The Northern Way

JORDANE'S
THE ORIGIN AND DEEDS OF THE GOTHS

XIX


(104) 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 frequently ravaged Moesia, through the neglect of the Emperors. (105) 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 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 gathered 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. (106) Now though Gallus and Volusianus, the Emperors we 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 universal peace and favor. Only one thing was laid to their charge, namely the great plague. But this was an accusation 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


(107) While he was given over to luxurious living of every sort, Respa, Veduc and Thuruar, leaders of the Goths, took ship and sailed across the strait of the Hellespont 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. (108) After their 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, sacking Troy and Ilium on the way. These cities, which had scarce recovered a little from the famous war with Agamemnon, 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. (109) 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


(110) After these events, the Goths had already returned 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, together 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 neglect the Goths.
      (111) 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 summoned 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 with the sword of Constantine the victor. (112) In like manner 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.



XXII


(113) For he was the son of Hilderith, who was the son of Ovida, who was the son of Nidada; and by his 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 warlike 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 frontier 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. (114) They then had on the east the Goths, on the west the Marcomanni, on the north the Hermunduli 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 himself, the king of the Vandals, was overthrown, together with the greater part of his people. (115) 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 escaped, 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 plundered their neighbors and had no settled place of abode.

 

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