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Germania by Tacitus
Translated by Alfred John Church and William Jackson Brodribb
Chapter 31: The hair of the Chattans
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Moreover a custom, practised indeed in other nations of Germany, yet very rarely and confined only to particulars more daring than the rest, prevails amongst the Cattans by universal consent. As soon as they arrive to maturity of years, they let their hair and beards continue to grow, nor till they have slain an enemy do they ever lay aside this form of countenance by vow sacred to valour. Over the blood and spoil of a foe they make bare their face. They allege, that they have now acquitted themselves of the debt and duty contracted by their birth, and rendered themselves worthy of their country, worthy of their parents. Upon the spiritless, cowardly and unwarlike, such deformity of visage still remains [Note 11]. All the most brave likewise wear an iron ring (a mark of great dishonour this in that nation) and retain it as a chain; till by killing an enemy they become released. Many of the Cattans delight always to bear this terrible aspect; and, when grown white through age, become awful and conspicuous by such marks, both to the enemy and their own countrymen. By them in all engagements the first assault is made: of them the front of the battle is always composed, as men who in their looks are singular and tremendous. For even during peace they abate nothing in the grimness and horror of their countenance. They have no house to inhabit, no land to cultivate, nor any domestic charge or care. With whomsoever they come to sojourn, by him they are maintained; always very prodigal of the substance of others, always despising what is their own, till the feebleness of old age overtakes them, and renders them unequal to the efforts of such rigid bravery squalor."
(11) "Manet squalor."
Et aliis Germanorum populis usurpatum raro et privata cuiusque audentia apud Chattos in consensum vertit, ut primum adoleverint, crinem barbamque submittere, nec nisi hoste caeso exuere votivum obligatumque virtuti oris habitum. Super sanguinem et spolia revelant frontem, seque tum demum pretia nascendi rettulisse dignosque patria ac parentibus ferunt: ignavis et imbellibus manet squalor. Fortissimus quisque ferreum insuper anulum (ignominiosum id genti) velut vinculum gestat, donec se caede hostis absolvat. Plurimis Chattorum hic placet habitus, iamque canent insignes et hostibus simul suisque monstrati. Omnium penes hos initia pugnarum; haec prima semper acies, visu nova; nam ne in pace quidem vultu mitiore mansuescunt. Nulli domus aut ager aut aliqua cura: prout ad quemque venere, aluntur, prodigi alieni, contemptores sui, donec exsanguis senectus tam durae virtuti impares faciat.