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Bill Thayer

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Book I
Chapter 3

This webpage reproduces a section of
Italy and Her Invaders

Thomas Hodgkin

published by the Clarendon Press

The text, and illustrations except as noted,
are in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Book I
Note C

Book 1 (continued)

Thayer's Note: This page is from the first edition of the book, which Hodgkin considerably expanded into a much more detailed second edition, often refining or even outright changing his conclusions and opinions. That second edition is onsite in full; the serious student will take advantage of it.

Vol. I
Note B

On the Name Alaric

Alaric = Ala-Reiks. As to the termination Reiks there is no difficulty. Allied apparently to the Latin rex it is the true regular equivalent of prince or ruler in Ulfilas's translation of the Bible, e.g. John xii.31, 'Nu sa reiks this fairwaus usvairpada ut' — 'Now is the prince of this world cast out.' Matt. ix.18, 'Reiks ains qimands ïnvait ïna qithands thatei dauhtar meina nu gasvalt' — A certain ruler coming worshipped him saying that my daughter is now dead.' Eph. ii.2, 'Bi reik valdufnjis luftaus' — 'according to the prince of the power of the air.' Romans xiii.3, 'Thai auk reiks ni sind agis godamma vaurstva ak ubilamma' — 'For rulers are not a terror to good work but to evil.' The Gothic equivalent of King is Thiudans.

This Reiks is of course the final ric in the Vandal Genseric and Hunneric, the Frankish Chilperic, the Ostrogoth Theodoric, the Spanish Roderic, and the English Leofric.

The first part of the name, Ala, is perhaps not quite so clear, as alls (all) in Gothic is generally spelt with two l's both in its simple form or in its compounds; but we do find Ala‑mans = 'all‑men,' 'mankind,' and Ala‑tharba, 'utterly destitute,' in the parable of the Prodigal Son, Luke xv.15. (See the Gothic Lexicon in Gabelentz and Löbe's Ulfilas.)º

The surname Baltha is, without dispute, the Gothic equivalent for 'bold,' thus John vii.13, 'Nih than ainshun svethauh baltha‑ba rodida bi ïna ïn agisis Iudaie' — 'But not any‑one however, boldly spoke (thus) concerning him from fear of the Jews.' It is apparently the same word which appears in our English name Ethelbald (Query the German Willibald and the Italian Garibaldi).

From a passage in Jornandes (cap. XXIX) it has generally been supposed that Alaric came of the race of the Balthae, a royal family among the Visigoths, corresponding to the  p275 Amals among the Ostrogoths. Aschbach, however, in his 'Geschichte der West-gothen' shows some reasons for believing that Baltha was a personal surname of Alaric adopted by his successors, as Augustus was by the Roman Emperors. The point is one which it is not easy to decide.

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Page updated: 6 Aug 20