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The true barbarian is he who thinks every thing barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices. ~ William Hazlitt

A barbarian is a human who is perceived to be either uncivilized or primitive.


  • Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for as Greeks we should not be slaves to barbarians.
  • “Demades said that Xerxes fortified the sea with his ships, covered the land with his armies, concealed the sky with his weapons, and filled Persia with Greek prisoners. And now justly the barbarian is praised by Athenians because he took captive Greeks, but Alexander, a Greek, and leading Greeks, did not take captive those arrayed against him.[...]No one of the Greek kings went to Egypt except Alexander alone, and he went, not to make war, but to consult an oracle as to where he should found a city which would forever bear his name.[...]So Alexander was the first of the Greeks to take Egypt, and so became the first both of Greeks and of barbarians.”
  • The Barbarian hopes — and that is the very mark of him — that he can have his cake and eat it too. He will consume what civilisation has slowly produced after generations of selection and effort but he will not be at pains to replace such goods nor indeed has he a comprehension of the virtue that has brought them into being. Discipline seems to him irrational, on which account he is for ever marvelling that civilisation should have offended him with priests and soldiers.
  • In a word, the Barbarian is discoverable everywhere in this that he cannot make; that he can befog or destroy, but that he cannot sustain; and of every Barbarian in the decline or peril of every civilisation exactly that has been true.
    We sit by and watch the Barbarian, we tolerate him; in the long stretches of peace we are not afraid.
    We are tickled by his irreverence, his comic inversion of our old certitudes and our fixed creeds refreshes us: we laugh. But as we laugh we are watched by large and awful faces from beyond: and on these faces there is no smile.
    • Hilaire Belloc. This and That and the Other (1912), Ch. XXXII : The Barbarians , p. 282
  • Why this sudden bewilderment, this confusion?
    (How serious people's faces have become.)
    Why are the streets and squares emptying so rapidly,
    everyone going home lost in thought?

    Because night has fallen and the barbarians haven't come.
    And some of our men who have just returned from the border say
    there are no barbarians any longer.

    Now what's going to happen to us without barbarians?
    Those people were a kind of solution.

  • The true barbarian is he who thinks every thing barbarous but his own tastes and prejudices.
    • William Hazlitt, in Characteristics, in the manner of Rochefoucauld's Maxims (1823)
  • Bourgeois society stands at the crossroads, either transition to Socialism or regression into Barbarism.
  • Nations are barbarian in their infancy but not savage. The barbarian is a proportional mean between the savage and the citizen. He already possesses no end of knowledge: he has habitations, some agriculture, domestic animals, laws, a cult, regular tribunals; he lacks only the sciences.
  • Since barbarism has its pleasures, it naturally has its apologists.

See also

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