Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Decline and fall of the Roman myth

By Aussiegirl

Terry Jones of Monty Python fame (and by the way, the Pythoner whoin my opinion portrayed the best woman characters), has a contrarian view of barbarians vis a vis the superiority of the Romans. According to this article, which is a preview of an upcoming book co-authored by him, the Celts were accomplished road builders long before the Romans were, developed the chariot to such a high degree of sophistication that it was commented upon by none other than Julius Caesar himself, and had such advanced metal working skills that their armor and weaponry were without peer. They even had a complex harvesting machine that went along with their superior metal plows. Hmm - maybe the Dark Ages weren't so dark?

Decline and fall of the Roman myth - Sunday Times - Times Online May 07, 2006

Decline and fall of the Roman myth
We were ‘barbarians’, but early British civilisation outshone the Roman version, says ex-Python Terry Jones. We just lost the propaganda war

Nobody ever called themselves barbarians. It’s not that sort of word. It’s a word used about other people. It was used by the ancient Greeks to describe non-Greek people whose language they could not understand and who therefore seemed to babble unintelligibly: “ba ba ba”. The Romans adopted the Greek word and used it to label (and usually libel) the peoples who surrounded their own world.
The Roman interpretation became the only one that counted, and the peoples whom they called Barbarians became for ever branded — be they Spaniards, Britons, Gauls, Germans, Scythians, Persians or Syrians. And, of course, “barbarian” has become a byword for the very opposite of everything that we consider civilised.

The Romans kept the Barbarians at bay for as long as they could, but finally they were engulfed and the savage hordes overran the empire, destroying the cultural achievements of centuries. The light of reason and civilisation was almost snuffed out by the Barbarians, who annihilated everything that the Romans had put in place, sacking Rome itself and consigning Europe to the Dark Ages. The Barbarians brought only chaos and ignorance, until the renaissance rekindled the fires of Roman learning and art.

It is a familiar story, and it’s codswallop[...]

From Terry Jones’ Barbarians by Terry Jones and Alan Ereira to be published by BBC Books on May 18 at £18.99. The book is available for £17.09 including postage from The Sunday Times BooksFirst on 0870 165 8585. Terry Jones’ Barbarians begins on BBC2
on Friday May 26


At 11:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great find! And the story sure sounds familiar ...

Will have to order a copy!

At 3:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Terry Jones has produced a crude piece of anti-Roman propaganda. The Romans did not call all foreigners "barbarians": this term was seldom applied to the Jews, Carthaginians or Parthians. The barbarians were typically northern tribes who were continually fighting amongst themselves and little concept of the rule of law.

His account of Trajan's conquest of Dacia is a travesty, leaving out prior raiding of Roman provinces by King Decebal and his subsequent treachery after accepting a peace treaty.

His scorn poured on Roman historians like Tacitus is also an outrage, given that he uses them as sources for Roman misdeeds. He believes Tacitus when he tells us that Roman officials raped Boudicca's daughters, but not when he tells us that the Druids practised human sacrifice!

Jones is an emotional neo-Druid riding an anti-imperialist hobby-horse because of his dislike of modern-day America. Those who have a serious interest in this subject should read Romans and Barbarians by Derek Williams.


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