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BoH: Germania notes - Marcomani and Quadi

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  • Carolyn Reyes
    From the Commentary on Tacitus s _Germania_ by J.B. Rives; ISBN 0199240000 Edited and Abridged by R. Riedlinger for Heathenhistory (42.1) Next to the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 1, 2003
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      From the Commentary on Tacitus's _Germania_
      by J.B. Rives; ISBN 0199240000
      Edited and Abridged by R. Riedlinger for Heathenhistory

      (42.1) Next to the Hermunduri live the Naristi and then the
      Marcomani and Quadi. The Marcomani are outstanding in glory
      and strength, and even obtained their very homeland through
      valour, having long ago expelled the Boii; nor do the Naristi and
      Quadi fall short. This so to speak is the front of Germania, so
      far as defined by the Danube.

      Tacitus is the earliest extant writer to mention [the Naristi], who
      are probably identical with the 'Varistoi' of Ptolemy. Many
      commentators place the tribe in the valley of the Regen river.
      They joined the Marcomanni in their wars with the Romans. The
      tribal name, with its alternate forms, does not seem to have been
      Germanic in origin.

      Marcomani: Although the spelling with a double 'n' is usually
      adopted in modern discussions, it seems to have been a later
      development, with Tacitus and earlier writers using a single 'n'.
      The name is definitely Germanic, literally 'march-men', that is,
      the inhabitants of a border region. Given that their later settlements
      in Bohemia show them to have belonged to the Elbe cultural
      grouping, it is likely that they were among the peoples who in
      the first century bc had pushed westwards from that region. They
      are generally thought to have settled in the upper Main valley.
      This might also explain their name, since from the point of view
      of other Elbe peoples they would have been living on a frontier.
      It is possible that the first people to carry this name did not
      constitute a real tribe at all, but were simply small groups of
      warriors; it was over the second half of the first century bc that
      they developed into a tribe.

      Probably in 9 bc, the Marcomanni suffered a great defeat at the
      hands of Drusus. As a result, they abandoned their territory on the
      upper Main, and under the leadership of Maroboduus established
      a new homeland in Bohemia. From this base Maroboduus
      built up a powerful kingdom that had close relations with Rome.

      In ad 19 the leading men of the tribe expelled Maroboduus and
      replaced him with a young exile named Catualda, who was in turn
      driven out shortly afterwards with the help of the Hermunduri. At
      this point the Romans intervened, setting up as king Vannius of
      the Quadi, whose rule lasted some thirty years. Under Vannius the
      Marcomanni may have moved from Bohemia down to Moravia and
      Slovakia. In ad 50, Vannius was expelled from his kingdom by his
      nephews Vangio and Sido and the Hermunduran king Vibilius; the
      nephews divided the kingdom between them.

      For most of the first century ad, then, the Marcomanni had close
      and generally friendly ties with the Romans. Under Domitian,
      however, relations clearly soured. Thereafter relations between the
      Marcomanni and the Romans seem to have been peaceful until the
      great wars under in ad 166-73 and 177—80. The Marcomanni
      continue to appear in the historical record into the fifth century ad.

      Quadi: This tribe for the most part have a very low profile in the
      historical record. They first appear as the tribe of Vannius in
      ad c.20, whose subjects were settled 'beyond the Danube,
      between the Marus and Cusus rivers', generally thought to be the
      Morava and the Vah. From this point on the fortunes of the Quadi
      were closely bound up with those of the Marcomanni, so that the
      sources often speak of both tribes together as 'Suebi'. Their origin
      is obscure. Since archaeological evidence indicates that the
      settlements in Moravia and Slovakia were part oftlie Elbe complex,
      the Quadi were probably among the peoples who followed Maroboduus
      in his trek east, although they may not have acquired a distinct
      identity until they inhabited their new homelands.

      It is uncertain whether the Marcomanni were responsible for the
      expulsion of the Boii from Bohemia, since a sharp decline in Celtic
      burials at the beginning of the first century bc suggests an emigration
      as early as that date.

      (42.2) Down to our own day the Marcomani and Quadi have had
      kings from their own tribe, the noble line of Maroboduus and Tudrus;
      now they also allow foreigners. But the kings derive their power and
      influence from the authority of Rome: they are occasionally aided by
      our armies, more often by our money, yet their strength is none the

      Although we know many of the Marcomannic rulers in the first
      century ad, we hear nothing of another from the same family as
      Maroboduus; Tudrus is otherwise unknown.

      Maroboduus: The great leader of the Marcomanni, who in the reign
      of Augustus built up a powerful kingdom in the Elbe region.
      He had as a young man spent time in Rome, where he won the
      favour of Augustus and no doubt learned much at first hand about
      Roman organization and government. On his return to the Marcomanni,
      probably in the last decade bc, he became their chief, and led them
      to new territory in Bohemia. Roman writers stress that his rule was
      unusual among the Germani: it was not so dependent on special
      circumstances and popular approval, but was 'a defined power and
      a regal force', presumably based on his disciplined bodyguard.
      From his base in Bohemia he acquired hegemony over a number of
      tribes, including the Lugii, the Semnones, and the Langobardi.

      from the authority of Rome: The evidence suggests that Rome
      played an important, if sometimes indirect, role in the selection of
      Marcomannic kings.

      our money: Tacitus elsewhere records several examples of the
      Romans refusing to send military aid to northern tribes.
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