Posts tagged Early Roman Empire

Headline for Washington Post story (Tuesday, April 2, 2013).

Bones from time of Christ reveal brutal history

Germanic tribes showed no mercy in battles fought 2,000 years ago.

Really.  You figured that one out did you?

Despite my sarcasm I still enjoyed reading the article.  The author was Guy Gugliotta, Special (correspondent?).

The article opens with the massacre in the Teutoburg Forest.  He references Tacitus who records the finding of “bleaching bones, scattered or in little heaps…”  with “gibbets and torture pits” being mentioned.

USE IMAGINATION HERE.

Gugliotta backs up the brutality of the age with a recent dig by a Danish team that found in a bog just 325 miles south of the Roman massacre 40 men (Germanic?) ”hacked to bits” and thrown into the shallows of Lake Moso.   From what I am able to gather of the article that these ‘mass graves’ were sacrifices to the gods.   Gugliotta quotes Archaeologist Tina Thurston, University of Buffalo, “If you had something, the others wanted it.  The war booty was the thing, so they (Germanic tribes) attacked each other.”

I find the quote odd for the story.

What were the Germans doing that was so different than the Romans?  Germanic Tribes were in competition with each other…OK, got it.

The Romans were in competition with each other.  Pompey? Caesar?  Sulla?  Marius?   I guess my point is this.  No comparisons were made on the violence of both cultures.  The Germanic tribes threw the “losers” into a bog in the name of the gods.  The Romans threw captives and their “losers” into the arena [remember 'fighting to the death' had religious significance...at least early in gladiatorial combat].

It was a violent time and the article brings forth the question (at least for me):  do we call one civilization barbarian over the other because one happens to perform an odd thing called writing?

Maybe we do.

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