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Film & Video

Terry Jones' Barbarians

Terry Jones' Barbarians is a 4-part TV documentary series first broadcast on BBC 2 in 2006. It was presented and written by ex-Python Terry Jones, challenging the received Roman and Roman Catholic notion of the barbarian. Professor Barry Cunliffe of the University of Oxford acted as consultant for the series.

The series was broadcast in four episodes, "The Primitive Celts", "The Savage Goths", "The Brainy Barbarians" and "The End of the World".

Companion book:
Jones, Terry & Alan Ereira (Jun 1, 2006). Terry Jones' Barbarians. BBC Books (hardcover). ISBN 978-0563493181.
Jones, Terry & Alan Ereira (Jun 7, 2007). Terry Jones' Barbarians. BBC Books (paperback). ISBN 978-0563539162.

External links
  BBC Worldwide press release

"In the Monty Python film Life of Brian, a member of the People's Front of Judea asks, "What have the Romans ever done for us?" (apart from, of course, the "sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health"). The director of that movie—and now popular historian—Jones (Who Murdered Chaucer?), along with Ereira (The People's England), now answer the question: a bit, but nowhere near as much as the barbarians did. Jones attempts to overturn the popular conception of the glorious Roman Empire, which he says is mostly propaganda, and claims that the barbarians—a general term describing the tribes of western and northern Europe, as well as of the Middle East—have for too long been slandered as "savages" by the allegedly more advanced and civilized Romans and their descendants. In fact, these assorted Celts, Vandals, Persians and Goths were technologically, economically and intellectually sophisticated, but were on the wrong side of history. While scholars will sniff at Jones's offhand humor, somewhat wide-eyed "revelations"—which have been revealed before—and tendency to believe the vastly exaggerated death tolls of the time (he relies on Plutarch's figure that Julius Caesar slaughtered a million Gauls, a virtually impossible feat), readers will go along for a most enjoyable ride and appreciate his fascinating tale of the barbarians' lost world." [From Publishers Weekly]

Pertaining to Parthia is the fourth episode, "The Brainy Barbarians". It was first broadcast 9 June 2006. Jones argues that the ancient Greeks and Persians were in reality far from the Roman view of them as effeminate and addicted to luxury. The Greeks valued science and mathematics, while the Persians had initially allowed multiculturalism among the different ethnic groups of its empire until years of war with Rome. Here we link to the video excerpts on YouTube that mention the Parthians.

Terry Jones' Barbarians: The Brainy Barbarians (excerpt) - Part 1/3

Terry Jones' Barbarians: The Brainy Barbarians (excerpt) - Part 2/3

Terry Jones' Barbarians: The Brainy Barbarians (excerpt) - Part 3/3

This page last updated 23 Feb 2021

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