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ancient rome exam answers.docx

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Social Science
SOSC 1000
Jeremy Trevett

PASSAGE C How does this passage illustrate Roman theories and prejudices regarding raceThis passage taken from Tacistus Germania illustrates roman theories and prejudices regarding race because first Tacitus points out that the Germans are not tainted by foreign marriages through intermarriages This is important because it was often believed that the mixing of races would cause degeneration amongst the race In the first part of the passage Tacitus is admiring the Germans for being sexually pure by being an unmixed race he notes the same physical features amongst the population which illustrate sexual purity and the nonmixing of races Tacitus is trying to illustrate that the Germans cared about the status of their population and cared about degeneration and took preventive measures to ensure there was no mixing of races In the last part of the passage Tacitus criticizes the Germans by stating that because of their climate they are weak because and would not be able to endure laborious work and would not be able to withstand heat and thirst but their climate does harden them to cold and hunger The last part of the passage related to the climate theory which states climate determined the bodies and characters of people thought to be especially important to how close to the sun people were and moisture levels harshness of climate this was one way racism in the roman world comes in Tacitus here is criticizing the Romans and the Germans because he states that the Germans are weak because geographically they are not close to the sun which makes them weak because they cannot endure the laborious work and thirst under extreme heat unlike the Romans who can do this He then uses the Germans as way of criticizing the Romans because he says that their climate allows them to withstand hunger because of their cold climate Tacitus uses the Germans as a way of criticizing the Roman world another example of this can be found in chapter 7 by criticizing the political system He states the German choose their king by birth and generals based on merit the kings do not have unlimited power and the generals lead by example not through authority Here he criticizes the Roman world for not having a guideline in choosing who becomes emperor but rather a person ascends the empire rather than guidelines Tacitus also criticizes the romans by stating that instead using authority to influence people the Germans use their examples to influence people leading by example not by authorityIn the case of Strabo he more closely expresses ethnic or race prejudice through geographic location In antiquity race was not defined the way we in modern times use the word race it did not necessarily refer to a person skin colour but rather race was determined by a persons geographic location and based on their traditions and values Roman people were aware that different people had different skin colour but they were not very interested in skin colour so we dont find a lot of comments based on our modern view of racism What defined an ethnic group was reliant on what it was not when compared to another ethnic group For example Romans believed they were the happy medium because lived in a location where the weather was not too harsh the race of Italy was perfect because there was consisted of a happy medium But when they thought of the west the generalization they made about those people based on cold climate was that they were barbaric and the east because the weather was hot was that these people were girly An example of this we can find is in Strabo when he describes the Gallic race and describes them as warmad battle obsessed and of not many manners He further compares them to Germans because of the geographic similarities and thus comes to the generalization that people who live north and along the oceancoast are more warlike and barbaric Here we can see that Strabo and Romans come to define barbaric and ethnic groups based on what they Romans are not Because Romans were not warlike and were more interested in politics and intellectualism other ethnic groups who engaged in battle they considered barbaric It is also important to note that when talking about race in antiquity it is important to touch on slavery slavery in antiquity was not based on race in the modern sense of the term but rather it was based on geographic location as well An example of this can be seen in the case of Strabo when he describes Caesar winning a few victories over the Britons and brought them back to Rome some as hostages and others as slaves In the Roman world slavery was not racially based as seen in some parts of the New World but rather slavery in antiquity was based of victories If a victory was won a means of showing that was by bringing captives from different parts of the world and using them as slaves this illustrated where Romans had won their victory
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