Lecture Review: Rome and the Barbarians by Kenneth W. Harl

Posted November 7, 2023 by Stephanie in 3 Stars, Ancient History, Ancient Rome, History, lectures, Nonfiction, nonfiction november, nonfiction november 2023, Review / 7 Comments

Title: Rome and the Barbarians
Author: Kenneth W. Harl
Publication: July 8, 2013 by The Teaching Company / The Great Courses
Genre: Nonfiction, History, Ancient History
Find it on: Audible
Rating: 3/5★

The history of the Romans and the “barbarians” they encountered as their mighty legions advanced the frontiers of Classical civilization has in large part been written as a story of warfare and conquest. But to tell the story on only that level leaves many questions unanswered, not only about the Romans but about the barbarians, as well.

Who were the Celts, Goths, Huns, Persians, and so many others met by the Romans as they marched to the north and east? And what made them barbarians in the eyes of Rome?
What were the political, military, and social institutions that made Rome so stable, allowing its power to be wielded against these different cultures for almost three centuries?


This wasn’t a bad lecture series by any means and the content of it was interesting for sure but the lecturer had a habit of stumbling over his words and saying “um” a lot, which could get a little distracting if you keep hearing it. However, with that said, I do understand it must be challenging at times to get through a lecture in a certain amount of time in front of people. I certainly wouldn’t be able to do this without stumbling over my words a lot. It just didn’t make for the best listening experience for me, personally. I did like the topic of the series a lot, since I love learning more about anything that relates to ancient Rome or ancient history in general. It went into the ancient Romans’ conquering of certain peoples like the Gaults, Celts, Huns, Goths (etc) and how the intercommunication developed as the years went on and how their respective civilizations changed as they intermarried and assimilated into the Roman world and vice versa. A fascinating subject manner for sure.



About the author:

Dr. Kenneth W. Harl is Professor of Classical and Byzantine History at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he teaches courses in Greek, Roman, Byzantine, and Crusader history. He earned his B.A. from Trinity College and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Recognized as an outstanding lecturer, Professor Harl has received numerous teaching awards at Tulane, including the coveted Sheldon H. Hackney Award. He has earned Tulane’s annual Student Body Award for Excellence in Teaching nine times and is the recipient of Baylor University’s nationwide Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teachers. In 2007, he was the Lewis P. Jones Visiting Professor in History at Wofford College. An expert on classical Anatolia, he has taken students with him into the field on excursions and to assist in excavations of Hellenistic and Roman sites in Turkey. Professor Harl has also published a wide variety of articles and books, including his current work on coins unearthed in an excavation of Gordion, Turkey, and a new book on Rome and her Iranian foes. A fellow and trustee of the American Numismatic Society, Professor Harl is well known for his studies of ancient coinage. He is the author of Civic Coins and Civic Politics in the Roman East, A.D. 180-275 and Coinage in the Roman Economy, 300 B.C. to A.D. 700.

Goodreads | Tulane University | The Great Courses



7 responses to “Lecture Review: Rome and the Barbarians by Kenneth W. Harl

  1. Public speaking is one of my biggest fears, so I definitely understand the mumbling and stumbling – it’s too bad it took away from the topic a bit!

  2. I don’t think I’ve ever listened to a lecture before (not taking school into account of course) but I can indeed imagine it would be difficult not to say umm a lot but still… maybe it could have been edited out a bit? But glad the subject was still fascinating!

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