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Rome and the Barbarians | [The Great Courses]

Rome and the Barbarians

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?
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Publisher's Summary

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

What Members Say

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  •  
    Mike 03-22-14
    Mike 03-22-14 Member Since 2013
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    "History of Rome from the Barbarian's Perspective!"
    Any additional comments?

    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!

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher Shanghai, China 09-25-14
    Christopher Shanghai, China 09-25-14 Member Since 2001
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    "How Barbarians Created Roman HIstory"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This is a great course if you are interested in Roman history. The course really is a history of the Roman empire from inception to its decline and fall told against the background of barbarian invasions and interactions.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Professor Harl's discussion of economic and social factors influencing Roman history was wonderful. He is very careful to disclose sensitive issues in historiography and to let the listener know which side of a controversy he is on. Very, very professional.


    What about Professor Kenneth W. Harl’s performance did you like?

    The unbelievable breadth of his knowledge and detailed observations concerning cause and effect in Rome's interaction (and integration) with barbarians. I came feel that I could see the panorama of Roman history and the factors (and internal inconsistencies) that led to its fall. There is a lot here for politicians to learn from.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    Not that type of book. But I really enjoyed Professor Harl's presentation. Even in 40 hours of Roman history there was never a dull moment (in fact, I was constantly going back to listen again to the details in certain passages).


    Any additional comments?

    Easy to listen to a 1.25x rather than 1.0.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mountain K9iner 07-09-14
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    "Packed with information!"
    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven 11-20-14
    Steven 11-20-14 Member Since 2011
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    "outstanding presentation"
    If you could sum up Rome and the Barbarians in three words, what would they be?

    Concise, accessible and timely. Professor Harl knows his stuff and presents it like a master.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Rome and the Barbarians?

    Lots of them but definitely the way he brought many obscure and famous barbarian rulers to life


    What does Professor Kenneth W. Harl bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The pace of presentation is just right he has a lot to cover and he cruises at just the right speed, plus of course it is a lecture so is meant to be heard


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Great specialized piece of history that we need more of

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Christopher BROOKLYN, NY, United States 11-11-14
    Christopher BROOKLYN, NY, United States 11-11-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Harl is a traditional historian, and not an orator"

    There are a lot of Harl lectures in the GC series, and his knowledge of diverse ancient historical subjects is impressive. But he is in many ways an old-school historian, in that he focuses on military actions and the push-and-pull of state borders -- often to the exclusion of the wider themes and cultural topics that are being so wonderfully folded into history by a newer style of historians... This is ok -- different tastes. But where Harl's lectures suffer is that they are not organized according to any single category -- sometimes he goes by chronology, but sometimes he skips backward; sometimes he goes by region, sometimes not... The overall effect is disorganized and so it's harder to follow these lectures than some of the other Great Courses. Also, his voice is, well, annoying, and though lecturers are and should be chosen for their intellect and not their oratorical prowess... dang: Harl's voice really grates. He also stumbles over his words, flubs grammar, and chronically mispronounces ancient names and demonyms. You'd think TTC would edit for that kind of thing.

    Despite all that, there is a lot of good information here. But it is not, as others have stated, history from the barbarians' perspective. It is still very much Roman history, from the Roman perspective -- just with an eye toward barbarian movements.

    If you're looking for Roman history, listen to Fagan's lectures on The History of Rome and The Roman Emperors first. They're better in all respects.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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  • Farah
    8/3/14
    Overall
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    "Awful delivery."
    If this book wasn’t for you, who do you think might enjoy it more?

    No one.


    What will your next listen be?

    Popes and the Papacy.


    How did the narrator detract from the book?

    He hadn't written his lecturers, and was working from notes. This may work in class--it often does and I lecture that way myself--but on the audio book it was a litany of ums, ahs, and back tracking.


    What character would you cut from Rome and the Barbarians?

    I didn't get that far.


    Any additional comments?

    I'd love to have my money back. I tried very hard for a week, and finally had to give up. £23 down the drain.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
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