When we modern people discover a new group of individuals that have somehow managed to escape our attention, we chase them down and harass them. Lost tribe? Bring in the news cameras! Even if we don’t do it deliberately, we eat away at the habitat – the rain forest that these tribes and peoples live in.
Imagine a time when you didn’t know about peoples that existed beyond a few hundred miles from where you live, and they could come over the horizon in huge numbers. This is how things were until the last few hundred years.
In Ancient Rome, in the time of Caius Marius, that’s what they faced, as recorded by Plutarch. They were used to facing barbarians – Celts and Gauls. But at one time 300,000 fighting men from unknown origins appeared over the horizon. Rome was threatened by two unknown tribes – the cimbri and Teutons. Imagine not knowing these people exist, and by the time you find out they exist, they’re descending upon you with their army. Even nowadays, historians argue over the origins of these two mysterious tribes who threatened rome.
The Romans sent their armies to face these people and lost their men in droves. They were not accustomed to this at the time, yet these new people that they had never perceived before smashed them. Again, and again. And again and again, and again – 5 times. Each of these battles had their own nightmares attached to it – in one of them, the barbarian tribes left a Roman consul dead in the field of battle. In another they’re said to have killed 80,000 roman legionnaires, and another 40,000 camp servants. These numbers may have been inflated somewhat, but they were still extremely high.