We have previously discussed the Vindelici on a number of occasions. For example here and here. As we mentioned, Tiberius (who was not yet emperor) defeated them in 15 B.C. Circa 12 B.C. – 6 B.C., the then reigning emperor (sort of), Augustus had a monument built to celebrate “his” victories (i.e., including those of Tiberius) against various Alpine tribes – including the Vindelici. The monument – called Tropaeum Alpium – stands (notwithstanding partial destruction on orders of Louis XIV) still in the French commune of La Turbie – near to Monaco.
The Tropaeum Alpium is interesting to us because it lists the “four nations of the Vindelici” (among a plethora of others) and because those names – or at least some of them – sound oddly familiar.
“The four nations of the VINDELICI:
(note that this is the common interpretations – however, it is also possible that the four above names have nothing to do with the Vindelici and that the “four nations of the Vindelici” are actually unnamed, i.e., that the four above names are simply the four names that merely follow on the inscription the Vindelician tribes which are, again, otherwise unnamed).
Pliny the Elder gives the following summary of the inscription in his Natural History:
IMP · CAESARI DIVI FILIO AVG · PONT · MAX · IMP · XIIII · TR · POT · XVII · S · P · Q · R · QVOD EIVS DVCTV AVSPICIISQVE GENTES ALPINAE OMNES QVAE A MARI SVPERO AD INFERVM PERTINEBANT SVB IMPERIVM P · R · SVNT REDACTAE · GENTES ALPINAE DEVICTAE TRVMPILINI · CAMVNNI · VENOSTES · VENNONETES · ISARCI · BREVNI · GENAVNES · FOCVNATES · VINDELICORVM GENTES QVATTVOR · COSVANETES · RVCINATES · LICATES · CATENATES · AMBISONTES · RVGVSCI · SVANETES · CALVCONES · BRIXENETES · LEPONTI · VBERI · NANTVATES · SEDVNI · VARAGRI · SALASSI · ACITAVONES · MEDVLLI · CENNI · CATVRIGES · BRIGIANI · SOGIONTI · BRODIONTI · NEMALONI · EDENATES · VESVBIANI · VEAMINI · GALLITAE · TRIVLLATI · ECDINI · VERGVNNI · EGVITVRI · NEMATVRI · ORATELLI · NERVSI · VELAVNI · SVETRI
Strabo says the following (Geography IV, 6.8):
“Next, in order, come those parts of the mountains that are towards the east, and those that bend round towards the south: the Rhaeti and the Vindelici occupy them, and their territories join those of the Elvetii and the Boii; for their territories overlook the plains of those peoples. Now the Rhaeti reach down as far as that part of Italy which is above Verona and Comum (moreover, the “Rhaetic” wine, which has the repute of not being inferior to the approved wines of the Italic regions, is made in the foothills of the Rhaetic Alps), and also extend as far as the districts through which the Rhenus runs; the Lepontii, also, and Camuni, belong to this stock. But the Vindelici and Norici occupy the greater part of the outer side of the mountain, along with the Breuni and the Genauni, the two peoples last named being Illyrians. All these peoples used to overrun, from time to time, the neighbouring parts, not only of Italy, but also of the country of the Elvetii, the Sequani, the Boii, and the Germans. The Licattii, the Clautenatii, and the Vennones proved to be the boldest warriors of all the Vindelici, as did the Rucantii and the Cotuantii of all the Rhaeti.”
Thus, according to Strabo, the Tropaeum Alpium‘s Licates (Licatti) would be Vindelici. But the Rucinates (Rucanti) would be Rhaeti. Perhaps the Cosvanetes are Vindelici (if they correspond to Vennones) or Rhaetii (if they correspond to Cotuantii) . The Catenates are either Vindelici (Clautenatii) or Rhaeti (Cotunatii). The Cotuantii obviously suggest the Antes.
As we all know Noricum was right next to Rhaetia and Nestor explicitly bills the Slavs as Noricans.
Now, all of this is very interesting and – slightly – odd since the much, much later Greater Poland Chronicle (aka Chronica longa seu magna Polonorum*) contains the following assertion:
“Per praemissa autem quatuor regna slavonica, videlicet Pannoniorum, Lechitarum, Ruthernorum et Czechorum seu Bohemorium designata habent.”
Which translates to:
“They have designated for themselves four kingdoms, namely, known by their names of Pannonians, Lechites, Ruthenes, and Czechs called Bohemians.”
* The “Greater Poland Chronicle” is a bit of a misnomer. It was written in Great(er) Poland but the actual title refers to the long or great chronicle of the Poles.
Whether one could reasonably associate the Licates with the Lechites and the Rucinates with the Ruthenes is a question. Whether the Czechs could pick up the Cosvanetes or Catenates is another.
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