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´╗┐Title: Tacitus on Germany
Author: Tacitus, Caius Cornelius, 56-120
Language: English
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Translated by Thomas Gordon


     This text was prepared from a 1910 edition, published
     by P. F. Collier & Son Company, New York.


The dates of the birth and death of Tacitus are uncertain, but it is
probable that he was born about 54 A. D. and died after 117. He was a
contemporary and friend of the younger Pliny, who addressed to him some
of his most famous epistles. Tacitus was apparently of the equestrian
class, was an advocate by training, and had a reputation as an orator,
though none of his speeches has survived. He held a number of important
public offices, and married the daughter of Agricola, the conqueror of
Britain, whose life he wrote.

The two chief works of Tacitus, the "Annals" and the "Histories,"
covered the history of Rome from the death of Augustus to A. D. 96;
but the greater part of the "Histories" is lost, and the fragment that
remains deals only with the year 69 and part of 70. In the "Annals"
there are several gaps, but what survives describes a large part of the
reigns of Tiberius, Claudius, and Nero. His minor works, besides the
life of Agricola, already mentioned, are a "Dialogue on Orators" and the
account of Germany, its situation, its inhabitants, their character and
customs, which is here printed.

Tacitus stands in the front rank of the historians of antiquity for the
accuracy of his learning, the fairness of his judgments, the richness,
concentration, and precision of his style. His great successor, Gibbon,
called him a "philosophical historian, whose writings will instruct the
last generations of mankind"; and Montaigne knew no author "who, in a
work of history, has taken so broad a view of human events or given a
more just analysis of particular characters."

The "Germany" is a document of the greatest interest and importance,
since it gives us by far the most detailed account of the state of
culture among the tribes that are the ancestors of the modern Teutonic
nations, at the time when they first came into account with the
civilization of the Mediterranean.


The whole of Germany is thus bounded; separated from Gaul, from Rhoetia
and Pannonia, by the rivers Rhine and Danube; from Sarmatia and Dacia by
mutual fear, or by high mountains: the rest is encompassed by the ocean,
which forms huge bays, and comprehends a tract of islands immense in
extent: for we have lately known certain nations and kingdoms there,
such as the war discovered. The Rhine rising in the Rhoetian Alps from a
summit altogether rocky and perpendicular, after a small winding towards
the west, is lost in the Northern Ocean. The Danube issues out of the
mountain Abnoba, one very high but very easy of ascent, and traversing
several nations, falls by six streams into the Euxine Sea; for its
seventh channel is absorbed in the Fenns.

The Germans, I am apt to believe, derive their original from no other
people; and are nowise mixed with different nations arriving amongst
them: since anciently those who went in search of new dwellings,
travelled not by land, but were carried in fleets; and into that mighty
ocean so boundless, and, as I may call it, so repugnant and forbidding,
ships from our world rarely enter. Moreover, besides the dangers from
a sea tempestuous, horrid and unknown, who would relinquish Asia, or
Africa, or Italy, to repair to Germany, a region hideous and rude, under
a rigorous climate, dismal to behold or to manure [to cultivate] unless
the same were his native country? In their old ballads (which amongst
them are the only sort of registers and history) they celebrate
_Tuisto_, a God sprung from the earth, and _Mannus_ his son, as the
fathers and founders of the nation. To _Mannus_ they assign three sons,
after whose names so many people are called; the Ingaevones, dwelling
next the ocean; the Herminones, in the middle country; and all the rest,
Instaevones. Some, borrowing a warrant from the darkness of antiquity,
maintain that the God had more sons, that thence came more denominations
of people, the Marsians, Gambrians, Suevians, and Vandalians, and that
these are the names truly genuine and original. For the rest, they
affirm Germany to be a recent word, lately bestowed: for that those
who first passed the Rhine and expulsed the Gauls, and are now named
Tungrians, were then called Germans: and thus by degrees the name of a
tribe prevailed, not that of the nation; so that by an appellation at
first occasioned by terror and conquest, they afterwards chose to be
distinguished, and assuming a name lately invented were universally
called _Germans_.

They have a tradition that Hercules also had been in their country, and
him above all other heroes they extol in their songs when they advance
to battle. Amongst them too are found that kind of verses by the recital
of which (by them called _Barding_) they inspire bravery; nay, by such
chanting itself they divine the success of the approaching fight. For,
according to the different din of the battle they urge furiously, or
shrink timorously. Nor does what they utter, so much seem to be singing
as the voice and exertion of valour. They chiefly study a tone fierce
and harsh, with a broken and unequal murmur, and therefore apply their
shields to their mouths, whence the voice may by rebounding swell with
greater fulness and force. Besides there are some of opinion, that
Ulysses, whilst he wandered about in his long and fabulous voyages, was
carried into this ocean and entered Germany, and that by him Asciburgium
was founded and named, a city at this day standing and inhabited upon
the bank of the Rhine: nay, that in the same place was formerly found an
altar dedicated to Ulysses, with the name of his father Laertes added
to his own, and that upon the confines of Germany and Rhoetia are still
extant certain monuments and tombs inscribed with Greek characters.
Traditions these which I mean not either to confirm with arguments of
my own or to refute. Let every one believe or deny the same according to
his own bent.

For myself, I concur in opinion with such as suppose the people of
Germany never to have mingled by inter-marriages with other nations, but
to have remained a people pure, and independent, and resembling none but
themselves. Hence amongst such a mighty multitude of men, the same make
and form is found in all, eyes stern and blue, yellow hair, huge bodies,
but vigorous only in the first onset. Of pains and labour they are not
equally patient, nor can they at all endure thrift and heat. To bear
hunger and cold they are hardened by their climate and soil.

Their lands, however somewhat different in aspect, yet taken all
together consist of gloomy forests or nasty marshes; lower and moister
towards Noricum and Pannonia; very apt to bear grain, but altogether
unkindly to fruit trees; abounding in flocks and herds, but generally
small of growth. Nor even in their oxen is found the usual stateliness,
no more than the natural ornaments and grandeur of head. In the number
of their herds they rejoice; and these are their only, these their most
desirable riches. Silver and gold the Gods have denied them, whether in
mercy or in wrath, I am unable to determine. Yet I would not venture to
aver that in Germany no vein of gold or silver is produced; for who has
ever searched? For the use and possession, it is certain they care not.
Amongst them indeed are to be seen vessels of silver, such as have
been presented to their Princes and Ambassadors, but holden in no other
esteem than vessels made of earth. The Germans however adjoining to our
frontiers value gold and silver for the purposes of commerce, and are
wont to distinguish and prefer certain of our coins. They who live more
remote are more primitive and simple in their dealings, and exchange
one commodity for another. The money which they like is the old and
long known, that indented [with milled edges], or that impressed with
a chariot and two horses. Silver too is what they seek more than gold,
from no fondness or preference, but because small pieces are more ready
in purchasing things cheap and common.

Neither in truth do they abound in iron, as from the fashion of their
weapons may be gathered. Swords they rarely use, or the larger spear.
They carry javelins or, in their own language, _framms_, pointed with a
piece of iron short and narrow, but so sharp and manageable, that with
the same weapon they can fight at a distance or hand to hand, just as
need requires. Nay, the horsemen also are content with a shield and a
javelin. The foot throw likewise weapons missive, each particular
is armed with many, and hurls them a mighty space, all naked or only
wearing a light cassock. In their equipment they show no ostentation;
only that their shields are diversified and adorned with curious
colours. With coats of mail very few are furnished, and hardly upon any
is seen a headpiece or helmet. Their horses are nowise signal either in
fashion or in fleetness; nor taught to wheel and bound, according to the
practice of the Romans: they only move them forward in a line, or turn
them right about, with such compactness and equality that no one is ever
behind the rest. To one who considers the whole it is manifest, that
in their foot their principal strength lies, and therefore they fight
intermixed with the motions and engagements of the cavalry. So that the
infantry are elected from amongst the most robust of their youth, and
placed in front of the army. The number to be sent is also ascertained,
out of every village _an hundred_, and by this very name they continue
to be called at home, _those of the hundred band_: thus what was at
first no more than a number, becomes thenceforth a title and distinction
of honour. In arraying their army, they divide the whole into distinct
battalions formed sharp in front. To recoil in battle, provided you
return again to the attack, passes with them rather for policy than
fear. Even when the combat is no more than doubtful, they bear away the
bodies of their slain. The most glaring disgrace that can befall them,
is to have quitted their shield; nor to one branded with such ignominy
is it lawful to join in their sacrifices, or to enter into their
assemblies; and many who had escaped in the day of battle, have hanged
themselves to put an end to this their infamy.

In the choice of kings they are determined by the splendour of their
race, in that of generals by their bravery. Neither is the power of
their kings unbounded or arbitrary: and their generals procure obedience
not so much by the force of their authority as by that of their example,
when they appear enterprising and brave, when they signalise themselves
by courage and prowess; and if they surpass all in admiration and
pre-eminence, if they surpass all at the head of an army. But to none
else but the Priests is it allowed to exercise correction, or to inflict
bonds or stripes. Nor when the Priests do this, is the same considered
as a punishment, or arising from the orders of the general, but from the
immediate command of the Deity, Him whom they believe to accompany them
in war. They therefore carry with them when going to fight, certain
images and figures taken out of their holy groves. What proves the
principal incentive to their valour is, that it is not at random nor by
the fortuitous conflux of men that their troops and pointed battalions
are formed, but by the conjunction of whole families, and tribes of
relations. Moreover, close to the field of battle are lodged all the
nearest and most interesting pledges of nature. Hence they hear the
doleful howlings of their wives, hence the cries of their tender
infants. These are to each particular the witnesses whom he most
reverences and dreads; these yield him the praise which affect him most.
Their wounds and maims they carry to their mothers, or to their wives,
neither are their mothers or wives shocked in telling, or in sucking
their bleeding sores. Nay, to their husbands and sons whilst engaged in
battle, they administer meat and encouragement.

In history we find, that some armies already yielding and ready to fly,
have been by women restored, through their inflexible importunity
and entreaties, presenting their breasts, and showing their impending
captivity; an evil to the Germans then by far most dreadful when it
befalls their women. So that the spirit of such cities as amongst
their hostages are enjoined to send their damsels of quality, is always
engaged more effectually than that of others. They even believe them
endowed with something celestial and the spirit of prophecy. Neither
do they disdain to consult them, nor neglect the responses which they
return. In the reign of the deified Vespasian, we have seen _Veleda_ for
a long time, and by many nations, esteemed and adored as a divinity. In
times past they likewise worshipped _Aurinia_ and several more, from
no complaisance or effort of flattery, nor as Deities of their own

Of all the Gods, Mercury is he whom they worship most. To him on certain
stated days it is lawful to offer even human victims. Hercules and Mars
they appease with beasts usually allowed for sacrifice. Some of the
Suevians make likewise immolations to _Isis_. Concerning the cause and
original of this foreign sacrifice I have found small light; unless
the figure of her image formed like a galley, show that such devotion
arrived from abroad. For the rest, from the grandeur and majesty of
beings celestial, they judge it altogether unsuitable to hold the Gods
enclosed within walls, or to represent them under any human likeness.
They consecrate whole woods and groves, and by the names of the Gods
they call these recesses; divinities these, which only in contemplation
and mental reverence they behold.

To the use of lots and auguries, they are addicted beyond all other
nations. Their method of divining by lots is exceeding simple. From a
tree which bears fruit they cut a twig, and divide it into two small
pieces. These they distinguish by so many several marks, and throw them
at random and without order upon a white garment. Then the Priest of the
community, if for the public the lots are consulted, or the father of
a family if about a private concern, after he has solemnly invoked the
Gods, with eyes lifted up to heaven, takes up every piece thrice, and
having done thus forms a judgment according to the marks before made. If
the chances have proved forbidding, they are no more consulted upon the
same affair during the same day; even when they are inviting, yet, for
confirmation, the faith of auguries too is tried. Yea, here also is the
known practice of divining events from the voices and flight of birds.
But to this nation it is peculiar, to learn presages and admonitions
divine from horses also. These are nourished by the State in the same
sacred woods and grooves, all milk-white and employed in no earthly
labour. These yoked in the holy chariot, are accompanied by the Priest
and the King, or the Chief of the community, who both carefully observed
his actions and neighing. Nor in any sort of augury is more faith and
assurance reposed, not by the populace only, but even by the nobles,
even by the Priests. These account themselves the ministers of the Gods,
and the horses privy to his will. They have likewise another method of
divination, whence to learn the issue of great and mighty wars. From the
nation with whom they are at war they contrive, it avails not how, to
gain a captive: him they engage in combat with one selected from amongst
themselves, each armed after the manner of his country, and according
as the victory falls to this or to the other, gather a presage of the

Affairs of smaller moment the chiefs determine: about matters of
higher consequence the whole nation deliberates; yet in such sort,
that whatever depends upon the pleasure and decision of the people, is
examined and discussed by the chiefs. Where no accident or emergency
intervenes, they assemble upon stated days, either, when the moon
changes, or is full: since they believe such seasons to be the most
fortunate for beginning all transactions. Neither in reckoning of time
do they count, like us, the number of days but that of nights. In this
style their ordinances are framed, in this style their diets appointed;
and with them the night seems to lead and govern the day. From their
extensive liberty this evil and default flows, that they meet not at
once, nor as men commanded and afraid to disobey; so that often the
second day, nay often the third, is consumed through the slowness of the
members in assembling. They sit down as they list, promiscuously, like a
crowd, and all armed. It is by the Priests that silence is enjoined,
and with the power of correction the Priests are then invested. Then the
King or Chief is heard, as are others, each according to his precedence
in age, or in nobility, or in warlike renown, or in eloquence; and the
influence of every speaker proceeds rather from his ability to persuade
than from any authority to command. If the proposition displease, they
reject it by an inarticulate murmur: if it be pleasing, they brandish
their javelins. The most honourable manner of signifying their assent,
is to express their applause by the sound of their arms.

In the assembly it is allowed to present accusations, and to prosecute
capital offences. Punishments vary according to the quality of the
crime. Traitors and deserters they hang upon trees. Cowards, and
sluggards, and unnatural prostitutes they smother in mud and bogs under
an heap of hurdles. Such diversity in their executions has this view,
that in punishing of glaring iniquities, it behooves likewise to
display them to sight; but effeminacy and pollution must be buried and
concealed. In lighter transgressions too the penalty is measured by
the fault, and the delinquents upon conviction are condemned to pay a
certain number of horses or cattle. Part of this mulct accrues to the
King or to the community, part to him whose wrongs are vindicated, or to
his next kindred. In the same assemblies are also chosen their chiefs
or rulers, such as administer justice in their villages and boroughs.
To each of these are assigned an hundred persons chosen from amongst
the populace, to accompany and assist him, men who help him at once with
their authority and their counsel.

Without being armed they transact nothing, whether of public or private
concernment. But it is repugnant to their custom for any man to use
arms, before the community has attested his capacity to wield them.
Upon such testimonial, either one of the rulers, or his father, or
some kinsman dignify the young man in the midst of the assembly, with
a shield and javelin. This amongst them is the _manly robe_, this first
degree of honour conferred upon their youth. Before this they seem
no more than part of a private family, but thenceforward part of the
Commonweal. The princely dignity they confer even upon striplings, whose
race is eminently noble, or whose fathers have done great and signal
services to the State. For about the rest, who are more vigorous and
long since tried, they crowd to attend; nor is it any shame to be seen
amongst the followers of these. Nay, there are likewise degrees of
followers, higher or lower, just as he whom they follow judges fit.
Mighty too is the emulation amongst these followers, of each to be first
in favour with his Prince; mighty also the emulation of the Princes,
to excel in the number and valour of followers. This is their principal
state, this their chief force, to be at all times surrounded with a huge
band of chosen young men, for ornament and glory in peace, for security
and defence in war. Nor is it amongst his own people only, but even from
the neighbouring communities, that any of their Princes reaps so
much renown and a name so great, when he surpasses in the number and
magnanimity of his followers. For such are courted by Embassies, and
distinguished with presents, and by the terror of their fame alone often
dissipate wars.

In the day of battle, it is scandalous to the Prince to be surpassed in
feats of bravery, scandalous to his followers to fail in matching the
bravery of the Prince. But it is infamy during life, and indelible
reproach, to return alive from a battle where their Prince was slain.
To preserve their Prince, to defend him, and to ascribe to his glory all
their own valorous deeds, is the sum and most sacred part of their oath.
The Princes fight for victory; for the Prince his followers fight. Many
of the young nobility, when their own community comes to languish in
its vigour by long peace and inactivity, betake themselves through
impatience in other States which then prove to be in war. For,
besides that this people cannot brook repose, besides that by perilous
adventures they more quickly blazon their fame, they cannot otherwise
than by violence and war support their huge train of retainers. For from
the liberality of their Prince, they demand and enjoy that _war-horse_
of theirs, with that _victorious javelin_ dyed in the blood of their
enemies. In the place of pay, they are supplied with a daily table and
repasts; though grossly prepared, yet very profuse. For maintaining such
liberality and munificence, a fund is furnished by continual wars and
plunder. Nor could you so easily persuade them to cultivate the ground,
or to await the return of the seasons and produce of the year, as
to provoke the foe and to risk wounds and death: since stupid and
spiritless they account it, to acquire by their sweat what they can gain
by their blood.

Upon any recess from war, they do not much attend the chase. Much more
of their time they pass in indolence, resigned to sleep and repasts. All
the most brave, all the most warlike, apply to nothing at all; but to
their wives, to the ancient men, and to even the most impotent domestic,
trust all the care of their house, and of their lands and possessions.
They themselves loiter. Such is the amazing diversity of their nature,
that in the same men is found so much delight in sloth, with so much
enmity to tranquillity and repose. The communities are wont, of their
own accord and man by man, to bestow upon their Princes a certain number
of beasts, or a certain portion of grain; a contribution which passes
indeed for a mark of reverence and honour, but serves also to supply
their necessities. They chiefly rejoice in the gifts which come from the
bordering countries, such as are sent not only by particulars but in the
name of the State; curious horses, splendid armour, rich harness, with
collars of silver and gold. Now too they have learnt, what we have
taught them, to receive money.

That none of the several people in Germany live together in cities, is
abundantly known; nay, that amongst them none of their dwellings are
suffered to be contiguous. They inhabit apart and distinct, just as a
fountain, or a field, or a wood happened to invite them to settle. They
raise their villages in opposite rows, but not in our manner with the
houses joined one to another. Every man has a vacant space quite round
his own, whether for security against accidents from fire, or that they
want the art of building. With them in truth, is unknown even the use of
mortar and of tiles. In all their structures they employ materials
quite gross and unhewn, void of fashion and comeliness. Some parts
they besmear with an earth so pure and resplendent, that it resembles
painting and colours. They are likewise wont to scoop caves deep in the
ground, and over them to lay great heaps of dung. Thither they retire
for shelter in the winter, and thither convey their grain: for by such
close places they mollify the rigorous and excessive cold. Besides
when at any time their enemy invades them, he can only ravage the
open country, but either knows not such recesses as are invisible and
subterraneous; or must suffer them to escape him, on this very account
that he is uncertain where to find them.

For their covering a mantle is what they all wear, fastened with a clasp
or, for want of it, with a thorn. As far as this reaches not they
are naked, and lie whole days before the fire. The most wealthy are
distinguished with a vest, not one large and flowing like those of
Sarmatians and Parthians, but girt close about them and expressing the
proportion of every limb. They likewise wear the skins of savage beasts,
a dress which those bordering upon the Rhine use without any fondness or
delicacy, but about which such who live further in the country are more
curious, as void of all apparel introduced by commerce. They choose
certain wild beasts, and, having flayed them, diversify their hides with
many spots, as also with the skins of monsters from the deep, such as
are engendered in the distant ocean and in seas unknown. Neither does
the dress of the women differ from that of the men, save that the
women are orderly attired in linen embroidered with purple, and use no
sleeves, so that all their arms are bare. The upper part of their breast
is withal exposed.

Yet the laws of matrimony are severely observed there; for in the whole
of their manners is aught more praiseworthy than this: for they are
almost the only Barbarians contented with one wife, excepting a very few
amongst them; men of dignity who marry divers wives, from no wantonness
or lubricity, but courted for the lustre of their family into many

To the husband, the wife tenders no dowry; but the husband, to the wife.
The parents and relations attend and declare their approbation of the
presents, not presents adapted to feminine pomp and delicacy, nor such
as serve to deck the new married woman; but oxen and horse accoutred,
and a shield, with a javelin and sword. By virtue of these gifts, she
is espoused. She too on her part brings her husband some arms. This they
esteem the highest tie, these the holy mysteries, and matrimonial Gods.
That the woman may not suppose herself free from the considerations of
fortitude and fighting, or exempt from the casualties of war, the very
first solemnities of her wedding serve to warn her, that she comes to
her husband as a partner in his hazards and fatigues, that she is to
suffer alike with him, to adventure alike, during peace or during war.
This the oxen joined in the same yoke plainly indicate, this the horse
ready equipped, this the present of arms. 'Tis thus she must be content
to live, thus to resign life. The arms which she then receives she must
preserve inviolate, and to her sons restore the same, as presents worthy
of them, such as their wives may again receive, and still resign to her

They therefore live in a state of chastity well secured; corrupted by no
seducing shows and public diversions, by no irritations from banqueting.
Of learning and of any secret intercourse by letters, they are all
equally ignorant, men and women. Amongst a people so numerous, adultery
is exceeding rare; a crime instantly punished, and the punishment left
to be inflicted by the husband. He, having cut off her hair, expells her
from his house naked, in presence of her kindred, and pursues her with
stripes throughout the village. For, to a woman who has prostituted her
person, no pardon is ever granted. However beautiful she may be, however
young, however abounding in wealth, a husband she can never find. In
truth, nobody turns vices into mirth there, nor is the practice of
corrupting and of yielding to corruption, called the custom of the Age.
Better still do those communities, in which none but virgins marry, and
where to a single marriage all their views and inclinations are at once
confined. Thus, as they have but one body and one life, they take
but one husband, that beyond him they may have no thought, no further
wishes, nor love him only as their husband but as their marriage.
To restrain generation and the increase of children, is esteemed an
abominable sin, as also to kill infants newly born. And more powerful
with them are good manners, than with other people are good laws.

In all their houses the children are reared naked and nasty; and thus
grow into those limbs, into that bulk, which with marvel we behold.
They are all nourished with the milk of their own mothers, and never
surrendered to handmaids and nurses. The lord you cannot discern from
the slave, by any superior delicacy in rearing. Amongst the same cattle
they promiscuously live, upon the same ground they without distinction
lie, till at a proper age the free-born are parted from the rest, and
their bravery recommend them to notice. Slow and late do the young men
come to the use of women, and thus very long preserve the vigour of
youth. Neither are the virgins hastened to wed. They must both have
the same sprightly youth, the like stature, and marry when equal and
able-bodied. Thus the robustness of the parents is inherited by the
children. Children are holden in the same estimation with their mother's
brother, as with their father. Some hold this tie of blood to be most
inviolable and binding, and in receiving of hostages, such pledges are
most considered and claimed, as they who at once possess affections
the most unalienable, and the most diffuse interest in their family.
To every man, however, his own children are heirs and successors: wills
they make none: for want of children his next akin inherits; his own
brothers, those of his father, or those of his mother. To ancient men,
the more they abound in descendants, in relations and affinities, so
much the more favour and reverence accrues. From being childless, no
advantage nor estimation is derived.

All the enmities of your house, whether of your father or of your
kindred, you must necessarily adopt; as well as all their friendships.
Neither are such enmities unappeasable and permanent: since even for
so great a crime as homicide, compensation is made by a fixed number of
sheep and cattle, and by it the whole family is pacified to content.
A temper this, wholesome to the State; because to a free nation,
animosities and faction are always more menacing and perilous. In social
feasts, and deeds of hospitality, no nation upon earth was ever more
liberal and abounding. To refuse admitting under your roof any man
whatsoever, is held wicked and inhuman. Every man receives every
comer, and treats him with repasts as large as his ability can possibly
furnish. When the whole stock is consumed, he who has treated so
hospitably guides and accompanies his guest to the next house, though
neither of them invited. Nor avails it, that they were not; they are
there received, with the same frankness and humanity. Between a
stranger and an acquaintance, in dispensing the rules and benefits of
hospitality, no difference is made. Upon your departure, if you ask
anything, it is the custom to grant it; and with the same facility, they
ask of you. In gifts they delight, but neither claim merit from what
they give, nor own any obligation for what they receive. Their manner of
entertaining their guests is familiar and kind.

The moment they rise from sleep, which they generally prolong till late
in the day, they bathe, most frequently in warm water; as in a country
where the winter is very long and severe. From bathing, they sit down to
meat; every man apart, upon a particular seat, and at a separate table.
They then proceed to their affairs, all in arms; as in arms, they
no less frequently go to banquet. To continue drinking night and day
without intermission, is a reproach to no man. Frequent then are their
broils, as usual amongst men intoxicated with liquor; and such broils
rarely terminate in angry words, but for the most part in maimings and
slaughter. Moreover in these their feasts, they generally deliberate
about reconciling parties at enmity, about forming affinities, choosing
of Princes, and finally about peace and war. For they judge, that at no
season is the soul more open to thoughts that are artless and upright,
or more fired with such as are great and bold. This people, of
themselves nowise subtile or politic, from the freedom of the place
and occasion acquire still more frankness to disclose the most secret
motions and purposes of their hearts. When therefore the minds of all
have been once laid open and declared, on the day following the several
sentiments are revised and canvassed; and to both conjectures of time,
due regard is had. They consult, when they know not how to dissemble;
they determine, when they cannot mistake.

For their drink, they draw a liquor from barley or other grain; and
ferment the same so as to make it resemble wine. Nay, they who dwell
upon the bank of the Rhine deal in wine. Their food is very simple; wild
fruit, fresh venison, or coagulated milk. They banish hunger without
formality, without curious dressing and curious fare. In extinguishing
thirst, they use not equal temperance. If you will but humour their
excess in drinking, and supply them with as much as they covet, it will
be no less easy to vanquish them by vices than by arms.

Of public diversions they have but one sort, and in all their meetings
the same is still exhibited. Young men, such as make it their pastime,
fling themselves naked and dance amongst sharp swords and the deadly
points of javelins. From habit they acquire their skill, and from their
skill a graceful manner; yet from hence draw no gain or hire: though
this adventurous gaiety has its reward, namely, that of pleasing the
spectators. What is marvellous, playing at dice is one of their most
serious employments; and even sober, they are gamesters: nay, so
desperately do they venture upon the chance of winning or losing, that
when their whole substance is played away, they stake their liberty and
their persons upon one and the last throw. The loser goes calmly into
voluntary bondage. However younger he be, however stronger, he tamely
suffers himself to be bound and sold by the winner. Such is their
perseverance in an evil course: they themselves call it honour.

Slaves of this class, they exchange in commerce, to free themselves too
from the shame of such a victory. Of their other slaves they make not
such use as we do of ours, by distributing amongst them the several
offices and employments of the family. Each of them has a dwelling of
his own, each a household to govern. His lord uses him like a tenant,
and obliges him to pay a quantity of grain, or of cattle, or of cloth.
Thus far only the subserviency of the slave extends. All the other
duties in a family, not the slaves, but the wives and children
discharge. To inflict stripes upon a slave, or to put him in chains, or
to doom him to severe labour, are things rarely seen. To kill them they
sometimes are wont, not through correction or government, but in heat
and rage, as they would an enemy, save that no vengeance or penalty
follows. The freedmen very little surpass the slaves, rarely are of
moment in the house; in the community never, excepting only such nations
where arbitrary dominion prevails. For there they bear higher sway
than the free-born, nay, higher than the nobles. In other countries the
inferior condition of freedmen is a proof of public liberty.

To the practice of usury and of increasing money by interest, they are
strangers; and hence is found a better guard against it, than if it
were forbidden. They shift from land to land; and, still appropriating
a portion suitable to the number of hands for manuring, anon parcel out
the whole amongst particulars according to the condition and quality
of each. As the plains are very spacious, the allotments are easily
assigned. Every year they change, and cultivate a fresh soil; yet
still there is ground to spare. For they strive not to bestow labour
proportionable to the fertility and compass of their lands, by planting
orchards, by enclosing meadows, by watering gardens. From the earth,
corn only is extracted. Hence they quarter not the year into so many
seasons. Winter, Spring, and Summer, they understand; and for each
have proper appellations. Of the name and blessings of Autumn, they are
equally ignorant.

In performing their funerals, they show no state or vainglory. This only
is carefully observed, that with the corpses of their signal men certain
woods be burned. Upon the funeral pile they accumulate neither apparel
nor perfumes. Into the fire, are always thrown the arms of the dead, and
sometimes his horse. With sods of earth only the sepulchre is raised.
The pomp of tedious and elaborate monuments they contemn, as things
grievous to the deceased. Tears and wailings they soon dismiss: their
affliction and woe they long retain. In women, it is reckoned becoming
to bewail their loss; in men, to remember it. This is what in general
we have learned, in the original and customs of the whole people of
Germany. I shall now deduce the institutions and usages of the several
people, as far as they vary one from another; as also an account of what
nations from thence removed, to settle themselves in Gaul.

That the Gauls were in times past more puissant and formidable, is
related by the Prince of authors, the deified Julius [Caesar]; and hence
it is probable that they too have passed into Germany. For what a small
obstacle must be a river, to restrain any nation, as each grew
more potent, from seizing or changing habitations; when as yet all
habitations were common, and not parted or appropriated by the founding
and terror of Monarchies? The region therefore between the Hercynian
Forest and the rivers Moenus and Rhine, was occupied by the Helvetians;
as was that beyond it by the Boians, both nations of Gaul. There still
remains a place called _Boiemum_, which denotes the primitive name and
antiquity of the country, although the inhabitants have been changed.
But whether the Araviscans are derived from the Osians, a nation
of Germans passing into Pannonia, or the Osians from the Araviscans
removing from thence into Germany, is a matter undecided; since they
both still use the language, the same customs and the same laws. For, as
of old they lived alike poor and alike free, equal proved the evils
and advantages on each side the river, and common to both people. The
Treverians and Nervians aspire passionately to the reputation of being
descended from the Germans; since by the glory of this original, they
would escape all imputation of resembling the Gauls in person and
effeminacy. Such as dwell upon the bank of the Rhine, the Vangiones, the
Tribocians, and the Nemetes, are without doubt all Germans. The Ubians
are ashamed of their original; though they have a particular honour to
boast, that of having merited an establishment as a Roman Colony, and
still delight to be called _Agrippinensians_, after the name of their
founder: they indeed formerly came from beyond the Rhine, and, for the
many proofs of their fidelity, were settled upon the very bank of the
river; not to be there confined or guarded themselves, but to guard and
defend that boundary against the rest of the Germans.

Of all these nations, the Batavians are the most signal in bravery. They
inhabit not much territory upon the Rhine, but possess an island in it.
They were formerly part of the Cattans, and by means of feuds at home
removed to these dwellings; whence they might become a portion of the
Roman Empire. With them this honour still remains, as also the memorials
of their ancient association with us: for they are not under the
contempt of paying tribute, nor subject to be squeezed by the farmers of
the revenue. Free from all impositions and payments, and only set apart
for the purposes of fighting, they are reserved wholly for the wars,
in the same manner as a magazine of weapons and armour. Under the same
degree of homage are the nation of the Mattiacians. For such is the
might and greatness of the Roman People, as to have carried the awe and
esteem of their Empire beyond the Rhine and the ancient boundaries. Thus
the Mattiacians, living upon the opposite banks, enjoy a settlement and
limits of their own; yet in spirit and inclination are attached to
us: in other things resembling the Batavians, save that as they still
breathe their original air, still possess their primitive soil, they are
thence inspired with superior vigour and keenness. Amongst the people
of Germany I would not reckon those who occupy the lands which are
under decimation, though they be such as dwell beyond the Rhine and the
Danube. By several worthless and vagabond Gauls, and such as poverty
rendered daring, that region was seized as one belonging to no certain
possessor: afterwards it became a skirt of the Empire and part of a
province, upon the enlargement of our bounds and the extending of our
garrisons and frontier.

Beyond these are the Cattans, whose territories begin at the Hercynian
Forest, and consist not of such wide and marshy plains, as those of
the other communities contained within the vast compass of Germany; but
produce ranges of hills, such as run lofty and contiguous for a long
tract, then by degrees sink and decay. Moreover the Hercynian Forest
attends for a while its native Cattans, then suddenly forsakes them.
This people are distinguished with bodies more hardy and robust, compact
limbs, stern countenances, and greater vigour of spirit. For Germans,
they are men of much sense and address. They dignify chosen men, listen
to such as are set over them, know how to preserve their post, to
discern occasions, to rebate their own ardour and impatience; how
to employ the day, how to entrench themselves by night. They account
fortune amongst things slippery and uncertain, but bravery amongst such
as are never-failing and secure; and, what is exceeding rare nor ever to
be learnt but by a wholesome course of discipline, in the conduct of
the general they repose more assurance than in the strength of the
army. Their whole forces consist of foot, who besides their arms carry
likewise instruments of iron and their provisions. You may see other
Germans proceed equipped to battle, but the Cattans so as to conduct a
war. They rarely venture upon excursions or casual encounters. It is in
truth peculiar to cavalry, suddenly to conquer, or suddenly to fly. Such
haste and velocity rather resembles fear. Patience and deliberation are
more akin to intrepidity.

Moreover a custom, practised indeed in other nations of Germany, yet
very rarely and confined only to particulars more daring than the rest,
prevails amongst the Cattans by universal consent. As soon as they
arrive to maturity of years, they let their hair and beards continue to
grow, nor till they have slain an enemy do they ever lay aside this form
of countenance by vow sacred to valour. Over the blood and spoil of a
foe they make bare their face. They allege, that they have now acquitted
themselves of the debt and duty contracted by their birth, and rendered
themselves worthy of their country, worthy of their parents. Upon the
spiritless, cowardly and unwarlike, such deformity of visage still
remains. All the most brave likewise wear an iron ring (a mark of great
dishonour this in that nation) and retain it as a chain; till by killing
an enemy they become released. Many of the Cattans delight always to
bear this terrible aspect; and, when grown white through age, become
awful and conspicuous by such marks, both to the enemy and their own
countrymen. By them in all engagements the first assault is made: of
them the front of the battle is always composed, as men who in their
looks are singular and tremendous. For even during peace they abate
nothing in the grimness and horror of their countenance. They have no
house to inhabit, no land to cultivate, nor any domestic charge or care.
With whomsoever they come to sojourn, by him they are maintained; always
very prodigal of the substance of others, always despising what is their
own, till the feebleness of old age overtakes them, and renders them
unequal to the efforts of such rigid bravery.

Next to the Cattans, dwell the Usipians and Tencterians; upon the Rhine
now running in a channel uniform and certain, such as suffices for a
boundary. The Tencterians, besides their wonted glory in war, surpass in
the service and discipline of their cavalry. Nor do the Cattans derive
higher applause from their foot, than the Tencterians from their horse.
Such was the order established by their forefathers, and what their
posterity still pursue. From riding and exercising of horse, their
children borrow their pastimes; in this exercise the young men find
matter for emulating one another, and in this the old men take pleasure
to persevere. Horses are by the father bequeathed as part of his
household and family, horses are conveyed amongst the rights of
succession, and as such the son receives them; but not the eldest son,
like other effects, by priority of birth, but he who continues to be
signal in boldness and superior in war.

Contiguous to the Tencterians formerly dwelt the Bructerians, in whose
room it is said the Chamavians and Angrivarians are now settled; they
who expulsed and almost extirpated the Bructerians, with the concurrence
of the neighbouring nations: whether in detestation of their arrogance,
or allured by the love of spoil, or through the special favour of the
Gods towards us Romans. They in truth even vouchsafed to gratify us with
the sight of the battle. In it there fell above sixty thousand souls,
without a blow struck by the Romans; but, what is a circumstance
still more glorious, fell to furnish them with a spectacle of joy and
recreation. May the Gods continue and perpetuate amongst these nations,
if not any love for us, yet by all means this their animosity and hate
towards each other: since whilst the destiny of the Empire thus urges
it, fortune cannot more signally befriend us, than in sowing strife
amongst our foes.

The Angrivarians and Chamavians are enclosed behind, by the Dulgibinians
and Chasuarians; and by other nations not so much noted: before the
Frisians face them. The country of Frisia is divided into two; called
the greater and lesser, according to the measure of their strength. Both
nations stretch along the Rhine, quite to the ocean; and surround
vast lakes such as once have born Roman fleets. We have moreover even
ventured out from thence into the ocean, and upon its coasts common fame
has reported the pillars of Hercules to be still standing: whether it be
that Hercules ever visited these parts, or that to his renowned name we
are wont to ascribe whatever is grand and glorious everywhere. Neither
did Drusus who made the attempt, want boldness to pursue it: but the
roughness of the ocean withstood him, nor would suffer discoveries to
be made about itself, no more than about Hercules. Thenceforward the
enterprise was dropped: nay, more pious and reverential it seemed, to
believe the marvellous feats of the Gods than to know and to prove them.

Hitherto, I have been describing Germany towards the west. To the
northward, it winds away with an immense compass. And first of all
occurs the nation of the Chaucians; who though they begin immediately
at the confines of the Frisians, and occupy part of the shore, extend
so far as to border upon all the several people whom I have already
recounted; till at last, by a Circuit, they reach quite to the
boundaries of the Cattans. A region so vast, the Chaucians do not only
possess but fill; a people of all the Germans the most noble, such as
would rather maintain their grandeur by justice than violence. They live
in repose, retired from broils abroad, void of avidity to possess more,
free from a spirit of domineering over others. They provoke no wars,
they ravage no countries, they pursue no plunder. Of their bravery and
power, the chief evidence arises from hence, that, without wronging or
oppressing others, they are come to be superior to all. Yet they are all
ready to arm, and if an exigency require, armies are presently raised,
powerful and abounding as they are in men and horses; and even when they
are quiet and their weapons laid aside, their credit and name continue
equally high.

Along the side of the Chaucians and Cattans dwell the Cheruscans; a
people who finding no enemy to rouse them, were enfeebled by a peace
over lasting and uniform, but such as they failed not to nourish. A
conduct which proved more pleasing than secure; since treacherous is
that repose which you enjoy amongst neighbours that are very powerful
and very fond of rule and mastership. When recourse is once had to the
sword, modesty and fair dealing will be vainly pleaded by the weaker;
names these which are always assumed by the stronger. Thus the
Cheruscans, they who formerly bore the character of _good and upright_,
are now called _cowards and fools_; and the fortune of the Cattans
who subdued them, grew immediately to be wisdom. In the ruin of the
Cheruscans, the Fosians, also their neighbours, were involved; and in
their calamities bore an equal share, though in their prosperity they
had been weaker and less considered.

In the same winding tract of Germany live the Cimbrians, close to the
ocean; a community now very small, but great in fame. Nay, of their
ancient renown, many and extensive are the traces and monuments still
remaining; even their entrenchments upon either shore, so vast in
compass that from thence you may even now measure the greatness and
numerous bands of that people, and assent to the account of an army so
mighty. It was on the six hundred and fortieth year of Rome, when of the
arms of the Cimbrians the first mention was made, during the Consulship
of Caecilius Metellus and Papirius Carbo. If from that time we count to
the second Consulship of the Emperor Trajan, the interval comprehends
near two hundred and ten years; so long have we been conquering Germany.
In a course of time, so vast between these two periods, many have been
the blows and disasters suffered on each side. In truth neither from the
Samnites, nor from the Carthaginians, nor from both Spains, nor from all
the nations of Gaul, have we received more frequent checks and alarms;
nor even from the Parthians: for, more vigorous and invincible is the
liberty of the Germans than the monarchy of the Arsacides. Indeed, what
has the power of the East to allege to our dishonour; but the fall of
Crassus, that power which was itself overthrown and abased by Ventidius,
with the loss of the great King Pacorus bereft of his life? But by the
Germans the Roman People have been bereft of five armies, all commanded
by Consuls; by the Germans, the commanders of these armies, Carbo, and
Cassius, and Scaurus Aurelius, and Servilius Caepio, as also Marcus
Manlius, were all routed or taken: by the Germans even the Emperor
Augustus was bereft of Varus and three legions. Nor without difficulty
and loss of men were they defeated by Caius Marius in Italy, or by the
deified Julius in Gaul, or by Drusus or Tiberius or Germanicus in their
native territories. Soon after, the mighty menaces of Caligula against
them ended in mockery and derision. Thenceforward they continued quiet,
till taking advantage of our domestic division and civil wars, they
stormed and seized the winter entrenchments of the legions, and aimed at
the dominion of Gaul; from whence they were once more expulsed, and in
the times preceding the present, we gained a triumph over them rather
than a victory.

I must now proceed to speak of the Suevians, who are not, like the
Cattans and Tencterians, comprehended in a single people; but divided
into several nations all bearing distinct names, though in general they
are entitled Suevians, and occupy the larger share of Germany. This
people are remarkable for a peculiar custom, that of twisting their hair
and binding it up in a knot. It is thus the Suevians are distinguished
from the other Germans, thus the free Suevians from their slaves. In
other nations, whether from alliance of blood with the Suevians, or, as
is usual from imitation, this practice is also found, yet rarely, and
never exceeds the years of youth. The Suevians, even when their hair is
white through age, continue to raise it backwards in a manner stern and
staring; and often tie it upon the top of their head only. That of their
Princes, is more accurately disposed, and so far they study to appear
agreeable and comely; but without any culpable intention. For by
it, they mean not to make love or to incite it: they thus dress when
proceeding to war, and deck their heads so as to add to their height and
terror in the eyes of the enemy.

Of all the Suevians, the Semnones recount themselves to be the most
ancient and most noble. The belief of their antiquity is confirmed
by religious mysteries. At a stated time of the year, all the several
people descended from the same stock, assemble by their deputies in
a wood; consecrated by the idolatries of their forefathers, and by
superstitious awe in times of old. There by publicly sacrificing a man,
they begin the horrible solemnity of their barbarous worship. To this
grove another sort of reverence is also paid. No one enters it otherwise
than bound with ligatures, thence professing his subordination and
meanness, and power of the Deity there. If he fall down, he is not
permitted to rise or be raised, but grovels along upon the ground. And
of all their superstition, this is the drift and tendency; that from
this place the nation drew their original, that here God, the supreme
Governor of the world, resides, and that all things else whatsoever
are subject to him and bound to obey him. The potent condition of the
Semnones has increased their influence and authority, as they inhabit an
hundred towns; and from the largeness of their community it comes, that
they hold themselves for the head of the Suevians.

What on the contrary ennobles the Langobards is the smallness of their
number, for that they, who are surrounded with very many and very
powerful nations, derive their security from no obsequiousness or
plying; but from the dint of battle and adventurous deeds. There follow
in order the Reudignians, and Aviones, and Angles, and Varinians, and
Eudoses, and Suardones and Nuithones; all defended by rivers or forests.
Nor in one of these nations does aught remarkable occur, only that they
universally join in the worship of _Herthum_; that is to say, the Mother
Earth. Her they believe to interpose in the affairs of men, and to visit
countries. In an island of the ocean stands the wood _Castum_: in it
is a chariot dedicated to the Goddess covered over with a curtain, and
permitted to be touched by none but the Priest. Whenever the Goddess
enters this her holy vehicle, he perceives her; and with profound
veneration attends the motion of the chariot, which is always drawn by
yoked cows. Then it is that days of rejoicing always ensue, and in all
places whatsoever which she descends to honour with a visit and her
company, feasts and recreation abound. They go not to war; they touch
no arms; fast laid up is every hostile weapon; peace and repose are
then only known, then only beloved, till to the temple the same priest
reconducts the Goddess when well tired with the conversation of mortal
beings. Anon the chariot is washed and purified in a secret lake, as
also the curtain; nay, the Deity herself too, if you choose to believe
it. In this office it is slaves who minister, and they are forthwith
doomed to be swallowed up in the same lake. Hence all men are possessed
with mysterious terror; as well as with a holy ignorance what that must
be, which none see but such as are immediately to perish. Moreover this
quarter of the Suevians stretches to the middle of Germany.

The community next adjoining, is that of the Hermondurians; (that I may
now follow the course of the Danube, as a little before I did that of
the Rhine) a people this, faithful to the Romans. So that to them alone
of all the Germans, commerce is permitted; not barely upon the bank of
the Rhine, but more extensively, and even in that glorious colony in the
province of Rhoetia. They travel everywhere at their own discretion and
without a guard; and when to other nations, we show no more than our
arms and encampments, to this people we throw open our houses and
dwellings, as to men who have no longing to possess them. In the
territories of the Hermondurians rises the Elbe, a river very famous and
formerly well known to us; at present we only hear it named.

Close by the Hermondurians reside the Nariscans, and next to them the
Marcomanians and Quadians. Amongst these the Marcomanians are most
signal in force and renown; nay, their habitation itself they acquired
by their bravery, as from thence they formerly expulsed the Boians. Nor
do the Nariscans or Quadians degenerate in spirit. Now this is as it
were the frontier of Germany, as far as Germany is washed by the Danube.
To the times within our memory the Marcomanians and Quadians were
governed by kings, who were natives of their own, descended from the
noble line of Maroboduus and Tudrus. At present they are even subject to
such as are foreigners. But the whole strength and sway of their king
is derived from the authority of the Romans. From our arms, they rarely
receive any aid; from our money very frequently.

Nor less powerful are the several people beyond them; namely, the
Marsignians, the Gothinians, the Osians and the Burians, who altogether
enclose the Marcomanians and Quadians behind. Of those, the Marsignians
and the Burians in speech and dress resemble the Suevians. From the
Gallic language spoken by the Gothinians, and from that of Pannonia by
the Osians, it is manifest that neither of these people are Germans; as
it is also from their bearing to pay tribute. Upon them as upon aliens
their tribute is imposed, partly by the Sarmatians, partly by the
Quadians. The Gothinians, to heighten their disgrace, are forced to
labour in the iron mines. By all these several nations but little level
country is possessed: they are seated amongst forests, and upon
the ridges and declivities of mountains. For, Suevia is parted by a
continual ridge of mountains; beyond which, live many distinct nations.
Of these the Lygians are most numerous and extensive, and spread into
several communities. It will suffice to mention the most puissant; even
the Arians, Helvicones, Manimians; Elysians and Naharvalians. Amongst
the Naharvalians is shown a grove, sacred to devotion extremely ancient.
Over it a Priest presides apparelled like a woman; but according to
the explication of the Romans, 'tis _Castor_ and _Pollux_ who are here
worshipped. This Divinity is named _Alcis_. There are indeed no images
here, no traces of an extraneous superstition; yet their devotion is
addressed to young men and to brothers. Now the Arians, besides their
forces, in which they surpass the several nations just recounted, are
in their persons stern and truculent; and even humour and improve their
natural grimness and ferocity by art and time. They wear black shields,
their bodies are painted black, they choose dark nights for engaging in
battle; and by the very awe and ghastly hue of their army, strike the
enemy with dread, as none can bear this their aspect so surprising and
as it were quite infernal. For, in all battles the eyes are vanquished

Beyond the Lygians dwell the Gothones, under the rule of a King; and
thence held in subjection somewhat stricter than the other German
nations, yet not so strict as to extinguish all their liberty.
Immediately adjoining are the Rugians and Lemovians upon the coast of
the ocean, and of these several nations the characteristics are a round
shield, a short sword and kingly government. Next occur the communities
of the Suiones, situated in the ocean itself; and besides their strength
in men and arms, very powerful at sea. The form of their vessels varies
thus far from ours, that they have prows at each end, so as to be always
ready to row to shore without turning nor are they moved by sails, nor
on their sides have benches of oars placed, but the rowers ply here and
there in all parts of the ship alike, as in some rivers is done, and
change their oars from place to place, just as they shift their course
hither or thither. To wealth also, amongst them, great veneration is
paid, and thence a single ruler governs them, without all restriction of
power, and exacting unlimited obedience. Neither here, as amongst other
nations of Germany, are arms used indifferently by all, but shut up and
warded under the care of a particular keeper, who in truth too is always
a slave: since from all sudden invasions and attacks from their foes,
the ocean protects them: besides that armed bands, when they are not
employed, grow easily debauched and tumultuous. The truth is, it suits
not the interest of an arbitrary Prince, to trust the care and power of
arms either with a nobleman or with a freeman, or indeed with any man
above the condition of a slave.

Beyond the Suiones is another sea, one very heavy and almost void
of agitation; and by it the whole globe is thought to be bounded and
environed, for that the reflection of the sun, after his setting,
continues till his rising, so bright as to darken the stars. To this,
popular opinion has added, that the tumult also of his emerging from
the sea is heard, that forms divine are then seen, as likewise the rays
about his head. Only thus far extend the limits of nature, if what fame
says be true. Upon the right of the Suevian Sea the AEstyan nations
reside, who use the same customs and attire with the Suevians; their
language more resembles that of Britain. They worship the Mother of the
Gods. As the characteristic of their national superstition, they wear
the images of wild boars. This alone serves them for arms, this is the
safeguard of all, and by this every worshipper of the goddess is secured
even amidst his foes. Rare amongst them is the use of weapons of iron,
but frequent that of clubs. In producing of grain and the other fruits
of the earth, they labour with more assiduity and patience than is
suitable to the usual laziness of Germans. Nay, they even search the
deep, and of all the rest are the only people who gather _amber_. They
call it _glasing_, and find it amongst the shallows and upon the very
shore. But, according to the ordinary incuriosity and ignorance of
Barbarians, they have neither learnt, nor do they inquire, what is
its nature, or from what cause it is produced. In truth it lay long
neglected amongst the other gross discharges of the sea; till from our
luxury, it gained a name and value. To themselves it is of no use: they
gather it rough, they expose it in pieces coarse and unpolished, and for
it receive a price with wonder. You would however conceive it to be a
liquor issuing from trees, for that in the transparent substance are
often seen birds and other animals, such as at first stuck in the soft
gum, and by it, as it hardened, became quite enclosed. I am apt to
believe that, as in the recesses of the East are found woods and groves
dropping frankincense and balms, so in the isles and continent of the
West such gums are extracted by the force and proximity of the sun; at
first liquid and flowing into the next sea, then thrown by the winds
and waves upon the opposite shore. If you try the nature of amber by
the application of fire, it kindles like a torch; and feeds a thick and
unctuous flame very high scented, and presently becomes glutinous like
pitch or rosin.

Upon the Suiones, border the people Sitones; and, agreeing with them in
all other things, differ from them in one, that here the sovereignty is
exercised by a woman. So notoriously do they degenerate not only from
a state of liberty, but even below a state of bondage. Here end the
territories of the Suevians.

Whether amongst the Sarmatians or the Germans I ought to account the
Peucinians, the Venedians, and the Fennians, is what I cannot determine;
though the Peucinians, whom some call Basstarnians, speak the same
language with the Germans, use the same attire, build like them, and
live like them, in that dirtiness and sloth so common to all.
Somewhat they are corrupted into the fashion of the Sarmatians by the
inter-marriages of the principal sort with that nation: from whence
the Venedians have derived very many of their customs and a great
resemblance. For they are continually traversing and infesting with
robberies all the forests and mountains lying between the Peucinians
and Fennians. Yet they are rather reckoned amongst the Germans, for
that they have fixed houses, and carry shields, and prefer travelling
on foot, and excel in swiftness. Usages these, all widely differing from
those of the Sarmatians, who live on horseback and dwell in waggons.
In wonderful savageness live the nation of the Fennians, and in beastly
poverty, destitute of arms, of horses, and of homes; their food, the
common herbs; their apparel, skins; their bed, the earth; their only
hope in their arrows, which for want of iron they point with bones.
Their common support they have from the chase, women as well as men;
for with these the former wander up and down, and crave a portion of
the prey. Nor other shelter have they even for their babes, against the
violence of tempests and ravening beasts, than to cover them with the
branches of trees twisted together; this a reception for the old men,
and hither resort the young. Such a condition they judge more happy than
the painful occupation of cultivating the ground, than the labour of
rearing houses, than the agitations of hope and fear attending the
defence of their own property or the seizing that of others. Secure
against the designs of men, secure against the malignity of the Gods,
they have accomplished a thing of infinite difficulty; that to them
nothing remains even to be wished.

What further accounts we have are fabulous: as that the Hellusians and
Oxiones have the countenances and aspect of men, with the bodies and
limbs of savage beasts. This, as a thing about which I have no certain
information, I shall leave untouched.

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