Released on Netflix on October 23, Barbarians is a bloody German historical series whose ambition is not dissimilar to Michael Hirst’s Vikings. We have devoted articles on Hitek on numerous occasions to popular series and films that we confront history, such as Vikings, Kaamelott, or even Sir Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. Today we invite you to rediscover the story of the characters from the Barbarians series.


Arminius was born in 17 BC. Born and is one of the main characters in the Barbarians series. Arminius was incarnated on the screen by the Austrian actor Laurence Rupp and is the son of a German warlord of the Cheruscan tribe, who was taken hostage by Rome and raised as a citizen. He gave up his old name, Hermann der Chérusque, for Arminius and entered the equestrian order, ie as a “Roman knight”. He is respected the man of trust by Varus, governor who has the trust of the emperor Augustus, of whom he is a relative, and joins him in Germany, where they will be sent in the year 7 after Jesus Christ to do the job imperial project through: Extend the already existing Roman Empire west of the Rhine to the Elbe.

Arminius uses military expeditions on behalf of Varus to unite the Germanic tribes in a coalition and prevent Roman expansion by making the Varus campaign a real military failure. These gadgets will lead to the famous Battle of Teutoburg, which can be seen in the Barbarians series. However, historians do not explain Arminius’ reversal. Was it out of solidarity with the Germans he came from and out of resentment against Rome? Or is this reversal explained by the narcissistic and Machiavellian desire to rule all Germans? The answer to this question is difficult for two reasons. The first is that we did not write any Germanic sources, only necessarily biased the Roman chroniclers who narrated the events. Then because the political orientation can lead us to prefer one answer to the other. For example, German nationalists saw Arminius as a true German hero who fought against Roman imperialism. Hence the fact that the Battle of Teutoburg is regularly called Hermannsschlacht in German, the Battle of Hermann which prefers its Germanic name.

Hermann’s life, however, was not crowned with success … He lost many battles against Germanicus, a Roman general who had his wife captured, and took his son hostage who died as a gladiator in the games of the circus. If Hermann holds out despite the defeats and thus the Roman army can withdraw from the German territories, he will also have to face a strong dispute within his own tribe. He was murdered in AD 21. AD because it got too powerful. You will understand, the path seems to be marked for the series to have a Season 2.


Varus was born in 46 BC. Born and played by Gaetano Aronica in the Barbarians series. After his marriage to Vispania Agrippa, this confidante of Augustus was commissioned by the emperor to occupy Germany and to manage the transition between Germanic and Roman law. As soon as he got there, Varus was perceived very badly by the Germanic tribes who did not support the methods of the Roman governor.

Roman historians have also analyzed the mistake Varus made after the debacle of the three legions he led during the Battle of Teutoburg. For Velleius Paterculus, Varus aroused the Germanic tribes far too much and ruled their territory as an already pacified region. The governor collected taxes, asked men to enlarge the Roman army, and reformed himself at all costs. Annoyed by Varus’ methods, the German leaders were all the more sensitive to the speech by Arminius, who had only to stir up an anti-imperialist speech to urge them to join his coalition. Let us acknowledge, however, that when Varus was appointed by the Governor of Augustus in Germania, the Emperor must have known who he was dealing with, given Varus’ reputation for staying in the Middle East to be in his capacity As governor of In Africa and Syria, Varus leads a real repression against Jewish rebels, which according to the historian Flavius ​​Josephus crucified 2,000 rebels in Jerusalem.

The role of Varus in the defeat of the Romans in the Battle of Teutoburg is recognized today, as the battle is sometimes referred to as the Debacle of Varus. When the governor saw the defeat, he committed suicide. The Germans then sent his head to Augustus.


The Cheruscan Thusnelda is played by the Franco-German actress Jeanne Goursaud. She is the daughter of Segesta and is known to have been the wife of Arminius, the victor of the Battle of Teutoburg. We don’t really know his role in the famous battle. As a reminder, the sources documenting this are essentially Roman.

We know, however, that Thusnelda was captured in May of the year 15 AD by Germanicus, who was commissioned by Augustus to restore order in Germania six years after the defeat of Varus. It was her father himself, Séveste, who personally delivered Thusnelda to Germanicus during her pregnancy. During her captivity, she gave birth to Thumelicus, the only son of Arminius, who never saw his wife again, and mourned the loss. Arminius did not remarry.

Segesta and Segimer

Segesta and Segimer are brothers and two famous chiefs of the Cheruscan tribe. The first is the father of Thusnelda, the second is the father of Arminius. Both are allied with the Romans. If they take part in the Battle of Teutoburg on the German side, however, they remain loyal to the Romans. Segimer asked for Rome’s forgiveness, and after he had opposed the marriage of Arminius and Thusnelda, Segesta sold her hostage to Germanicus. In the Barbarians series, Segesta and Segimer are each interpreted by Bernhard Schütz and Nicki von Tempelhoff.