Category Archives: Veneti

Something Fishy

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There is an excellent etymological discussion on Polish Radio about the words:

  • wędka – fishing rod
  • wędzić – to smoke fish

The expert on the show provides a fascinating discussion of the history of these words in the Polish language.  Everyone interested is encouraged to listen to this.  Of course, the translation requires some time.

The only quibble may be with the ultimate conclusion.

The discussion was spurred by a question posed by a listener (a Mr. Lech, incidentally) as to whether there is an etymological relationship between those words.  The expert on the show concludes that there isn’t.

But this is clearly wrong. She analyzes the usage of the words throughout history but finding no clear connection in the written sources, she answers the question in the negative.  The problem is that she does not care to ask the “next question.”  Let’s see what that means.

We first explain what she says about the history of these words:

Wędka – Fishing Rod

Wędka [pronounced vendka] is a word for a “fishing rod”.  It is a diminutive of the older form of the word – węda [pronounced venda] which may also have meant a “hook”.  (Incidentally, this is the same Slavic diminutive formation as one would expect to produce a laverca from a laver or lavera).

Wędka > Wędzić  – To Catch Fish

Apparently, from this word – węda/wędka – there later came a verb – wędzić – which meant as much as “to catch fish.”  Later this also became zwędzić meaning “to steal”.  (A similar meaning to łowić as in to fish/hunt which also became a colloquial synonym for “to steal”.)  This cognate of węda/wędka, however, was unrelated to the other wędzić (the one from Mr. Lech’s question).

Wędzić  – To Smoke Fish

But says our expert the above are unrelated to the word wędzić meaning “to smoke fish”.  That word, namely, comes from a “pre-Polish” (presumably meaning some old Slavic?) word meaning “to lose freshness” – same as wiotczenie as in “thinning.” But earlier that word, says our expert, the same meant “drying” or “losing water”.  She then says that “as is known, the preserving of meat by using smoke causes the meat to become dry” and that is why “the process of smoking fish was named by means of a word which referred to the [process] of drying.”

Typical ancient Slav meal

Expert Conclusion

“Of course, pure coincidence caused that wędzić and wędka are similar to one another – they  do not have the same origin.” (Incidentally, this is not original – Alexander Brueckner arrived at the same conclusion).  However, she says one can imagine a situation where a fish that is wędzona was a fish that was caught on a węda or a fish that was smoked or a fish that was first caught on   a węda and then was smoked (a “twice wędzona” fish).

The Smoking Elephant in the Room

The above conclusion however is not supported by the above discussion.  To use an oft-used aphorism “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence”. Without getting into the question of whether you can prove a negative, it is worth noting that the expert does not bother to get into the question of:

  • why exactly did węda [pronounced venda] mean “fishing rod”?; and
  • why exactly did wędzić [vendit] mean “smoking fish”?

Taken each by themselves, the words remain a mystery but, taken together, they can be explained logically.

First of all note that while węda may have meant a “hook” that hook never referred to hooks used for anything other than catching fish or fishing rod hooks.  In other words, whether as a “hook” or as a “fishing rod” the word essentially meant a device for fishing.

To further pursue this, we know that fishing with a fishing rod or hook or both is a laborious exercise which you spend most often sitting around for quite some time hoping that something will bite.  Of course, you do this by sitting on a boat which sits on water or by sitting on the water shore.

So the first candidate for the meaning of węda [venda] is water.

But, maybe it refers to “fish”?  That would be a good guess too and perhaps even a better one!  (There was, after all, that fish named Wanda…)

That is where matters would likely stand if… we did not know that there was also the word wędzić meaning “to smoke fish” and, as our expert noted, originally meaning “to lose freshness”.

Note, of course, that what a smoked fish loses is freshness, yes, but it does so by losing water.  In fact, as per our expert, the word first used to mean “to dry” or “[cause] to lose water”.

Thus, it would seem that a better guess would be that wend refers to “water”.

This is further supported by:

  • the fact that wędlina [vendlina] or wędzonka [vendzonka] refers to smoked meats other than fish (typically pork);
  • the fact that więdnąć [viendnot] refers to the “withering” or “wilting” of flowers (usually this results from lack of water obviously);
  • the fact that in other Slavic languages a similar word exists that tracks the Slavic name for “water” – woda as in (following Brueckner) proso woditi meaning to “smoke/cure” in Slovenian or uditi/údený meaning “smoked/cured meant” in Czech/Slovak or wudyty in Ruthenian (?) or вэнджаны in Belarussian;
  • the fact that wundan [vundan] meant “water” in Old Prussian and vanduo means “water” in Lithuanian.

The fact that the princess Wanda has traditionally been associated with the Vistula is also suggestive.

For more on this see here and – regarding Odin/Wodan see here.

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June 25, 2017

The Venni, Vindices and Veneti of the Later Roman Empire

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One of the complaints about the connection of the Slavs as Veneti of Jordanes and the Veneti of Pliny, Tacitus, Ptolemy or Strabo (Vindelici) is that there is a wide gap in time between the appearance of the latter (1st-2nd century) and the time when the former are identified with the Slavs (6th century).

But is that so?  It seems that what is rather true is that the people who make such claims are not familiar with Roman literature and other works of the middle and late imperial period.  We have pointed out some of those sources before but let’s rehash and a few other ones.

Notitia Dignitatum
395-433 A.D.

The Notitia mentions the Vindices:

These may be Vindelici or Veneti but, of course, those may well be one and the same tribe.

Tabula Peutingeriana
late 4th – early 5th century

In addition to the Veneti in Gaul, the Tabula Peutingeriana mentions three Venetic tribes including the Venadis Sarmatae somewhere north but also the Venedi on the Danube.  The first location is apparently the one mentioned by Ptolemy, Tacitus and Pliny and where we find Slavs later on.  The second is where the Slavs make their first appearance under that name (in Procopius and in Jordanes who makes the connection between Slavs and Veneti).

 Epiphanus’ Treatise on the Twelve Stones
circa 394 A.D.

Most of the Greek original of this work is preserved in an early Latin translation which is reflected in the Collectio Avellana.  In there we find the following passage (CSEL vol. 2):

“In the entire northern region which the ancients used to call Scythia, there are Goths, Danes [?],  Venni* and also Arii up to the German and Amazon regions.”

Scythiam vero soliti sunt veteres appellare cunctam septentrionalem plagam, ubi sunt Gothi et Dauni, Venni quoque et Arii usque ad Germanorum Amazonarumque regionem.

* On the “Venni” see below.

Hippolitus’ Chronicle
pre 235 A.D.

This chronicle tells us that “When looking to the north, these are the nations of Japheth scattered from Media as far as the Western Ocean: Medes, Albanians, Garganians, Errians, Armenians, AMazones, Coli, Korzanians, Dennagenians, Capadocians, Paphlagonians, Mariandyni, Tabareni, Chalybes, Mosynoeci, Sarmatians, Sauromatae, Maeotians, Scythians, Crimeans, Thracians, Bastarnae, Illyrians, Macedonians, Greeks, Ligurians, Istrians, Venni*, Daunians, Iapygians, Calabrians, Osci, Latins who are Romans, Gauls who are Celts, Lygistini, Celtiberians, Iberians, Gauls, Aquitannians, Illyricians, Basantians, Curtanians, Lusitanians, Vaccaei, Conii, Britons who live on islands.”

* Οὐεννοί – The German historian Josef Markwart (or Josef Marquart) noted that the Venni are the Veneti.

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June 3, 2017

On the Illyrian Veneti of Herodotus’ Book I

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In addition to the passage in Book V, 9, 2 that we discussed here, Herodotus also mentions the Veneti (Eneti) in Book I, 196, 1.  Here is that passage (Godley edition) which comes in the context of a discussion of Babylonians:

“This is the equipment of their persons. I will now speak of their established customs. The wisest of these, in our judgment, is one which I have learned by inquiry is also a custom of the Eneti in Illyria. It is this: once a year in every village all the maidens as they attained marriageable age were collected and brought together into one place, with a crowd of men standing around.”

“Then a crier would display and offer them for sale one by one, first the fairest of all; and then, when she had fetched a great price, he put up for sale the next most attractive, selling all the maidens as lawful wives. Rich men of Assyria who desired to marry would outbid each other for the fairest; the ordinary people, who desired to marry and had no use for beauty, could take the ugly ones and money besides;”

“for when the crier had sold all the most attractive, he would put up the one that was least beautiful, or crippled, and offer her to whoever would take her to wife for the least amount, until she fell to one who promised to accept least; the money came from the sale of the attractive ones, who thus paid the dowry of the ugly and the crippled. But a man could not give his daughter in marriage to whomever he liked, nor could one that bought a girl take her away without giving security that he would in fact make her his wife.”

“And if the couple could not agree, it was a law that the money be returned. Men might also come from other villages to buy if they so desired.”

“This, then, was their best custom; but it does not continue at this time; they have invented a new one lately [so that the women not be wronged or taken to another city]; since the conquest of Babylon made them afflicted and poor, everyone of the people that lacks a livelihood prostitutes his daughters.”

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May 10, 2017

Arrian’s Veneti

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One of the more knotty assertions has been that the Paphlagonian Veneti had been driven out from their lands by the Assyrians (or by the Leuco (or white) Syrians though it may also be the case that the Veneti were the Leuco-Syrians).  This claim appears in a number of 19th centuries works – usually written by amateur historians and without citations.  We finally decided to get to the bottom of this.

Apparently, the statement was made by Arrian of Nicomedia (circa 86/89 A.D. – circa after 146/160 A.D.), the author of the Periplus of the Euxine Sea, Indica and a number of other works.  However, it does not seem to have been directly preserved in any surviving work of Arrian’s.  (we say “does not seem” because we hadn’t had a chance to look through the Arrian section in Felix Jacoby’s Fragmente der Griechischen Historiker – FGrH 156).  Instead, the assertion is made by a 12th century Greek scholar Eustathius of Thessalonica (circa 1115 – 1195/6).  Among Eustathtius’ works is a series of commentaries including one on the work of Dionysius Periegetes (Dionysius the Traveler), a Roman traveler and author of a geography book who is believed to have lived during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (117–138 A.D.) though some say that he lived at the end of the third century.

It is in that commentary on Dionysius Periegetes (specifically, in section 378) that Eustathius cites Arrian.  We find the passage of interest to us in the German philologist Gottfried Bernhardy‘s 1828 edition of Dionysius’ work (Dionysius Periegetes : graece et latine, cum vetustis commentariis et interpretationibus) which also happens to contain Eusthathius’ commentary on  Dionysius.

Although about a millennium separates Arrian and Eustathius and fewer years than that have passed from Eustathius’ time to ours, nevertheless it is certainly possible that Eustathius did have access to one of Arrian’s lost works.

The following is the excerpt from the “Arrian” section of the commentary which section refers to the Veneti:

“[378] …The Eneti, who are now called the Veneti, as Arrian writes saying that the Eneti struggled hard in the fight against the Assyrians and passing into Europe lived by the river Po and the native language of these [people] is still called Venetian by reason of the Eneti and the land they dwell in [is called] Venetia.  The old [people] truly say that some of those who come from the Eneti, people of Asia, brought their kind, those who struggled in that war (as it is said) fleeing to Europe.  Others say that from the Eneti, who at one time inhabited Paphlagonia, they brought forth an exceptional nation, that after the attack on it was left wandering.  Their leader Pylamenes went to Thracia and the Veneti wondered about and retreated to the Adriatic.   This poet [Strabo] recalls such Venetian Paphlagonians saying: ‘from the [land] of the Veneti, whence comes the breed of wild mules.’  Many of the Veneti who are close to Aquileia, have colonies there by the same name.  The ocean is called home not only by the Veneti but also by the Belgae.  The Belgae are a Celtic nation.  The geographer [Strabo] also writes that clearly the cities of the Veneti who live by the ocean were founded by those who live on the Adriatic.  In a naval encounter they fought against Caesar such that they might prevent him from crossing to Britain.  Nor is it an accident that the Veneti are those Paphlagonians that arrived safe from the Trojan War with Antenor the Trojan, as this is demonstrated by the fact that they excelled in raising horses, as reported by Homer.  [Thus,] the training of horse is among the Greek called Venetica [?]  It was from these that Diomedes was given an offering of a white horse.  Moreover, they say their sea is similar to the Ocean [both] returning and flowing.  And these lakes are filled by channels (as old historians recount), just as the Egyptian lakes are derived/filled [?].  It should also be noted that the entire region beyond the Calabrians was called Apulia and the people there Apulians.  Note also that just as the wind that blows through Thracia is called the Thracian, and the Locrician the one that blows through Locris, so does the one that blows through Iapygia is called the Iapygian.*”

* This is confusing but Iapygia is the same as Apulia and as Messapia at the back heel of Italy (also the home to a town Sybar present apparently at the Trojan War before it was renamed Lecce by the Romans – given as Lipiae or Lippiae by Strabo and Ptolemy).  Whether the Iapyges could have something to do with the Iazyges is a question at least worth asking.  Why this passage should be thrown in here is uncertain – perhaps the author thought the Messapians/Apullians/Iapyges had something to do with the Veneti.  Perhaps because of the city of Pula now in Croatia (Colonia Pietas Iulia Pola Pollentia Herculanea).  What Locris has to do with any of this is even more unclear.  Afterwards, the author continues with the description of the northern Adriatic turning his gaze to Triest so it seems that some connection is being drawn by Eustathius (or by Arrian?).

“[382] Also Tegaestrae, an Illyrian city, which is located in the innermost part of the Adriatic: its other name is Tergest as it is [written?] in the book of the Gentiles/[heathens?].”

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March 28, 2017

Searching for Brests

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Here is a map with cities/towns that have Brest in the name (red) and variations, e.g., Briest, Brzesc, Berestok, etc.:


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July 16, 2016

The Veneti of Solinus & Martianus Capella

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We have previously briefly mentioned Solinus (Gaius Julius Solinus), the Latin writer of the early 3rd century, when discussing the River Vistula here. He wrote “The wonders of the world” (De mirabilibus mundi aka Polyhistor), a book which includes a mention of the Veneti of Paphlagonia.   Although much of the work is derived from Pliny and Pomponius Mela, we wanted to include the reference for completeness’ sake here (with the C.L.F. Panckoucke edition).

Martianus Capella (Martianus Minneus Felix Capella) lived and worked at the beginning of the 5th century.  We know this only because his one monumental work that survived – “On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury” (De nuptiis Philologiae et Mercurii) mentions the sack of Rome by the Goth Alaric (in 410) but the writer is apparently unaware of the conquest of Africa by the Vandals (in 429).  It seems (as per Cassiodorus) he was a native of Madaura in the Roman province of Africa (in today’s Algeria).  He may have been a lawyer in (Roman) Carthage.    The “marriage” book was quite popular in the middle ages.  More importantly for us, it also contains a geographic description of some parts of the world including a passage on the “Province of Phrygia”.  That passage, which appears based on Solinus, also refers to the Paphlagonian (and Italian) Veneti.  Therefore, we include it here as well.

De mirabilibus mundi aka Polyhistor
C.L.F. Panckoucke edition (Paris 1847)
45. Paphlagonia, et Venetorum origo.

“In the back of Galatia is terminated by Paphlagonia.  This Paphlagonia, looks at Taurica [Crimea] from Cape Carambis; [there] rises Mount Cytor stretched into a height of sixty-three [thousand?] miles; this is where the noteworthy place of the Veneti lies, from which, as Cornelius Nepos certifies, the Paphlagonians set out to Italy and, thereupon, they were named Veneti. The Miletians founded many cities there.  The town of Mithridates (VI of Pontus) Eupator once it was conquered by Pompei, became known as Pompeiopolis.*”

* This refers to a Roman city near the modern Turkish town of Taşköprü.


(Paphlagoniam limes a tergo Galaticus amplectitur. Ea Paphlagonia Carambi promontorio spectat Tauricam, consurgit Cytoro monte porrecto in spatium passuum trium et sexaginta millium, insignis loco Heneto: a quo, ut Cornelius Nepos perhibet, Paphlagones in Italiam transvecti, mox Veneti sunt nominati. Plurimas in ea regione urbes Milesii condiderunt, Eupatoriam Mithridates: quo subacto a Pompeio, Pompeiopolis est dicta.)

Martianus Capella
“On the Marriage of Philology and Mercury”
Book VI
(Province of Phrygia)

“…Thereafter [comes] Paphlagonia, where [lies] the end of Galatia; but here is the city [land] of the Veneti from whose citizens [inhabitants], they [people] claim, the Veneti of Italy have arisen…”


(De Phrygia Provincia.  Phrygia Troadi imminet, ab aquiilone Galatia est, a meridie Lycaonia et Pisidiae Mygdoniae confinis est, ab oriente Lyciae, a septentrione Mysiae et Cariae.  Dehinc Tmolus corco florens, amnisque Pactolus.  Ioniae Miletos caput.  Ibi etiam Colophon, oraculo Clarii Apollinis celebrata.  Maconiae principium Sipylus; Smyrna etiam Homero notissima, quam circumfluit Meles fluvius; nam Smyrnaeos campos tiermus intersecat, qui ortus Dorylao Phrygiam Cariamque dispescit.  Juxta Ilium sepulcrum Memnonis jacet.  Ibi inter omnes Asiae civitates Pergamum clarius.  Nam Bithynia initium Ponti est, et ab ortu Thraciae adversa, a Sagari flumine primos habitatores habet, qui fluvius alii fluvio Gallo miscetur, a quo Galli dicuntur ministri matris deum.  Hace et Bebrycia et Mygdonia dicta est; a Bithyno rege Bithynia.  In ea civitas Prusias, quam Hylas inundat lacus, quo puer ejusdem nominis dicitur interceptus.  Ibi Libyssa locus, Nicomediae proximus, in eo sepulcrum Hannibalis memoratur.  Dehinc Ponti ora, post fauces Bosphori et amnem Rhesum Sagrimque sinus Mariandyni, in quo Heraclea civitas, portus Acone, ubi herba veneni acnitum procreatur, specus Acherusius, qui mergitur in profunda telluris.  Inde Paphlagonia, ubi a tergo Galatia est; sed hic Henetosa* etiam civitas, a cujus civibus in Italia ortos Venetos asserunt.  Ibi promontorium Carambis, quod a Ponti ostio abest millibus passum ducentis viginti, tantundem a Cimmerio.  Ibi etiam mons Cytorus, et civitas Eupatoria, quam Mithridates fecerat; sed eo victo Pompejopolis appellata.)

* also: Enetusa, Venetusa and in one other version in the margin, Henetorum.

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July 5, 2016

Paphlagonian Veneti

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For our prior musings on Paphlagonia see here and here.  For the origin of the Poles as coming from a nearby Colchian country see here.  Here we present what is known of the stories of Paphlagonian Veneti.  Some of this we have already covered but other portions, we have not.  Below is a list of “true” references to Paphlagonian Veneti:

  • Homer’s Illiad (Book 2, lines 851-860) (we provide three different translations)
  • Strabo’s Geography (Book 1, chapter 3; Book 3, chapter 2; Book 4, chapter 4; Book 5, chapter 1; Book 12, chapter 3; Book 13, chapter 1 (this last one is thrown in for geography – it itself doe not mention Veneti)
  • Quintus Curtius Rufus’ Historiarum Alexandri Magni Macedonis Libri Qui Supersunt (Book 3, chapter 1)
  • Dictys Cretensis of Book IV (mentions “Indians” – whether these are real Indians or Veneti, we leave up to you)


Other books such as Dares Phrygius’ De Excidio Trojae Historia or Quintus of Smyrna’s “Fall of Troi” or Pseudo-Apollodorus’ Bibliotheca may mention the Paphlagonians but they do not mention the Veneti.  Dio Chrysostom’s (born in Prusa current Bursa) Orations on Troy does mention the Heneti but – interestingly – as people who lived on the Adriatic and were (it seems from the translation) taken over by the Trojans of Antenor – see here.


Iliad, Book 2, lines 851-860

Samuel Butler:

“The Paphlagonians were commanded by stout-hearted Pylaemanes from Enetae*, where the mules run wild in herds. These were they that held Cytorus and the country round Sesamus, with the cities by the river Parthenius, Cromna, Aegialus, and lofty Erithini.  Odius and Epistrophus were captains over the Halizoni from distant Alybe, where there are mines of silver.”

* ἐνετοί (Enetoi);  another version of this reference is quoted by Strabo below (12, 3).  While Pylaemenes may appear similar to the Slavic plomien or plamen (flame but in Finnish liekki), the name is not anywhere explained by any connection with fire.  Nor are his relatives’ names likewise explainable via Slavic – his son’s name was Harpalion (not the only name so evidenced as another Harpalion seems to have fought on the Greek side and another – a wine grower – lived on Lemnos), his father’s name was either Bilsates (Bibliotheca) or Melius (Dictys Cretensis).

A.T. Murray

“And the Paphlagonians did Pylaemenes of the shaggy heart lead from the land of the Eneti*, whence is the race of wild she-mules. These were they that held Cytorus and dwelt about Sesamon, and had their famed dwellings around the river Parthenius and Cromna and Aegialus and lofty Erythini. But of the Halizones Odius and Epistrophus were captains from afar, from Alybe, where is the birth-place of silver.”

Theodore Alois Buckley’s poetic translation:

“The Paphlagonians Pylaemenes rules,
Where rich Henetia breeds her savage mules,
Where Erythinus’ rising cliffs are seen,
Thy groves of box, Cytorus! ever green,
And where Aegialu and Cromna lie,
And lofty Sesamus invades the sky,
And where Parthenius, roll’d through banks of flowers,
Reflects her bordering palaces and bowers.
Here march’d in arms the Halizonian band,
Whom Odius and Epistrophus command.
From those far regions where the sun refines
The ripening silver in Alybean mines.”


Geography, Book 1, Chapter 3 (context Adriatic Veneti)

[see here for Strabo’s discussion of whether the Adriatic Veneti came from the Gallic Veneti or from the Paphlagonian ones] 


Geography, Book 3, Chapter 2

“As regards the latter, on the other hand, one might get hints from the following: In the first place, the expeditions of Heracles and of the Phoenicians, since they both reached as far as Iberia, suggested to Homer that the people of Iberia were in some way rich, and led a life of ease.  Indeed, these people became so utterly subject to the Phoenicians that the greater number of the cities in Turdetania and of the neighbouring places are now inhabited by the Phoenicians.  Secondly, the expedition of Odysseus, as it seems to me, since it actually had been made to Iberia, and since Homer had learned about it through inquiry, gave him an historical pretext; and so he also transferred the Odyssey, just as he had already transferred the Iliad, from the domain of historical fact to that of creative art, and to that of mythical invention so familiar to the poets.  For not only do the regions about Italy and Sicily and certain other regions betray signs of such facts, but in Iberia also a city of Odysseia is to be seen, and a temple of Athene, and countless other traces, not only of the wanderings of Odysseus, but also of other wanderings which took place thither after the Trojan War and afflicted the capturers of Troy quite as much as it did the vanquished (for the capturers, as it happened, carried off only a Cadmean victory).  And since the Trojan homes were in ruins, and the booty that came to each Greek was but small, the result was that the surviving Trojans, after having escaped from the perils of the war, turned to acts of piracy, as did also the Greeks; the Trojans, because their city was now in utter ruins; the Greeks, for shame, since every Greek took it for granted that it was “verily shameful to wait long” far from his kindred “and then” back to them “empty-handed go.” Thirdly, the wanderings of Aeneas are a traditional fact, as also those of Antenor, and those of the Henetians; similarly, also, those of Diomedes, Menelaus, Odysseus, and several others.  So then, the poet, informed through his inquiries of so many expeditions to the outermost parts of Iberia, and learning by hearsay about the wealth and the other good attributes of the country (for the Phoenicians were making these facts known), in fancy placed the abode of the blest there, and also the Elysian Plain, where Proteus says Menelaus will go and make his home: ‘But the deathless gods will escort thee to the Elysian Plain and the ends of the earth, where is Rhadamanthys of the fair hair, where life is easiest.  No snow is there, nor yet great storm, nor ever any rain; but always Oceanus sendeth forth the breezes of clear-blowing Zephyrus.’  For both the pure air and the gentle breezes of Zephyrus properly belong to this country, since the country is not only in the west but also warm; and the phrase ‘at the ends of the earth’ properly belongs to it, where Hades has been ‘mythically placed,’ as we say.  And Homer’s citing of Rhadamanthys suggests the region that is near Minos, concerning whom he says: ‘There it was I saw Minos, glorious son of Zeus, holding a golden sceptre, rendering decisions to the dead.’  Furthermore, the poets who came after Homer keep dinning into our ears similar stories: the expedition of Heracles in quest of the kine of Geryon and likewise the expedition which he made in quest of the golden apples of the Hesperides — even calling by name certain Isles of the Blest, which, as we know, are still now pointed out, not very far from the headlands of Maurusia that lie opposite to Gades.”


Geography, Book 4, Chapter 4 (context Gallic Veneti)

[see here for Strabo’s discussion of whether the Adriatic Veneti came from the Gallic Veneti or from the Paphlagonian ones] 


Geography, Book 5, Chapter 1 (context Adriatic Veneti)

[see here for Strabo’s discussion of whether the Adriatic Veneti came from the Gallic Veneti or from the Paphlagonian ones] 


Geography, Book 12, Chapter 3

“Tieium is a town that has nothing worthy of mention except that Philetaerus, the founder of the family of Attalic Kings, was from there. Then comes the Parthenius River, which flows through flowery districts and on this account came by its name; it has its sources in Paphlagonia itself. And then comes Paphlagonia and the Eneti.  Writers question whom the poet means by “the Eneti,” when he says, “And the rugged heart of Pylaemenes led the Paphlagonians, from the land of the Eneti, whence the breed of wild mules“; for at the present time, they say, there are no Eneti to be seen in Paphlagonia, though some say that there is a village on the Aegialus ten schoeni distant from Amastris.  But Zenodotus writes “from Enetê,” and says that Homer clearly indicates the Amisus of today.  And others say that a tribe called Eneti, bordering on the Cappadocians, made an expedition with the Cimmerians and then were driven out to the Adriatic Sea.  But the thing upon which there is general agreement is, that the Eneti, to whom Pylaemenes belonged, were the most notable tribe of the Paphlagonians,* and that, furthermore, these made the expedition with him in very great numbers, but, losing their leader, crossed over to Thrace after the capture of Troy, and on their wanderings went to the Enetian country, as it is now called.  According to some writers, Antenor and his children took part in this expedition and settled at the recess of the Adriatic, as mentioned by me in my account of Italy.  It is therefore reasonable to suppose that it was on this account that the Eneti disappeared and are not to be seen in Paphlagonia.”

[* Note that Homer’s Paphlagonians “came from the land of the Eneti” whereas Strabo’s Eneti, as per A.T. Murray, were “the most notable tribe of the Paphlagonians.” It is thus not clear whether the Eneti encompassed Paphlagonians and other tribes, whether the Eneti were just one tribe of the Paphlagonians or whether the latter was the case but there were other Eneti also somewhere else.]

“As for the Paphlagonians, they are bounded on the east by the Halys River, “which,” according to Herodotus, “flows from the south between the Syrians and the Paphlagonians and empties into the Euxine Sea, as it is called”; by “Syrians,” however, he means the “Cappadocians,” and in fact they are still to‑day called “White Syrians,” while those outside the Taurus are called “Syrians.”  As compared with those this side the Taurus, those outside have a tanned complexion, while those this side do not, and for this reason received the appellation “white.” And Pindar says that the Amazons “swayed a ‘Syrian’ army that reached afar with their spears,” thus clearly indicating that their abode was in Themiscyra. Themiscyra is in the territory of the Amiseni; and this territory belongs to the White Syrians, who live in the country next after the Halys River.  On the east, then, the Paphlagonians are bounded by the Halys River; on the south by Phrygians and the Galatians who settled among them; on the west by the Bithynians and the Mariandyni (for the race of the Cauconians has everywhere been destroyed) and on the north by the Euxine.  Now this country was divided into two parts, the interior and the part on the sea, each stretching from the Halys River to Bithynia; and Eupator not only held the coast as far as Heracleia, but also took the nearest part of the interior, certain portions of which extended across the Halys (and the boundary of the Pontic Province has been marked off by the Romans as far as this).  The remaining parts of the interior, however, were subject to potentates, even after the overthrow of Mithridates. Now as for the Paphlagonians in the interior, I mean those not subject to Mithridates, I shall discuss them later, but at present I propose to describe the country which was subject to him, called the Pontus…”

“…But Demetrius [of Scepsis] is not even in agreement with those for whose opinions he pleads; for in fixing the sites round Scepsis, his birth-place, he speaks of Nea, a village, and of Argyria and Alazonia as near Scepsis and the Aesepus River.  These places, then, if they really exist, would be near the sources of the Aesepus; but Hecataeus speaks of them as beyond the outlets of it; and Palaephatus, although he says that they formerly lived in Alopê, but now in Zeleia, says nothing like what these men say.  But if Menecrates does so, not even he tells us what kind of a place “Alopê” is or “Alobê,” or however they wish to write the name, and neither does Demetrius himself.”

“As regards Apollodorus, who discusses the same subject in his Marshalling of the Trojan Forces, I have already said much in answer to him, but I must now speak again; for he does not think that we should take the Halizoni as living outside the Halys River; for, he says, no allied force came to the Trojans from beyond the Halys.  First, therefore, we shall ask of him who are the Halizoni this side the Halys and “from Alybê far away, where is the birth-place of silver.”  For he will be unable to tell us.  And we shall next ask him the reason why he does not concede that an allied force came also from the country on the far side of the river; for, if it is the case that all the rest of the allied forces except the Thracians lived this side the river, there was nothing to prevent this one allied force from coming from the far side of the Halys, from the country beyond the White Syrians [Leuco-Syrians].  Or was it possible for peoples who fought the Trojans to cross over from these regions and from the regions beyond, as he says the Amazons and Treres and Cimmerians did, and yet impossible for people who fought as allies with them to do so?  Now the Amazons would not fight on Priam’s side because of the fact that he had fought against them as an ally of the Phrygians, against the “Amazons, peers of men, who came at that time,” as Priam says, “for I too, being their ally, was numbered among them”; but since the peoples whose countries bordered on that of the Amazons were not even far enough away to make difficult the Trojan summons for help from their countries, and since, too, there was no underlying cause for hatred, there was nothing to prevent them, I think, from being allies of the Trojans.”

“Neither can Apollodorus impute such an opinion to the early writers, as though they, one and all, voiced the opinion that no peoples from the far side of the Halys River took part in the Trojan war.  One might rather find evidence to the contrary; at any rate, Maeandrius says that the Eneti first set forth from the country of the White Syrians and allied themselves with the Trojans, and that they sailed away from Troy with the Thracians and took up their abode round the recess of the Adrias, but that the Eneti who did not have a part in the expedition had become Cappadocians.  The following might seem to agree with this account, I mean the fact that the whole of that part of Cappadocia near the Halys River which extends along Paphlagonia uses two languages which abound in Paphlagonian names, as “Bagas,” “Biasas,” “Aeniates,” “Rhatotes,” “Zardoces,” “Tibius,” “Gasys,” “Oligasys,” and “Manes,” for these names are prevalent in Bamonitis, Pimolitis, Gazelonitis, Gazacenê and most of the other districts. Apollodorus himself quotes the Homeric verse as written by Zenodotus, stating that he writes it as follows: “from Enetê, whence the breed of the wild mules”; and he says that Hecataeus of Miletus takes Enetê to be Amisus.*  But, as I have already stated, Amisus belongs to the White Syrians and is outside the Halys River.”

* note too that Amissus bears a striking resemblance to the river Ems (Amisia).  The Turkish Emesa was a place of anti-Christian riots where all churches were burned save one – that one was converted to a temple of Dionysus.


Geography, Book 13, Chapter 1

“…The Rhodius flows from Cleandria and Gordus, which are sixty stadia distant from the Beautiful Pine; and it empties into the Aenius.”

“In the dale of the Aesepus, on the left of the stream, one comes first to Polichna, a place enclosed by walls; and then to Palaescepsis; and then to Alizonium (this last name having been fabricated to support the hypothesis about the Halizones, whom I have already discussed); and then to Caresus, which is deserted, and Caresenê, and the river of the same name, which also forms a notable dale, though smaller than that of the Aesepus; and next follow the plains and plateaux of Zeleia, which are beautifully cultivated.  On the right of the Aesepus, between Polichna and Palaescepsis, one comes to Nea Comê and Argyria, and this again is a name fabricated to support the same hypothesis, in order to save the words, “where is the birthplace of silver.” Now where is Alybê, or Alopê, or however they wish to alter the spelling of the name? For having once made their bold venture, they should have rubbed their faces and fabricated this name too, instead of leaving it lame and readily subject to detection. Now these things are open to objections of this kind, but, in the case of the others, or at least most of them, I take it for granted that we must give heed to him as a man who was acquainted with the region and a native of it, who gave enough thought to this subject to write thirty books of commentary on a little more than sixty lines of Homer, that is, on the Catalogue of the Trojans. He says, at any rate, that Palaescepsis is fifty stadia distant from Aenea and thirty from the Aesepus River, and that from this Palaescepsis the same name was extended to several other sites. But I shall return to the coast at the point where I left off.”

Quintus Curtius Rufus

[see here]

Book IV of Dictys Cretensis*

“On the following day, Memnon, the son of Tithonus and Aurora, arrived with a large army of Indians and Ethiopians, a truly remarkable army which consisted of thousands and thousands of men with various kinds of arms, and surpassed the hops and prayers even of Priam. All the country around and beyond Troy, as far as eye could see, was filled with men and horses, and glittered with the splendor of arms and standards. Memnon had led these forces to Troy by way of the Caucasus mountains.  At the same time he had sent another group of equal size by sea, with Phalas as their guide and leader. These others had landed on the island of Rhodes, which they soon discovered to be an ally of Greece. At first, fearing that when the purpose of their mission was known, their ships might be fired, they stayed in the harbor.  Later, however, dividing their strength, they went to the wealthy cities of Camirus and Ialysus.  Soon the Rhodians were blaming Phalas for trying to aid Alexander, the same Alexander who had recently conquered Phalas’ country, Sidon.  In order to stir up the army, they said that whoever defended this crime was in no way different from a barbarian; and they added many such things as would incense the common soldiers and make them take their side. Nor did they fail in their intent, for the Phoenicians, who composed a majority of Phalas’ army, whether influenced by the accusations of the Rhodians, or wishing to gain control of the wealth their ships were carrying, made an attack against Phalas and stoned him to death. Then, dividing their gold and whatever booty they had, they dispersed to the cities we mentioned above.”

[* Note that Dictys Cretensis (Δίκτυς ὁ Κρής) of Knossus was the legendary companion of Idomenus during the Trojan War and the purported author of a diary of its events, that deployed some of the same materials worked up by Homer for the Iliad.  In the 4th century AD a certain Q. Septimius published Dictys Cretensis Ephemeridos belli Trojani, (“Dictys of Crete, chronicle of the Trojan War”) in six books, a work that professed to be a Latin translation of the Greek version.  According to the prologue to the Latin text details how the manuscript of this work, written in Phoenician characters on tablets of limewood or tree bark, survived: it was said to have been enclosed in a leaden box and buried with its author, according to his wishes:  “There it remained undisturbed for ages, when in the thirteenth year of Nero’s reign, the sepulchre was burst open by a terrible earthquake, the coffer was exposed to view, and observed by some shepherds, who, having ascertained that it did not, as they had at first hoped, contain a treasure, conveyed it to their master Eupraxis (or Eupraxides), who in his turn presented it to Rutilius Rufus, the Roman governor of the province, by whom both Eupraxis and the casket were despatched to the emperor. Nero, upon learning that the letters were Phoenician, summoned to his presence men skilled in that language, by whom the contents were explained. The whole having been translated into Greek, was deposited in one of the public libraries, and Eupraxis was dismissed loaded with rewards.” (William Smith. A Dictionary of Greek and Roman biography and mythology).]

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May 30, 2016

Illyrian Veneti of Appian

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That, in addition to the:

  • Papflagonian
  • Adriatic
  • Gallic
  • Danubian (see Tabula Peutingeriana), and
  • Vistula

Veneti, there also were Illyrian Veneti we have hints from Herodotus.  But those hints are unclear to say the least.  There is another source suggesting Venetic presence (B.C.) along the northern Macedonian border.  The below report comes from Appian (AD 95 – AD 165) of Alexandria (Appianus Alexandrinus) the Greek-Roman historian who in his book Ῥωμαικά Rhomaiká or Historia Romana describes the campaigns of Lucius Cornelius Sulla Felix (139 BC – 78 BC).  Sulla had been causing havoc in Anatolia but, at some point, withdrew to Greece where, apparently, he decided to have some R&R by going after the local tribes:

“…Such were the terms which he offered. Archelaus at once withdrew his garrison from all the places he held and referred the other conditions to the king. In order to make use of his leisure in the meantime, Sulla marched against the Eneti, the Dardani, and the Sinti, tribes on the border of Macedonia, who were continually invading that country, and devastated their territory. In this way he exercised his soldiers and enriched them at the same time.”

Historia Romana, Book 12 (The Mithridatic Wars), chapter 8, section 55 (Terms of Treaty).

Incidentally, the Mithridatic Wars deal with much interesting stuff around the understudied area of Pontus and Paphlagonia where some names of local potentates are, to say the least, interesting.  We will only mention here that, for example, Bithynia was ruled by monarchs with names such as Prusias…  You can read all about that in Appian’s History.

And, as we mentioned, if you go East you get to the curious Laks (whose tribal names seemingly end in -vand but whose language is (currently) Caucasian)), the Svaneti or such monarchs as Kuji of Colchis.

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May 14, 2016

Emperor Julian & the Adriatic Veneti

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The Emperor Julian (Flavius Claudius Iulianus) (circa lived 331-332 to 363) was born in Constantinople as a Chrisitian.  He survived the massacre of 337 where many of his older relatives were slaughtered by Emperor Constantius II (Julian’s cousin).  He was instead sent to study in Greece where he devoted himself to Greek literature and philosophy and returned to European religion (hence the Church’s name for him – the “Apostate”).  In 355 he was made governor of Gaul by his cousin, the then Emperor Constantius II (and named the honorary title “Caesar”).  In Gaul he fought the “Alemanni” defeating an army three times the size of his own at Strasbourg in 357.  He then successfully rebuilt much of Gaul.


When the Persians invaded in the East, Constantine II ordered (February 360) Julian’s armies to the front from Gaul.  This did not sit well with the soldiers who rebelled proclaiming Julian the Emperor.  Whether Constantine tried to get rid of his popular cousin on the Eastern Front is not known.  In any event, a Civil War ensued (during which Julian managed to defeat the Franks on the side) but before it could really take off Constantius II died (November 361).     Constantius II had named Julian his successor and so Julian became Emperor.  In the next few years Julian tried to restore Roman and Greek religions.  He also cut the bloated Roman bureaucracy.  Notably he attempted to rebuild the Jerusalem Temple – a project which was allegedly derailed by expense, an earthquake and ambivalence of the local Jewish community (or by divine intervention as per Christian authors of the time).  Julian died from a festering would during the campaign against the Persians.  By some account he had been stabbed by a Christian soldier (on the orders of the Greek bishop of Caesarea Mazaca in Cappadocia) although this has not been confirmed and the general belief is that he was wounded by the Persians.

Julian’s Commentaries on his western campaigns against the Alemanni and Franks did not unfortunately survive.  However, some of his “Orations,” “Letters” as well as satirical works and the portions of the work Against the Galilaeans did survive.  Among those is The Heroic Deeds Of Constantius (a panegyric to Constantius II) written in 357/358 (before their falling out).  In it, we have the following description of northern Italy:


“But he [Constantius II] did not himself march all the way there, but remained in the neighboring city [Aquileia].  This is a trading centre of the Italians on the coast, very prosperous and teeming with wealth, since the Mysians and Paeonians and all the Italian inhabitants of the interior procure their merchandise thence. These last used, I think, to be called Heneti in the past, but now that the Romans are in possession of these cities they preserve the original name, but make the trifling addition of one letter at the beginning of the word.  Its sign is a single character [i.e., the “v”] and they call it “oo,” and they often use it instead of “b,” to serve, I suppose, as a sort of breathing, and to represent some peculiarity of their pronunciation.  The nation as a whole is called by this name, but at the time of the founding of the city an eagle from Zeus flew past on the right, and so bestowed on the place the omen derived from the bird.  It is situated at the foot of the Alps, which are very high mountains with precipices in them, and they hardly allow room for those who are trying to force their way over the passes to use even a single waggon and a pair of mules.  They begin at the sea which we call Ionian, and form a barrier between what is now Italy and the Illyrians and Galatians, and extend as far as the Etruscan sea.  For when the Romans conquered the whole of this country, which includes the tribe of the Heneti and some of the Ligurians and a considerable number of Galatians besides, they did not hinder them from retaining their ancient names, but compelled them to acknowledge the dominion of the Italian republic.  And, in our day, all the territory that lies within the Alps and is bounded by the Ionian and the Etruscan seas has the honour of being called Italy.  On the other side of the Alps, on the west, dwell the Galatians, and the Rhaetians to the north where the Rhine and the Danube have their sources hard by in the neighbouring country of the barbarians.  And on the east, as I said, the Alps fortify the district where the usurper stationed his garrison.  In this way, then, Italy is contained on all sides, partly by mountains that are very hard to cross, partly by a shallow sea into which countless streams empty and form a morass like the marshlands of Egypt.  But the Emperor by his skill gained control of the whole of that boundary of the sea, and forced his way inland.”

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April 20, 2016

Jassa of the Veneti

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A claim has been made that the Veneti worshipped – as their Sun God – Jason or maybe Jasion/Iasion.  This claim, if true, would, combined with the reports of the Polish God Jassa and the Czech God Chasson (identified, at least in Jan Rosa’s Grammatica Linguae Bohemicae, as a sun God, that is Sol or Phoebus or Astron), suggest that at least these two nations were in fact connected with the Veneti or perhaps descend from the Veneti.


What’s more, because the claim was made regarding the Adriatic Veneti, this would not only further strengthen the Slavic-Venetic connection but, in fact, expand it all the way to Venice – no doubt helping “Venetologists” such as Matej Bor.

But, as regards the Adriatic Veneti at least, is the claim true?

What Says Strabo?

Strabo does say (Book V, I):

“And in the very recess of the Adriatic there is also a temple of Diomedes that is worth recording, “the Timavum“; for it has a harbour, and a magnificent precinct, and seven fountains of potable waters which immediately empty into the sea in one broad, deep river.  According to Polybius, all the fountains except one are of salt water, and what is more, the natives call the place the source and mother of the sea.  But Poseidonius says that a river, the Timavus, runs out of the mountains, falls down into a chasm, and then, after running underground about a hundred and thirty stadia, makes its exit near the sea.”


Timavus – the underground portion stretches quiteaways before getting to the waters of the Adriatic

“As for the dominion of Diomedes in the neighbourhood of this sea, not only the “Islands of Diomedes” bear witness thereto, but also the historical accounts of the Daunii and Argos Hippium, which I shall relate insofar as they may be historically useful; but I must disregard most of the mythical or false stories, as, for example, the stories of Phaethon, and of the Heliades that were changed into poplar-trees near the Eridanus (the Eridanus that exists nowhere on earth, although it is spoken of as near the Padus), and of the Electrides Islands that lie off the Padus, and of the guinea-fowls on them; for not one of these things is in that region, either.  It is an historical fact, however, that among the Heneti certain honours have been decreed to Diomedes; and, indeed, a white horse is still sacrificed to him, and two precincts are still to be seen — one of them sacred to the Argive Hera and the other to the Aetolian Artemis.”

And later (Book VI, III):

“Now, however, Argyrippa is smaller; it was called Argos Hippium at first, then Argyrippa, and then by the present name Arpi.  Both are said to have been founded by Diomedes.  And as signs of the dominion of Diomedes in these regions are to be seen the Plain of Diomedes and many other things, among which are the old votive offerings in the temple of Athene at Luceria — a place which likewise was in ancient times a city of the Daunii, but is now reduced — and, in the sea near by, two islands that are called the Islands of Diomedes, of which one is inhabited, while the other, it is said, is desert; on the latter, according to certain narrators of myths, Diomedes was caused to disappear, and his companions were changed to birds, and to this day, in fact, remain tame and live a sort of human life, not only in their orderly ways but also in their tameness towards honorable men and in their flight from wicked and knavish men.  But I have already mentioned the stories constantly told among the Heneti about this hero and the rites which are observed in his honour.  It is thought that Sipus also was founded by Diomedes, which is about one hundred and forty stadia distant from Salapia … In Daunia, on a hill by the name of Drium, are to be seen two hero-temples: one, to Calchas, on the very summit, where those who consult the oracle sacrifice to his shade a black ram and sleep in the hide, and the other, to Podaleirius, down near the base of the hill, this temple being about one hundred stadia distant from the sea; and from it flows a stream which is a cure-all for diseases of animals.  In front of this gulf is a promontory, Garganum, which extends towards the east for a distance of three hundred stadia into the high sea; doubling the headland, one comes to a small town, Urium, and off the headland are to be seen the Islands of Diomedes.  This whole country produces everything in great quantity, and is excellent for horses and sheep; but though the wool is softer than the Tarantine, it is not so glossy.  And the country is well sheltered, because the plains lie in hollows.  According to some, Diomedes even tried to cut a canal as far as the sea, but left behind both this and the rest of his undertakings only half-finished, because he was summoned home and there ended his life.  This is one account of him; but there is also a second, that he stayed here till the end of his life; and a third, the aforesaid mythical account, which tells of his disappearance in the island; and as a fourth one might set down the account of the Heneti, for they too tell a mythical story of how he in some way came to his end in their country, and they call it his apotheosis.”

You can read more about the Veneti of the Adriatic here.

So we seem to have the worship of Diomedes by the Veneti…

Is Diomedes Jason?

Well, for many years Jason was equated with Diomedes…

In 1711, Abbe Antoine Banier claimed that “[Chiron] taught [Jason] the Sciences, which he himself professed, especially Medicine, and gave him for that Reason the name of Jason, instead of Diomedes, which he had before.”

This was repeated as fact by many subsequent scholars.  What is the source of this information?

Apparently, it is this:

“When Jason became a man and had learned from Chiron the healing art, he was called Jason, having first been called Dolomedes.”

This is from the 1581 edition of a Natali Conti Mythologiae.  However, the first edition of the same (in the year 1567) did not contain the last clause.

It seems that Conti added this, misreading

Winifred Warren Wilson claimed in 1910 that in the 1581 edition Conti added new material (from Apollonius of Rhodes), and misread the Greek word δολόμηδες (“crafty”) as a proper name and then attributed it to Jason – as a proper name of Jason’s.  And then Dolomedes became Diomedes.  How?  Well, apparently there was a misprint of Diomedes for Dolomedes in subsequent editions of Comes’ treatise.  More on this on a site by this guy (yes, he is Jason too) who claims that there are no ancient sources equating Jason with Diomedes.

If this is true then the story ends right there and the temple to Diomedes is not any temple to Jason.  And so the Slovenian Venetologists lose (at least one argument)…

Enter the Dragon

But… did you know that (according to the website for the Slovenian capital Ljubljana:

“Once upon a time, Greek hero Jason and his Argonaut comrades stole a golden fleece, the coat of a golden ram, from the King of Colchis on the Black Sea. On board the Argo they fled their pursuers and found themselves at the mouth of the River Danube instead of going south towards the Aegean Sea and their Greek homeland. There was no way back, so they went on, up the Danube and then along the River Ljubljanica. They had to stop at the source of the Ljubljanica and overwintered here. They then took the Argo apart and in the spring carried it on their shoulders to the Adriatic coast, where they put it back together again and went on their way. According to the legend, on their arrival between what is now Vrhnika and Ljubljana, the Argonauts came across a large lake with a marsh alongside. Here lived a terrible marsh dragon that Jason killed after a heroic struggle. The monster would have been the Ljubljana dragon. It is said that Jason should have been the first real Ljubljana citizen.


Of course, Jason actually did encounter a dragon – Ladon (Lada?) – who had just been defeated by Hercules but was still twitching (Apollonius of Rhodes’ Argonautica).  And is there any connection to Krak of Wawel?

After all we do know that the word (accusative) for “God” does appear among the Venetic inscriptions.  And does Iazze really mean “I” (ia se)?

So how old is this Slovenian legend?  Older than Conti’s misprint or not?

And here is another interesting thing: a river mentioned in ancient times (including later in the Getica ad Pontem Sontii) that bears a striking similarity to Jason’s name: its Slovene name is Soča but, at various times, it went in antiquity by AesontiusSontius, and Isontius then – as per Marko Snoj – super Sontium (in 507–11), a flumine Isontio (1028), in Lisonçum (1261), an die Ysnicz (1401), and an der Snicz (ca. 1440).

Snoj suggests that the Latin (and Romance) Sontius was probably based on the substrate (!) name *Aisontia, presumably derived from the PIE root *Hei̯s- ‘swift, rushing’, referring to a quickly moving river (or the pre-Romance (!) root *ai̯s- ‘water, river’.

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April 13, 2016