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Jordanes (also Jordanis or even Iornandes, 'bold as a boar') was a 6th century historian in Moesia (modern Bulgaria), who provides most of the literary evidence concerning the early history of the Goths, by giving a very criticized condensation of a lost history by Cassiodorus under the title De origine actibusque Getarum (The origin and deeds of the Goths), written about 551 CE.
Every shred of evidence about Jordanes himself comes from a few sentences in Chapter 50 of his history of the Goths: we learn that his grandfather Paria, not himself a Goth, was notary to Candac, the chief of a confederation of Alans and other tribes that were settled during the later 5th century south of the Danube, in the Roman province of Moesia. Jordanes himself was the notary of Candac's nephew, the Gothic chief Gunthigis ante conversionem meam ("before my conversion"), that is, either before he converted from the Arian creed of his forefathers and of the Goths, or, some suggest, until he took the vows of a monk. Certainly his extant writings are from an orthodox, not an Arian, perspective. In the age of Justinian, Jordanes was a Christian and just possibly bishop of Croton.
The Origine actibusque Getarum of Jordanes shows Gothic sympathies; but these are probably due to an imitation of the tone of Cassiodorus, from whom he draws practically all his material. Naturally, Jordanes absorbed into his work the fundamental idea of Cassiodorus, that the only way to secure for the Goths a prosperous future was to bring about their peaceful absorption into the Roman Empire, which was then the center of civilization. The sympathies of Jordanes, of Germanic origin but not himself a Goth, are friendly to the Goths, even apart from the influence of Cassiodorus; but he is also prepossessed in favor of the eastern emperors, in whose territories this confederation lived and whose subject he himself was. This makes him an impartial authority on the last days of the Ostrogoths. At the same time, living in Moesia, he is restricted in his outlook to Danubian affairs. He has little to say of the inner history and policy of the Italian kingdom of Theodoric: his interests lie, as Theodor Mommsen said, within a triangle of which the three points are Sirmium, Larissa and Constantinople. Finally, he shows himself friendly to the Huns whenever they enter into his narrative.
Jordanes' other work survives under various descriptive titles, De summa temporum vel origine actibusque gentis Romanorum or sometimes De regnorum et temporum successione, or even Liber de origine mundi et actibus Romanorum ceterarumque gentium, or simply De gestis Romanorum. It is a hasty compilation that was begun before, but published after, the Gothic history of 551, covering the history of the world from the Creation, based on Jerome and other writers, but of some value for the century 450 - 550, when Jordanes is dealing with recent history.
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