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UFPPC ( Digging Deeper XL @ Mandolin Café (Tacoma, WA) 21, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Terry Jones and Alan Ereira, Terry Jones’ Barbarians (BBC Books, 2006).
Preface. Series first proposed to BBC in 1997 (7). “The thesis is that we’ve been sold a false history of Rome that has twisted our entire understanding of our own history―glorifying (and glossing over) a long era of ruthless imperial power” (7). There has been no “general look at [the period] from a non-Roman perspective” (8). Summary of book (8-9). Barbarian Timeline. 3 pp. Introducing the Goodies and the Baddies. “Barbarian” derives from a Greek pejorative (13). We owe more to those peoples than to the Romans (14). Sources are biased (14-16). Romans seem to have been dominated by fear of the other (16-17). The attitude may have originated when Brennus, a Celt, made a retaliatory attack in 390 BC Romans cited to justify their fear of “barbarians” (17-19). PART I: THE CELTS. Ch. 1: Unearthing the Celts. Celtic story has been “buried” (21-22). ‘Celt’ in the modern sense dates only from 1707 (22). Water transport linked similar “Atlantic” cultures (22-25). Classical image of Celts (25-27). Military technology (27-30). Wooden roads (31). The problem of texts (31-32). Celtic law (‘Brehon Laws’) (33-34). Coligny Calendar (34-36). Metalworking (3637). Celtic towns (37-40). Ch. 2: The Looting of Gaul. Gaul had gold; Celtic coins predate Roman coins by fifty years (41-42). Caesar’s self-interested Gallic wars (42-46). Vercingetorix (46-49). Ch. 3: Celtic Women and the Great British Revolt. Boudica (Boadicea) (50; 5866). Roman opposition to power for women (51-52). Many powerful Celtic women (5255). Cartimandua (55-58). Revolt of the Batavians in AD 69 (66-68). British resistance (69-69). Millions died in Rome’s conquests (69-70). Ch. 4: Romans on Top. Celtic culture went underground (71-73). Roman corruption; society near starvation (73-75). Inflation,


civil wars (75-78). Brigands (78-79). In last quarter of 3rd c., Carausius tried a “Romanitas with a Human Face” in Britain (78-82). In 4th century, an “anti-Roman movement” (82-85). PART II: BARBARIANS


Ch. 5: The Germans. Also known as Goths, arguably the most important ‘barbarian’ group (87-88). Terminological problem (8890). German non-materialistic egalitarian values (90-95). Hermann (Arminius) against the Romans (95-109). Ch. 6: Dacia and the Vanished World. Trajan’s genocide of the Dacians, 101-06 AD (110-13). Dacia was one of the great civilizations of the ancient world (113-17). Decebalus (118-23). Loot (124-26). Trajan’s Column (126). Dacia proved to be a frontier impossible to defend, and German opposition ended Rome’s world-civilizing project (12728). [NOTE: Jones’s treatment of the Dacians as a German people, known as ‘the Getan hypothesis,’ is controversial.] Ch. 7: The Goths. Goths in Dacia (129-31). Some Goths join empire, AD 375 (131-33). They enter into conflict with Romans; Alaric leads Goths on Rome (133-46). The meaning of the sack of Rome in AD 410 (146-47). Athaulf and the Visigoth Kingdom (147-49). PART III: BARBARIANS


Ch. 8: Hellenes. Greece’s influence on Rome (151-52). The Antikythera mechanism (152-55). Rome as destroyer of other civilizations (155-56). In many ways, Romans viewed Greeks as ‘barbarians’―morally debased (156-58). It is a mistake to think “that classical Greece and Rome were in effect a single cultural enterprise” (158). Greeks cultivated technology and engineering (158-65). Rhodes (165-68). Romans put a stop to research and set civilization back “about 1500 years” (171; 168-71). Ch. 9: Persia―the Early Dynasties. Persia was an “empire of tolerance” (17275). Rome against the Parthians (175-86).

Cassius enlists help of the Parthians (18690). Ch. 10: Sassanians. Bishapur palace complex near Shiraz (191-92). Ardashir, founder of the Sassanian dynasty (192-96). In AD 260, Shapur I captured a Roman emperor, Valerian (196-97). Sassanian court and religion (198-202). Palmyra (202-04). Zenobia (204-06). Continued conflict (20608). Huns, nomads from the steppe (20811). PART IV: VANDALS

of some texts, the destruction of others, and the creation of new ones. Theodoric’s remains were taken from his mausoleum in 540 and every effort was made to wipe out his memory. The Arian Goths became savages, the Vandals were turned into destroyers, and Attila was designated the Scourge of God. That was the final stage in the story of how we lost our history and Europe’s ancestors were transformed into savages fit for children’s takes. That is how Barbarians were made” (288). Notes. 14 pp. Bibliography. 1) Web sites with texts; 2) Journals; 3) 157 books (many of them multivolume series). Picture Credits. (3 sections of plates.) Index. 10 pp. [About the Author. Terence Graham Parry Jones was born on Feb. 1, 1942, in Wales. He studied English literature at St. Edmund Hall, Oxford, earning a degree there while performing comedy. He appeared with Michael Palin in The Complete and Utter History of Britain and wrote for several of David Frost’s TV programs before joining the Monty Python troupe, where he often played screechy-voiced middle-aged women or the bowler-hatted man in the street. He directed “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” “The Life of Brian,” and “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.” He has published fiction, children’s books, and works of popular history (often with Alan Ereira) that challenge dominant perspectives Terry Jones has been involved in a number of documentary series (on the Crusades, ancient inventions, Egypt and Rome, etc.) Sept. 11 and the invasion of Iraq prompted a series of at least forty articles on politics and international affairs. Jones has been married since 1970 to Alison Telfer; they have a son and daughter. He was reported to be diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006. An asteroid has been named in his honor, “9622 Terryjones.”] [Criticism. Historian Robert Wilde has criticized this volume in these terms:
( barjones.htm) “A book of this sort, essentially an


Ch. 11: Behind the Myths. Little is known about the Huns; their horrific image is a modern creation (213-16). Ch. 12: The Christianization of Europe. The burning of the last Sibylline Books in AD 406 by Stilicho, a Vandal (217-19). The mysterious Huns (219-24). Fourth-century Rome (224-25). The rise of Christianity and the triumph of Catholicism (225-31). Rome declares “war on reason”; Stilicho becomes ruler in the West (231-37). Ch. 13: Vandals. The early fifth-century Vandal “invasion” (238-41). Narrative of late imperial history, in which Romans appear degenerate, vicious, and benighted, and the Vandals appear dignified, virtuous, and enlightened (241-63). Ch. 14: Nemesis. Attila the Hun (264-81). Vandals in Rome (281-83). Deposition of last Roman emperor in AD 476 (283-85). Epilogue. The reign of Theodoric, an Arian, over Italy, beginning in 489, suggests what a world with Rome might have been like (286). Final destruction of Rome (and the Arians) blamed on the Catholic Church (287). The Franks’ conversion under Clovis to Christianity led to smashing of Visigoths in 507. Clovis “established the Catholic kingdom of the Franks, which survived to produce Charlemagne (who created the title Holy Roman Empire for himself) and ultimately France. And the Catholic God was established as the European Roman battlegod in whose name the Franks ultimately conquered Jerusalem, calling themselves Crusaders” (288). “And the Catholic Church gave us history. The Romans had already falsified the picture of the world they conquered. Now the Church controlled our understanding by the selective preservation

argumentative comparison of Rome and its neighbors, was never going to have room for an expansive discussion of the various

'barbarian' peoples and their way of life, so readers looking for depth will have to look elsewhere, the summaries are shallow. Indeed, if you’re interested in the Celts you should just turn straight to the works of Barry Cunliffe, from which Barbarians mainly draws. What Jones and Ereira have succeeded in doing is picking out potentially surprising and intriguing aspects of these 'barbarians' and showcasing them. The Dacians possessed a religion and philosophy considered by contemporaries alongside Buddha, Zoroastrian and Pythagoras; the Celts built roads of smoothed planks. Unfortunately, these achievements are often overstated: the Greeks may have had a chain driven repeating bolt thrower, but it wasn't a machine gun. ― Hand-picking the cream of barbarian achievement is only half of Jones and Ereira's attempt to recast the 'barbarians' in a new light; the other is criticizing the Romans. This is an incredibly easy thing to do, because the list of Roman activities which we in the modern world find (or claim to find) repugnant is long and filled with topics like genocide and murder as entertainment. Unfortunately, the authors don't resist the chance to morally compare the Romans and their neighbors. The Celtic practice of beheading enemy casualties and parading them around on a chariot is held up, by Jones and Ereira, as morally superior to the Roman practice of having captives

killed in an amphitheatre while thousands watched. (The Celtic practice of decorating your entranceway with enemy skulls isn't mentioned.) Moral equivalency is a difficult topic at the best of times and the authors get stuck in the muddy swamp of human brutality. ― In addition, Jones is often too busy belittling Rome to explore fascinating comparisons: the Celts and Rome both built roads, one out of wood and the other stone. While some historians might discuss the relative merits of each and possible crosspollination, Barbarians is content to conclude that the Romans aren't the sole builders of roads and move on. Indeed, Jones and Ereira try so hard to rescue the barbarians from their traditional image they end up distorting them. ― The use of sources is also unbalanced. While the authors begin by explaining how unreliable Roman accounts of their neighbors are―at one point mocking Julius Caesar for describing elks with no knees–they seem perfectly happy to accept potentially inflated Roman accounts of the numbers enslaved or killed. Can we really believe that Caesar killed a million Gauls and enslaved a million more? Barbarians would have us believe so without debate. They do admit that Caesar was simply reproducing the elk story from those he’d heard from ‘barbarians,’ but only much later in the book.”]