thumb|200px|The Mediterranean area 550 AD as Jordanes wrote his ''Getica''. The Eastern Roman Empire
, capital [[Constantinople, is shown in pink. Conquests of [[Justinian I]] shown in green.]]
Jordanes (), also written as Jordanis or Jornandes, was a 6th-century [[Eastern Roman]] bureaucrat widely believed to be of [[Goths|Gothic descent]] who became a historian later in life. Late in life he wrote two works, one on Roman history and the other on the Goths. The latter, along with Isidore of Seville's
'', it is one of only two extant ancient works dealing with the early history of the Goths
Other writers, such as Procopius
, wrote works that are extant on the later history of the Goths. ''Getica'' has been the object of much critical review. Jordanes wrote in Late Latin
rather than the classical Ciceronian
Latin. According to his own introduction, he had only three days to review what Cassiodorus had written, meaning that he must also have relied on his own knowledge.
Jordanes writes about himself almost in passing:
Paria was Jordanes's paternal grandfather. Jordanes writes that he was secretary to Candac, ''dux Alanorum'', an otherwise unknown leader of the Alans.
Jordanes was asked by a friend to write ''Getica'' as a summary of a multi-volume history of the Goths by the statesman Cassiodorus
that existed then but has since been lost. Jordanes was selected for his known interest in history and because of his own Gothic background. He had been a high-level ''notarius'', or secretary, of a small client state on the Roman frontier in Scythia Minor
, modern southeastern Romania
and northeastern Bulgaria
Jordanes was ''notarius'', or secretary to Gunthigis Baza, a nephew of Candac and a magister militum
of the leading Ostrogoth
clan of the Amali
This was ''ante conversionem meam'' ("before my conversion"). The nature and details of the conversion remain obscure. The Goths had been converted with the assistance of Ulfilas
(a Goth), made bishop on that account. However, the Goths had adopted Arianism
. Jordanes' conversion may have been a conversion to the trinitarian Nicene creed
, which may be expressed in anti-Arianism in certain passages in ''Getica''. In the letter to Vigilius he mentions that he was awakened ''vestris interrogationibus'' - "by your questioning".
Alternatively, Jordanes' ''conversio'' may mean that he had become a monk
, or a ''religiosus'', or a member of the clergy. Some manuscripts say that he was a bishop, some even say bishop of Ravenna
, but the name Jordanes is not known in the lists of bishops of Ravenna.
Jordanes wrote ''Romana
'', about the history of Rome
, but his best-known work is his ''Getica
'', which was written in Constantinople
about 551 AD.
Jordanes wrote his ''Romana
'' at the behest of a certain Vigilius. Although some scholars have identified this person with Pope Vigilius
, there is nothing else to support the identification besides the name. The form of address that Jordanes uses and his admonition that Vigilius "''turn to God
''" would seem to rule out this identification.
In the preface to his ''Getica
'', Jordanes writes that he is interrupting his work on the ''Romana'' at the behest of a brother Castalius, who apparently knew that Jordanes possessed the twelve volumes of the History of the Goths by Cassiodorus
. Castalius wanted a short book about the subject, and Jordanes obliged with an excerpt based on memory, possibly supplemented with other material to which he had access. The ''Getica'' sets off with a geography/ethnography of the North, especially of Scandza
(16–24). He lets the history of the Goths commence with the emigration of Berig
with three ships from Scandza to Gothiscandza
(25, 94), in a distant past. In the pen of Jordanes, Herodotus's Getian demigod Zalmoxis
becomes a king of the Goths (39). Jordanes tells how the Goths sacked "Troy
and Ilium" just after they had recovered somewhat from the war with Agamemnon
(108). They are also said to have encountered the Egyptian pharaoh Vesosis
(47). The less fictional part of Jordanes's work begins when the Goths encounter Roman military forces in the third century AD. The work concludes with the defeat of the Goths by the Byzantine general Belisarius
. Jordanes concludes the work by stating that he writes to honour those who were victorious over the Goths after a history spanning 2,030 years.
Several Romanian and American historians wrote about Jordanes's error when considering that Getae
were Goths. According to this interpretation, much of the historical data about Dacians
and Getae were wrongly attributed to Goths.
Arne Søby Christensen
and M. Kulikowski
[M. Kulikowski, Rome’s Gothic Wars, p. 130,]
argue in their works that Jordanes developed in ''Getica'' the history of Getic and Dacian peoples mixed with a lot of fantastic deeds. Caracalla
(in 214) received "Geticus Maximus" and "Quasi Gothicus" titles following battles with Getae and Goths.
*History of the Roman Empire
* Kulikowski, Michael, Rome's Gothic Wars, p. 130.
* Kai Brodersen
, Könige im Karpatenbogen: Zur historischen Bedeutung von Jordanes' Herrscherliste. In: Zeitschrift für Siebenbürgische Landeskunde 36 (2013) pp. 129–146 ()
* Jordanes''The Origins and Deeds of the Goths''
translated by Charles C. Mierowalternative
The Origins and Deeds of the Goths
Category:6th-century Byzantine people of Gothic descent
Category:6th-century Latin writers
Category:6th-century Byzantine writers