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Sunday, 2 February 2014

Who were the Erminones?



"In ancient lays, their only type of historical tradition, they celebrate Tuisto, a god brought forth from the earth. They attribute to him a son, Mannus, the source and founder of their people, and to Mannus three sons, from whose names those nearest the Ocean are called Ingvaeones, those in the middle Herminones, and the rest Istvaeones. Some people, inasmuch as antiquity gives free reign to speculation, maintain that there were more sons born from the god and hence more tribal designations-Marsi, Gambrivii, Suebi, and Vandilii-and that those names are genuine and ancient."[Germania 2.2]

The Erminones constitute one of the three major tribal divisions descending from Mannus, the Germanic equivalent of the Indo-Aryan Manu. Erminones is the correct spelling of the name, not Herminones.  The use of the `h` at the beginning of Hermiones or Herminones is purely a Latin aspirate and was not used by the Germanic peoples. The question which concerns me most in this article is which tribes constituted the Erminones?

"Our knowledge of the Erminones is inconclusive, as their community had already ceased to play any part in political history before the beginning of our era." [Our Forefathers the Gothonic Nations Volume II, Gudmund Schuette, 1933]

I have come to the personal conclusion that the Erminones consisted of the tribes of the Cherusci and Chatti but Schuette rejects this saying:

"Bremer, ss82 and 216, identifies the Erminones with those Tacitean Swabians who must be regarded as real Germans. He may be right, but then Pliny`s classification of the Chatti and Cherusci among the Erminones must be rejected as erroneous."

He goes on to say:

"For exactly similar reasons, we must reject Pliny`s assertion that the Erminones include the Cherusci. For the Cherusci were hereditary enemies of the Swabians who were Erminones."

I find this startling that the reasoning of a `modern` scholar may be taken above that of a classical writer, Pliny  who states that the Erminones include the Suebi, Hermunduri, Chatti and Cherusci [Natural History]. The fact that the first two tribes were frequently at war with the latter two in itself means absolutely nothing. Bonds of common blood do not prevent brothers and cousins from fighting and killing each other as two disastrous world wars between the Germans and English demonstrate.Also as Tacitus points out the Suebi may have formed a division separate from the Erminones.

I see no reason at all to doubt the word of classical writers who wrote at a time that was contemporary with the existence of these tribal groupings.

Scholars believe that the Cherusci occupied what is now Niedersachsen[Lower Saxony] and was previously part of the Duchy of Saxony which extends down to the Harz Mountains, the Harz being shared by both Saxons and Thuringians. Indeed one scholar Jason R. Abdale [Four Days in September. The Battle of Teutoburg, 2013] puts forward the belief that the Harz were named after the Cherusci. It is interesting that Jacob Grimm thought that Cherusci is related to *heru, sword. This would make the Cherusci the people of the sword. This may relate to a specific sword and a specific deity which I hope to discuss in a future article. Clearly the Cherusci were one of the tribes which came together to form the later and much larger tribal confederation of the Saxons in the 4th century CE. Abdale also points out that the coat of arms of Lower Saxony consists of a white horse, an animal much prized by the Chrusci.

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