North of the Rhine and Danube Rivers there lived people known to the Romans as Germans, and often called the barbarians. One of the meanings of the word "barbarian" refers to people who are uncivilized in the sense that they are primarily pastoral and semi-nomadic; they lack a written language; and they possess little in the way of government except in time of war, which may be frequent, since warfare and hunting are usually the chief preoccupation of the males. What agriculture barbarians have generally is carried on by women and slaves. This description fits their northern neighbors at the time the Romans first came in contact with them and for centuries thereafter. [excerpt]
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Bloom, Robert L. et al. "6. Rome: The Barbarians. Pt. I: Athens, Rome, and Jerusalem: Background of Western Civilization." Ideas and Institutions of Western Man (Gettysburg College, 1958), 69-72.