Tacitus, I take it, definitely assigns the rank of `chief' to his chosen youths. They do not at once take a prominent position, but are attached to the rest of the chiefs, who are of firmer age and better tried, and they are not in the least ashamed to be their `companions'. He then goes on to use `chief' in a restricted sense, as the head of companions. If this is right, the youths were `principes' in contrast to the general mass of the population, but `comites' to their own `chief' (`princeps' in the narrower sense). The alternative rendering, `secure the approval of a chief', is barely possible Latin. It also makes nonsense of `ceteris' following.

Note by H Mattingly to Germania by Tacitus

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