Today, it’s the Germans they are a funny race. He finds them warlike (big surprise). The translation makes all the difference, but an interesting thing is that Tacitus is pretty cosmopolitan – some things about the Germans are pretty odd, sure, but he’s not offended, that’s just the way other tribes are. The only thing that comes off as truly “hideous and rude” is the country the Germans (I guess they’re pre-Kraut) have chosen to settle in. Otherwise he’s quite curious, the way I might be at an SEC tailgate. (Another similarity with SEC country: “Without being armed they transact nothing, whether of public or private concernment.”)
On the other hand, Tacitus neither indulges in what might be called the Putamayo Fallacy: these savage people really know themselves in a way that we, people of patios, don’t. (Despite the fact that this is often a crunchy Whole Foods-type belief, I always find it equally reactionary and false. Many more country people vote with their feet to come to the land of patios than the reverse.) Once in a while it sneaks in: “Silver and gold the Gods have denied them, whether in mercy or in wrath, I am unable to determine.”
Finally – for I must fly -- I found this as interesting as Tacitus did:
Moreover, close to the field of battle are lodged all the nearest and most interesting pledges of nature. Hence they hear the doleful howlings of their wives, hence the cries of their tender infants. These are to each particular the witnesses whom he most reverences and dreads; these yield him the praise which affect him most. Their wounds and maims they carry to their mothers, or to their wives, neither are their mothers or wives shocked in telling, or in sucking their bleeding sores. Nay, to their husbands and sons whilst engaged in battle, they administer meat and encouragement.Talk about soccer moms! I haven’t seen anyone administering meat at an AYSO game lately.