Re: Skiri Bastarnae

From: lsroute66@...
Message: 10219
Date: 2001-10-14

tgpedersen wrote:

<<Note that names of Skiri and Bastarnae are probably both adjectives,
cf the adjectives Eng. sheer, Germ. schier "pure", and from something
found also in Dutch verbasteren "to corrupt" with adjectival... suffix
-n-. So they are the pure and impure what? It is as if a noun
were left out here. Could it be Goths?>>

Hi, new to the list.

I'm aware that the Bastarnae and their name have been discussed here
before. But I'd like to offer an observation.

The use of the word ÒbastardÓ to refer to illegimate children or some
kind of ÒimpureÓ descent appears to be rather recent. The O.E.D.
suggests its origin comes from the idea of Òa pack saddle childÓ - fil
de bast - from <bast> occuring in Old Fr. and Med. Lat. as a pack

But this is all much later than the first appearnance of the Bastarnae
name in Greek in the 3d century BC. And in the Greek of the time,
<bastazo:> and its related forms had a broad connotation that referred
to different kinds of lifing and carrying. Attested are specific
forms like <bastagion>, a baldric, and more general meanings like
<bastage:>, transport, and <bastagma>, burden. The Romans apparently
extended the use of the Greek word to a strapped sandal <basta>, and a
closed litter <basterna>. There are also instances where <bastar-> or
the like applied to different kinds of wagons in later Romance
languages and, if I remember correctly, in NT Greek.

If the ÒBastarnaeÓ were involved in moving or even protecting trade
goods, wagoneering or transport, along some of the northern routes
into Greece, the name would make some sense in a very practical way.
And it supports the idea that Bastarnae was NOT a self-name, any more
than the word ÒGreekÓ is as we use it in English.

(The hitch to this is that, when Tacitus in his Germanica describes
the Bastarnae as some sort of half-breeds, he seems to be using the
name as if it to imply an etymology meaning mixed descent. But we can
instead interpret this as Tacitus dealing with Germani bearing the
name of wagoneers - a way of life that he identifies as Sarmatian.
Tacitus may have been completely unaware of any modern sense of

ItÕs often said that the Bastarnae were somehow absorbed or destroyed
by the Goths. I donÕt think thereÕs much evidence for that. The
Bastarnae were a large tribe with formdiable military capabilities
wherever they are described. All there is real evidence for is that
the name just seems to fall out of use.

In the middle of the 3d century, 100,000 Bastarnae are supposedly
permitted to resettle in Roman territory as a reward for loyalty to
Rome. But Jordanes mentions a recruitment around the same time by a
Gothic king of ÒGoths and PeuciniÓ from the island of Peuci - an
obviously highly strategic position at the mouth of the Danube that
had long been held by the Bastarnae. (The names Peucini and Bastarnae
were used interchangeably by Tacitus.) After that time, the name
appears rarely, while the Goths' name starts to become common.

There may be an explanation for this. Tacitus, writing no later than
120AD, was positively insulting in describing the Bastarnae. If we
donÕt underestimate the effect of Roman opinion on these people or
their rulers, we might see how they would want to distance themselves
from such a maligned heritage. TacitusÕ Germania seems to have been
very important to Theodoric and his interpretation of who and where
the Goths came from.

And, if in fact Bastarnae was a Greek name given to these people, then
perhaps it was not a self-name, not something they called themselves
among themselves. It could have fallen out of use simply because the
bastarnae started calling themselves something else.

Which I think leaves open the possibility that the difference between
Goths and Bastarnae could be mainly be one of name.

Any commen