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The History of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon

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much more flowing, and less overcharged with vowels, than the
Zend. The books of Zoroaster, first written in Zend, were
afterwards translated into Pehlvi and Parsi. The Pehlvi had
fallen into disuse under the dynasty of the Sassanides, but the
learned still wrote it. The Parsi, the dialect of Pars or
Farristan, was then prevailing dialect. Kleuker, Anhang zum Zend
Avesta, 2, ii. part i. p. 158, part ii. 31. - G.

Mr. Erskine (Bombay Transactions) considers the existing
Zendavesta to have been compiled in the time of Ardeschir
Babegan. - M.]
[Footnote 9: Hyde de Religione veterum Pers. c. 21.]

[Footnote 10: I have principally drawn this account from the
Zendavesta of M. d'Anquetil, and the Sadder, subjoined to Dr.
Hyde's treatise. It must, however, be confessed, that the
studied obscurity of a prophet, the figurative style of the East,
and the deceitful medium of a French or Latin version may have
betrayed us into error and heresy, in this abridgment of Persian

Note: It is to be regretted that Gibbon followed the post-
Mahometan Sadder of Hyde. - M.]

The great and fundamental article of the system, was the
celebrated doctrine of the two principles; a bold and injudicious
attempt of Eastern philosophy to reconcile the existence of moral
and physical evil with the attributes of a beneficent Creator and
Governor of the world. The first and original Being, in whom, or
by whom, the universe exists, is denominated in the writings of
Zoroaster, Time without bounds; ^! but it must be confessed, that
this infinite substance seems rather a metaphysical, abstraction
of the mind, than a real object endowed with self-consciousness,
or possessed of moral perfections. From either the blind or the
intelligent operation of this infinite Time, which bears but too
near an affinity with the chaos of the Greeks, the two secondary
but active principles of the universe, were from all eternity
produced, Ormusd and Ahriman, each of them possessed of the
powers of creation, but each disposed, by his invariable nature,
to exercise them with different designs. ^* The principle of good
is eternally aborbed in light; the principle of evil eternally
buried in darkness. The wise benevolence of Ormusd formed man
capable of virtue, and abundantly provided his fair habitation
with the materials of happiness. By his vigilant providence, the
motion of the planets, the order of the seasons, and the
temperate mixture of the elements, are preserved. But the malice
of Ahriman has long since pierced Ormusd's egg; or, in other
words, has violated the harmony of his works. Since that fatal
eruption, the most minute articles of good and evil are
intimately intermingled and agitated together; the rankest
poisons spring up amidst the most salutary plants; deluges,
earthquakes, and conflagrations attest the conflict of Nature,
and the little world of man is perpetually shaken by vice and
misfortune. Whilst the rest of human kind are led away captives
in the chains of their infernal enemy, the faithful Persian alone
reserves his religious adoration for his friend and protector
Ormusd, and fights under his banner of light, in the full
confidence that he shall, in the last day, share the glory of his
triumph. At that decisive period, the enlightened wisdom of
goodness will render the power of Ormusd superior to the furious
malice of his rival. Ahriman and his followers, disarmed and
subdued, will sink into their native darkness; and virtue will
maintain the eternal peace and harmony of the universe. ^11 ^!!

[Footnote !: Zeruane Akerene, so translated by Anquetil and
Kleuker. There is a dissertation of Foucher on this subject, Mem.
de l'Acad. des Inscr. t. xxix. According to Bohlen (das alte
Indien) it is the Sanskrit Sarvan Akaranam, the Uncreated Whole;
or, according to Fred. Schlegel, Sarvan Akharyam the Uncreate
Indivisible. - M.]

[Footnote *: This is an error. Ahriman was not forced by his
invariable nature to do evil; the Zendavesta expressly recognizes
(see the Izeschne) that he was born good, that in his origin he
was light; envy rendered him evil; he became jealous of the power
and attributes of Ormuzd; then light was changed into darkness,
and Ahriman was precipitated into the abyss. See the Abridgment
of the Doctrine of the Ancient Persians, by Anquetil, c. ii
Section 2. - G.]

[Footnote 11: The modern Parsees (and in some degree the Sadder)
exalt Ormusd into the first and omnipotent cause, whilst they
degrade Ahriman into an inferior but rebellious spirit. Their
desire of pleasing the Mahometans may have contributed to refine
their theological systems.]

[Footnote !!: According to the Zendavesta, Ahriman will not be
annihilated or precipitated forever into darkness: at the
resurrection of the dead he will be entirely defeated by Ormuzd,
his power will be destroyed, his kingdom overthrown to its
foundations, he will himself be purified in torrents of melting
metal; he will change his heart and his will, become holy,
heavenly establish in his dominions the law and word of Ormuzd,
unite himself with him in everlasting friendship, and both will
sing hymns in honor of the Great Eternal. See Anquetil's
Abridgment. Kleuker, Anhang part iii. p 85, 36; and the
Izeschne, one of the books of the Zendavesta. According to the
Sadder Bun-Dehesch, a more modern work, Ahriman is to be
annihilated: but this is contrary to the text itself of the
Zendavesta, and to the idea its author gives of the kingdom of
Eternity, after the twelve thousand years assigned to the contest
between Good and Evil. - G.]

Chapter VIII: State Of Persion And Restoration Of The Monarchy.

Part II.

The theology of Zoroaster was darkly comprehended by
foreigners, and even by the far greater number of his disciples;
but the most careless observers were struck with the philosophic
simplicity of the Persian worship. "That people," said Herodotus,
^12 "rejects the use of temples, of altars, and of statues, and
smiles at the folly of those nations who imagine that the gods
are sprung from, or bear any affinity with, the human nature.
The tops of the highest mountains are the places chosen for
sacrifices. Hymns and prayers are the principal worship; the
Supreme God, who fills the wide circle of heaven, is the object
to whom they are addressed." Yet, at the same time, in the true
spirit of a polytheist, he accuseth them of adoring Earth, Water,
Fire, the Winds, and the Sun and Moon. But the Persians of every
age have denied the charge, and explained the equivocal conduct,
which might appear to give a color to it. The elements, and more
particularly Fire, Light, and the Sun, whom they called Mithra,
^! were the objects of their religious reverence, because they
considered them as the purest symbols, the noblest productions,
and the most powerful agents of the Divine Power and Nature. ^13
[Footnote 12: Herodotus, l. i. c. 131. But Dr. Prideaux thinks,
with reason, that the use of temples was afterwards permitted in
the Magian religion.
Note: The Pyraea, or fire temples of the Zoroastrians,
(observes Kleuker, Persica, p. 16,) were only to be found in
Media or Aderbidjan, provinces into which Herodotus did not
penetrate. - M.]

[Footnote !: Among the Persians Mithra is not the Sun: Anquetil
has contested and triumphantly refuted the opinion of those who
confound them, and it is evidently contrary to the text of the
Zendavesta. Mithra is the first of the genii, or jzeds, created
by Ormuzd; it is he who watches over all nature. Hence arose the
misapprehension of some of the Greeks, who have said that Mithra
was the summus deus of the Persians: he has a thousand ears and
ten thousand eyes. The Chaldeans appear to have assigned him a
higher rank than the Persians. It is he who bestows upon the
earth the light of the sun. The sun. named Khor, (brightness,)
is thus an inferior genius, who, with many other genii, bears a
part in the functions of Mithra. These assistant genii to
another genius are called his kamkars; but in the Zendavesta they
are never confounded. On the days sacred to a particular genius,
the Persian ought to recite, not only the prayers addressed to
him, but those also which are addressed to his kamkars; thus the
hymn or iescht of Mithra is recited on the day of the sun,
(Khor,) and vice versa. It is probably this which has sometimes
caused them to be confounded; but Anquetil had himself exposed
this error, which Kleuker, and all who have studied the
Zendavesta, have noticed. See viii. Diss. of Anquetil. Kleuker's
Anhang, part iii. p. 132. - G.
M. Guizot is unquestionably right, according to the pure and
original doctrine of the Zend. The Mithriac worship, which was
so extensively propagated in the West, and in which Mithra and
the sun were perpetually confounded, seems to have been formed
from a fusion of Zoroastrianism and Chaldaism, or the Syrian
worship of the sun. An excellent abstract of the question, with
references to the works of the chief modern writers on his
curious subject, De Sacy, Kleuker, Von Hammer, &c., may be found
in De Guigniaut's translation of Kreuzer. Relig. d'Antiquite,
notes viii. ix. to book ii. vol. i. 2d part, page 728. - M.]

[Footnote 13: Hyde de Relig. Pers. c. 8. Notwithstanding all
their distinctions and protestations, which seem sincere enough,
their tyrants, the Mahometans, have constantly stigmatized them
as idolatrous worshippers of the fire.]

Every mode of religion, to make a deep and lasting
impression on the human mind, must exercise our obedience, by
enjoining practices of devotion, for which we can assign no
reason; and must acquire our esteem, by inculcating moral duties
analogous to the dictates of our own hearts. The religion of
Zoroaster was abundantly provided with the former and possessed a
sufficient portion of the latter. At the age of puberty, the
faithful Persian was invested with a mysterious girdle, the badge
of the divine protection; and from that moment all the actions of
his life, even the most indifferent, or the most necessary, were
sanctified by their peculiar prayers, ejaculations, or
genuflections; the omission of which, under any circumstances,
was a grievous sin, not inferior in guilt to the violation of the
moral duties. The moral duties, however, of justice, mercy,
liberality, &c., were in their turn required of the disciple of
Zoroaster, who wished to escape the persecution of Ahriman, and
to live with Ormusd in a blissful eternity, where the degree of
felicity will be exactly proportioned to the degree of virtue and
piety. ^14

[Footnote 14: See the Sadder, the smallest part of which consists
of moral precepts. The ceremonies enjoined are infinite and
trifling. Fifteen genuflections, prayers, &c., were required
whenever the devout Persian cut his nails or made water; or as
often as he put on the sacred girdle Sadder, Art. 14, 50, 60.

Note: Zoroaster exacted much less ceremonial observance,
than at a later period, the priests of his doctrines. This is
the progress of all religions the worship, simple in its origin,
is gradually overloaded with minute superstitions. The maxim of
the Zendavesta, on the relative merit of sowing the earth and of
prayers, quoted below by Gibbon, proves that Zoroaster did not
attach too much importance to these observances. Thus it is not
from the Zendavesta that Gibbon derives the proof of his
allegation, but from the Sadder, a much later work. - G]

But there are some remarkable instances in which Zoroaster
lays aside the prophet, assumes the legislator, and discovers a
liberal concern for private and public happiness, seldom to be
found among the grovelling or visionary schemes of superstition.
Fasting and celibacy, the common means of purchasing the divine
favor, he condemns with abhorrence, as a criminal rejection of
the best gifts of Providence. The saint, in the Magian religion,
is obliged to beget children, to plant useful trees, to destroy
noxious animals, to convey water to the dry lands of Persia, and
to work out his salvation by pursuing all the labors of
agriculture. ^* We may quote from the Zendavesta a wise and
benevolent maxim, which compensates for many an absurdity. "He
who sows the ground with care and diligence acquires a greater
stock of religious merit than he could gain by the repetition of
ten thousand prayers." ^15 In the spring of every year a festival
was celebrated, destined to represent the primitive equality, and
the present connection, of mankind. The stately kings of Persia,
exchanging their vain pomp for more genuine greatness, freely
mingled with the humblest but most useful of their subjects. On
that day the husbandmen were admitted, without distinction, to
the table of the king and his satraps. The monarch accepted
their petitions, inquired into their grievances, and conversed
with them on the most equal terms. "From your labors," was he
accustomed to say, (and to say with truth, if not with
sincerity,) "from your labors we receive our subsistence; you
derive your tranquillity from our vigilance: since, therefore, we
are mutually necessary to each other, let us live together like
brothers in concord and love." ^16 Such a festival must indeed
have degenerated, in a wealthy and despotic empire, into a
theatrical representation; but it was at least a comedy well
worthy of a royal audience, and which might sometimes imprint a
salutary lesson on the mind of a young prince.

[Footnote *: See, on Zoroaster's encouragement of agriculture,
the ingenious remarks of Heeren, Ideen, vol. i. p. 449, &c., and
Rhode, Heilige Sage, p. 517 - M.]

[Footnote 15: Zendavesta, tom. i. p. 224, and Precis du Systeme
de Zoroastre, tom. iii.]

[Footnote 16: Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 19.]

Had Zoroaster, in all his institutions, invariably supported
this exalted character, his name would deserve a place with those
of Numa and Confucius, and his system would be justly entitled to
all the applause, which it has pleased some of our divines, and
even some of our philosophers, to bestow on it. But in that
motley composition, dictated by reason and passion, by enthusiasm
and by selfish motives, some useful and sublime truths were
disgraced by a mixture of the most abject and dangerous
superstition. The Magi, or sacerdotal order, were extremely
numerous, since, as we have already seen, fourscore thousand of
them were convened in a general council. Their forces were
multiplied by discipline. A regular hierarchy was diffused
through all the provinces of Persia; and the Archimagus, who
resided at Balch, was respected as the visible head of the
church, and the lawful successor of Zoroaster. ^17 The property
of the Magi was very considerable. Besides the less invidious
possession of a large tract of the most fertile lands of Media,
^18 they levied a general tax on the fortunes and the industry of
the Persians. ^19 "Though your good works," says the interested
prophet, "exceed in number the leaves of the trees, the drops of
rain, the stars in the heaven, or the sands on the sea-shore,
they will all be unprofitable to you, unless they are accepted by
the destour, or priest. To obtain the acceptation of this guide
to salvation, you must faithfully pay him tithes of all you
possess, of your goods, of your lands, and of your money. If the
destour be satisfied, your soul will escape hell tortures; you
will secure praise in this world and happiness in the next. For
the destours are the teachers of religion; they know all things,
and they deliver all men." ^20 ^*

[Footnote 17: Hyde de Religione Persarum, c. 28. Both Hyde and
Prideaux affect to apply to the Magian the terms consecrated to
the Christian hierarchy.]

[Footnote 18: Ammian. Marcellin. xxiii. 6. He informs us (as far
as we may credit him) of two curious particulars: 1. That the
Magi derived some of their most secret doctrines from the Indian
Brachmans; and 2. That they were a tribe, or family, as well as

[Footnote 19: The divine institution of tithes exhibits a
singular instance of conformity between the law of Zoroaster and
that of Moses. Those who cannot otherwise account for it, may
suppose, if they please that the Magi of the latter times
inserted so useful an interpolation into the writings of their

[Footnote 20: Sadder, Art. viii.]

[Footnote *: The passage quoted by Gibbon is not taken from the
writings of Zoroaster, but from the Sadder, a work, as has been
before said, much later than the books which form the Zendavesta.
and written by a Magus for popular use; what it contains,
therefore, cannot be attributed to Zoroaster. It is remarkable
that Gibbon should fall into this error, for Hyde himself does
not ascribe the Sadder to Zoroaster; he remarks that it is
written inverse, while Zoroaster always wrote in prose. Hyde, i.
p. 27. Whatever may be the case as to the latter assertion, for
which there appears little foundation, it is unquestionable that
the Sadder is of much later date. The Abbe Foucher does not even
believe it to be an extract from the works of Zoroaster. See his
Diss. before quoted. Mem. de l'Acad. des Ins. t. xxvii. - G.
Perhaps it is rash to speak of any part of the Zendavesta as the
writing of Zoroaster, though it may be a genuine representation
of his. As to the Sadder, Hyde (in Praef.) considered it not
above 200 years old. It is manifestly post-Mahometan. See Art.
xxv. on fasting. - M.]

These convenient maxims of reverence and implicit were
doubtless imprinted with care on the tender minds of youth; since
the Magi were the masters of education in Persia, and to their
hands the children even of the royal family were intrusted. ^21
The Persian priests, who were of a speculative genius, preserved
and investigated the secrets of Oriental philosophy; and
acquired, either by superior knowledge, or superior art, the
reputation of being well versed in some occult sciences, which
have derived their appellation from the Magi. ^22 Those of more
active dispositions mixed with the world in courts and cities;
and it is observed, that the administration of Artaxerxes was in
a great measure directed by the counsels of the sacerdotal order,
whose dignity, either from policy or devotion, that prince
restored to its ancient splendor. ^23

[Footnote 21: Plato in Alcibiad.]

[Footnote 22: Pliny (Hist. Natur. l. xxx. c. 1) observes, that
magic held mankind by the triple chain of religion, of physic,
and of astronomy.] [Footnote 23: Agathias, l. iv. p. 134.]

The first counsel of the Magi was agreeable to the
unsociable genius of their faith, ^24 to the practice of ancient
kings, ^25 and even to the example of their legislator, who had a
victim to a religious war, excited by his own intolerant zeal.
^26 By an edict of Artaxerxes, the exercise of every worship,
except that of Zoroaster, was severely prohibited. The temples of
the Parthians, and the statues of their deified monarchs, were
thrown down with ignominy. ^27 The sword of Aristotle (such was
the name given by the Orientals to the polytheism and philosophy
of the Greeks) was easily broken; ^28 the flames of persecution
soon reached the more stubborn Jews and Christians; ^29 nor did
they spare the heretics of their own nation and religion. The
majesty of Ormusd, who was jealous of a rival, was seconded by
the despotism of Artaxerxes, who could not suffer a rebel; and
the schismatics within his vast empire were soon reduced to the
inconsiderable number of eighty thousand. ^30 ^* This spirit of
persecution reflects dishonor on the religion of Zoroaster; but
as it was not productive of any civil commotion, it served to
strengthen the new monarchy, by uniting all the various
inhabitants of Persia in the bands of religious zeal. ^!

[Footnote 24: Mr. Hume, in the Natural History of Religion,
sagaciously remarks, that the most refined and philosophic sects
are constantly the most intolerant.

Note: Hume's comparison is rather between theism and
polytheism. In India, in Greece, and in modern Europe,
philosophic religion has looked down with contemptuous toleration
on the superstitions of the vulgar. - M.]
[Footnote 25: Cicero de Legibus, ii. 10. Xerxes, by the advice
of the Magi, destroyed the temples of Greece.]

[Footnote 26: Hyde de Relig. Persar. c. 23, 24. D'Herbelot,
Bibliotheque Orientale, Zurdusht. Life of Zoroaster in tom. ii.
of the Zendavesta.]
[Footnote 27: Compare Moses of Chorene, l. ii. c. 74, with
Ammian. Marcel lin. xxiii. 6. Hereafter I shall make use of
these passages.]
[Footnote 28: Rabbi Abraham, in the Tarikh Schickard, p. 108,
[Footnote 29: Basnage, Histoire des Juifs, l. viii. c. 3.
Sozomen, l. ii. c. 1 Manes, who suffered an ignominious death,
may be deemed a Magian as well as a Christian heretic.]

[Footnote 30: Hyde de Religione Persar. c. 21.]

[Footnote *: It is incorrect to attribute these persecutions to
Artaxerxes. The Jews were held in honor by him, and their schools
flourished during his reign. Compare Jost, Geschichte der
Israeliter, b. xv. 5, with Basnage. Sapor was forced by the
people to temporary severities; but their real persecution did
not begin till the reigns of Yezdigerd and Kobad. Hist. of Jews,
iii. 236. According to Sozomen , i. viii., Sapor first
persecuted the Christians. Manes was put to death by Varanes the
First, A. D. 277. Beausobre, Hist. de Man. i. 209. - M.]

[Footnote !: In the testament of Ardischer in Ferdusi, the poet
assigns these sentiments to the dying king, as he addresses his
son: Never forget that as a king, you are at once the protector
of religion and of your country. Consider the altar and the
throne as inseparable; they must always sustain each other.
Malcolm's Persia. i. 74 - M]

II. Artaxerxes, by his valor and conduct, had wrested the
sceptre of the East from the ancient royal family of Parthia.
There still remained the more difficult task of establishing,
throughout the vast extent of Persia, a uniform and vigorous
administration. The weak indulgence of the Arsacides had
resigned to their sons and brothers the principal provinces, and
the greatest offices of the kingdom in the nature of hereditary
possessions. The vitaxoe, or eighteen most powerful satraps,
were permitted to assume the regal title; and the vain pride of
the monarch was delighted with a nominal dominion over so many
vassal kings. Even tribes of barbarians in their mountains, and
the Greek cities of Upper Asia, ^31 within their walls, scarcely
acknowledged, or seldom obeyed. any superior; and the Parthian
empire exhibited, under other names, a lively image of the feudal
system ^32 which has since prevailed in Europe. But the active
victor, at the head of a numerous and disciplined army, visited
in person every province of Persia. The defeat of the boldest
rebels, and the reduction of the strongest fortifications, ^33
diffused the terror of his arms, and prepared the way for the
peaceful reception of his authority. An obstinate resistance was
fatal to the chiefs; but their followers were treated with
lenity. ^34 A cheerful submission was rewarded with honors and
riches, but the prudent Artaxerxes suffering no person except
himself to assume the title of king, abolished every intermediate
power between the throne and the people. His kingdom, nearly
equal in extent to modern Persia, was, on every side, bounded by
the sea, or by great rivers; by the Euphrates, the Tigris, the
Araxes, the Oxus, and the Indus, by the Caspian Sea, and the Gulf
of Persia. ^35 That country was computed to contain, in the last
century, five hundred and fifty-four cities, sixty thousand
villages, and about forty millions of souls. ^36 If we compare
the administration of the house of Sassan with that of the house
of Sefi, the political influence of the Magian with that of the
Mahometan religion, we shall probably infer, that the kingdom of
Artaxerxes contained at least as great a number of cities,
villages, and inhabitants. But it must likewise be confessed,
that in every age the want of harbors on the sea- coast, and the
scarcity of fresh water in the inland provinces, have been very
unfavorable to the commerce and agriculture of the Persians; who,
in the calculation of their numbers, seem to have indulged one of
the nearest, though most common, artifices of national vanity.

[Footnote 31: These colonies were extremely numerous. Seleucus
Nicator founded thirty-nine cities, all named from himself, or
some of his relations, (see Appian in Syriac. p. 124.) The aera
of Seleucus (still in use among the eastern Christians) appears
as late as the year 508, of Christ 196, on the medals of the
Greek cities within the Parthian empire. See Moyle's works, vol.
i. p. 273, &c., and M. Freret, Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xix.]
[Footnote 32: The modern Persians distinguish that period as the
dynasty of the kings of the nations. See Plin. Hist. Nat. vi.

[Footnote 33: Eutychius (tom. i. p. 367, 371, 375) relates the
siege of the island of Mesene in the Tigris, with some
circumstances not unlike the story of Nysus and Scylla.]

[Footnote 34: Agathias, ii. 64, [and iv. p. 260.] The princes of
Segestan de fended their independence during many years. As
romances generally transport to an ancient period the events of
their own time, it is not impossible that the fabulous exploits
of Rustan, Prince of Segestan, many have been grafted on this
real history.]

[Footnote 35: We can scarcely attribute to the Persian monarchy
the sea-coast of Gedrosia or Macran, which extends along the
Indian Ocean from Cape Jask (the promontory Capella) to Cape
Goadel. In the time of Alexander, and probably many ages
afterwards, it was thinly inhabited by a savage people of
Icthyophagi, or Fishermen, who knew no arts, who acknowledged no
master, and who were divided by in-hospitable deserts from the
rest of the world. (See Arrian de Reb. Indicis.) In the twelfth
century, the little town of Taiz (supposed by M. d'Anville to be
the Teza of Ptolemy) was peopled and enriched by the resort of
the Arabian merchants. (See Geographia Nubiens, p. 58, and
d'Anville, Geographie Ancienne, tom. ii. p. 283.) In the last
age, the whole country was divided between three princes, one
Mahometan and two Idolaters, who maintained their independence
against the successors of Shah Abbas. (Voyages de Tavernier, part
i. l. v. p. 635.]

[Footnote 36: Chardin, tom. iii c 1 2, 3.]

As soon as the ambitious mind of Artaxerxes had triumphed
ever the resistance of his vassals, he began to threaten the
neighboring states, who, during the long slumber of his
predecessors, had insulted Persia with impunity. He obtained
some easy victories over the wild Scythians and the effeminate
Indians; but the Romans were an enemy, who, by their past
injuries and present power, deserved the utmost efforts of his
arms. A forty years' tranquillity, the fruit of valor and
moderation, had succeeded the victories of Trajan. During the
period that elapsed from the accession of Marcus to the reign of
Alexander, the Roman and the Parthian empires were twice engaged
in war; and although the whole strength of the Arsacides
contended with a part only of the forces of Rome, the event was
most commonly in favor of the latter. Macrinus, indeed, prompted
by his precarious situation and pusillanimous temper, purchased a
peace at the expense of near two millions of our money; ^37 but
the generals of Marcus, the emperor Severus, and his son, erected
many trophies in Armenia, Mesopotamia, and Assyria. Among their
exploits, the imperfect relation of which would have unseasonably
interrupted the more important series of domestic revolutions, we
shall only mention the repeated calamities of the two great
cities of Seleucia and Ctesiphon.
[Footnote 37: Dion, l. xxviii. p. 1335.]

Seleucia, on the western bank of the Tigris, about
forty-five miles to the north of ancient Babylon, was the capital
of the Macedonian conquests in Upper Asia. ^38 Many ages after
the fall of their empire, Seleucia retained the genuine
characters of a Grecian colony, arts, military virtue, and the
love of freedom. The independent republic was governed by a
senate of three hundred nobles; the people consisted of six
hundred thousand citizens; the walls were strong, and as long as
concord prevailed among the several orders of the state, they
viewed with contempt the power of the Parthian: but the madness
of faction was sometimes provoked to implore the dangerous aid of
the common enemy, who was posted almost at the gates of the
colony. ^39 The Parthian monarchs, like the Mogul sovereigns of
Hindostan, delighted in the pastoral life of their Scythian
ancestors; and the Imperial camp was frequently pitched in the
plain of Ctesiphon, on the eastern bank of the Tigris, at the
distance of only three miles from Seleucia. ^40 The innumerable
attendants on luxury and despotism resorted to the court, and the
little village of Ctesiphon insensibly swelled into a great city.
^41 Under the reign of Marcus, the Roman generals penetrated as
far as Ctesiphon and Seleucia. They were received as friends by
the Greek colony; they attacked as enemies the seat of the
Parthian kings; yet both cities experienced the same treatment.
The sack and conflagration of Seleucia, with the massacre of
three hundred thousand of the inhabitants, tarnished the glory of
the Roman triumph. ^42 Seleucia, already exhausted by the
neighborhood of a too powerful rival, sunk under the fatal blow;
but Ctesiphon, in about thirty- three years, had sufficiently
recovered its strength to maintain an obstinate siege against the
emperor Severus. The city was, however, taken by assault; the
king, who defended it in person, escaped with precipitation; a
hundred thousand captives, and a rich booty, rewarded the
fatigues of the Roman soldiers. ^43 Notwithstanding these
misfortunes, Ctesiphon succeeded to Babylon and to Seleucia, as
one of the great capitals of the East. In summer, the monarch of
Persia enjoyed at Ecbatana the cool breezes of the mountains of
Media; but the mildness of the climate engaged him to prefer
Ctesiphon for his winter residence.

[Footnote 38: For the precise situation of Babylon, Seleucia,
Ctesiphon, Moiain, and Bagdad, cities often confounded with each
other, see an excellent Geographical Tract of M. d'Anville, in
Mem. de l'Academie, tom. xxx.]
[Footnote 39: Tacit. Annal. xi. 42. Plin. Hist. Nat. vi. 26.]
[Footnote 40: This may be inferred from Strabo, l. xvi. p. 743.]
[Footnote 41: That most curious traveller, Bernier, who followed
the camp of Aurengzebe from Delhi to Cashmir, describes with
great accuracy the immense moving city. The guard of cavalry
consisted of 35,000 men, that of infantry of 10,000. It was
computed that the camp contained 150,000 horses, mules, and
elephants; 50,000 camels, 50,000 oxen, and between 300,000 and
400,000 persons. Almost all Delhi followed the court, whose
magnificence supported its industry.]

[Footnote 42: Dion, l. lxxi. p. 1178. Hist. August. p. 38.
Eutrop. viii. 10 Euseb. in Chronic. Quadratus (quoted in the
Augustan History) attempted to vindicate the Romans by alleging
that the citizens of Seleucia had first violated their faith.]

[Footnote 43: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1263. Herodian, l. iii. p. 120.
Hist. August. p. 70.]

From these successful inroads the Romans derived no real or
lasting benefit; nor did they attempt to preserve such distant
conquests, separated from the provinces of the empire by a large
tract of intermediate desert. The reduction of the kingdom of
Osrhoene was an acquisition of less splendor indeed, but of a far
more solid advantage. That little state occupied the northern
and most fertile part of Mesopotamia, between the Euphrates and
the Tigris. Edessa, its capital, was situated about twenty miles
beyond the former of those rivers; and the inhabitants, since the
time of Alexander, were a mixed race of Greeks, Arabs, Syrians,
and Armenians. ^44 The feeble sovereigns of Osrhoene, placed on
the dangerous verge of two contending empires, were attached from
inclination to the Parthian cause; but the superior power of Rome
exacted from them a reluctant homage, which is still attested by
their medals. After the conclusion of the Parthian war under
Marcus, it was judged prudent to secure some substantia, pledges
of their doubtful fidelity. Forts were constructed in several
parts of the country, and a Roman garrison was fixed in the
strong town of Nisibis. During the troubles that followed the
death of Commodus, the princes of Osrhoene attempted to shake off
the yoke; but the stern policy of Severus confirmed their
dependence, ^45 and the perfidy of Caracalla completed the easy
conquest. Abgarus, the last king of Edessa, was sent in chains
to Rome, his dominions reduced into a province, and his capital
dignified with the rank of colony; and thus the Romans, about ten
years before the fall of the Parthian monarchy, obtained a firm
and permanent establishment beyond the Euphrates. ^46

[Footnote 44: The polished citizens of Antioch called those of
Edessa mixed barbarians. It was, however, some praise, that of
the three dialects of the Syriac, the purest and most elegant
(the Aramaean) was spoken at Edessa. This remark M. Bayer (Hist.
Edess. p 5) has borrowed from George of Malatia, a Syrian

[Footnote 45: Dion, l. lxxv. p. 1248, 1249, 1250. M. Bayer has
neglected to use this most important passage.]

[Footnote 46: This kingdom, from Osrhoes, who gave a new name to
the country, to the last Abgarus, had lasted 353 years. See the
learned work of M. Bayer, Historia Osrhoena et Edessena.]

Prudence as well as glory might have justified a war on the
side of Artaxerxes, had his views been confined to the defence or
acquisition of a useful frontier. but the ambitious Persian
openly avowed a far more extensive design of conquest; and he
thought himself able to support his lofty pretensions by the arms
of reason as well as by those of power. Cyrus, he alleged, had
first subdued, and his successors had for a long time possessed,
the whole extent of Asia, as far as the Propontis and the Aegean
Sea; the provinces of Caria and Ionia, under their empire, had
been governed by Persian satraps, and all Egypt, to the confines
of Aethiopia, had acknowledged their sovereignty. ^47 Their
rights had been suspended, but not destroyed, by a long
usurpation; and as soon as he received the Persian diadem, which
birth and successful valor had placed upon his head, the first
great duty of his station called upon him to restore the ancient
limits and splendor of the monarchy. The Great King, therefore,
(such was the haughty style of his embassies to the emperor
Alexander,) commanded the Romans instantly to depart from all the
provinces of his ancestors, and, yielding to the Persians the
empire of Asia, to content themselves with the undisturbed
possession of Europe. This haughty mandate was delivered by four
hundred of the tallest and most beautiful of the Persians; who,
by their fine horses, splendid arms, and rich apparel, displayed
the pride and greatness of their master. ^48 Such an embassy was
much less an offer of negotiation than a declaration of war.
Both Alexander Severus and Artaxerxes, collecting the military
force of the Roman and Persian monarchies, resolved in this
important contest to lead their armies in person.

[Footnote 47: Xenophon, in the preface to the Cyropaedia, gives a
clear and magnificent idea of the extent of the empire of Cyrus.
Herodotus (l. iii. c. 79, &c.) enters into a curious and
particular description of the twenty great Satrapies into which
the Persian empire was divided by Darius Hystaspes.]
[Footnote 48: Herodian, vi. 209, 212.]

If we credit what should seem the most authentic of all
records, an oration, still extant, and delivered by the emperor
himself to the senate, we must allow that the victory of
Alexander Severus was not inferior to any of those formerly
obtained over the Persians by the son of Philip. The army of the
Great King consisted of one hundred and twenty thousand horse,
clothed in complete armor of steel; of seven hundred elephants,
with towers filled with archers on their backs, and of eighteen
hundred chariots armed with scythes. This formidable host, the
like of which is not to be found in eastern history, and has
scarcely been imagined in eastern romance, ^49 was discomfited in
a great battle, in which the Roman Alexander proved himself an
intrepid soldier and a skilful general. The Great King fled
before his valor; an immense booty, and the conquest of
Mesopotamia, were the immediate fruits of this signal victory.
Such are the circumstances of this ostentatious and improbable
relation, dictated, as it too plainly appears, by the vanity of
the monarch, adorned by the unblushing servility of his
flatterers, and received without contradiction by a distant and
obsequious senate. ^50 Far from being inclined to believe that
the arms of Alexander obtained any memorable advantage over the
Persians, we are induced to suspect that all this blaze of
imaginary glory was designed to conceal some real disgrace.

[Footnote 49: There were two hundred scythed chariots at the
battle of Arbela, in the host of Darius. In the vast army of
Tigranes, which was vanquished by Lucullus, seventeen thousand
horse only were completely armed. Antiochus brought fifty-four
elephants into the field against the Romans: by his frequent wars
and negotiations with the princes of India, he had once collected
a hundred and fifty of those great animals; but it may be
questioned whether the most powerful monarch of Hindostan evci
formed a line of battle of seven hundred elephants. Instead of
three or four thousand elephants, which the Great Mogul was
supposed to possess, Tavernier (Voyages, part ii. l. i. p. 198)
discovered, by a more accurate inquiry, that he had only five
hundred for his baggage, and eighty or ninety for the service of
war. The Greeks have varied with regard to the number which
Porus brought into the field; but Quintus Curtius, (viii. 13,) in
this instance judicious and moderate, is contented with
eighty-five elephants, distinguished by their size and strength.
In Siam, where these animals are the most numerous and the most
esteemed, eighteen elephants are allowed as a sufficient
proportion for each of the nine brigades into which a just army
is divided. The whole number, of one hundred and sixty-two
elephants of war, may sometimes be doubled. Hist. des Voyages,
tom. ix. p. 260.

Note: Compare Gibbon's note 10 to ch. lvii - M.]

[Footnote 50: Hist. August. p. 133.

Note: See M. Guizot's note, p. 267. According to the
Persian authorities Ardeschir extended his conquests to the
Euphrates. Malcolm i. 71. - M.]
Our suspicious are confirmed by the authority of a
contemporary historian, who mentions the virtues of Alexander
with respect, and his faults with candor. He describes the
judicious plan which had been formed for the conduct of the war.
Three Roman armies were destined to invade Persia at the same
time, and by different roads. But the operations of the
campaign, though wisely concerted, were not executed either with
ability or success. The first of these armies, as soon as it had
entered the marshy plains of Babylon, towards the artificial
conflux of the Euphrates and the Tigris, ^51 was encompassed by
the superior numbers, and destroyed by the arrows of the enemy.
The alliance of Chosroes, king of Armenia, ^52 and the long tract
of mountainous country, in which the Persian cavalry was of
little service, opened a secure entrance into the heart of Media,
to the second of the Roman armies. These brave troops laid waste
the adjacent provinces, and by several successful actions against
Artaxerxes, gave a faint color to the emperor's vanity. But the
retreat of this victorious army was imprudent, or at least
unfortunate. In repassing the mountains, great numbers of
soldiers perished by the badness of the roads, and the severity
of the winter season. It had been resolved, that whilst these
two great detachments penetrated into the opposite extremes of
the Persian dominions, the main body, under the command of
Alexander himself, should support their attack, by invading the
centre of the kingdom. But the unexperienced youth, influenced
by his mother's counsels, and perhaps by his own fears, deserted
the bravest troops, and the fairest prospect of victory; and
after consuming in Mesopotamia an inactive and inglorious summer,
he led back to Antioch an army diminished by sickness, and
provoked by disappointment. The behavior of Artaxerxes had been
very different. Flying with rapidity from the hills of Media to
the marshes of the Euphrates, he had everywhere opposed the
invaders in person; and in either fortune had united with the
ablest conduct the most undaunted resolution. But in several
obstinate engagements against the veteran legions of Rome, the
Persian monarch had lost the flower of his troops. Even his
victories had weakened his power. The favorable opportunities of
the absence of Alexander, and of the confusions that followed
that emperor's death, presented themselves in vain to his
ambition. Instead of expelling the Romans, as he pretended, from
the continent of Asia, he found himself unable to wrest from
their hands the little province of Mesopotamia. ^53
[Footnote 51: M. de Tillemont has already observed, that
Herodian's geography is somewhat confused.]

[Footnote 52: Moses of Chorene (Hist. Armen. l. ii. c. 71)
illustrates this invasion of Media, by asserting that Chosroes,
king of Armenia, defeated Artaxerxes, and pursued him to the
confines of India. The exploits of Chosroes have been magnified;
and he acted as a dependent ally to the Romans.]

[Footnote 53: For the account of this war, see Herodian, l. vi.
p. 209, 212. The old abbreviators and modern compilers have
blindly followed the Augustan History.]

The reign of Artaxerxes, which, from the last defeat of the
Parthians, lasted only fourteen years, forms a memorable aera in
the history of the East, and even in that of Rome. His character
seems to have been marked by those bold and commanding features,
that generally distinguish the princes who conquer, from those
who inherit an empire. Till the last period of the Persian
monarchy, his code of laws was respected as the groundwork of
their civil and religious policy. ^54 Several of his sayings are
preserved. One of them in particular discovers a deep insight
into the constitution of government. "The authority of the
prince," said Artaxerxes, "must be defended by a military force;
that force can only be maintained by taxes; all taxes must, at
last, fall upon agriculture; and agriculture can never flourish
except under the protection of justice and moderation." ^55
Artaxerxes bequeathed his new empire, and his ambitious designs
against the Romans, to Sapor, a son not unworthy of his great
father; but those designs were too extensive for the power of
Persia, and served only to involve both nations in a long series
of destructive wars and reciprocal calamities.
[Footnote 54: Eutychius, tom. ii. p. 180, vers. Pocock. The
great Chosroes Noushirwan sent the code of Artaxerxes to all his
satraps, as the invariable rule of their conduct.]

[Footnote 55: D'Herbelot, Bibliotheque Orientale, au mot Ardshir.

We may observe, that after an ancient period of fables, and a
long interval of darkness, the modern histories of Persia begin
to assume an air of truth with the dynasty of Sassanides.
[Compare Malcolm, i. 79. - M.]
The Persians, long since civilized and corrupted, were very
far from possessing the martial independence, and the intrepid
hardiness, both of mind and body, which have rendered the
northern barbarians masters of the world. The science of war,
that constituted the more rational force of Greece and Rome, as
it now does of Europe, never made any considerable progress in
the East. Those disciplined evolutions which harmonize and
animate a confused multitude, were unknown to the Persians. They
were equally unskilled in the arts of constructing, besieging, or
defending regular fortifications. They trusted more to their
numbers than to their courage; more to their courage than to
their discipline. The infantry was a half-armed, spiritless
crowd of peasants, levied in haste by the allurements of plunder,
and as easily dispersed by a victory as by a defeat. The monarch
and his nobles transported into the camp the pride and luxury of
the seraglio. Their military operations were impeded by a
useless train of women, eunuchs, horses, and camels; and in the
midst of a successful campaign, the Persian host was often
separated or destroyed by an unexpected famine. ^56
[Footnote 56: Herodian, l. vi. p. 214. Ammianus Marcellinus, l.
xxiii. c. 6. Some differences may be observed between the two
historians, the natural effects of the changes produced by a
century and a half.]

But the nobles of Persia, in the bosom of luxury and
despotism, preserved a strong sense of personal gallantry and
national honor. From the age of seven years they were taught to
speak truth, to shoot with the bow, and to ride; and it was
universally confessed, that in the two last of these arts, they
had made a more than common proficiency. ^57 The most
distinguished youth were educated under the monarch's eye,
practised their exercises in the gate of his palace, and were
severely trained up to the habits of temperance and obedience, in
their long and laborious parties of hunting. In every province,
the satrap maintained a like school of military virtue. The
Persian nobles (so natural is the idea of feudal tenures)
received from the king's bounty lands and houses, on the
condition of their service in war. They were ready on the first
summons to mount on horseback, with a martial and splendid train
of followers, and to join the numerous bodies of guards, who were
carefully selected from among the most robust slaves, and the
bravest adventures of Asia. These armies, both of light and of
heavy cavalry, equally formidable by the impetuosity of their
charge and the rapidity of their motions, threatened, as an
impending cloud, the eastern provinces of the declining empire of
Rome. ^58

[Footnote 57: The Persians are still the most skilful horsemen,
and their horses the finest in the East.]

[Footnote 58: From Herodotus, Xenophon, Herodian, Ammianus,
Chardin, &c., I have extracted such probable accounts of the
Persian nobility, as seem either common to every age, or
particular to that of the Sassanides.]

Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.

Part I.

The State Of Germany Till The Invasion Of The Barbarians In The
Time Of The Emperor Decius.

The government and religion of Persia have deserved some
notice, from their connection with the decline and fall of the
Roman empire. We shall occasionally mention the Scythian or
Sarmatian tribes, ^* which, with their arms and horses, their
flocks and herds, their wives and families, wandered over the
immense plains which spread themselves from the Caspian Sea to
the Vistula, from the confines of Persia to those of Germany.
But the warlike Germans, who first resisted, then invaded, and at
length overturned the Western monarchy of Rome, will occupy a
much more important place in this history, and possess a
stronger, and, if we may use the expression, a more domestic,
claim to our attention and regard. The most civilized nations of
modern Europe issued from the woods of Germany; and in the rude
institutions of those barbarians we may still distinguish the
original principles of our present laws and manners. In their
primitive state of simplicity and independence, the Germans were
surveyed by the discerning eye, and delineated by the masterly
pencil, of Tacitus, ^* the first of historians who applied the
science of philosophy to the study of facts. The expressive
conciseness of his descriptions has served to exercise the
diligence of innumerable antiquarians, and to excite the genius
and penetration of the philosophic historians of our own times.
The subject, however various and important, has already been so
frequently, so ably, and so successfully discussed, that it is
now grown familiar to the reader, and difficult to the writer.
We shall therefore content ourselves with observing, and indeed
with repeating, some of the most important circumstances of
climate, of manners, and of institutions, which rendered the wild
barbarians of Germany such formidable enemies to the Roman power.

[Footnote *: The Scythians, even according to the ancients, are
not Sarmatians. It may be doubted whether Gibbon intended to
confound them. - M.] The Greeks, after having divided the world
into Greeks and barbarians. divided the barbarians into four
great classes, the Celts, the Scythians, the Indians, and the
Ethiopians. They called Celts all the inhabitants of Gaul.
Scythia extended from the Baltic Sea to the Lake Aral: the people
enclosed in the angle to the north-east, between Celtica and
Scythia, were called Celto- Scythians, and the Sarmatians were
placed in the southern part of that angle. But these names of
Celts, of Scythians, of Celto-Scythians, and Sarmatians, were
invented, says Schlozer, by the profound cosmographical ignorance
of the Greeks, and have no real ground; they are purely
geographical divisions, without any relation to the true
affiliation of the different races. Thus all the inhabitants of
Gaul are called Celts by most of the ancient writers; yet Gaul
contained three totally distinct nations, the Belgae, the
Aquitani, and the Gauls, properly so called. Hi omnes lingua
institutis, legibusque inter se differunt. Caesar. Com. c. i.
It is thus the Turks call all Europeans Franks. Schlozer,
Allgemeine Nordische Geschichte, p. 289. 1771. Bayer (de Origine
et priscis Sedibus Scytharum, in Opusc. p. 64) says, Primus
eorum, de quibus constat, Ephorus, in quarto historiarum libro,
orbem terrarum inter Scythas, Indos, Aethiopas et Celtas divisit.

Fragmentum ejus loci Cosmas Indicopleustes in topographia
Christiana, f. 148, conservavit. Video igitur Ephorum, cum
locorum positus per certa capita distribuere et explicare
constitueret, insigniorum nomina gentium vastioribus spatiis
adhibuisse, nulla mala fraude et successu infelici. Nam Ephoro
quoquomodo dicta pro exploratis habebant Graeci plerique et
Romani: ita gliscebat error posteritate. Igitur tot tamque
diversae stirpis gentes non modo intra communem quandam regionem
definitae, unum omnes Scytharum nomen his auctoribus subierunt,
sed etiam ab illa regionis adpellatione in eandem nationem sunt
conflatae. Sic Cimmeriorum res cum Scythicis, Scytharum cum
Sarmaticis, Russicis, Hunnicis, Tataricis commiscentur. - G.]
[Footnote *: The Germania of Tacitus has been a fruitful source
of hypothesis to the ingenuity of modern writers, who have
endeavored to account for the form of the work and the views of
the author. According to Luden, (Geschichte des T. V. i. 432,
and note,) it contains the unfinished and disarranged for a
larger work. An anonymous writer, supposed by Luden to be M.
Becker, conceives that it was intended as an episode in his
larger history. According to M. Guizot, "Tacite a peint les
Germains comme Montaigne et Rousseau les sauvages, dans un acces
d'humeur contre sa patrie: son livre est une satire des moeurs
Romaines, l'eloquente boutade d'un patriote philosophe qui veut
voir la vertu la, ou il ne rencontre pas la mollesse honteuse et
la depravation savante d'une vielle societe." Hist. de la
Civilisation Moderne, i. 258. - M.]

Ancient Germany, excluding from its independent limits the
province westward of the Rhine, which had submitted to the Roman
yoke, extended itself over a third part of Europe. ^1 Almost the
whole of modern Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland,
Livonia, Prussia, and the greater part of Poland, were peopled by
the various tribes of one great nation, whose complexion,
manners, and language denoted a common origin, and preserved a
striking resemblance. On the west, ancient Germany was divided
by the Rhine from the Gallic, and on the south, by the Danube,
from the Illyrian, provinces of the empire. A ridge of hills,
rising from the Danube, and called the Carpathian Mountains,
covered Germany on the side of Dacia or Hungary. The eastern
frontier was faintly marked by the mutual fears of the Germans
and the Sarmatians, and was often confounded by the mixture of
warring and confederating tribes of the two nations. In the
remote darkness of the north, the ancients imperfectly descried a
frozen ocean that lay beyond the Baltic Sea, and beyond the
Peninsula, or islands ^1 of Scandinavia.

[Footnote 1: Germany was not of such vast extent. It is from
Caesar, and more particularly from Ptolemy, (says Gatterer,) that
we can know what was the state of ancient Germany before the wars
with the Romans had changed the positions of the tribes.
Germany, as changed by these wars, has been described by Strabo,
Pliny, and Tacitus. Germany, properly so called, was bounded on
the west by the Rhine, on the east by the Vistula, on the north
by the southern point of Norway, by Sweden, and Esthonia. On the
south, the Maine and the mountains to the north of Bohemia formed
the limits. Before the time of Caesar, the country between the
Maine and the Danube was partly occupied by the Helvetians and
other Gauls, partly by the Hercynian forest but, from the time of
Caesar to the great migration, these boundaries were advanced as
far as the Danube, or, what is the same thing, to the Suabian
Alps, although the Hercynian forest still occupied, from north to
south, a space of nine days' journey on both banks of the Danube.

"Gatterer, Versuch einer all-gemeinen Welt-Geschichte," p. 424,
edit. de 1792. This vast country was far from being inhabited by
a single nation divided into different tribes of the same origin.

We may reckon three principal races, very distinct in their
language, their origin, and their customs. 1. To the east, the
Slaves or Vandals. 2. To the west, the Cimmerians or Cimbri. 3.
Between the Slaves and Cimbrians, the Germans, properly so
called, the Suevi of Tacitus. The South was inhabited, before
Julius Caesar, by nations of Gaulish origin, afterwards by the
Suevi. - G. On the position of these nations, the German
antiquaries differ. I. The Slaves, or Sclavonians, or Wendish
tribes, according to Schlozer, were originally settled in parts
of Germany unknown to the Romans, Mecklenburgh, Pomerania,
Brandenburgh, Upper Saxony; and Lusatia. According to Gatterer,
they remained to the east of the Theiss, the Niemen, and the
Vistula, till the third century. The Slaves, according to
Procopius and Jornandes, formed three great divisions. 1. The
Venedi or Vandals, who took the latter name, (the Wenden,) having
expelled the Vandals, properly so called, (a Suevian race, the
conquerors of Africa,) from the country between the Memel and the
Vistula. 2. The Antes, who inhabited between the Dneister and
the Dnieper. 3. The Sclavonians, properly so called, in the
north of Dacia. During the great migration, these races advanced
into Germany as far as the Saal and the Elbe. The Sclavonian
language is the stem from which have issued the Russian, the
Polish, the Bohemian, and the dialects of Lusatia, of some parts
of the duchy of Luneburgh, of Carniola, Carinthia, and Styria,
&c.; those of Croatia, Bosnia, and Bulgaria. Schlozer, Nordische
Geschichte, p. 323, 335. II. The Cimbric race. Adelung calls
by this name all who were not Suevi. This race had passed the
Rhine, before the time of Caesar, occupied Belgium, and are the
Belgae of Caesar and Pliny. The Cimbrians also occupied the Isle
of Jutland. The Cymri of Wales and of Britain are of this race.
Many tribes on the right bank of the Rhine, the Guthini in
Jutland, the Usipeti in Westphalia, the Sigambri in the duchy of
Berg, were German Cimbrians. III. The Suevi, known in very
early times by the Romans, for they are mentioned by L. Corn.
Sisenna, who lived 123 years before Christ, (Nonius v. Lancea.)
This race, the real Germans, extended to the Vistula, and from
the Baltic to the Hercynian forest. The name of Suevi was
sometimes confined to a single tribe, as by Caesar to the Catti.
The name of the Suevi has been preserved in Suabia.

These three were the principal races which inhabited
Germany; they moved from east to west, and are the parent stem of
the modern natives. But northern Europe, according to Schlozer,
was not peopled by them alone; other races, of different origin,
and speaking different languages, have inhabited and left
descendants in these countries.

The German tribes called themselves, from very remote times,
by the generic name of Teutons, (Teuten, Deutschen,) which
Tacitus derives from that of one of their gods, Tuisco. It
appears more probable that it means merely men, people. Many
savage nations have given themselves no other name. Thus the
Laplanders call themselves Almag, people; the Samoiedes Nilletz,
Nissetsch, men, &c. As to the name of Germans, (Germani,) Caesar
found it in use in Gaul, and adopted it as a word already known
to the Romans. Many of the learned (from a passage of Tacitus,
de Mor Germ. c. 2) have supposed that it was only applied to the
Teutons after Caesar's time; but Adelung has triumphantly refuted
this opinion. The name of Germans is found in the Fasti
Capitolini. See Gruter, Iscrip. 2899, in which the consul
Marcellus, in the year of Rome 531, is said to have defeated the
Gauls, the Insubrians, and the Germans, commanded by Virdomar.
See Adelung, Aelt. Geschichte der Deutsch, p. 102. - Compressed
from G.]

[Footnote 1: The modern philosophers of Sweden seem agreed that
the waters of the Baltic gradually sink in a regular proportion,
which they have ventured to estimate at half an inch every year.
Twenty centuries ago the flat country of Scandinavia must have
been covered by the sea; while the high lands rose above the
waters, as so many islands of various forms and dimensions.
Such, indeed, is the notion given us by Mela, Pliny, and Tacitus,
of the vast countries round the Baltic. See in the Bibliotheque
Raisonnee, tom. xl. and xlv. a large abstract of Dalin's History
of Sweden, composed in the Swedish language.

Note: Modern geologists have rejected this theory of the
depression of the Baltic, as inconsistent with recent
observation. The considerable changes which have taken place on
its shores, Mr. Lyell, from actual observation now decidedly
attributes to the regular and uniform elevation of the land. -
Lyell's Geology, b. ii. c. 17 - M.]

Some ingenious writers ^2 have suspected that Europe was
much colder formerly than it is at present; and the most ancient
descriptions of the climate of Germany tend exceedingly to
confirm their theory. The general complaints of intense frost
and eternal winter, are perhaps little to be regarded, since we
have no method of reducing to the accurate standard of the
thermometer, the feelings, or the expressions, of an orator born
in the happier regions of Greece or Asia. But I shall select two
remarkable circumstances of a less equivocal nature. 1. The
great rivers which covered the Roman provinces, the Rhine and the
Danube, were frequently frozen over, and capable of supporting
the most enormous weights. The barbarians, who often chose that
severe season for their inroads, transported, without
apprehension or danger, their numerous armies, their cavalry, and
their heavy wagons, over a vast and solid bridge of ice. ^3
Modern ages have not presented an instance of a like phenomenon.
2. The reindeer, that useful animal, from whom the savage of the
North derives the best comforts of his dreary life, is of a
constitution that supports, and even requires, the most intense
cold. He is found on the rock of Spitzberg, within ten degrees
of the Pole; he seems to delight in the snows of Lapland and
Siberia: but at present he cannot subsist, much less multiply, in
any country to the south of the Baltic. ^4 In the time of Caesar
the reindeer, as well as the elk and the wild bull, was a native
of the Hercynian forest, which then overshadowed a great part of
Germany and Poland. ^5 The modern improvements sufficiently
explain the causes of the diminution of the cold. These immense
woods have been gradually cleared, which intercepted from the
earth the rays of the sun. ^6 The morasses have been drained,
and, in proportion as the soil has been cultivated, the air has
become more temperate. Canada, at this day, is an exact picture
of ancient Germany. Although situated in the same parallel with
the finest provinces of France and England, that country
experiences the most rigorous cold. The reindeer are very
numerous, the ground is covered with deep and lasting snow, and
the great river of St. Lawrence is regularly frozen, in a season
when the waters of the Seine and the Thames are usually free from
ice. ^7
[Footnote 2: In particular, Mr. Hume, the Abbe du Bos, and M.
Pelloutier. Hist. des Celtes, tom. i.]

[Footnote 3: Diodorus Siculus, l. v. p. 340, edit. Wessel.
Herodian, l. vi. p. 221. Jornandes, c. 55. On the banks of the
Danube, the wine, when brought to table, was frequently frozen
into great lumps, frusta vini. Ovid. Epist. ex Ponto, l. iv. 7,
9, 10. Virgil. Georgic. l. iii. 355. The fact is confirmed by a
soldier and a philosopher, who had experienced the intense cold
of Thrace. See Xenophon, Anabasis, l. vii. p. 560, edit.
Note: The Danube is constantly frozen over. At Pesth the
bridge is usually taken up, and the traffic and communication
between the two banks carried on over the ice. The Rhine is
likewise in many parts passable at least two years out of five.
Winter campaigns are so unusual, in modern warfare, that I
recollect but one instance of an army crossing either river on
the ice. In the thirty years' war, (1635,) Jan van Werth, an
Imperialist partisan, crossed the Rhine from Heidelberg on the
ice with 5000 men, and surprised Spiers. Pichegru's memorable
campaign, (1794-5,) when the freezing of the Meuse and Waal
opened Holland to his conquests, and his cavalry and artillery
attacked the ships frozen in, on the Zuyder Zee, was in a winter
of unprecedented severity. - M. 1845.]

[Footnote 4: Buffon, Histoire Naturelle, tom. xii. p. 79, 116.]
[Footnote 5: Caesar de Bell. Gallic. vi. 23, &c. The most
inquisitive of the Germans were ignorant of its utmost limits,
although some of them had travelled in it more than sixty days'

Note: The passage of Caesar, "parvis renonum tegumentis
utuntur," is obscure, observes Luden, (Geschichte des Teutschen
Volkes,) and insufficient to prove the reindeer to have existed
in Germany. It is supported however, by a fragment of Sallust.
Germani intectum rhenonibus corpus tegunt. - M. It has been
suggested to me that Caesar (as old Gesner supposed) meant the
reindeer in the following description. Est bos cervi figura
cujus a media fronte inter aures unum cornu existit, excelsius
magisque directum (divaricatum, qu ?) his quae nobis nota sunt
cornibus. At ejus summo, sicut palmae, rami quam late
diffunduntur. Bell. vi. - M. 1845.]
[Footnote 6: Cluverius (Germania Antiqua, l. iii. c. 47)
investigates the small and scattered remains of the Hercynian

[Footnote 7: Charlevoix, Histoire du Canada.]

It is difficult to ascertain, and easy to exaggerate, the
influence of the climate of ancient Germany over the minds and
bodies of the natives. Many writers have supposed, and most have
allowed, though, as it should seem, without any adequate proof,
that the rigorous cold of the North was favorable to long life
and generative vigor, that the women were more fruitful, and the
human species more prolific, than in warmer or more temperate
climates. ^8 We may assert, with greater confidence, that the
keen air of Germany formed the large and masculine limbs of the
natives, who were, in general, of a more lofty stature than the
people of the South, ^9 gave them a kind of strength better
adapted to violent exertions than to patient labor, and inspired
them with constitutional bravery, which is the result of nerves
and spirits. The severity of a winter campaign, that chilled the
courage of the Roman troops, was scarcely felt by these hardy
children of the North, ^10 who, in their turn, were unable to
resist the summer heats, and dissolved away in languor and
sickness under the beams of an Italian sun. ^11

[Footnote 8: Olaus Rudbeck asserts that the Swedish women often
bear ten or twelve children, and not uncommonly twenty or thirty;
but the authority of Rudbeck is much to be suspected.]

[Footnote 9: In hos artus, in haec corpora, quae miramur,
excrescunt. Taeit Germania, 3, 20. Cluver. l. i. c. 14.]

[Footnote 10: Plutarch. in Mario. The Cimbri, by way of
amusement, often did down mountains of snow on their broad

[Footnote 11: The Romans made war in all climates, and by their
excellent discipline were in a great measure preserved in health
and vigor. It may be remarked, that man is the only animal which
can live and multiply in every country from the equator to the
poles. The hog seems to approach the nearest to our species in
that privilege.]

Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.

Part II.

There is not any where upon the globe a large tract of
country, which we have discovered destitute of inhabitants, or
whose first population can be fixed with any degree of historical
certainty. And yet, as the most philosophic minds can seldom
refrain from investigating the infancy of great nations, our
curiosity consumes itself in toilsome and disappointed efforts.
When Tacitus considered the purity of the German blood, and the
forbidding aspect of the country, he was disposed to pronounce
those barbarians Indigence, or natives of the soil. We may allow
with safety, and perhaps with truth, that ancient Germany was not
originally peopled by any foreign colonies already formed into a
political society; ^12 but that the name and nation received
their existence from the gradual union of some wandering savages
of the Hercynian woods. To assert those savages to have been the
spontaneous production of the earth which they inhabited would be
a rash inference, condemned by religion, and unwarranted by
[Footnote 12: Facit. Germ. c. 3. The emigration of the Gauls
followed the course of the Danube, and discharged itself on
Greece and Asia. Tacitus could discover only one inconsiderable
tribe that retained any traces of a Gallic origin.

Note: The Gothini, who must not be confounded with the
Gothi, a Suevian tribe. In the time of Caesar many other tribes
of Gaulish origin dwelt along the course of the Danube, who could
not long resist the attacks of the Suevi. The Helvetians, who
dwelt on the borders of the Black Forest, between the Maine and
the Danube, had been expelled long before the time of Caesar. He
mentions also the Volci Tectosagi, who came from Languedoc and
settled round the Black Forest. The Boii, who had penetrated
into that forest, and also have left traces of their name in
Bohemia, were subdued in the first century by the Marcomanni.
The Boii settled in Noricum, were mingled afterwards with the
Lombards, and received the name of Boio Arii (Bavaria) or
Boiovarii: var, in some German dialects, appearing to mean
remains, descendants. Compare Malte B-m, Geography, vol. i. p.
410, edit 1832 - M.]

Such rational doubt is but ill suited with the genius of
popular vanity. Among the nations who have adopted the Mosaic
history of the world, the ark of Noah has been of the same use,
as was formerly to the Greeks and Romans the siege of Troy. On a
narrow basis of acknowledged truth, an immense but rude
superstructure of fable has been erected; and the wild Irishman,
^13 as well as the wild Tartar, ^14 could point out the
individual son of Japhet, from whose loins his ancestors were
lineally descended. The last century abounded with antiquarians
of profound learning and easy faith, who, by the dim light of
legends and traditions, of conjectures and etymologies, conducted
the great grandchildren of Noah from the Tower of Babel to the
extremities of the globe. Of these judicious critics, one of the
most entertaining was Oaus Rudbeck, professor in the university
of Upsal. ^15 Whatever is celebrated either in history or fable,
this zealous patriot ascribes to his country. From Sweden (which
formed so considerable a part of ancient Germany) the Greeks
themselves derived their alphabetical characters, their
astronomy, and their religion. Of that delightful region (for
such it appeared to the eyes of a native) the Atlantis of Plato,
the country of the Hyperboreans, the gardens of the Hesperides,
the Fortunate Islands, and even the Elysian Fields, were all but
faint and imperfect transcripts. A clime so profusely favored by
Nature could not long remain desert after the flood. The learned
Rudbeck allows the family of Noah a few years to multiply from
eight to about twenty thousand persons. He then disperses them
into small colonies to replenish the earth, and to propagate the
human species. The German or Swedish detachment (which marched,
if I am not mistaken, under the command of Askenaz, the son of
Gomer, the son of Japhet) distinguished itself by a more than
common diligence in the prosecution of this great work. The
northern hive cast its swarms over the greatest part of Europe,
Africa, and Asia; and (to use the author's metaphor) the blood
circulated from the extremities to the heart.

[Footnote 13: According to Dr. Keating, (History of Ireland, p.
13, 14,) the giant Portholanus, who was the son of Seara, the son
of Esra, the son of Sru, the son of Framant, the son of
Fathaclan, the son of Magog, the son of Japhet, the son of Noah,
landed on the coast of Munster the 14th day of May, in the year
of the world one thousand nine hundred and seventy-eight. Though
he succeeded in his great enterprise, the loose behavior of his
wife rendered his domestic life very unhappy, and provoked him to
such a degree, that he killed - her favorite greyhound. This, as
the learned historian very properly observes, was the first
instance of female falsehood and infidelity ever known in

[Footnote 14: Genealogical History of the Tartars, by Abulghazi
Bahadur Khan.]

[Footnote 15: His work, entitled Atlantica, is uncommonly scarce.

Bayle has given two most curious extracts from it. Republique
des Lettres Janvier et Fevrier, 1685.]

But all this well-labored system of German antiquities is
annihilated by a single fact, too well attested to admit of any
doubt, and of too decisive a nature to leave room for any reply.
The Germans, in the age of Tacitus, were unacquainted with the
use of letters; ^16 and the use of letters is the principal
circumstance that distinguishes a civilized people from a herd of
savages incapable of knowledge or reflection. Without that
artificial help, the human memory soon dissipates or corrupts the
ideas intrusted to her charge; and the nobler faculties of the
mind, no longer supplied with models or with materials, gradually
forget their powers; the judgment becomes feeble and lethargic,
the imagination languid or irregular. Fully to apprehend this
important truth, let us attempt, in an improved society, to
calculate the immense distance between the man of learning and
the illiterate peasant. The former, by reading and reflection,
multiplies his own experience, and lives in distant ages and
remote countries; whilst the latter, rooted to a single spot, and
confined to a few years of existence, surpasses but very little
his fellow-laborer, the ox, in the exercise of his mental
faculties. The same, and even a greater, difference will be
found between nations than between individuals; and we may safely
pronounce, that without some species of writing, no people has
ever preserved the faithful annals of their history, ever made
any considerable progress in the abstract sciences, or ever
possessed, in any tolerable degree of perfection, the useful and
agreeable arts of life.

[Footnote 16: Tacit. Germ. ii. 19. Literarum secreta viri
pariter ac foeminae ignorant. We may rest contented with this
decisive authority, without entering into the obscure disputes
concerning the antiquity of the Runic characters. The learned
Celsius, a Swede, a scholar, and a philosopher, was of opinion,
that they were nothing more than the Roman letters, with the
curves changed into straight lines for the ease of engraving.
See Pelloutier, Histoire des Celtes, l. ii. c. 11. Dictionnaire
Diplomatique, tom. i. p. 223. We may add, that the oldest Runic
inscriptions are supposed to be of the third century, and the
most ancient writer who mentions the Runic characters is Venan
tius Frotunatus, (Carm. vii. 18,) who lived towards the end of
the sixth century.

Barbara fraxineis pingatur Runa tabellis.

Note: The obscure subject of the Runic characters has
exercised the industry and ingenuity of the modern scholars of
the north. There are three distinct theories; one, maintained by
Schlozer, (Nordische Geschichte, p. 481, &c.,) who considers
their sixteen letters to be a corruption of the Roman alphabet,
post-Christian in their date, and Schlozer would attribute their
introduction into the north to the Alemanni. The second, that of
Frederick Schlegel, (Vorlesungen uber alte und neue Literatur,)
supposes that these characters were left on the coasts of the
Mediterranean and Northern Seas by the Phoenicians, preserved by
the priestly castes, and employed for purposes of magic. Their
common origin from the Phoenician would account for heir
similarity to the Roman letters. The last, to which we incline,
claims much higher and more venerable antiquity for the Runic,
and supposes them to have been the original characters of the
Indo-Teutonic tribes, brought from the East, and preserved among
the different races of that stock. See Ueber Deutsche Runen von
W. C. Grimm, 1821. A Memoir by Dr. Legis. Fundgruben des alten
Nordens. Foreign Quarterly Review vol. ix. p. 438. - M.]
Of these arts, the ancient Germans were wretchedly
destitute. They passed their lives in a state of ignorance and
poverty, which it has pleased some declaimers to dignify with the
appellation of virtuous simplicity. Modern Germany is said to
contain about two thousand three hundred walled towns. ^17 In a
much wider extent of country, the geographer Ptolemy could
discover no more than ninety places which he decorates with the
name of cities; ^18 though, according to our ideas, they would
but ill deserve that splendid title. We can only suppose them to
have been rude fortifications, constructed in the centre of the
woods, and designed to secure the women, children, and cattle,
whilst the warriors of the tribe marched out to repel a sudden
invasion. ^19 But Tacitus asserts, as a well-known fact, that the
Germans, in his time, had no cities; ^20 and that they affected
to despise the works of Roman industry, as places of confinement
rather than of security. ^21 Their edifices were not even
contiguous, or formed into regular villas; ^22 each barbarian
fixed his independent dwelling on the spot to which a plain, a
wood, or a stream of fresh water, had induced him to give the
preference. Neither stone, nor brick, nor tiles, were employed
in these slight habitations. ^23 They were indeed no more than
low huts, of a circular figure, built of rough timber, thatched
with straw, and pierced at the top to leave a free passage for
the smoke. In the most inclement winter, the hardy German was
satisfied with a scanty garment made of the skin of some animal.
The nations who dwelt towards the North clothed themselves in
furs; and the women manufactured for their own use a coarse kind
of linen. ^24 The game of various sorts, with which the forests
of Germany were plentifully stocked, supplied its inhabitants
with food and exercise. ^25 Their monstrous herds of cattle, less
remarkable indeed for their beauty than for their utility, ^26
formed the principal object of their wealth. A small quantity of
corn was the only produce exacted from the earth; the use of
orchards or artificial meadows was unknown to the Germans; nor
can we expect any improvements in agriculture from a people,
whose prosperity every year experienced a general change by a new
division of the arable lands, and who, in that strange operation,
avoided disputes, by suffering a great part of their territory to
lie waste and without tillage. ^27

[Footnote *: Luden (the author of the Geschichte des Teutschen
Volkes) has surpassed most writers in his patriotic enthusiasm
for the virtues and noble manners of his ancestors. Even the
cold of the climate, and the want of vines and fruit trees, as
well as the barbarism of the inhabitants, are calumnies of the
luxurious Italians. M. Guizot, on the other side, (in his
Histoire de la Civilisation, vol. i. p. 272, &c.,) has drawn a
curious parallel between the Germans of Tacitus and the North
American Indians. - M.] [Footnote 17: Recherches Philosophiques
sur les Americains, tom. iii. p. 228. The author of that very
curious work is, if I am not misinformed, a German by birth. (De

[Footnote 18: The Alexandrian Geographer is often criticized by
the accurate Cluverius.]

[Footnote 19: See Caesar, and the learned Mr. Whitaker in his
History of Manchester, vol. i.]

[Footnote 20: Tacit. Germ. 15.]

[Footnote 21: When the Germans commanded the Ubii of Cologne to
cast off the Roman yoke, and with their new freedom to resume
their ancient manners, they insisted on the immediate demolition
of the walls of the colony. "Postulamus a vobis, muros coloniae,
munimenta servitii, detrahatis; etiam fera animalia, si clausa
teneas, virtutis obliviscuntur." Tacit. Hist. iv. 64.]
[Footnote 22: The straggling villages of Silesia are several
miles in length. See Cluver. l. i. c. 13.]

[Footnote 23: One hundred and forty years after Tacitus, a few
more regular structures were erected near the Rhine and Danube.
Herodian, l. vii. p. 234.]

[Footnote 24: Tacit. Germ. 17.]

[Footnote 25: Tacit. Germ. 5.]

[Footnote 26: Caesar de Bell. Gall. vi. 21.]

[Footnote 27: Tacit. Germ. 26. Caesar, vi. 22.]

Gold, silver, and iron, were extremely scarce in Germany.
Its barbarous inhabitants wanted both skill and patience to
investigate those rich veins of silver, which have so liberally
rewarded the attention of the princes of Brunswick and Saxony.
Sweden, which now supplies Europe with iron, was equally ignorant
of its own riches; and the appearance of the arms of the Germans
furnished a sufficient proof how little iron they were able to
bestow on what they must have deemed the noblest use of that
metal. The various transactions of peace and war had introduced
some Roman coins (chiefly silver) among the borderers of the
Rhine and Danube; but the more distant tribes were absolutely
unacquainted with the use of money, carried on their confined
traffic by the exchange of commodities, and prized their rude
earthen vessels as of equal value with the silver vases, the
presents of Rome to their princes and ambassadors. ^28 To a mind
capable of reflection, such leading facts convey more
instruction, than a tedious detail of subordinate circumstances.
The value of money has been settled by general consent to express
our wants and our property, as letters were invented to express
our ideas; and both these institutions, by giving a more active
energy to the powers and passions of human nature, have
contributed to multiply the objects they were designed to
represent. The use of gold and silver is in a great measure
factitious; but it would be impossible to enumerate the important
and various services which agriculture, and all the arts, have
received from iron, when tempered and fashioned by the operation
of fire, and the dexterous hand of man. Money, in a word, is the
most universal incitement, iron the most powerful instrument, of
human industry; and it is very difficult to conceive by what
means a people, neither actuated by the one, nor seconded by the
other, could emerge from the grossest barbarism. ^29

[Footnote 28: Tacit. Germ. 6.]

[Footnote 29: It is said that the Mexicans and Peruvians, without
the use of either money or iron, had made a very great progress
in the arts. Those arts, and the monuments they produced, have
been strangely magnified. See Recherches sur les Americains,
tom. ii. p. 153, &c]

If we contemplate a savage nation in any part of the globe,
a supine indolence and a carelessness of futurity will be found
to constitute their general character. In a civilized state,
every faculty of man is expanded and exercised; and the great
chain of mutual dependence connects and embraces the several
members of society. The most numerous portion of it is employed
in constant and useful labor. The select few, placed by fortune
above that necessity, can, however, fill up their time by the
pursuits of interest or glory, by the improvement of their estate
or of their understanding, by the duties, the pleasures, and even
the follies of social life. The Germans were not possessed of
these varied resources. The care of the house and family, the
management of the land and cattle, were delegated to the old and
the infirm, to women and slaves. The lazy warrior, destitute of
every art that might employ his leisure hours, consumed his days
and nights in the animal gratifications of sleep and food. And
yet, by a wonderful diversity of nature, (according to the remark
of a writer who had pierced into its darkest recesses,) the same
barbarians are by turns the most indolent and the most restless
of mankind. They delight in sloth, they detest tranquility. ^30
The languid soul, oppressed with its own weight, anxiously
required some new and powerful sensation; and war and danger were
the only amusements adequate to its fierce temper. The sound
that summoned the German to arms was grateful to his ear. It
roused him from his uncomfortable lethargy, gave him an active
pursuit, and, by strong exercise of the body, and violent
emotions of the mind, restored him to a more lively sense of his
existence. In the dull intervals of peace, these barbarians were
immoderately addicted to deep gaming and excessive drinking; both
of which, by different means, the one by inflaming their
passions, the other by extinguishing their reason, alike relieved
them from the pain of thinking. They gloried in passing whole
days and nights at table; and the blood of friends and relations
often stained their numerous and drunken assemblies. ^31 Their
debts of honor (for in that light they have transmitted to us
those of play) they discharged with the most romantic fidelity.
The desperate gamester, who had staked his person and liberty on
a last throw of the dice, patiently submitted to the decision of
fortune, and suffered himself to be bound, chastised, and sold
into remote slavery, by his weaker but more lucky antagonist. ^32

[Footnote 30: Tacit. Germ. 15.]

[Footnote 31: Tacit. Germ. 22, 23.]

[Footnote 32: Id. 24. The Germans might borrow the arts of play
from the Romans, but the passion is wonderfully inherent in the
human species.] Strong beer, a liquor extracted with very
little art from wheat or barley, and corrupted (as it is strongly
expressed by Tacitus) into a certain semblance of wine, was
sufficient for the gross purposes of German debauchery. But
those who had tasted the rich wines of Italy, and afterwards of
Gaul, sighed for that more delicious species of intoxication.
They attempted not, however, (as has since been executed with so
much success,) to naturalize the vine on the banks of the Rhine
and Danube; nor did they endeavor to procure by industry the
materials of an advantageous commerce. To solicit by labor what
might be ravished by arms, was esteemed unworthy of the German
spirit. ^33 The intemperate thirst of strong liquors often urged
the barbarians to invade the provinces on which art or nature had
bestowed those much envied presents. The Tuscan who betrayed his
country to the Celtic nations, attracted them into Italy by the
prospect of the rich fruits and delicious wines, the productions
of a happier climate. ^34 And in the same manner the German
auxiliaries, invited into France during the civil wars of the
sixteenth century, were allured by the promise of plenteous
quarters in the provinces of Champaigne and Burgundy. ^35
Drunkenness, the most illiberal, but not the most dangerous of
our vices, was sometimes capable, in a less civilized state of
mankind, of occasioning a battle, a war, or a revolution.

[Footnote 33: Tacit. Germ. 14.]

[Footnote 34: Plutarch. in Camillo. T. Liv. v. 33.]

[Footnote 35: Dubos. Hist. de la Monarchie Francoise, tom. i. p.
The climate of ancient Germany has been modified, and the
soil fertilized, by the labor of ten centuries from the time of
Charlemagne. The same extent of ground which at present
maintains, in ease and plenty, a million of husbandmen and
artificers, was unable to supply a hundred thousand lazy warriors
with the simple necessaries of life. ^36 The Germans abandoned
their immense forests to the exercise of hunting, employed in
pasturage the most considerable part of their lands, bestowed on
the small remainder a rude and careless cultivation, and then
accused the scantiness and sterility of a country that refused to
maintain the multitude of its inhabitants. When the return of
famine severely admonished them of the importance of the arts,
the national distress was sometimes alleviated by the emigration
of a third, perhaps, or a fourth part of their youth. ^37 The
possession and the enjoyment of property are the pledges which
bind a civilized people to an improved country. But the Germans,
who carried with them what they most valued, their arms, their
cattle, and their women, cheerfully abandoned the vast silence of
their woods for the unbounded hopes of plunder and conquest. The
innumerable swarms that issued, or seemed to issue, from the
great storehouse of nations, were multiplied by the fears of the
vanquished, and by the credulity of succeeding ages. And from
facts thus exaggerated, an opinion was gradually established, and
has been supported by writers of distinguished reputation, that,
in the age of Caesar and Tacitus, the inhabitants of the North
were far more numerous than they are in our days. ^38 A more
serious inquiry into the causes of population seems to have
convinced modern philosophers of the falsehood, and indeed the
impossibility, of the supposition. To the names of Mariana and
of Machiavel, ^39 we can oppose the equal names of Robertson and
Hume. ^40

[Footnote 36: The Helvetian nation, which issued from a country
called Switzerland, contained, of every age and sex, 368,000
persons, (Caesar de Bell. Gal. i. 29.) At present, the number of
people in the Pays de Vaud (a small district on the banks of the
Leman Lake, much more distinguished for politeness than for
industry) amounts to 112,591. See an excellent tract of M.
Muret, in the Memoires de la Societe de Born.]

[Footnote 37: Paul Diaconus, c. 1, 2, 3. Machiavel, Davila, and
the rest of Paul's followers, represent these emigrations too
much as regular and concerted measures.]

[Footnote 38: Sir William Temple and Montesquieu have indulged,
on this subject, the usual liveliness of their fancy.]

[Footnote 39: Machiavel, Hist. di Firenze, l. i. Mariana, Hist.
Hispan. l. v. c. 1]

[Footnote 40: Robertson's Charles V. Hume's Political Essays.
Note: It is a wise observation of Malthus, that these
nations "were not populous in proportion to the land they
occupied, but to the food they produced. They were prolific from
their pure morals and constitutions, but their institutions were
not calculated to produce food for those whom they brought into
being. - M - 1845.]

A warlike nation like the Germans, without either cities,
letters, arts, or money, found some compensation for this savage
state in the enjoyment of liberty. Their poverty secured their
freedom, since our desires and our possessions are the strongest
fetters of despotism. "Among the Suiones (says Tacitus) riches
are held in honor. They are therefore subject to an absolute
monarch, who, instead of intrusting his people with the free use
of arms, as is practised in the rest of Germany, commits them to
the safe custody, not of a citizen, or even of a freedman, but of
a slave. The neighbors of the Suiones, the Sitones, are sunk
even below servitude; they obey a woman." ^41 In the mention of
these exceptions, the great historian sufficiently acknowledges
the general theory of government. We are only at a loss to
conceive by what means riches and despotism could penetrate into
a remote corner of the North, and extinguish the generous flame
that blazed with such fierceness on the frontier of the Roman
provinces, or how the ancestors of those Danes and Norwegians, so
distinguished in latter ages by their unconquered spirit, could
thus tamely resign the great character of German liberty. ^42
Some tribes, however, on the coast of the Baltic, acknowledged
the authority of kings, though without relinquishing the rights
of men, ^43 but in the far greater part of Germany, the form of
government was a democracy, tempered, indeed, and controlled, not
so much by general and positive laws, as by the occasional
ascendant of birth or valor, of eloquence or superstition. ^44

[Footnote 41: Tacit. German. 44, 45. Freinshemius (who dedicated
his supplement to Livy to Christina of Sweden) thinks proper to
be very angry with the Roman who expressed so very little
reverence for Northern queens.
Note: The Suiones and the Sitones are the ancient
inhabitants of Scandinavia, their name may be traced in that of
Sweden; they did not belong to the race of the Suevi, but that of
the non-Suevi or Cimbri, whom the Suevi, in very remote times,
drove back part to the west, part to the north; they were
afterwards mingled with Suevian tribes, among others the Goths,
who have traces of their name and power in the isle of Gothland.
- G]
[Footnote 42: May we not suspect that superstition was the parent
of despotism? The descendants of Odin, (whose race was not
extinct till the year 1060) are said to have reigned in Sweden
above a thousand years. The temple of Upsal was the ancient seat
of religion and empire. In the year 1153 I find a singular law,
prohibiting the use and profession of arms to any except the
king's guards. Is it not probable that it was colored by the
pretence of reviving an old institution? See Dalin's History of
Sweden in the Bibliotheque Raisonneo tom. xl. and xlv.]

[Footnote 43: Tacit. Germ. c. 43.]

[Footnote 44: Id. c. 11, 12, 13, & c.]

Civil governments, in their first institution, are voluntary
associations for mutual defence. To obtain the desired end, it
is absolutely necessary that each individual should conceive
himself obliged to submit his private opinions and actions to the
judgment of the greater number of his associates. The German
tribes were contented with this rude but liberal outline of
political society. As soon as a youth, born of free parents, had
attained the age of manhood, he was introduced into the general
council of his countrymen, solemnly invested with a shield and
spear, and adopted as an equal and worthy member of the military
commonwealth. The assembly of the warriors of the tribe was
convened at stated seasons, or on sudden emergencies. The trial
of public offences, the election of magistrates, and the great
business of peace and war, were determined by its independent
voice. Sometimes indeed, these important questions were
previously considered and prepared in a more select council of
the principal chieftains. ^45 The magistrates might deliberate
and persuade, the people only could resolve and execute; and the
resolutions of the Germans were for the most part hasty and
violent. Barbarians accustomed to place their freedom in
gratifying the present passion, and their courage in overlooking
all future consequences, turned away with indignant contempt from
the remonstrances of justice and policy, and it was the practice
to signify by a hollow murmur their dislike of such timid
counsels. But whenever a more popular orator proposed to
vindicate the meanest citizen from either foreign or domestic
injury, whenever he called upon his fellow-countrymen to assert
the national honor, or to pursue some enterprise full of danger
and glory, a loud clashing of shields and spears expressed the
eager applause of the assembly. For the Germans always met in
arms, and it was constantly to be dreaded, lest an irregular
multitude, inflamed with faction and strong liquors, should use
those arms to enforce, as well as to declare, their furious
resolves. We may recollect how often the diets of Poland have
been polluted with blood, and the more numerous party has been
compelled to yield to the more violent and seditious. ^46

[Footnote 45: Grotius changes an expression of Tacitus,
pertractantur into Proetractantur. The correction is equally
just and ingenious.]
[Footnote 46: Even in our ancient parliament, the barons often
carried a question, not so much by the number of votes, as by
that of their armed followers.]

A general of the tribe was elected on occasions of danger;
and, if the danger was pressing and extensive, several tribes
concurred in the choice of the same general. The bravest warrior
was named to lead his countrymen into the field, by his example
rather than by his commands. But this power, however limited,
was still invidious. It expired with the war, and in time of
peace the German tribes acknowledged not any supreme chief. ^47
Princes were, however, appointed, in the general assembly, to
administer justice, or rather to compose differences, ^48 in
their respective districts. In the choice of these magistrates,
as much regard was shown to birth as to merit. ^49 To each was
assigned, by the public, a guard, and a council of a hundred
persons, and the first of the princes appears to have enjoyed a
preeminence of rank and honor which sometimes tempted the Romans
to compliment him with the regal title. ^50

[Footnote 47: Caesar de Bell. Gal. vi. 23.]

[Footnote 48: Minuunt controversias, is a very happy expression
of Caesar's.]
[Footnote 49: Reges ex nobilitate, duces ex virtute sumunt.
Tacit Germ. 7]
[Footnote 50: Cluver. Germ. Ant. l. i. c. 38.]

The comparative view of the powers of the magistrates, in
two remarkable instances, is alone sufficient to represent the
whole system of German manners. The disposal of the landed
property within their district was absolutely vested in their
hands, and they distributed it every year according to a new
division. ^51 At the same time they were not authorized to punish
with death, to imprison, or even to strike a private citizen. ^52
A people thus jealous of their persons, and careless of their
possessions, must have been totally destitute of industry and the
arts, but animated with a high sense of honor and independence.

[Footnote 51: Caesar, vi. 22. Tacit Germ. 26.]

[Footnote 52: Tacit. Germ. 7.]

Chapter IX: State Of Germany Until The Barbarians.

Part III.

The Germans respected only those duties which they imposed
on themselves. The most obscure soldier resisted with disdain
the authority of the magistrates. "The noblest youths blushed
not to be numbered among the faithful companions of some renowned
chief, to whom they devoted their arms and service. A noble
emulation prevailed among the companions, to obtain the first
place in the esteem of their chief; amongst the chiefs, to
acquire the greatest number of valiant companions. To be ever
surrounded by a band of select youths was the pride and strength
of the chiefs, their ornament in peace, their defence in war.
The glory of such distinguished heroes diffused itself beyond the
narrow limits of their own tribe. Presents and embassies
solicited their friendship, and the fame of their arms often
insured victory to the party which they espoused. In the hour of
danger it was shameful for the chief to be surpassed in valor by
his companions; shameful for the companions not to equal the
valor of their chief. To survive his fall in battle, was
indelible infamy. To protect his person, and to adorn his glory
with the trophies of their own exploits, were the most sacred of
their duties. The chiefs combated for victory, the companions
for the chief. The noblest warriors, whenever their native
country was sunk into the laziness of peace, maintained their
numerous bands in some distant scene of action, to exercise their
restless spirit, and to acquire renown by voluntary dangers.
Gifts worthy of soldiers - the warlike steed, the bloody and even
victorious lance - were the rewards which the companions claimed
from the liberality of their chief. The rude plenty of his
hospitable board was the only pay that he could bestow, or they
would accept. War, rapine, and the free-will offerings of his
friends, supplied the materials of this munificence. ^53 This
institution, however it might accidentally weaken the several
republics, invigorated the general character of the Germans, and
even ripened amongst them all the virtues of which barbarians are
susceptible; the faith and valor, the hospitality and the
courtesy, so conspicuous long afterwards in the ages of chivalry.

The honorable gifts, bestowed by the chief on his brave
companions, have been supposed, by an ingenious writer, to
contain the first rudiments of the fiefs, distributed after the
conquest of the Roman provinces, by the barbarian lords among
their vassals, with a similar duty of homage and military
service. ^54 These conditions are, however, very repugnant to the
maxims of the ancient Germans, who delighted in mutual presents;
but without either imposing, or accepting, the weight of
obligations. ^55

[Footnote 53: Tacit. Germ. 13, 14.]

[Footnote 54: Esprit des Loix, l. xxx. c. 3. The brilliant
imagination of Montesquieu is corrected, however, by the dry,
cold reason of the Abbe de Mably. Observations sur l'Histoire de
France, tom. i. p. 356.]
[Footnote 55: Gaudent muneribus, sed nec data imputant, nec
acceptis obligautur. Tacit. Germ. c. 21.]

"In the days of chivalry, or more properly of romance, all
the men were brave, and all the women were chaste;" and
notwithstanding the latter of these virtues is acquired and
preserved with much more difficulty than the former, it is
ascribed, almost without exception, to the wives of the ancient
Germans. Polygamy was not in use, except among the princes, and
among them only for the sake of multiplying their alliances.
Divorces were prohibited by manners rather than by laws.
Adulteries were punished as rare and inexpiable crimes; nor was
seduction justified by example and fashion. ^56 We may easily
discover that Tacitus indulges an honest pleasure in the contrast
of barbarian virtue with the dissolute conduct of the Roman
ladies; yet there are some striking circumstances that give an
air of truth, or at least probability, to the conjugal faith and
chastity of the Germans.
[Footnote 56: The adulteress was whipped through the village.
Neither wealth nor beauty could inspire compassion, or procure
her a second husband. 18, 19.]

Although the progress of civilization has undoubtedly
contributed to assuage the fiercer passions of human nature, it
seems to have been less favorable to the virtue of chastity,
whose most dangerous enemy is the softness of the mind. The
refinements of life corrupt while they polish the intercourse of
the sexes. The gross appetite of love becomes most dangerous
when it is elevated, or rather, indeed, disguised by sentimental
passion. The elegance of dress, of motion, and of manners, gives
a lustre to beauty, and inflames the senses through the
imagination. Luxurious entertainments, midnight dances, and
licentious spectacles, present at once temptation and opportunity
to female frailty. ^57 From such dangers the unpolished wives of
the barbarians were secured by poverty, solitude, and the painful
cares of a domestic life. The German huts, open, on every side,
to the eye of indiscretion or jealousy, were a better safeguard
of conjugal fidelity, than the walls, the bolts, and the eunuchs
of a Persian haram. To this reason another may be added, of a
more honorable nature. The Germans treated their women with
esteem and confidence, consulted them on every occasion of
importance, and fondly believed, that in their breasts resided a
sanctity and wisdom more than human. Some of the interpreters of
fate, such as Velleda, in the Batavian war, governed, in the name
of the deity, the fiercest nations of Germany. ^58 The rest of
the sex, without being adored as goddesses, were respected as the
free and equal companions of soldiers; associated even by the
marriage ceremony to a life of toil, of danger, and of glory. ^59
In their great invasions, the camps of the barbarians were filled
with a multitude of women, who remained firm and undaunted amidst
the sound of arms, the various forms of destruction, and the
honorable wounds of their sons and husbands. ^60 Fainting armies
of Germans have, more than once, been driven back upon the enemy,
by the generous despair of the women, who dreaded death much less
than servitude. If the day was irrecoverably lost, they well
knew how to deliver themselves and their children, with their own
hands, from an insulting victor. ^61 Heroines of such a cast may
claim our admiration; but they were most assuredly neither
lovely, nor very susceptible of love. Whilst they affected to
emulate the stern virtues of man, they must have resigned that
attractive softness, in which principally consist the charm and
weakness of woman. Conscious pride taught the German females to
suppress every tender emotion that stood in competition with
honor, and the first honor of the sex has ever been that of
chastity. The sentiments and conduct of these high-spirited
matrons may, at once, be considered as a cause, as an effect, and
as a proof of the general character of the nation. Female
courage, however it may be raised by fanaticism, or confirmed by
habit, can be only a faint and imperfect imitation of the manly
valor that distinguishes the age or country in which it may be

[Footnote 57: Ovid employs two hundred lines in the research of
places the most favorable to love. Above all, he considers the
theatre as the best adapted to collect the beauties of Rome, and
to melt them into tenderness and sensuality,]

[Footnote 58: Tacit. Germ. iv. 61, 65.]

[Footnote 59: The marriage present was a yoke of oxen, horses,
and arms. See Germ. c. 18. Tacitus is somewhat too florid on
the subject.]
[Footnote 60: The change of exigere into exugere is a most
excellent correction.]

[Footnote 61: Tacit. Germ. c. 7. Plutarch in Mario. Before the
wives of the Teutones destroyed themselves and their children,
they had offered to surrender, on condition that they should be
received as the slaves of the vestal virgins.]
The religious system of the Germans (if the wild opinions of
savages can deserve that name) was dictated by their wants, their
fears, and their ignorance. ^62 They adored the great visible
objects and agents of nature, the Sun and the Moon, the Fire and
the Earth; together with those imaginary deities, who were
supposed to preside over the most important occupations of human
life. They were persuaded, that, by some ridiculous arts of
divination, they could discover the will of the superior beings,
and that human sacrifices were the most precious and acceptable
offering to their altars. Some applause has been hastily
bestowed on the sublime notion, entertained by that people, of
the Deity, whom they neither confined within the walls of the
temple, nor represented by any human figure; but when we
recollect, that the Germans were unskilled in architecture, and
totally unacquainted with the art of sculpture, we shall readily
assign the true reason of a scruple, which arose not so much from
a superiority of reason, as from a want of ingenuity. The only
temples in Germany were dark and ancient groves, consecrated by
the reverence of succeeding generations. Their secret gloom, the
imagined residence of an invisible power, by presenting no
distinct object of fear or worship, impressed the mind with a
still deeper sense of religious horror; ^63 and the priests, rude
and illiterate as they were, had been taught by experience the
use of every artifice that could preserve and fortify impressions
so well suited to their own interest.
[Footnote 62: Tacitus has employed a few lines, and Cluverius one
hundred and twenty-four pages, on this obscure subject. The
former discovers in Germany the gods of Greece and Rome. The
latter is positive, that, under the emblems of the sun, the moon,
and the fire, his pious ancestors worshipped the Trinity in

[Footnote 63: The sacred wood, described with such sublime horror
by Lucan, was in the neighborhood of Marseilles; but there were
many of the same kind in Germany.

Note: The ancient Germans had shapeless idols, and, when
they began to build more settled habitations, they raised also
temples, such as that to the goddess Teufana, who presided over
divination. See Adelung, Hist. of Ane Germans, p 296 - G]

The same ignorance, which renders barbarians incapable of
conceiving or embracing the useful restraints of laws, exposes
them naked and unarmed to the blind terrors of superstition. The
German priests, improving this favorable temper of their
countrymen, had assumed a jurisdiction even in temporal concerns,
which the magistrate could not venture to exercise; and the
haughty warrior patiently submitted to the lash of correction,
when it was inflicted, not by any human power, but by the
immediate order of the god of war. ^64 The defects of civil
policy were sometimes supplied by the interposition of
ecclesiastical authority. The latter was constantly exerted to
maintain silence and decency in the popular assemblies; and was
sometimes extended to a more enlarged concern for the national
welfare. A solemn procession was occasionally celebrated in the
present countries of Mecklenburgh and Pomerania. The unknown
symbol of the Earth, covered with a thick veil, was placed on a
carriage drawn by cows; and in this manner the goddess, whose
common residence was in the Isles of Rugen, visited several
adjacent tribes of her worshippers. During her progress the
sound of war was hushed, quarrels were suspended, arms laid
aside, and the restless Germans had an opportunity of tasting the
blessings of peace and harmony. ^65 The truce of God, so often
and so ineffectually proclaimed by the clergy of the eleventh
century, was an obvious imitation of this ancient custom. ^66
[Footnote 64: Tacit. Germania, c. 7.]

[Footnote 65: Tacit. Germania, c. 40.]

[Footnote 66: See Dr. Robertson's History of Charles V. vol. i.
note 10.]
But the influence of religion was far more powerful to
inflame, than to moderate, the fierce passions of the Germans.
Interest and fanaticism often prompted its ministers to sanctify
the most daring and the most unjust enterprises, by the
approbation of Heaven, and full assurances of success. The
consecrated standards, long revered in the groves of
superstition, were placed in the front of the battle; ^67 and the
hostile army was devoted with dire execrations to the gods of war
and of thunder. ^68 In the faith of soldiers (and such were the
Germans) cowardice is the most unpardonable of sins. A brave man
was the worthy favorite of their martial deities; the wretch who
had lost his shield was alike banished from the religious and
civil assemblies of his countrymen. Some tribes of the north
seem to have embraced the doctrine of transmigration, ^69 others
imagined a gross paradise of immortal drunkenness. ^70 All
agreed, that a life spent in arms, and a glorious death in
battle, were the best preparations for a happy futurity, either
in this or in another world.

[Footnote 67: Tacit. Germania, c. 7. These standards were only
the heads of wild beasts.]

[Footnote 68: See an instance of this custom, Tacit. Annal. xiii.
[Footnote 69: Caesar Diodorus, and Lucan, seem to ascribe this
doctrine to the Gauls, but M. Pelloutier (Histoire des Celtes, l.
iii. c. 18) labors to reduce their expressions to a more orthodox

[Footnote 70: Concerning this gross but alluring doctrine of the
Edda, see Fable xx. in the curious version of that book,
published by M. Mallet, in his Introduction to the History of

The immortality so vainly promised by the priests, was, in
some degree, conferred by the bards. That singular order of men
has most deservedly attracted the notice of all who have
attempted to investigate the antiquities of the Celts, the
Scandinavians, and the Germans. Their genius and character, as
well as the reverence paid to that important office, have been
sufficiently illustrated. But we cannot so easily express, or
even conceive, the enthusiasm of arms and glory which they
kindled in the breast of their audience. Among a polished
people, a taste for poetry is rather an amusement of the fancy,
than a passion of the soul. And yet, when in calm retirement we
peruse the combats described by Homer or Tasso, we are insensibly
seduced by the fiction, and feel a momentary glow of martial
ardor. But how faint, how cold is the sensation which a peaceful
mind can receive from solitary study! It was in the hour of
battle, or in the feast of victory, that the bards celebrated the
glory of the heroes of ancient days, the ancestors of those
warlike chieftains, who listened with transport to their artless
but animated strains. The view of arms and of danger heightened

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