Dr Radness travelled to Melbourne recently and met with the fantastic and erudite Dr Rhiannon Evans from La Trobe. Dr Evans is one of the famous voices on the Emperors of Rome podcast. In this special episode, Dr Rad and Dr Evans explore barbarians!
Tune in to learn more about how the Romans thought about the peoples they came into contact with.
What makes a Barbarian?
Connotations have a very important place when thinking about barbarians. Our modern usage also influences how we think of the category. So the first order of business is a consideration of etymology and to consider who the Romans are applying the term to and why.
There are a range of factors to consider when turning to the Roman use of the term. Up for discussion:
- who cops the designation of barbarian from the Roman perspective
- what makes someone more and less barbarous
- just what is happening on the other side of the Rhine
- and some of the problems with our source materials – written versus archaeological
Julius Caesar’s Barbarians
There’s nothing quite like expansion to bring a Roman into contact with barbarians. Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars detail his campaigns. Reading the source closely provide some clues as to:
- the divisions between the peoples
- the Roman criticism of the role of writing and speaking amongst non-Roman peoples
- maybe what’s not happening (Roman victory)
- and differences in attitude to land use
Implications of the Past on the Present
The concept of barbarian may emerge from an ancient past, but it continues to have relevance today. The idea of who belongs and who is considered an outsider, and the concept of the Other, are part of an ongoing engagement with how people navigate their relationships with strangers.
The conversation weaves through the dangers of Caesar’s description of the Germani and touches upon Claudius’ relationship with the Gauls, both of which have modern echoes that Dr R and Evans explore.
Join us for all this and more!
I, Dr G, sadly lament my absence from this episode – but having done the write up for this episode, I can assure you it is good!