wretched plight 
they were forced to drink what they thought was the 
blood they had poured from their own wounds. 

Here King Theodorid, while riding by to encourage 209 
his army, was thrown from his horse and trampled under 
foot by his own men, thus ending his days at a ripe old 
age. But others say he was slain by the spear of Andag 
of the host of the Ostrogoths, who were then under the 

sway of Attila. This was what the soothsayers had told 
to Attila in prophecy, though he understood it of Ae'tius. 
Then the Visigoths, separating from the Alani, fell upon 
the horde of the Huns and nearly slew Attila. But he 
prudently took flight and straightway shut himself and 
his companions within the barriers of the camp, which 
he had fortified with wagons. A frail defence indeed; 
yet there they sought refuge for their lives, whom but a 
little while before no walls of earth could withstand. 

211 But Thorismud, the son of King Theodorid, who with 
Ae'tius had seized the hill and repulsed the enemy from 
the higher ground, came unwittingly to the wagons of 
the enemy in the darkness of night, thinking he had 
reached his own lines. As he was fighting bravely, some- 
one wounded him in the head and dragged him from his 
horse. Then he was rescued by the watchful care of his 

212 followers and withdrew from the fierce conflict. Ae'tius 
also became separated from his men in the confusion of 
night and wandered about in the midst of the enemy. 
Fearing disaster had happened, he went about in search 
of the Goths. At last he reached the camp of his allies 
and passed the remainder of the night in the protection 
of their shields. 

At dawn on the following day, when the Romans 
saw the fields were piled high with bodies and that 
the Huns did not venture forth, they thought the vic- 
tory was theirs, but knew that Attila would not flee from 
the battle unless overwhelmed by a great disaster. Yet 
he did nothing cowardly, like one that is overcome, but 
with clash of arms sounded the trumpets and threat- 
ened an attack. He was like a lion pierced by hunting 
spears, who paces to and fro before the mouth of his 
den and dares not spring, but ceases not to terrify the 


neighborhood by his roaring. Even so this warlike king 
at bay terrified his conquerors. Therefore the Goths and 2I 3 
Romans assembled and considered what to do with the 
vanquished Attila. They determined to wear him out by 
a siege, because he had no supply of provisions and was 
hindered from approaching by a shower of arrows from 
the bowmen placed within the confines of the Roman 
camp. But it was said that the king remained supremely 
brave even in this extremity and had heaped up a funeral 
pyre of horse trappings, so that if the enemy should at- 
tack him, he was determined to cast himself into the 
flames, that none might have the joy of wounding him 
and that the lord of so many races might not fall into 
the hands of his foes. 

XLI Now during these delays in the siege, the Visi- 214 
goths sought their king and the king's sons their father, 
wondering at his absence when success had been attained 
RESULTS When, after a long search, they found him where the 

THE BATTLE dead lay thickest, as happens with brave men, they hon- 
ored him with songs and bore him away in the sight of 
the enemy. You might have seen bands of Goths shout- 
ing with dissonant cries and paying the honors of death 
while the battle still raged. Tears were shed, but such 
as they were accustomed to devote to brave men. It was 
death indeed, but the Huns are witness that it was a 
glorious one. It was a death whereby one might well 
suppose the pride of the enemy would be lowered, when 
they beheld the body of so great a king borne forth with 
fitting honors. And so the Goths, still continuing the 215 
rites due to Theodorid, bore forth the royal majesty with 
sounding arms, and valiant Thorismud, as befitted a son, 
honored the glorious spirit of his dear father by follow- 
ing his remains. 


When this was done, Thorismud was eager to take 
vengeance for his father's death on the remaining Huns, 
being moved to this both by the pain of bereavement and 
the impulse of that valor for which he was noted. Yet 
he consulted with the Patrician Aetius (for he was an 
older man and of more mature wisdom) with regard to 

216 what he ought to do next. But Aetius feared 1 that if the 
Huns were totally destroyed by the Goths, the Roman 
Empire would be overwhelmed, and urgently advised him 
to return to his own dominions to take up the rule which 
his father had left. Otherwise his brothers might seize 
their father's possessions and obtain the power over the 
Visigoths. In this case Thorismud would have to fight 
fiercely and, what is worse, disastrously with his own 
countrymen. Thorismud accepted the advice without 
perceiving its double meaning, but followed it with an 
eye toward his own advantage. So he left the Huns and 

217 returned to Gaul. Thus while human frailty rushes into 
suspicion, it often loses an opportunity of doing great 

In this most famous war of the bravest tribes, one hun- 
dred and sixty five thousand are said to have been slain on 
both sides, leaving out of account fifteen thousand of the 
Gepidae and Franks, who met each other the night before 
the general engagement and fell by wounds mutually re- 
ceived, the Franks fighting for the Romans and the Gepi- 
dae for the Huns. 

218 Now when Attila learned of the retreat of the Goths, 
he thought it a ruse of the enemy, for so men are wont 
to believe when the unexpected happens and remained 
for some time in his camp. But when a long silence fol- 
lowed the absence of the foe, the spirit of the mighty 
king was aroused to the thought of victory and the antici- 






pation of pleasure, and his mind turned to the old oracles 
of his destiny. 

Thorismud, however, after the death of his father on 
the Catalaunian Plains where he had fought, advanced in 
royal state and entered Tolosa. Here although the throng 
of his brothers and brave companions were still rejoicing 
over the victory he yet began to rule so mildly that no one 
strove with him for the succession to the kingdom. 

XLII But Attila took occasion from the withdrawal 
of the Visigoths, observing what he had often desired 
that his enemies were divided. At length feeling secure, 
he moved forward his array to attack the Romans. As 
his first move he besieged the city of Aquileia, the me- 
tropolis of Venetia, which is situated on a point or tongue 
of land by the Adriatic Sea. On the eastern side its walls 
are washed by the river Natissa, flowing from Mount 
Piccis. The siege was long and fierce, but of no avail, 
since the bravest soldiers of the Romans withstood him 
from within. At last his army was discontented and 
eager to withdraw. Attila chanced to be walking around 
the walls, considering whether to break camp or delay 
longer, and noticed that the white birds, namely, the 
storks, who build their nests in the gables of houses, were 
bearing their young from the city and, contrary to their 
custom, were carrying them out into the country. Being 
a shrewd observer of events, he understood this and said 
to his soldiers : "You see the birds foresee the future. 
They are leaving the city sure to perish and are forsaking 
strongholds doomed to fall by reason of imminent peril. 
Do not think this a meaningless or uncertain sign; fear, 
arising from the things they foresee, has changed their 
custom." Why say more? He inflamed the hearts of 
his soldiers to attack Aquileia again. Constructing bat- 





tering rams and bringing to bear all manner of engines 
of war, they quickly forced their way into the city, laid it 
waste, divided the spoil and so cruelly devastated it as 

222 scarcely to leave a trace to be seen. Then growing bolder 
and still thirsting for Roman blood, the Huns raged 
madly through the remaining cities of the Veneti. They 
also laid waste Mediolanum, the metropolis of Liguria, 
once an imperial city, and gave over Ticinum to a like 
fate. Then they destroyed the neighboring country in 
their frenzy and demolished almost the whole of Italy. 

Attila's mind had been bent on going to Rome. But p OPE LEO 
his followers, as the historian Priscus relates, took him ^O^SAVE^ 
away, not out of regard for the city to which they were ROME 

hostile, but because they remembered the case of Alaric, 
the former king of the Visigoths. They distrusted the 
good fortune of their own king, inasmuch as Alaric did 
not live long after the sack of Rome, but straightway 
3 departed this life. Therefore while Attila's spirit was 
wavering in doubt between going and not going, and he 
still lingered to ponder the matter, an embassy came to 
him from Rome to seek peace. Pope Leo himself came 
to meet him in the Ambuleian district of the Veneti at the 
well-travelled ford of the river Mincius. Then Attila 
quickly put aside his usual fury, turned back on the way 
he had advanced from beyond the Danube and departed 
with the promise of peace. But above all he declared and 
avowed with threats that he would bring worse things 
upon Italy, unless they sent him Honoria, the sister of the 
Emperor Valentinian and daughter of Augusta Placidia, 

22 4 with her due share of the royal wealth. For it was said 
that Honoria, although bound to chastity for the honor 
of the imperial court and kept in constraint by command 
of her brother, had secretly despatched a eunuch to sum- 





mon Attila that she might have his protection against her 
brother's power; a shameful thing, indeed, to get license 
for her passion at the cost of the public weal. 

XLIII So Attila returned to his own country, seem- 225 
ing to regret the peace and to be vexed at the cessation of 
war. For he sent ambassadors to Marcian, Emperor of 
the East, threatening to devastate the provinces, because 
that which had been promised him by Theodosius, a for- 
mer emperor, was in no wise performed, and saying that 
he would show himself more cruel to his foes than ever. 
But as he was shrewd and crafty, he threatened in one 
direction and moved his army in another; for in the 
midst of these preparations he turned his face toward the 
Visigoths who had yet to feel his vengeance. But here 226 
he had not the same success as against the Romans. 
Hastening back by a different way than before, he de- 
cided to reduce to his sway that part of the Alani which 
was settled across the river Loire, in order that by attack- 
ing them, and thus changing the aspect of the war, he 
might become a more terrible menace to the Visigoths 
Accordingly he started from the provinces of Dacia and 
Pannonia, where the Huns were then dwelling with vari- 
ous subject peoples, and moved his array against the 
Alani. But Thorismud, king of the Visigoths, with like 227 
quickness of thought perceived Attila's trick. By forced 
marches he came to the Alani before him, and was well 
prepared to check the advance of Attila when he came 
after him. They joined battle in almost the same way as 
1)e fore at the Catalaunian Plains, and Thorismud clashed 
his hopes of victory, for he routed him and drove him 
from the land without a triumph, compelling him to flee 
to his own country. Thus while Attila, the famous leader 
and lord of many victories, sought to blot out the fame 

of his destroyer and in this way to annul what he had 
suffered at the hands of the Visigoths, he met a second 

228 defeat and retreated ingloriously. Now after the bands 
of the Huns had been repulsed by the Alani, without any 
hurt to his own men, Thorismud departed for Tolosa. 
There he established a settled peace for his people and in 
the third year of his reign fell sick. While letting blood 
from a* vein, he was betrayed to his death by Ascalc, a 
client, who told his foes that his weapons were out of 
reach. Yet grasping a foot-stool in the one hand he had 
free, he became the avenger of his own blood by slaying 
several of those that were lying in wait for him. 

229 XLIV After his death, his brother Theodorid suc- 
ceeded to the kingdom of the Visigoths and soon found 

^. . . . . , . THE REIGN 

that Ricianus his kinsman, the king of the Suavi, was OF KING 

hostile to him. For Riciarius, presuming on his relation- 
ship to Theodorid, believed that he might seize almost the 
whole of Spain, thinking the disturbed beginning of 
Theodorid's reign made the time opportune for his trick. 

2 3 The Suavi formerly occupied as their country Galicia and 
Lusitania, which extend on the right side of Spain along 
the shore of Ocean. To the east is Austrogonia, to the 
west, on a promontory, is the sacred Monument of the 
Roman general Scipio, to the north Ocean, and to the 
south Lusitania and the Tagus river, which mingles 
golden grains in its sands and thus carries wealth in its 
worthless mud. So then Riciarius, king of the Suavi, set 

231 forth and strove to seize the whole of Spain. Theodorid, 
his kinsman, a man of moderation, sent ambassadors to 
him and told him quietly that he must not only withdraw 
from the territories that were not his own, but further- 
more that he should not presume to make such an attempt, 
as he was becoming hated for his ambition. But with 

7 1 

arrogant spirit he replied: "If you murmur here and 
find fault with my coming, I shall come to Tolosa where 
you dwell. Resist me there, if you can." When he heard 
this, Theodorid was angry and, making a compact with 
all the other tribes, moved his array against the Suavi. 
Battle near ^ e ^d as ^ s c ^ ose allies Gundiuch and Hilperic, kings 
the Ulbius of the Burgundians. They came to battle near the river 2 3 2 
Ulbius, which flows between Asturica and Hiberia, and 
in the engagement Theodorid with the Visigoths, who 
fought for the right, came off victorious, overthrowing 
the entire tribe of the Suavi and almost exterminating 
them. Their king Riciarius fled from the dread foe and 
embarked upon a ship. But he was beaten back by an- 
other foe, the adverse wind of the Tyrrhenian Sea, and 
so fell into the hands of the Visigoths. Thus though 
he changed from sea to land, the wretched man did not 
avert his death. 

When Theodorid had become the victor, he spared the 233 
conquered and did not suffer the rage of conflict to con- 
tinue, but placed over the Suavi whom he had conquered 
one of his own retainers, named Agrivulf. But Agrivulf 
soon treacherously changed his mind, through the per- 
suasion of the Suavi, and failed to fulfil his duty. For 
he was quite puffed up with tyrannical pride, believing 
he had obtained the province as a reward for the valor 
by which he and his lord had recently subjugated it. Now 
he was a man born of the stock of the Varni, far below 
the nobility of Gothic blood, and so was neither zealous 
for liberty nor faithful toward his patron. As soon as 234 
Theodorid heard of this, he gathered a force to cast him 
out from the kingdom he had usurped. They came 
quickly and conquered him in the first battle, inflicting a 
punishment befitting his deeds. For he was captured, 




taken from his friends and beheaded. Thus at last he 
was made aware of the wrath of the master he thought 
might be despised because he was kind. Now when the 
Suavi beheld the death of their leader, they sent priests 
of their country to Theodorid as suppliants. He received 
them with the reverence due their office and not only 
granted the Suavi exemption from punishment, but was 
moved by compassion and allowed them to choose a ruler 
of their own race for themselves. The Suavi did so, 
taking Rimismund as their prince. When this was done 
and peace was everywhere assured, Theodorid died in 
the thirteenth year of his reign. 

XLV His brother Eurich succeeded him with such 
eager haste that he fell under dark suspicion. Now while 
these and various other matters were happening among 
the people of the Visigoths, the Emperor Valentinian was 
slain by the treachery of Maximus, and Maximus himself, 
like a tyrant, usurped the rule. Gaiseric, king of the 
Vandals, heard of this and came from Africa to Italy 
with ships of war, entered Rome and laid it waste. 
Maximus fled and was slain by a certain Ursus, a Roman 
soldier. After him Majorian undertook the government 
of the Western Empire at the bidding of Marcian, Em- 
peror of the East. But he too ruled but a short time. 
For when he had moved his forces against the Alani who 
were harassing Gaul, he was killed at Dertona near the 
river named Ira. Severus succeeded him and died at 
Rome in the third year of his reign. When the Emperor 
Leo, who had succeeded Marcian in the Eastern Empire, 
learned of this, he chose as emperor his Patrician Anthe- 
mius and sent him to Rome. Upon his arrival he sent 
against the Alani his son-in-law Ricimer, who was an 
excellent man and almost the only one in Italy at that 








Maximus 455 

ROME 455 



Leo I 







time fit to command the army. In the very first engage- 
ment he conquered and destroyed the host of the Alani, 
together with their king, Beorg. 

Now Eurich, king of the Visigoths, perceived the fre- 
quent change of Roman Emperors and strove to hold 
Gaul by his own right. The Emperor Anthemius heard 
of it and asked the Brittones for aid. Their King 
Riotimus came with twelve thousand men into the state 
of the Bituriges by the way of Ocean, and was received 
as he disembarked from his ships. Eurich, king of the 
Visigoths, came against them with an innumerable army, 
and after a long fight he routed Riotimus, king of the 
Brittones, before the Romans could join him. So when 
he had lost a great part of his army, he fled with all the 
men he could gather together, and came to the Burgund- 
ians, a neighboring tribe then allied to the Romans. But 
Eurich, king of the Visigoths, seized the Gallic city of 
Arverna; for the Emperor Anthemius was now dead. 
Engaged in fierce war with his son-in-law Ricimer, he 
had worn out Rome and was himself finally slain by his 
son-in-law and yielded the rule to Olybrius. 

At that time Aspar, first of the Patricians and a famous 
man of the Gothic race was wounded by the swords of 
the eunuchs in his palace at Constantinople and died. 
With him were slain his sons Ardabures and Patriciolus, 
the one long a Patrician, and the other styled a Caesar 
and son-in-law of the Emperor Leo. Now Olybrius died 
barely eight months after he had entered upon his reign, 
and Glycerius was made Caesar at Ravenna, rather by 
usurpation than by election. Hardly had a year been 
ended when Nepos, the son of the sister of Marcellinus, 
once a Patrician, deposed him from his office and or- 
dained him bishop at the Port of Rome. 





240 When Eurich, as we have already said, beheld these 
great and various changes, he seized the city of Arverna, 
where the Roman general Ecdicius was at that time in 
command. He was a senator of most renowned family 
and the son of Avitus, a recent emperor who had usurped 
the reign for a few days for Avitus held the rule for a 
few days before Olybrius, and then withdrew of his own 
accord to Placentia, where he was ordained bishop. His 
son Ecdicius strove for a long time with the Visigoths, 
but had not the power to prevail. So he left the country 
and (what was more important) the city of Arverna to 

2 4 r the enemy and betook himself to safer regions. When 
the Emperor Nepos heard of this, he ordered Ecdicius 
to leave Gaul and come to him, appointing Orestes in his 
stead as Master of the Soldiery. This Orestes there- 
upon received the army, set out from Rome against the 
enemy and came to Ravenna. Here he tarried while he 
made his son Romulus Augustulus emperor. When 
Nepos learned of this, he fled to Dalmatia and died there, 
deprived of his throne, in the very place where Glycerius, 
who was formerly emperor, held at that time the bishopric 
of Salona. 

2 4 2 XL VI Now when Augustulus had been appointed 
Emperor by his father Orestes in Ravenna, it was not 
long before Odoacer, king of the Torcilingi, invaded 
Italy, as leader of the Sciri, the Heruli and allies of 
various races. He put Orestes to death, drove his son 
Augustulus from the throne and condemned him to the 
punishment of exile in the Castle of Lucullus in Campania. 

2 43 Thus the Western Empire of the Roman race, which 
Octavianus Augustus, the first of the Augusti, began to 
govern in the seven hundred and ninth year from the 
founding of the city, perished with this Augustulus in the 








Death of 



Leo II 


Enrich killed 




five hundred and twenty second year from the beginning 
of the rule of his predecessors and those before them, 
and from this time onward kings of the Goths held Rome 
and Italy. Meanwhile Odoacer, king of nations, subdued 
all Italy and then at the very outset of his reign slew 
Count Bracila at Ravenna that he might inspire a fear 
of himself among the Romans. He strengthened his 
kingdom and held it for almost thirteen years, even until 
the appearance of Theodoric, of whom we shall speak 

XL VII But first let us return to that order from 
which we have digressed and tell how Enrich, king of the 
Visigoths, beheld the tottering of the Roman Empire and 
reduced Arelate and Massilia to his own sway. Gaiseric, 
king of the Vandals, enticed him by gifts to do these 
things, to the end that he himself might forestall the plots 
which Leo and Zeno had contrived against him. There- 
fore he stirred the Ostrogoths to lay waste the Eastern 
Empire and the Visigoths the Western, so that while his 
foes were battling in both empires, he might himself 
reign peacefully in Africa. Eurich perceived this with 
gladness and, as he already held all of Spain and Gaul 
by his own right, proceeded to subdue the Burgundians 
also. In the nineteenth year of his reign he was deprived 
of his life at Arelate, where he then dwelt. He was suc- 
ceeded by his own son Alaric, the ninth in succession 
from the famous Alaric the Great to receive the kingdom 
of the Visigoths. For even as it happened to the line of 
the Augusti, as we have stated above, so too it appears in 
the line of the Alarici, that kingdoms often come to an 
end in kings who bear the same name as those at the 
beginning. Meanwhile let us leave this subject, and 







weave together the whole story of the origin of the Goths, 
as we promised. 

(The Divided Goths: Ostrogoths) 

XL VIII Since I have followed the stories of my 
ancestors and retold to the best of my ability the tale of 
the period when both tribes, Ostrogoths and Visigoths, 
were united, and then clearly treated of the Visigoths 
apart from the Ostrogoths, I must now return to those 
ancient Scythian abodes and set forth in like manner the 
ancestry and deeds of the Ostrogoths. It appears that at 
the death of their king, Hermanaric, they were made a 
separate people by the departure of the Visigoths, and 
remained in their country subject to the sway of the 
Huns ; yet Vinitharius of the Amali retained the insignia 
of his rule. He rivalled the valor of his grandfather 
Vultuulf, although he had not the good fortune of Her- 
manaric. But disliking to remain under the rule of the 
Huns, he withdrew a little from them and strove to show 
his courage by moving his forces against the country of 
the Antes. When he attacked them, he was beaten in the 
first encounter. Thereafter he did valiantly and, as a 
terrible example, crucified their king, named Boz, together 
with his sons and seventy nobles, and left their bodies 
hanging there to double the fear of those who had sur- 
rendered. When he had ruled with such license for 
barely a year, Balamber, king of the Huns, would no 
longer endure it, but sent for Gesimund, son of Huni- 
mund the Great. Now Gesimund, together with a great 
part of the Goths, remained under the rule of the Huns, 
being mindful of his oath of fidelity. Balamber renewed 
his alliance with him and led his army up against Vini- 
tharius. After a long contest, Vinitharius prevailed in 








the first and in the second conflict, nor can any say how 
great a slaughter he made of the army of the Huns. But 
in the third battle, when they met each other unexpectedly 
at the river named Erac, Balamber shot an arrow and 
wounded Vinitharius in the head, so that he died. Then 
Balamber took to himself in marriage Vadamerca, the 
grand-daughter of Vinitharius, and finally ruled all the 
people of the Goths as his peaceful subjects, but in such 
a way that one ruler of their own number always held the 
power over the Gothic race, though subject to the Huns. 
And later, after the death of Vinitharius, Hunimund 
ruled them, the son of Hermanaric, a mighty king of 
yore ; a man fierce in war and of famous personal beauty, 
who afterwards fought successfully against the race of 
the Suavi. And when he died, his son Thorismud suc- 
ceeded him, in the very bloom of youth. In the second 
year of his rule he moved an army against the Gepidae 
and won a great victory over them, but is said to have 
been killed by falling from his horse. When he was dead, 
the Ostrogoths mourned for him so deeply that for forty 
years no other king succeeded in his place, and during all 
this time they had ever on their lips the tale of his mem- 
ory. Now as time went on, Valamir grew to man's 
estate. He was the son of Thorismud's cousin Vanda- 
larius. For his son Beremucl, as we have said before, at 
last grew to despise the race of the Ostrogoths because of 
the overlordship of the Huns, and so had followed the 
tribe of the Visigoths to the western country, and it was 
from him Veteric was descended. Veteric also had a son 
Eutharic, who married Amalasuentha, the daughter of 
Theodoric, thus uniting again the stock of the Amali 
which had divided long ago. Eutharic begat Athalaric 
and Mathesuentha. But since Athalaric died in the 




years of his boyhood, Mathesuentha was taken to Con- 
stantinople by her second husband, namely Germanus, a 
cousin of the Emperor Justinian, and bore a posthumous 
son, whom she named Germanus. 

252 But that the order we have taken for our history may 
run its due course, we must return to the stock of Vandal- 
arius, which put forth three branches. This Vandalarius, 
the son of a brother of Hermanaric and cousin of the 
aforesaid Thorismud, vaunted himself among the race of 
the Amali because he had begotten three sons, Valamir, 
Thiudimer and Vidimer. Of these Valamir ascended the 
throne after his parents, though the Huns as yet held the 
power over the Goths in general as among other nations. 

253 It was pleasant to behold the concord of these three broth- 
ers; for the admirable Thiudimer served as a soldier for 
the empire of his brother Valamir, and Valamir bade 
honors be given him, while Vidimer was eager to serve 
them both. Thus regarding one another with common 
affection, not one was wholly deprived of the kingdom 
which two of them held in mutual peace. Yet, as has 
often been said, they ruled in such a way that they re- 
spected the dominion of Attila, king of the Huns. Indeed 
they could not have refused to fight against their kinsmen 
the Visigoths, and they must even have committed parri- 
cide at their lord's command. There was no way whereby 
any Scythian tribe could have been wrested from the 
power of the Huns, save by the death of Attila, an 
event the Romans and all other nations desired. Now his 
death was as base as his life was marvellous. 

2 54 XLIX Shortly before he died, as the historian Priscus 
relates, he took in marriage a very beautiful girl named 
Ildico, after countless other wives, as was the custom of 
his race. He had given himself up to excessive joy at 




his wedding, and as he lay on his back, heavy with wine 
and sleep, a rush of superfluous blood, which would ordi- 
narily have flowed from his nose, streamed in deadly 
course down his throat and killed him, since it was hin- 
dered in the usual passages. Thus did drunkenness put a 
disgraceful end to a king renowned in war. On the fol- 
lowing day, when a great part of the morning was spent, 
the royal attendants suspected some ill and, after a great 
uproar, broke in the doors. There they found the death 
of Attila accomplished by an effusion of blood, without 
any wound, and the girl with downcast face weeping 
beneath her veil. Then, as is the custom of that race, 2 55 
they plucked out the hair of their heads and made their 
faces hideous with deep wounds, that the renowned war- 
rior might be mourned, not by effeminate wailings and 
tears, but by the blood of men. Moreover a wondrous 
thing took place in connection with Attila's death. For 
in a dream some god stood at the side of Marcian, Em- 
peror of the East, while he was disquieted about his 
fierce foe, and showed him the bow of Attila broken in 
that same night, as if to intimate that the race of Huns 
owed much to that weapon. This account the historian 
Priscus says he accepts upon truthful evidence. For so 
terrible was Attila thought to be to great empires that 
the gods announced his death to rulers as a special boon. 

We shall not omit to say a few words about the many 256 
ways in which his shade was honored by his race. His 
body was placed in the midst of a plain and lay in state 
in a silken tent as a sight for men's admiration. The best 
horsemen of the entire tribe of the Huns rode around in 
circles, after the manner of circus games, in the place 
to which he had been brought and told of his deeds in a 
funeral dirge in the following manner : "The chief of the 2 57 


Huns, King Attila, born of his sire Mundiuch, lord of 
bravest tribes, sole possessor of the Scythian and German 
realms powers unknown before captured cities and 
terrified both empires of the Roman world and, appeased 
by their prayers, took annual tribute to save the rest from 
plunder. And when he had accomplished all this by the 
favor of fortune, he fell, not by wound of the foe, 'nor 
by treachery of friends, but in the midst of his nation at 
peace, happy in his joy and without sense of pain. Who 
can rate this as death, when none believes it calls for 

258 vengeance?" When they had mourned him with such 
lamentations, a strava, as they call it, was celebrated over 
his tomb with great revelling. They gave way in turn to 
the extremes of feeling and displayed funereal grief alter- 
nating with joy. Then in the secrecy of night they buried 
his body in the earth. They bound his coffins, the first 
with gold, the second with silver and the third with the 
strength of iron, showing by such means that these three 
things suited the mightiest of kings; iron because he 
subdued the nations, gold and silver because he received 
the honors of both empires. They also added the arms 
of foemen won in the fight, trappings of rare worth, 
sparkling with various gems, and ornaments of all sorts 
whereby princely state is maintained. And that so great 
riches might be kept from human curiosity, they slew 
those appointed to the work a dreadful pay for their 
labor; and thus sudden death was the lot of those who 
buried him as well as of him who was buried. 

259 L After they had fulfilled these rites, a contest for 
the highest place arose among Attila's successors,. for the 
minds of young men are wont to be inflamed by ambition 
for power, and in their rash eagerness to rule they all 
alike destroyed his empire. Thus kingdoms are often 










weighed down by a superfluity rather than by a lack of 
successors. For the sons of Attila, who through the 
license of his lust formed almost a people of themselves, 
were clamoring that the nations should be divided among 
them equally and that warlike kings with their peoples 
should be apportioned to them by lot like a family estate. 
When Ardaric, king of the Gepidae, learned this, he 
became enraged because so many nations were being 
treated like slaves of the basest condition, and was the 
first to rise against the sons of Attila. Good fortune 
attended him, and he effaced the disgrace of servitude that 
rested upon him. For by his revolt he freed not only his 
own tribe, but all the others who were equally oppressed ; 
since all readily strive for that which is sought for the 
general advantage. They took up arms against the de- 
struction that menaced all and joined battle with the 
Huns in Pannonia, near a river called Nedao. There an 
encounter took place between the various nations Attila 
had held under his sway. Kingdoms with their peoples 
were divided, and out of one body were made many 
members not responding to a common impulse. Being 
deprived of their head, they madly strove against each 
other. They never found their equals ranged against 
them without harming each other by wounds mutually 
given. And so the bravest nations tore themselves to 
pieces. For then, I think, must have occurred a most 
remarkable spectacle, where one might see the Goths 
fighting with pikes, the Gepidae raging with the sword, 
the Rugi breaking off the spears in their own wounds, the 
Suavi fighting on foot, the Huns with bows, the Alani 
drawing up a battle-line of heavy-armed and the Heruli 
of light-armed warriors. 

Finally, after many bitter conflicts, victory fell unex- 




pectedly to the Gepidae. For the sword and conspiracy 
of Ardaric destroyed almost thirty thousand men, Huns 
as well as those of the other nations who brought them 
aid. In this battle fell Ellac, the elder son of Attila, 
whom his father is said to have loved so much more than 
all the rest that he preferred him to any child or even to 
all the children of his kingdom. But fortune was not in 
accord with his father's wish. For after slaying many 
of the foe, it appears that he met his death so bravely 
that, if his father had lived, he would have rejoiced at his 

263 glorious end. When Ellac was slain, his remaining 
brothers were put to flight near the shore of the Sea of 
Pontus, where we have said the Goths first settled. Thus 
did the Huns give way, a race to which men thought the 
whole world must yield. So baneful a thing is division, 
that they who used to inspire terror when their strength 
was united, were overthrown separately. The cause of 
Ardaric, king of the Gepidae, was fortunate for the va- 
rious nations who were unwillingly subject to the rule 
of the Huns, for it raised their long downcast spirits to 
the glad hope of freedom. Many sent ambassadors to 
the Roman territory, where they were most graciously 
received by Marcian, who was then emperor, and took the 

264 abodes allotted them to dwell in. But the Gepidae by their 
own might won for themselves the territory of the Huns 
and ruled as victors over the extent of all Dacia, demand- 
ing of the Roman Empire nothing more than peace and 
an annual gift as a pledge of their friendly alliance. This 
the Emperor freely granted at the time, and to this day 
that race receives its customary gifts from the Roman 

Now when the Goths saw the Gepidae defending for 
themselves the territory of the Huns and the people of 



Bishop Ulfilas 
about 311-381 

the Huns dwelling again in their ancient abodes, they 
preferred to ask for lands from the Roman Empire, 
rather than invade the lands of others with danger to 
themselves. So they received Pannonia, which stretches 
in a long plain, being bounded on the east by Upper 
Moesia, on the south by Dalmatia, on the west by Nori- 
cum and on the north by the Danube. This land is 
adorned with many cities, the first of which is Sirmium 
and the last Vindobona. But the Sauromatae, whom we 
call Sarmatians, and the Cemandri and certain of the 
Huns dwelt in Castra Martis, a city given them in the 
region of Illyricum. Of this race was Blivila, Duke of 
Pentapolis, and his brother Froila and also Bessa, a Patri- 
cian in our time. The Sciri, moreover, and the Sadagarii 
and certain of the Alani with their leader, Candac by 
name, received Scythia Minor and Lower Moesia. Paria, 
the father of my father Alanoviiamuth (that is to say, 
my grandfather), was secretary to this Candac as long 
as he lived. To his sister's son Gunthigis, also called 
Baza, the Master of the Soldiery, who was the son of 
Andag the son of Andela, who was descended from the 
stock of the Amali, I also, Jordanes, although an un- 
learned man before my conversion, was secretary. The 
Rugi, however, and some other races asked that they 
might inhabit Bizye and Arcadiopolis. Hernac, the 
younger son of Attila, with his followers, chose a home 
in the most distant part of Lesser Scythia. Emnetzur and 
Ultzindur, kinsmen of his, won Oescus and Utus and 
Almus in Dacia on the bank of the Danube, and many of 
the Huns, then swarming everywhere, betook themselves 
into Romania, and from them the Sacromontisi and the 
Fossatisii of this day are said to be descended. 

LI There were other Goths also, called the Lesser, 




a great people whose priest and primate was Vulfila, who 
is said to have taught them to write. And to-day they 
are in Moesia, inhabiting the Nicopolitan region as far 
as the base of Mount Haemus. They are a numerous 
people, but poor and unwarlike, rich in nothing save 
flocks of various kinds and pasture-lands for cattle and 
forests for wood. Their country is not fruitful in wheat 
and other sorts of grain. Certain of them do not know 
that vineyards exist elsewhere, and they buy their wine 
from neighboring countries. But most of them drink 

LII L e t us now return to the tribe with which we 
started, namely the Ostrogoths, who were dwelling in 
Pannonia under their king Valamir and his brothers Thi- 
udimer and Vidimer. Although their territories were 
separate, yet their plans were one. For Valamir dwelt 
between the rivers Scarniunga and Aqua Nigra, Thiudi- 
mer near Lake Pelso and Vidimer between them both. 
Now it happened that the sons of Attila, regarding the 
Goths as deserters from their rule, came against them as 
though they were seeking fugitive slaves, and attacked 
Valamir alone, when his brothers knew nothing of it. He 
sustained their attack, though he had but few supporters, 
and after harassing them a long time, so utterly over- 
whelmed them that scarcely any portion of the enemy 
remained. The remnant turned in flight and sought 
the parts of Scythia which border on the stream of the 
river Danaper, which the Huns call in their own tongue 
the Var. Thereupon he sent a messenger of good tidings 
to his brother Thiudimer, and on the very day the mes- 
senger arrived he found even greater joy in the house of 
Thiudimer. For on that day his son Theodoric was born, 















of a concubine Erelieva indeed, and yet a child of good 

Now after no great time King Valamir and his broth- 270 
ers Thiudimer and Vidimer sent an embassy to the Em- 
peror Marcian, because the usual gifts which they re- 
ceived like a New Year's present from the Emperor, to 
preserve the compact of peace, were slow in arriving. 
And they found that Theodoric, son of Triarius, a man 
of Gothic blood also, but born of another stock, not of 
the Amali, was in great favor, together with his fol- 
lowers. He was allied in friendship with the Romans 
and obtained an annual bounty, while they themselves 
were merely held in disdain. Thereat they were aroused 271 
to frenzy and took up arms. They roved through almost 
the whole of Illyricum and laid it waste in their search 
for spoil. Then the Emperor quickly changed his mind 
and returned to his former state of friendship. He sent 
an embassy to give them the past gifts, as well as those 
now due, and furthermore promised to give these gifts 
in future without any dispute. From the Goths the 
Romans received as a hostage of peace Theodoric, the 
young child of Thiudimer, whom we have mentioned 
above. He had now attained the age of seven years and 
was entering upon his eighth. While his father hesitated 
about giving him up, his uncle Valamir besought him to 
do it, hoping that peace between the Romans and the 
Goths might thus be assured. Therefore Theodoric was 
given as a hostage by the Goths and brought to the city 
of Constantinople to the Emperor Leo and, being a 
goodly child, deservedly gained the imperial favor. 

LIII Now after firm peace was established between 272 
Goths and Romans, the Goths found that the possessions 
they had received from the Emperor were not sufficient 


for them. Furthermore, they were eager to display their 
wonted valor, and so began to plunder the neighboring 
races round about them, first attacking the Sadagis who 
held the interior of Pannonia. When Dintzic, king of the 
Huns, a son of Attila, learned this, he gathered to him 
the few who still seemed to have remained under his 
sway, namely, the Ultzinzures, and Angisciri, the Bittu- 
gures and the Bardores. Coming to Bassiana, a city of 
Pannonia, he beleaguered it and began to plunder its terri- 

273 tory. Then the Goths at once abandoned the expedition 
they had planned against the Sadagis, turned upon the 
Huns and drove them so ingloriously from their own 
land that those who remained have been in dread of the 
arms of the Goths from that time down to the present 

When the tribe of the Huns was at last subdued by the CONQUEST 
Goths, Hunimund, chief of the Suavi, who was crossing OF THE 

over to plunder Dalmatia, carried off some cattle of the 
Goths which were straying over the plains ; for Dalmatia 
was near Suavia and not far distant from the territory 
of Pannonia, especially that part where the Goths were 

2 74 then staying. So then, as Hunimund was returning 
with the Suavi to his own country, after he had de- 
vastated Dalmatia, Thiudimer the brother of Valamir, 
king of the Goths, kept watch on their line of march. 
Not that he grieved so much over the loss of his cattle, 
but he feared that if the Suavi obtained this plunder with 
impunity, they would proceed to greater license. So in 
the dead of night, while they were asleep, he made an 
unexpected attack upon them, near Lake Pelso. Here he 
so completely crushed them that he took captive and sent 
into slavery under the Goths even Hunimund, their king, 
and all of his army who had escaped the sword. Yet 


Plot of 
about 470 



ABOUT 470 

as he was a great lover of mercy, he granted pardon 
after taking vengeance and became reconciled to the 
Suavi. He adopted as his son the same man whom he 
had taken captive, and sent him back with his followers 
into Suavia. But Hunimund was unmindful of his 
adopted father's kindness. After some time he brought 
forth a plot he had contrived and aroused the tribe of the 
Sciri, who then dwelt above the Danube and abode peace- 
ably with the Goths. So the Sciri broke off their alliance 
with them, took up arms, joined themselves to Hunimund 
and went out to attack the race of the Goths. Thus war 
came upon the Goths who were expecting no evil, because 
they relied upon both of their neighbors as friends. Con- 
strained by necessity they took up arms and avenged 
themselves and their injuries by recourse to battle. In 
this battle, as King Valamir rode on his horse before the 
line to encourage his men, the horse was wounded and 
fell, overthrowing its rider. Valamir was quickly pierced 
by his enemies' spears and slain. Thereupon the Goths 
proceeded to exact vengeance for the death of their king, 
as well as for the injury done them by the rebels. They 
fought in such wise that there remained of all the race of 
the Sciri only a few who bore the name, and they with 
disgrace. Thus were all destroyed. 

LIV The kings [of the Suavi], Hunimund and 
Alaric, fearing the destruction that had come upon the 
Sciri, next made war upon the Goths, relying upon the 
aid of the Sarmations, who had come to them as auxili- 
aries with their kings Beuca and Babai. They summoned 
the last remnants of the Sciri, with Edica and Hunuulf, 
their chieftains, thinking they would fight the more des- 
perately to avenge themselves. They had on their side 
the Gepidae also, as well as no small reinforcements from 




the race of the Rugi and from others gathered here 
and there. Thus they brought together a great host at 

278 the river Bolia in Pannonia and encamped there. Now 
when Valamir was dead, the Goths fled to Thiudimer, 
his brother. Although he had long ruled along with his 
brothers, yet he took the insignia of his increased author- 
ity and summoned his younger brother Vidimer and 
shared with him the cares of war, resorting to arms under 
compulsion. A battle was fought and the party of the 
Goths was found to be so much the stronger that the 
plain was drenched in the blood of their fallen foes and 
looked like a crimson sea. Weapons and corpses, piled 
up like hills, covered the plain for more than ten miles. 

279 When the Goths saw this, they rejoiced with joy unspeak- 
able, because by this great slaughter of their foes they 
had avenged the blood of Valamir their king and the 
injury done themselves. But those of the innumerable 
and motley throng of the foe who were able to escape, 
though they got away, nevertheless came to their own 
land with difficulty and without glory. 

280 LV After a certain time, when the wintry cold was 
at hand, the river Danube was frozen over as usual. For 
a river like this freezes so hard that it will support like 
a solid rock an army of foot-soldiers and wagons and 
carts and whatsoever vehicles there may be, nor is there 
need of skiffs and boats. So when Thiudimer, king of 
the Goths, saw that it was frozen, he led his army across 
the Danube and appeared unexpectedly to the Suavi from 
the rear. Now this country of the Suavi has on the east 
the Baiovari, on the west the Franks, on the south the 

281 Burgundians and on the north the Thuringians. With 
the Suavi there were present the Alamanni, then their 
confederates, who also ruled the Alpine heights, whence 




8 9 



Capture of 





several streams flow into the Danube, pouring in with a 
great rushing sound. Into a place thus fortified King 
Thiudimer led his army in the winter-time and conquered, 
plundered and almost subdued the race of the Suavi as 
well as the Alamanni, who were mutually banded to- 
gether. Thence he returned as victor to his own home in 
Pannonia and joyfully received his son Theodoric, once 
given as hostage to Constantinople and now sent back by 
theEmperor Leo with great gifts. Now Theodoric had 
reached man's estate, for he was eighteen years of age 
and his boyhood was ended. So he summoned certain of 
his father's adherents and took to himself from the people 
his friends and retainers, almost six thousand men. 
With these he crossed the Danube, without his father's 
knowledge, and marched against Babai, king of the Sar- 
matians, who had just won a victory over Camundus, a 
general of the Romans, and was ruling with insolent 
pride. Theodoric came upon him and slew him, and 
taking as booty his slaves and treasure, returned vic- 
torious to his father. Next he invaded the city of Singi- 
dunum, which the Sarmatians themselves had seized, and 
did not return it to the Romans, but reduced it to his own 

LVI Then as the spoil taken from one and another 
of the neighboring tribes diminished, the Goths began 
to lack food and clothing, and peace became distaste- 
ful to men for whom war had long furnished the 
necessaries of life. So all the Goths approached their 
king Thiudimer and, with great outcry, begged him to 
lead forth his army in whatsoever direction he might 
wish. He summoned his brother and, after casting lots, 
bade him go into the country of Italy, where at this time 
Glycerins ruled as emperor, saying that he himself as the 




mightier would go to the east against a mightier empire. 

28 4 And so it happened. Thereupon Vidimer entered the 
land of Italy, but soon paid the last debt of fate and 
departed from earthly affairs, leaving his son and name- 
sake Vidimer to succeed him. The Emperor Glycerius 
bestowed gifts upon Vidimer and persuaded him to go 
from Italy to Gaul, which was then harassed on all sides 
by various races, saying that their own kinsmen, the 
Visigoths, there ruled a neighboring kingdom. And 
what more? Vidimer accepted the gifts and, obeying 
the command of the Emperor Glycerius, pressed on to 
Gaul. Joining with his kinsmen the Visigoths, they 
again formed one body, as they had been long ago. Thus 
they held Gaul and Spain by their own right and so 
defended them that no other race won the mastery there. 

285 But Thiudimer, the elder brother, crossed the river THIUDIMER 
Savus with his men, threatening the Sarmatians and their MACEDONIA 
soldiers with war if any should resist him. From fear of 

this they kept quiet ; moreover they were powerless in the 
face of so great a host. Thiudimer, seeing prosperity 
everywhere awaiting him, invaded Naissus, the first city 
of Illyricum. He was joined by his son Theodoric and 
the Counts Astat and Invilia, and sent them to Ulpiana 

286 by way of Castrum Herculis. Upon their arrival the 
town surrendered, as did Stobi later; and several places 
of Illyricum, inaccessible to them at first, were thus made 
easy of approach. For they first plundered and then 
ruled by right of war Heraclea and Larissa, cities of 
Thessaly. But Thiudimer the king, perceiving his own 
good fortune and that of his son, was not content with 
this alone, but set forth from the city of Naissus, leaving 
only a few men behind as a guard. He himself advanced 
to Thessalonica, where Hilarianus the Patrician, ap- 




Theodoric the 











pointed by the Emperor, was stationed with his army. 
When Hilarianus beheld Thessalonica surrounded by an 2 8? 
entrenchment and saw that he could not resist attack, he 
sent an embassy to Thiudimer the king and by the offer 
of gifts turned him aside from destroying the city. Then 
the Roman general entered upon a truce with the Goths 
and of his own accord handed over to them those places 
they inhabited, namely Cyrrhus, Pella, Europus, Me- 
thone, Pydna, Beroea, and another which is called Dium. 
So the Goths and their king laid aside their arms, con- 
sented to peace and became quiet. Soon after these 
events, King Thiudimer was seized with a mortal illness 
in the city of Cyrrhus. He called the Goths to himself, 
appointed Theodoric his son as heir of his kingdom and 
presently departed this life. 

LVII When the Emperor Zeno heard that Theodoric 289 
had been appointed king over his own people, he received 
the news with pleasure and invited him to come and visit 
him in the city, appointing an escort of honor. Receiving 
Theodoric with all due respect, he placed him among the 
princes of his palace. After some time Zeno increased 
his dignity by adopting him as his son-at-arms and gave 
him a triumph in the city at his expense. Theodoric was 
made Consul Ordinary also, which is well known to be 
the supreme good and highest honor in the world. Nor 
was this all, for Zeno set up before the royal palace an 
equestrian statue to the glory of this great man. 

Now while Theodoric was in alliance by treaty with 2 9 
the Empire of Zeno and was himself enjoying every 
comfort in the city, he heard that his tribe, dwelling as 
we have said in Illyricum, was not altogether satisfied or 
content. So he chose rather to seek a living by his own 
exertions, after the manner customary to his race, rather 


than to enjoy the advantages of the Roman Empire in 
luxurious ease while his tribe lived in want. After pond- 
ering these matters, he said to the Emperor : "Though I 
lack nothing in serving your Empire, yet if Your Piety 
deem it worthy, be pleased to hear the desire of my 

291 heart." And when as usual he had been granted permis- 
sion to speak freely, he said : "The western country, long 
ago governed by the rule of your ancestors and prede- 
cessors, and that city which was the head and mistress of 
the world, wherefore is it now shaken by the tyranny 
of the Torcilingi and the Rugi ? Send me there with my 
race. Thus if you but say the word, you may be freed 
from the burden of expense here, and, if by the Lord's 
help I shall conquer, the fame of Your Piety shall be 
glorious there. For it is better that I, your servant and 
your son, should rule that kingdom, receiving it as a 
gift from you if I conquer, than that one whom you do 
not recognize should oppress your Senate with his tyran- 
nical yoke and a part of the republic with slavery. For if 
I prevail, I shall retain it as your grant and gift; if I am 
conquered, Your Piety will lose nothing nay, as I have 

292 said, it will save the expense I now entail." Although the THEODORIC 


Emperor was grieved that he should go, yet when he ITALY 

heard this he granted what Theodoric asked, for he was 4 

unwilling to cause him sorrow. He sent him forth en- 
riched by great gifts and commended to his charge the 
Senate and the Roman People. 

Therefore Theodoric departed from the royal city and 
returned to his own people. In company with the whole 
tribe of the Goths, who gave him their unanimous con- 
sent, he set out for Hesperia. He went in straight march 
through Sirmium to the places bordering on Pannonia 
and, advancing into the territory of Venetia as far as 











the gridge of the Sontius, encamped there. When he 293 
had halted there for some time to rest the bodies of 
his men and pack-animals, Odoacer sent an armed force 
against him, which he met on the plains of Verona and 
destroyed with great slaughter. Then he broke camp 
and advanced through Italy with greater boldness. Cross- 
ing the river Po, he pitched camp near the royal city 
of Ravenna, about the third milestone from the city in 
the place called Pineta. When Odoacer saw this, he 
fortified himself within the city. He frequently harassed 
the army of the Goths at night, sallying forth stealthily 
with his men, and this not once or twice, but often; and 
thus he struggled for almost three whole years. But he 294 
labored in vain, for all Italy at last called Theodoric its 
lord and the Empire obeyed his nod. But Odoacer, with 
his few adherents and the Romans who were present, suf- 
fered daily from war and famine in Ravenna. Since he 
accomplished nothing, he sent an embassy and begged for 
mercy. Theodoric first granted it and afterwards de- 295 
prived him of his life. 

It was in the third year after his entrance into Italy, 
as we have said, that Theodoric, by advice of the Em- 
peror Zeno, laid aside the garb of a private citizen and 
the dress of his race and assumed a costume with a royal 
mantle, as he had now become the ruler over both Goths 
and Romans. He sent an embassy to Lodoin, king of the 
Franks, and asked for his daughter Audefleda in mar- 
riage. Lodoin freely and gladly gave her, and also his 2 9^ 
sons Celdebert and Heldebert and Thiudebert, believing 
that by this alliance a league would be formed and that 
they would be associated with the race of the Goths. But 
that union was of no avail for peace and harmony, for 
they fought fiercely with each other again and again for 


the lands of the Goths; but never did the Goths yield to 
the Franks while Theodoric lived. 

297 LVIII Now before he had a child from Audefleda, 
Theodoric had children of a concubine, daughters begot- 
ten in Moesia, one named Thiudigoto and another Ostro- 
gotho. Soon after he came to Italy, he gave them in mar- 
riage to neighboring kings, one to Alaric, king of the 
Visigoths, and the other to Sigismund, king of the Bur- 

298 gundians. Now Alaric begat Amalaric. While his grand- 
father Theodoric cared for and protected him for he 
had lost both parents in the years of childhood he 
found that Eutharic, the son of Veteric, grandchild of 
Beremud and Thorismud, and a descendant of the race 
of the Amali, was living in Spain, a young man strong in 
wisdom and valor and health of body. Theodoric sent 
for him and gave him his daughter Amalasuentha in 

2 QQ marriage. And that he might extend his family as much 
as possible, he sent his sister Amalafrida (the mother of 
Theodahad, who was afterwards king) to Africa as wife 
of Thrasamund, king of the Vandals, and her daughter 
Amalaberga, who was his own niece, he united with Her- 
minefred, king of the Thuringians. 

300 Now he sent his Count Pitza, chosen from among the 
chief men of his kingdom, to hold the city of Sirmium. 
He got possession of it by driving out its king Thrasaric, 
son of Thraustila, and keeping his mother captive. Thence 
he came with two thousand infantry and five hundred 
horsemen to aid Mundo against Sabinian, Master of the 
Soldiery of Illyricum, who at that time had made ready to 
fight with Mundo near the city named Margoplanum, 
which lies between the Danube and Margus rivers, and 

301 destroyed the Army of Illyricum. For this Mundo, who 
traced his descent from the Attilani of old, had put to 











flight the tribe of the Gepidae and was roaming beyond 
the Danube in waste places where no man tilled the soil. 
He had gathered around him many outlaws and ruffians 
and robbers from all sides and had seized a tower callea 
Herta, situated on the bank of the Danube. There he 
plundered his neighbors in wild license and made himself 
king over his vagabonds. Now Pitza came upon him 
when he was nearly reduced to desperation and was al- 
ready thinking of surrender. So he rescued him from 
the hands of Sabinian and made him a grateful subject of 
his king Theodoric. 

Theodoric won an equally great victory over the 3 2 
Franks through his Count Ibba in Gaul, when more than 
thirty thousand Franks were slain in battle. Moreover, 
after the death of his son-in-law Alaric, Theodoric ap- 
pointed Thiudis, his armor-bearer, guardian of his grand- 
son Amalaric in Spain. But Amalaric was ensnared by 
the plots of the Franks in early youth and lost at once his 
kingdom and his life. Then his guardian Thiudis, ad- 
vancing from the same kingdom, assailed the Franks and 
delivered the Spaniards from their disgraceful treachery. 
So long as he lived he kept the Visigoths united. After 33 
him Thiudigisclus obtained the kingdom and, ruling but 
a short time, met his death at the hands of his own fol- 
lowers. He was succeeded by Agil, who holds the king- 
dom to the present day. Athanagild has rebelled against 
him and is even now provoking the might of the Roman 
Empire. So Liberius the Patrician is on the way with 
an army to oppose him. Now there was not a tribe in 
the west that did not serve Theodoric while he lived, 
either in friendship or by conquest. 

LIX When he had reached old age and knew that he 304 
should soon depart this life, he called together the Gothic 

counts and chieftains of his race and appointed Athalaric 
as king. He was a boy scarce ten years old, the son of 
his daughter Amalasuentha, and he had lost his father 
Eutharic. As though uttering his last will and testament, 
Theodoric adjured and commanded them to honor their 
king, to love the Senate and Roman People and to make 
sure of the peace and good will of the Emperor of the 
East, as next after God. 

35 They kept this command fully so long as Athalaric 
their king and his mother lived, and ruled in peace for 
almost eight years. But as the Franks put no confidence 
in the rule of a child and furthermore held him in con- 
tempt, and were also plotting war, he gave back to them 
those parts of Gaul which his father and grandfather had 
seized. He possessed all the rest in peace and quiet. 
Therefore when Athalaric was approaching the age of 
manhood, he entrusted to the Emperor of the East both 
his own youth and his mother's widowhood. But in a 
short time the ill-fated boy was carried off by an untimely 

306 death and departed from earthly affairs. His mother 
feared she might be despised by the Goths on account of 
the weakness of her sex. So after much thought she de- 
cided, for the sake of relationship, to summon her cousin 
Theodahad from Tuscany, where he led a retired life at 
home, and thus she established him on the throne. But 
he was unmindful of their kinship and, after a little time, 
had her taken from the palace at Ravenna to an island 
of the Bulsinian lake where he kept her in exile. After 
spending a very few days there in sorrow, she was 
strangled in the bath by his hirelings. 

307 LX When Justinian, the Emperor of the East, heard 
this, he was aroused as if he had suffered personal injury 
in the death of his wards. Now at that time he had won 














a triumph over the Vandals in Africa, through his most 
faithful Patrician Belisarius. Without delay he sent his 
army under this leader against the Goths at the very time 
when his arms were yet dripping with the blood of the 
Vandals. This sagacious' general believed he could not 
overcome the Gothic nation, unless he should first seize 
Sicily, their nursing-mother. Accordingly he did so. As 
soon as he entered Trinacria, the Goths, who were besieg- 
ing the town of Syracuse, found that they were not suc- 
ceeding and surrendered of their own accord to Belisa- 
rius, with their leader Sinderith. When the Roman gen- 
eral reached Sicily, Theodahad sought out Evermud, his 
son-in-law, and sent him with an army to guard the strait 
which lies between Campania and Sicily and sweeps from 
a bend of the Tyrrhenian Sea into the vast tide of the 
Adriatic. When Evermud arrived, he pitched his camp 
by the town of Rhegium. He soon saw that his side was 
the weaker. Coming over with a few close and faithful 
followers to the side of the victor and willingly casting 
himself at the feet of Belisarius, he decided to serve the 
rulers of the Roman Empire. When the army of the 
Goths perceived this, they distrusted Theodahad and 
clamored for his expulsion from the kingdom and for the 
appointment as king of their leader Vitiges, who had been 
his armor bearer. This was done; and presently Vitiges 
was raised to the office of king on the Barbarian Plains. 
He entered Rome and sent on to Ravenna the men most 
faithful to him to demand the death of Theodahad. They 
came and executed his command. After King Theodahad 
was slain, a messenger came from the king for he was 
already king in the Barbarian Plains to proclaim Vitiges 
to the people. 






Meanwhile the Roman army crossed the strait and 
marched toward Campania. They took Naples and 
pressed on to Rome. Now a few days before they ar- 
rived, King Vitiges had set forth from Rome, arrived at 
Ravenna and married Mathesuentha, the daughter of 
Amalasuentha and grand-daughter of Theodoric, the for- 
mer king. While he was celebrating his new marriage and 
holding court at Ravenna, the imperial army advanced 
from Rome and attacked the strongholds in both parts of 
Tuscany. When Vitiges learned of this through messen- 
gers, he sent a force under Hunila, a leader of the Goths, 
to Perusia which was beleaguered by them. While they 
were endeavoring by a long siege to dislodge Count 
Magnus, who was holding the place with a small force, 
the Roman army came upon them, and they themselves 
were driven away and utterly exterminated. When Vit- 
tiges heard the news, he raged like a lion and assembled 
all the host of the Goths. He advanced from Ravenna 
and harassed the walls of Rome with a long siege. But 
after fourteen months his courage was broken and he 
raised the siege of the city of Rome and prepared to over- 
whelm Ariminum. Here he was baffled in like manner 
and put to flight ; and so he retreated to Ravenna. When 
besieged there, he quickly and willingly surrendered him- 
self to the victorious side, together with his wife Mathe- 
suentha and the royal treasure. 

And thus a famous kingdom and most valiant race, 
which had long held sway, was at last overcome in almost 
its two thousand and thirtieth year by that conquerer of 
many nations, the Emperor Justinian, through his most 
faithful consul Belisarius. He gave Vitiges the title of 
Patrician and took him to Constantinople, where he dwelt 
for more than two years, bound by ties of affection to the 





Siege of 

Surrender of 



Death of 



Mathesuentha Emperor, and then departed this life. But "his consort 3H 
Germanus Mathesuentha was bestowed by the Emperor upon the 
542 Patrician Germanus, his cousin. And of them was born 

a son (also called Germanus) after the death of his 
father Germanus. This union of the race of the Anicii 
with the stock of the Amali gives hopeful promise, under 
the Lord's favor, to both peoples. 


And now we have recited the origin of the Goths, the 3 J 5 
noble line of the Amali and the deeds of brave men. This 
glorious race yielded to a more glorious prince and sur- 
rendered to a more valiant leader, whose fame shall be 
silenced by no ages or cycles of years ; for the victorious 
and triumphant Emperor Justinian and his consul Beli- 
sarius shall be named and known as Vandalicus, Afri- 
canus and Geticus. 

Thou who readest this, know that I have followed the 316 
writings of my ancestors, and have culled a few flowers 
from their broad meadows to weave a chaplet for him 
who cares to know these things. Let no one believe that 
to the advantage of the race of which I have spoken 
though indeed I trace my own descent from it I have 
added aught besides what I have read or learned by 
inquiry. Even thus I have not included all that is written 
or told about them, nor spoken so much to their praise as 
to the glory of him who conquered them.