All that we certainly know about his life is contained in three sentences of his history of the Goths (cap. 50), from which, among other particulars as to the history of his family, we learn that his grandfather Paria was notary to Candac, the chief of a confederation of Alans and other tribes settled during the latter half of the 5th century on the south of the Danube in the provinces which are now Bulgaria and the Dobrudscha.
He was not himself a Goth, belonging to a confederation of Germanic tribes, embracing Alans and Scyrians, which had come under the influence of the Ostrogoths settled on the lower Danube; and his own sympathies are those of a member of this confederation.
Finally, connected as he was with the Alans, he shows himself friendly to them, whenever they enter into his narrative.
Indeed his dominion became an object of uneasiness to the jealous statecraft of Byzantium, and Constantine Porphyrogenitus, writing for his son's instruction in the government, carefully enumerates the Alans, the Petchenegs, the Uzes and the Bulgarians as the forces he must rely on to restrain it.