THE OLD TIMES

Sarmizegetusa

On the Romanian territory there were discovered impressively beautiful vestiges of Neolithic cultures. It is here, on this land, where the highly typical civilization of the Geto-Dacians flourished. They were a kin that belonged to the great family of the Thracians. The Geto-Dacians attracted the attention of foreign contemporaries under all kinds of major historical circumstances. For instance, in 335 B.C. they fought against the famous Alexander the Great, and about 290 B.C. they took as prisoner the latter’s successor in Thracia, King Lysimachos). The Helenistic monarchies had positively influenced the Geto-Dacians’ culture and civilization, which proved responsive to the Greek touch.

The expansion of the Roman Empire in the Balkan peninsula alarmed the Geto-Dacians and determined the strengthening of their unity. Approximately in the middle of the first century B.C., the Dacian king Burebista succeeded in building an impressingly powerful state, by unifying most of the Geto-Dacian tribes on the wide space stretching from present-day Slovakia to the Balkans. He also forced all the Pontic cities, from Olbia to Apollonia of Thracia, to submit to his rule. The clash between the forces of Burebista and Caesar was going to take place in 44 B.C., but just before the encounter the Roman Emperor was murdered. After a little while, Burebista shared the same fate.

At the beginning of our era, the Roman Empire was getting closer in its expansion to the Danube and Dacia. However, the Geto-Dacians could do nothing else but to have relations with it, sometime cordial, sometime hostile, in order to assimilate the elements of the Roman civilization and military techniques. They will resist the Romans, both politically and military, for about a century more, until the reign of the Roman emperor Trajan. After six long and dreadful years and two wars, Trajan finally succeeded in 106 A.D. to break the heroic resistance of the Dacians, whose king, Decebal, entered in legend for his bravery of committing suicide to avoid being captured. The resistance and destruction of Decebal’s Dacia lingered in the conscience of the raising generations as a glorious epic. The two memorial monuments, Trajan’s Column (Rome, Italy) and Tropaeum Trajani from occupied Dacia (Adamclisi, Dobrogea, Constanta county), both attest through their celebrated scenes, sculpted in stone, the Dacians’ bravery in defending their rich plains, marvelous hills, and well-sheltering mountains. Besides all sufferings, Dacia’s integration into the Roman Empire had some positive aspects. By the endeavor of the natives of Dacia and Roman colonists and by their practical-mindedness, Dacia reached a high level of material and spiritual culture. Dacia also underwent the important process of Romanization, which left lasting marks, traceable to this day, in the Romanian people’s Latin language, in its name, conscience, and culture. As the Geto-Dacians were the basic ethnic element in the making of the Romanian people, the Romans were the second element of the ethno-genesis of the Romanians.

The crisis that occurred in the Roman Empire, as well as the pressure of the Barbarians toward the very long borders of the Roman Empire, forced Emperor Aurelianus to decide in 271 A.D. the withdrawal of the Roman troops, administration, and a part of the urban population from Dacia. They moved south of the Danube, on today’s territories of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. Yet, most of the population, consisting of Roman peasants and Romanized Dacians, did not leave their land, being in a close touch with the South-Danubian Roman world. Coming into contact with the Barbarians, the Daco-Romans adopted forms of organization imposed by the newly born historical conditions. They constituted themselves into what the great Romanian historian Nicolae Iorga named “many popular Romanies” or “the rural Romanies.” In these territories, the imperial authority of Rome was no longer effective, but the Daco-Romans knew how to preserve what they had learned for 165 years. All these politic, economic, and administrative bodies were considered as many Romanies by their inhabitants because they all knew that they were belonging or had belonged to the Roman Empire.

The original translation was reviewed and edited by Radu Sebescu.
All the mistakes, non-clarities, and misinterpretations must be attributed to the reviewer/editor.
Radu Sebescu (sebescu@home.com), Phoenix, Arizona, Tu2001Jn19, 20:44 (GMT-7:00)