Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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The Portrayal of the Germani in German Latin Textbooks

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posted on 2023-03-14, 23:25 authored by McNamara, James

This study investigates the ways in which the Germani have been portrayed in textbooks used for teaching and practising the Latin  language in schools in Germany from 1872 to 2007. It is a contribution to the reception history of Roman ethnographic and historical writing about the Germani, especially Tacitus' Germania, but also Tacitus' Annals and Histories, and Caesar's Gallic War.The study also provides a perspective on the place of classics in education and society at large since the 1870s.  Concentration on Germany has been necessary for the sake of time, space and thoroughness, though many of the trends discussed are related to developments in other countries or are indicative of broader trends across Europe. The first chapter discusses Christian Ostermann's textbooks from Prussia in the late 19th century. The content of these textbooks' practice sentences often reflects Nationalist trends in German society and the education system. In the second chapter the influential Ludus Latinus series represents the Weimar Republic. The series attempted to make Latin appealing to young learners and also shows the influence of the Kulturkunde theory, which made understanding of German culture the centre of the education system. In the third chapter the influence of National Socialism on Germany's education system is discussed with reference to a variety of textbooks of the period from 1938 to 1945. During this period, under the influence of racial ideology, nationalistic interpretations of ancient history and the close identification of Deutsche with Germani reached an extreme. Chapter four deals with the years from 1945 to 1970. After 1945, associations with the ideology of National Socialism made Germania and the Germani unpopular topics. Latin and Greek also became unfashionable subjects and experienced a 'crisis' from which they only slowly recovered due to radical reforms in the methodology of ancient language teaching (described in chapter 5), including the production of textbooks that aimed at providing greater understanding of the ancient world and challenged long-entrenched stereotypes. Public interest in Germany's ancient heritage (both Roman and Germanic) has increased in recent decades, and the content of textbooks reflects this trend. In addition, the process of European unification has led to new perspectives on the ancient world and its relevance to modern Germany and Europe as a whole.


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Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

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Degree Name

Master of Arts

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Art History, Classics and Religious Studies


Putz, Babette; Pomeroy, Arthur