|King of the Goths|
Ermanaric (Gothic: Aírmanareiks; Latin: Ermanaricus; Old English: Eormanrīc [eormɑnriːtʃ]; Old Norse: Jǫrmunrekr; died 376) was a Greuthungian Gothic King who before the Hunnic invasion evidently ruled a sizable portion of Oium, the part of Scythia inhabited by the Goths at the time. He is mentioned in two Roman sources; the contemporary writings of Ammianus Marcellinus and in Getica by the 6th-century historian Jordanes. Modern historians have postulated that Ermanaric at one point ruled a realm stretching from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea as far eastwards as the Ural Mountains.
In Roman sources
According to Ammianus, Ermanaric was "a most warlike king" who eventually committed suicide, faced with the aggression of the Alani and of the Huns, who invaded his territories in the 370s. Ammianus says he "ruled over extensively wide and fertile regions". Ammianus also says that after Ermanaric´s death, a certain Vithimiris was elected as a new king.
According to Jordanes' Getica, Ermanaric ruled the realm of Oium. He describes him as a "Gothic Alexander" who "ruled all the nations of Scythia and Germania as they were his own". Jordanes also states that the king put to death a young woman named Sunilda with the use of horses, because of her infidelity. Thereupon her two brothers, Sarus and Ammius, severely wounded Ermanaric leaving him unfit to defend his kingdom from Hunnic incursions. Variations of this legend had a profound effect on medieval Germanic literature, including that of England and Scandinavia (see Jonakr's sons). Jordanes claims that he successfully ruled the Goths until his death at the age of 110.
In Germanic legend
Ermanaric also appears in Scandinavian and Anglo-Saxon legend. Here, Ermanaric is ill-advised by Bicke, Bikka or Sifka, who wants revenge for the rape of his wife by Ermanaric. Also in some tales of Dietrich of Bern, Ermanaric is Dietrich's uncle who stole the kingdom. This adviser advised Ermanaric to kill those closest to him.
Ermanaric's Gothic name is reconstructed as Airmanareiks. It is recorded in the various Latinized forms:
- in Jordanes' Getica, he is called Ermanaricus or Hermanaricus, but some of the manuscripts even have Armanaricus, Hermericus, Hermanericus etc.
- in Ammianus' Res gestae, he is Ermenrichus (his name occurs only once).
In medieval Germanic epics, the name appears as:
- Old English Eormenric in Beowulf; the alternative spelling Eormanric occurs in the poems Deor and Widsith,
- Old Norse Jọrmunrekr,
- Middle High German Ermenrîch.