History Question


Having Trouble Meeting Your Deadline?

Get your assignment on History Question  completed on time. avoid delay and – ORDER NOW

In this paper you will analyze (not simply summarize) the assigned historical
document (see attached). The prompt and questions below are intended to guide
your analysis of the document:

DOCUMENT: Tacitus, Germania (First Century C.E.)

As the Roman Empire expanded, they came into contact with various peoples. None of
them was to have a more significant or enduring influence on the shaping of Western
civilization than the Germans, whose chieftains eventually would supplant Roman
authority in Western Europe. That at least some Romans had an inkling of the
Germans’ later importance is evident in the Germania of the Roman historian Tacitus,
(56-117 C.E.), a Roman official and well-known historian, who wrote this work at the
end of the first century C.E.

Occupying much of central Europe north of the Roman Empire, ancient
Germanic-speaking peoples were never a single “nation” but rather a collection of
tribes, clans, and chiefdoms. They were regarded by the Romans as barbarians, though
admired and feared for their military skills. These Germanic peoples were famously
described by Tacitus, who wrote the most detailed early description of the Germans. In
doing so, he was also commenting on the Rome of his own time, as much as on the
German themselves.

Tacitus himself had never visited the lands of the people he describes; rather, he
relied on earlier written documents and interviews with merchants and soldiers who had
traveled and lived in the region to write this ethnography (i.e. a written description of an
“ethnic” group). Unlike earlier Herodotus, he wrote about people who lived without the
states and cities characteristic of civilizations.

PROMPT: In this class we will discuss the Roman Empire and Roman civilization.
We are discussing and reading a book (Bryan Ward-Perkins, The Fall of Rome:
And the End of Civilization) on the Romans’ relationship with the Germanic Tribes
to their north. Your task in this paper is to analyze the historical document
attached here in terms of what it tells you about this relationship. Do not simply
summarize the document, but rather analyze it in terms of what it tells you about
this historical relationship as well as what it tells you about the Roman and the
Germanic tribes, respectively. A “deep” reading of the document will be
absolutely necessary here. You should also keep in mind that Tacitus does not
represent the “typical” Roman view on these “barbarians.”

You are strongly advised to read ahead on the Romans in the Hunt
textbook (i.e. pages 169-199). You should have at least some sense of what is
going on politically and socially in Rome during the First Century (the time
Tacitus is writing).

You should consider the following questions in your analysis of the document:

• What can we learn from Tacitus’s account about the economy, politics,
society, and culture of the Germanic peoples of the first century C.E.?

  • In what ways are his accounts descriptive of the economy, politics, society,and culture of the Romans of the first century C.E.? In what ways are hisdescriptions of the Germans implicitly comments on the Romans? Pleaseprovide specific examples.
  • As described by Tacitus, what were some of the principle values that
  • governed German society? How did those values compare with values of

    imperial Roman societies, as evidenced implicitly in Tacitus’s account?

  • Modern scholars have argued that Tacitus used the Germanic peoples to
  • implicitly criticize aspects of his own Roman culture. What evidence might

    support this point of view? From what you have read about Roman

    civilization, what does this document reveal aspects of Romans?

  • Given that Tacitus’s intended audience are Romans, why wouldn’t Tacitus
  • make his criticisms of Roman culture more explicit?

  • Which statements of Tacitus might you regard as reliable, and which are
  • more suspect? Why?

  • In what ways did Tacitus regard Germanic peoples as distinctly inferior to
  • Romans? In what ways were they not?

  • How might he have responded to the idea that these people would play a
  • major role in the collapse of the Roman Empire several centuries later?

  • Does Tacitus’s account, in any way, explain the cause of the Western
  • Roman Empire’s collapse in the fifth century CE? Here Ward-Perkin’s book

    with be crucial. Please keep in mind Tacitus is writing while the empire is

    strong. This is hundreds of years before the Western Roman Empire is

    invaded by the Germanic people.

  • What similarities and differences might you notice between the description
  • of Herodotus’s Histories (in Hunt, 81) of a neighboring civilization of the

    Greeks and Tacitus’s discussion of the Germans?

    IMPORTANT: You are expected to consult the lectures and texts for the class (i.e.

    Hunt and Ward-Perkins) for historical context or background in your analysis of

    this document. Please italicize or underline all book titles.

    Remember you must provide the citations for all your sources of specific

    information (including the lectures). But do not rely on long quotes in your paper!

    Quotes should be no longer than two lines in your paper. You should paraphrase

    (write in your own words) wherever you can, but you must still cite your source

    when you do so. If and when you do directly quote your sources, you must

    introduce the quote and not leave it standing by itself.

    This is not a “research” paper assignment; therefore, do not consult any external

    sources (class notes and class texts are exceptions and should be referenced).

    Papers must be grammatically correct, well-structured, and have citation of

    relevant texts and page numbers.

    Sources of information (lectures and texts) must be correctly cited in your paper.

    Information taken from a source (even if it is not in direct quotation marks) that is

    not correctly cited is technically considered plagiarism, a very serious academic

    crime. You must use Chicago Style footnote citations in this paper. Please use

    the following link for information on Chicago Style footnote citations:


    Use formal academic writing in your paper; in other words, college appropriate

    language and vocabulary. Please do not use slang or text-speak abbreviations.

    Your paper should be written entirely in the third person. You should not use the

    first or second person (i.e. “I” or “you”).

    Papers should be 4-5 pages typed, double-spaced, with one-inch margins and

    12-point Times New Roman font. The Bibliography or Works Cited page does not

    count towards the page length. Please number the pages in your paper. This is a

    short paper; therefore, you should not have section titles. Paragraphs should

    have appropriate transitions between them.

    A successful paper will:

  • have a solid introduction with appropriate context that introduces the piece
  • analyze, not solely describe or summarize the document
  • be well organized with coherent paragraphs relevant to the topic
  • have a concluding paragraph that accurately and concisely summarize the
  • main points of the paper

  • adequately explain the central objectives or arguments at work in the
  • source(s)

  • draw on appropriate evidence from your source to substantiate the claims
  • make

  • properly cite and punctuate quotations and evidence
  • be well written, well edited and well documented

  • Tacitus, Germania (First Century C.E.)

    The Germans themselves I should regard as aboriginal, and not mixed at all with other races through immigration or intercourse. For, in former times it was not by land but on shipboard that those who sought to emigrate would arrive; and the boundless and, so to speak, hostile ocean beyond us, is seldom entered by a sail from our world. And, beside the perils of rough and unknown seas, who would leave Asia, or Africa for Italy for Germany, with its wild country, its inclement skies, its sullen manners and aspect, unless indeed it were his home? In their ancient songs, their only way of remembering or recording the past they celebrate an earth-born god Tuisco, and his son Mannus, as the origin of their race, as their founders….

    …the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of intermarriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work. Heat and thirst they cannot in the least endure; to cold and hunger their climate and their soil inure them….

    ….They choose their kings by birth, their generals for merit. These kings have not unlimited or arbitrary power, and the generals do more by example than by authority. If they are energetic, if they are conspicuous, if they fight in the front, they lead because they are admired. But to reprimand, to imprison, even to flog, is permitted to the priests alone, and that not as a punishment, or at the general’s bidding, but, as it were, by the mandate of the god whom they believe to inspire the warrior. They also carry with them into battle certain figures and images taken from their sacred groves. And what most stimulates their courage is, that their squadrons or battalions, instead of being formed by chance or by a fortuitous gathering, are composed of families and clans. Close by them, too, are those dearest to them, so that they hear the shrieks of women, the cries of infants….

    Tradition says that armies already wavering and giving way have been rallied by women who, with earnest entreaties and bosoms laid bare, have vividly represented the horrors of captivity, which the Germans fear with such extreme dread on behalf of their women, that the strongest tie by which a state can be bound is the being required to give, among the number of hostages, maidens of noble birth. They even believe that the sex has a certain sanctity and prescience, and they do not despise their counsels, or make light of their answers. In Vespasian’s days we saw Veleda, long regarded by many as a divinity. In former times, too, they venerated Aurinia, and many other women, but not with servile flatteries, or with sham deification.

    …. Mercury is the deity whom they chiefly worship, and on certain days they deem it right to sacrifice to him even with human victims. Hercules and Mars they appease with more lawful offerings. Some of the Suevi also sacrifice to Isis. Of the occasion and origin of this foreign rite I have discovered nothing, but that the image, which is fashioned like a light galley, indicates an imported worship. The Germans, however, do not consider it consistent with the grandeur of celestial beings to confine the gods within walls, or to liken them to the form of any human countenance. They consecrate woods and groves, and they apply the names of deities to the abstraction, which they see only in spiritual worship.

    Augury and divination by lot no people practice more diligently. The use of the lots is simple. A little bough is lopped off a fruit-bearing tree, and cut into small pieces; these are distinguished by certain marks, and thrown carelessly and at random over a white garment. In public questions the priest of the particular state, in private the father of the family, invokes the gods, and, with his eyes toward heaven, takes up each piece three times, and finds in them a meaning according to the mark previously impressed on them….

    When they go into battle, it is a disgrace for the chief to be surpassed in valor, a disgrace for his followers not to equal the valor of the chief. And it is an infamy and a reproach for life to have survived the chief, and returned from the field. To defend, to protect him, to ascribe one’s own brave deeds to his renown, is the height of loyalty. The chief fights for victory; his vassals fight for their chief. If their native state sinks into the sloth of prolonged peace and repose, many of its noble youths voluntarily seek those tribes which are waging some war, both because inaction is odious to their race, and because they win renown more readily in the midst of peril, and cannot maintain a numerous following except by violence and war. Indeed, men look to the liberality of their chief for their war-horse and their bloodstained and victorious lance. Feasts and entertainments, which, though inelegant, are plentifully furnished, are their only pay. The means of this bounty come from war and rapine. Nor are they as easily persuaded to plough the earth and to wait for the year’s produce as to challenge an enemy and earn the honor of wounds. Nay, they actually think it tame and stupid to acquire by the sweat of toil what they might win by their blood.

    Whenever they are not fighting, they pass much of their time in the chase, and still more in idleness, giving themselves up to sleep and to feasting, the bravest and the most warlike doing nothing, and surrendering the management of the household, of the home, and of the land, to the women, the old men, and all the weakest members of the family. They themselves lie buried in sloth, a strange combination in their nature that the same men should be so fond of idleness, so averse to peace. It is the custom of the states to bestow by voluntary and individual contribution on the chiefs a present of cattle or of grain, which, while accepted as a compliment, supplies their wants. They are particularly delighted by gifts from neighboring tribes, which are sent not only by individuals but also by the state, such as choice steeds, heavy armor, trappings, and neck-chains. We have now taught them to accept money also.

    It is well known that the nations of Germany have not cities, and that they do not even tolerate closely contiguous dwellings. They live scattered and apart, just as a spring, a meadow, or a wood has attracted them. Their village they do not arrange in our fashion, with the buildings connected and joined together, but every person surrounds his dwelling with an open space, either as a precaution against the disasters of fire, or because they do not know how to build. No use is made by them of stone or tile; they employ timber for all purposes, rude masses without ornament or attractiveness….

    They all wrap themselves in a cloak, which is fastened with a clasp, or, if this is not forthcoming, with a thorn, leaving the rest of their persons bare. They pass whole days on the hearth by the fire. The wealthiest are distinguished by a dress, which is not flowing like that of the Sarmatae and Parthi, but is tight, and exhibits each limb. They also wear the skins of wild beasts; the tribes on the Rhine and Danube in a careless fashion, those of the interior with more elegance, as not obtaining other clothing by commerce. These select certain animals, the hides of which they strip off and vary them with the spotted skins of beasts, the produce of the outer ocean, and of seas unknown to us. The women have the same dress as the men except that they generally wrap themselves in linen garments, which they embroider with purple, and do not lengthen out the upper part of their clothing into sleeves. The upper and lower arm is thus bare, and the nearest part of the bosom is also exposed.

    Their marriage code, however, is strict, and indeed no part of their manners is more praiseworthy. Almost alone among barbarians they are content with one wife, except a very few among them, and these not from sensuality, but because their noble birth procures for them many offers of alliance. The wife does not bring a dower to the husband, but the husband to the wife. The parents and relatives are present, and pass judgment on the marriage-gifts, gifts not meant to suit a woman’s taste, nor such as a bride would deck herself with, but oxen, a caparisoned steed, a shield, a lance, and a sword. With these presents the wife is espoused, and she herself in her turn brings her husband a gift of arms. This they count their strongest bond of union, these their sacred mysteries, these their gods of marriage. Lest the woman should think herself to stand apart from aspirations after noble deeds and from the perils of war, she is reminded by the ceremony which inaugurates marriage that she is her husband’s partner in toil and danger, destined to suffer and to dare with him alike both in war….

    Very rare for so numerous a population is adultery, the punishment for which is prompt, and in the husband’s power. Having cut off the hair of the adulteress and stripped her naked, he expels her from the house in the presence of her kinsfolk, and then flogs her through the whole village. The loss of chastity meets with no indulgence; neither beauty, youth, nor wealth will procure the culprit a husband. No one in Germany laughs at vice, nor do they call it the fashion to corrupt and to be corrupted. Still better is the condition of those states in which only maidens are given in marriage, and where the hopes and expectations of a bride are then finally terminated. They receive one husband, as having one body and one life, that they may have no thoughts beyond, no further-reaching desires, that they may love not so much the husband as the married state. To limit the number of children or to destroy any of their subsequent offspring is accounted infamous, and good habits are here more effectual than good laws elsewhere.

    In every household the children, naked and filthy, grow up with those stout frames and limbs, which we so much admire. Every mother suckles her own offspring and never entrusts it to servants and nurses. The master is not distinguished from the slave by being brought up with greater delicacy. Both live amid the same flocks and lie on the same ground till the freeborn are distinguished by age and recognized by merit. The young men marry late, and their vigor is thus unimpaired. Nor are the maidens hurried into marriage; the same age and a similar stature is required; well-matched and vigorous they wed, and the offspring reproduce the strength of the parents. Sister’s sons are held in as much esteem by their uncles as by their fathers; indeed, some regard the relation as even more sacred and binding, and prefer it in receiving hostages, thinking thus to secure a stronger hold on the affections and a wider bond for the family. But every man’s children are his heirs and successors, and there are no wills. Should there be no issue, the next in succession to the property are brothers and his uncles on either side. The more relatives he has the more numerous his connections, the more honored is his old age; nor are there any advantages in childlessness.

    It is a duty among them to adopt the feuds as well as the friendships of a father or a kinsman. These feuds are not implacable; even homicide is expiated by the payment of a certain number of cattle and of sheep, and the satisfaction is accepted by the entire family, greatly to the advantage of the state, since feuds are dangerous in proportion to the people’s freedom….

    [S]laves are not employed after our manner with distinct domestic duties assigned to them, but each one has the management of a house and home of his own. The master requires from the slave a certain quantity of grain, of cattle, and of clothing, as he would from a tenant, and this is the limit of subjection. All other household functions are discharged by the wife and children….

    Of lending money on interest and increasing it by compounding interest they know nothing-a more effectual safeguard than if it was prohibited.

    Land proportioned to the number of inhabitants is occupied by the whole community in turn, and afterwards divided among them according to rank. A wide expanse of plains makes the partition easy. They till fresh fields every year, and they have still more land than enough; with the richness and extent of their soil, they do not laboriously exert themselves in planting orchards, enclosing meadows and watering gardens. Corn is the only produce required from the earth…

    Such on the whole is the account, which I have received of the origin and manners of the entire German people.


    Tacitus, The Agricola and Germania, A. J. Church and W. J. Brodribb, trans.,

    (London: Macmillan, 1877).

    Explanation & Answer

    Our website has a team of professional writers who can help you write any of your homework. They will write your papers from scratch. We also have a team of editors just to make sure all papers are of HIGH QUALITY & PLAGIARISM FREE. To make an Order you only need to click Order Now and we will direct you to our Order Page at Litessays. Then fill Our Order Form with all your assignment instructions. Select your deadline and pay for your paper. You will get it few hours before your set deadline.

    Fill in all the assignment paper details that are required in the order form with the standard information being the page count, deadline, academic level and type of paper. It is advisable to have this information at hand so that you can quickly fill in the necessary information needed in the form for the essay writer to be immediately assigned to your writing project. Make payment for the custom essay order to enable us to assign a suitable writer to your order. Payments are made through Paypal on a secured billing page. Finally, sit back and relax.

    Do you need an answer to this or any other questions?

    Similar Posts