Explores how Roman perceptions of Danubian peoples influenced some of the most politically and socially significant events of Roman antiquity
Beyond the River, Under the Eye of Rome presents the Danube frontier of the Roman empire as the central stage for many of the most important political and military events of Roman history, from Trajan’s invasion of Dacia and the Marcomannic Wars, to the humbling of the Roman state power at the hands of the Goths and Huns. Hart delves into the cultural and political impacts of Rome’s interactions with Transdanubian peoples, emphasizing the Sarmatians of the Hungarian Plain, whose long encounter with the Roman Empire, he argues, created a problematic template for later dealings with Goths and Huns based on misapplied ethnographic and ecological tropes. Beyond the River, Under the Eye of Rome explores how Roman stereotypical perceptions of specific Danubian peoples directly influenced some of the most politically significant events of Roman antiquity.
Drawing on textual, inscriptional, and archaeological evidence, Hart illustrates how Roman ethnic and ecological stereotypes were employed in the Danubian borderland to support the imperial frontier edifice fundamentally at odds with the region’s natural topography. Distorted Roman perceptions of these Danubian neighbors resulted in disastrous mismanagement of border wars and migrant crises throughout the first five centuries CE. Beyond the River demonstrates how state-supported stereotypes, when coupled with Roman military and economic power, exerted strong influences on the social structures and evolving group identities of the peoples dwelling in the borderland.
Timothy C. Hart is a Lecturer in the History Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.