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The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D.…

The Narrators of Barbarian History (A.D. 550-800): Jordanes, Gregory of…

by Walter Goffart

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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0268029679, Paperback)

In this substantial work Walter Goffart treats the four writers who provide the principal narrative sources for our early knowledge of the Ostrogoths, Franks, Anglo-Saxons, and Lombards: Jordanes, Gregory of Tours, Bede, and Paul the Deacon. The University of Notre Dame Press is pleased to make this book available for the first time in paperback.
“The title Narrators of Barbarian History speaks to a modern audience in the terms with which it is familiar, but it should not be understood to mean that the authors in question wrote a type of history sharply contrasting in subject to that practiced in earlier centuries. That Jordanes and his peers were concerned with Goths and other ‘barbarians,’ though not an incidental detail, is not the main reason for studying them. The Constantinopolitan perspective of Jordanes overshadows his Gothic theme. Gregory of Tours was primarily concerned with current events rather than with the Franks, and he was intent on portraying the depravity of all men rather than of a subgroup among them. Bede was Northumbrian rather than English and cared more about the Christian face of his compatriots than about their ethnic peculiarities. Paul waited so long to write about his fellow Lombards, applying his pen to other subjects, that he left their history unfinished. Our four authors are less compelling for occasionally addressing themselves to the peoples whom we call Germanic barbarians than they are for being the leading practitioners of narrative history in Latin within the two hundred fifty years that separate Justinian, for whom Jordanes may have worked, from Charlemagne, at whose court Paul the Deacon briefly sojourned.” — from the original introduction

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:03 -0400)

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