The Roman Commonwealth, from the time of Marius to that of Julian, had borne the brunt of the onset of various Teutonic peoples. The tribe which bore the distinctive name of Teutones, the Suevi, the Cherusci, the Nervii, the Marcomanni, and in later times the great confederacies which called themselves Free-men and All-men (Franks and Alamanni), had wrestled, often not ingloriously, with the Roman legions. But it was reserved for the Goths, whose fortunes we are now about to trace, to deal the first mortal blow at the Roman state, to be the first to stand in the Forum of Roma Invicta, and prove to an amazed world (themselves half-terrified by the greatness of their victory) that she who had stricken the nations with a continual stroke was now herself laid low. How little the Gothic nation comprehended that this was its mission; how gladly it would often have accepted the position of humble friend and client of the great World-Empire, through what strange vicissitudes of fortune, what hardships, what dangers of national extinction it was driven onwards to this predestined goal, will appear in the course of the following history...
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