Rome From a Non-Roman Perspective: Barbarians by Terry Jones

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Terry Jones might be most familiar to readers as one of the leading actors, for lack of a better word, of the Monty Python troop, but he is also a historian. Fortunately, all of his books, including this one, are easy to read, provocative, and excellent works of accessible scholarship worthy of a large and appreciative audience. Terry Jones’ Barbarians takes a completely fresh approach to Roman history. Not only does it offer us the chance to see the Romans from a non-Roman perspective, it also reveals that most groups of people that were not Roman were written off by the Romans as uncivilized, savage and barbaric, but they were in fact organized, motivated and intelligent groups of people, with no intentions of overthrowing Rome and plundering its Empire. A short introduction makes the book's aim clear: centuries of pro-roman and anti-'pagan' bias have presented a wholly misleading view of the so-called barbarians which Rome fought, and a corrective is needed, and as the Romans considered everyone who wasn't Roman a barbarian, there are a lot of misrepresented people for the book to cover. The text is divided up by chapters or parts, for example the Celts were Part 1, describing various 'barbarian' groups including the Dacians, Greeks, Persians, Celts, Goths, Germans, Sassanians, Vandals and Huns. Jones and Ereira always make it clear that historians aren't sure whether these groups really thought of themselves as groups, nor do we know how they formed and interacted. Much of the book follows the same pattern: the barbarian group in question are named, the high points of their culture and politics summarised, their destruction by Rome chronicled and the Romans criticised for it. The exception to this is Part 4, which also deals w... ... middle of paper ... ...d conveys to us the wrongs that it had done. My opinion is that without works such as Barbarians, other literary works about the Roman Empire would simply be glorifying the empire even more. As shown countless time throughout history, if the historian is writing about the empire from a higher perspective (noble, king’s assistant, etc), the account could easily be slandered from what should’ve been true. Personal accounts, after all, tie the significance of human emotions to experience. This book is just as moving, controversial, and strong as other books such as this one and it is a read that I would recommend to see the other view of the “great” Roman Empire. The Monty Python star Terry Jones has shown his satirical skill in this book as well as his more serious and critical side in uncovering the truth of the ancient Romans. Works Cited Barbarians by Terry Jones

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