Rome and the Barbarians
On the two silver cups from Hoby one of the picture scenes illustrates the Roman perception of the relationship between them and the Germanic populations of north and central Europe. It is the scene in which the Trojan king Priam kneels before Achilles and asks him to hand over his son’s body. Achilles is portrayed as the ideal athletic Roman – short-haired, clean-shaven, with a naked muscular torso, loincloth and bare feet. On the other hand Priam has a full beard and is dressed in a so-called Phrygian cap, shirt, trousers and shoes. In other words, he is dressed like a Germanic person – a Barbarian. The depiction shows the Barbarian submitting to the Roman and the scene is a symbol of the Romans’ perception of themselves.