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[The appropriate section numbers, and links to the online citations have kindly been provided by Bill Thayer, the modern icon for Classical Rome, and pioneer of the Online Texts Movement. — Elf.Ed.]

From The Germany and the Agricola by Tacitus; The Oxford Translation, Revised, with Notes; The Handy Book Company: Reading, Pennsylvania; undated; pp. 26-40.




By Cornelius Tacitus

[ Part 3 ]

Family Life — Ties of Relationship — Hospitality — Drunkenness — Pastimes :  Dancing and Gambling — Slavery — No Usury, Property Ownership — Funeral Rites — Migrations into Gaul — Various Tribes :  The Batavi and the Mattiaci — The Catti — The Custom of Long Hair Among the Catti — Usipii and Tencteri — Bructeri, Chamavi, and Angrivarii

20.  In every house the children grow up, thinly and meanly clad,1 to that bulk of body and limb which we behold with wonder. Every mother suckles her own children, and does not deliver them into the hands of servants and nurses. 2 No indulgence distinguishes the young master from the slave. They lie together amidst the same cattle, upon the same ground, till age2 separates, and valor marks out, the freeborn. 27 3 The youths partake late of the pleasures of love,3 and hence pass the age of puberty unexhausted: nor are the virgins hurried into marriage; the same maturity, the same full growth, is required; the sexes unite equally matched,4 and robust; and the children inherit the vigor of their parents. 4 Children are regarded with equal affection by their maternal uncles5 as by their fathers: some even consider this as the more sacred bond of consanguinity, and prefer it in the requisition of hostages, as if it held the mind by a firmer tie, and the family by a more extensive obligation. 5 A person’s own children, however, are his heirs and successors; and no wills are made. If there be no children, the next in order of inheritance are brothers, paternal and maternal uncles. The more numerous are a man’s relations and kinsmen, the more comfortable is his old age; nor is it here any advantage to be childless.6

21.  It is an indispensable duty to adopt the enmities7 of a father or relation, as well as their friendships: these however, are not irreconcilable or perpetual. Even homicide is 28 atoned8 by a certain fine in cattle and sheep; and the whole family accepts the satisfaction, to the advantage of the public weal, since quarrels are most dangerous in a free state. 2 No people are more addicted to social entertainments, or more liberal in the exercise of hospitality.9 To refuse any person whatever admittance under their roof, is accounted flagitious.10 Every one according to his ability feasts his guest: when his provisions are exhausted, he who was late the host, is now the guide and companion to another hospitable board. They enter the next house uninvited, and are received with equal cordiality. 3 No one makes a distinction with respect to the rights of hospitality, between a stranger and an acquaintance. The departing guest is presented with whatever he may ask for; and with the same freedom a boon is desired in return. They are pleased with presents; but think no obligation incurred either when they give or receive.

22.  11[Their manner of living with their guest is easy and affable.] As soon as they arise from sleep, which they generally protract till late in the day, they bathe, usually in warm water,12 as cold weather chiefly prevails there. After bathing they take their meal, each on a distinct seat, and at 29 a separate table.13 Then they proceed, armed, to business; and not less frequently to convivial parties, 2 in which it is no disgrace to pass days and night, without intermission, in drinking. The frequent quarrels that arise among them, when intoxicated, seldom terminate in abusive language, but more frequently in blood.14 3 In their feasts, they generally deliberate on the reconcilement of enemies, on family alliances, on the appointment of chiefs, and finally on peace and war; conceiving that at no time the soul is more opened to sincerity, or warmed to heroism. 4 These people, naturally void of artifice or disguise, disclose the most secret emotions of their hearts in the freedom of festivity. The minds of all being thus displayed without reserve, the subjects of their deliberation are again canvassed the next day;15 and each time has its advantages. They consult when unable to dissemble; they determine when not liable to mistake.

23.  Their drink is a liquor prepared from barley or wheat16 brought by fermentation to a certain resemblance of wine. Those who border on the Rhine also purchase wine. Their food is simple; wild fruits, fresh venison,17 or coagulated milk.18 30 They satisfy hunger without seeking the elegances and delicacies of the table. Their thirst for liquor is not quenched with equal moderation. 2 If their propensity to drunkenness be gratified to the extent of their wishes, intemperance proves as effectual in subduing them as the force of arms.19

24.  They have only one kind of public spectacle, which is exhibited in every company. Young men, who make it their diversion, dance naked amidst drawn swords and presented spears. 2 Practice has conferred skill at this exercise, and skill has given grace; but they do not exhibit for hire or gain: the only reward of his pastime, though a hazardous one, is the pleasure of the spectators. 3 What is extraordinary, they play at dice, when sober, as a serious business; and that with such a desperate venture of gain or loss, that, when every thing else is gone, they set their liberties and persons on the last throw. 4 The loser goes into voluntary servitude; and, though the youngest and strongest, patiently suffers himself to be bound and sold.20 Such is their obstinacy in a bad practice — they 31 themselves call it honor. The slaves thus acquired are exchanged away in commerce, that the winner may get rid of the scandal of his victory.

25.  The rest of their slaves have not, like ours, particular employments in the family allotted them. Each is the master of a habitation and household of his own. The lord requires from him a certain quantity of grain, cattle or cloth, as from a tenant; and so far only the subjection of the slave extends.21 His domestic offices are performed by his own wife and children. 2 It is unusual to scourge a slave, or punish him with chains or hard labor. They are sometimes killed by their masters; not through severity of chastisement, but in the heat of passion, like an enemy; with this difference, that it is done with impunity.22 3 Freedmen are little superior to slaves; seldom filling any important office in the family; never in the state, except in those tribes which are under regal government.23 There, they rise above the free-born, and even the nobles: in the rest, the subordinate condition of the freedmen is a proof of freedom.

26.  Lending money upon interest, and increasing it by usury,24 is unknown among them; and this ignorance more effectually prevents the practice than a prohibition would do. The lands are occupied by townships,25 in allotments proportional 32 to the number of cultivators; and are afterward parceled out among the individuals of the district, in shares according to the rank and condition of each person.26 The wide extent of plain facilitates this partition. 2 The arable lands are annually changed, and a part left fallow; nor do they attempt to make the most of the fertility and plenty of the soil, by their own industry in planting orchards, inclosing meadows, and watering gardens. Corn is the only product required from the earth: 3 hence their year is not divided into so many seasons as ours; for, while they know and distinguish by name Winter, Spring, and Summer, they are unacquainted equally with the appellation and bounty of Autumn.27

27.  Their funerals are without parade.28 The only circumstance to which they attend, is to burn the bodies of eminent persons with some particular kinds of wood. 2 Neither vestments 33 nor perfumes are heaped upon the pile:29 the arms of the deceased, and sometimes his horse,30 are given to the flames. The tomb is a mound of turf. They contemn the elaborate and costly honors of monumental structures, as mere burdens to the dead. They soon dismiss tears and lamentations; slowly, sorrow and regret. They think it the women’s part to bewail their friends, the men’s to remember them.

28.  This is the sum of what I have been able to learn concerning the origin and manners of the Germans in general. I now proceed to mention those particulars in which they differ from each other; and likewise to relate what nations have migrated from Germany into Gaul. That great writer, the deified Julius, asserts that the Gauls were formerly the superior people;31 whence it is probable that some Gallic colonies passed over into Germany; for how small an obstacle would a river be to prevent any nation, as it increased in 34 strength, from occupying or changing settlements as yet lying in common, and unappropriated by the power of monarchies! 2 Accordingly, the tract betwixt the Hercynian forest and the rivers Rhine and Mayne was possessed by the Helvetii:32 and that beyond, by the Boii;33 both Gallic tribes. The name of Boiemum still remains, a memorial of the ancient settlement, though its inhabitants are now changed.34 3 But whether the Aravisci35 migrated into Pannonia from the Osi,36 a German nation; or the Osi into Germany from the Aravisci; the language, institutions, and manners of both being still the same, is a matter of uncertainty; for, in their pristine state of equal indigence and equal liberty, the same advantages and disadvantages were common to both sides of the river. 4 The Treveri37 and Nervii38 are ambitious of being thought of German origin; as if the reputation of this descent would distinguish them from the Gauls, whom they resemble in person and effeminacy. The Vangiones, Triboci, and Nemetes,39 who inhabit the bank of the Rhine, are without doubt German 35 tribes. 5 Nor do the Ubii,40 although they have been thought worthy of being made a Roman colony, and are pleased in bearing the name of Agrippinenses from their founder, blush to acknowledge their origin from Germany; from whence they formerly migrated, and for their approved fidelity were settled on the bank of the Rhine, not that they might be guarded themselves, but that they might serve as a guard against invaders.

29.  Of all these people, the most famed for valor are the Batavi; whose territories comprise but a small part of the banks of the Rhine, but consist chiefly of an island within it.41 These were formerly a tribe of the Catti, who, on account of an intestine division, removed to their present settlements, in order to become a part of the Roman empire. 2 They still retain this honor, together with a memorial of their ancient alliance;42 for they are neither insulted by taxes, nor oppressed by farmers of the revenue. Exempt from fiscal burdens and extraordinary contributions, and kept apart for military use alone, they are reserved, like a magazine of arms, for the purposes of war. 3 The nation of the Mattiaci43 is under a degree of subjection of the same kind: for the greatness of the Roman people has carried a reverence for the empire beyond the Rhine and the ancient limits. The Mattiaci, therefore, though occupying a settlement and borders44 on the opposite side of 36 the river, from sentiment and attachment act with us; resembling the Batavi in every respect, except that they are animated with a more vigorous spirit by the soil and air of their own country.45 4 I do not reckon among the people of Germany those who occupy the Decumate lands,46 although inhabiting between the Rhine and Danube. Some of the most fickle of the Gauls, rendered daring through indigence, seized upon this district of uncertain property. Afterward, our boundary line being advanced, and a chain of fortified posts established, it became a skirt of the empire, and part of the Roman province.47

30.  Beyond these dwell the Catti,48 whose settlements, beginning from the Hercynian forest, are in a tract of country less open and marshy than those which overspread the other states of Germany; for it consists of a continued range of hills, which gradually become more scattered; and the Hercynian forest49 both accompanies and leaves behind, its Catti. 2 This 37 nation is distinguished by hardier frames,50 compactness of limb, fierceness of countenance, and superior vigor of mind. For Germans, they have a considerable share of understanding and sagacity: they choose able persons to command, and obey them when chosen; keep their ranks; seize opportunities; restrain impetuous motions; distribute properly the business of the day; intrench themselves against the night; account fortune dubious, and valor only certain; and, what is extremely rare, and only a consequence of discipline, depend more upon the general than the army.51 3 Their force consists entirely in infantry; who, besides their arms, are obliged to carry tools and provisions. Other nations appear to go to a battle; the Catti, to war. Excursions and casual encounters are rare among them. It is, indeed, peculiar to cavalry soon to obtain, and soon to yield, the victory. Speed borders upon timidity; slow movements are more akin to steady valor.

31.  A custom followed among the other German nations only by a few individuals, of more daring spirit than the rest, is adopted by general consent among the Catti. From the time they arrive at years of maturity they let their hair and beard grow;52 and do not divest themselves of this votive 38 badge, the promise of valor, till they have slain an enemy. 2 Over blood and spoils they unvail the countenance, and proclaim that they have at length paid the debt of existence, and have proved themselves worthy of their country and parents. The cowardly and effeminate continue in their squalid disguise. 3 The bravest among them wear also an iron ring53 (a mark of ignominy in that nation) as a kind of chain, till they have released themselves by the slaughter of a foe. 4 Many of the Catti assume this distinction, and grow hoary under the mark, conspicuous both to foes and friends. By these, in every engagement, the attack is begun: they compose the front line, presenting a new spectacle of terror. Even in peace they do not relax the sternness of their aspect. 5 They have no house, land, or domestic cares: they are maintained by whomsoever they visit: lavish of another’s property, regardless of their own; till the debility of age renders them unequal to such a rigid course of military virtue.54

32.  Next to the Catti, on the banks of the Rhine, where, now settled in its channel, it is become a sufficient boundary, dwell the Usipii and Tencteri.55 2 The latter people, in addition to the usual military reputation, are famed for the discipline of their cavalry; nor is the infantry of the Catti in higher estimation than the horse of the Tencteri. Their ancestors 39 established it, and are imitated by posterity. 3 Horsemanship is the sport of their children, the point of emulation of their youth, and the exercise in which they persevere to old age. 4 Horses are bequeathed along with the domestics, the household gods, and the rights of inheritance: they do not, however, like other things, go to the eldest son, but to the bravest and most warlike.

33.  Contiguous to the Tencteri were formerly the Bructeri;56 but report now says that the Chamavi and Angrivarii,57 migrating into their country, have expelled and entirely extirpated them,58 with the concurrence of the neighboring nations, induced either by hatred of their arrogance,59 love of plunder, or the favor of the gods toward the Romans. 2 For they even gratified us with the spectacle of a battle, in which above sixty thousand Germans were slain, not by Roman arms, but, what was still grander, by mutual hostilities, as it were for our pleasure and entertainment.60 May the nations 40 retain and perpetuate, if not an affection for us, at least an animosity against each other! since, while the fate of the empire is thus urgent,61 fortune can bestow no higher benefit upon us, than the discord of our enemies.


1  Nudi ac sordidi does not mean “in nakedness and filth,” as most translators have supposed. Personal filth is inconsistent with the daily practice of bathing mentioned c. 22; and nudus does not necessarily imply absolute nakedness (see note 42, p. 9).

2  This age appears at first to have been twelve years; for then a youth became liable to the penalties of law. Thus in the Salic law it is said, “If a child under twelve commit a fault, ‘fred,’ or a mulct, shall not be required of him.” Afterward the term was fifteen years of age. Thus in the Ripuary law, “A child under fifteen shall not be responsible.” Again, “If a man die, or be killed, and leave a son; before he have completed his fifteenth year, he shall neither prosecute a cause, nor be called upon to answer in a suit: but at this term, he must either answer himself, or choose an advocate. In like manner with regard to the female sex.” The Burgundian law provides to the same effect. This then was the term of majority, which in later times, when heavier armor was used, was still longer delayed.

3   This is illustrated by a passage in Cæsar (Bell. Gall. vi. 21): “They who are the latest in proving their virility are most commended. By this delay they imagine the stature is increased, the strength improved, and the nerves fortified. To have knowledge of the other sex before twenty years of age, is accounted in the highest degree scandalous.”

4  Equal not only in age and constitution, but in condition. Many of the German codes of law annex penalties to those of both sexes who marry persons of inferior rank.

5  Hence, in the history of the Merovingian kings of France, so many instances of regard to sisters and their children appear, and so many wars undertaken on their account.

6  The court paid at Rome to rich persons without children, by the Hæredipetæ, or legacy-hunters, is a frequent subject of censure and ridicule with the Roman writers.

7  Avengers of blood are mentioned in the law of Moses, Numb. xxxv. 19. In the Roman law also, under the head of “those who on account of unworthiness are deprived of their inheritance,” it is pronounced, that “such heirs as are proved to have neglected revenging the testator’s death, shall be obliged to restore the entire profits.”

8  It was a wise provision, that among this fierce and warlike people, revenge should be commuted for a payment. That this intention might not be frustrated by the poverty of the offender, his whole family were conjointly bound to make compensation.

9  All uncivilized nations agree in this property, which becomes less necessary as a nation improves in the arts of civil life.

10  Convictibus et hospitiis. “Festivities and entertainments.” The former word applies to friends and fellow-countrymen; the latter, to those not of the same tribe, and foreigners. Cæsar (Bell. Gall. vi. 23) says, “They think it unlawful to offer violence to their guests, who, on whatever occasion they come to them, are protected from injury, and considered as sacred. Every house is open to them, and provision every where set before them.” Mela (iii. 3) says of the Germans, “They make right consist in force, so that they are not ashamed of robbery: they are only kind to their guests, and merciful to suppliants. The Burgundian law lays a fine of three solidi on every man who refuses his roof or earth to the coming guest.” The Salic law, however, rightly forbids the exercise of hospitality to atrocious criminals; laying a penalty on the person who shall harbor one who has dug up or despoiled the dead, till he has made satisfaction to the relations.

11  The clause here put within brackets is probably misplaced; since it does not connect well either with what goes before, or what follows.

12  The Russians are at present the most remarkable among the northern nations for the use of warm bathing. Some of the North American tribes also have their hypocansts, or stoves.

13  Eating at separate tables is generally an indication of voracity. Traces of it may be found in Homer, and other writers who have described ancient manners. The same practice has also been observed among the people of Otahcite; who occasionally devour vast quantities of food.

14  The following article in the Salic laws shows at once the frequency of these bloody quarrels, and the laudable endeavors of the legislature to restrain them: — “If at a feast where there are four or five men in company, one of them be killed, the rest shall either convict one as the offender, or shall jointly pay the composition for his death. And this law shall extend to seven persons present at an entertainment.”

15  The same custom is related by Herodotus, i. p. 63, as prevailing among the Persians.

16  Of this liquor, beer or ale, Pliny speaks in the following passage: “The western nations have their intoxicating liquor, made of steeped grain. The Egyptians also invented drinks of the same kind. Thus drunkenness is a stranger in no part of the world; for these liquors are taken pure, and not diluted as wine is. Yet, surely, the Earth thought she was producing corn. Oh, the wonderful sagacity of our vices! we have discovered how to render even water intoxicating.” — xiv. 22.

17  Mela says, “Their manner of living is so rude and savage, that they eat even raw flesh; either fresh killed, or softened by working with their hands and feet, after it has grown stiff in the hides of tame or wild animals.” (iii. 3.) Florus relates that the ferocity of the Cimbri was mitigated by their feeding on bread and dressed meat, and drinking wine, in the softest tract of Italy. — iii. 3.

18  This must not be understood to have been cheese; although Cæsar says of the Germans, “Their diet chiefly consists of milk, cheese, and flesh.” (Bell. Gall. vi. 22.) Pliny, who was thoroughly acquainted with the German manners, says, more accurately, “It is surprising that the barbarous nations who live on milk should for so many ages have been ignorant of, or have rejected, the preparation of cheese; especially since they thicken their milk into a pleasant tart substance, and a fat butter: this is the scum of milk, of a thicker consistence than what is called the whey. It must not be omitted that it has the properties of oil, and is used as an unguent by all the barbarians, and by us for children.” — xi. 41.

19  This policy has been practiced by the Europeans with regard to the North American savages, some tribes of which have been almost totally extirpated by it.

20  St. Ambrose has a remarkable passage concerning this spirit of gaming among a barbarous people: — “It is said that the Huns, who continually make war upon other nations, are themselves subject to usurers, with whom they run in debt at play; and that, while they live without laws, they obey the laws of dice alone; playing when drawn up in line of battle; carrying dice along with their arms, and perishing more by each others’ hands than by the enemy. In the midst of victory they submit to become captives, and suffer plunder from their own countrymen, which they know not how to bear from the foe. On this account they never lay aside the business of war, because, when they have lost all their booty by the dice, they have no means of acquiring fresh supplies for play, but by the sword. They are frequently borne away with such a desperate ardor, that, when the loser has given up his arms, the only part of his property which he greatly values, he sets the power over his life at a single cast to the winner or usurer. It is a fact, that a person, known to the Roman emperor, paid the price of a servitude which he had by this means brought upon himself, by suffering death at the command of his master.”

21  The condition of these slaves was the same as that of the vassals, or serfs, who a few centuries ago made the great body of the people in every country in Europe. The Germans, in after times, imitating the Romans, had slaves of inferior condition, to whom the name of slave became appropriated; while those in the state of rural vassalage were called lidi.

22  A private enemy could not be slain with impunity, since a fine was affixed to homicide; but a man might kill his own slave without any punishment. If, however, he killed another person’s slave, he was obliged to pay his price to the owner.

23  The amazing height of power and insolence to which freedmen arrived by making themselves subservient to the vices of the prince, is a striking characteristic of the reigns of some of the worst of the Roman emperors.

24  In Rome, on the other hand, the practice of usury was, as our author terms it, “an ancient evil, and a perpetual source of sedition and discord.” — Annals, vi. 16.

25  All the copies read per vices, “by turns,” or alternately: but the connection seems evidently to require the easy alteration of per vicos, which has been approved by many learned commentators, and is therefore adopted in this translation.

26  Cæsar has several particulars concerning this part of German polity. “They are not studious of agriculture, the greater part of their diet consisting of milk, cheese, and flesh; nor has any one a determinate portion of land, his own peculiar property; but the magistrates and chiefs allot every year to tribes and clanships forming communities, as much land, and in such situations, as they think proper, and oblige them to remove the succeeding year. For this practice they assign several reasons: as, lest they should be led, by being accustomed to one spot, to exchange the toils of war for the business of agriculture; lest they should acquire a passion for possessing extensive domains, and the more powerful should be tempted to dispossess the weaker; lest they should construct buildings with more art than was necessary to protect them from the inclemencies of the weather; lest the love of money should arise among them, the source of faction and dissensions; and in order that the people, beholding their own possessions equal to those of the most powerful, might be retained by the bonds of equity and moderation.” — Bell. Gall. vi. 21.

[With this last statement, it is odd that anyone felt it necessary to correct all the manuscripts of Tacitus described in the preceding note, when “alternately” fit perfectly when Cæsar’s statement above is compared with it. — Elf.Ed.]

27  The Germans, not planting fruit-trees, were ignorant of the proper products of autumn. They have now all the autumnal fruits of their climate; yet their language still retains a memorial of their ancient deficiencies, in having no term for this season of the year, but one denoting the gathering in of corn alone — Herbst, Harvest.

28   In this respect, as well as many others, the manners of the Germans were a direct contrast to those of the Romans. Pliny mentions a private person, C. Cæcilius Claudius Isidorus, who ordered the sum of about £10,000 sterling to be expended in his funeral: and in another place he says, “Intelligent persons asserted that Arabia did not produce such a quantity of spices in a year as Nero burned at the obsequies of his Poppæa.” — xxxiii. 10, and xii. 18.

29  The following lines of Lucan, describing the last honors paid by Cornelia to the body of Pompey the Great, happily illustrate the customs here referred to: —

  Collegit vestes, miserique insignia Magni,
  Armaque, et impressas auro, quas gesserat olim
  Exuvias, pictasque togas, velamina summo
  Ter conspecta Jovi, funestoque intuilit igni. — Lib. ix. 175.

“There shone his arms, with antique gold inlaid,
  There the rich robes which she herself had made,
  Robes to imperial Jove in triumph thrice display’d:
  The relics of his past victorious days,
  Now that his latest trophy serve to raise,
  And in one common flame together blaze.” — ROWE.

30  Thus in the tomb of Childeric, king of the Franks, were found his spear and sword, and also his horse’s head, with a shoe, and gold buckles and housings. A human skull was likewise discovered, which, perhaps, was that of his groom.

[For more on the contents of Childeric’s tomb, see James Eason’s page, On Childeric’s Bees. — Elf.Ed.]

31  Cæsar’s account is as follows: — “There was formerly a time when the Gauls surpassed the Germans in bravery, and made war upon them; and, on account of their multitude of people and scarcity of land, sent colonies beyond the Rhine. The most fertile parts of Germany, adjoining to the Hercynian forest, (which, I observe, was known by report to Eratosthenes and others of the Greeks, and called by them Orcinia,) were accordingly occupied by the Volcæ and Tectosages, who settled there. These people still continue in the same settlements, and have a high character as well for the administration of justice as military prowess: and they now remain in the same state of penury and content as the Germans, whose manner of life they have adopted.” — Bell. Gall. vi. 24.

32  The inhabitants of Switzerland, then extending further than at present, toward Lyons.

33  A nation of Gauls, bordering on the Helvetii, as appears from Strabo and Cæsar. After being conquered by Cæsar, the Ædui gave them a settlement in the country now called the Bourbonnois. The name of their German colony, Boiemum, is still extant in Bohemia. The era at which the Helvetii and Boii penetrated into Germany is not ascertained. It seems probable, however, that it was in the reign of Tarquinius Priscus; for at that time, as we are told by Livy, Ambigatus, king of the Bituriges (people of Berry), sent his sister’s son Sigovesus into the Hercynian forest, with a colony, in order to exonerate his kingdoms which was overpeopled. (Livy, v. 33, et seq.)

34  In the time of Augustus, the Boii, driven from Boiemum by the Marcomanni, retired to Noricum, which from them was called Boioaria, now Bavaria.

35  This people inhabited that part of Lower Hungary now called the Palatinate of Pilis.

36  Toward the end of this treatise, Tacitus seems himself to decide this point, observing that their use of the Pannonian language, and acquiescence in paying tribute, prove the Osi not to be a German nation. They were settled beyond the Marcomanni and Quadi, and occupied the northern part of Transdanubian Hungary; perhaps extending to Silesia, where is a place called Ossen in the duchy of Oels, famous for salt and glass works. The learned Pelloutier, however, contends that the Osi were Germans; but with less probability.

37  The inhabitants of the modern diocese of Treves.

38  Those of Cambresis and Hainault.

39  Those of the dioceses of Worms, Strasbourg, and Spires.

40  Those of the diocese of Cologne. The Ubii, migrating from Germany to Gaul, on account of the enmity of the Catti, and their own attachment to the Roman interest, were received under the protection of Marcus Agrippa, in the year of Rome 717. (Strabo, iv. p. 194.) Agrippina, the wife of Claudius and the mother of Nero, was born among them, obtained the settlement of a colony there, which was called after her name.

41  Now the Betuwe, part of the provinces of Holland and Guelderland.

42  Hence the Batavi are termed, in an ancient inscription, “the brothers and friends of the Roman people.”

43  This nation inhabited part of the countries now called the Weteraw, Hesse, Isenburg, and Fulda. In this territory was Mattium, now Marpurg, and the Fontes Mattiaci, now Wisbaden, near Mentz.

44  The several people of Germany had their respective borders, called marks or marches, which they defended by preserving them in a desert and uncultivated state. Thus Cæsar, Bell. Gall. iv. 3: — “They think it the greatest honor to a nation, to have as wide an extent of vacant land around their dominions as possible; by which it is indicated, that a great number of neighboring communities are unable to withstand them. On this account, the Suevi are said to have, on one side, a tract of 600 (some learned men think we should read 60) miles desert for their boundaries.” In another place Cæsar mentions, as an additional reason for this policy, that they think themselves thereby rendered secure from the danger of sudden incursions. (Bell. Gall. vi. 13.)

45  The differences between the low situation and moist air of Batavia, and the high and dry country of the Mattiaci, will sufficiently justify this remark, in the opinion of those who allow any thing to the influence of climate.

46  Now Swabia. When the Marcomanni, toward the end of the reign of Augusta, quitting their settlements near the Rhine, migrated to Bohemia, the lands they left vacant were occupied by some unsettled Gauls among the Rauraci and Sequani. They seem to have been called Decumates (Decimated), because the inhabitants, liable to the incursions of the Germans, paid a tithe of their products to be received under the protection of the Romans. Adrian defended them by a rampart, which extended from Neustadt, a town on the Danube near the mouth of the river Altmühl, to the Neckar near Wimpfen; a space of sixty French leagues.

47  Of Upper Germany.

48  The Catti possessed a large territory between the Rhine, Mayne, and Sala, and the Hartz forest on this side the Weser; where are now the countries of Hesse, Thuringia, part of Paderborn, of Fulda, and of Franconia. Learned writers have frequently noted, that what Cæsar, Florus, and Ptolemy have said of the Suevi, is to be understood of the Catti. Leibnitz supposes the Catti were so called from the active animal which they resemble in name, the German for cat being Catte, or Hessen.

49  Pliny, who was well acquainted with Germany, gives a very striking description of the Hercynian forest: — “The vast trees of the Hercynian forest, untouched for ages, and as old as the world, by their almost immortal destiny exceed common wonders. Not to mention circumstances which would not be credited, it is certain that hills are raised by the repercussion of their meeting roots; and where the earth does not follow them, arches are formed as high as the branches, which, struggling, as it were, with each other, are bent into the form of open gates, so wide, that troops of horse may ride under them.” — xvi. 2.

50  Duriora corpora. “Hardier frames;” i. e., than the rest of the Germans. At Hist. ii. 32, the Germans, in general, are said to have fluxa corpora; while in c. 4 of this treatise they are described as tantum ad impetum valida.

51  Florus, ii. 18, well expresses this thought by the sentence “Tanti exercitus, quanti imperator.” “An army is worth so much as its general is.”

52  Thus Civilis is said by our author (Hist. iv. 61), to have let his hair and beard grow in consequence of a private vow. Thus too, in Paul Warnefrid’s “History of the Langobards,” iii. 7, it is related, that “six thousand Saxons who survived the war, vowed that they would never cut their hair, nor shave their beards, till they had been revenged of their enemies, the Suevi.” A later instance of this custom is mentioned by Strada (Bell. Belg. vii. p. 344), of William Lume, one of the Counts of Mark, “who bound himself by a vow not to cut his hair till he had revenged the deaths of Egmont and Horn.”

53  The iron ring seems to have been a badge of slavery. This custom was revived in later times, but rather with a gallant than a military intention. Thus, in the year 1414, John duke of Bourbon, in order to ingratiate himself with his mistress, vowed, together with sixteen knights and gentlemen, that they would wear, he and the knights a gold ring, the gentlemen a silver one, round their left legs, every Sunday for two years, till they had met with an equal number of knights and gentlemen to contend with them in a tournament. (Vertot, Mém. de l’Acad. des. Inscr. tom. ii. p. 596.)

54  It was this nation of Catti, which, about 150 years afterward, uniting with the remains of the Cherusci on this side the Weser, the Attuarii, Sicambri, Chamavi, Bructeri, and Chauci, entered into the Francic league, and, conquering the Romans, seized upon Gaul. From them are derived the name, manners, and laws of the French.

55  These two tribes, united by a community of wars and misfortunes, had formerly been driven from the settlements on the Rhine a little below Mentz. They then, according to Cæsar, (Bell. Gall. iv. 1, et seq.,) occupied the territories of the Menapii on both sides the Rhine. Still proving unfortunate, they obtained the lands of the Sicambri, who, in the reign of Augustus, were removed on this side the Rhine by Tiberius: these were the present counties of Berg, Mark, Lippe, and Waldeck; and the bishopric of Paderborn.

56  Their settlements were between the rivers Rhine, Lippe (Luppia), and Ems (Amisia), and the province of Friesland; now the countries of Westphalia and Over-Issel. Alting (Notit. German. Infer. p. 20) supposes they derived their name from Broeken, or Bruchen, marshes, on account of their frequency in that tract of country.

57  Before this migration, the Chamavi were settled on the Ems, where at present are Lingen and Osnaburg; the Angrivarii on the Weser (Visurgis), where are Minden and Schawenburg. A more ancient migration of the Chamavi to the banks of the Rhine, is cursorily mentioned by Tacitus, Annal. xiii. 55. The Angrivarii were afterward called Angrarii, and became part of the Saxon nation.

58  They were not so entirely extirpated that no relics of them remained. They were even a conspicuous part of the Francic leagues, as before related. Claudian also, in his panegyric on the fourth consulate of Honorius, v. 450, mentions them.

                 Venit accola sylvæ
Bructerus Hercyniæ.

“The Bructerian, borderer on the Hercynian forest came.”

After their expulsion, they settled, according to Eccard, between Cologne and Hesse.

59  The Bructeri were under regal government, and maintained many wars against the Romans. Hence their arrogance and power. Before they were destroyed by their countrymen, Vestricius Spurinna terrified them into submission without an action, and had on that account a triumphal statue decreed him. Pliny the younger mentions this fact, book ii. epist. 7.

60  An allusion to gladiatorial spectacles. This slaughter happened near the canal of Drusus, where the Roman guard on the Rhine could be spectators of the battle. The account of it came to Rome in the first year of Trajan.

61  As this treatise was written in the reign of Trajan, when the affairs of the Romans appeared unusually prosperous, some critics have imagined that Tacitus wrote vigentibus, “flourishing,” instead of urgentibus, “urgent.” But it is sufficiently evident, from other passages, that the causes which were operating gradually, but surely, to the destruction of the Roman empire, did not escape the penetration of Tacitus, even when disguised by the most flattering appearances, The common reading is therefore, probably, right. — Aikin.

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