Is the Oder the New Vistula?

We have raised this question before but we think it is worth enunciating it a bit so we will do it through the words of the chroniclers – one separated by a millennium of history.




[Partially Following Adam of Bremen]

“The second river, that is the Oder/Odra heads towards the North and cuts across the land of the Vinulli [Winnuli/Wends] and separates the Pomeranians from the Wilzi [Veleti].  At the mouth of this river, where it hits the sea, there was once a most illustrious city Winneta [Vinneta or Vinneda]… [description of the town and its fall follows] There one can witness a sea in three parts.  This island [on which the city stood] is cut through by three mouths of the river – one of them, as they say, is extraordinarily green, the second white and third is always covered in storms.”

Adam of Bremen

“Beyond the Leutici, who are alsoc called Wilzi, one comes to the Oder River, the largest stream in the Slavic region.  At its mouth where it feeds the Scythian marshes, Jumne, a most noble city, affords a very widely known trading center… There Neptune may be observed in a threefold mood: that island is washed by the waters of three straits, one of which they say is of a very green appearance; another rather whitish; the third rages furiously in perpetual tempests.”


“This island [Scandza] lies in front of the river Vistula which rises in the Sarmatian mountains and flows through its triple mouth into the northern Ocean in sight of Scandza, separating Germany and Scythia…”

“This land, I say, -namely, Scythia, stretching far and spreading wide, – has on the east the Seres [Serbs?], a race that dwelt at the very beginning of their history on the shores of the Caspian Sea.  “On the west are the Germans and the river Vistula…”

“Near their left ridge, which inclines toward the north, and beginning at the source of the Vistula, the populous race of the Venethi dwell, occupying a great expanse of land.  Though their names are now dispersed amid various clans and paces, yet they are chiefly called Sclaveni and Antes.  The abode of the Sclaveni extends from the city of Noviodunum and the lake called Mursianus to the Danaster, and northward as far as the Viscla…”

“But on the shore of Ocean, where the floods of the river Vistula empty from three mouths, the Vidivarii dwell, a people gathered out of various tribes.  Beyond them the Aesti, a subject race, likewise hold the shore of Ocean.  To the south dwell the Acatziri…”

“These Gepidae were then smitten by envy while they dwelt in the province of Spesis on an island surrounded by the shallow waters of the Visclae.  This island they called in the speech of their fathers, Gepodoios; but it is now inhabited by the race of the Vividaria, since the Gepidae themselves have moved to better lands.  The Vividarii are gathered from various races into this one asylum, if I may call it so, and thus they form a nation.”

[in some manuscripts, Vidivarii [Vindi-varii?]]


“and the mouths of the Vistula river, the head of the river, the source which is to the west and is said to be towards the Albis [Elbe]“.

[yes, the source of the Oder is much closer to the source of the Elbe than is the source of the Vistula]

“Those that inhabit Germany on the other side of the river Rhine… and after these the Rugiclei up to the Vistula river….”

[yes, the Rugian island is west of the Oder]


So: Is it the case that Visculus sive Vistla as Pliny would have it?  Or maybe Visculus does sive Vistla but the Latin/Greek authors use the term erroneously when thinking of the Oder?

Shaettner Rickover & Borg Corporation – Copyright ©2015, All Rights Reserved

January 23, 2015

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