An interesting question arises as to why the lands previously occupied by the Suevi (but later Suavi) were subsequently occupied by the “Sclavi”. A curious coincidence. Per Tacitus, Semnones claimed to have been the most ancient of the Suevi. Some 19th century historians identified some of the Suevi with the later Slavs. To explain the tribal name Semnones, they pointed to the Slavic words for the “Earth”:
zem (Slovak) země (Czech) ziemia (Polish) zemlya (Russian etc.)
But it says Semnones not Semones comes the objection. Not to worry. The manuscripts do not agree upon the correct spelling and Semones does indeed appear more than once. To support this view, those historians invoked the Semnonian passage in Tacitus and its preoccupation with the Earth:
No one enters it unless bound with ligatures, thus professing his subordination and power of the Deity there. If he fall down, he is not permitted to rise or be raised, but grovels along upon the ground.
Whether there is enough to suggest that the Semnones viewed themselves as born of “the Earth” is debatable. However, another interesting coincidence comes to light when we take a look at where scholarship locates the Semnones:image
Fast forward eight hundred years and we find the following tribe, or at least the name of a local province that refers to a tribe, in the same area:
The word is clearly Slavic. Did the Slavs merely “repurpose” a local Teutonic name? Possibly but, if so, why not repurpose the names of the Burgundians, Goths and others that at some point occupied what was later Slavic territory? We’ll likely never know the answer but the above is suggestive to say the least.