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Originally released on October 23, 2020, Barbaren, or Barbarians is a German historical drama series on Netflix with six episodes. It tells of the early Roman Empire’s occupation of Magna Germania and fictional events that lead to the Battle of Teutoburg Forest on September 9, 9 CE. This battle would be one of the turning points in world history as the Germanic victory put a definitive end to the romanization of Magna Germania and would serve as a stepping stone to the Roman Empire’s eventual military collapse.
Although there were liberties when progressing the story behind the history Barbaren did have many historical points almost down to the tee, such as the use of Classical Latin instead of Ecclesiastical Latin during Roman events. Certain names of both Roman commanders and Cherusci chieftains who did exist in real life appear here. The dark settings of the forest and the strategies lead to the “Clades Variana” (named after the commander Publius Quinctilius Varus who committed suicide while witnessing the betrayal of his commander Arminius).
One can appreciate how the uneasy truce between the Cherusci and the Romans historically played out as the commander Arminius was indeed the reik’s son. He is tormented as he is trying to pick sides. After seeing some horrible truths, his political marriage to Thusnelda cement his decision to become immortalized in world history. Why do we have the name Herman come to existence?
As a standalone season, Barbaren served its purpose to inform and entertain viewers of historical dramas. But thanks to the not-so-open ending and Netflix approving a second season, we will see the aftermath of this momentous event sometime in 2022, 2013 years after the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. If you know your Roman history, the second season of Barbaren may be spoiled. Then again, it would be interesting to see the resulting aftermath come to life; I know what’s going to happen but I won’t spoil it here.