Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/245

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229
SLAVS


(Dnieper) basin. This variety may to some extent be due to the various cultural influences to which the same race was exposed, the western division lying on the route between the Baltic and Mediterranean, the central being quite inaccessible, the eastern part in time showing in its graves the influence of the Steppe people and the Greek colonies in Scythia. There is a gradual transition to cemeteries with Roman objects which shade off into such as are certainly Slavonic.

The physical type of the Slavs is not sufficiently clear to help in throwing light upon the past of the race. Most of the modern Slavs are rather short-headed, the Balkan Slavs being tall and dark, those of central Europe dark and of medium height, the Russians on the whole rather short though the White and Little Russians are of medium height; in complexion the southern Russians are dark, the northern light, but with less decided colour than fair western Europeans. In spite of the prevalent brachycephaly of the modern Slavs, measurements of skulls from cemeteries and ancient graves which are certainly Slavonic have shown, against all expectation, that the farther back we go the greater is the proportion of long heads, and the race appears to have been originally dolichocephalic and osteologically indis- tinguishable from its German, Baltic and Finnish neighbours. In its present seats it must have assimilated foreign elements, German and Celtic in central Europe, Finnish and Turkish in Great and Little Russia, all these together with Thracian and Illyrian in the Balkans; but how much the differences between the various Slavonic nations are due to admixture, how much to their new homes, has not been made clear.

In spite of the vast area which the Slavs have occupied in historic times there is no reason to claim for them before the migrations a wider homeland than that above defined beyond the Carpathians; given favourable circumstances a nation multiplies so fast (e.g. the Anglo-Saxons in the last hundred and twenty years) that we can set no limits to the area that a com- paratively small race could cover in the course of four centuries. Therefore the mere necessity of providing them with ancestors sufficiently numerous does not compel us to seek for the Slavs among any of the populous nations of the ancient world. Various investigators have seen Slavs in Scythians, Sarmatians, Thracians, Illyrians, and in fact in almost all the barbarous tribes which have been mentioned in the east of Europe, but we can refer most of such tribes to their real affinities much better than the ancients, and at any rate we can be sure that none of these were Slavs.

There is no evidence that the Slavs made any considerable migration from their first home until the 1st century a.d. Their first Transcarpathian seat lay singularly remote from the knowledge of the Mediterranean peoples. Herodotus (iv. 17, 51, 105) does seem to mention the Slavs under the name of Neuri (q.v.), at least the Neuri on the upper waters of the Dnestr are in the right place for Slavs, and their lycanthropy suggests modern Slavonic superstitions; so we are justified in equating Neuri and Slavs, though we have no direct statement of their identity. Other classical writers down to and including Strabo tell us nothing of eastern Europe beyond the immediate neigh- bourhood of the Euxine.

Pliny (N.H. iv. 97) is the first to give the Slavs a name which can leave us in no doubt. He speaks of the Venedi (cf. Tacitus, Germania, 46, Veneti); Ptolemy (Ceog. hi. 5. 7, 8) calls them Venedae and puts them along the Vistula and by the Venedic gulf, by which he seems to mean the Gulf of Danzig: he also speaks of the Venedic mountains to the south of the sources of the Vistula, that is, probably the northern Carpathians. The name Venedae is clearly Wend, the name that the Germans have always applied to the Slavs. Its meaning is unknown. It has been the cause of much confusion because of the Armorican Veneti, the Paphlagonian Enetae, and above all the Enetae- Venetae at the head of the Adriatic. Enthusiasts have set all of these down as Slavs, and the last with some show of reason, as nowadays we have Slovenes just north of Venice. However, inscriptions in the Venetian language are sufficient to prove that it was not Slavonic. Other names in Ptolemy which almost certainly denote Slavonic tribes are the Veltae on the Baltic,


ancestors of the Wiltzi, a division of the Polabs (q.v.), the Sulani and the Saboci, whose name is a Slavonic translation of the Transmontani of another source.

Unless we are to conjecture Stlavani for Ptolemy's Stavani, or to insist on the resemblance of his Suobeni to Slovene, the name Slav first occurs in Pseudo-Caesarius (Dialogues, ii. no; Migne, P.G. xxxviii. 985, early 6th century), but the earliest definite account of them under that name is given by Jordanes (Getica, v - 34; 35> c - 55° A.D.): Dacia . . . ad coronae speciem arduis Alpibus emunita, iuxta quorum sinistrum lalus, qui in aquilone vergit, ab ortu Vistulae fluminis per immensa spatia Venetharum populosa natio consedit. Quorum nomina licet nunc per varias familias et loca mutentur, principaliter tamen Sclaveni et Antes nominantur. Sclaveni a civitate Novietunense (Noviodunum, Isakca on the Danube Delta) . . . usque ad Danastrum el in boream Viscla tenus commorantur . . . Antes vero, qui sunt eorum fortissimi, qua Fonticum mare curvatur a Danastro exten- duntur usque ad Danaprum; cf. xxiii. 119, where these tribes are said to form part of the dominions of Hermanrich. Sclaveni, or something like it, has been the regular name for the Slavs from that day to this. The native form is Slovene; in some cases, e.g. in modern Russian under foreign influence, we have an a instead of the o. The combination si was difficult to the Greeks and Romans and they inserted /, th or most commonly c, which continues to crop up. So too in Arabic Saqaliba, Saqldb. The name has been derived from slovo, a word, or slava, glory, either directly or through the -slav which forms the second element in so many Slavonic proper names, but no explanation is satisfactory. The word " slave " and its cognates in most European languages date from the time when the Germans supplied the slave-markets of Europe with Slavonic captives. The name Antes we find applied to the Eastern Slavs by Jordanes; it may be another form of Wend. Antae is used by Procopius (B.C. iii. 14). He likewise distinguishes them from the Sclaveni, but says that both spoke the same language and both were formerly called Spori, which has been identified with Serb, the racial name now surviving in Lusatia and Servia. Elsewhere he speaks of the measureless tribes of the Antae; this appellation is used by the Byzantines until the middle of the 7th century.

The sudden appearance in the 6th-century writers of definite names for the Slavs and their divisions means that by then the race had made itself familiar to the Graeco-Roman world, that it had spread well beyond its original narrow limits, and had some time before come into contact with civilisation. This may have been going on since the 1st century a.d., and evidence of it has been seen in the southward movement of the Costoboci into northern Dacia (Ptolemy) and of the Carpi to the Danube (a.d. 200), but their Slavonic character is not established. A few ancient names on the Danube, notably that of the river Tsierna (Cerna, black), have a Slavonic look, but a coincidence is quite possible. The gradual spread of the Slavs was masked by the wholesale migrations of the Goths, who for two centuries lorded it over the Slavs, at first on the Vistula and then in south Russia. We hear more of their movements because they were more immediately threatening for the Empire. In dealing with Ptolemy's location of the Goths and Slavs we must regard the former as superimposed upon the latter and occupying the same territories. This domination of the Goths was of enormous importance in the development of the Slavs. By this we may explain the presence of a large number of Germanic loan words common to all the Slavonic languages, many of. them words of cultural significance. " King, penny, house, loaf, earring " all appear in Slavonic; the words must have come from the Goths and prove their strong influence, although the things must have been familiar before. On the other hand " plough " is said to be Slavonic, but that is not certain. When the Huns succeeded the Goths as masters of central Europe, they probably made the Slavs supply them with contingents. Indeed their easy victory may have been due to the dissatisfaction of the Slavs. Priscus (Muller, F.H.G. iv. p. 69, cf. Jord. Get. xlix. 258) in his account of the camp of Attila mentions words which may be Slavonic, but have also been explained from German. After the fall of