People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489-554

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Cambridge University Press, Oct 16, 2003 - History - 523 pages
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The barbarians of the fifth and sixth centuries were long thought to be races, tribes or ethnic groups who toppled the Roman Empire and racist, nationalist assumptions about the composition of the barbarian groups still permeate much scholarship on the subject. This book proposes a new view, through a case-study of the Goths of Italy between 489 and 554. It contains a detailed examination of the personal details and biographies of 379 individuals and compares their behaviour with ideological texts of the time. This inquiry suggests wholly new ways of understanding the appearance of barbarian groups and the end of the western Roman Empire, as well as proposing new models of regional and professional loyalty and group cohesion. In addition, the book proposes a complete reinterpretation of the evolution of Christian conceptions of community, and of so-called 'Germanic' Arianism.

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You can take this book in two parts , one the extensive detail on individual Goths and their careers, the other the author's theories about the nature of the Goths in Italy and specifically whether they were a people or not.
The first part, on Gothic individuals is good and useful., the second is tendentious and often quite wrong. Amory's argument that the Goths represent a Roman army in rebellion that that seizes Italy and is then given the image of a people by its leader, Theodoric, has been demolished by Peter Heather. Amoy claims that the Goths arrive in Italy without women and children and are thus not a tribe with families. This is directly contradicted by contemporary sources which describe an attack upon a wagon train containing families. For Amory the Goths have no language but a Balkan military patois. However, when Belisarius needs to persuade a Gothic garrison to surrender he sends a Gothic general in Roman service to them because he speaks the same language. Heather demolishes Amory's statistical analysis of Goths as Catholics as being on too low a basis to be reliable. Amory fails to deal with the survival of literature in Gothic and the maintenance of a Gothic Arian religion and of a consciousness of a common Gothic ethnicity between Visigoths and Italian Goths in Jordanes work. The biggest argument for Gothic consciousness is the long continuance of the War in Italy and the cohesion that the core group of Goths shows in the face of adversity and persecution when they could have maintained life, income and status under the empire with ease. Thesepeoplemaitain the fight for twenty years against a huge empire because they have a form of national consciousness.
Sadly this book is let down by the desire to play a part in a controversy that is long dead. There is surely no serious debate that the Goths of the VIth century are in any way related to modern German claims or aspirations . It appears that the modern political point has been allowed to distort the historical analysis.


Ethnicity ethnography and community in the fifth and sixth centuries
The Ravenna government and ethnographic ideology from civilitas to bellicositas
Individual reactions to ideology I names language and profession
Complementary and competing ideals of community Italy and the Roman Empire
Individual reactions to ideology II soldiers civilians and political allegiance
Catholic communities and Christian Empire
Individual reactions to ideology III Catholics and Arians
The origin of the Goths and Balkan military culture
The inquiry into Gundilas property a translation and chronology
The Germanic culture construct
Archeological and toponymic research on Ostrogothic Italy
Dress hairstyle and military customs
A prosopography of Goths in Italy 489554


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