The Germanic peoples-a cultural group, or territorial category?

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,659
USA
Hey this is a thread about the ethnic categorization of the Romans and Greeks. They referred the area beyond the Rhine and Danube as Germania and this is what the modern Germany comes from. However I heard that these tribes all had their indivdual languages, culture, and customs. The Gauls too also had these differences. Not every tribe was identical in culture. The area of Germania seems rather vast stretching from the Rhine to Russia. Even Norway and Sweden is categorized as Germanic.

So how culturally similar were are these tribes to eachother? Were they sharing similar culture like Greece(divided but similar)or was it just a vast land categorized as such?

Modern day Germany is mainly descendant to the Alamannii right? Because the French, Spanish, and Italians all have differences despite being descendants of the Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths and Normans.

Germanic people came from Scandanavia right? So do Vikings count as a Germanic tribal group? Are Noreigeins and Swedish ethically part of the Germans?
 

Rodger

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
6,171
US
Here's my perspective. Initially, there were various German tribes, similar in ethnicity, and I would imagine language and practices. Over the years, the "Germans" were on of the most prolific people to expand their territory especially to the east (Ostsiedlung). They then incorporated many other ethnic types, and these newly conquered people eventually were Germanized, in language, dress, culture, way of life, etc.
 

beorna

Ad Honoris
Jan 2010
17,473
-
The Greeks usually did not use the term Germani or in this ase Germanoi. They divided the barbarian world into keltoi and skythai and those between them as keltoskythai.
It is not sure who was the first who used the term germani for the Germanics, but it was Caesar, who made this term popular and as Tacitus wrote, after a while the germanics used these term even for themselves.

We don't know, if all those, who were now called Germani were indeed Germanics or saw themselves as germanics. Especially in the west several gentes were connected with the La-Tene-culture. All in all we should expect at least a linguistically and cultural quite similar population, allthough divided into several different cultures and political entities. A germanic nation or people instead, never existed. Todays germanic speaking nations are not Germanics, they are English, German, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, US American etc.
 

Peter Graham

Ad Honorem
Jan 2014
2,694
Westmorland
However I heard that these tribes all had their indivdual languages, culture, and customs.
You heard right.

So how culturally similar were are these tribes to eachother? Were they sharing similar culture like Greece(divided but similar)or was it just a vast land categorized as such?
From the Roman perspective, they were all just barbarians. From their own perspective, I'm sure they felt that they were quite distinct from one another. The Romans probably didn't differentiate between culture and territory any more than we do today.

Modern day Germany is mainly descendant to the Alamannii right? Because the French, Spanish, and Italians all have differences despite being descendants of the Visigoths, Vandals, Ostrogoths and Normans.
Not really. It isn't that simple.

Germanic people came from Scandanavia right? So do Vikings count as a Germanic tribal group? Are Noreigeins and Swedish ethically part of the Germans?
Some Germanic peoples came from Scandinavia. Most north European languages (including English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian) are members of the north or west Germanic sub groups of the wider Germanic branch of the Indo-European language group. So, there is a linguistic and, to some extent, a cultural kinship between us. Ethnicity isn't a terribly helpful label in this context, not least because ethnicity is, to some degree, a matter of choice.*

Regards,

Peter

* As evidenced by the number of people who claim to be Irish, despite not being born there, never living there and perhaps never actually having visited either.
 
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Naima

Ad Honorem
Jun 2014
2,323
Venice
You heard right.

From the Roman perspective, they were all just barbarians. From their own perspective, I'm sure they felt that they were quite distinct from one another. The Romans probably didn't differentiate between culture and territory any more than we do today.

Not really. It isn't that simple.

Some Germanic peoples came from Scandinavia. Most north European languages (including English, Dutch, German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian) are members of the north or west Germanic sub groups of the wider Germanic branch of the Indo-European language group. So, there is a linguistic and, to some extent, a cultural kinship between us. Ethnicity isn't a terribly helpful label in this context, not least because ethnicity is, to some degree, a matter of choice.*

Regards,

Peter

* As evidenced by the number of people who claim to be Irish, despite not being born there, never living there and perhaps never actually having visited either.
Romans actually differentiated the diverse "barbarian" groups , for them the word referred more to whats non roman rather than pelt dressed people.
Dacians , Sarmatians , germanic tribes where different . Even among germanic tribes they saw different ethnic groups with different cultures .

Its like calling all mesoamerican cultures simply Mayan or Aztec , when there where many many different ones with huge diversifications in culture , art and languages.