Barbarians as Romans: A Survey of the Presentation of Western Barbarians in Trajanic Literature and Art
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractThis paper examines how the monuments and literature during the reign of Trajan imbue the portrayals of westerns barbarians with Roman-like qualities in order to create sympathetic barbarian characters. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate that both imperial monuments and authors employed these presentations of Roman-like barbarians for political purposes. In order to achieve this goal, the portrayals of barbarians found both major imperial monuments at Rome and in the literature of Trajanic authors, such as the Column of Trajan and the historian Tacitus, are examined. The portrayal of barbarians in imperial monuments primarily serves to portray Trajan as virtuous ruler. The authors Frontinus and Pliny similarly use Roman-like barbarians in their works to glorify Trajan. The historian Tacitus employs Roman-like barbarians to criticize the morals of Rome during the reign of past emperors, namely Nero and Domitian. By examining these thematic similarities between the monuments and the authors of the time of Trajan, this paper demonstrates the importance of the portrayals of barbarians in politically charged art and literature of the time and the attentiveness the authors had towards the political stances of the principate.
Degree ProgramGraduate College