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CIMMERII, an ancient people of the far north or west of Europe, first spoken of by Homer (Odyssey, xi. 12-19), who describes them as living in perpetual darkness. Herodotus (iv. 11-13), in his account of Scythia, regards them as the early inhabitants of South Russia (after whom the Bosporus Cimmerius [q.v.] and other places were named), driven by the Scyths along by the Caucasus into Asia Minor, where they maintained themselves for a century. But the Cimmerii are often mentioned in connexion with the Thracian Treres who made their raids across the Hellespont, and it is quite possible that some Cimmerii took this route, having been cut off by the Scyths as the Alani were by the Huns. Certain it is that in the middle of the 7th century B.C., Asia Minor was ravaged by northern nomads (Herod. iv. 12), one body of whom is called in Assyrian sources Gimirrai and is represented as coming through the Caucasus. They were probably Iranian speakers, to judge by the few proper names preserved. The name has also been identified with the biblical Gomer, son of Japheth (Gen. X. 2, 3). To the north of the Euxine their main body was merged in the invading Scyths. Later writers identified them with the Cimbri of Jutland, who were probably Teutonized Celts, but this is a mere guess due to the similarity of name. The Homeric Cimmerii belong to an early part of the Odyssey in which the hero was conceived as wandering in the Euxine; these adventures were afterwards translated to the western Mediterranean in accordance with a wider geographical outlook.
For the Cimmerian invasions described by Herodotus, see SCYTHIA; LYDIA; GYGES. (E. H. M.)
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