Michael Kulikowski

American historian

Michael Kulikowski (born 1970) is an American historian who specializes in Late Antiquity.

Quotes edit

Rome's Gothic Wars (2006) edit

  • Gothic history, as it appears in every modern account, is a story of migration. Traditionally, it begins in Scandinavia, moves to the southern shores of the Baltic around the mouth of the Vistula river, and then onwards to the Black Sea. Depending upon what study one reads, one can find it stated that written sources, archaeology, and linguistic evidence all demonstrate that just such a migration took place, if not out of Scandinavia then at least out of Poland. In fact, there is just a single source for this extended story of Gothic migration, the Getica of Jordanes... It is only the text of Jordanes that leads scholars to privilege the Wielbark connection... The Gotones mentioned in Tacitus, Germania 44.1 and located somewhere in what is now modern Poland would not be regarded as Goths if Jordanes’ migration stories did not exist.
    • pp. 43, 67, 212
  • Certainly, in time, after being told repeatedly that they were in fact Goths... was [there] no question in anyone’s mind that they were indeed Goths.
    • p. 70
  • The only recent treatment of Gothic history to dissent from the Vienna school and its focus on aristocratic traditions is that of Peter Heather. But Heather, too, accepts the basic historicity of Jordanes’ migration narrative, viewing it as evidence for the large-scale migration of a free Gothic population whose size was such that its ‘Gothic-ness’ was widely understood by adult male Goths. Thus for both Heather and Wolfram, as for many earlier scholarly generations, the story of the Goths starts in a distant northern land, far from the Roman frontier, whence either migration or ‘ethnic processes’ bring the Goths or the Gothic identity to the edges of the Roman world. For both, in other words, the controlling narrative is that of Jordanes... Peter Heather’s Goths and Romans, 332–489 (Oxford, 1991) is the best treatment of its subject available in any language, even though my interpretation of motive and causation in Gothic history differs substantially from his. Unfortunately, Heather’s more recent works, The Goths (Oxford, 1996) and The Fall of the Roman Empire (Oxford, 2005), restate the same arguments as the first book and shear them of all their nuance, advocating instead a neo-Romantic vision of mass migrations of free Germanic peoples. Heather’s idée fixe – that the Huns were responsible for the fall of the Roman empire and the end of the ancient world – is simple, elegant, and wrong. The literature on ethnogenesis is vast, but Herwig Wolfram’s History of the Goths (1979; English trans., Berkeley, 1988) is the most widely available. Its mixture of outlandish philological speculation, faulty documentation, and oracular pronouncement remains very influential. Less bizarre, if wholly derivative, accounts of ethnogenesis are available in works by Wolfram’s Anglophone apostles...
    • pp. 70, 206

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