Barbarians is a new German series that recently came out on Netflix. It stars Laurence Rupp, and follows Germanic tribes rebelling against the Roman Empire. In some ways, this is perhaps the most realistic show on Netflix at the moment, and it’s a fantastic one at that.
Barbarians follows Gaius Julius Arminius, a real historical figure, who is credited with giving the Romans one of their worst defeats of all time. He was a cavalry officer of Rome, but he was also the son of a German chieftain. The show realistically portrays the events surrounding his betrayal, and follows historical accounts very accurately.
The armor and clothes in this show, for the most part, are fantastic. Romans wear heterogeneous metal armor, unlike other shows where for some reason they wear leather (I’m looking at you Britannia.) Additionally, the Germanic tribes are also portrayed properly. All the Germans are wearing bright tunics and mukluks, with very minimal fur or leather. Both sides are also armed properly, with Germanic peoples using spears, while Romans use their pillums and gladius. Real historical characters surrounding the battle of Teutoburg Forest are also present in the show. Arminius’ wife Thusnelda, her father Segestes, and the Roman leader Varus are all major character in Barbarians, and are very true to their real life counterparts. The action in this show is excellent. The final battle is exhilarating, and brutal. Additionally, Arminius’ betrayal of the Roman Empire is handled realistically. He seems to betray them originally for selfish reasons, and later for a cause he believes in. It feels very well done and believable.
However, not all of the armor and weapons in the show are correct. The Germanic tribes charge into battle naked, which was not correct, they would most definitely be wearing some form of clothing or more likely some armor paired with a helmet. Arminius wears a lorica musculata, paired with a metal face mask. Lorica musculata were not used by Romans because they were extremely hard to make with Iron, and the face mask he uses, while a real artifact found at Teutoburg Forest, was not worn by cavalry officers, but rather by Standard Bearers, or cavalry soldiers during training, but not battle. Also, they use a gladius wrong in the show, as Arminius does not pair it with a shield, and he is swinging rather than stabbing. The gladius is a good weapon, but it must be paired with the traditional Roman tower shield.
Overall, Barbarians is a fun show. One can breeze through it in a weekend, and it’s got some excellent combat. So far, this might be the most historically accurate show out there, and it deserves high praise for that.