"Gothi" (timeline)

JoatSimeon at aol.com JoatSimeon at aol.com
Fri Mar 2 23:51:17 UTC 2001

In a message dated 3/2/01 4:39:42 PM Mountain Standard Time, X99Lynx at aol.com

> Throughout this time, <Gothi> and <Getae> are often taken by contemporaries
> to be alternative versions of the same name for the same people, although
> Getae is a much older form used by Herodotus, Strabo and others to refer to
> peoples north of the eastern Danube taken to be Thracian or Dacian or even
> Scythian at different times.  The Goths themselves are also often referred
> to as Scythians, according to Heather.

-- you have to take into account the difference between writers with actual
knowledge of the transfrontier peoples, and those working 'from the book', to
whom the older source invariably takes precedence over the newer, common
sense be damned.

And the incredible unwillingness of intellectuals in Late Antiquity to admit
that anything had changed since the Classical period, plus their equally
incredible taste for florid anachronism in rhetoric.  Digging out and using,
however inappropriately, ancient terminology was a main way of 'scoring
points' off rivals.

The general assumption of writers writing for other scholars in those times
was that obscurity was a mark of high style, and that stylistic flourishes
were almost infinitely more important than factual accuracy.  The whole
emphasis of their educational system encouraged this outlook.

There's a revealing story about Marcus Aurelius and his staff, in the middle
of a campaign against the Allemanni, taking time off to argue over the form
of an obscure verb in Homer... and the writer thought this was an entirely
praiseworthy episode, worthy of recording for posterity.

And that was before the attitude got completely out of control, in the 4th
and 5th centuries.

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