Jordanes

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Jordanes (also Jordanis or even Iornandes), was a 6th century Roman bureaucrat,[1] who turned his hand to history later in life.

While he also wrote Romana about the history of Rome, his best-known work is his Getica, written in Constantinople [2] about AD 551 [3]. It is the only extant classical work dealing with the early history of the Goths.

Jordanes was asked by a friend to write this book as a summary of a multi-volume history of the Goths (now lost) by the statesman Cassiodorus. He was selected for his known interest in history (he was working on Rome's), his ability to write succinctly, 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 Moesia, modern northern Bulgaria.[4].

Other writers, e.g. Procopius, wrote works still extant on the later history of the Goths. As the only surviving work on Gothic origins, the 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 only had three days to review what Cassiodorus had written, meaning that he must also have relied on his own knowledge. Some of his statements are laconic.

Contents

Life

Jordanes writes about himself almost in passing:[5][6]

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 [7].

Paria was Jordanes' paternal grandfather. Jordanes writes that he was secretary to Candac, dux Alanorum, an otherwise unknown leader of the Alans.

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 conversion was probably not from paganism to Christianity. 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 [8]. In the letter to Vigilius he mentions that he was awakened vestris interrogationibus - "by your questioning".

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