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La Traversée Du Danube Par Les Goths: La Subversion D'Un Modèle Héroïque (Ammien Marcellin 31.4)

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Chapter Summary

In 376 part of the Visigoths crossed the Danube into Roman territory. The typical scene of the hero crossing a river, more particularly the example of Alexander the Great, serves as a foil to this episode. The author argues that in Res Gestae 31.4.1-13 Ammianus deliberately modifies this well-known scene in order to portray the Goths collectively as the opposite of the traditional hero. Ammianus' report must be read against the background of the debate at the end of the fourth century between those who advocated accepting the barbarians within the Empire and those who were in favour of closing the borders against them. In order to support the latter position, Ammianus deprives the quasi-heroic feat of the Visigoths of any semblance of heroism.

Keywords: Danube; Visigoths; quasi-heroic feat; Ammianus; Res Gestae



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