Hermann’s story being told in Netflix series

Actor Laurence Rupp plays Arminius (AKA Hermann the German) in Netflix's new “Barbarians” series.

NEW ULM — Hermann the German fans looking for something to watch are in luck. On Friday, Netflix premiered a TV series based on the real-life Hermann.

The six-episode series is called “Barbarians” and tells the story of Herman the Cheruscan leading up to the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D., the battle that made Herman famous and changed the course of European history.

In the series, Hermann is called by his Roman name “Arminius” and is played by actor Laurence Rupp. The show dramatizes some of the events of Arminius’s life to fit the format of a TV show but keeps the main historical facts.

“Barbarians” begins with the Germanic Cherusci tribe learning a new Roman governor named Publius Quinctilius Varus has been named for the region and all the Germanic tribes are expected to pay a tribute. The leader of the Cherusci tribe, Segimerus, does not want to pay the tribute, because he has already given two sons to Rome as hostages to keep the peace.

Arminius is revealed to be one of Segimerus’s sons. In the years since being given up as a hostage, he was raised in Rome, taught Latin and Roman military strategy. Arminius was eventually drafted into the Roman army and is sent home to Germania to help Rome. Now, back home, Arminius is conflicted in his allegiance to Rome and his family’s tribe. Arminius conspires with the Germanic tribes and leads them to a crushing victory over the Romans at Teutoburg.

This is not the first TV show called “Barbarians” to tell the story of Arminius. History Channel aired a documentary series in 2004 that included an episode on Arminius. The history channel documentary focused on historic facts. This new Netflix “Barbarians” is a drama within a historic setting.

Netflix has released all six episodes of the series in the United States, but it is not an English language series. Produced in Germany with German actors, the series features mostly German dialogue with the Roman characters speaking Latin. Netflix does provide English-language subtitles for those who are not fluent in German. The show does make dramatic use of the different languages. Early in the series, Arminius is shown to be one of few characters capable of speaking both German and Latin which gives him an advantage as a leader.

The real battle of Teutoburg Forest was a major turning point in history when three Roman legions commanded by Varus were completely wiped out by Arminius, who managed to unite Germanic tribes against Rome. This victory led to Roman withdrawal from Germania, but it also helped bring the various tribes in the region together.

In the centuries that follow, Arminius/Hermann became a symbol of German unity and is one of the reasons New Ulm erected a statue of him in 1897.

Anyone with a Netflix streaming service can watch “Barbarians”


Today's breaking news and more in your inbox

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)
Are you a paying subscriber to the newspaper?


Starting at $4.38/week.

Subscribe Today