What About the Lugii!?
The name of the Lugii tribe is very frequently mentioned in connection with the Vandals. Specifically, the claim is that:
(1) the Lugii lived in Poland, and
(2) that the Lugii were Vandals.
Let’s take a look at these assertions in turn.
(As an editorial side note we observe that the name of the tribe was variously described as:
- Lugii (Strabo);
- Legii/Leugii (Tacitus);
- Luti or Lugi (Ptolemy);
- Logiones (Zossimus).
We stick to Lugii generally but note that the name is not certain. (Note also in the above excerpt from a 1562 edition of Ptolemy’s Geography the words Lincis – which has been interpreted to refer to the Silingi…)
Were There Lugii in Poland?
The first source on the location of the Lugii is Tacitus‘ Germania itself where he says (in Chapter 43) that beyond the Marcomanni and Quadi are the Marsigni, Gothini, Osi, and Burrii. He observes that the Gothini (or Cotini) and the Ossi do not speak German by language but rather, in the case of the Gothini the language is Gallic and, in the case of the Ossi, Pannonian. However, the Marsigni and Burrii “resemble the Suevi” in language and in dress.
He further notes that “all these people inhabit but a small proportion of “champaign” (i.e., flat, i.e., fields, i.e., campaniae) country.” Rather they settle mostly “forests, and on the sides and summits of mountains.” Then Tacitus notes, in reference to the same mountains, that “a continued ridge of mountains” divides Suevia and that various more remote tribes live on the other side of those mountains.
To pause here, if the Marsigni etc can be assigned to the back of the Marcomanni and Quadi and if the latter two were in Bohemia (having, in the case of the Marcomanni, driven out the Boii (or Boyki?)) and if the various Marsigni/Burri/Gothini/Ossi peoples lived in the mountains themselves then:
(A) we can put them somewhere in the Carpathians (the unhappy Gothini who are said to have slaved in the mines were perhaps slaving in the Ore Mountains, i.e., Erzgebirge); and
(B) the people beyond the Carpathians would be inhabiting either or both of south-eastern Germany (i.e., the Lausitz/Lusatia) and southern Poland.
With that in mind, we can go back to Tacitus.
He says that, of these (the remoter tribes beyond the [Carpatian] mountains), the Lygians [Lugii] are “the most extensive [tribe], and [that the Lygian tribe] diffuses its name through several communities.” In other words, various peoples – with their own names – were gathered under the “Lygian” umbrella. He says that “the most powerful of them” included the “Arii, Helvecones, Manimi, Elysii, and Naharvali.”
He also names the Naharnavali as people in whose country there is “a grove, consecrated to religious rites of great antiquity.” There,”[a] priest presides over them, dressed in woman’s apparel; but the gods worshipped there are said, according to the Roman interpretation, to be Castor and Pollux. Their attributes are the same; their name, Alcis.”
A Digression on Elks
Now, interestingly enough, other than this mention the tradition of worshipping any Dioskouroi is rather weak among the Scandinavians. It does exist, however, amongst the Poles in the form of “Lel” and “Polel”, or as the saying goes “Leli, Poleli” (to this day, dolls (yes, related to “i-dol”) in Polish are “lalki“). Those were not recorded by Jan Dlugosz but are mentioned by later chroniclers. One of the two is also recorded as a God at Łysa Góra:
“In that place there was (then? later?) a church to three idols named Lada, Boda and Leli where simple people would come to pray and make offerings on the first of May.”
This, in turn, is strange as Łysa Góra is also associated with the animal, elk. That animal is called Jeleń in Polish today but previously was also called leleń – would that be Lel? Would it also be Alcis? Who knows. More on all of this later. We will only note here that already Julius Caesar thought to remark about the elks of “Germania” right next to his discussion of the “tur“.
Back to the Lugii
Tacitus then goes on to describe the “Arii” before stating the following:
“Beyond the Lygii are the Gothones, who live under a monarchy, somewhat more strict than that of the other German nations, yet not to a degree incompatible with liberty.”
But what does “beyond the Lygii” mean? Can we get a topographical feature of some sort in there?
Well, Tacitus proceeds to say that “[a]djoining to these [the Gothones] are the Rugii and Lemovii, situated on the sea-coast—all these tribes are distinguished by round shields, short swords, and submission to regal authority.”
This suggests that the Rugii and Lemovii were on the [Baltic?] coast and the Gothones were, perhaps, on the coast or, perhaps, between the Lugii and the coast. It stands to reason that the Rugii should have been at or near the island of Ruegen and Lemovii somewhere near there. This would put the Goths around the middle Oder or in the future Mark Brandenburg.
But weren’t the Goths in the former West Prussia – at the mouth of the Vistula? Possibly, but, as we already discussed here, they were even more likely to have been either West on the Oder or East on the Daugava.
In any event, the location of the Goths anywhere at or close to the Baltic coast would leave a rather large portion of Germany and Poland open to the Lugii (Tacitus does not mention Burgundians as an actual “live” nation). So after looking at Tacitus we have something like this:
The second source on the location of the Lugii appears to be Ptolemy. He lists several Lugii peoples (we use “Lugi” here following Ptolemy):
- Lugi Omani (Λοῦγοι οἱ Ὀμανοὶ) – Ptolemy notes that the Suevi Semnones occupy the lands around the Elbe extending to the Suevus River and he also mentions the Buguntae who seem to follow the Suevi “as far as the Vistula”. He then says that below the Semnones are the Silingae but below the Burguntae (here he adds an “r” – or at least the much later manuscripts do…) are the Lugi Omani. This would put these Lugi, East of the Silingae.
- Lugi Diduni (Λοῦγοι οἱ Διδοῦνοι) – Ptolemy places them directly “below” the Lugi Omani and “extending as far as the Asciburgius mountains.” It is, we think, remarkable, that these people seem to be located in the Asciburgius mountains – for if the “ash” mountains were the Hrubý Jeseník, (i.e., Altvatergebirge), then this name would have been preserved in Slavic in the names of such mountains as:
- Praděd (German, Altvater)
- Velký Děd (German, Großer Vaterberg)
- Malý Děd (German, Kleiner Vaterberg)
Thus these would be the Lugi “of” Ded or Dziad or Old Father – whether the Old Father was Jassa is another question. (Although legends of the Old Man of the Mountain abound in the area – more on that later). In other words, the Diduni may have nothing to do with the Celtic (?) word “dunum”.
- Lugi Buri (Λοῦγοι οἱ Βοῦροι) – above the Batini and next to the Corconti but “below the Asciburgius mountains” Ptolemy places the Lugi Buri who (together with the Corconti?) extend as far as the source of the Vistula River. (As we already noted “bury” is a color (in Polish) and means gray-brown).
(But what is a “Lug”? Before we go there, let us finish reviewing some of the sources).
It seems thus that the Burrii of Tacitus are now the Lugi Buri of Ptolemy. It may be that the Buri were always Lugi and Tacitus did not know that or that they became part of the Lugi later. In any event, it would seem that whereas the Omani and Diduni are North of the Sudetes (?), the Buri are somewhere around them and close to the sources of the Vistula.
Note also that the names of the Lugian “sub tribes” of “Arii,” “Helvecones”, “Manimi”, “Elysii”, and “Naharvali” are nowhere to be found (unless we think Manimi is the same as Omani).
If we follow Ptolemy and try to identify various regions and towns of today with the Lugi, the first thing that comes to mind is the land of Lusatia, i.e., the Lausitz (where the Sorbs are). Towns in Poland can also be included, e.g., Legnica or Glogow. Either of these may have been the “Lugidunum” a town listed by Ptolemy between:
- Susudata/Colancorum and Stragona/Limis Lucus (west, east); and
- Laciburgium/Bunitium and Casurgis/Strevinta/Hegetmatia (north, south).
Nothing really matches that well but we can probably come up with something like this:
Obviously this is a different map than that of Tacitus. All this requires judgment calls and neither Tacitus nor even Ptolemy are very clear. We could have made the Lugian territory larger as “lugi” type names appear in other Polish places too, (maybe it encompassed Ługów in the Lublin voivodeship?) but we decided against such over extensions. (For a quasi-full list of place names “Ługi” in Poland see Wikipedia).
We also note that Ptolemy:
- places the Silingae West of the Lugii, i.e., in a direction opposite where one would have expected a tribe that allegedly gave its name to Silesia to be found;
- lists the various Lugii tribes but does not list the Silingae amongst them and clearly (or as clearly as any of this can be) separates the Lugii from the other tribes, Silingae included.
- does not list any of Pliny’s alleged “Vandalic” peoples, i.e., the Goths, the Buguntae (or Burguntae) or the Varini (as Viruni?) among the Lugii;
- shows us no “other” Vandals (or any Vandals) anywhere.
It has often been stated that the Lugii must have been Vandals because where Ptolemy places the Lugii, Pliny places his “Vandals”. As can be seen from the above, this makes little sense since:
- Ptolemy does list some of the tribes that likely were listed by Pliny, but
- Ptolemy does not list the Lugii among them nor list any of them as among the Lugii.
And the same is true of the Silingae. Thus, even if Pliny were right about his list of “Vandalic” peoples, these peoples were not the Lugii and neither were the Lugii a constituent part of these “Vandals”. About the only thing that can be said of these is that some of them may have bordered on one another.
So Is That It?
The Lugii appear in in Strabo, in Tacitus’ Annals and in Cassius DIo. However, none of these mentions tells us much about their location. Nevertheless, it’s worth mentioning them.
Strabo, in his Geography (8,1), says that the Lugii were a “large tribe” and fell under the rule of Marobodus of the Marcomanni:
“Here, too, is the Hercynian Forest, and also the tribes of the Suevi, some of which dwell inside the forest, as, for instance, the tribes of the Coldui, in whose territory is Boihaemum, the domain of Marabodus, the place whither he caused to migrate, not only several other peoples, but in particular the Marcomanni, his fellow-tribesmen … on his return he took the rulership and acquired, in addition to the peoples aforementioned, the Lugii (a large tribe), the Zumi, the Butones, the Mugilones, the Sibini, and also the Semnones, a large tribe of the Suevi themselves. However, while some of the tribes of the Suevi dwell inside the forest, as I was saying, others dwell outside of it, and have a common boundary with the Getae.”
[these Getae were the Dacians – not Goths]
From this we can surmise that they, or at least some of them, lived somewhere close to the Marcomanni. Since the latter are typically thought of as living in Bohemia (having driven out and/or subdued the Boii), the location of the Lugii (maybe only the Lugii Burrii) as set forth above in Ptolemy would be broadly consistent with having them be subject to the Marcomanni.
The Lugii are also mentioned by Tacitus in his Annals (12, 29 & 12: 30) where he notes that during the reign of Claudius an army of Lugii confronted Vannius of the Suevi who were being aided by Iazyges (circa A.D. 40s-50s). We wrote about this when discussing the Suevi-Sarmatian connection but we bring it up here again, this time focusing on the Lugii:
“At this same time, Vannius, whom Drusus Caesar had made king of the Suevi, was driven from his kingdom. In the commencement of his reign he was renowned and popular with his countrymen; but subsequently, with long possession, he became a tyrant, and the enmity of neighbours, joined to intestine strife, was his ruin. Vibillius, king of the Hermunduri, and Vangio and Sido, sons of a sister of Vannius, led the movement. Claudius, though often entreated, declined to interpose by arms in the conflict of the barbarians, and simply promised Vannius a safe refuge in the event of his expulsion. He wrote instructions to Publius Atellius Hister, governor of Pannonia, that he was to have his legions, with some picked auxiliaries from the province itself, encamped on the riverbank, as a support to the conquered and a terror to the conqueror, who might otherwise, in the elation of success, disturb also the peace of our empire. For an immense host of Ligii, with other tribes, was advancing, attracted by the fame of the opulent realm which Vannius had enriched during thirty years of plunder and of tribute. Vannius’s own native force was infantry, and his cavalry was from the Iazyges of Sarmatia; an army which was no match for his numerous enemy. Consequently, he determined to maintain himself in fortified positions, and protract the war.”
“But the Iazyges, who could not endure a siege, dispersed themselves throughout the surrounding country and rendered an engagement inevitable, as the Ligii and Hermunduri had there rushed to the attack. So Vannius came down out of his fortresses, and though he was defeated in battle, notwithstanding his reverse, he won some credit by having fought with his own hand, and received wounds on his breast. He then fled to the fleet which was awaiting him on the Danube, and was soon followed by his adherents, who received grants of land and were settled in Pannonia. Vangio and Sido divided his kingdom between them; they were admirably loyal to us, and among their subjects, whether the cause was in themselves or in the nature of despotism, much loved, while seeking to acquire power, and yet more hated when they had acquired it.”
We will let others decide whether:
- Vibillius or Vibill could be explained with the Slavic wybyl;
- Vannio could be explained with the Slavic Ваня (which is, supposedly, just a Russian diminutive of Ivan);
(Who knows!? 🙂 )
The next mention of the Lugii comes from Cassius Dio (67, 5, 12) and, once again, it involves the Lugii going against the Suevi and the Iazyges (A.D. 98) (this, too, was the topic of the Suevi-Sarmatian post earlier):
“In Moesia the Lygians, having become involved in war with some of the Suebi, sent envoys asking Domitian for aid. And they obtained a force that was strong, not in numbers, but in dignity; for a hundred knights alone were sent to help them. The Suebi, indignant at his giving help, attached to themselves some Iazyges and were making their preparations to cross the Ister with them. Masyus, king of the Semnones, and Ganna, a virgin who was priestess in Germany, having succeeded Veleda, came to Domitian and after being honoured by him returned home.”
The last mention of the Lugii comes from the Byzantine Count (?) Zossimus (Book I) in the reign of Probus (the same one we discussed when talking about the Vandals) who reigned in A.D. 276 – A.D. 282:
“The emperor terminated several other wars, with scarcely any trouble; and fought some fierce battles, first against the Logiones, a German nation, whom he conquered, taking Semno their general, and his son, prisoners. These he pardoned upon submission, but took from them all the captives and plunder they had acquired, and dismissed, on certain terms, not only the common soldiers, but even Semno and his son.“*
* Greek accusative singular – Semuona
Where this battle took place is uncertain though some people thing that it was on the River Lech (Lygis river) – if so, and we do not opine on that, then we would have another connection between the Vindelici of Strabo and a later “L” tribe – this time, the Logiones. Whether Semno could have something to do with the Piast Siemomysł, we will let you decide. (Obviously, they were not the same person but the root of the word is similar and, similar to to Samo – a Frankish merchant who, however, by some was named a “Caranthinian” – more on that later).
Finally, we should mention the Lugiones Sarmate of the Tabula Peutingeriana, a, likely, 3rd century Roman map. Here the Lugiones Sarmatae appear just next to the Venedae Sarmatae. Right away a number of possibilities present themselves as a result of this matching:
- that the Lugiones and Venedae were both ethnic Sarmatians (regardless of whether they lived in Sarmatia), and/or
- that the Sarmatia of the Romans began east of the Oder not of the Vistula (because we think the Lugii lived west of the Vistula and they were Sarmatians as seen above), and/or
- that the Venedae lived west of the Vistula.
So, Now… Is THAT it?
Yes, that’s it (there is one more source but we will add it later). It’s fair to say that there is:
(1) high probability that the Lugii lived in at least some portion of today’s Poland (West? South-West? Both?), but
(2) no evidence that the Lugii were Vandals.
(If we missed something let us know!)
Now we can look at a few other things. First, we will ask what is a “lug”. Then we will cite what Professor Latham wrote in his book on Germania regarding German historians’ approach to the Lugii.
Who Ya Callin’ a Lug!?
No one has as yet provided a convincing (to everyone worth convincing) etymology for the Lugi. And plenty of great minds have struggled with the question. A good description is found in the Reallexikon der germanischen Altertumskunde by Hoops. It seems that there were many questions when the Lugier were in volume 3:
and many questions remain even now despite the fact that the Kunde has grown and the Lugii have, consequently, been bumped to volume 19:
The best that we can see here is the Lugi as “liars” – which, if accurate, one can only hope, was not a self-designation.
Of course, given so much energy spent on the question, we certainly do not want to sound like we’ve solved anything here (and, likely, we haven’t!). And yet.
A Ług as a Marsh
There is a Slavic word lug/ług/łęg which means a “marshy meadow”. This is what the Polish dictionary by Linde says:
Essentially, it says that a lug/lugh has the same origin as “lacus”, “laeg”, “lake” or, for that matter, a German “lager” (as in camp which, too, is related to the Latin campo) – all meaning meadow and a rather wet one at times.
Interestingly, one German form of this is Lache, Lusche.
In Polish the word is ług and ługowisko means as much as a swamp/Suempf. Same for łęg. Thus, a century after Linde, Aleksander Brueckner can state that (A) the word ług a marshy lowland country and (B) that the Lusatia/Lausitz name is a Slavic word for that country; Upper Sorbian: Łužica, Lower Sorbian: Łužyca, Polish: Łużyce, Czech: Lužice. Here, the “ž” is a natural change from “g”. E.g., Bóg > Božy.
A Ług as a Grove
The same word, now chiefly preserved in Croatian, may signify a “grove”. Here is Brueckner again:
Presumably, groves of trees did grow in marshy meadows and – maybe – these were places of worship:
The word is parallel (in its first above meaning) to the word “haj/gaj” in most Slavic languages. Thus:
Thus, we get an interesting application of the name in Croatia in the form of Turopolskij Lug:
As another digression, if you bear with us, it is interesting to note that the Turopolskij Lug is in the area of the Odransko Polje. Odransko because the river shown is the Odra (see, e.g., mention of Odagra in the Annals of Fulda under the year 892; see also the town of Adra in Liburnia in Ptolemy’s Geography). This itself raises a number of possibilities:
- The name is in its form Slavic but the Slavs first got the original from the northern or southern Veneti and then brought it with them when they – the Slavs – went from North to South (when the Croats moved south from White Croatia?) or from South to North (when the Czechs came up into Bohemia/Poland from the Danube area?);
- The name really is German (Oder) and the Slavs changed it and then moved South with it (or it is Gothic and they moved North with it (after changing it first, of course));
- The name was Old-Veneti and the Slavs took it over just as they did with the Oder – a rather remarkable Slavic presence in multiple places where there were the earlier Veneti;
Anyway, Back to the Lugi
What is interesting here is that – although the word appears to be Indoeuropean – the form with a “u” pronunciation has been preserved only in Slavic (and in Baltic (Lithuanian – liugas) although, apparently, only as “marshland,” not as a “grove”). That is to say, the only word actually corresponding to the Lugii of Strabo, the Lugi of Ptolemy and, we would argue, closest to Lygii/Ligii of Tacitus, is a Slavic one (the Logiones of Zossimus are a closer call).
Which brings us to a point about Professor Latham. He excoriates Zeuss for, being quite aware that most Western Slavs were referred to by their Eastern cousins by the name Lachs but never exploring any connection between the Lugii and the Lechites or Lachs. Without saying as much, Latham attributes bad faith to Zeuss:
“But, with all this there is not a single reference from Lygii to Lekh, nor yet any from Lekh to Lygii; so that the very important fact of similarity of name coinciding with identity of area, is not even recognised as a complication worth investigating… The situation of the Lygii of Tacitus is that of the Lekhs of Nestor. The present Poles are the Lekhs of Nestor under another name. This is admitted by Zeuss. —
[Latham here quotes Zeuss:] ‘The name Lech, originally a general name given by the eastern to the western branch of Slavonians, must most frequently have been applied to those who lived nearest, viz., the Poles. At length, after ceasing to be a general appellation, it became fixed as their special designation.’
With all this, not a word about Lekh being even like Lyg-ii.“
Latham then gives a bit of a nod to Nestor‘s migration theory but concludes that Zeuss, nevertheless, seems to be willfully blind:
“But it may be said that the assumption of a migration in the case of the Slavonic Lekhs is legitimate, inasmuch as it is suggested by the very passage of Nestor lately quoted. Be it so. There would still stand over the very remarkable fact that the very area in which these immigrant Lekhs settled, should be an area occupied by a people with a name almost identical with their own.
What should we say to a writer who argued that Boston in the United States was, very likely, wholly unconnected with Boston in England; that it was an aboriginal American name; that by mere chance, the Bostonlans of Lincolnshire fell in with a place named like their native town; and that by mere chance the aboriginal Bostonians of Massachusetts were displaced by a population bearing the same name as themselves?
But they might have taken their name from that of the earlier Lygii. [Fair point!] Not so. The tradition about the eponymus Lekh is strong evidence in favor of its being native. What Anglo-Saxon ever called himself a descendant of Brut; or placed Brut at the head of his genealogy?“
[this is a reference to Brut of Troy, the eponymous founder and first king of the Britons]
But What About Those Lugii Burii?
Weren’t they part of the Vandals – After all, some say, signs of their Germanic presence are in Portugal where we know the Vandals went!
The reference in this argument is to the Terras do Bouro.
Well, not just the Vandals went to Spain and Portugal but also the Alans and, importantly, the Suevi. So what do we have when we look at the Terras de (or do) Bouro? Something like this map:
One could say that Gouvim in the neighborhood sounds like Gowin but that is hardly conclusive. And the -iz (-itz, -ic?) ending of Gondoriz may be Slavic but is Gondo-? Surely not. Sounds Germanic. And yet it is odd that we also have in the neighborhood: Guilha-mil, Estru-mil or Sera-mil. The classic -mil ending could be Germanic. But what about the town/district of Chorense?
Chorense is the district just south of Terras de Bouro (in the larger district of Braga… Braga? Praga? Praha? Hmmm…):
Wasn’t there a Charenza on Rugia ? – but maybe that was Germanic too – have we just proven that the Rugian Rani were always just Germanic or have we shown something different? But isn’t something like that a Romanian word (stomach or something?) so then that would establish an independent Latin connection that may have been the same in Romania, Portugal and on Ruegen/Rugia? Latin? Or Venetic?
We leave you with Latham:
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