Collision with Rome
Map showing the pre-Migration Age distribution of the Germanic tribes in Proto-Germanic times, and stages of their expansion up to 50 BCE, 100 CE and 300 CE. The extent of the Roman Empire in 68 BCE and 117 CE is also shown.
By the late 2nd century BCE, Roman authors recount, Gaul, Italy and Hispania were invaded by migrating Germanic tribes. This culminated in military conflict with the armies of the Roman Republic, in particular those of the Roman Consul Gaius Marius. Six decades later, Julius Caesar invoked the threat of such attacks as one justification for his annexation of Gaul to Rome.
As Rome expanded to the Rhine and Danube rivers, it incorporated many Celtic societies into the Empire. The tribal homelands to the north and east emerged collectively in the records as Germania. The peoples of this area were sometimes at war with Rome, but also engaged in complex and long-term trade relations, military alliances, and cultural exchanges with Rome as well.
The Cimbri and Teutoni incursions into Roman Italy were thrust back in 101 BCE. These invasions were written up by Caesar and others as presaging of a Northern danger for the Roman Republic, a danger that should be controlled. In the Augustean period there was — as a result of Roman activity as far as the Elbe River — a first definition of the "Germania magna": from Rhine and Danube in the West and South to the Vistula and the Baltic Sea in the East and North.
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