Examination of Roman contact with western Germani, from the Cimbri in the late-2nd century BC to the Marcomanni in the late-2nd century AD, reveals that like the Alamanni to come, these posed no threat to the Empire. Always inferior in number and in economic, social, and political development, they created no permanent Germanic ‘pressure’ on the frontier. Germani raided when they could and, if left alone, would probably have expanded just a few tens of miles east of the Rhine. But, to the 5th century AD, the Empire sedulously punished the former and prevented the latter. The ‘Germanic threat’ was, rather, devised by Julius Caesar and then constantly ‘spun’ by successive Roman leaders in order to justify the existence of the Empire and to help them achieve their own political ends. The major aggressors on the Rhine were not Germani, but Romans.
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