This is the original work so many contemporary historians refer to, sometimes derisively, when discussing the Goths. How much of it is historical fact, how much myth and legend? A fascinating piece whichever view you take. Personally I don't feel that myth and legend deserve a lesser place than history in our heritage. The Goths have been vilified and hero worshipped, neither extreme does them justice. Jordanes tells their story in their own words for those who want to hear them.
This hundred year old translation of a 1500 year old book is one of the most important works to come down to us from late antiquity. Jordanes was a Gothic bureaucrat of the Eastern Roman Empire who was asked to provide a summary of the history of the Goths written by Cassiodorus. That original work is now lost, but Jordanes 'Getica' still survives.
This book provides a short overview of the Gothic peoples, from their origins on the Island of Scandza, as Jordanes would have believed, (he might have been wrong as new research states) to their wars against the Empire, and their struggles against the Huns. The book ends with the Goths involvement in Italy around AD 542.
What makes this work an interesting read is the descriptions that Jordanes gives us of the Western Roman Empire in decline, and especially of the life of Attila the Hun.
The translation by Charles C. Mierow is by now a hundred years old, but it's still as readable as ever. My only fault with the translation is that he doesn't leave any footnotes within the text. This would have been useful considering Jordanes habit to exaggerate or lie. This also makes the book difficult to follow for anyone who is not well versed in the history of the later Roman Empire.
This book is a must have for any student of Late Antiquity, or for those who'd like a first hand account of how one of the mightiest empires in history fell.