Gudmund Schütte.

Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes online

. (page 15 of 17)
Online LibraryGudmund SchüttePtolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes → online text (page 15 of 17)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

Misreading Pasiskes E (=■ Axiakes F) = *Potamos ^siakes.
Constant "omega" in the termination -ones: Ombr^nes, Frugundi^nes,

Sul^nes, Karb^nes, Vibi^nes, Gel^nes, Igylli^nes E, Gyth^nes, Kari^nes,

Eluai^nes F.

But in E we notice traces of a Latin pre-existence. The most con-
spicuous is the term "Sarmatai" instead of the Greek synonym "Skythai",
see above. E. g. the Herodotian Basilikoi Skythai appear as Basilikoi
Sarmatai, etc. If this translation is omitted in the name Exobygitai =
Hamaxobioi Skythai F, it seems due to the circumstance that the name



had in E become unreadable at an early stage. The distortion itself
seems to point towards a Latin document: the misreading -BY- would
originate from a Lation -BII rather than from the Greek -BIOI, and
-GITAI from a vulgar Latin *SCITHAE rather from the Greek SKYOAL
— The name Portakra in the Crimea, probably originating from E^ con-
tains the Latin word portus, "harbour".

We have mentioned in § 16 that the Latin traces of Prot. A form a
marked contrast to the Greek traces in the duplicates on the western
frontier of Prot. F\ Latin correcture *"Vari" over *"Viruni" Aa facing
the Greek misreading Auarpoi = Ouarinoi F\ Latin termination in Kar-
pianoi Acde facing the ethno-topic couple Harpioi-Harpis F.

h. Literary Milieu.

The entire literary milieu of Prot. E and F cannot be investigated
here, as it would lead us too far into the history of Asiatic geography.
It must be sufficient to state the conspicuous affinity with the sphere of

This affinity appears perhaps most strikingly at the western edge of
the area concerned: Auarinoi-Frugundiones-Sulones E = Auarpoi-Bur-
guntes-Gythones F seem to be identical with Pliny's list of "Vandilian"
tribes, IV, 99: Burgundiones-Varinne-Gutones. It is true that Miillenhoff
in his "Germania antiqua", p. 93, eliminates "Varinne" as a distorted
duplicate of the immediately following Charini, the Harii of Tacitus. We,
however, cannot admit his opinion as justified; for "Varinne" is not far
from the well-known tribe-name Varini, and the existence of a traditional
Baltic list, Varini, Burgundiones, Gutones, seems confirmed through the
coinciding evidence of three authorities, viz. Prot. E, Prot. F, and Pliny.

In the description of the Maeotian coasts, the affinity between the two
prototypes and Pliny is equally conspicuous.

1. Common affinities.

Tribes: Neuroe, Hamaxobii, Rhoxolani, Aorsi, Geloni.
Rivers: Axiaces, Pacyris, (Carcinites = Turuntes E).

2. Pliny and Prot. E.
Tribes: Basilidae, Agathyrsi.

Rivers: Rhode, Acesinus (C. Miiller, I, 412).

3. Pliny and Prot. F.

Tribes: Budini, Tyragetae; colony of Cares = Karoia (C. Miiller,

1, 418).

Towns: Nauarum, Carcine, Taphrus.

Rivers or Gulfs: Buces, Gerrhus, Hypanis, Panticapes, Coretus =
Poritos, sinus sAggarius = Agaros.



The geographical work, from which Pliny extracts his description of
the Maeotian coasts, is subjected to detailed examination by Miillenhoff
in his '^Deutsche Altertumskunde", III, 53 seq. Mela used the same
work. It is marked by the presence of numerous Herodotian names
which were in Mela's and Pliny's times already antiquated. We re-discover
most of them in Prot. £, whereas an editor of Prot. F has evidently
tried to reduce the anachronistic character by eliminating antiquated
names, apart from some residuals such as Bodinoi and Geiunoi =
Gelonoi E.

Sometimes we notice that Pliny and the Ptolemaic prototypes represent
the same development leading away from the original source. E. g., all
of the three authorities add new names, such as Hamaxobii, Rhoxolani,
Aorsi. The Agathyrsoi are by £ placed among the Maeotian tribes,
corresponding to Mela and Pliny, whereas Herodotus placed them in
Dacia. The Herodotian name Hypakyris is unanimously written without
the initial syllable Hy-. The Neuroi appear with a town Nauarum Pliny
= Nauaron F] the same new vocalisation appears in the *Nauaroi
(Sauaroi) of F.

This line of development seems to have been continued^ by F and F,
introducing several times a contrast to the stage of Pliny. E. g., the
Herodotian river Hypakyris is still by Pliny preserved as the river
Pacyris, whereas F and F turn it into a race-name : the tribe Pagyritai F,
= the town Pasyris F (C. Miiller, I, 432). Whereas Pliny leaves the
Herodotian Neuroe unaltered (beside the town Nauarum with the new
vocalisation), F writes not only Nauaron, but also Nauaroi = Sauaroi E.

Whereas the affinity between F, F, and Pliny appears at the first
glance, there are generally no traces of special affinity between the two
prototypes and Tacitus. We miss almost entirely the tribes, mentioned
by Tacitus as inhabitants of north-eastern Europe: Aestui, etymologically
=: Esthonians, with ''lingua Brittannicae propior" (probably a disguised
notice of the Pruteni or Prussians); Sitones, governed by queens, i. e. a
disguised notice of the Quaenes; Hellusii; and Etiones, i. e. the Jptnar of
Norse tradition. .

However, Prot. F contains at least one marked affinity with Tacitus,
namely the presence of the Finns, who are not mentioned in those books
of Pliny which have been preserved.

i. Examination of Details.

In spite of all confusion, Prot. F contains at least one valuable topo-
graphic detail, viz. the name of the Ombrones. This tribe is mentioned
nowhere else in geographical literature, but we recognize it as identical
with the historical Ambrones, the companions of the still more famous


Teutones and Cimbri. Cf. Miiller's edition, I, p. 424. Through E we
are infornned about their localisation. They appear south of the Auarinoi,
read : west of the Ouarinoi in the present Mecklenburg, — a tribe which
is known among the Anglian tribes worshipping Nerthus. — We may-
identify the Ambrones with the present Amrings, living on an island
west of Slesvig called Amrum, in mediaeval times Ambrum. Perhaps the
name has also some connection with Imbrae, as the island of Fehmern
was called in Old Danish. In the Old English epical catalogue Widsith
the tribe -re-appears as Ymbre, and Welsh authors such as Nennius still
used Ambrones as synonymous with Saxons.

j. Conclusion.

The prototypes E and F must be called well verified both from topo-
graphic, linguistic, and literary points of view.

Prot. E contains only one valuable individual element, viz. the tribe-
name Ombrones, localised *west of the *Ouarinoi. Otherwise, its value
consits in the thoroughgoing confirmation which it affords to the duplicate
prototype F.

The latter, on the other hand, is one of Ptolemy's most valuable
sources. We notice especially the correct representation of the Caspian
Sea as an inland water.



a. Summary of Contents.

Prot. Sk is a special map or description of the Scandinavian Peninsula,
containing tribes only. — No duplicates, except Finnoi in E. — Greek
marks. A limited affinity with Tacitus. Cf. Figures 3, 20.

b.; c. Ptolemaic Localisation; Definition of Limits.

It seems that Prot. Sk was amalgamated with Prot. F before the
Ptolemaic stage, cf. § 24 b. The Ptol. constructor introduced Sk into
the outlines of the Peninsula of Scania, as represented in Prot. A (from
the local prototype Aa). The area of Scania was of course far too narrow
to contain the seven Scandinavian tribes of Sk, and therefore most MS.
copies of the Ptolemaic atlas simply leave the map blank. This is one
of our principal reasons for concluding that Sk must have a different
origin from the Scandian coast design of the atlas. Another reason will
be found in the commentary on the literary criteria.

§ 27- LOCAL PROTOTYPE 5;fe 135

d. General Topographic Scheme.

The physical nature of the Scandinavian Peninsula makes it self-
evident that this country must have been described in a separate proto-

e. Statistical Features.

Prot. Sk contains only tribes. These are well selected as they re-
present generally the more important inhabitants of the peninsula. The
*Finaithoi, or people of F'inveden, would perhaps not seem important
from a modern point of view, but as a matter of fact they appear again
in the next detailed description of Scandinavia, namely that which is
given by Jordanis in the 6th century; we may identify them with the
primaeval inhabitants of the entire province of Smaland. It is highly
remarkable that the Norwegians are represented by the inhabitants of
Hedemarken: for this province is actually the most fertile in the whole
of Norway and must have been an original centre of Gothonic race
within this country.

f. Occurrence of Duplicates.
Finnoi, re-appearing in E, cf. § 26.

g. Linguistic Marks.

All marks of Prot. Sk are Greek.

Spelling eu^ not the Latinising eow. l^euonoi.
Misreading ou for au: Goutsx.
Misreading au for ou\ ¥auondi\ = *Souionai.

Spelling -ones with "omega", not with "omikron": Leu^noi, Dauki<?nes.
Thus the original document seems to have been Greek from the very
beginning, never subjected to Latin transcription.

h. Literary Milieu.

The contents of Prot. Sk are quite unique. Only few or vague
affinities are found in classical literature.

Already Mela knew the '^island of Codanovia", i. e. Scadinavia, Scan-
dinavia = Scandia. But he seems to have known little more than the
bare name.

Prot. Aa has a relatively exact description of the coast of Scania,
but nothing else, cf. § 20.

Pliny has an essentially wider knowledge about the Peninsula, evidently
dating from the lively mercantile intercourse with the Baltic amber coast,
established under the Emperor Nero. Not only does Pliny repeat the

136 Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe

names Scandia and Scadinavia, already known by Aa and *Mela, but he
supplies several new details. He also seems to have known a description
which represented the "island" of Scandinavia correctly as a peninsula,
— only he did not recognize the identity of Scadinavia with the penin-
sular country mentioned. The peninsula, he says, contains the immense
mountain Saevo = Kolen and Dovre in Norway, IV, 99. The dimen-
sions of the "island of Scandinavia" are much better known by Pliny
than by Ptolemy: it is not that tiny bit which appears on the map, but
a country which rivals the remainder of Europe in size. This is re-
presented as the opinion of its inhabitants, who only cover a portion of
the island, although they embrace 500 counties (pagi). The name of the
inhabitants is mentioned: "Hilleuionum gente", perhaps to be amended
into "ilia Suionum gente", as there follows a relative sentence^). Besides,
Pliny reports fabulous stories about the Scandinavian fauna.

Pliny's correct ideas of the dimensions of Scandinavia re-appear in
Prot. Sk. And, as we have pointed out, the name of the Swedes is
perhaps common to the two authorities. But otherwise, the milieu is
rather that of Tacitus and his age.

Tacitus is strikingly well informed about the Scandinavian Peninsula.
His detailed data seem especially remarkable, when compared with his
vague ideas about the Cimbric Chersonese. Evidently, the wide exten-
sion of the Tacitean horizon over the Scandinavian Peninsula is due to
the continued and growing intercourse of the Romans with the Baltic
amber coast ^). In Scandinavia, Tacitus mentions only two nations,
Swedes and Sitones; besides, his Finns may be assigned to the same
sphere. Probably, he knew more, but did not regard it as adviseable to
fill his brief survey with mere names. In return, the nations mentioned
are relatively exactly described. Tacitus records the Swedish kingdom,
the Swedish navy, and a series of customs which evidently point towards
the national Swedish cult of the male Nerthus or Freyr. The Sitones,
according to Tacitus, are governed by queens. It is a popular tale,
originating from their Scandinavian name, Kvaener. In mediaeval literature,
the country of the Kvaener was called "terra feminarum", i. e. "women-
land". The Kvaener are in reality Finns, although Tacitus regards them
as Swabians, i. e. as a Gothonic nation. Finally, Tacitus describes the
Finns, whom he seems to have regarded as living on the continental
coast opposite Scandinavia. Their poor living and savage customs are
described in a detailed way.


^) Suggested by us in Salmonsen's "Illustr. Konversationslexikon". Also suggested
by LafBer.

^) Cf. the word lukarna-staki ("candle-stick") on the island of Gothland, borrowed from
the Gothic lukarna-staj)a = Latin lucerna. It is a most striking evidence of the influence
of Roman trade on Scandinavia.


If we compare Prot. Sk with Tacitus, we find both a general and
special accordance. Both authorities have more exact ethnic details
from Scandinavia, than Mela og even Pliny had. Both authorities know
of Swedes and Finns. The latter nation is unknown apart from Tacitus
and Ptolemy down to the end of antiquity. When the Finns re-appear
in Prot. £, they seem to originate from Prot. Sk, through the medium
of Prot. F, cf. § 24. The fact that the Finns are the sole representatives
of the nations from Scandinavia in Prot. E, seems to show that Prot. Sk
characterized them in a similar manner, as did Tacitus.

i. Examination of Details.

North: Finnoi = Finlanders.

West: Chaideinoi = Heinir in HeiSmprk, now Hedemarken, Norway.

East: *Souionai (Fauonai) = Swedes, in Upland.
— : *Finaithoi (Firaisoi) = the Finaithae, in Finnhei5r, now Finveden.
As they are placed in the east, we must assume that they occupied
the entire space between the Baltic coast and the county of Fin-
veden, that is to say: the present province of Smaland. The
name survived on the western frontier owing to the ethnic con-
trast to the Scandinavians.

South: *Gautoi (Goutai) = Gotlanders.

— : *Daneiones or *Dankiones (Daukiones) = Danes, in Scania; per-
haps with suffix -k as in the Danish Fanniker, Manniker, Lolliker,
Lyviker i. e. inhabitants of the islands Fan0, Man0, Laaland,

Only the midland tribe, Leuonoi, cannot be identified with certainly;
perhaps near Liongakoping (Linkoping).

Some authors have connected them with the Liothida of Jordanis
who are, however, in reality the inhahitants of the Scanian county of

Cf. also the Leones, mentioned in the Old Engl, epical catalogue
Widsith without definite localisation.

The emendations Fauonai, Daukiones Z> *Souionai, *Daneiones (or
*Dankiones) are necessary. It would have been impossible in a detailed
list of tribes like Prot. Sk to omit mention of the Swedes, the only
Scandinavian tribe of real Gothonic nationality noticed by Tacitus. And
among some hundred Gothonic tribe-names, there is only a single one
with the initial sounds Da-, viz. the Danes. Cf. our § 7.

j. Conclusion.

Prot. Sk may be called well verified both from topographic and
linguistic points of view.

138 Ptolemy's maps of northern Europe

It is a most excellent piece of ethnic topography. The localisations
are all correct. We notice especially the correct selection of names
according to their statistical prominence.


After finishing our survey of Ptolemaic prototypes, we reserve a
separate paragraph for the question of limits which has been provision-
ally mentioned in § 16, d. Cf. Figures 28, 29.

Generally, it is taken for granted that Ptolemy represents the Cimbric
Chersonese and the Scandian islands as Germanic without making any
distinction from the area of the present Germany. He is again supposed
to agree with his predecessors, Pliny and Tacitus, and the assumed com-
mon scheme of these three authors is regarded as the classical norm.

Only some few modern scholars interpret the classical evidences diffe-
rently, introducing a scheme of distinction within the area of classical
Germania. So e. g. Ad. van Kampen, in "Perthes' Atlas antiquus",
1892, incorporates the Cimbric Chersonese with Germania, whereas the
Danish islands and the Scandinavian peninsula are placed outside, design-
ated as Germanic in a less pronounced degree. The map concerned re-
appears unaltered in the 8th edition, 1908, published by Max Schneider.
K. Wolff, in the 6th edition of Meyer's "Konversationslexikon", 1906,
makes Germania embrace also the Danish islands, but still places the
Scandinavian Peninsula apart.

It must be admitted that those authors are mistaken who believe that
Ptolemy represents Scandinavia as belonging to Germania without any
restriction. The actual Ptolemaic distinction, however, differs radically
from the schemes of the cartographers v. Kampen, Schneider, and Wolff.

The northern frontier of the classical '^Germania proper", according
to Ptolemy, does not exceed the limits of present Germany, -nay, of the
Germanic Confederation before 1864. The Cimbric Chersonese and the
Scandian islands are represented collectively, as a separate section.

This appears from a series of various observations.

I. Within the Ptolemaic text description of Germania, the Cimbric
Chersonese is the only continental district which is represented separately.
In other parts of Germania, the Ptol. constructor or his prototypes rather
effaced existing sub-divisions. E. g., there is no trace of the Limes
district, although it was occupied by the Romans, defended by strong
frontier walls, and described in one of Ptolemy's special prototypes. —
Instead of Bohemia, Ptolemy mentions a tribe of Bohemians, and corre-


spondingly, the district of *Teurio-chaim has given rise to a so-called
tribe Teurio-chaimai.

2. The Cimbric Chersonese and the Scandian islands contain only-
tribes, whereas the entire area of Germania proper contains in addition
towns and other local details. This is a distinction, introduced arbitrarily
by the Ptol. constructor. The Romans had visited the Cimbric Chersonese
with their navy, and knew from practical observations details of this country,
such as the headland Thastris (or Chartris), and the gulf Lagnus. On the
other hand, the Roman armies and navies never visited what constitutes
present Germany east of the middle and lower Elbe, and the Romans
had no traceable connection whatever with the region between the Elbe
and the Oder. Consequently, the Ptolemaic towns and rivers within the
latter region must be regarded as fictitious. They are introduced by the
Ptol. constructor, in order to produce the impression of homogenous
geographical knowledge, embracing the entire area of "Germania proper".
The Cimbric Chersonese and the Scandian islands are purposely repre-
sented differently, as the less well-known periphery of the Ptolemaic

3. Some of the oldest MS. atlases, viz. the Urbinas 82 and the Athous
Vatopediensis, write the name "Kimbrike Chersonesos" with capital letters
which are only a little smaller than those of the "Germania megale".
(Noticed by J. Fischer).

4. Some of the oldest MS. atlases, viz. the Athous Vatopediensis and
the Burney 1 1 1 , represent the Cimbric Chersonese with colour, whereas
the area of Germania proper is left blank. The Athos atlas extends the
Cimbric colour also over the Scandian islands. It must be noticed that
the two named MSS. represent both versions of the Ptolemaic atlas.

We state: the only traceable boundary-line within classical Germania
is the Ptolemaic which separates Germany from Denmark or Scandinavia.


Our above investigations have given rise to a vast mass of hypo-
theses within a field of study which has hitherto been scarcely cultivated.

It is inevitable that such a first attempt will be productive of various
errors, and we have already felt obliged to correct some mistakes, made
in our previous sketches (in "The Scottish Geographical Magazine", etc.).
We have also received letters from scholars who expressed doubts as to
our results.

It is now the part of the critics to reject our theory, or, if possible,
to replace it by a better one.


They may, e. g., try to reconstruct the assumable Ptolemaic proto-
types on different lines, or to point out new and more decisive criteria.

The investigation of corresponding prototypes within other parts of
Ptolemy's atlas will also prove a practical means of verification.

In face of all possible doubts and rejections, however, we venture to
assume that one essential result has at any rate been obtained: the Pto-
lemaic chaos is no more left completely without serious effort being made
to dispell it. One attempt has now been made.

Consequently, if geographers and ethnographers go on using the Pto-
lemaic data frankly as ''positive" foundations, such as they have done for
some five centuries, they will no more be able to excuse themselves with
the absence of any genetic criticism. They will have to refute our statements,
or to shrink anew from preserving and increasing the Ptolemaic chaos.

Even this result will prove of considerable benefit.

We hope that the eagerly expected publication of the Codex Urbinas
82 through Jos. Fischer S. J. will attract the attention of scholars to
this highly interesting, but also badly neglected branch of study, so that
finally the chaos may be dissipated and the buried treasures of Ptolemy's
predecessors become accessible and be duly utilised.

Eskjcer pr. Jebjerg, Sailing, August i8^^' 1^14.




Cf. Fig. 30 (designed after the printing of § 19).

It deserves to be emphasized that Prof. L. Schmidt and the author
of the present research have independently been led to the assumption of
a prototype representing the physical map of Germany. We cannot indeed
accept the traditional interpretation of the Ptolemaic mountains, as given
by Schmidt: Melibokos = Harz, Semanus = Thiiringer Wald, Sudeta =
Erzgebirge, Gabreta = Bohmer Wald, but the principal basis of agree-
ment is at any rate worth comment.

ad d. As we mentioned in our § 15, the Ptol. constructor seems to
be fond of theoretical arrangements. One such is the Baltic coast-hne,
running straight west-east, cf. § 20 c. We may add that the same theore-
tical line west-east appears in the Melibokos, the Sudeta, and the Carpathian
mountains; correspondingly, an inclination for a direction approximately
north-south appears in the mountain Ketios south of the Danube, and in
the rivers Vistula and Rhine. It need not be pointed out that such
arrangements would chiefly affect the area of Prot. A,

It is possible that both the Athos Map and the Burney Map reflect
an original design in which the mountains were not so artificially modified
as in the current Ptolemaic scheme. At least we notice that a pro-
nounced oblique direction prevails in the Melibokos, according to both
maps, and in the Sudeta, according to the Athos Map.

Whereas Prot. A is probably not responsible for the horizontal and
vertical lines of Ptolemaic mountains and rivers, we may, on the other


hand, attribute to this prototype the exaggerated distance between the
German frontier rivers and the mountains behind them. We notice the
exaggeration east of the Rhine and north of the Danube. It is easily
conceivable that the Romans were well informed concerning the regions
directly contiguous with their frontier; and the large amount of known
details from such regions would naturally tempt 20 cartographer to ex-
aggerate the space concerned on the map.

ad i. The so-called "town" Tulisurgion has in our § 20 c been com-
pared with Tulifurdon in the vicinity, as a probable duplicate. Zeuss,
"Die Deutschen", p. 7, suggests that Tulisurgion, Toulisurgion, is a mis-
reading for *Teutiburgion, the famous wood in which the Romans under-
went their fatal defeat in 9 A. D. — We now hold that his conjecture
is correct, and therefore we have on our map Fig. 30 represented the
vignette of the so-called "town" as a mountain which we attribute to the
original prototype A. The vignette certainly occupies exactly the place
of the mountain Teutoburger Wald, the present Osning.

Orkynios, Lat. Hercynia, is a Celtic name meaning "wood" or "wooded
mountain". Its primaeval Celtic form was *Percunia, corresponding to
the Gothic word fairguni, "mountain". The original Hercynian Wood
was a large complexe of middle German mountains and in mediaeval
times the German form of the name -Fergunna, Vircunnia, etc. — still

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 15 17

Online LibraryGudmund SchüttePtolemy's maps of northern Europe, a reconstruction of the prototypes → online text (page 15 of 17)