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Thread: Is the "Barbarians" Netflix series accurate or inaccurate

  1. #1
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    Is the "Barbarians" Netflix series accurate or inaccurate



    Well, after watching parts of it again, and diving back into some books and papers, I'd say both accurate and inaccurate.

    It seems the clothing, armor, etc. are all pretty accurate, better than in most movies of this type. The Latin spoken is the "perceived" ancient reconstructed "Latin", not ecclesiastical Church Latin, so I guess that's pretty accurate, but it's paired with very modern German. I don't know how that could be "adjusted", however, since as far as I know there is no record of the "German" spoken by the various tribes of the period, so what were they supposed to do? Maybe using a more "rustic" version of Low German might have been less jarring for German speakers?

    As for Arminius himself and his inner motivations, we can't know them; this is a fictionalized version so you just have to accept it as it is. The world view of the creators is going to inform it. They may or may not be aware of the messages they're sending out. You either agree with that view of the relationship between Rome and the Germanics or between any group and foreigners entering their country or you don't.*

    What I do know, however, is that the account of the battle is completely inaccurate. It was more like the Battle of the Alamo if the Texans had been lured there by a man they trusted rather than what was portrayed here. The Romans walked into an ambush, into an area in which it was impossible for them to deploy their natural battle tactics; they were surrounded. They held on for three days but ultimately all were slaughtered. The series made it seem like a few hundred natives massacred a huge Roman force in a few hours. Good myth making, perhaps, but false. Also, no Barbarian sword was going to pierce Roman armor. They would have had to slog it out, surrounding each man and aiming for the throat and other exposed areas, knocking off the helmets perhaps.

    Another thing that really irritated me was the depiction of the actions of the Roman army itself. Anyone who knows the least little bit about Roman military tactics knows that the first thing that the Romans did when stopping even for a day was to set up fortifications. Where were they?

    Also, all respect to German women for fighting along side their men, but the idea that a woman could pierce through Roman armor like she was spitting a chicken or rabbit to place over the fire is ridiculous.

    So, an interesting and exciting series, but not historically accurate. It just seems it's not just Hollywood that never gets it quite right.

    https://www.ancient.eu/article/1010/...toburg-forest/

    For anyone interested in the minutia of the Latin used, this showed up on my youtube feed this morning.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K7uBUCZgpw8


    For what it's worth, his own American accent and "ear", imo, informs some of his criticism, although I think he's right in that the other Italian actors get it more "right" than the actor playing Varus, as good as he is as an actor.

    Ed. * I, for one, don't believe that "blood" always triumphs over later associations, at least not in the modern era. I'm living with a prime example: 100 percent Italian in ethnicity, but an absolutely 100 percent American in terms of loyalties. No third column here with most immigrants.
    Last edited by Angela; 02-11-20 at 18:38.


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    I saw it, I did not expect to be that good being a Netflix movie. Also historically overall accurate. It was even mention that Arminius fought in Great Illyrian Revolt (Bellum Batonianum). Probably there he learn that the only way to beat the Roman Legions was an ambush. In Germany at that time the Romans had only three legions since most of the Roman army was focused on Dalmatia and Pannonia. After this defeat the Romans changed strategy and decided that Rhine was a better border than Elba. Not because they could not beat the Germans but was not worth it.


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    It was also an ambush into which they were led by treachery, by someone they trusted, which is perhaps why Varus didn't send out scouts who might have spotted the trap and the waiting Germanics.

    Of course, in the end, climate change and disease, leading to diminished crops and death at home, and also leading to vast movements like those of the Huns, the flight of the Germanics before them, and just the normal decline in any empire, did them in, and they lost important battles from which they couldn't recover.

    The loss here was, in a way, a good thing for them if not for their pride. Since the iron plows which would make the northern plains rich were far in the future, it wasn't worth the effort to conquer those lands, or Scotland, for another example, although until recently that always remained poor. They were already overstrained trying to maintain such huge borders, another factor in their eventual decline. Empires are costly to maintain, and the more you tax the people to maintain them, the worse your economy grows.

    Anyway, that's my takeaway from decades of studying Roman history. There are a lot of lessons there for the modern era. Maybe American isolationists have a point.

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    The worst of the series was the idiotic love triangle story and the very bad and completely wrong final battle, which should have been the climax of the whole season and could have been much better in virtually any way. Concerning the motives of Arminius, they did a good job painting his inner conflict and changing loyalty. Because the historical description of his person and situation says exactly that, with his brother even staying in the Roman army and accusing him of treachery, while he accused his brother of being a traitor of his blood and kin.
    One of the big motives for the uprising was the brutality and corruption of the Roman administration under Varus, which were ignorant towards the local people's needs and customs, as well as arrogant and overconfident. So the depiction of Varus too was correct, because he just didn't believe the Germans could be a serious threat any more, especially not without noticeable, long term preparation. Otherwise he wouldn't have ignored all warnings and at least being more cautious on the march. The Roman administration practically forced the local people into an uprising with its unbearable policy. That's what most commentators said later, but of course, they only said so when the bad outcome was there, before, nobody cared for the ill-treatment and corruption in the newly created, in the making provinces of Germania.
    The series got a lot of missed opportunities, but overall a solid job for a fairly cheaply produced German production, thought it would be worse than that.

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    Is the "Barbarians" Netflix series accurate or inaccurate

    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    It was also an ambush into which they were led by treachery, by someone they trusted, which is perhaps why Varus didn't send out scouts who might have spotted the trap and the waiting Germanics.

    Of course, in the end, climate change and disease, leading to diminished crops and death at home, and also leading to vast movements like those of the Huns, the flight of the Germanics before them, and just the normal decline in any empire, did them in, and they lost important battles from which they couldn't recover.

    The loss here was, in a way, a good thing for them if not for their pride. Since the iron plows which would make the northern plains rich were far in the future, it wasn't worth the effort to conquer those lands, or Scotland, for another example, although until recently that always remained poor. They were already overstrained trying to maintain such huge borders, another factor in their eventual decline. Empires are costly to maintain, and the more you tax the people to maintain them, the worse your economy grows.

    Anyway, that's my takeaway from decades of studying Roman history. There are a lot of lessons there for the modern era. Maybe American isolationists have a point.
    Romans used Gothic tribes as mercenaries for a long time losing their military advantage to them. I agree that empires are expensive due to a huge army expenses. The lesson to be learn is that if you lose your know how and economic advantage in 30 years, closing up is not the solution.
    But all this can’t be an incident, globalization, might be related with the ideas of the Masonic founding fathers. Time will tell.


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    I have started watching it, didn't care for the first couple episodes but it's growing on me. I had to turn off the English dubbing as the voice acting came off quite terrible, and just left the subtitles. The acting is great, plot has been growing on me, but despite the good acting, felt the casting of Arminius a little dubious. He actually fits the Roman profile in my mind physically, rather than looking like a genuine son of the Cherusci king.

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    I know what you're getting at, but I don't think I'd look at him and say he looks like an ancient Roman or a Northern Italian. It's something about the eyes and mouth. He looks more Jewish to me than anything else.


    I suppose the easy choice would have been someone like David Schutter.



    They could have used him for recruitment posters in the last World War. He's a bit too "pretty", perhaps?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Angela View Post
    I know what you're getting at, but I don't think I'd look at him and say he looks like an ancient Roman or a Northern Italian. It's something about the eyes and mouth. He looks more Jewish to me than anything else.


    I suppose the easy choice would have been someone like David Schutter.



    They could have used him for recruitment posters in the last World War. He's a bit too "pretty", perhaps?

    My impression is that they didn't elect such a type because that would be too stereotype. And since WW2 this episode is not a part on the curriculum in the German schools....before it was seen as the birth of a German nation. So this is precair!

    In the Netherlands it seems less 'complicated' here was a few years ago a movie about the Frisian legendary kind called Redbad, he is more stereotype 'Frisian' (= actor Gijs Naber).




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    1 members found this post helpful.
    The actor looks fairly German, but not stereotypically Germanic. Such phenotypes would have certainly appeared among West Germanics, to which the Cherusci belonged. They even incorporated Celtic and para-Celtic people from Central Germany anyway. However, his brother was described as blond haired, so chances are he was too. His brother was called "Flavus", the blond. However, this could also mean, that he Arminius was not, like this seem to have been the Roman name for his brother, so they could have called his younger brother "the blond", because that made him different.
    I'm not aware of a more detailed description of Arminius, probably there is one?

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    The Latin used in this historical film was pretty awesome and sounded authentic. Overall, it was a well done documentary with Italian actors portraying Romans for a change. Anyway, keep in mind that the actor Laurence Rupp who portrayed Arminius is Austrian and not German. Austrians from certain regions are basically Bavarian. That being said, plenty of Austrians are actually of Croatian, Slovenian or Hungarian origin.The thing is that Hungary and Croatia-Slavonia once belonged to Austria, the Habsburg Kingdom. Therefore, there is a not totally seriously meant saying from Vianna onwards Austria stops being “German“. Anyway, the actor who played Arminius looks rather like a Croatian/Serb or a dark haired Russian than a typical German. I have seen plenty of Eastern European males who looked nearly identical to him. As Riverman pointed out the Arminius actor can pass for an atypical German. It’s not his hair color what makes him look atypical German, but his facial features.


    In my opinion this German actor Henning Baum would be a perfect choice for portraying Arminius. He has the textbook look of an ancient Germanic "Barbarian."
























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    Quote Originally Posted by real expert View Post
    Austrians from certain regions are basically Bavarian. That being said, plenty of Austrians are actually of Croatian, Slovenian or Hungarian origin.The thing is that Hungary and Croatia-Slavonia once belonged to Austria, the Habsburg Kingdom. Therefore, there is a not totally seriously meant saying from Vianna onwards Austria stops being “German“.


    I think such a description is completely wrong. To begin with, larger scale Slovenian influence being primarily restricted to Carinthia, where the Slavic ancestral component is consequently higher than in other parts of Austria. Croatian settlements pretty much lived on their own, but were largely restricted to Burgenland. The older Slavic settlement before that was primarily restricted to East of the river Enns, so roughly between Upper and Lower Austria, but with some influences West to it, which however had not the same impact. That kind of old Slavic influence was however not stronger in Austria than in Germany East of the Elbe and right through what is now Bavaria-Thuringia as well.
    We don't have to speculate about this any more, because we have actual tests and Austrians as a rule score not higher in Slavic ancestry than Germans East of the Elbe, rather the opposite. The strongest Slavic percentages being reached in Carinthia.

    Hungarian influences are even much lower, because most of the migration happened in the opposite direction, so a large portion of Hungarians have fairly recent ("Donauschwaben") German ancestry. Even the largest cities, like Buda (German Ofen) were German up to fairly recent times. For Buda:
    • 1715: 1.539 Huser, davon: 769 serbisch, 701 deutsch und 68 magyarisch (ungarisch)
    • 1720: 1.468 Huser, davon: 851 deutsch, 559 serbisch, 68 magyarisch, 5 slowakisch
    • 1821: 25.228 Einwohner, davon grundstzlich alles Deutsche bis auf 1.100 Serben und ein paar Hundert Magyaren
    • 1851 (fr Buda + buda + Pest): 178.062 Einwohner, davon 56,4 % Deutsche, 36,6 % Magyaren, 5 % Slowaken, 2 % andere
    • 1881 (fr ganz Budapest): 370.767 Einwohner, davon 55,1 % Magyaren, 33,3 % Deutsche, 6 % Slowaken
    • 1891 (fr ganz Budapest): 506.384 Einwohner, davon 326.533 (67,1 %) Magyaren, 115.573 (23,7 %) Deutsche, 27.126 (5,6 %) Slowaken, 1.699 Serben, 1.125 Kroaten, 14.615 andere


    https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buda

    So the change even in Buda/Ofen was happening within one generation after the German-Hungarian compromise resulting in the Austro-Hungarian monarchy. By then Magyarisation started and many more Hungarians moved to the new capital. Before, it was largely a German city, similar to Bratislava in todays Slovakia (German Pressburg).

    But regardless of that, there was very little Hungarian migration. Like I know of just two persons with actual recent (ethnic) Hungarian ancestry. What's by far more common all over Austria, but especially in Lower Austria, including and especially Vienna, is recent Czech ancestry, coming all the time, but in big immigration waves in the 19th and early 20th century in particular. Slovakian and Croatian too, but much lower before the 2nd World War. Anything else is recent immigration like anywhere else in Western Europe.

    The Czechs, I have Czech ancestry too by the way, are on average not much more Slavic than various groups of Germans East of the Elbe and had themselves German and pre-Slavic ancestry. I saw results from AncestryDNA and 23andme in which some Czechs had higher Celto-Germanic/German vs. Slavic ancestry than many Germans. And looking at the research done, I don't wonder at all, because first they did assimilate a lot of the pre-Slavic population and later mixed heavily with incoming Germans. So this led to an increase of Slavic ancestry, but no large fraction overall in North Eastern Austria and less so Austria as a whole. What's generally more true is however, that Austria as a whole being more pulled towards the South East, but not primarily because of core Slavic or recent non-Germanic ancestry, but similar to Bavarians, just somewhat more, because of the old Roman times inhabitants and connections to the South East of the local groups. So in comparison to East Germans, they are somewhat more Italian-Balkan shifted rather than Slavic, but even that not much more so than South Western (Schwaben) and Bavarian samples are as far as I can see. So Austrians have usually a higher Germanic and lower Slavic admixture than most Eastern Germans, but at the same time a slight South-South Eastern pull.

    You can also see where Austrians plot on a general PCA from an Austrian genetic project:
    https://genomaustria.at/fileadmin/do...an2016_PGA.png

    https://genomaustria.at/unser-genom/

    One participant is of (partial?) Italian descent (PG1):
    https://genomaustria.at/unser-genom/#pga1

    So it really depends on where from Austria you get genetic samples from. I have seen Upper Austrians which are "core Bavarian", I posted the averages in the 23andme thread. In the meantime I saw results from other parts of Austria, and they all show the general trend: Totally Bavarian in the very West, somewhat more Italian in Tyrol, somewhat more Slovanian-Italian-like in Carinthia, somewhat more Hungarian-Slavic in parts of Burgenland.
    But not even that is entirely correct, because there are settlements in Burgenland and Lower Austria, which were founded after the devastation by the Ottomans, which was so horrible and brutal, that whole landscapes were depopulated - deserted. In some of these areas new settlers, especially Frankish ones, came in. You can also see that in some settlement and house types, in the local names, chronicles and dialects and so on. If its not apparent to this day, it was still noted in the 19th century.

    So like in Eastern Germany, you could have one group of villages which was almost entirely Western German shifted, and another, neighbouring one, with a more Slavic tradition. Both exist and you don't know it without testing.

    Nevertheless, I agree than an actor like Henning Baum would be the stereotypical Germanic hero to play Arminius or Siegfried. However, I guess they didn't wanted to cast like that, exactly for that reasons. The other is, that Laurence Rupp has a phenotype which could blend in the Germanic and the Roman side easily, so he wouldn't have sticked out either way. This kinds of makes his role more believable, the "torn soul"-part, between two loyalties. Phenotypically he wouldn't have sticked out too much among any early Germanics however. For sure not. He is just not stereotypical-typical in the sense of the opposite North - South extreme.

    There might be another production called "Arminius" - I guess it won't be better if really dealing with the same subject:
    https://www.moviepilot.de/movies/arminius/besetzung
    Last edited by Riverman; 02-12-20 at 16:39.

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