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PostSubject: Tacitus Sun Jan 03, 2016 10:15 am

This thread is created with the intention of sharing selections of Tacitus's Germania due to its culturally important nature. The translation is Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb.

Tacitus wrote:
"In their ancient songs, their only way of remembering or recording the past, they celebrate an earth-born god, Tuisco, and his son Mannus, as the origin of their race, as their founders. [Ch.2]

Tacitus wrote:
The name Germania, on the other hand, they say, is modern and newly introduced, from the fact that the tribes which first crossed the Rhine and drove out the Gauls, and are now called Tungrians, were then called Germans. Thus what was the name of a tribe, and not a race, gradually prevailed, till all called themselves by this self-invented name of Germans, which the conquerors had first employed to inspire terror. [Ch.2]

Tacitus wrote:
They have also those songs of theirs, by recital of which ("baritus," they call it), they rouse their courage, while from the note they augur the result of the approaching conflict. For, as their line shouts, they inspire or feel alarm. It is not so much an articulate sound, as a general cry of valour. They aim chiefly at a harsh note and a confused roar, putting their sheilds to their mouth, so that, by reverberation, it may swell into a fuller and deeper sound."[Ch.3]

Tacitus wrote:
"All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work. Heat and thirst they cannot in the least endure; to cold and hunger their climate and their soil inure them."[Ch.4]
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PostSubject: Re: Tacitus Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:27 am

Tacitus wrote:
Their country [...] is productive of grain, but unfavourable to fruit-bearing trees; it is rich in flocks and herds, but these are for the most part undersized, and even the cattle have not their usual beauty or noble head. It is number that is chiefly valued; they are in fact most highly prized, indeed the only riches of the people. Silver and gold the gods have refused to them, whether in kindness or in anger I cannot say [...] The border population, however, value gold and silver for their commercial utility [...] The tribes of the interior use the simpler and more ancient practice of the bart of commodities [...] They likewise prefer silver to gold, not from any special liking, but because a large number of silver pieces is more convenient for use among dealers in cheap and common articles. [Ch.5]

Tacitus wrote:
But few use swords or long lances. They carry a spear (framea is their name for it), with a narrow and short head, but so sharp and easy to weild that the same weapon serves according to circumstances, for close or distant conflict. As for the horse-soldier, he is satisfied with a shield and spear; the footsoldiers also scatter shoers of missiles, each man having several and hurling them to an immense distance, and being naked or lightly clad with a little cloak. [Ch.6]

Tacitus wrote:
To give ground, provided you return to the attack, is considered prudence rather than cowardice. [Ch.6]

Tacitus wrote:
To abandon your shield is the basest of crimes; nor may a man thus disgraced be present at the sacred rites, or enter their council; many, indeed, after escaping from battle, have ended their infamy with the halter. [Ch.6]
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PostSubject: Re: Tacitus Tue Jan 05, 2016 7:57 am

Tacitus wrote:
They choose their kings by birth, their generals for merit. These kings have not unlimited or arbitrary power, and the generals do more by example than by authority. If thy are energetic, if they are conspicuous, if they fight in the front, they lead because they are admired. But to reprimand, to imprison, even to flog, is permitted to the priests alone, and that not as punishment, or at the general's bidding, but, as it were, by the mandate of god whom they believe to inspire the warrior. They also carry with them into battle certain figures and images taken from their sacred groves. And what most stimulates their courage is, that their squadrons or battalions, instead of being formed by chance or fortuitous gathering, are composed of families and clans. Close by them, too, are those dearest to them, so that they hear the shrieks of women, the cries of infants. They are to every man the most sacred witness of his bravery — they are his most generous applauders. The soldier brings his wounds to mother and wife, who shrink not from counting or even demanding them and who administer both food and encouragement to the combatants. [Ch.7]

Tacitus wrote:
Tradition says that armies already wavering and giving way have been rallied by women who, with earnest entreaties and bosoms laid bare, have vividly represented the horrors of captivity, which the Germans fear with such extreme dread on behalf of their women, that the strongest tie by which a state can be bound is the being required to give, among the number of hostages, maidens of noble birth. They even believe that the sex has a certain sanctity and prescience, and they do not despise their counsels, or make light of their answers. In Vespian's days we saw Veleda, long regarded by many as a divinity. In former times, too, they venerated Aurinia, and many other women, but not with servile flatteries, or with sham deification. [Ch.8]
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PostSubject: Re: Tacitus Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:27 am

Tacitus wrote:
They consecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to the abstraction which they see only in spiritual worship. [Ch.9]

Tacitus wrote:
The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. [Ch.9]

Tacitus wrote:
About minor matters the chiefs deliberate, about the more important the whole tribe. Yet even when the final decision rests with the people, the affair is always thoroughly discussed by the chiefs. [Ch.11]

Tacitus wrote:
When the multitude think proper, they sit down armed. Silence is proclaimed by the priests, who have on these occasions the right of keeping order. Then the king or the chief, according to age, birth, distinction in war, or eloquence is heard, more because he has influence to persuade than because he has power to command. If his sentiments displease them, they reject them with murmurs; if they are satisfied they brandish their spears. The most complimentary form of assent is to express approbation with their weapons. [Ch.11]

Tacitus wrote:
In these same councils they also elect the chief magistrates, who administer law in the cantons and the towns. Each of these has a hundred associates chosen from the people, who support him with their advice and influence. [Ch.12]

Tacitus wrote:
Traitors and deserters are hanged on trees. [Ch.12]

Tacitus wrote:
[T]he coward, the unwarlike, the man stained with abominable vices, is plunged into a mire of the morass, with a hurdle put over him. [Ch.12]

Tacitus wrote:
This distinction in punishment means that crime, they think, ought, in being punished, to be exposed, while infamy ought to be buried out of sight. [Ch.12]
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PostSubject: Re: Tacitus Thu Jul 14, 2016 2:56 pm

Another Translation.

Tacitus wrote:
"They have likewise the tradition of a Hercules of their country ; whose praises they sing before those of all other heroes as they advance to battle.
A peculiar kind of verses are also current among them, by the recital of which, termed barding, they stimulate their courage ; while the sound itself serves as an augury of the event of the impending combat. For according to the nature of the cry proceeding from the line, terror is inspired or felt: nor does it seem so much a musical exercise, as the chorus of valour. A harsh, piercing note, and a broken murmur, are chiefly effected; which they render more full and sonorous by applying their mouths to their shields.

They conceive it unworthy the grandeur of celestial beings to confine their deities within walls, or to represent them under a human similitude: woods and groves are their temples; and they affix names of divinity to that secret power, which they behold with the eye of adoration alone.

No people are more addicted to the methods of divining by omens and lots. The latter is performed in the following simple manner. They cut a twig from a fruit-tree, and divide it into small pieces,
which, distinguished by certain marks, are thrown promiscuously upon a white garment. Then, the priest of the state, if the occasion be public ; if private, the master of the family; after an invocation of the gods, with his eyes lifted up to heaven, thrice takes out each piece, and, as they come up, interprets their signification according to the marks fixed upon them. If they prove unfavourable, they are no more consulted on the same aftair that day: if propitious, a confirmation by omens is still required. In common with other nations, the Germans are acquainted with the practice of auguring from the voices and flight of birds ; but it is peculiar to them also to derive admonitions and presages from horses.

Certain of these animals, milk- white, and untouched by earthly labour, are pastured at the public expence in the sacredwoodsandgroves. These,yokedto a consecrated chariot, are accompanied by the priest, and king, or chief person of the community, who attentively observe their manner of neighing and snorting ; and no kind of augury is more credited, not only among the populace, but the nobles and priests. For they consider themselves [during this ceremony] as the ministers of the gods ; and the horses, as conscious to the divine will.

Another kind of divination by which they explore the event of momentous wars, is to oblige a prisoner, taken by any means whatsoever from the nation with whom they are at variance, to fight with a picked man of their own, each with his own country arms; and, according- as the victory falls, they presage success to one or the other party." [Germania]

Tacitus wrote:
"That the woman may not think herself excused from exertions of fortitude, or exempt from the casualties of war, she is admonished by the very ceremonial of her marriage, that she comes to her husband as a partner in toils and dangers; an equal both to sufier and to dare, in peace and in war : this is indicated by the yoked oxen, the harnessed steed, the offered arms. Thus she is to live ; thus to die. She receives what she is to return inviolate and merited to her children ; what her daughters-in-law are to receive, and again transmit to her grand-children.

They live, therefore, in a state of well-guarded chastity; corrupted by no seducing spectacles, no convivial incitements. Men and women are alike ignorant of the secret methods of corresponding by letters". Adultery is extremely rare among so numerous a people. Its punishment is instant, and at the pleasure of the husband. He cuts off the hair of the offender, strips her, and in presence of her relations expels her from his house, and pursues her with stripes through the whole village. Nor is any indulgence shewn to a prostitute. Neither beauty, youth, nor riches, can procure her a husband : for none there looks on vice with a smile, nor calls mutual seduction the way of the world. Still more
exemplary is the practice of those states in which none but virgins marry, and the expectations and wishes of a wife are at once brought to a period. Thus they take one husband as one body and one life; that no thought, no desire, may reach beyond him ; and he may be loved not only as their husband, but as their marriage. To limit the increase of children or put to death any of the husband's blood is accounted infamous: and virtuous manners have there more efficacy than good laws elsewhere.

Horses are solemnly bequeathed by parents along with the domestics, the household goods, and the rights of inheritance: they do not, however, like other things, go to the eldest son, but to the bravest and most warlike." [Germania]

Tacitus wrote:
"A custom followed among the other German nations only by a few individuals, of a more daring spirit than the rest, is adopted by general consent among the Catti. From the time they arrive at years of maturity, they let their hair and beard grow'; and do not lay aside this votive badge, consecrated to valour, till they have slain an enemy. Over blood and spoils they vniveil the countenance, and declare that "they have at length paid the debt of existence, and have proved themselves worthy of their country and parents." The cowardly and effeminate continue in their squalid disguise. The bravest among them wear also an iron ring (a mark of ignominy in that nation) as a kind of chain, till they have released themselves by the slaughter of a foe.
The iron ring seems to have been a badge of slavery. This custom was revived in later times, but rather with a gallant than a military intention. Thus, in the year 1414, John, Duke of Bourbon, in order to ingratiate himself with his mistress, vowed, together vyith sixteen knights and gentlemen, that they would wear, he and the knights a gold ring, the gentlemen a silver one, round their left legs, every Sunday for two years, till they had met with an equal number of knights and gentlemen to contend with them in a tournament. [Vertot Mem.de l'Acad, des lnscr.Tom.ii.p.595.]

Many of the Catti choose tliis distinction, and grow hoary under such insignia marked out both to foes and friends. By these, in every engagement, the attack is begun: their's is the front of the battle, offering a new spectacle of terror. Even in peace they do not relax the severity of their appearance. They have no house, land, or domestic cares: they are maintained by whomsoever they visit; lavish of another's property, regardless of their own; till the languor of old age renders them unequal to such a rigid course of military virtue." [Germania]

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"ἐδιζησάμην ἐμεωυτόν." [Heraclitus]

"All that exists is just and unjust and equally justified in both." [Aeschylus, Prometheus]

"The history of everyday is constituted by our habits. ... How have you lived today?" [N.]

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