Aelvaeones = Helveconae, Helvaeonae, Helvecones, Ailouaiones, Hilleviones, Hallin (Sweden-Poland)
- 1. (Hilleviones) Pliny the Elder (77 AD): Naturalis Historia 4, Chapter 96
- 2. (Helveconae) Tacitus (98 AD): Germania 43
- 3. (Aelvaeones) Claudius Ptolemy (lived 90-168 AD), Geography 2.11.9
- 4. (Hallin) Jordanes, Getica 22
The Scandinavian Homeland: Halland Tribe in Sweden
According to Pliny the Elder (77 AD), the Hilleviones was a tribe from an island called Scatinavia. To get there, one has to pass through lands were people are said to have horse hoofs rather than feet and ears so big they can cover the whole body. Then the traveler will reach the Ingaevones of “Germany”:
«Leaving these, we come to the nation of the Ingævones, the first in Germany. In their country is an immense mountain called Sevo, not less than those of the Riphæan range, and which forms an immense gulf along the shore as far as the Promontory of the Cimbri. This gulf, which has the name of the ‘Codanian,’ is filled with islands; the most famous among which is Scandinavia, of a magnitude as yet unascertained: the only portion of it at all known is inhabited by the nation of the Hilleviones, who dwell in 500 villages, and call it a second world: it is generally supposed that the island of Eningia is of not less magnitude.»
The Hilleviones may be the same as the Aelvaones of Ptolemy and the Helveconae of Tacitus, but this is not certain – it seems that Pliny place them geographically somewhere in southern Sweden where the tribes mentioned by Ptolemy and Tacitus seem safely situated in Poland.
However, many of the German tribes had legends of a Scandinavian homeland, and many tribes did in fact separate in two groups during the Migration Age (beginning in the second century BC and lasting until the fifth AD), where the second group emigrated to the southeast – which is why Poland was so densely occupied by Germanic tribes. Thus it is entirely possible that we see a Scandinavian and a continental branch of the same original tribe, like we do with the Swedish Götar (Geats, Gauts) and the Central European Goths.
In 1883, Grimsby (“Nordisk Familjebok”) suggested that the Hilleviones were an early population of Halland in Sweden. If so, they could be the same as the Hallin tribe of the Scandza island, mentioned by Jordanes in 551 AD. Jordanes place the Hallin in Scandinavia. After having described the Andogit and Scredefennae of Northern Norway, he mentions one tribe of Suehi (possibly the Swedish tribe known as Svear) before he counts up several other tribes, among them the Hallin:
22.”Then comes a throng of various nations, Theustes, Vagoth, Bergio, Hallin, Liothida. All their habitations are in one level and fertile region. Wherefore they are disturbed there by the attacks of other tribes.”
The Hallin may have lived in Halland, which is an ancient province of Sweden on the south-western coast, bordering to other old Swedish tribal lands such as Svíthiód/Svearríki and Götaland, facing Denmark and Poland. It could very well be the origin of the emigrated, continental tribe of Helveconae/Aelvaonae in Poland.
The German Descendants
According to Tacitus, the Helveconae are one of the tribes belonging to a confederation of tribes known together as the Lugii, (there will be a later post on the Lugii). About the Helveconae is simply said to be among the most powerful Lugii tribes. His geographical description is usually thought to be referring to areas in Poland, although it could easily be understood as Norway or Sweden – their land is separated from “Suevia” by a continued ridge of mountains:
“All these people inhabit but a small proportion of champaign country; their settlements are chiefly amongst forests, and on the sides and summits of mountains; for a continued ridge of mountains separates Suevia from various remoter tribes. Of these, the Lygian is the most extensive, and diffuses its name through several communities. It will be sufficient to name the most powerful of them — the Arii, Helvecones, Manimi, Elysii, and Naharvali.”
According to Ptolemy, the Aelvaeones was a Germanic tribe that during the 2nd century AD (when Ptolemy lived) lived in an area that may be contemporary the Elbing or else Silesia, in contemporary Poland. Poland was formerly dominated by Iron Age Germanic tribes. They may have spoken a variant of Old Prussian (a Baltic language – the Balto-Slavic and the Germanic tribes interacted a great deal during the early Iron Age and influenced each other mutually).
Wikipedia: “We know that Ilfing (Elving) was the name of the river and that ethnic names are often intimately connected to river names, especially in a country of rivers. It is possible, but speculative, that the Elw- in Elwing came from an earlier people who lived there. The Goths and the Vandals (if indeed they are distinct) both are assumed to have come from Sweden. Many believe, without much evidence, that there is a connection to the Hilleviones of Sweden. The name can probably be segmented Helvec-on-ae, where the -on- is a Latin productive suffix used to generate people and place names. Helvec- might be further segmented as Hel-vec-, where -vec- might be “settlement”, as -ing would be “people.” As for the Hel-, there are as many possibilities as there are for Hellenes.
These speculative linguistic connections raise as many questions as they answer. We would require more evidence to be as certain as the encyclopedists of the past. In which direction would the migration over the Baltic have occurred? If the Hilleviones were Germanic, what were the Lugii, and why were the Helveconae among them? Could they have been Celtic, Baltic, or Germanized Celts or Balts?”