Eight of history’s greatest warriors featured in Barbarians Rising

Executive Producer of Barbarians Rising Kristen Burns speaks to Imagine TV Network about the rebellion against the world's first military dictatorship and the humanness of the rebel warriors, whom the Roman Empire called barbarians.

Words by Elaine Xu

"People have often told the story of the rise and the fall of Rome, but they don’t as often tell it from the side of the people who tried to bring it down... Just the perspective of seeing from the barbarians’ viewpoint is different,” Kristen Burns remarks, adding that Barbarians Rising provides a more nuanced and contemporary view of the barbarians.

She described the rebel leaders, who fought against Roman Empire, as being on the losing end at the beginning but later emerging triumphant. “The traditional view of the barbarians come from Rome — they wrote that history, they wrote that story — and so we understand the barbarians to be violent and savage and uncultured and uncivilized.”

Image credit: HISTORY

An eight-part docu-drama, Barbarians Rising features eight of history's greatest warriors — Hannibal, the brilliant military strategist and sworn enemy of the Empire who vowed a blood oath at the age of 9; Spartacus, the slave-turned-rebel who led a people's revolt against Rome's elite; Boudica, the Celtic warrior Queen, a woman who commanded men in one of the most ambitious attempts to overthrow a tyrant; Attila the Hun, scourge of the east; Arminius, the stolen son of Germany; the Goths, a fierce fighting tribe betrayed by the Empire; and the Vandals, the wandering raiders who dealt Rome’s final death blow.

Even though it was a dark and violent period in history, Burns says that what they tried to do is to show that when someone is pushed to the extreme, there is a force pushing the person to it. "Sometimes, you're violent because someone's threatening your family or your survival."

Boudica, the only female rebel warrior featured in the television series, is a case in point. "Part of the reason why she set out to rebel against Rome was because she and her kids were humiliated and abused in a very serious way by the Romans... Even though she's somewhat bloodthirsty and actually her rebellion against Rome was one of the bloodiest in history, she's a person who tried to defend her family."

The lesser-known story of Arminius, who was taken from his home when he was 14 years old and raised as a Roman, was assigned to go back to his home and "crush his own people." Burns remarks that his story is very dramatic and "Shakespearean in the way it turned out because it is easy to think of him as a barbarian but when you think about what he had been asked to do and why he has been asked to do it, it definitely humanizes his character."

Barbarians Rising has the same day telecast as the U.S. and premieres tonight at 9pm  (SIN/HK) on HISTORY Channel (StarHub TV Channel 401).

 

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