Race Exposed In Tacitus's Novel 'Germania'

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In Tacitus’s novel “Germania,” the writer illustrates how abstract and different the people of Germania were compared to the rest of the Roman empire. The essence of being German defined who you were in the eyes of Tacitus. The story presents ethnic/racial markers throughout to define the people of Germania. Tacitus uses the category of race to define the people of Germania by explicitly explaining the features of being Germans as an ethnic group, and by analyzing how ultimately Germans were different from Romans. At the start of the novel, Tacitus broadly explains how racially pure the inhabitants of Germania were compared to the rest of the world. Explaining their lack of immigration and intermarriage as a defining feature for them, “…has never been tainted by intermarriage…” (Germania 4). Tacitus further explains how their absence of communication with the…show more content…
These distinctive ethnic/racial markers, that Tacitus presents, are used to define the people of Germania. Tacitus thoroughly highlights how barbaric and primitive the people of Germania are compared to Romans. A prime example of this is shown when Tacitus is talking about Germania’s building practices, “perhaps because they are inexpert at building” (Germania 16). This illustrate a key marker that being German meant to be unintelligent in the eyes of Tacitus. Tacitus also uses words such as ‘our’ and us’ to show the contrasting views of both Germania and Roman society throughout the story, “not laid out in our manner” (Germania 16). This view set brought by Tacitus brought the emphasis that being German was more than just living in that region, but a category of race that defines them. These contrasting ethnic/racial markers from Tacitus are used to set apart the Germans from the Romans. Overall, these distinctive racial properties are used by Tacitus to define the people of
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