Germanic Races And Languages. Before the political history of Germany began, or a distinct German nation appeared, Germanic races moulded the political organizations of the north and west of Europe, and Germanic languages either superseded or modified the speech of the previous inhabitants. Ethnologists sometimes classify the Germanic races under the generic name of Teutons, as a main division of the Slavo-Germanic branch of the Aryan or Indo-European family of nations. The term Teutonic, in this wider sense, is chiefly used by English writers, as the equivalent of the German Germanisch (Fr. germanique), in contradistinction to Deutsch (Fr. allemand), in the narrower sense, and is thus often used in this work. They distinguish three groups: Scandinavians, Goths, and Germans. The Scandinavians occupy Norway and Sweden (excepting the territory of the Lapps), the Danish isles, and the peninsula of Jutland. The Goths, now extinct, were subdivided into Ostrogoths and Visigoths, or Eastern and Western Goths. The Germans are subdivided into two groups, the northern and southern, or Low and High Germans, and are found principally in Germany, the Netherlands, England, the United States, and the British colonies.
There are many hypotheses in regard to the meaning of the word German. Some authorities derive it from the old High German ger, spear or javelin, and consider the Germani of the ancients as the equivalent of Germannen or men armed with such weapons. Others derive it from the Celtic gairm or garm, noise, and understand it to refer to the ancient German practice of shouting in battle. The modern German word Deutsch is held by some to be a modification of the name Teut, Tuisco, or Tuisto, a mythical ancestor of the Germans; others trace it to diet, old High German diot, pertaining to the people, or national; and others again to the verb diutan, to explain. The cradle of the Indo-Europeans is generally placed in Asia, whence the Germans have been supposed to have entered Europe across the Ural and Caucasus. Some recent authorities, however, remove the primitive habitat of the Aryans from the sources of the Oxus and Jaxartes to the Rus-so-Lithuanian plateaus, contiguous to the first historical habitat of the Germans, north of central Europe, and within the boundaries of the Rhine, the Danube, and the Vistula. There are no positive data about the Germanic races prior to the 2d century B. C. No mention is made of them when the Hellenes came in contact with the Scythians, and the Gauls carried terror to Rome and Delphi. Pytheas of Mas-salia met with Goths and Teutons on the Baltic, and it is probable that the Goths inhabited Scandinavia before the 4th century.
Arrian says that Alexander the Great had dealings with peoples living on the lower Ister (Danube), whom he calls Celts; but he mentions the Germanic Quadi and Marcomanni as tribes of them. It is evident that the Greek writers often speak of Germans as Celts or Galatians. Strabo designates the Germans as Celto-Scy-thians, meaning a people neither Celtic nor Scy-thic. The uncertainty of the Greek and early Roman writers concerning them renders it presumable that the Germans lived before the time of the Cimbric migrations isolated from their neighbors to the south and west, while the correlation of the two linguistic groups seems to indicate that they lived in constant intercourse with the Slavs. In the 2d century B. C. the Germanic races became the dominant element in western and central Europe. The first historical migration started from the Cimbric peninsula, whence the tribes composing it were indiscriminately called Cimbri. Other migrations of the same period took their rise in the region of the Baltic, and the name of Teutons was given to the tribes figuring in these. The Celts previously moved to the west and south, but many of them had retraced their steps, and migrated with Germanic races from west to east.
This mixed people appeared under Cambaules and Cerethrius in Thrace, and after the dissolution of the Macedonian empire under Brennus 'in Macedonia and Greece, and under Leonnarius in Asia Minor. The torrent of Cimbri and Teutons which rushed over the Alps at the close of the 2d century B. C. failed to weaken the Romans in the mountainous districts of northern Italy and Illyria. Germanic tribes were for centuries put to their utmost to prevent the further advance to the north of their southern enemies. Cassar and Tacitus are the most valuable authorities upon the condition of the western districts of Germany in their time. Caesar states that the Rhine was the eastern boundary of Gaul, and affirms that in Switzerland, southern Alsace, near the upper Moselle, and on the shores of the strait of Dover, there were only four Celtic tribes, the Helvetii, Sequani, Medio-matrici, and Morini. He called the country of the Maas, north of Sedan, Germania Inferior, and the left bank of the Rhine, between Brei-sach and Linz (near Coblentz), Germania Superior. Tacitus divides the Germans into three classes, which he says were the descendants of the three sons of Mannus, the son of Tuisto, a god whom all Germans adored.
He names In-gasvones as living close to the sea; Hermiones inhabiting the centre; and all others were Istae-vones. He mentions also as original divisions, according to some, the Marsi, Gambrivii, Suevi, and Vandals. Pliny the Elder knewr five principal divisions of Germans: Vindili, Ingaevones, Istaevones, Hermiones, and Peucini. The Germanic races formed confederations at a very early period. The most ancient known were the confederation of Suevi, described by Caesar; another of Cherusci, founded by Arminius; and a third of Marcomanni, with Marboduus as chief. The Batavi settled on the banks of the Rhine, around the lowest portion of its course, the Ubii near Cologne, the Treviri near Treves, the Nervii in Hainaut, the Vangiones near Worms, the Nemetes near Spire, and the Tri-bocci in Alsace. Between the Rhine and the Elbe lived the Catti (Hessians), with the Usipii N. of the Lippe, the Sigambri and Tencteri between the Ruhr and Sieg, the Cherusci around the Hartz, the Bructeri in Westphalia, and further north the Chamavi and Angrivarii. Between the Weser and the Ems lived probably the Dulgibini and Chasuari mentioned by Tacitus. On the shores of the North sea were the Frisii and Chauci, and on those of the Baltic the Heruli and Rugii. On the lower Elbe lived the Saxons, with the Angles S. E. of them; higher up on the west bank of the river, the Longobards. On the Danube, and subsequently in Bohemia, were the Marcomanni, and E. of them the Quadi. In Silesia dwelt the Sem-nones, Lygii, and Burgundians, and between the Vistula and the Pregel, the Goths. The name of Suevi was given to a confederation of tribes scattered over the territory between the Elbe, the Vistula, and the Baltic. This confederation reached subsequently to the southern portions of Germany, where its name Swahians (Schwaben) is still current.