Goths vs. Greeks: Epic Ancient Battle Revealed

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Another  Thermopylae[artwork by Igor Dzis]


Republication from Live Science


By Owen Jarus, Live Science Contributor

Fragments of an ancient Greek text telling of an invasion of Greece by the Goths during the third century A.D. have been discovered in the Austrian National Library. The text includes a battle fought at the pass of Thermopylae.

Researchers used spectral imaging to enhance the fragments, making it possible to read them. The analysis suggests the fragments were copied in the 11th century A.D. and are from a text that was written in the third-century A.D. by an Athens writer named Dexippus.  During Dexippus’ life, Greece (part of the Roman Empire) and Rome struggled to repel a series of Gothic invasions.


Another Battle of Thermopylae found in palimpsest

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Republication from Τhe History blog

GermanicsGermanic warriors battling Romans (Teutoburg Forest). In my view, the Greek combatants who confronted them would have been armed like the earlier Roman auxilia of the 2nd century AD (in the mid-3rd century AD there were no longer auxilia from the Empire’s populace because they were all citizens) bearing chain mail armour, scuta (thyreos-shields in Greek) and heavy Roman swords but with helmets of traditional Hellenic types (image and comment added by periklisdeligiannis.wordpress.com)


The leaves of books in the Middle Ages were made of parchment and vellum, created from animal skins in an expensive and time-consuming craft. It was so costly that scribes often recycled pages from earlier books, removing the ink to create a blank sheet. In the early Middle Ages, the ink was washed off and over time the shadow of former writing reappeared like a pentimento in a painting. In the later Middle Ages, they used pumice powder to scrape the ink away for good.




By  Periklis    Deligiannis



After  the  carnage  of  the  Roman  army  in  the  Battle  of  Adrianople  (AD  378),  the  new  emperor  Theodosius  checked  as  possible  the  Visigoths  until  AD  382  when  he  came  to  an  agreement  with  them,  formally  accepting  their  settlement  in  the  Roman  territory  as  foederati  (dependent  allies).  The  Goths  joined  en  masse  the  Eastern  Roman  army  which  was  decimated  after  the  defeat  at  Adrianople.  They  soon  acquired  considerable  political  influence  in  the  court  of  Constantinople.  It  is  characteristic  that  a  Goth,  the  famous  Gainas  (Gaenas),  came  up  to  all  the  offices  –  one  by  one  –  of  the  military  hierarchy  and  ultimately  tried  to  seize  the  imperial  throne,  but  without  success.  The  Eastern  Romans  (Early  Byzantines)  realized  the  mortal  danger  of  the  Goths  that  was  threatening  the  Empire  and  reacted  violently.  An  intense  anti-Germanic  feeling  prevailed  in  Constantinople  and  in  a  few  years  most  Goths  had  been  expelled  from  the  administration  and  the  military.  Later,  the  Byzantines  settled  many  Goths  in  Asia  Minor  (in  the  territory  of  the  later  thema  of  Opsikion)  who  were  gradually  Hellenized  and  were  called  Gotthograeci  (Gotho-Greeks).
Until  recently  the  modern  historians  used  to  believe  that  the  historical  Visigoths  were  the  descendants  of  the  Western  Goths  of  Gutthiunta  and  that  the  Ostrogoths  originated  from  the  Eastern  Goths  of  Hermanaric.  During  the  last  decades  it  was  ascertained  that  these  correlations  were  not  correct.  The  Visigoth  tribal  union  was  formed  around  the  time  of  the  battle  of  Adrianople,  possibly  in  the  eve  of  the  battle,  when  the  Thervingi  combined  forces  with  a  portion  of  the  Greuthungi  who  had  escaped  from  the  Hunnish  yoke  and  with  other  barbarian  groups.  The  Ostrogoth  tribal  union  was  formed  a  few  decades  later  (around  AD  400)  when  the  rest  scattered  Greuthungi  and  other  Gothic-German  and  Sarmatian  groups  (namely  the  Goths  of  the  Amali  Dynasty  and  later  the  Goths  of  Theuderic-Strabo,  of  Radagaesus,  some  Alan  groups  and  others)  joined  forces.  However,  most  modern  books,  studies  and  disquisitions  continue  to  use  anachronistically  the  ethnic  terms  Visigoths  and  Ostrogoths  for  the  historical  events  before  378.


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