Page 1042

1042 UNIVERSAL BISTORY-THE MODERN WORLD.

as bishop of the Goths. He now formed the

design of turning the Scriptures into the language of his people. The measure was as

radical as it was broadly conceived. For seven

years Ulfilas labored assiduously at the great

task which he had undertaken. At the end

of that time the whole Bible, with the exception perhaps of the Book of Kings, had been

translated in the vernacular. The language,

though still half barbarous, showed itself fully

capable of developing a literary expression.

Max Muller well says of the work accomplished by Ulfilas: "It required a prophetic

insight and a faith in the destiny of these half-savage tribes and a conviction also of the

utter effectiveness of the Roman Byzantine empires before a bishop could have brought

himself to translate the Bible into the vulgar

dialect of his barbarous countrymen." The

achievement of Ulfilas requires a more especial

attention for the reason that the Gothic Bible

thus produced was the first book ever written

in a Teutonic language, and for the additional

reason that the subsequent legislation and

social status of the Visigoths in Spain were

traceable in a good measure to the Scriptures

as a sort of fundamental constitution in the

State.

This episode leads naturally to the addition

of a paragraph on the characteristics of the

Gothic language. The characters in which

this rough but vigorous speech was written,

are said to have been invented by Ulfilas in

conformity to the Greek alphabet. The Gothic

verb has two voices, an active and a middle;

two tenses, a present and a past; three moods,

the indicative, the optative, and the imperative, besides an infinitive and a present and a

past participle. The general characteristics of

the language are the same as those of Anglo-Saxon, German, and English. Gothic nouns

have three genders, two numbers and five

cases. Adjectives are inflected in two forms.

Prepositions precede the nouns, which they

govern in the genitive, dative, or accusative

case. The language has no indefinite article,

the place of the definite article being supplied

with the pronoun. The entire literature of the

Gothic language consists of three or four fragmentary manuscripts, the first and most important of which is the parchment containing

what has been preserved of Ulfilas's New Testament now deposited in the library of Upsala

in Sweden. A, second manuscript, known as

the Codex Turinensis, was discovered by Pfeiffer, in 1866. This parchment also, consisting of but four sheets, contains fragments of

the New Testament. A third manuscript,

called the Codex Carolinus, discovered in 1756,

contains forty-two verses of the eleventh to the

fifteenth chapter of Paul's letter to the Romans. All the other fragments of Gothic are of

the same character with those here described.

It will be appropriate in this connection to

refer briefly to the manners and customs of

the Goths, or more generally to those of the

primitive Teutonic nations. The people of

this race were of a common type, and strongly

marked characteristics. To Caesar and Tacitus

we are indebted for our knowledge of the lives,

habits, and personal bearing of the Germans

in their native haunts. They were a people

of the woods. Little did the hardy barbarians care for the comforts and discomforts of

the civilized State. In person they were the

most stalwart of all the ancient peoples. Their

presence was a terror even to the veteran legionaries of Rome. They are described as

having huge, white bodies; long, yellow hair;

broad shoulders; brawny muscles; florid complexion, and fierce blue eyes that gleamed under excitement with the lightning of animosity and passion. In mind they were daring to

the last degree. War was their profession.

They were hunters of men as well as of wild

beasts. With the strongest attachment for

home and domesticity, they were nevertheless

capable of interminable expeditions and indefinite maraudings in the forest. Ariovistus,

one of their kings, told Caesar to his face that

he would be able to find out what the invincible Germans, who for fourteen years had not

slept beneath a roof, would be able to accomplish by their valor; and though the prophetic threat was unfulfilled for five centuries,

at last the words of the barbaric chieftain

were made good in the subversion of Rome.

The Germans were an assemblage of tribes.

They had a common tradition and a common

method of life. They dwelt in towns and