Bastarnae - Encyclopedia


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BASTARNAE, the easternmost people of the Germanic race, the first to come into contact with the ancient world and the Sla y s. Originally settled in Galicia and the Bukovina, they appeared on the lower Danube about 200 B.C., and were used by Philip V. of Macedon against his Thracian neighbours. Defeated by these the Bastarnae returned north, leaving some of their number (hence called Peucini) settled on Peuce, an island in the Danube. Their main body occupied the country between the eastern Carpathians and the Danube. As allies of Perseus and of Mithradates the Great, and lastly on their own account, they had hostile relations with the Romans who in the time of Augustus defeated them, and made a peace, which was disturbed by a series of incursions. In these the Bastarnae after a time gave place to the Goths, with whom they seem to have amalgamated, and we last hear of them as transferred by the emperor Probus to the right bank of the Danube. Polybius and the authors who copy him regard the Bastarnae as Galatae; Strabo, having learned of the Romans to distinguish Celts and Germans, first allows a German element; Tacitus expressly declares their German origin but says that the race was degraded by intermarriage with Sarmatians. The descriptions of their bodily appearance, tribal divisions, manner of life and methods of warfare are such as are applied to either race. No doubt they were an outpost of the Germans, and so had absorbed into themselves strong Getic, Celtic and Sarmatian elements. (E. H. M.)

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