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Tacitus Germania

In: Historical Events

Submitted By djb3115
Words 1629
Pages 7
Daniel Branco
Professor Robinson
World Civilizations
May 25, 2013
Neighborly Comparisons: Romans and Germans in AD 100 As the Roman Empire enjoyed peace during the Pax Romana, a historian named Tacitus wrote a description of their German neighbors. Because the Germans at this time had no known written language, his writing -- known as Germania -- tells us much of what we currently know about the Germans. Not only does it describe much of their culture and religion, but the perspective it takes gives interesting insights into Roman culture and their attitudes toward the Germans. While the Romans enjoyed looking down upon the Germans, considering them barbarians, many aspects of their cultures had interesting comparisons, including family units, gender roles, military, education, religion, slavery and government. Family units in the Roman empire were marked by a strong patriarchy. They were typically a fairly tight family unit, with the father as the ruler of the household wielding total control over his wife and children. Girls were often married off young and had little say in their choice of husband. Divorce was generally reserved for men; however, sexual impotence was legal grounds for a wife to divorce her husband. Germany also had a strict marriage code. Tacitus throws a compliment their way when he states that “no part of their manners is more praiseworthy” (Tacitus). However, immediately following this he refers to them as “barbarians,” -- clearly he did not want it believed that he actually admired them. However, these “barbarians” were nearly all monogamous and had a marriage ritual similar to current day marriages where gifts were given and parents and relatives presided. The mother’s job was to teach her children the traditions and pride of their family so their children can uphold the family honor. Both male and female Germans married

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