CHAPTER II
THE NORTH GERMANS

HERODOTUS did not know of the Germans, and the first appearance of these people in history may perhaps L have been the mention of a tribe dwelling on the north German coast that was included in a lost book The Ocean by a Massiliot Greek, Pytheas, the merchant-explorer whose famous voyage to Ultima Thule and the North Sea1 took place in the fourth century B.C. But by the time of Poseidonios ( 135 B.C.-45 B.C.), the Stoic of Apamea, it seems, even though this writer's work is likewise lost, that many of the German peoples were well known in the classical world, and, furthermore, if Athenaeus has repeated a fragment of Poseidonios verbatim,2 that the word Germani was already in use as a collective term. At any rate, from the days of Julius Caesar onwards, the name, betokening a distinct race of men, was commonly employed, and it is current in the writings of Caesar himself, and of Pliny, Livy, and Tacitus. As a race-name, however, it was at first rather loosely employed in a not always successful attempt to distinguish certain groups of people from the Celts of Gaul3; but by the time of Tacitus, who wrote the Germania in A.D. 98), it was clearly understood to refer to the numerous population living between the Rhine and the Elbe, and also believed to inhabit lands even further to the north and east, a huge confederacy of tribes of which many at this late period were well known to the Romans. Tacitus himself described the territories of the Germans in the opening paragraph of his book. He says:

____________________
1
Pliny, N.H., XXXVII, 35. It is sometimes said that the Guiones of Pytheas, the tribe in question, lived in Jutland; his amber-island Abalos may be Heligoland. See M. Cary and E. Warmington, The Ancient Explorers, London, 1929, p. 38.
2
IV, 153e.
3
Cf. B.G., II, 4, 1 and 10; VI, 32, 1. Note that Strabo ( VII, 290) also refers to the Germans and gives a fanciful derivation of their name. For a general summary of the early classical references, see G. Schütte, Our Forefathers, I, Cambridge, 1929, p. 17 ff.

-62-

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