The Dying Gaul. Copy of a statue of the 3rd or 2nd century BC.
The purpose of the Great Wall of China
was to stop the "barbarians" from crossing the northern border of China.
In modern use, the word is used to refer to an uncivilized or uncultured person.
It is used for a member of a nation or ethnic group which is seen as having a lower level of civilization, or for an individual person which is seen as a brutal, cruel and insensitive or whose behaviour is unacceptable in the civilized society of the speaker. When used for a person the word is always pejorative, when used for a nation not always.
In Ancient Rome, the name βάρβαρος, bárbaros, was given to all those who did not speak the Greek language. Later, the term Barbarian came to mean "Anyone who is not Greek". Later again, it meant "anyone who is outside the Roman Empire".
In Ancient Rome, the Romans used the term towards tribal non-Romans such as the Germanics, Celts, Gauls, Vandals, Goths, Huns, Franks, Saxons, Iberians, Thracians, Illyrians, Berbers, and Sarmatians.
In the early modern period and sometimes later, the Byzantine Greeks used it for the Turks.
In Ancient China, references to barbarians go back as far as the Shang Dynasty and the Spring and Autumn Annals.
Images for kids
Routes taken by barbarian invaders, towards the Roman Empire 5th century AD
Head of a barbarian, Probably a Client King. Acropolis Museum.
A scene of the Chinese campaign against the Miao in Hunan, 1795
A defeated Sarmatian barbarian serves as an atlas on a 16th-century villa in Milan. Sculpted by Antonio Abbondio for Leone Leoni