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Roman History - Rome and the Barbarians


Tuesday, 29 October 2019 to Wednesday, 26 February 2020
Total hours: 40
Hours of lectures: 40

Examination procedure

  • Report or seminar


This course is devoted to undergraduate students and is open to PhD students. Knowledge of Latin and ancient Greek is required.


Contacts between Rome and the populations settled beyond the limes followed the irregular trends of Roman imperialism. Over time, these relations underwent profound transformations, in a history made up of conflicts, fragile alliances, and processes of acculturation. Roman historical sources present the world of the barbarians in narratives that interweave clichés of the classical world, mythical reconstructions of the Germanic past, and details drawn from historical reality. In these texts, the winners’ perspective prevails, though the voice of the vanquished never entirely vanishes, until the conquest of the Romans by their erstwhile subjects would force the winners of yore to play the part of the defeated. 

The course will be devoted to reading and analysing primary texts that concern relations between Rome and the barbarians over the long term, with ample consideration given also to recent scholarship and historiographical perspectives. Part of the lessons will be dedicated to the political and ideological implications of this topic in the age of European nationalisms.


Educational goals:

acquiring and consolidating the ability to analyze the sources, in particular literary and epigraphic texts, as well as the archaeological evidence; learning the main features of the relations between Rome and the Barbarians in the centuries of the Roman imperialism and invasions; reflecting on the political and ideological use of this topic in the historiography and culture of the modern and contemporary age.

Bibliographical references

Bibliographic references will be given during the lessons