What is a Barbarian?

The word Barbarian comes from the Greek barbaros, which simply meant "foreign".  If a Greek could not understand a vistors language he was labeled a Barbarian.

The word Barbarian was also reserved for foreigners who had customs dissimilar to the Greeks or Romans, especially those whose manners were not refined in the same way, or who lived under a political system not as complex or "sophisticated". Anyone viewed as an outsider by Greeks or Romans was automatically classified a "Barbarian".

It is mistake to view a barbarian as one who was especially savage in his methods of warfare. Savagery was the order of the day, and the Greeks and Romans were every bit as savage and barbaric as anyone they engaged. The way Christians were slaughtered for entertainment in the Roman Coliseum was as barbaric as anything before or since.  

But it is the winners who write the history, so Romans branded their Celtic invaders the "Barbarians".

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