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Rome and the Barbarians, 100 B.C.-A.D. 400 (Ancient Society & History)by Thomas S. Burns
Synopses & Reviews
The barbarians of antiquity, so long a fixture of the public imagination as the savages who sacked and destroyed Rome, emerge in this colorful, richly textured history as a much more complex — and far more interesting — factor in the expansion, and eventual unmaking, of the Roman Empire. Thomas S. Burns marshals an abundance of archeological and literary evidence, as well as three decades of study and experience, to bring forth an unusually far-sighted and wide-ranging account of the relations between Romans and non-Romans along the frontiers of western Europe from the last years of the Republic into late antiquity.
Looking at a 500-year time span beginning with early encounters between barbarians and Romans around 100 B.C. and ending with the spread of barbarian settlement in the western Empire around A.D. 400, Burns removes the barbarians from their narrow niche as invaders and conquerors and places them in the broader context of neighbors, (sometimes bitter) friends, and settlers. His nuanced history subtly shows how Rome's relations with the barbarians — and vice versa — slowly but inexorably evolved from general ignorance, hostility, and suspicion toward tolerance, synergy, and integration. What he describes is, in fact, a drawn-out period of acculturation, characterized more by continuity than by change and conflict and leading to the creation of a new Romano-barbarian hybrid society and culture that anticipated the values and traditions of medieval civilization.
Book News Annotation:
The very title of this book reflects a dichotomy that is far more simplistic and starker than the picture Burns (history, Emory U.) wishes to draw of the complex relationship between Rome and those within its power or on its periphery who were not defined as "citizens." Rather than a dichotomy of eternal enmity, the relationship between Rome and the barbarians was one of constantly shifting definitions of the "other," shifting structural forces brought about by military conflict, and shifting patron-client relations; all of which contributed both to the expansion of Rome as well as its eventual fall. Annotation ©2009 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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