Make your own free website on



Book 1

Chapter V.

The Scritobini, for thus that nation is called, are neighbors to this place. They are not without snow even in the summer time, and since they do not differ in nature from wild beasts themselves, they feed only upon the raw flesh of wild animals from whose shaggy skins also they fit garments for themselves. [

1] They deduce the etymology of their name

[2] according to their barbarous language from jumping. For by making use of leaps and bounds they pursue wild beasts very skillfully with a piece of wood bent in the likeness of a bow. Among them there is an animal not very unlike a stag,

[3] from whose hide, while it was rough with hairs, I saw a coat fitted in the manner of a tunic down to the knees, such as the aforesaid Scritobini use, as has been related. In these places about the summer solstice, a very bright light is seen for some days, even in the night time, and the days are much longer there than elsewhere, just as, on the other hand, about the winter solstice, although the light of day is present, yet the sun is not seen there and the days are shorter than anywhere else and the nights too are longer, and this is because the further we turn from the sun the nearer the sun itself appears to the earth and the longer the shadows grow.

In short, in Italy (as the ancients also have written) about the day of the birth of our Lord, human statures at twelve o'clock measure in shadow nine feet. But when I was stationed in Belgic Gaul in a place which is called Villa Totonis (Dietenhofen, Thionville

[4]) and measured the shadow of my stature, I found it nineteen and a half feet. Thus also on the contrary the nearer we come to the sun toward midday the shorter always appear the shadows, so much so that at the summer solstice when the sun looks down from the midst of heaven in Egypt and Jerusalem and the places situated in their neighborhood, no shadows may be seen. But in Arabia at this same time the sun at its highest point is seen on the northern side and the shadows on the other hand appear towards the south.

[1] What is said about the Scritobini (or Scridefinni) can be traced to one and the same source as the account of Thule given in Procopius' Gothic War, II, 13, or of Scandza in Jordanes' Gothic History, 3; see Zeuss, 684.
[2] Perhaps from schreitcii, " to stride," or some kindred word.
[3] A reindeer (Waitz).
[4] On the Moselle, where Charlemagne held his court.

Chapter VI.

Not very far from this shore of which we have spoken, toward the western side, on which the ocean main lies open without end, is that very deep whirlpool of waters which we call by its familiar name " the navel of the sea." This is said to suck in the waves and spew them forth again twice every day, as is proved to be done by the excessive swiftness with which the waves advance and recede along all those shores. A whirlpool or maelstrom of this kind is called by the poet Virgil "Charybdis" which he says in his poem

[1] is in the Sicilian strait, speaking of it in this way:

"Scylla the right hand besets, and the left, the relentless Charybdis; Thrice in the whirl of the deepest abyss it swallows the vast waves Headlong, and lifts them again in turn one after another Forth to the upper air, and lashes the stars with the bellows".

Ships are alleged to be often violently and swiftly dragged in by this whirlpool (of which indeed we have spoken) with such speed that they seem to imitate the fall of arrows through the air, and sometimes they perish by a very dreadful end in that abyss. But often when they are upon the very point of being overwhelmed they are hurled back by the sudden masses of waves and driven away again with as great speed as they were first drawn in. They say there is another whirlpool of this kind between the island of Britain and the province of Galicia,

[2] and with this fact the coasts of the Seine region and of Aquitaine agree, for they are filled twice a day with such sudden inundations that any one who may by chance be found only a little inward from the shore can hardly get away.

You may see the rivers of these regions falling back with a very swift current toward their source, and the fresh waters of the streams turning salt through the spaces of many miles.

The island of Evodia (Alderney) is almost thirty miles distant from the coast of the Seine region, and in this island, as its inhabitants declare, is heard the noise of the waters as they sweep into this Charybdis.

I have heard a certain high nobleman of the Gauls relating that a number of ships, shattered at first by a tempest, were afterwards devoured by this same Charybdis.

And when one only out of all the men who had been in these ships, still breathing, swam over the waves, while the rest were dying, he came, swept by the force of the receding waters, up to the edge of that most frightful abyss.

And when now he beheld yawning before him the deep chaos whose end he could not see, and half dead from very fear, expected to be hurled into it, suddenly in a way that he could not have hoped he was cast upon a certain rock and sat him down.

And now when all the waters that were to be swallowed had run down, the margins of that edge (of the abyss) had been left bare, and while he sat there with difficulty, trembling with fear and filled with foreboding amid so many distresses, nor could he hide at all from his sight the death that was a little while deferred, behold he suddenly sees, as it were, great mountains of water leaping up from the deep and the first ships which had been sucked in coming forth again !

And when one of these came near him he grasped it with what effort he could, and without delay, he was carried in swift flight toward the shore and escaped the fate of death, living afterwards to tell the story of his peril.

Our own sea also, that is, the Adriatic, which spreads in like manner, though less violently, through the coasts of Venetia and Istria, is believed to have little secret currents of this kind by which the receding waters are sucked in and vomited out again to dash upon the shores. These things having been thus examined, let us go back to the order of our narrative already begun.

[1] Aeneid, VII, 420.

[2] In the northwestern part of Spain. Many manuscripts read "the province of Gaul." Evidently Paul's knowledge of the geography of these parts is most obscure.

Chapter VII.

The Winnili then, having departed from Scandinavia with their leaders Ibor and Aio, and coming into the region which is called Scoringa,[

1] settled there for some years. At that time Ambri and Assi, leaders of the Wandals, were coercing all the neighboring by war.

Already elated by many victories they sent messengers to the Winnili to tell them that they should either pay tribute to the Wandals

[2] or make ready for the struggles of war.

Then Ibor and Aio, with the approval of their mother Gambara, determine that it is better to maintain liberty by arms than to stain it by the payment of tribute.

They send word to the Wandals by messengers that they will rather fight than be slaves. The Winnili were then all in the flower of their youth, but were very few in number since they had been only the third part of one island of no great size.[3]

[1] Scoringa, according to Miillenhoff's explanation in which Bluhme concurs, is " Shoreland " (see Schmidt, 43). Bluhme considers it identical with the later Bardengau, on the left bank of the lower Elbe where the town of Bardowick, twenty-four miles southeast of Hamburg, perpetuates the name of the Langobards even down to the present time. Hammerstein (Bardengau, 56) explains Scoringa as Schieringen near Bleckede in the same region. Schmidt (43) believes that the settlement in Scoringa has a historical basis and certainly, if the name indicates the territory in question, it is the place where the Langobards are first found in authentic history. They are mentioned in connection with the campaigns undertaken by Tiberius against various German tribes during' the reign of Augustus in the fifth and sixth year of the Christian era, in the effort to extend the frontiers of the Roman empire from the Rhine to the Elbe (Mommsen, Romische Geschichte, V, 33).

The Langobards then dwelt in that region which lies between the Weser and the lower Elbe. They were described by the court historian Velleius Paterculus (II, 106), who accompanied one of the expeditions as prefect of cavalry (Schmidt, 5), as "more fierce than ordinary German savagery,'' and he tells us that their power was broken by the legions of Tiberius. It would appear also from the combined testimony of Strabo (A. D. 20) and Tacitus (A, D. 117) that the Langobards dwelt near the mouth of the Elbe shortly after the beginning of the Christian era, and were in frequent and close relations with the Hermunduri and Semnones, two great Suevic tribes dwelling- higher up the stream.

Strabo (see Hodgkin, V, 81) evidently means to assert that in his time the Hermunduri and Langobards had been driven from the left to the right bank.

Ptolemy who wrote later (100-161) places them upon the left bank. Possibly both authors were right for different periods in their history (Hodgkin, V, 82).

The expedition of Tiberius was the high-water mark of Roman invasion on Teutonic soil, and when a Roman fleet, sailing up the Elbe, established communication with a Roman army upon the bank of that river, it might well be thought that the designs of Augustus were upon the point of accomplishment, and that the boundary of the empire was to be traced by connecting the Danube with the Elbe. The dominions of Marobod, king of the Marcomanni, who was then established in Bohemia, would break the continuity of this boundary, so the Romans proceeded to invade his territories.

An insurrection, however, suddenly broke out in Illyricum and the presence of the Roman army was required in that region. So a hasty peace was concluded with Marobod, leaving him the possessions he already held.

It required four successive campaigns and an enormous number of troops (Mommsen, Rom. Gesch., Vol. V, pp. 35-38) to suppress the revolt.

While the Roman veterans were engaged in the Illyrian war, great numbers of Germans led by Arminius, or Hermann, of the Cheruscan tribe rose in rebellion.

 In the ninth year of our era, Varus marched against them at the head of a force composed largely of new recruits.

He was surprised and surrounded in the pathless recesses of the Teutoburg forest and his army of some twenty thousand men was annihilated (id., pp. 38-44).

It is not known whether the Langobards were among the confederates who thus arrested the conquest of their country by the Roman army, although they dwelt not far from the scene of this historic battle.

They were then considered, however, to belong to the Suevian stock and were subject, not far from this time, to the king of the Marcomanni, a Suevian race (id., p. 34; Tacitus Germania, 38-40; Annals, II, 45), and king Marobod took no part in this war on either side as he had made peace with the Romans.

The defeat of Varus was due largely to his own incompetency and it would not appear to have been irretrievable when the immense resources of the Roman empire are considered.

Still no active offensive operations against the barbarians were undertaken until after the death of Augustus and the succession of Tiberius, A. D. 14, when in three campaigns, the great Germanicus thrice invaded Germany, took captive the wife and child of Arminius, defeated the barbarians in a sanguinary battle, and announced to Rome that in the next campaign the subjugation of Germany would be complete (Mommsen, id., pp. 44-50).

But Tiberius permitted no further campaign to be undertaken. The losses suffered by the Romans on the sea as well as on land had been very severe, and whether he was influenced by this fact and by the difficulty of keeping both Gaul and Germany in subjection if the legions were transferred from the Rhine to the Elbe, or whether he was actuated by jealousy of Germanicus, and feared the popularity the latter would acquire by the subjugation of all Germany, cannot now be decided, but he removed that distinguished commander from the scene of his past triumphs and his future hopes, sent him to the East on a new mission, left the army on the Rhine divided and without a general-in-chief, and adopted the policy of keeping that river as the permanent boundary of the empire (id., p. 50-54).

Thus the battle in the Teutoburg forest resulted in the maintenance of German independence and ultimately perhaps in the overthrow of the Roman empire itself by German barbarians.

 It marked the beginning of the turn of the tide in Roman conquest and Roman dominion, for although the empire afterwards grew in other directions yet behind the dike here erected, the forces gradually collected which were finally to overwhelm it when it became corrupted with decay.

When the legions of Varus were destroyed, the head of the Roman commander was sent to Marobod and his cooperation solicited.

He refused however to join the confederated German tribes, he sent the head to Rome for funeral honors, and continued to maintain between the empire and the barbarians, the neutrality he had observed in former wars.

This refusal to unite in the national aspirations for German independence, cost him his throne. " Not only the Cheruscans and their confederates " says Tacitus (Ann. II, 45) "who had been the ancient soldiery of Arminius, took arms, but the Semnones and Langobards, both Suevian nations, revolted to him from the sovereignty of Marobod . . . .

The armies (Ch. 46) . . . . were stimulated by reasons of their own, the Cheruscans and the Langobards fought for their ancient honor or their newly acquired independence, and the others for increasing their dominion."

This occurred in the seventeenth year of our era. Marobod was finally overthrown, and took refuge in exile with the Romans, and it was not long until Arminius, accused of aspiring to despotic power, was assassinated by a noble of his own race (Mommsen, id. 54-56).

After his death the internal dissensions among the Cheruscans became so violent that the reigning family was swept away, and in the year 47 they asked the Romans to send them as their king the one surviving member of that family, Italirus, the nephew of Arminius, who was born at Rome where he had been educated as a Roman citizen. Accordingly Italicus, with the approval of the emperor Claudius, assumed the sovereignty of the Cheruscans.

At first he was received with joy, but soon the cry was raised that with his advent the old liberties of Germany were departing and Roman power was becoming predominant.

A struggle ensued, and he was expelled from the country. Again, the Langobards appear upon the scene, with sufficient power as it seems to control the destiny of the tribe which, thirty-eight years before, had been the leader in the struggle for independence, for they restored him to the sovereignty of which he had been despoiled by his inconstant subjects (Tacitus Annals, XI, 16, 17).

These events and other internal disturbances injured the Cheruscans so greatly that they soon disappeared from the field of political activity (Mommsen, id., 132).

During the generations that followed there was doubtless many a change in the power, the territories and even the names of the various tribes which inhabited Germania Magna, but for a long time peace was preserved along the frontiers which separated them from the Roman world (id., p. 133). It is somewhat remarkable that none of those events appear in the Langobard tradition as contained in the pages of Paul.

[2] Hammerstein (Bardengau, 71) considers the Wends who were the eastern neighbors of the Langobards, to be the Wandals.

Jacobi (13, n. l) thinks Paul is misled by the account of Jordanes of the struggles of the Vandals and the Goths.

[3] Although it belongs to the legendary period of the Langobards, there may well be some truth in this statement of the refusal to pay tribute. Tacitus (Germania, 40) speaks of the slender number of the Langobards and declares that they are renowned because they are so few and, being surrounded by many powerful nations, protect themselves, not by submission but by the peril of battles.

Chapter VIII.

At this point, the men of old tell a silly story that the Wandals coming to Godan (Wotan) besought him for victory over the Winnili and that he answered that he would give the victory to those whom he saw first at sunrise; that then Gambara went to Frea (Freja) wife of Godan and asked for victory for the Winnili, and that Frea gave her counsel that the women of the Winnili should take down their hair and arrange it upon the face like a beard, and that in the early morning they should be present with their husbands and in like manner station themselves to be seen by Godan from the quarter in which he had been wont to look through his window toward the east.

And so it was done.

And when Godan saw them at sunrise he said:

"Who are these long-beards?"

And then Frea induced him to give the victory to those to whom he had given the name.[1]

And thus Godan gave the victory to the Winnili.

These things are worthy of laughter and are to be held of no account.[2] For victory is due, not to the power of men, but it is rather furnished from heaven.

[1] A still livelier description of this scene is given in the '' Origo Gentis Langobardorum'' (see Appendix 11) from which Paul took the story.

" When it became bright and the sun was rising, Frea, Godan's wife, turned the bed around where her husband was lying and put his face toward the east, and awakened him, and as he looked he saw the Winnili and their wives, how their hair hung about their faces.

And he said: " Who are these longbeards?"

Then spoke Frea to Godan:

 "My lord, thou hast given them the name, now give them also the victory."

Mommsen remarks (pp. 65, 66) that Paul has spoiled the instructive story why one does better to put his business in the hands of the wife than of the husband, or rather that he has misunderstood the account.

 The fable rests upon this, that Godan, according to the position of his bed, looked toward the west upon awakening, and that the Wandals camped on the west side and the Winnili upon the east.

The true-hearted god could then appropriately promise victory to his Wandal worshippers in the enigmatical sentence, that he would take the part of those upon whom his eyes should first fall on the morning of the day of the battle; but as his cunning wife turned his bed around, he and his favorites were entrapped thereby.

This can be easily inferred from the Origo.

 It may be asked what the women's hair arranged like a beard has to do with Godan's promise.

Evidently, the affair was so planned that the astonishment of the god should be noted when he looked upon these extraordinary long-beards in place of the Wandals he had supposed would be there; perhaps indeed his cunning wife thus drew from her husband an expression which put it beyond doubt that he actually let his glance fall in the morning upon the Winnili.

That the account in the Origo was a Latin translation of a German alliterative epic poem—see Appendix II.

[2] Paul's narrative of the origin of the name of Langobards gives the best example of the manner in which he has treated the legends which have come down to him.

The transposition of the direct speech into the indirect, the introduction of the phrase '' to preserve their liberty by arms," and similar classical phrases, the new style and historical character given to the story, speak for themselves ; but still the Langobard, in treating of the origin of the proud name could not disown his national character and even where "the ridiculous story told by the ancients " sets historical treatment at defiance, he still does not suppress it (Mommsen, 65).

Chapter IX.

It is certain, however, that the Langobards were afterwards so called on account of the length of their beards untouched by the knife, whereas at first they had been called Winnili; for according to their language

 "lang" means " long" and " bart " "beard." [1] Wotan indeed, whom by adding a letter they called Godan [2] is he who among the Romans is called Mercury, and he is worshiped by all the peoples of Germany as a god, though he is deemed to have existed, not about these times, but long before, and not in Germany, but in Greece.

[1] This derivation comes from Isidore of Seville.

He says, " The Langobards were commonly so-called from their flowing and never shaven beards" (Etym., IX, 2, 94, Zeuss, 109). Schmidt, although he believes (p. 43) that the change of name was a historical fact, rejects (44, note 1) this definition, since he considers that the earlier name of the people was simply "Biards," to which "lang" was afterwards prefixed. Another proposed derivation is from the Old High German word barta, an axe, the root which appears in " halbert" and "partizan" (Hodgkin, V, 84).

Another authority. Dr. Lennhard Schmitz (see Langobardi in Smith's Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography) argues for its derivation from the root bord, which we have preserved in the word "sea-board" and he contends that the Langobards received their name from the long, flat meadows of the Elbe where they had their dwelling.

As we adopt one or the other of these suggestions, the Langobards will have been the long-bearded men, the long-halbert-bearing men, or the long-shore-men. Kodgkin (V, 85) as well as Bruckner (p. 33) prefers the interpretation given in the text, " Long-beards."

Bruckner remarks that the name of the people stands in close relation to the worship of Wotan who bore the name of the "long-bearded" or "gray-bearded," and that the Langobard name Ansegranus, " He with the beard of the Gods" showed that the Langobards had this idea of their chief deity.

He further shows that the long halbert or spear was not a characteristic weapon of the Langobards. He also (p. 30) considers Koegel's opinion (p. 109) that the Langobards adopted the worship of Wotan from the surrounding peoples after their migration to the Danube is not admissable, since the neighboring Anglo-Saxons worshiped Wotan long before their migration to Britain as their highest god. [2] Or Guodan according to other MSS.

Chapter X.

The Winnili therefore, who are also Langobards, having joined battle with the Wandals, struggle fiercely, since it is for the glory of freedom, and win the victory.

And afterwards, having suffered in this same province of Scoringa, great privation from hunger, their minds were filled with dismay.

Chapter XI.

Departing from this place, while they were arranging to pass over into Mauringa,

[1] the Assipitti

[2] block their way, denying to them by every means a passage through their territories.

The Langobards moreover, when they beheld the great forces of their enemies, did not dare engage them on account of the smallness of their army, and while they were deciding what they ought to do, necessity at length hit upon a plan.

They pretend that they have in their camps Cynocephali, that is, men with dogs' heads.

They spread the rumor among the enemy that these men wage war obstinately, drink human blood and quaff their own gore if they cannot reach the foe.

And to give faith to this assertion, the Langobards spread their tents wide and kindle a great many fires in their camps.

The enemy being made credulous when these things are heard and seen, dare not now attempt the war they threatened.

[1] Mauringa is mentioned by the Cosmographer of Ravenna (I, 11) as the land east of the Elbe. Maurungani appears to be another name of the great country of the Elbe which lies '' in front of the Danes, extends to Dacia and includes Baias, Baiohaim." Or perhaps Mauringa was merely the name of the maurland or moorland east of the Elbe (Zeuss, 472).

 In the Traveler's Song, which had its origin in the German home of the Angles about the end of the 6th century, a Suevian race in Holstein bears the name of Myrginge, and this song also mentions the Headhobards (perhaps identical with the Langobards) who fight with the Danes in Zealand (Schmidt, 34, 47). See also Waitz.
[2] Hodgkin (V, 92) conjectures that possibly the Assipitti are the Usipetes mentioned in Tacitus' Annals (I, 51). See Caesar B. G. IV, l, 4. Bluhme (see Hodgkin, V, 141) places them in the neighborhood of Asse, a wooded height near Wolfenbuttel.

Such identifications of locality are highly fanciful.

Chapter XII.

They had, however, among them a very powerful man, to whose strength they trusted that they could obtain without doubt what they wanted.

They offered him alone to fight for all. They charged the Langobards to send any one of their own they might wish, to go forth with him to single combat upon this condition, to wit; that if their warrior should win the victory, the Langobards would depart the way they had come, but if he should be overthrown by the other, then they would not forbid the Langobards a passage through their own territories.

And when the Langobards were in doubt what one of their own they should send against this most warlike man, a certain person of servile rank offered himself of his own will, and promised that he would engage the challenging enemy upon this condition : that if he took the victory from the enemy, they would take away the stain of slavery from him and from his offspring.

Why say more? They joyfully promised to do what he had asked. Having engaged the enemy, he fought and conquered, and won for the Langobards the means of passage, and for himself and his descendants, as he had desired, the rights of liberty.

Chapter XIII

Therefore the Langobards, coming at last into Mauringa, in order that they might increase the number of their warriors, confer liberty upon many whom they deliver from the yoke of bondage, and that the freedom of these may be regarded as established, they confirm it in their accustomed way by an arrow, uttering certain words of their country in confirmation of the fact.

[1] Then the Langobards went forth from Mauringa and came to Golanda,

 [2] where, having remained some time, they are afterwards said to have possessed for some years Anthaib

 [3] and Banthaib,

 [4] and in like manner Vurgundaib,

[5] which we can consider are names of districts or of some kinds of places.


[1] Complete emancipation appears to have been granted only among the Franks and the Langobards (Schmidt, 47 note 3). This system of incorporating into the body of their warriors and freemen, the peoples whom they subjugated in their wanderings, made of the Langobards a composite race, and it may well be that their language as well as their institutions were greatly affected by this admixture of foreign stock (Hartmann, II, pp. 8,9), and that their High-German characteristics are due to this fact. This system of emancipation also had an important effect in furthering the union of the two races, Langobard and Roman, after the Italian conquest (Hartmann, II, 2, 15).

[2] Schmidt thinks this was further east, perhaps on the right bank of the Oder (p. 49). He considers (see Hodgkin, V, 143) that the name is the equivalent of Gotland and means simply '' good land.'' Colanda is generally considered, however, to be Gothland, and as the Langobards were found in Pannonia in the year 166 at the time of the war with Marcus Aurelius, and as the Goths emigrated to the Euxine probably about the middle of the second century, Hodgkin (V, 101) considers it probable that the Langobards at this time were hovering about the skirts of the Carpathians rather than that they had returned to Bardengau.

The fact that when they were next heard from, they were occupying Rugiland east of Noricum, on the north shore of the Danube, confirms this view.

Zeuss takes an alternative reading for Golanda not well supported by manuscript authority, "Rugulanda," and suggests that it may be the coast opposite the isle of Rugen (Hodgkin, 141).

[3] Anthaib, according to the improbable conjecture of Zeuss, is the pagus or district of the Antae who, on the authority of Ptolemy and Jordanes were placed somewhere in the Ukraine in the countries of the Dniester and Dnieper (Hodgkin, p. 141). Schmidt (p. 49) connects Anthaib through the Aenenas of the " Traveler's Song" with Bavaria. These are mere guesses.

[4] Schmidt connects Banthaib with the Boii and Bohemia (49, 50).

[5] Zeuss connects Vurgundaib or Burgundaib with the Urugundi of Zosimiis which he seems inclined to place in Red Russia between the Vistula and Bug.

These names, he thinks, lead us in the direction of the Black Sea far into the eastern steppes and he connects this eastward march of the Langobards with their alleged combats with the Bulgarians (Hodgkin, V, p. 141).

Bluhme in his monograph (Gens Langobardorum Bonn, 1868) thinks that Burgundaib was the territory evacuated by the Burgundians when they moved westward to the Middle Rhine (Hodgkin, V, p. 142), and instead of the eastern migration he makes the Langobards wander westward toward the Rhine, following a passage of Ptolemy which places them near the Sigambri.

He believes that this is confirmed by the Chronicon Gothanum which says that they stayed long at Patespruna or Paderborn and contends for a general migration of the tribe to Westphalia, shows the resemblance in family names and legal customs between Westphalia and Bardengau.

Schmidt opposes Bluhme's Westphalian theory which indeed appears to have slender support and he more plausibly connects Burgundaib (p. 49) with the remnant of the Burgundians that remained in the lands east of the Elbe.

Luttmersen (Die Spuren der Langobarden, Hanover, 1889) thinks that Burgundaib means '' the valley of forts,'' and was perhaps in the region of the Rauhes Alp in Wurtemberg; he notes the fact that the Swiss in Thurgau and St. Gall called an old wall built by an unknown hand "Langobardenmauer" and he claims that the Langobards were members of the Alamannic confederacy which occupied Suabia. No historical evidence of this appears (Hodgkin, V, 145).

[6] Names which have a termination aib are derived from the Old-High-German eiba (canton), the division of a state or population (Schmidt, 49). The Latin word pagus, a district, canton, was here used by Paul to designate these subdivisions instead of the word aldonus or aldones of the Origo from which Paul took this statement.

This word aldonus comes from aldius or aldio the "half-free," referring to the condition of serfdom or semi-slavery in which the people dwelt in these lands.

Hodgkin thinks (V, 94) the Origo means that the Langobards were in a condition of dependence on some other nation, when they occupied these districts.

It seems more probable that these districts were so called because their inhabitants were subjected by the Langobards to a condition of semi-servitude, tilling the land for the benefit of their masters as was afterwards done with the Roman population of Italy (Schmidt, 50).

The migrations described by modern German scholars are mostly hypothetical.

The fact is, it is idle to guess where were the different places mentioned by Paul or when the Langobards migrated from one to the other.

That people however may well have taken part (Hodgkin, V, 88) in the movement of the German tribes southward which brought on the Marcommanic war under Marcus Aurelius, for in a history written by Peter the Patrician, Justinian's ambassador to Theodahad (Fragment, VI, p. 124 of the Bonn. ed.) we are informed that just before that war 6,000 Langobards and Obii having crossed the Danube to invade Pannonia were put to rout by the Roman cavalry under Vindex and the infantry under Candidus, whereupon the barbarians desisted from their invasion and sent as ambassadors to Aelius Basaus, who was then administering Pannonia, Vallomar, king of the Marcommani, and ten others, one for each tribe.

Peace was made, and the barbarians returned home.

These events occurred about A. D. 165. (Hodgkin, V, 88.)

It is clear from this that the Langobards had left the Elbe for the Danube as allies or subjects of their old masters, the Marcommani. Where the home was to which they returned can hardly be determined.

 Hodgkin believes that they withdrew to some place not far distant from Pannonia, while Zeuss (p. 471), Wiese (p. 38) and Schmidt (35, 36) believe that they did not depart permanently from their original abodes on the Elbe until the second half of the fourth century so that according to this view they must have returned to these original abodes.

 It is evident that a considerable number of the Langobards must have lived a long time on the lower Elbe - the names and institutions which have survived in Bardengau bear evidence of this. It is, however, highly probable that when the bulk of the nation migrated, a considerable part remained behind and afterwards became absorbed by the Saxon tribes in the neighborhood, while the emigrants alone retained the name of Langobards (Hartmann, II, part I, 5).

After the Marcommanic war, information from Greek or Roman writers as to the fortunes of the Langobards is entirely lacking and for a space of three hundred years their name disappears from history.

Chapter XIV.

Meanwhile the leaders Ibor and Aio, who had conducted the Langobards from Scandinavia and had ruled them up to this time, being dead, the Langobards, now unwilling to remain longer under mere chiefs (dukes) ordained a king for themselves like other nations.

[1] Therefore Agelmund,

[2] the son of Aio first reigned over them

[3] tracing out of his pedigree the stock of the Gungingi which among them was esteemed particularly noble. He held the sovereignty of the Langobards, as is reported by our ancestors, for thirty years.

[1] More likely the reason was that the unity of a single command was found necessary.

Schmidt believes (p. 76) that the people like other German nations, were divided according to cantons, that the government in the oldest times was managed by a general assembly that selected the chiefs of the cantons who were probably, as a rule, taken from the nobility and chosen for life. In peace they acted as judges in civil cases, and in war as leaders of the troops of the cantons.

As commander-in-chief of the whole army, a leader or duke was chosen by the popular assembly, but only for the time of the war. Often two colleagues are found together, as Ibor and Aio.

As a result of their long-continued wars during their wanderings, the kingly power was developed and the king became the representative of the nation in foreign affairs, in the making of treaties, etc. (p. 77). But the influence of the people upon the government did not fully disappear.

[2] This name is found in a Danish song, and is written Hagelmund (Wiese, 3).

[3] Mommsen observes (68) that even those who recognize a genuine germ of history in this legend must regard as fiction this connection of the leaders Ibor and Aio with the subsequent line of kings; that we have no indication regarding the duration of this early leadership, and that it may as well have lasted centuries as decades. The events already described probably required at least a number of generations for their accomplishment,

The words in the text, "Ibor and Aio who had . . . ruled them up to this time," appears to have been inserted by Paul upon conjecture to make a continuous line of rulers and is plainly an error (Waitz).

Chapter XV.

At this time a certain prostitute had brought forth seven little boys at a birth, and the mother, more cruel than all wild beasts, threw them into a fish-pond to be drowned.

If this seems impossible to any, let him read over the histories of the ancients

[1] and he will find that one woman brought forth not only seven infants but even nine at one time. And it is sure that this occurred especially among the Egyptians.

 It happened therefore that when King Agelmund had stopped his horse and looked at the wretched infants, and had turned them hither and thither with the spear he carried in his hand, one of them put his hand on the royal spear and clutched it.

The king moved by pity and marveling greatly at the act, pronounced that he would be a great man.

And straightway he ordered him to be lifted from the fish-pond and commanded him to be brought to a nurse to be nourished with every care, and because he took him from a fish-pond which in their language is called " lama"

[2] he gave him the name Lamissio.

[3] When he had grown up he became such a vigorous youth that he was also very fond of fighting, and after the death of Agelmund he directed the government of the kingdom.

[4] They say that when the Langobards, pursuing their way with their king, came to a certain river and were forbidden by the Amazons

 [5] to cross to the other side, this man fought with the strongest of them, swimming in the river, and killed her and won for himself the glory of great praise and a passage also for the Langobards. For it had been previously agreed between the two armies that if that Amazon should overcome Lamissio, the Langobards would withdraw from the river, but if she herself were conquered by Lamissio, as actually occurred, then the means of crossing the stream should be afforded to the Langobards.[

6] It is clear, to be sure, that this kind of an assertion is little supported by truth, for it is known to all who are acquainted with ancient histories that the race of Amazons was destroyed long before these things could have occurred, unless perchance (because the places where these things are said to have been done were not well enough known to the writers of history and are scarcely mentioned by any of them), it might have been that a class of women of this kind dwelt there at that time, for I have heard it related by some that the race of these women exists up to the present day in the innermost parts of Germany. [7]

[1] See Pliny's Natural History, Book VII. ch. 3, on monstrous births.

[2] Lama is not a German but a Latin word, found in Festus and meaning a collection of water (Waitz).

 It lived on in the romance languages. DuCange introduces it from the statutes of Modena, and Dante used it (Inferno, Canto XX, line 79).

 It meant, however, in Italian at this later period "a low plain."

If Paul or his earlier authorities took it for Langobard this was because it was unknown to the Latin learning of that time, though it was a current peasant word in Northern Italy with which a discoverer of ancient Langobard tales could appropriately connect the indigenous king's name (Mommsen, 68).

[3] This name is called Laiamicho or Lamicho in the Origo and the form used here by Paul seems to have been taken from the Edict of Rothari (Waitz).

[4] This story of the origin of Lamissio is inconsistent with the statement in the Prologue of the Edict of Rothari and with the Madrid and Ea Cava manuscripts of the " Origo Gentis Langobardorum " which say that he was "of the race of Gugingus " (see Waitz, also Appendix II ; Mommsen, p. 68 ; Waitz, Neues Archiv, V, 423).

[5] This appears to be a transformation into classical form of some ancient German legend of swan-maidens or water-sprites (Schmidt, 17, note).

[6] Schmidt (p. 50) believes that the story of Lamissio is a fabulous expansion of the original myth of Skeaf. The germ of the myth is that a hero of unknown origin came from the water to the help of the land in time of need.

[7] Perhaps the Cvenas whom fable placed by the Baltic sea or gulf of Bothnia in '' The Land of Women '' (Zeuss, 686, 68y).

Chapter XVI

Therefore after passing the river of which we have spoken, the Langobards, when they came to the lands beyond, sojourned there for some time.

Meanwhile, since they suspected nothing hostile and were the less uneasy on account of their long repose, confidence, which is always the mother of calamities, prepared for them a disaster of no mean sort.

At night, in short, when all were resting, relaxed by negligence, suddenly the Bulgarians, rushing upon them, slew many, wounded many more and so raged [1] through their camp that they killed Agelmund, the king himself, and carried away in captivity his only daughter.

[1] Read for dibachati, debacchati.

Chapter XVII.

Nevertheless the Langobards, having recovered their strength after these disasters, made Lamissio, of whom we have spoken above, their king.

And he, as he was in the glow of youth and quite ready for the struggles of war, desiring to avenge the slaughter of Agelmund, his foster-father, turned his arms against the Bulgarians.

And presently, when the first battle began, the Langobards, turning their backs to the enemy, fled to their camp.

Then king Lamissio seeing these things, began in a loud voice to cry out to the whole army that they should remember the infamies they had suffered and recall to view their disgrace ; how their enemies had murdered their king and had carried off in lamentation as a captive, his daughter whom they had desired for their queen. [

1] Finally he urged them to defend themselves and theirs by arms, saying that it was better to lay down life in war than to submit as vile slaves to the taunts of their enemies.

Crying aloud, he said these things and the like and now by threats, now by promises, strengthened their minds to endure the struggles of war; moreover if he saw any one of servile condition fighting he endowed him with liberty, as well as rewards.

At last inflamed by the urging and example of their chief who had been the first to spring to arms, they rush upon the foe, fight fiercely and overthrow their adversaries with great slaughter, and finally, taking victory from the victors, they avenge as well the death of their king as the insults to themselves.

Then having taken possession of great booty from the spoils of their enemies, from that time on they become bolder in undertaking the toils of war.[2]

[1] Abel (p. 251) infers from this the right of succession to the throne in the female line.

[2] Schmidt (50) regards this struggle with the Bulgarians as having no authentic basis in history since the name of the Bulgarians does not occur elsewhere before the end of the fifth century.

Chapter XVIII

After these things Lamissio, the second who had reigned, died, and the third, Lethu, ascended the throne of the kingdom, and when he had reigned nearly forty years, he left Hildeoc his son, who was the fourth in number, as his successor in the kingly power.

And when he also died, Gudeoc, as the fifth, received the royal authority. [1]

[1] Mommsen calls attention (p. 75) to the close relation of the Gothic and Langobard legends. The Goths wandered from the island of Scandia, where many nations dwell (Jordanes, Ch. 3), among them the Vinoviloth, who may be the Winnili.

From there the Goths sailed upon three vessels under their king Berich to the mainland (Ch. 4, 17).

The first people they encountered in battle were the Vandals (Ch. 4). Further on the Amazons were introduced, and Mommsen concludes (p. 76):

 "It may be that these Langobard and Gothic traditions are both fragments of a great legend of the origin of the whole German people or that the Gothic story-teller has stirred the Langobard to the making of similar fables.

The stories of the Amazons are more favorable to the latter idea." Hodgkin (V, 98) also notices the similarity of Langobard history to that of the Goths, as told by Jordanes.

But Jordanes exhibits a pedigree showing fourteen generations before Theodoric, and thus reaching back very nearly to the Christian era, while Paul gives only five links of the chain before the time of Odoacar, the contemporary of Theodoric, and thus reaches back, at furthest, only to the era of Constantine.

This seems to show that the Langobards had preserved fewer records of the deeds of their fathers. Hodgkin (V, 99) adds that it is hopeless to get any possible scheme of Lombard chronology out of these early chapters of Paul; that his narrative would place the migration from Scandinavia about A. D. 320, whereas the Langobards were dwelling south of the Baltic at the birth of Christ; that he represents Agelmund, whose place in the narrative makes it impossible to fix his date later than 350, as slain in battle by the Bulgarians, who first appeared in Europe about 479.

<< Previous Page       Next Page >>

Enter main content here

Enter supporting content here