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Anti-barbarian sentiment in the 5th Century

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The more I research the matter of barbarians within the ranks of the Legion, the more questions I have, lol. My current question pertains to just who was considered a barbarian to the Romans? I know that is said that the Severan dynasty had punic blood, and that Maximinus Thrax is the first so called "Barbarian Emperor", but what of the Illyrian Junta (I love that word) starting with Claudius Gothicus and ending with Probus, and the Gaul's Carus and much later Avitus? I know there are many more examples, but there are also examples of those denied the purple because of their barbarian heritage. Stilicho and Ricimer come to mind. And even these two were said to believe themselves Roman through and through, even though their familial history speaks different.


So just exactly what was the difference? Were the Illyrian Emperor's romanized? The Severan's? Were some barbarians more acceptable to the Roman people?


I put the question to the masses of UNRV to assist me in understanding, because as I dig deeper I am seeing evidence that the problem was not just being barbarian, but whether they assimilated into the Roman culture or not.


Your thoughts are needed, and to all who respond, I thank you truly.


I read somewhere (it may have been Wikipedia) recently that one of the reasons why the late emperors favored germanic generals was that barbarians were not allowed to become emperors, and therefore could not become usurpers. It didn't really make sense, since as you pointed out, many of the later emperors were ultimatelly of barbarian ancestry, depending on how you define barbarian.


Most experts seem to agree that Stilicho was fully romanized despite his Vandal ancestry. I doubt that his beard made him appear any less Roman. Emperors of the early empire were clean-shaven, but the Antonines had beards, and nobody called them barbarians.

Edited by barca

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