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Please note that Mommsen uses the AUC chronology (Ab Urbe Condita), i.e. from the founding of the City of Rome. You can use this reference table to have the B.C. dates


IV. The Revolution

From: The History of Rome, by Theodor Mommsen
Translated with the sanction of the author by William Purdie Dickson

The History of Old Rome

Chapter V - The Peoples of the North


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Page 28

The effects of the enemy were broken in pieces, the horses were killed, the prisoners were hanged or preserved only to be sacrificed to the gods. It was the priestesses--grey-haired women in white linen dresses and unshod--who, like Iphigenia in Scythia, offered these sacrifices, and prophesied the future from the streaming blood of the prisoner of war or the criminal who formed the victim. How much in these customs was the universal usage of the northern barbarians, how much was borrowed from the Celts, and how much was peculiar to the Germans, cannot be ascertained; but the practice of having the army accompanied and directed not by priests, but by priestesses, may be pronounced an undoubtedly Germanic custom.

Thus marched the Cimbri into the unknown land--an immense multitude of various origin which had congregated round a nucleus of Germanic emigrants from the Baltic-- not without resemblance to the great bodies of emigrants, that in our own times cross the ocean similarly burdened and similarly mingled, and with aims not much less vague; carrying their lumbering waggon-castle, with the dexterity which a long migratory life imparts, over streams and mountains; dangerous to more civilized nations like the sea-wave and the hurricane, and like these capricious and unaccountable, now rapidly advancing, now suddenly pausing, turning aside, or receding.

They came and struck like lightning; like lightning they vanished; and unhappily, in the dull age in which they appeared, there was no observer who deemed it worth while accurately to describe the marvellous meteor. When men afterwards began to trace the chain, of which this emigration, the first Germanic movement which touched the orbit of ancient civilization, was a link, the direct and living knowledge of it had long passed away.

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