Lies We Tell About the Classical World

Yesterday morning, following the opening of my birthday gifts, a battle ensued on my coffee table — Romans vs. Gauls:

The battle consisted mainly of Romans smashing into Gauls and vice versa.  Plastic warriors do not really engage in true combat.  No limbs are hacked off.  No one is stabbed.  Anyway, in the course of the battle, it became clear that the Romans desired the Gauls to surrender and submit to their rule, for the Romans would “civilise” the Gauls.  Just look at their civilised order in battle:

The Gauls, however protested that they didn’t really wish to be “civilised” by the Romans.  They did not see themselves as being any better off having learned Latin, built aqueducts, adopted Roman religion, banned Druidism, built amphitheatres for gladiatorial combat, and so forth.  They were Gauls, and they liked it that way.

Nevertheless, following the battle, one Gaul submitted himself for “civilisation,” while another was chased into hiding by a Latin Primer.

The lie referenced in the title of this post is that the barbarians conquered by Rome profited from the introduction of Roman civilisation.  In many ways — most notably those of engineering and stability — this is true.  Thus, The Life of Brian:

One could also point out to these poor Gauls that without Rome conquering them we’d never have the French.

However, I don’t think the Gaulish chieftain would really have given a flying fig about that guy in the tabard.

All Playmobil warriors featured in this post were birthday presents from Jennifer.


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