Jordanes (/dʒɔːrˈdeɪniːz/), also written Jordanis or,
uncommonly, Jornandes, was a 6th-century Eastern Roman bureaucrat
of Gothic extraction who turned his hand to history later in life.
Jordanes wrote Romana, about the history of Rome, but his best-known
work is his Getica, which was written in
Constantinople  about AD
551. It is the only extant ancient work dealing with the early
history of the Goths.
Jordanes was asked by a friend to write
Getica as a summary of a
multi-volume history of the
Goths by the statesman
had existed then but has since been lost.
Jordanes was selected for
his known interest in history, his ability to write succinctly[dubious
– discuss] 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 south-eastern
Other writers, e.g. Procopius, wrote works which are extant on the
later history of the Goths. As the only surviving work on Gothic
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
Cassiodorus had written, meaning that he must also have
relied on his own knowledge. Some of his statements are
4 See also
7 External links
Jordanes writes about himself almost in passing:
The Sciri, moreover, and the Sadagarii and certain of the Alani with
their leader, Candac by name, received
Scythia Minor and Lower Moesia.
Paria, the father of my father Alanoviiamuth (that is to say, my
grandfather), was secretary to this Candac as long as he lived. To his
sister's son Gunthigis, also called Baza, the Master of the Soldiery,
who was the son of Andag the son of Andela, who was descended from the
stock of the Amali, I also, Jordanes, although an unlearned man before
my conversion, was secretary.
Already in the Mommsen text edition of 1882, it was suggested that the
very long name of Jordanes' father should be split into two parts:
Alanovii Amuthis, both genitive forms. Jordanes' father's name would
then be Amuth. The preceding word should then belong to Candac,
signifying that he was an Alan. Mommsen, however, dismissed
suggestions to emend a corrupt text.
Paria was Jordanes' paternal grandfather.
Jordanes writes that he was
secretary to Candac, dux Alanorum, an otherwise unknown leader of the
Jordanes was notarius, or secretary to Gunthigis Baza, a magister
militum, nephew of Candac, 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.
The deeds of
Getae (here from Trajan's column) were
wrongly attributted to
Goths by Jordanes
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
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 had had the twelve volumes of the
History of the
Cassiodorus at home. Castalius would like a
short book about the subject, and
Jordanes obliges with an excerpt
based on memory, possibly supplemented with other material he had
access to. 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
Gothiscandza (25, 94), in a distant past. In the pen of
Jordanes, Herodotus' Getian demi-god
Zalmoxis becomes a king of the
Jordanes tells how the
Goths sacked "
Troy and Ilium" just
after they had recovered somewhat from the war with
They are also said to have encountered the Egyptian pharaoh Vesosis
(47). The less fictional part of Jordanes' 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
Jordanes concludes the work by stating that he writes to
honour those who were victorious over the
Goths after a history of
Several Romanian and American historians wrote about Jordanes' error
when considering that
Getae were Goths. A lot of historical data of
Getae were wrongly attributed to Goths.
Christensen A. S., Troya C. and Kulikowski M.,
demonstrated in their works that
Jordanes developed in
history of Getic and Dacian peoples mixed with a lot of fantastic
Caracalla (in 214) received "Geticus
Maximus" and "Quasi Gothicus" titles following battles with
Belisarius received "Geticus" title after battles against
Getic tribes and not against Goths.[clarification needed]
History of the Roman Empire
^ "Jordanes". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Columbia
University Press, 2012.
^ According to Schanz-Hosius (Geschichte der Römischen Literatur, 4,
vol. 2 (1920), pp. 115, 118) the best MSS of his work present his name
as Jordanes, as does the 'Geographus Ravennas'. Jordanis is a 'vulgar'
form that is also used, while Jornandes only appears in lesser MSS.
The form Jornandes, however, was often used in older publications.
Jordanes was a bishop (as is frequently assumed) and if he lived
in Italy (also frequently assumed), those elements of his background
have left no trace in his two histories" (Brian Croke (1987),
Cassiodorus and the
Getica of Jordanes", Classical Philology, 82: 119
Constantinople is "our city" (
^ He mentions the great plague of 542 as having occurred "nine years
Getica 104). Still, there are some modern scholars who opt for a
later date, see Peter Heather,
Goths and Romans 332-489, Oxford 1991,
pp. 47-49 (year 552), Walter Goffart, The Narrators of Barbarian
History, Princeton 1988, p. 98 (year 554).
^ Croke 1987.
^ Jordanes, Mierow, ed.,
^ Jordanes, De origine actibusque Getarum L
^ a b Arne Søby Christensen (2002), Cassiodorus, Jordanes, and the
History of the Goths. Studies in a Migration Myth,
Getica 132, 133, 138, noted by Croke 1987:125
^ James J. O'Donnell (1982), "The Aims of Jordanes", Historia, 31:
223–240, archived from the original on November 9, 2007
^ Walter Goffart, The Narrators of Barbarian History, Princeton 1988,
^ Pârvan, Vasile (1928). Dacia: An Outline of the Early Civilization
of the Carpatho-Danubian Countries. The University Press
^ Oțetea, Andrei (1970). The History of the Romanian people.
Scientific Pub. Hoose.
^ Ioan Bolovan, Florin Constantiniu, Paul E. Michelson, Ioan Aurel
Pop, Christian Popa, Marcel Popa, Kurt Treptow, A History of Romania,
Intl Specialized Book Service Inc. 1997
^ Arne Søby Christensen (2002), Cassiodorus, Jordanes, and the
History of the Goths. Studies in a Migration Myth
^ Carlo Troya, Storia d'Italia del medio-Evo - Napoli - Stamperia
reale - 1830 p.1331
^ M.Kulikowski, Rome’s Gothic Wars, p. 130,
Mierow, Charles Christopher, The Gothic History of Jordanes: In
English with an Introduction and a Commentary, 1915. Reprinted 2006.
Evolution Publishing, ISBN 978-1-889758-77-0. 
Carlo Troya (1842). Storia d'Italia del medio-evo (in Italian). Tip.
del Tasso stamp. reale. pp. 1331–. Retrieved 5 April
Kulikowski, Michael, Rome’s Gothic Wars, p. 130.
Arne Søby Christensen, Cassiodorus, Jordanes, and the History of the
Goths. Studies in a Migration Myth, 2002, ISBN 978-87-7289-710-3
Kai Brodersen, Könige im Karpatenbogen: Zur historischen Bedeutung
von Jordanes' Herrscherliste. In: Zeitschrift für Siebenbürgische
Landeskunde 36 (2013) pp. 129–146 (ISSN 0344-3418)
Jordanes at Project Gutenberg
Works by or about
Jordanes at Internet Archive
Jordanes, The Origins and Deeds of the Goths, translated by Charles C.
James J. O'Donell (1982), "The Aims of Jordanes", Historia, 31:
223–240, archived from the original on November 9, 2007
The Origins and Deeds of the Goths
Panodorus of Alexandria
Hesychius of Miletus
John of Ephesus
John of Epiphania
Liberatus of Carthage
Peter the Patrician
Theophanes of Byzantium
Trajan the Patrician
John of Antioch
Hippolytus of Thebes
Theophanes the Confessor
Nikephoros I of Constantinople
Leo the Deacon
Symeon the Metaphrast
Yahya of Antioch
Nikephoros Bryennios the Younger
Eustathius of Thessalonica
Nikephoros Kallistos Xanthopoulos
ISNI: 0000 0001 2030 3509
BNF: cb12215657t (data)