Jordanes wrote Romana, about the history of Rome, but his best-known work is his Getica, which was written in Constantinople about AD 551. It is the only extant ancient work dealing with the early history of the Goths.
Jordanes was asked by a friend to write Getica as a summary of a multi-volume history of the Goths by the statesman Cassiodorus that had existed then but has since been lost. Jordanes was selected for his known interest in history, his ability to write succinctly and because of his own Gothic background. He had been a high-level notarius, or secretary, of a small client state on the Roman frontier in Scythia Minor, modern south-eastern Romania and north-eastern Bulgaria.
Other writers, e.g. Procopius, wrote works which are extant on the later history of the Goths. As the only surviving work on Gothic origins, the Getica has been the object of much critical review. Jordanes wrote in Late Latin rather than the classical Ciceronian Latin. According to his own introduction, he had only three days to review what Cassiodorus had written, meaning that he must also have relied on his own knowledge. Some of his statements are laconic.
The Sciri, moreover, and the Sadagarii and certain of the Alani with their leader, Candac by name, received Scythia Minor and Lower Moesia. Paria, the father of my father Alanoviiamuth (that is to say, my grandfather), was secretary to this Candac as long as he lived. To his sister's son Gunthigis, also called Baza, the Master of the Soldiery, who was the son of Andag the son of Andela, who was descended from the stock of the Amali, I also, Jordanes, although an unlearned man before my conversion, was secretary.
Already in the Mommsen text edition of 1882, it was suggested that the very long name of Jordanes' father should be split into two parts: Alanovii Amuthis, both genitive forms. Jordanes' father's name would then be Amuth. The preceding word should then belong to Candac, signifying that he was an Alan. Mommsen, however, dismissed suggestions to emend a corrupt text.
Paria was Jordanes' paternal grandfather. Jordanes writes that he was secretary to Candac, dux Alanorum, an otherwise unknown leader of the Alans.
This was ante conversionem meam ("before my conversion"). The nature and details of the conversion remain obscure. The Goths had been converted with the assistance of Ulfilas (a Goth), made bishop on that account. However, the Goths had adopted Arianism. Jordanes' conversion may have been a conversion to the trinitarian Nicene creed, which may be expressed in anti-Arianism in certain passages in Getica. In the letter to Vigilius he mentions that he was awakened vestris interrogationibus - "by your questioning".
Alternatively, Jordanes' conversio may mean that he had become a monk, or a religiosus, or a member of the clergy. Some manuscripts say that he was a bishop, some even say bishop of Ravenna, but the name Jordanes is not known in the lists of bishops of Ravenna.
Jordanes wrote his Romana at the behest of a certain Vigilius. Although some scholars have identified this person with pope Vigilius, there is nothing else to support the identification besides the name. The form of address that Jordanes uses and his admonition that Vigilius "turn to God" would seem to rule out this identification.
In the preface to his Getica, Jordanes writes that he is interrupting his work on the Romana at the behest of a brother Castalius, who apparently knew that Jordanes had had the twelve volumes of the History of the Goths by Cassiodorus at home. Castalius would like a short book about the subject, and Jordanes obliges with an excerpt based on memory, possibly supplemented with other material he had access to. The Getica sets off with a geography/ethnography of the North, especially of Scandza (16–24). He lets the history of the Goths commence with the emigration of Berig with three ships from Scandza to Gothiscandza (25, 94), in a distant past. In the pen of Jordanes, Herodotus' Getian demi-god Zalmoxis becomes a king of the Goths (39). Jordanes tells how the Goths sacked "Troy and Ilium" just after they had recovered somewhat from the war with Agamemnon (108). They are also said to have encountered the Egyptian pharaoh Vesosis (47). The less fictional part of Jordanes' work begins when the Goths encounter Roman military forces in the third century AD. The work concludes with the defeat of the Goths by the Byzantine general Belisarius. Jordanes concludes the work by stating that he writes to honour those who were victorious over the Goths after a history of 2030 years.
Several Romanian and American historians wrote about Jordanes' error when considering that Getae were Goths. A lot of historical data of Dacians and Getae were wrongly attributed to Goths.
Christensen A. S., Troya C. and Kulikowski M., demonstrated in their works that Jordanes developed in Getica the history of Getic and Dacian peoples mixed with a lot of fantastic deeds. Caracalla (in 214) received "Geticus Maximus" and "Quasi Gothicus" titles following battles with Getae and Goths.
The Battle of Nedao was a battle fought in Pannonia in 454 between Huns and their former Germanic vassals. Nedao is believed to be a tributary of the Sava river.After the death of Attila the Hun, allied forces of the subject peoples under the leadership of Ardaric, king of the Gepids, defeated the Hunnic forces of Ellac, the son of Attila, who had struggled with his brothers Ernak and Dengizich for supremacy after Attila's death. Ellac himself was killed in the battle.According to the 6th-century historian Jordanes:
And so the bravest nations tore themselves to pieces. For then, I think, must have occurred a most remarkable spectacle, where one might see the Goths fighting with pikes, the Gepidae raging with the sword, the Rugii breaking off the spears in their own wounds, the Suavi fighting on foot, the Huns with bows, the Alani drawing up a battle-line of heavy-armed and the Heruli of light-armed warriors.
Jordanes claims that, in the battle of Nedao, Ostrogoths fought against the Huns, but this is rejected by modern historians like Herwig Wolfram or Hyun Jin Kim. The latter believes that this is a forged story and that the Ostrogoth king Valamir himself fought alongside the Huns. Altenatively, J.R. Martindale and Franz Altheim accept that the Ostrogoths were among the victors of Nedao, while many others, including Otto J. Maenchen-Helfen, believe that they did not participate at all.Battle of the Catalaunian Plains
The Battle of the Catalaunian Plains (or Fields), also called the Battle of the Campus Mauriacus, Battle of Châlons, Battle of Troyes or the Battle of Maurica, took place on June 20, 451 AD, between a coalition led by the Roman general Flavius Aetius and the Visigothic king Theodoric I against the Huns and their vassals commanded by their king Attila. It was one of the last major military operations of the Western Roman Empire, although Germanic foederati composed the majority of the coalition army. Whether the battle was strategically conclusive is disputed: the Romans possibly stopped the Huns' attempt to establish vassals in Roman Gaul. However, the Huns successfully looted and pillaged much of Gaul and crippled the military capacity of the Romans and Visigoths. The Hunnic Empire was later dismantled by a coalition of their Germanic vassals at the Battle of Nedao in 454.Belagines
The belagines were written laws which, according to Jordanes, were given to the Goths by Dicineus / Dekaineos, the Dacian-Getic legislator, Zalmoxian priest at the time of Burebista.These belagines laws entered in the tradition of the Ostrogoths but it does not exclude similar Visigothic traditions, since the Dicineu / Dekaineos tradition no matter how literary it may be, points to Dacia.Berig
Berig is a legendary king of the Goths appearing in the Getica by Jordanes. According to Jordanes, Berig led his people on three ships from Scandza (Scandinavia) to Gothiscandza (the Vistula Basin). They settled and then attacked the Rugians who lived on the shore and drove them away from their homes, subsequently winning a battle against the Vandals.A Danish historian, Arne Søby has nonetheless proposed that Cassiodorus, who wrote the original text on which Jordanes' work is based, invented him, with inspiration from the name of Βέρικος (Berikos or Verica). Some archaeological research indicates, however, that the transition of Oksywie culture into Wielbark culture was peaceful and its timing coincides with the appearance of new population of Scandinavian origins in previously uninhabited area ("no man's land") between the Oksywie and Przeworsk culture areas.The 16th-century Swedish archbishop of Uppsala, Johannes Magnus in his history of the Swedes and Goths, was the first to publish a song known as the "Ballad of Eric", about an early Gothic king called Eric, who bears some similarities to Berig. It was once thought to contain authentic folk tradition about the king, but it is now regarded as fake. However, Magnus discusses king Berig separately as having united the Swedes and Goths some 400 years after Erik's death.
In popular culture, Berig is referenced (as Berik) in the song Three Ships of Berik, Pts. 1 and 2 by Swedish symphonic metal band TherionComosicus
Comosicus was a Dacian king and high priest who lived in the 1st century BC. The only reference to Comosicus is a passage in the writings of the Roman historian Jordanes.Deceneus
Deceneus (or Dicineus, Dekaineos) refers, in The Origin and Deeds of the Goths (Getica) by Jordanes, to:
a Dacian king after Zeuta and before to Zalmoxis;
a high priest of Dacia and close counsellor of the king Burebista;Ermanaric
Ermanaric (Gothic: *Aírmanareiks; Latin: Ermanaricus; Old English: Eormanrīc [ˈeormɑnriːtʃ]; Old Norse: Jǫrmunrekr [ˈjɔrmunrekr]; died 376) was a Greuthungian Gothic King who before the Hunnic invasion evidently ruled a sizable portion of Oium, the part of Scythia inhabited by the Goths at the time. He is mentioned in two Roman sources; the contemporary writings of Ammianus Marcellinus and in Getica by the 6th-century historian Jordanes. Modern historians disagree on the size of Ermanaric's realm. Herwig Wolfram postulates that he at one point ruled a realm stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea as far eastwards as the Ural Mountains. Peter Heather is skeptical of the claim that Ermanaric ruled all Goths except the Tervingi, and furthermore points to the fact that such an enormous empire would have been larger than any known Gothic political unit, that it would have left bigger traces in the sources and that the sources on which the claim is based are not nearly reliable enough to be taken at face value.Gepids
The Gepids (Latin: Gepidae, Gipedae) were an East Germanic tribe. They were closely related to, or a subdivision of, the Goths.
They are first recorded in 6th-century historiography as having been allied with the Goths in the invasion of Dacia in c. 260. In the 4th century, they were incorporated into the Hunnic Empire. Under their leader Ardaric, the Gepids united with other Germanic tribes and defeated the Huns at the Battle of Nedao in 454. The Gepids then founded a kingdom centered on Sirmium, known as Gepidia, which was defeated by the Lombards a century later. Remnants of the Gepids were conquered by the Avars later in the 6th century.Jordanes reports that their name comes from gepanta, an insult meaning "sluggish, stolid" (pigra). An Old English form of their name is recorded in Widsith, as Gefþ-, alongside the name of the Wends.Getica
De origine actibusque Getarum ("The Origin and Deeds of the Getae/Goths"), or the Getica, written in Late Latin by Jordanes (or Iordanes/Jornandes) in or shortly after 551 AD, claims to be a summary of a voluminous account by Cassiodorus of the origin and history of the Gothic people, which is now lost. However, the extent to which Jordanes actually used the work of Cassiodorus is unknown. It is significant as the only remaining contemporaneous resource that gives the full story of the origin and history of the Goths. Another aspect of this work is its information about the early history and the customs of Slavs.Lemovii
The Lemovii were a Germanic tribe, only once named by Tacitus in the late 1st century. He noted that they lived near the Rugii and Goths and that they had short swords and round shields.The Oksywie culture is associated with parts of the Rugii and Lemovii. Also, the Plöwen group (German: Plöwener Gruppe) of the Uecker-Randow region is associated with the Lemovii.The archaeological Dębczyn group might comprise the remnants of the Lemovii, probably identical with Widsith's Glommas, who are believed to have been the neighbors of the Rugii, a tribe dwelling at the Baltic Sea coast in today's Pomerania region before the migration period. Both "Lemovii" and "Glommas" translate to "the barking". Germanic sagas report a battle on the isle of Hiddensee between king Hetel (Hethin, Heodin of the Glommas) and Rugian king Hagen, following the abduction of Hagen's daughter Hilde by Hetel. Yet, there are also other hypotheses about the location of the Lemovii, and that their identification as Glommas, though probable, is not certain.The Lemovii have also been equated with Jordanes' Turcilingi, together with the Rugii with Ptolemy's Rhoutikleioi, also with Ptolemy's Leuonoi and with the Leonas of the Widsith.Limes Transalutanus
Limes Transalutanus is a fortified frontier system of the Roman Empire, built on the western edge of Teleorman's forests in the Roman province of Dacia, modern-day Romania. The frontier was composed of a road following the border, a military stronghold, a three-metre vallum 10–12 metres wide, reinforced with wood palisades on stone walls, and also a ditch. The Transalutanus limes was 235 km long, parallel to Olt river at a distance varying from 5 to 30 km east of the river. The construction was started in 107 under the command of Marcius Turbo, and developed under Iulius Severus (120–126); the final stage of the construction was performed under Septimius Severus (193–211 d.C.).
Between 244–247, under Philip the Arab, after the Carpian and Getae (or Goths, confusion due to Jordanes) attacks, the Roman Imperial army abandoned the limes for some time. They returned to the limes, but closed the road to the Rucăr-Bran pass, the same starting from the modern village of Băiculeşti.
Later, another limes was built in the area, known as Brazda lui Novac.
Today the vallum is used by the Romanian railroad Curtea de Argeş-Piteşti-Roşiori de Vede-Turnu Măgurele.Mundzuk
Mundzuk was a Hunnic chieftain, brother of the Hunnic rulers Octar and Rugila, and father of Bleda and Atilla. Jordanes in Getica recounts "For this Attila was the son of Mundzucus, whose brothers were Octar and Ruas, who were supposed to have been kings before Attila, although not altogether of the same [territories] as he".Oium
Oium or Aujum was a name for an area in Scythia (modern Ukraine), where the Goths, under King Filimer, arguably settled after leaving Gothiscandza, according to the Getica by Jordanes, written around 551. Jordanes does not give an etymology, but many scholars interpret this word as a dative plural to the widespread Germanic words *aujō- or *auwō- and means "well-watered meadow" or "island".According to some historians, Jordanes' account of the Goths' history in Oium was constructed from his reading of earlier classical accounts and from oral tradition. According to other historians, Jordanes' narrative has little relation to Cassiodorus's, no relation to oral traditions and little relation to actual history.Archaeologically, the Chernyakhov culture, which is also called the Sântana de Mureș culture, contained parts of Ukraine, Moldova and Romania and corresponds with Gothic Scythia.Riothamus
Riothamus (also spelled Riutimus or Riotimus) was a Romano-British military leader, who was active circa AD 470. He fought against the Goths in alliance with the declining Roman Empire. He is called "King of the Britons" by the 6th-century historian Jordanes, but the extent of his realm is unclear. Some Arthurian scholars identify Riothamus as one of the possible sources of the legendary King Arthur.Sack of Aquileia
The Sack of Aquileia occurred in 452, and was carried out by the Huns under the leadership of Attila.A year after Attila's defeat at the Battle of Catalaunian Fields, Attila launched an invasion of Italy, passing through Pannonia into Venetia, where he laid siege to Aquileia. Jordanes states that the city was well defended, to the point where Attila was considering withdrawing. Indeed, Ian Hughes suggests that since Aetius was unable to blockade the Julian Alps, he instead reinforced the city garrison to force Attila into a siege, or otherwise risk Roman forces cutting off his potential retreat. The siege lasted for some time, and Jordanes states that as Attila was considering withdrawing, the city fell in a renewed assault and he razed it to the ground. Attila then proceeded to raid Italy, with Aetius able to do little more than harass Attila at best. It was only when an embassy including Pope Leo I arrived that Attila finally ended his invasion, likely as a result of famine, disease, and an Eastern Roman Army approaching the Hunnic settlements near the Tisza.Before its destruction, Aquileia was a center of government (with an imperial residence), commerce and finance (with a mint), military defense, and Christianity (with a bishop). Its destruction and Attila's subsequent unimpeded ravaging of the province of Venetia (modern Veneto and Friuli) paved the way for the rise of Venice, which within a few centuries replaced and even surpassed it in importance.Scandza
The Gothic-Byzantine historian Jordanes described Scandza as a "great island" in his work Getica, written in Constantinople around 551 AD. This island was located in the Arctic regions of the sea that surrounded the world.
He discussed the area in order to set the stage for his treatment of the Goths' migration to Gothiscandza, the island at the mouth of the Vistula river. Composed of information from several sources, his account contains several accurate descriptions of the mouth of the Vistula. It is possible that Jordanes was describing Scandinavia. Prominent Swedish archaeologist, Göran Burenhult, regards Jordanes' account as a unique glimpse into the tribes of Scandinavia in the 6th century.Jordanes was himself of Gothic descent. It is believed that Jordanes wrote Getica for the Romans to consider Goths not as barbarians who conquered them but as equals who also had a glorious ancient history, literature and philosophy, and who became emperors by intermarrying with Roman imperial families.Swedes (Germanic tribe)
The Swedes (Swedish: svear; Old Norse: svíar / suar (probably from the PIE reflexive pronominal root *s(w)e, "one's own [tribesmen/kinsmen]"; Old English: Sweonas) were a North Germanic tribe who inhabited Svealand ("land of the Swedes") in central Sweden and one of the progenitor groups of modern Swedes, along with Geats and Gutes.
The first author who wrote about the tribe is Tacitus, who in his Germania, from 98 CE mentions the Suiones. Jordanes, in the sixth century, mentions Suehans and Suetidi. According to early sources such as the sagas, especially Heimskringla, the Swedes were a powerful tribe whose kings claimed descendence from the god Freyr. During the Viking Age they constituted the basis of the Varangian subset, the Vikings that travelled eastwards (see Rus' people).Vagoth
The Vagoths were a Germanic tribe mentioned by Jordanes. He located them in Scandza. Speculations about their exact identity have identified them with the Geats of Vikbolandet and with the Gotlanders.
According to Lithuanian linguist Kazimieras Būga, the name of Germans, Germany in Lithuanian and Latvian languages (“Germany”: Lith. Vokia, Vokietija, Latv. Vācija, “German (person)”: Lith. vokietis, Latv. vācietis ) is derived from the name of Vagoths (*Vāk(ia)-goth). From Baltic languages originate Finnish roots Vuoja, Vuojo and Estonian Oju, Oja in their name for Gotland: Vuojola, Vuojonmaa, Vuojanmaa, Ojumaa, Ojamaa (“maa” - land).
The Valagoths were a tribe mentioned by Nennius.Vidivarii
The Vidivarii are described by Jordanes in his Getica as a melting pot of tribes who in the mid-6th century lived at the lower Vistula:
Ad litus oceani, ubi tribus faucibus fluenta Vistulae fluminibus ebibuntur, Vidivarii resident ex diversis nationibus aggregati.
Though differing from the earlier Willenberg culture, some traditions were continued, thus the corresponding archaeological culture is sometimes described as the Vidivarian or widiwar stage of the Willenberg culture. The bearers of the Willenberg culture have been associated with a heterogeneous people comprising Vistula Veneti, Goths, Rugii, and Gepids. One hypothesis, based on the sudden appearance of large amounts of Roman solidi and migrations of other groups after the breakdown of the Hun empire in 453, suggest a partial re-migration of earlier emigrants to their former northern homelands.