The history of the Romans as they advanced the frontiers of Classical civilization is often told as a story of warfare and conquest - the mighty legions encountering the "barbarians." But this only tells one side of the story.
Who were the Celts, Goths, Huns, and Persians met by the Romans as they marched north and east? What were the political, military, and social institutions that made Rome so stable, allowing its power to be wielded against these different cultures for nearly three centuries? What role did those institutions themselves play in assimilating barbarian peoples?
These 36 engaging lectures tell the story of the complex relationship between each of these native peoples and their Roman conquerors as they intermarried, exchanged ideas and mores, and, in the ensuing provincial Roman cultures, formed the basis of Western European civilization.
You'll study the institutions that made Rome so extraordinary, as well as the extraordinary figures - both Roman and barbarian - whose names have been familiar to us for so long. You'll learn about Augustus, Constantine I, Diocletian, Gaius Julius Caesar, Nero, Attila the Hun, as well as a myriad of figures whose names are less familiar to us.
But these lectures deliver far more than personal snapshots, as compelling as those may be. Professor Harl brings to life the institutions that shaped both Rome and her relationship with, and assimilation of, the barbarians at her constantly expanding frontiers. You'll come away with a new appreciation of how our Western world came to be and detailed knowledge about the individuals from royalty to "barbarian" who played key roles in that process.
Disclaimer: Please note that this recording may include references to supplemental texts or print references that are not essential to the program and not supplied with your purchase.
©2004 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2004 The Great Courses
This is a great book. I can highly recommend anything written by the author/lecturer Professor Kenneth W. Harl. He is thorough and engaging with any topic.
This book is an overview of the History of Rome with a focus on its interactions with the Barbarians outside and inside their empire. He begins with the rise of the concept of the "Barbarian" in Greek culture. He then follows the ever shifting Roman frontier and barbarian groups encountered by the Roman empire, from Italy, to Spain, Africa, Gaul, Britain, Germany, the Balkans, Asia Minor, as well as Persia and the Levant.
He not only describes the political and military history between Rome and these peoples, but also analyzes how they interacted with each other. The barbarians were changed and shaped by their encounters with the Romans as the Romans were also in turn changed and shaped by their encounters with the barbarians. The history is also not just one of war, but also of trade, culture, assimilation and differentiation. It is a fascinating overview and well worth the read of anyone interested. He of course ends in the final portion of his lectures with his analysis of the fall of the western Roman empire and the interesting role the barbarians played in that process.
One highlight for me was learning about the mysterious iron age culture of the Celts, who at one time had spread their influence over most of Western and Central Europe, a far greater scope than the cultures of Ireland and Scotland we think of today.
For those interested in this topic, I can also highly recommend "The Invasion of Europe by the Barbarians" by John B. Bury. This book is also available on audible, and it does an excellent job covering the barbarian invasions of the later Roman Empire and their cultures. It adds many details not covered in this overview, and will be an excellent complement to this read.
I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the topic. You will enjoy the ride, and learn a lot on the way!
This series of lectures is packed with information. Prof. Harl works with a couple of overall interpretive positions (e.g., Rome's interactions with its neighbors was far more than combative) and provides voluminous information in support. This course can be a bit overwhelming in the amount of information provided, but well worth it. For me it will require at least a second listen.
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