Rated 5 out of 5 by TheWaywardAugustine The Second Step to Understanding the Roman World
We often limit ourselves to geopolitical feuds and great personalities when it comes to understanding the distant world of antiquity. Everyone knows of Hannibal and Scipio Africanus, Julius and Pompeii, Octavian and Antony, Justinian, Constantine, the Conquests of Gaul, Dacia, and Britain.
This course takes a step beyond that. You still get all the same great names and even greater conflicts, but they are put into perspective. You hear about these great people of history only in so far as they relate to the worlds they entered in their conquests. Rather than seeing the spread of the Roman World on barbarian peoples, you see the Roman World entering into a wider, far greater, community of nations. You see a synthesis of peoples into a larger culture, and through this you see a glimpse of the Late Antiquity Crisis and Transformation.
Professor Harl and his course about Rome and the Barbarians has led me to purchase additional courses by the professor, he knows his material well and I have no complaints about lectures. A few minor details may make those who studied under different professors wonder briefly, but none of that subtracts from the work.
I suppose you could call this course a bridge. When you learn about different eras and subject materials, you start to see patterns and how things connect into one another. The most obvious ways to see this would be to take a course in Western Civilization and then take a focused course within Western Civilization. I am recommending the History of Ancient Rome and the Late Antiquity Crisis and Transformation, which can serve for this example. Both are magnificent, building context for the future and providing a solid foundation of basic literacy in the fields the courses open up to you. This course, Rome and the Barbarians, has a timeline that runs side by side with both of them.
Both courses are brought to a greater context and connected in some truly fantastic ways. Some elements are reinforced and perhaps reintroduced, but it never becomes a retread of old territory. Everything is presented in a new way and you are forced to ultimately come to the realization that one event and chronology can have many different meanings and impacts.
And if you have no desire to purchase other courses, this course still challenges you to rethink old conceptions about the relationship Rome had with its neighbors. A few kind hearted jabs are given to history books in high school, if only because much of what they purport to be true about this time in history are simply not true or have very little to substantiate it.
It is with all this in mind that I would like to introduce Rome and the Barbarians to you. Should you be interested in better understanding and piecing together the history of our world, the west, the ancient world, or even just this fascinating history of Roman Europe, then I know you will not be disappointed.
October 20, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by thelje Rome and the Barbarians
Professor Harl is engaging and knows how to present his subject, the often complex relationship between Rome and the 'barbarians,' many of whom belonged to sophisticated societies. He covers all of the major cultures that interacted with Rome and provides a good social and historical perspective. Of particular interest was the time spent on areas that are often overlooked such as ancient Spain and Portugal, the Balkins (Trace and northern Greece) as well as the steppe cultures (modern Russia and areas near modern Turkey and Armenia/Georgia). He also explained the role of Roman colonies/military bases. Although he did not spend a great deal of time with Parthia (essentially Iran), there was enough to explain why the two empires had a complex, sometimes violent relationship. Excellent introduction that shifts perspective away from just Rome. The accompanying handbook provides additional reading material and includes many readily available books. Well worth the cost.
October 14, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Andy63 Excellent Roman History Course
Prior to viewing this course, I thought I knew a lot about Roman history. I was wrong. Kenneth Harl provides a unique perspective showing how the Roman Empire evolved over time to cope with the various Barbarians on its frontiers. It also countered my previous view (taught at school) that wild barbarians invaded and destroyed the Roman Empire. I found Professor Harls presentation style excellent and it was easy to finish the 36 lectures.
For anyone interested in Roman history this course is a must.
October 12, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by NicC The Roman Will To Power, Glory, & Decline
Approaching Roman history is a daunting undertaking. Its breadth approximates the 1000 years between its foundation as a REPUBLIC (509 B.C.) and the decline and sack of its EMPIRE (410 A.D.). Witness the profound consequences of Rome’s political, military, and social relations on its class structure, barbarian frontiers, & provincial societies on the one hand, and the depth of its organization, logistics, law, oratory, noble and unhinged social characters on the other. At first, the title of these lectures drew up many images in my mind concerning the NOBLE-character (i.e. emperor, commander, senator, orator, etc.) and the SAVAGE-character (i.e. warrior, pagan, destroyer, cannibal, etc.). Professor Harl immediately corrects for these all too human distortions in his opening lecture concerning the conceptualization of the barbarian from the Greeks, Romans, Christians, Enlightenment, down to the Age of Discovery writers. He widens the conceptual view with anthropological and archaeological data concerning inter-marriages, trade, material cultures, etc., on both participants. Lectures 2 - 4 concern the uniqueness of Roman institutions: its politics (Republic), its society (patron-client relations), and its citizen-legions (wars of conquest & engineering). These “4” lectures combine to form a SCIENTIFIC HISTORICAL METHODOLOGY that offers a dynamic and critical analysis to navigate the birth, growth, maturity, and decay of the Roman Empire and the ensuing European states of the middle-ages. The Roman genius lay not only in its ability to conduct war and conquer, but to assimilate and integrate the conquered barbarians into provincial societies (a 2-way process that adds wealth, slaves, military, & material aspects to the expanding empire), gather allies especially early in its Republican phase, and offer the potential for citizenship to provincials in an unplanned open-ended process of ROMANIZATION (eventually becoming WESTERN CIVILIZATION from these territorial barbarian kingdoms). But maintaining and expanding an empire comes with internal & external costs (Classical Greece). Below is a “sampling of historical periods and social characters” that document the greatness and limitation of the Roman Empire -- its will to power, glory, and decline.
5th – 1st century B.C. (Republic)
>CULTURES: the Celtics in northern Italy, Gaul, and central Europe; the Celtiberians in Spain; the Carthaginians and desert nomads in North Africa; the Germanic-speaking peoples in Transalpine Gaul; Populares & Optimates in Rome.
>SOCIAL CHARACTERS: Hannibal, Scipio Africanus, Tiberius Gracchus, Jugurtha, Gaius Marius, Sulla, Julius Caesar, Mithridates, Vercingetorix, Pompey the Great.
>HISTORICAL CONSEQUENCES: eroded the republican constitution (SPQR), Italian society (social & civil wars), and the citizen legions (decline). Now, popular commanders / emperors gained effective power over the Senate and dictated Roman politics but under the ideology and guise of the republic; birth of the Roman Empire.
1st – 2nd century A.D. (Principate)
> CULTURES: Germanic peoples of the forests and central Europe; the Iranian speaking steppe nomads of Eastern Europe, Sarmatians, Roxalani, Alans, Scythian nomadic horsemen; the Parthians & Arsacid kings of central Asian steppes; Dacians of central Europe; Catuvellauni of Britain and Druids of Wales.
>SOCIAL CHARACTERS: Mark Anthony, Augustus, Macroboduus, Arminius, Claudius, Nero, Hadrian, Vespasian, Titus, Domitian, Decebalus, Trajan, Oroses, Marcus Aurelius.
>HISTORICAL CONSEQUENCES: growth in standing professional frontier armies (Rhine, Danube, & Euphrates); rationalization of the provinces with Roman engineering on the existing barbarian infrastructures; growth of auxiliary units increasingly manned by barbarians assimilated as Roman soldiers which would come back to haunt the Empire as they grew in strength, cultural identity, & confederations; increasing use of Roman concessions; rise in civil wars & rebellions; war against the Jews & capture of Jerusalem.
3rd – 6th century A.D. (Dominate)
> CULTURES: Germanic tribal coalitions, Saxons, Goths, Vandals, Lombards, Franks; Iranian nomads & Sassanid shahs of Persia; Huns.
>SOCIAL CHARACTERS: Shapur, Ardashir, Diocletian, Valerian, Constantine, Theodosius, Alaric, Stilicho, Honorius, Attila, Justinian.
>HISTORICAL CONSEQUENCES: increasing expense of wars of re-conquests; rise in barbarian organization & discipline from Roman assimilation; assassinations & succession of emperors; cultural exchanges between imperial Rome, frontier societies, and beyond; increasing loss of strategic provincial zones; political fragmentation of Empire, decline of senatorial powers; rise of Christianity; growth in civil & frontier wars; pandemics & demographic collapse; migrations transforming the Classical into the Medieval world. To end, let me quote Professor Harl, “To some extent, it can be argued that the 900-year history of Roman ascendancy was an interlude in local barbarian societies.” Now that’s food for thought – just look around -- no?
Much thanks to the professor and the Teaching Company for delivering an excellent presentation on Rome. *** Highly Recommended *** the best survey and approach on Rome I have come across!
August 29, 2014