The Songs of Gothia

The Songs of Gothia is a work in progress, to wit, a planned CD album consisting of five Medievalesque songs set to Gothic-language texts dealing with historical figures of ancient Gothia and Germania. According to the sixth-century Gothic historian Jordanes (Getica 5.43-44),

in earlier times they [i.e., the Goths] sang of the deeds of their ancestors in strains of song accompanied by the cithara [i.e., lyre], chanting of Eterpamara, Hanala, Fritigern, Vidigoia, and others whose fame among them is great.

The deeds of celebrated figures from Germania broadly may well have been included as well. This collection then is a fanciful attempt to recreate – with no claim to absolute historical accuracy in musical or poetic style – something of this lost tradition. All the songs were composed by Edmund Fairfax and are sung by Donna Greenberg. To date, the following three have been recorded and released.


Baris Standiþ (‘The Barley Stands’)

Ermanaricus (or *Airmanareiks, to give the reconstructed Wulfilian Gothic form) was a famous – or fabled – king of the Eastern Pontic Goths who, according to the ancient historian Jordanes, carved out a sizeable “empire” in the area of roughly the present-day eastern Ukraine and western Russia during the second part of the fourth century AD. This song is imagined to have been composed by the court musician Hugilaiks to help the king overcome worry and sleeplessness—a kind of lullaby for the overstressed, if you will—when his kingdom begins to fall apart under pressure from invading Eastern tribes of Alans and Huns. You can listen to the recording here (3:28);  just click the white arrow-head (or download it here):




According to the Annales of Tacitus (2.62-63), “Catualda” (a Latinization of almost certainly a Germanic name *Haþuwalda) was driven out of his homeland by the Marcomannic king Maroboduus – again a Latinized name – in the early first century AD. He found refuge among the Baltic Goths (“Gotones”) but ultimately returned with a vengeance, ousting Maroboduus in 18 AD. As Tacitus writes,

among the Gotones was a youth of noble birth, Catualda by name, who had formerly been driven into exile by the might of Maroboduus, and who now, when the king’s fortunes were declining, ventured on revenge. He entered the territory of the Marcomanni with a strong force, and having corruptly won over the nobles to join him, burst into the palace and into an adjacent fortress. . . . Maroboduus, now utterly deserted, had no resources but in the mercy of Caesar.

This song is Haþuwalda’s lament, uttered in his flight from Maroboduus, but also a vow to return with a vengeance. You can listen to the recording here (2:08);  just click the white arrow-head:



Drinkam (‘Let Us Drink’)

Drinkam is a drinking song that is imagined to have been composed in celebration of a fictive victory in 342 AD by a coalition of the eastern Goths under Ermanaricus (Latinized form equivalent to the expected Gothic *Airmanareiks) and the Eruli under Alaricus (Latinized form = *Alareiks) over the forces of the neighbouring Bosporan Kingdom under Tiberius Julius Rhescuporis VI. While no extant textual source mentions any such conflict, archaeological finds suggest at least that Rhescuporis VI’s rule was shocked by a conflict during this time. A falling out occasioned by this victory is imagined to have led in turn to the historically real conflict between *Airmanareiks and *Alareiks, wherein the latter was soundly defeated (Jordanes Getica).