Historia Langobardorum
HISTORY OF THE LANGOBARDS
by Paul the Deacon (Paulus Diaconus)
and

Origio Gentis Langobardorum

 

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The translation below speaks of hardships and adventure in ancient Europe. Thankfully today, someone's hardest choice might be having to decide which floral arrangement to send through Avas Flowers or choosing between the abundance of food options in the local market. As you read these passages, you will undoubtedly come to understand why the descendants of the Lombards are such a strong and flourishing group of people.


Late 8th century
Latin Text

1907
English Translation
by William Dudley Foulke
LIBER PRIMUS  BOOK ONE
 1. Septemtrionalis plaga quanto magis ab aestu solis remota est et nivali frigore gelida, tanto salubrior corporibus hominum et propagandis est gentibus coaptata; sicut econtra omnis meridiana regio, quo solis est fervori vicinior, eo semper morbis habundat et educandis minus est apta mortalibus. Unde fit, ut tantae populorum multitudines arctoo sub axe oriantur, ut non inmerito universa illa regio Tanai tenus usque ad occiduum, licet et propriis loca in ea singula nuncupentur nominibus, generali tamen vocabulo Germania vocitetur; quamvis et duas ultra Rhenum provincias Romani, cum ea loca occupassent, superiorem inferioremque Germaniam dixerint. Ab hac ergo populosa Germania saepe innumerabiles captivorum turmae abductae meridianis populis pretio distrahuntur. Multae quoque ex ea, pro eo quod tantos mortalium germinat, quantos alere vix sufficit, saepe gentes egressae sunt, quae nihilominus et partes Asiae, sed maxime sibi contiguam Europam afflixerunt. Testantur hoc ubique urbes erutae per totam Illyricum Galliamque, sed maxime miserae Italiae, quae paene omnium illarum est gentium experta saevitiam. Gothi siquidem Wandalique, Rugi, Heruli atque Turcilingi, necnon etiam et aliae feroces et barbarae nationes e Germania prodierunt. Pari etiam modo et Winilorum, hoc est Langobardorum, gens, quae postea in Italia feliciter regnavit, a Germanorum populis originem ducens, licet et aliae causae egressionis eorum asseverentur, ab insula quae Scadinavia dicitur adventavit.
1. The region of the north, in proportion as it is removed from the heat of the sun and is chilled with snow and frost, is so much the more healthful to the bodies of men and fitted for the propagation of nations, just as, on the other hand, every southern region, the nearer it is to the heat of the sun, the more it abounds in diseases and is less fitted for the bringing up of the human race. From this it happens that such great multitudes of peoples spring up in the north, and that that entire region from the Tanais (Don) to the west (although single places in it are designated by their own names) yet the whole is not improperly called by the general name of Germany. The Romans, however, when they occupied those parts, called the two provinces beyond the Rhine, Upper and Lower Germany. From this teeming Germany then, innumerable troops of captives are often led away and sold for gain to the people of the South. And for the reason that it brings forth so many human beings that it can scarcely nourish them, there have frequently emigrated from it many nations that have indeed become the scourge of portions of Asia, but especially of the parts of Europe which lie next to it. Everywhere ruined cities throughout all Illyria and Gaul testify to this, but most of all in unhappy Italy which has felt the cruel rage of nearly all these nations. The Goths indeed, and the Wandals, the Rugii, Heroli, and Turcilingi, and also other fierce and barbarous nations have come from Germany. In like manner also the race of Winnili, that is, of Langobards, which afterwards ruled prosperously in Italy, deducing its origin from the German peoples, came from the island which is called Scadinavia, although other causes of their emigration are also alleged.
2. Cuius insulae etiam Plinius Secundus in libris quos De natura rerum conposuit, mentionem facit. Haec igitur insula, sicut retulerunt nobis qui eam lustraverunt, non tam in mari est posita, quam marinis fluctibus propter planitiem marginum terras ambientibus circumfusa. Intra hanc ergo constituti populi dum in tantam multitudinem pullulassent, ut iam simul habitare non valerent, in tres, ut fertur, omnem catervam partes dividentes, quae ex illis pars patriam relinquere novasque deberet sedes exquirere, sorte perquirunt. 2. Pliny the Second also makes mention of this island in the books which he composed concerning the nature of things. This island then, as those who have examined it have related to us, is not so much placed in the sea as it is washed about by the sea waves which encompass the land on account of the flatness of the shores. Since, therefore, the peoples established within the island had grown to so great a multitude that they could not now dwell together, they divided their whole troop into three parts, as is said, and determined by lot which part of them had to forsake their country and seek new abodes.
3. Igitur ea pars, cui sors dederat genitale solum excedere exteraque arva sectari, ordinatis super se duobus ducibus, Ibor scilicet et Aione, qui et germani erant et iuvenili aetate floridi et ceteris praestantiores, ad exquirendas quas possint incolere terras sedesque statuere, valedicentes suis simul et patriae, iter arripiunt. Horum erat ducum mater nomine Gambara, mulier quantum inter suos et ingenio acris et consiliis provida; de cuius in rebus dubiis prudentia non minimum confidebant. 3. Therefore that section to which fate had assigned the abandonment of their native soil and the search for foreign fields, after two leaders had been appointed over them, to wit: Ibor and Aio, who were brothers, in the bloom of youthful vigor and more eminent than the rest, said farewell to their own people, as well as their country, and set out upon their way to seek for lands where they might dwell and establish their abodes. The mother of these leaders, Gambara by name, was a woman of the keenest ability and most prudent in counsel among her people, and they trusted not a little to her shrewdness in doubtful matters. 

4. Haud ab re esse arbitror, paulisper narrandi ordinem postponere, et quia adhuc stilus in Germania vertitur, miraculum, quod illic apud omnes celebre habetur, sed et quaedam alia, breviter intimare. In extremis circium versus Germaniae finibus, in ipso Oceani litore, antrum sub eminenti rupe conspicitur, ubi septem viri, incertum ex quo tempore, longo sopiti sopore quiescunt, ita inlaesis non solum corporibus, sed etiam vestimentis, ut ex hoc ipso, quod sine ulla per tot annorum curricula corruptione perdurant, apud indociles easdem et barbaras nationes veneratione habeantur. Hi denique, quantum ad habitum spectat, Romani esse cernuntur. E quibus dum unum quidam cupiditate stimulatus vellet exuere, mox eius, ut dicitur, brachia aruerunt, poenaque sua ceteros perterruit, ne quis eos ulterius contingere auderet. Videris, ad quod eos profectum per tot tempora providentia divina conservet. Fortasse horum quandoque, quia non aliter nisi Christiani esse putantur, gentes illae praedicatione salvandae sunt.

4.    I do not think it is without advantage to put off for a little while the order of my narrative, and because my pen up to this time deals with Germany, to relate briefly a miracle which is there considered notable among all, as well as certain other matters. In the farthest boundaries of Germany toward the west-northwest, on the shore of the ocean itself, a cave is seen under a projecting rock, where for an unknown time seven men repose wrapped in a long sleep, not only their bodies, but also their clothes being so uninjured, that from this fact alone, that they last without decay through the course of so many years, they are held in veneration among those ignorant and barbarous peoples. These then, so far as regards their dress, are perceived to be Romans. When a certain man, stirred by cupidity, wanted to strip one of them, straightway his arms withered, as is said, and his punishment so frightened the others that no one dared touch them further. The future will show for what useful purpose Divine Providence keeps them through so long a period. Perhaps those nations are to be saved some time by the preaching of these men, since they cannot be deemed to be other than Christians.    
 

5. Huic loco Scritobini, sic enim gens illa nominatur, vicini sunt. Qui etiam aestatis tempore nivibus non carent, nec aliud, utpote feris ipsis ratione non dispares, quam crudis agrestium animantium carnibus vescuntur; de quorum etiam hirtis pellibus sibi indumenta coaptant. Hi a saliendo iuxta linguam barbaram ethimologiam ducunt. Saltibus enim utentes, arte quadam ligno incurvo ad arcus similitudinem feras assequuntur. Apud hos est animal cervo non satis absimile, de cuius ego corio, ut fuerat pilis hispidum, vestem in modum tunicae genu tenus aptatam conspexi, sicut iam fati, ut relatum est, Scritobini, utuntur. Quibus in locis circa aestivale solstitium per aliquot dies etiam noctu clarissima lux cernitur, diesque ibi multo maiores quam alibi habentur; sicut e contrario circa brumale solstitium, quamvis diei lux adsit, sol tamen ibi non videtur, diesque minimi, quam usquam alibi, noctes quoque longiores existunt; quia scilicet, quanto magis a sole longius disceditur, tanto sol ipse terrae vicinior apparet et umbrae longiores excrescunt. Denique in Italia, sicut et antiqui scripserunt, circa diem Natalis Domini novem pedes in umbra staturae humanae hora sexta metiuntur. Ego autem in Gallia Belgica in loco qui Totonis villa dicitur constitutus, status mei umbram metiens, decem et novem et semis pedes inveni. Sic quoque contrario modo, quanto propinquius meridiem versus ad solem acceditur, tantum semper umbrae breviores videntur, in tantum ut solstitio aestivali, respiciente sole de medio caeli, in Aegypto et Hierosolimis et in eorum vicinitate constitutis locis nullae videantur umbrae. In Arabia vero hoc ipso tempore sol supra medium caeli ad partem aquilonis cernitur, umbraeque versa vice contra meridiem videntur.

5. The Scritobini, for thus that nation is called, are neighbors to this place. They are not without snow even in the summer time, and since they do not differ in nature from wild beasts themselves, they feed only upon the raw flesh of wild animals from whose shaggy skins also they fit garments for themselves. They deduce the etymology of their name according to their barbarous language from jumping. For by making use of leaps and bounds they pursue wild beasts very skillfully with a piece of wood bent in the likeness of a bow. Among them there is an animal not very unlike a stag, from whose hide, while it was rough with hairs, I saw a coat fitted in the manner of a tunic down to the knees, such as the aforesaid Scritobini use, as has been related. In these places about the summer solstice, a very bright light is seen for some days, even in the night time, and the days are much longer there than elsewhere, just as, on the other hand, about the winter solstice, although the light of day is present, yet the sun is not seen there and the days are shorter than anywhere else and the nights too are longer, and this is because the further we turn from the sun the nearer the sun itself appears to the earth and the longer the shadows grow. In short, in Italy (as the ancients also have written) about the day of the birth of our Lord, human statures at twelve o'clock measure in shadow nine feet. But when I was stationed in Belgic Gaul in a place which is called Villa Totonis (Dietenhofen, Thionville) and measured the shadow of my stature, I found it nineteen and a half feet. Thus also on the contrary the nearer we come to the sun toward midday the shorter always appear the shadows, so much so that at the summer solstice when the sun looks down from the midst of heaven in Egypt and Jerusalem and the places situated in their neighborhood, no shadows may be seen. But in Arabia at this same time the sun at its highest point is seen on the northern side and the shadows on the other hand appear towards the south.

6. Nec satis procul ab hoc de quo praemisimus litore, contra occidentalem partem, qua sine fine Oceanum pelagus patet, profundissima aquarum illa vorago est, quam usitato nomine maris umbilicum vocamus. Quae bis in die fluctus absorbere et rursum evomere dicitur, sicut per universa illa litora accedentibus ac recedentibus fluctibus celeritate nimia fieri comprobatur. Huiusmodi vorago sive vertigo a poeta Virgilio Carybdis appellatur; quam ille in freto Siculo esse suo in carmine loquitur, hoc modo dicens : Dextrum Scylla latus, laevum implacata Carybdis Obsidet, atque imo baratri ter gurgite vastos Sorbet in abruptum fluctus, rursusque sub auras Erigit alternos, et sidera verberat unda. Ab hac sane de qua diximus vertigine saepe naves raptim cursimque adtrahi adfirmantur tanta celeritate, ut sagittarum per aera lapsus imitari videantur; et nonnumquam in illo baratro horrendo nimis exitu pereunt. Saepe cum iam iamque mergendae sint, subitis undarum molibus retroactae, tanta rursus agilitate exinde elongantur, quanta prius adtractae sunt. Adfirmant, esse et aliam huiusmodi voraginem inter Brittaniam insulam Galliciamque provinciam; cui etiam rei adstipulantur Sequanicae Aquitaniaeque litora; quae bis in die tam subitis inundationibus opplentur, ut, qui fortasse aliquantulum introrsus a litore repertus fuerit, evadere vix possit. Videas earum regionum flumina fontem versus cursu velocissimo relabi ac per multorum milium spatia dulces fluminum lymphas in amaritudinem verti. Triginta ferme a Sequanico litore Evodia insula milibus distat. In qua, sicut ab illius incolis adseveratur, vergentium in eandem Carybdin aquarum garrulitas auditur. Audivi quendam nobilissimum Gallorum referentem, quod aliquantae naves prius tempestate convulsae, postmodum ab hac eadem Carybdi voratae sunt. Unus autem solummodo ex omnibus viris qui in navibus illis fuerant, morientibus ceteris, dum adhuc spirans fluctibus supernataret, vi aquarum labentium abductus, ad oram usque inmanissimi illius baratri pervenit. Qui cum iam profundissimum et sine fine patens chaos aspiceret, ipsoque pavore praemortuus se illuc ruiturum exspectaret, subito, quod sperare non poterat, saxo quodam superiectus insedit. Decursis siquidem iam omnibus quae sorbendae erant aquis, orae illius fuerant margines denu dati; dumque ibi inter tot angustias anxius vix ob metum palpitans resideret, dilatamque ad modicum mortem nihilominus opperiretur, conspicit ecce subito quasi magnos aquarum montes de profundo resilire navesque, quae absortae fuerant, primas emergere. Cumque una ex illis ei contigua fieret, ad eam se nisu quo potuit adprehendit; nec mora, celeri volatu prope litus advectus, metuendae necis casus evasit, proprii postmodum periculi relator exsistens. Nostrum quoque, id est Adriaticum, mare, quod licet minus, similiter tamen Venetiarum Histriaeque litora pervadit, credibile est, parvos huiusmodi occultosque habere meatus, quibus et recedentes aquae sorbeantur et rursum invasurae litora revomantur. His ita praelibatis, ad coeptam narrandi seriem redeamus.

6. Not very far from this shore of which we have spoken, toward the western side, on which the ocean main lies open without end, is that very deep whirlpool of waters which we call by its familiar name " the navel of the sea." This is said to suck in the waves and spew them forth again twice every day, as is proved to be done by the excessive swiftness with which the waves advance and recede along all those shores. A whirlpool or maelstrom of this kind is called by the poet Virgil "Charybdis" which he says in his poem is in the Sicilian strait, speaking of it in this way: "Scylla the right hand besets, and the left, the relentless Charybdis; Thrice in the whirl of the deepest abyss it swallows the vast waves Headlong, and lifts them again in turn one after another Forth to the upper air, and lashes the stars with the bellows". Ships are alleged to be often violently and swiftly dragged in by this whirlpool (of which indeed we have spoken) with such speed that they seem to imitate the fall of arrows through the air, and sometimes they perish by a very dreadful end in that abyss. But often when they are upon the very point of being overwhelmed they are hurled back by the sudden masses of waves and driven away again with as great speed as they were first drawn in. They say there is another whirlpool of this kind between the island of Britain and the province of Galicia, and with this fact the coasts of the Seine region and of Aquitaine agree, for they are filled twice a day with such sudden inundations that any one who may by chance be found only a little inward from the shore can hardly get away. You may see the rivers of these regions falling back with a very swift current toward their source, and the fresh waters of the streams turning salt through the spaces of many miles. The island of Evodia (Alderney) is almost thirty miles distant from the coast of the Seine region, and in this island, as its inhabitants declare, is heard the noise of the waters as they sweep into this Charybdis. I have heard a certain high nobleman of the Gauls relating that a number of ships, shattered at first by a tempest, were afterwards devoured by this same Charybdis. And when one only out of all the men who had been in these ships, still breathing, swam over the waves, while the rest were dying, he came, swept by the force of the receding waters, up to the edge of that most frightful abyss. And when now he beheld yawning before him the deep chaos whose end he could not see, and half dead from very fear, expected to be hurled into it, suddenly in a way that he could not have hoped he was cast upon a certain rock and sat him down. And now when all the waters that were to be swallowed had run down, the margins of that edge (of the abyss) had been left bare, and while he sat there with difficulty, trembling with fear and filled with foreboding amid so many distresses, nor could he hide at all from his sight the death that was a little while deferred, behold he suddenly sees, as it were, great mountains of water leaping up from the deep and the first ships which had been sucked in coming forth again ! And when one of these came near him he grasped it with what effort he could, and without delay, he was carried in swift flight toward the shore and escaped the fate of death, living afterwards to tell the story of his peril. Our own sea also, that is, the Adriatic, which spreads in like manner, though less violently, through the coasts of Venetia and Istria, is believed to have little secret currents of this kind by which the receding waters are sucked in and vomited out again to dash upon the shores. These things having been thus examined, let us go back to the order of our narrative already begun.
7. Igitur egressi de Scadinavia Winili, cum Ibor et Aione ducibus, in regionem quae appellatur Scoringa venientes, per annos illic aliquot consederunt. Illo itaque tempore Ambri et Assi Wandalorum duces vicinas quasque provincias bello premebant. Hi iam multis elati victoriis, nuntios ad Winilos mittunt, ut aut tributa Wandalis persolverent, aut se ad belli certamina praepararent. Tunc Ibor et Aio, adnitente matre Gambara, deliberant, melius esse armis libertatem tueri, quam tributorum eandem solutione foedare. Mandant per legatos Wandalis, pugnaturos se potius quam servituros. Erant siquidem tunc Winili universi iuvenili aetate florentes, sed numero perexigui, quippe qui unius non nimiae amplitudinis insulae tertia solummodo particula fuerint. 7. The Winnili then, having departed from Scandinavia with their leaders Ibor and Aio, and coming into the region which is called Scoringa, settled there for some years. At that time Ambri and Assi, leaders of the Wandals, were coercing all the neighboring by war. Already elated by many victories they sent messengers to the Winnili to tell them that they should either pay tribute to the Wandals or make ready for the struggles of war. Then Ibor and Aio, with the approval of their mother Gambara, determine that it is better to maintain liberty by arms than to stain it by the payment of tribute. They send word to the Wandals by messengers that they will rather fight than be slaves. The Winnili were then all in the flower of their youth, but were very few in number since they had been only the third part of one island of no great size.
8. Refert hoc loco antiquitas ridiculam fabulam: quod accedentes Wandali ad Godan victoriam de Winilis postulaverint, illeque responderit, se illis victoriam daturum quos primum oriente sole conspexisset. Tunc accessisse Gambaram ad Fream, uxorem Godan, et Winilis victoriam postulasse, Freamque consilium dedisse, ut Winilorum mulieres solutos crines erga faciem ad barbae similitudinem componerent maneque primo cum viris adessent seseque a Godan videndas pariter e regione, qua ille per fenestram orientem versus erat solitus aspicere, collocarent. Atque ita factum fuisse. Quas cum Godan oriente sole conspiceret, dixisse: "Qui sunt isti longibarbi?". Tunc Fream subiunxisse, ut quibus nomen tribuerat victoriam condonaret. Sicque Winilis Godan victoriam concessisse. Haec risu digna sunt et pro nihilo habenda. Victoria enim non potestati est adtributa hominum, sed de caelo potius ministratur. 8. At this point, the men of old tell a silly story that the Wandals coming to Godan (Wotan) besought him for victory over the Winnili and that he answered that he would give the victory to those whom he saw first at sunrise; that then Gambara went to Frea (Freja) wife of Godan and asked for victory for the Winnili, and that Frea gave her counsel that the women of the Winnili should take down their hair and arrange it upon the face like a beard, and that in the early morning they should be present with their husbands and in like manner station themselves to be seen by Godan from the quarter in which he had been wont to look through his window toward the east. And so it was done. And when Godan saw them at sunrise he said: "Who are these long-beards?" And then Frea induced him to give the victory to those to whom he had given the name. And thus Godan gave the victory to the Winnili. These things are worthy of laughter and are to be held of no account. For victory is due, not to the power of men, but it is rather furnished from heaven.
9. Certum tamen est, Langobardos ab intactae ferro barbae longitudine, cum primitus Winili dicti fuerint, ita postmodum appellatos. Nam iuxta illorum linguam lang longam, bard barbam significat. Wotan sane, quem adiecta littera Godan dixerunt, ipse est qui apud Romanos Mercurius dicitur et ab universis Germaniae gentibus ut deus adoratur; qui non circa haec tempora, sed longe anterius, nec in Germania, sed in Grecia fuisse perhibetur. 9. It is certain, however, that the Langobards were afterwards so called on account of the length of their beards untouched by the knife, whereas at first they had been called Winnili; for according to their language "lang" means " long" and " bart " "beard." Wotan indeed, whom by adding a letter they called Godan is he who among the Romans is called Mercury, and he is worshiped by all the peoples of Germany as a god, though he is deemed to have existed, not about these times, but long before, and not in Germany, but in Greece. 
10. Winili igitur, qui et Langobardi, commisso cum Wandalis proelio, acriter, utpote pro libertatis gloria, decertantes, victoriam capiunt. Qui magnam postmodum famis penuriam in eadem Scoringa provincia perpessi, valde animo consternati sunt. 10. The Winnili therefore, who are also Langobards, having joined battle with the Wandals, struggle fiercely, since it is for the glory of freedom, and win the victory. And afterwards, having suffered in this same province of Scoringa, great privation from hunger, their minds were filled with dismay.
11. De qua egredientes, dum in Mauringam transire disponerent, Assipitti eorum iter impediunt, denegantes eis omnimodis per suos terminos transitum. Porro Langobardi cum magnas hostium copias cernerent neque cum eis ob paucitatem exercitus congredi auderent, dumque quid agere deberent decernerent, tandem necessitas consilium repperit. Simulant, se in castris suis habere cynocephalos, id est canini capitis homines. Divulgant apud hostes, hos pertinaciter bella gerere, humanum sanguinem bibere et, si hostem adsequi non possint, proprium potare cruorem. Utque huic adsertioni fidem facerent, ampliant tentoria plurimosque in castris ignes accendunt. His hostes auditis visisque creduli effecti, bellum quod minabantur iam temptare non audent. 11. Departing from this place, while they were arranging to pass over into Mauringa, the Assipitti block their way, denying to them by every means a passage through their territories. The Langobards moreover, when they beheld the great forces of their enemies, did not dare engage them on account of the smallness of their army, and while they were deciding what they ought to do, necessity at length hit upon a plan. They pretend that they have in their camps Cynocephali, that is, men with dogs' heads. They spread the rumor among the enemy that these men wage war obstinately, drink human blood and quaff their own gore if they cannot reach the foe. And to give faith to this assertion, the Langobards spread their tents wide and kindle a great many fires in their camps. The enemy being made credulous when these things are heard and seen, dare not now attempt the war they threatened.
12. Habebant tamen apud se virum fortissimum, de cuius fidebant viribus, posse se procul dubio obtinere quod vellent. Hunc solum pro omnibus pugnaturum obiciunt. Mandant Langobardis, unum quem vellent suorum mitterent, qui cum eo ad singulare certamen exiret, ea videlicet conditione, ut, si suus bellator victoriam caperet, Langobardi itinere quo venerant abirent; sin vero superaretur ab altero, tunc se Langobardis transitum per fines proprios non vetituros. Cumque Langobardi, quem e suis potius adversus virum bellicosissimum mitterent, ambigerent, quidam ex servili conditione sponte se optulit, promittit se provocanti hosti congressurum, ea ratione, ut, si de hoste victoriam caperet, a se suaque progenie servitutis naevum auferrent. Quid plura? Gratanter quae postularat sese facturos pollicentur. Adgressus hostem, pugnavit et vicit; Langobardis transeundi facultatem, sibi suisque, ut optaverat, iura libertatis indeptus est. 12. They had, however, among them a very powerful man, to whose strength they trusted that they could obtain without doubt what they wanted. They offered him alone to fight for all. They charged the Langobards to send any one of their own they might wish, to go forth with him to single combat upon this condition, to wit; that if their warrior should win the victory, the Langobards would depart the way they had come, but if he should be overthrown by the other, then they would not forbid the Langobards a passage through their own territories. And when the Langobards were in doubt what one of their own they should send against this most warlike man, a certain person of servile rank offered himself of his own will, and promised that he would engage the challenging enemy upon this condition : that if he took the victory from the enemy, they would take away the stain of slavery from him and from his offspring. Why say more? They joyfully promised to do what he had asked. Having engaged the enemy, he fought and conquered, and won for the Langobards the means of passage, and for himself and his descendants, as he had desired, the rights of liberty.
13. Igitur Langobardi tandem in Mauringam pervenientes, ut bellatorum possint ampliare numerum, plures a servili iugo ereptos ad libertatis statum perducunt. Utque rata eorum haberi possit ingenuitas, sanciunt more solito per sagittam, inmurmurantes nihilominus ob rei firmitatem quaedam patria verba. Egressi itaque Langobardi de Mauringa, applicuerunt in Golandam, ubi aliquanto tempore commorati, dicuntur post haec Anthab et Banthaib, pari modo et Vurgundaib, per annos aliquot possedisse; quae nos arbitrari possumus esse vocabula pagorum seu quorumcumque locorum. 13. Therefore the Langobards, coming at last into Mauringa, in order that they might increase the number of their warriors, confer liberty upon many whom they deliver from the yoke of bondage, and that the freedom of these may be regarded as established, they confirm it in their accustomed way by an arrow, uttering certain words of their country in confirmation of the fact. Then the Langobards went forth from Mauringa and came to Golanda, where, having remained some time, they are afterwards said to have possessed for some years Anthaib and Banthaib, and in like manner Vurgundaib, which we can consider are names of districts or of some kinds of places.
14. Mortuis interea Ibor et Agione ducibus, qui Langobardos a Scadinavia eduxerant et usque ad haec tempora rexerant, nolentes iam ultra Langobardi esse sub ducibus, regem sibi ad ceterarum instar gentium statuerunt. Regnavit igitur super eos primus Agelmund, filius Agionis, ex prosapia ducens originem Gungingorum, quae apud eos generosior habebatur. Hic, sicut a maioribus traditur, tribus et triginta annis Langobardorum tenuit regnum. 14. Meanwhile the leaders Ibor and Aio, who had conducted the Langobards from Scandinavia and had ruled them up to this time, being dead, the Langobards, now unwilling to remain longer under mere chiefs (dukes) ordained a king for themselves like other nations. [1] Therefore Agelmund, [2] the son of Aio first reigned over them [3] tracing out of his pedigree the stock of the Gungingi which among them was esteemed particularly noble. He held the sovereignty of the Langobards, as is reported by our ancestors, for thirty years.
15. His temporibus quaedam meretrix uno partu septem puerulos enixa, beluis omnibus mater crudelior in piscinam proiecit necandos. Hoc si cui impossibile videtur, relegat historias veterum, et inveniet, non solum septem infantulos, sed etiam novem unam mulierem semel peperisse. Et hoc certum est maxime apud Aegyptios fieri. Contigit itaque, ut rex Agelmund, dum iter carperet, ad eandem piscinam deveniret. Qui cum equo retento miserandos infantulos miraretur hastaque, quam manu gerebat, huc illucque eos inverteret, unus ex illis iniecta manu hastam regiam conprehendit. Rex misericordia motus factumque altius ammiratus, eum magnum futurum pronuntiat. Moxque eum a piscina levari praecepit, atque nutrici traditum omni cum studio mandat alendum; et quia eum de piscina, quae eorum lingua lama dicitur, abstulit, Lamissio eidem nomen inposuit. Qui cum adolevisset, tam strenuus iuvenis effectus est, ut et bellicosissimus extiterit et post Agelmundi funus regni gubernacula rexerit. Ferunt hunc, dum Langobardi cum rege suo iter agentes ad quendam fluvium pervenissent et ab Amazonibus essent prohibiti ultra permeare, cum earum fortissima in fluvio natatu pugnasse eamque peremisse, sibique laudis gloriam, Langobardis quoque transitum paravisse. Hoc siquidem inter utrasque acies prius constitisse, quatenus, si Amazon eadem Lamissionem superaret, Langobardi a flumine recederent; sin vero a Lamissione, ut et factum est, ipsa vinceretur, Langobardis eadem permeandi fluenta copia praeberetur. Constat sane, quia huius assertionis series minus veritate subnixa est. Omnibus etenim quibus veteres historiae notae sunt, patet, gentem Amazonum longe antea, quam haec fieri potuerint, esse deletam; nisi forte, quia loca eadem, ubi haec gesta feruntur, non satis historiographis nota fuerunt et vix ab aliquo eorum vulgata sunt, fieri potuerit, ut usque ad id tempus huiuscemodi inibi mulierum genus haberetur. Nam et ego referri a quibusdam audivi, usque hodie in intimis Germaniae finibus gentem harum existere feminarum. 15. At this time a certain prostitute had brought forth seven little boys at a birth, and the mother, more cruel than all wild beasts, threw them into a fish-pond to be drowned. If this seems impossible to any, let him read over the histories of the ancients and he will find that one woman brought forth not only seven infants but even nine at one time. And it is sure that this occurred especially among the Egyptians. It happened therefore that when King Agelmund had stopped his horse and looked at the wretched infants, and had turned them hither and thither with the spear he carried in his hand, one of them put his hand on the royal spear and clutched it. The king moved by pity and marveling greatly at the act, pronounced that he would be a great man. And straightway he ordered him to be lifted from the fish-pond and commanded him to be brought to a nurse to be nourished with every care, and because he took him from a fish-pond which in their language is called " lama" he gave him the name Lamissio. When he had grown up he became such a vigorous youth that he was also very fond of fighting, and after the death of Agelmund he directed the government of the kingdom. They say that when the Langobards, pursuing their way with their king, came to a certain river and were forbidden by the Amazons to cross to the other side, this man fought with the strongest of them, swimming in the river, and killed her and won for himself the glory of great praise and a passage also for the Langobards. For it had been previously agreed between the two armies that if that Amazon should overcome Lamissio, the Langobards would withdraw from the river, but if she herself were conquered by Lamissio, as actually occurred, then the means of crossing the stream should be afforded to the Langobards.It is clear, to be sure, that this kind of an assertion is little supported by truth, for it is known to all who are acquainted with ancient histories that the race of Amazons was destroyed long before these things could have occurred, unless perchance (because the places where these things are said to have been done were not well enough known to the writers of history and are scarcely mentioned by any of them), it might have been that a class of women of this kind dwelt there at that time, for I have heard it related by some that the race of these women exists up to the present day in the innermost parts of Germany.
16. Igitur transmeato Langobardi de quo dixeramus flumine, cum ad ulteriores terras pervenissent, illic per tempus aliquod commorabantur. Interea cum nihil adversi suspicarentur et essent quiete longa minus solliciti, securitas, quae semper detrimentorum mater est, eis non modicam perniciem peperit. Noctu denique cum neglegentia resoluti cuncti quiescerent, subito super eos Vulgares inruentes, plures ex eis sauciant, multos prosternunt, et in tantum per eorum castra debacchati sunt, ut ipsum Agelmundum regem interficerent eiusque unicam filiam sorte captivitatis auferrent. 16. Therefore after passing the river of which we have spoken, the Langobards, when they came to the lands beyond, sojourned there for some time. Meanwhile, since they suspected nothing hostile and were the less uneasy on account of their long repose, confidence, which is always the mother of calamities, prepared for them a disaster of no mean sort. At night, in short, when all were resting, relaxed by negligence, suddenly the Bulgarians, rushing upon them, slew many, wounded many more and so raged through their camp that they killed Agelmund, the king himself, and carried away in captivity his only daughter.
17. Resumptis tamen post haec incommoda Langobardi viribus, Lamissionem, de quo superius dixeramus, sibi regem constituerunt. Qui, ut erat iuvenili aetate fervidus et ad belli certamina satis promptus, alumni sui Agelmundi necem ulcisci cupiens, in Vulgares arma convertit. Primoque mox proelio commisso, Langobardi hostibus terga dantes, ad castra refugiunt. Tunc rex Lamissio ista conspiciens, elevata altius voce, omni exercitui clamare coepit, ut obprobriorum quod pertulerunt meminissent revocarentque ante oculos dedecus, quomodo eorum regem hostes iugulaverint, quam miserabiliter eius natam, quam sibi reginam optaverant, captivam abduxerint. Postremo hortatur, ut se suosque armis defenderent, melius esse dicens, in bello animam ponere quam ut vilia mancipia hostium ludibriis subiacere. Haec et huiuscemodi dum vociferans diceret, et nunc minis nunc promissionibus ad toleranda eorum animos belli certamina roboraret; si quem etiam servilis conditionis pugnantem vidisset, libertate eum simul cum praemiis donaret: tandem hortatu exemplisque principis, qui primus ad bellum prosilierat, accensi, super hostes inruunt, pugnant atrociter, et magna adversarios clade prosternunt; tandemque de victoribus victoriam capientes, tam regis sui funus quam proprias iniurias ulciscuntur. Tunc magna de hostium exuviis praeda potiti, ex illo iam tempore ad expetendos belli labores audaciores effecti sunt. 17. Nevertheless the Langobards, having recovered their strength after these disasters, made Lamissio, of whom we have spoken above, their king. And he, as he was in the glow of youth and quite ready for the struggles of war, desiring to avenge the slaughter of Agelmund, his foster-father, turned his arms against the Bulgarians. And presently, when the first battle began, the Langobards, turning their backs to the enemy, fled to their camp. Then king Lamissio seeing these things, began in a loud voice to cry out to the whole army that they should remember the infamies they had suffered and recall to view their disgrace ; how their enemies had murdered their king and had carried off in lamentation as a captive, his daughter whom they had desired for their queen. Finally he urged them to defend themselves and theirs by arms, saying that it was better to lay down life in war than to submit as vile slaves to the taunts of their enemies. Crying aloud, he said these things and the like and now by threats, now by promises, strengthened their minds to endure the struggles of war; moreover if he saw any one of servile condition fighting he endowed him with liberty, as well as rewards. At last inflamed by the urging and example of their chief who had been the first to spring to arms, they rush upon the foe, fight fiercely and overthrow their adversaries with great slaughter, and finally, taking victory from the victors, they avenge as well the death of their king as the insults to themselves. Then having taken possession of great booty from the spoils of their enemies, from that time on they become bolder in undertaking the toils of war.
18. Defuncto post haec Lamissione, qui secundus regnaverat, tertius ad regni gubernacula Lethu ascendit. Qui cum quadraginta ferme annos regnasset, Hildehoc filium, qui quartus in numero fuit, regni successorem reliquit. Hoc quoque defuncto, quintus Godehoc regnum suscepit. 18. After these things Lamissio, the second who had reigned, died, and the third, Lethu, ascended the throne of the kingdom, and when he had reigned nearly forty years, he left Hildeoc his son, who was the fourth in number, as his successor in the kingly power. And when he also died, Gudeoc, as the fifth, received the royal authority.
19. His temporibus inter Odoacar, qui in Italia per aliquot iam annos regnabat, et Feletheum, qui et Feba dictus est, Rugorum regem, magnarum inimicitiarum fomes exarsit. Qui Feletheus illis diebus ulteriorem Danubii ripam incolebat, quam a Norici finibus idem Danubius separat. In his Noricorum finibus beati tunc erat Severini coenobium. Qui omni abstinentiae sanctitate praeditus, multis iam erat virtutibus clarus. Qui cum iisdem in locis ad vitae usque metas habitasset, nunc tamen eius corpusculum Neapolis retinet. Hic saepius hunc de quo diximus Feletheum eiusque coniugem, cui vocabulum Gisa fuit, ut ab iniquitate quiescerent, verbis coelestibus monuit. Quibus pia verba spernentibus, hoc quod eis postmodum contigit, longe antea futurum praedixit. Adunatis igitur Odoacar gentibus quae eius dicioni parebant, id est Turcilingis et Herolis Rugorumque parte, quos iam dudum possidebat, necnon etiam Italiae populis, venit in Rugiland pugnavitque cum Rugis, ultimaque eos clade conficiens, Feletheum insuper eorum regem extinxit; vastataque omni provincia, Italiam repetens, copiosam secum captivorum multitudinem abduxit. Tunc Langobardi de suis regionibus egressi, venerunt in Rugiland, quae latino eloquio Rugorum patria dicitur, atque in ea, quia erat solo fertilis, aliquantis commorati sunt annis. 19. In these times the fuel of great enmities was consumed between Odoacar who was ruling in Italy now for some years, and Feletheus, who is also called Feva, king of the Rugii. This Feletheus dwelt in those days on the further shore of the Danube, which the Danube itself separates from the territories of Noricum. In these territories of the Noricans at that time was the monastery of the blessed Severinus, who, endowed with the sanctity of every abstinence, was already renowned for his many virtues, and though he dwelt in these places up to the end of his life, now however, Neapolis (Naples) keeps his remains. He often admonished this Feletheus of whom we have spoken and his wife, whose name was Gisa, in saintly language that they should desist from iniquity, and when they spurned his pious words, he predicted a long while beforehand that that would occur which afterwards befell them. Odoacar then, having collected together the nations which were subject to his sovereignty, that is the Turcilingi and the Heroli and the portion of the Rugii he already possessed and also the peoples of Italy, came into Rugiland and fought with the Rugii, and sweeping them away in final defeat he destroyed also Feletheus their king, and after the whole province was devastated, he returned to Italy and carried off with him an abundant multitude of captives. Then the Langobards, having moved out of their own territories, came into Rugiland, which is called in the Latin tongue the country of the Rugii, and because it was fertile in soil they remained in it a number of years.
Latin Text Continued English Translation Continued
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An excerpt from
Origio Gentis Langobardorum
The Origin of the Langobard People
7th century
Full Latin Text  
IN NOMINE DOMINI INCIPIT ORIGO GENTIS LANGOBARDORVM

[1.] Est insula qui dicitur Scadanan, quod interpretatur excidia, in partibus aquilonis, ubi multae gentes habitant; inter quos erat gens parva quae Winnilis vocabatur. Et erat cum eis mulier nomine Gambara, habebatque duos filios, nomen uni Ybor et nomen alteri Agio; ipsi cum matre sua nomine Gambara principatum tenebant super Winniles. Moverunt se ergo duces Wandalorum, id est Ambri et Assi, cum exercitu suo, et dicebant ad Winniles: " Aut solvite nobis tributa, aut praeparate vos ad pugnam et pugnate nobiscum". Tunc responderunt Ybor et Agio cum matre sua Gambara: "Melius est nobis pugnam praeparare, quam Wandalis tributa persolvere". Tunc Ambri et Assi, hoc est duces Wandalorum, rogaverunt Godan, ut daret eis super Winniles victoriam. Respondit Godan dicens: "Quos sol surgente antea videro, ipsis dabo victoriam". Eo tempore Gambara cum duobus filiis suis, id est Ybor et Agio, qui principes erant super Winniles, rogaverunt Fream, uxorem Godam, ut ad Winniles esset propitia. Tunc Frea dedit consilium, ut sol surgente venirent Winniles et mulieres eorum crines solutae circa faciem in similitudinem barbae et cum viris suis venirent. Tunc luciscente sol dum surgeret, giravit Frea, uxor Godan, lectum ubi recumbebat vir eius, et fecit faciem eius contra orientem, et excitavit eum. Et ille aspiciens vidit Winniles et mulieres ipsorum habentes crines solutas circa faciem; et ait: "Qui sunt isti longibarbae" ? Et dixit Frea ad Godan: "Sicut dedisti nomen, da illis et victoriam". Et dedit eis victoriam, ut ubi visum esset vindicarent se et victoriam haberent. Ab illo tempore Winnilis Langobardi vocati sunt.

1. There is an island that is called Scadanan [La Cava mss.; '
Scadan', Modena mss.], which is interpreted 'destruction,' in the regions of the north where many people dwell. Among these there was a small people that was called the Winniles. And with them was a woman Gambara by name, and she had two sons. Ybor was the name of one and Agio the name of the other. They,  with their mother Gambara by name, held soverignty over the Winniles. Then the leaders of the Wandals, that is Ambri and Assi, moved with their army, and said to the Winniles; 'Either pay us tribute or prepare yourselves for battle and fight with us.' Then answered Ybor and Agio, with their mother Gambara: 'It is better for us to make ready the battle than to pay tributes to the Wandals.' Then Ambri and Assi, that is the leaders of the Wandals, asked  Godan that he should give them the victory over the Winniles. Godan answered, saying: 'Whom I shall first see when at sunrise, to them I shall give the victory.' At that time, Gambara  with her two sons, besought Frea, the wife of Godan, to be propitious to the Winniles. Then Frea gave counsel that at sunrise the Winniles should come, and that their women, with  their hair let down around their face in the likeness of a beard, should also come with their husbands. Then when it became bright, while the sun was rising, Frea, the wife of Godan, turned around the bed where her husband was lying and put his face toward the east, and awakened him. And he, looking at them, saw the Winniles and their women heaving their hair let down around their face. And he says: " Who are these longbeards?" Then spoke Frea to Godan: "My lord, thou hast given them the name, now give them also the victory." And he gave them victory, so that they should defend themselves according to his counsel and obtain victory. From that time, the Winniles were called Langobards.
   

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