Germania im 4. Jhdt. Das Schicksal eines Toponyms zwischen Anachronismus und ‚Resemantisierung‘
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From the second half of the 3th century AD the two different meanings of the term “Germania”, that is the territory beyond the River Rhine and the denomination of two Roman provinces, went through a similar, yet not identical redefinition process. Both underwent a strong semantic restriction: as for the first meaning, it started referring almost exclusively to particular geographical entities of the past. Both Latin and Greek authors of the time were indeed aware of the changed political and military situation in the Roman Empire, so that the word “Germania” was not used anymore to distinguish the politically fragmented regions of the north. At the same time, the term retains a rhetorical relevance in literary texts. As for the two Roman provinces, the semantic restriction of “Germania” meant that the term acquired a more technical meaning. Such a linguistic development reflects the complexity of the geo-political situation north of the Alps in the 4th century and how the practice of administration in the provinces interlaced with imperial propaganda.
keywordsGermania, geopolitics, late antiquity, Roman provinces
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