Roman Barbarians

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After a long period of its existence, the huge Roman Empire eventually reached its end as “the North African bishop Saint Augustine (354-430) wrote the City of God in response – all empires fall, Rome is no different.”(Class 7 slide) The fall of such a huge empire then raises an important question that what were the main reasons for collapsing of the Roman Empire. Many historians argued that barbarians led to the decline and eventually fall of the Roman Empire. The Romans used the term “barbarians” for all foreigners especially, for the tribes who attacked and intruded their borders. But in fact the word “barbarian” did not have a negative meaning for all people in the Roman Empire. Around A.D. 440, as the Christian priest Salvian indicated,…show more content…
There was need to additional manpower in the Roman army, so the Romans themselves opened their door to barbarians. Heather indicates that “from the mid-third century, the army was so short of Roman manpower that it jeopardized its efficiency by drawing ever increasingly on ‘barbarians’.”(Heather, 2005) Heather does not say that the number of barbarians in the Roman army has increased; however, he states that “barbarian recruits now sometimes served in the same units as citizens, rather than being segregated into auxiliary forces.”(Heather, 2005) According to Drake, the Roman Army included a great degree of barbarians or soldiers from the barbarian origins. He states that “There were hardly any barbarian peoples known in the age of Justinian who were not represented in his armies.”(Drake, 2006) Drake considers the early Roman army more disciplined than the late Roman army saying that barbarians’ active participating in the army caused “additional discipline problems.”(Drake,…show more content…
We can look at modern discussions of the issue such as Gibbon’s argument which blamed Christianity for the fall of the empire. According to him conversion of Christianity was the key moment in the fate of the Roman Empire. Gibbon blames Christianity for different reasons, for instance, in the loss of military spirit indicating that “the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister (=monastery).”(Gibbon, Decline and fall, 39) He argues that the conversion of Christianity discouraged the public virtue of the society, public and private wealth was devoted to the demand and interests of church. He further indicates that the religion was distraction for both church and government which even led to the bloody and implacable (=endless) conflicts between them. (Gibbon, Decline and fall, 39) The practices of Christianity ran contrary to the aristocratic values of Graeco-Roman culture. (Heather, 2005) However, there were also contradictions to Gibbon’s argument of Christianity about “whether endowing Christianity involved an overall transfer of asserts from secular to religious offers.”(Heather, 2005, p 123) “Some pagans claimed that the sack of Rome in 410 was because people had abandoned traditional gods.”(Class 7) They saw the decline of the empire as the punishment from the God. Thus, the conversion of

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