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Primus Pilus

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Welcome to the forum for the discussion of the contemporary history of Rome's neighbors, enemies and allies. Feel free to start topics related to any ancient people outside or flourishing within the Roman Empire. Be aware that there is another forum for the discussion of post Roman history.

 

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Argument is usually when you end up making attacks, against the other person or against a thing, without the intent of a constructive evolution of thought of the reader or the writer.

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Hello,

 

I would like to recommend a book on the history of the relations between Romans and the peoples of temperate Europe, both those who lived within the northern border of the empire, and those beyond.  It is very well researched and presented, with copious endnotes, illustrations (grave goods, cemeteries, etc.) and maps.  Its title is The Barbarians Speak; How the Conquered Peoples Shaped Roman Europe, by Peter S. Wells (Princeton University Press, 1999). 

 

Wells presents new evidence and re-examines existing evidence of cultural impact, resistance, and synthesis, both in the Roman provinces and beyond, as far as ancient Poland.  Previous studies were biased in favor of ancient written sources, and these are now checked more critically against the archaeological evidence.  The tendency to regard the conquered peoples as merely passive recipients of Roman culture is revised in favor of more dynamic interaction. 

 

I also like the cover, a portion of the monumental painting Romans Passing Under the Yoke, by Charles Gleyre, who painted classical and related subjects in the early to mid-19th century.  His painting depicts the aftermath of the defeat of Roman legions in 107 BC by the Helvetians under Divico, mentioned by Livy and Caesar, et al.. It's a bit out of the period covered by the book, and, apart from the Teutoburgwald catastrophe of 9 AD, not much is made of Roman defeats.  But it does suggest that the contents will counterbalance the tendency to regard the Romans on the frontier as an all-conquering force.

 

One early part of the book I found fascinating was the account of the century preceding Caesar's conquest of Gaul, when the economic impact of Rome had already transformed Celtic (at least) culture along the future imperial boundary, as evidenced by the remains of enormous economic-industrial centers called oppida by Caesar.  The oppida were independent to the point of minting their own money.  One among many eye-openers in Wells's book.

 

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