The University of Wisconsin Press

European History / Classics / German Studies

Romans and Barbarians
The Decline of the Western Empire
E. A. Thompson
With a new foreword by F. M. Clover and J. H. W. G. Liebschuetz

Wisconsin Studies in Classics
William Aylward, Nicholas D. Cahill, and Patricia A. Rosenmeyer, Series Editors

The Fall of the Roman Empire—from the barbarian’s perspective

Available for the first time in paperback, this classic work by renowned historian E.A. Thompson examines the fall of the Roman Empire in the West from the barbarian perspective and experience. Standard interpretations of the decline of the Roman Empire in the West view the barbarian invaders as destroyers. Thompson, however, argues that the relationship between the invaders and the invaded was far more complex than the common interpretation would suggest. This edition includes a new foreword by F.M. Clover and J.H.W.G. Liebeschuetz.

E. A. Thompson (1914–1994) was professor of classics at the University of Nottingham in England from 1948 to 1979. His many books include A History of Attila and the Huns, The Visigoths in the Time of Ulfila, and The Goths in Spain.


Romans and Barbarians can and should be recommended to students of the late Roman Empire, of early Germanic history and society, and of the early medieval history of the Mediterranean area and of western and central Europe. . . . Thompson himself points out that very rarely if ever can we penetrate into the minds and attitudes of the barbarians whom we are trying to understand. In this and other writings Thompson has come as close to achieving this ideal as anyone is likely to.”
—Welden A. Ernest, German Studies Review

“E. A. Thompson is one of the pioneers of the revival in the study of Late Antiquity. . . . [Here he] shows, once again, what can be done with a critical reading of the exiguous sources and relentless pursuit of their implications. Thompson’s characteristic terse elegance, wit, and lucidity make the book as delightful to read as it is constantly illuminating.”
—R. A. Markus, Journal of Roman Studies

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March 2002
LC: 81-050828 DG
344 pp.   6 x 9

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Paper $24.95 a
ISBN 978-0-299-08704-3
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The 1982 cloth edition ISBN 978-0-299-08700-5 is out of print.

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