Sunday 30 September


According to Rome, the barbarians from Germany were among the most brutal of all. But as the second episode of this BBC series reveals, when it came to brutality it was not the Germans but the Romans who were the masters.
The Roman picture of the beasts from the dark forests of Germania was created in 9AD, when Herman the German masterminded the wholesale massacre of three Roman legions. Terry Jones discovers that Herman’s real name was Armenius and that he was a high-ranking German officer in the Roman army, commanding legions of German soldiers. It seems the massacre was actually a rebellion against Roman occupation. Armenius knew precisely what the Roman military machine was capable of. Modern tourists in Italy’s capital are still dazzled by the achievements of Rome’s Golden age – the aqueducts, forums and amphitheatres. Yet in the middle of Rome stands a monument to Roman brutality: Trajan’s Column. The victims illustrated on the column were the barbarian peoples of Dacia. Ever heard of Dacia? It’s unlikely, because the Romans so totally destroyed Dacia that its society is only just being rediscovered. In a tunnel deep in a Transylvanian mountain, Terry discovers the reason Dacia was eradicated by Rome: massive deposits of gold. Rome took just five years to rip Dacia’s gold from the rocks and exterminate its people. Having destroyed a ‘barbarian’ civilisation, the Emperor Trajan set about totally rebuilding Rome. The glorious monuments to Rome’s golden age were built with barbarian wealth and stained with Dacian blood.

TERRY JONES’ BARBARIANS, Sunday 30th September at 8.30pm

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