The Vaccaei, the Vaceti, and the rise of Vasconia

Roger COLLINS

Resumen


RESUMEN: Late Antique ethnography is generally more of a testimony to its authors' antiquarian learning than to the social realities of they age in which the lived. Thus the Huns could be called Scythians, and the Avars be called Huns, because of the similarity of the geographical, though not the chronological, setting of their activities, at least in so far as these affected Rome. The Romans had never really been very interested in recording accurately the organisation and mores of the peoples living beyond their frontiers, and tended only to produce stylised models of such 'barbarian' societies in the interests of making moralising comments on their own. This didactic tradition proved peculiarly active in the final stages of Roman rule in the West, when, linked to a specifically Christian ascetic moral code, it manifested itself in the De Gubernatione Dei of Salvian. Similarly, the early sixth century British De Excidio Britanniae of Gildas probably makes most sense when viewed as a representative of this genre.

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