Cover image for Romans and barbarians : four views from the empire's edge, 1st century A.D.
Romans and barbarians : four views from the empire's edge, 1st century A.D.
Williams, Derek, 1929-
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Physical Description:
xv, 237 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 25 cm
General Note:
Originally published: London : Constable, 1998.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DG59.A2 W57 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
DG59.A2 W57 1998 Adult Non-Fiction Being fixed/mended

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From 27 B.C. to A.D. 117, the Roman dreams of boundless empire began to falter. The very size of their conquests made them hard to manage, and the caesars also had to accept the scale and intractabililty of the problems posed by the barbarians. The period covered by the book is one of great change and the opening of a new era. For the once mighty Romans this was a time when power was passing; for the barbarians it was the late Iron Age: a time of transition when internal stresses and fear of Roman aggression were creating dangerous shifts in the tribal equilibrium. Romans and Barbarians presents a vivid picture of two contrasting worlds; of history and prehistory, cheek-by-jowl, mutually uncomprehending, yet strangely unable to do without each other.

Reviews 1

Booklist Review

By the close of the first century A.D., Roman frontiers had stabilized after three centuries of expansion. Thus, the task of the military on the periphery of the empire became essentially defensive, with a primary aim of controlling, if not completely staunching, the flow of "barbarians" across the frontiers. Williams has provided a valuable survey of the interaction between Romans and their supposedly less civilized neighbors at three key points: in Britain and northern Gaul, where Romans confronted Celts; along the Rhine, where Romans confronted Germanic tribes; and beyond the Danube, where Romans encountered a variety of peoples moving westward from the steppes and central Asia. Williams acknowledges that his sources are one-sided, since Germans and Celts left no written records. Nevertheless, he has provided a balanced picture that convincingly illustrates that Roman technological superiority has been overstated. Particularly in the area of animal husbandry and efficient farming, Romans were often the students rather than the teachers. This is a well-researched and richly illustrated reexamination of a series of relationships that shaped Western culture. --Jay Freeman