Image of the Barbarian Nomads in the Early Byzantine Texts
Keywords:Nomads, Barbarian, Avars, Huns, Byzantine Empire, Eastern Europe
The article describes the image of nomads in the writings of the early medieval Roman and Byzantine authors. It focuses on the Huns and Avars, who attacked the provinces of the empire as well as the Turks, who had established diplomatic relations with the Byzantine Empire in the 5th century. The Roman reception of the alien and little-known nomadic civilization has been analyzed. It is stated that the Byzantines were almost unfamiliar with the way of life, religious beliefs and exterior appearance of the eastern barbarians. That is why most of the early data was based on the legendary sources. After the diplomatic relations had been established the information flow increased sufficiently. However the attitude to the alien cultures remained hostile. This disrespect is visible in the works of almost all the early Byzantine authors. It reflects the state of public opinion which was based on the entirely different mindset and the way of life than that of the nomadic peoples. It should be noted that the barbarians themselves actively encouraged their negative image in the Roman eyes by carrying out their marauding raids on the imperial provinces, their violation of treaties, absence of loyalty etc. In conclusion it is stated that the problem of nomadic and sedentary societies’ interaction stretches back to the ancient times. The territory of the present day Ukraine for a long period of time was the place where the cultural interaction between the nomadic and sedentary peoples took place. In this vein, this problem remains very important and relevant for our understanding of the ethnic, political and cultural history of the Eastern Europe.