Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Noel Lenski

Second Advisor

Andy Cain

Third Advisor

Peter Hunt


In his Res gestae, Roman historian Ammianus Marcellinus relates Roman battles and interactions with several non-Roman peoples including a Germanic tribe called the Alamanni. Ammianus usually describes the Alamanni as barbaric, cowardly savages far removed from civilization. He often describes engagements where the Alamanni begin the battle proud and haughty, but end it cowed and submissive to Rome's inevitable superiority. However, Ammianus also includes remarkably sympathetic and respectful descriptions of the Alamanni, even examples of the Alamanni acting more bravely and admirably than their Roman counterparts, in stark contrast to his usual narrative and general Roman opinion. I conclude that the inconsistencies in Ammianus' descriptions of the Alamanni reflect inconsistencies in Roman experiences with the Alamanni, and in Ammianus' mission to write unbiased history he reports the inconsistencies but does not feel compelled to resolve them.