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The "barbarians" under Hermann defeat the "superior" Romans at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD

Barbarian is a word derived from the Proto-Indo-European root "barbar-", echoic of unintelligible speech of foreigners. Derived words were used by the Ancient Greeks and the Ancient Romans. Meanings have varied with time and place, initially not necessarily meaning lack of civilization. Occasionally in 19th century English distinguished from "savage" as being a step closer to civilization.[1]


According to Romans, everyone who was not a Roman citizen was a barbarian, sometimes classified as such value-free, but often for "uncivilised people" or for those not "Roman educated". The Greeks also used the term barbarian for all non-Greek-speaking people. The Ancient Greek name βάρβαρος (bárbaros) or "barbarian" was an antonym for πολίτης (politēs), "citizen" (from πόλις – polis, "city"). Plato rejected the Greek–barbarian dichotomy as a logical absurdity on just such grounds: dividing the world into Greeks and non-Greeks told one nothing about the second group. Yet Plato used the term barbarian frequently in his seventh letter. With the Romans it became a common term to refer to all foreigners among Romans after Augustus age (as, among the Greeks, after the Persian wars, the Persians), including the Germanic peoples, Persians, Gauls, Phoenicians and Carthaginians.

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