Translated by Charles C. Mierow. De origine actibusque Getarum, or the Getica, is a summary of the now lost account by Cassiodorus of the origin and history of the Gothic people. It tells of the great battles between the Goths and Romans, of the First Great Race War against Europe waged by the Huns under Attila, the Gothic involvement in the great sacking of Rome—and much, much more.
Jordanes’ work is the single most important source on the origin and migration of the Goths, Ostrogoths and Visigoths. Starting with a fictionalized account of Gothic origins and travels, the Getica then deals with the very real story of the first meeting between Roman and Gothic forces on the eastern borders of the Empire in the present-day north Balkans.
It tells of the initial clashes between Roman and Goth, and of how they were eventually forced to become allies against the invasion of Europe by the Asiatic hordes under Attila the Hun.
Once that invasion was warded off, the story continues with the adventures of the Ostrogoths, the Visigoths, Gaul, Spain, the last Gothic rulers of the Western Roman Empire, their part in the final fall of Rome and their descendant’s role in the Eastern Roman Empire.
The Getica is, even after 1,500 years, still a riveting read and brimming with adventure, despair, heroism and incredible deeds which helped shape Europe, and a vital source for early Gothic, Slavic, Roman and Hunnish history.
This version has been completely reset and follows the identical margin notes, introduction and literary overview of Charles C. Mierow’s Princeton University edition.
About the author: Jordanes (sixth century AD) was a Goth whose immediate family came from Moesia, or modern northern Bulgaria, when it was on the eastern frontier of the Roman Empire. Little else is known about his life or death except that he was a high-level notarius, or civil servant who turned to history writing as a hobby after being converted to Christianity.
About the Translator: Charles Christopher Mierow (1883–1961) was an American academic who earned his Ph.D. in classical languages and literature at Princeton, where he produced this translation of Jordanes’ work (originally written in Late Latin) as part of his thesis. He worked as president of Colorado College (Colorado) and still later as professor of biography at Carleton College (Minnesota).