This study analyzes the components of Jordanes’ History of the Goths, with the aim of identifying the contributions respectively of Ablabius, Cassiodorus, and Jordanes himself. It is argued that while much of the detail of the historical narrative is derived from classical Greek and Roman sources the early history also includes genuinely Gothic traditions that originated before the Goths entered the empire. There has been much recent discussion concerning the nature of the Goths and the other peoples that destroyed the Roman Empire. One view is that the sense of identity that gave the Goths and the other gentes their sense of cohesion, and their political and military effectiveness, only arose after their entry into the empire. This study takes a contrary view, arguing that when Goths entered the empire they were already a gens, with its own evolving tradition and sense of identity, so that their history within the empire was a continuation of a much longer history that is scarcely documented because theirs was not a literate culture.