Tacitus on the Germans and Britons (98AD).


Roman copy of Greek statue The Dying Gaul.

From Germania (98AD):

Physical Characteristics. For my own part, I agree with those who think that the tribes of Germany are free from all taint of intermarriages with foreign nations, and that they appear as a distinct, unmixed race, like none but themselves. Hence, too, the same physical peculiarities throughout so vast a population. All have fierce blue eyes, red hair, huge frames, fit only for a sudden exertion. They are less able to bear laborious work. Heat and thirst they cannot in the least endure; to cold and hunger their climate and their soil inure them.

The Germans themselves I should regard as aboriginal, and not mixed at all with other races through immigration or intercourse. For in former times, it was not by land but on shipboard that those who sought to emigrate would arrive; and the boundless and, so to speak, hostile ocean beyond us,is seldom entered by a sail from our world.

From Agricola (98AD):

In order to encourage rough men who lived in scattered settlements (and were thus only too ready to fall to fighting) to live in a peaceful and inactive manner, Agricola urged them privately and helped them officially to build temples, public squares with public buildings and private houses. He praised those who responded quickly and severely criticized laggards. In this way, competition for public recognition took the place of compulsion.

Moreover he had the children of the leading Britons educated in the civilized arts, and openly placed the natural ability of the Britons above that of the Gauls, however well trained.

The result was that those who had once shunned the Latin language now sought fluency and eloquence in it. Roman dress, too, became popular and the toga was frequently seen. Little by little there was a slide towards the allurements of degeneracy: assembly rooms, bathing establishments, and smart dinner parties.

In their naivity the Britons called it civilization, when it was really all part of their servitude.

[alt trans: Step by step they were led to things which dispose to vice, the lounge, the bath, the elegant banquet.
All this in their ignorance they called civilisation, when it was but a part of their servitude.]

To ravage, to slaughter, to usurp under false titles, they call empire; and where they make a desert, they call it peace.

[Alt. Trns [Loeb Library ed.]: They plunder, they slaughter, and they steal: this they falsely name Empire, and where they make a wasteland, they call it peace.]