The Origin and Deeds of the Goths

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(Redirected from Getica)

The Origin and Deeds of the Goths (Latin: De origine actibusque Getarum) commonly referred to as Getica, was written by Jordanes, probably in Constantinople, and published in AD 551.

It recounts the origin and the history of the Gothic people as collected mainly from Cassiodorus, who had written a much more extensive work on the Gothic people and their history (the now lost Gothic History). That Jordanes owed almost everything in his recension to the original work of Cassiodorus is scarcely disputed, for in his Preface Jordanes presents his simple plan "to condense in my own style in this small book the twelve volumes of the Senator on the origin and deeds of the Getae from olden times to the present day."

Because Cassiodorus' original version has not survived, Jordanes' work is one of the most important sources for the period of the migration of the European tribes, and the Ostrogoths and Visigoths in particular, from the 3rd century CE. Cassiodorus' work claims to have the Gothic "Folk songs" -- the Carmina Prisca (Latin) -- as a prime source. Recent scholarship regards this as highly questionable. The main purpose of the original work (Cassiodorus's) was to give the gothic ruling class a glorious past - to match the past of the senatorial families of Roman Italy.

The book is important to some medieval historians because it mentions the campaign in Gaul of one Riothamus, "King of the Brettones," who was possibly a source of inspiration for the early stories of King Arthur.

The ancient history of the Goths Jordanes describe in this book is actually of the Dacians, the confusion was due to the similarity of the names of Getae and Goths. However, his account is interesting from the point of view of the history of the Dacians, because he uses data from works which were later lost during the Middle Ages.

The classic edition is that of 19th-century German classicist Theodor Mommsen (in Monumenta Germ. hist. auct. antiq., v. ii.). The best surviving manuscript was the Heidelberg manuscript, written in Heidelberg, Germany, probably in the 8th century, but this was destroyed in a fire at Mommsen's house. The next of the manuscripts in historical value are the Vaticanus Palatinus of the 10th century, and the Valenciennes manuscript of the 9th century.

External links

English translation

  • Charles C. Mierow. The Gothic History of Jordanes. Princeton: University Press, 1915. (Reprinted at Cambridge: Speculum Historiae, 1966.)
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