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A History of Germany by Bayard Taylor

First Expedition of Drusus


The

gods which they worshipped represented the powers of Nature. Their mythology was the same originally which the Scandinavians preserved, in a slightly different form, until the tenth century of our era. The chief deity was named Wodan, or Odin, the god of the sky, whose worship was really that of the sun. His son, Donar, or Thunder, with his fiery beard and huge hammer, is the Thor of the Scandinavians. The god of war, Tiu or Tyr, was supposed to have been born from the Earth, and thus became the ancestor of the Germanic tribes. There was also a goddess of the earth, Hertha, who was worshipped with secret and mysterious rites. The people had their religious festivals, at stated seasons, when sacrifices, sometimes of human beings, were laid upon the altars of the gods, in the sacred groves. Even after they became Christians, in the eighth century, they retained their habit of celebrating some of these festivals, but changed them into the Christian anniversaries of Christmas, Easter and Whitsuntide.

[Sidenote: OPEN TO CIVILIZATION.]

Thus, from all we can learn respecting them, we may say that the Germans, during the first century before Christ, were fully prepared, by their habits, laws, and their moral development, for a higher civilization. They were still restless, after so many centuries of wandering; they were fierce and fond of war, as a natural consequence of their struggles with the neighboring races; but

they had already acquired a love for the wild land where they dwelt, they had begun to cultivate the soil, they had purified and hallowed the family relation, which is the basis of all good government, and finally, although slavery existed among them, they had established equal rights for free men.

If the object of Rome had been civilization, instead of conquest and plunder, the development of the Germans might have commenced much earlier and produced very different results.

CHAPTER II.

THE WARS OF ROME WITH THE GERMANS.

(70 B. C.--9 A. D.)

Roman Conquest of Gaul. --The German Chief, Ariovistus. --His Answer to Caesar. --Caesar's March to the Rhine. --Defeat of Ariovistus. --Caesar's Victory near Cologne. --His Bridge. --His Second Expedition. --He subjugates the Gauls. --He enlists a German Legion. --The Romans advance to the Danube, under Augustus. --First Expedition of Drusus. --The Rhine fortified. --Death of Drusus. --Conquests of Tiberius. --The War of the Marcomanni. --The Cherusci. --Tyranny of Varus. --Resistance of the Germans.

[Sidenote: 70 B. C.]

After the destruction of the Teutons and Cimbrians by Marius, more than forty years elapsed before the Romans again came in contact with any German tribe. During this time the Roman dominion over the greater part of Gaul was firmly established by Julius Caesar, and in losing their independence, the Celts began to lose, also, their original habits and character. They and the Germans had never been very peaceable neighbors, and the possession of the western bank of the Rhine seems to have been, even at that early day, a subject of contention between them.


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