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Emperors of Rome
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“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” - Tacitus. A podcast series looking at the rulers of the ancient Roman empire, by Dr Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith.
 
The podcast that transports you to the ancient world and back, with some good conversation along the way. It's not just about ancient Greece. It's about a huge chunk of human history that the Greek texts give us access to: from Egypt and Babylon, to Persia, to Carthage and Rome, we'll sail the wine-dark sea of history with some expert guides at the helm. Topics will include archaeology, literature, and philosophy. New episode every month.
 
Dr Fiona Radford is an expert on Rome on film and wrote her thesis on Kubrick’s Spartacus. Dr Radford is exponent of not only Ancient History, but also Reception Studies. Dr Peta Greenfield is an expert on the Vestal Virgins. Dr Greenfield’s research interests include: religion and politics in Rome, the late republic and Augustan period, and the role of women.
 
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It’s c. 460 BCE andthis hectic year in Roman history continues! In this episode weconsider Rome in the wake of the sneak attack on the Capitol byHerdonius’ disaffected Sabines. During the challenges of wrestlingcontrol back, the Romans lose one of their own. The consul PubliusValerius Pubicola falls in battle. This is a tragic loss and opensthe ...…
 
What we do know about Cornelia is mostly through the lens of her famous sons, but to the Romans she was much more than that. She was put on a pedestal, in bronze, no less, as the ideal mother for Romans to aspire to, and may have been quite influential in politics at the time. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient Hist ...…
 
In this specialepisode, we’re joined by Liz Smith, who has recently completed herdoctoral research of the representation of women’s dress in statuaryat Macquarie University. Together we’ll trace the threads of evidencefor women’s attire in the Roman world. The Thread of Women’s Representation with Liz Smith Liz’s research includes the fashion o ...…
 
What methods and institutions do oligarchic regimes use to maintain their power? How do they fend off the threat of democratic revolution? What happened to the many oligarchies of the ancient Mediterranean? All of these questions and more are explored in this second part of our conversation with historian Matt Simonton, author of Classical Gree ...…
 
What methods and institutions do oligarchic regimes use to maintain their power? How do they fend off the threat of democratic revolution? What happened to the many oligarchies of the ancient Mediterranean? All of these questions and more are explored in this second part of our conversation with historian Matt Simonton, author of Classical Gree ...…
 
Octavian was barely an adult when he arrived in Rome in 44BCE. Two months had passed since his adopted father, Julius Caesar, was murdered by members of the senate who resented his control as dictator. Octavian stood to inherit Caesar’s fortunes, but few could have imagined that he would inherit Caesar’s power. He would become emperor in 27BCE, ...…
 
We return to our narrative of Rome’s history of its foundation with some surprising Sabines. It’s still 460 BCE , which is an indication of just how complicated Rome’s history is becoming when we read our sources. Both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus are very focused on the ongoing conflict between the Roman elites and the emerging claims t ...…
 
The Vestals were an order of priestesses who were sacred to Rome, and were respected and referred as symbols of a safe and stable empire. They had the all-important duty of maintaining the sacred flame, and if it were extinguished, it would be a sign of impending disaster. Guest: Dr Peta Greenfield (Public Historian, co-host of 'The Partial His ...…
 
Warning! This post and episode contain huge spoilers. Dr G and Dr Rad always enjoy a trip to the movies, as you tell from our past forays in classics like Spartacus, Gladiator, and the contemporary farce Hail, Caesar! We are planning to record more special episodes when we see a historical flick or television series that sparks our interest. Th ...…
 
How do ancient oligarchies compare with modern authoritarian regimes? How did civil war in oligarchies differ from civil war in democracies? What does the age-old ideological struggle between democracy and oligarchy imply about our future? These are just a few of the questions we discuss on this and the next episode. This episode covers: what o ...…
 
How do ancient oligarchies compare with modern authoritarian regimes? How did civil war in oligarchies differ from civil war in democracies? What does the age-old ideological struggle between democracy and oligarchy imply about our future? These are just a few of the questions we discuss on this and the next episode. This episode covers: what o ...…
 
Dr Radness travelled to Melbourne recently and met with the fantastic and erudite Dr Rhiannon Evans from La Trobe. Dr Evans is one of the famous voices on the Emperors of Rome podcast. In this special episode, Dr Rad and Dr Evans explore barbarians! *Special Episode* – Barbarians with Dr Rhiannon Evans Tune in to learn more about how the Romans ...…
 
Elagabalus has long been remembered as deviant and sexually depraved. His behaviour was shocking for a Roman citizen, let alone the leader of the empire, and Rome was relieved to see the end of him. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)…
 
When Elagabalus finally reached Rome, the city seemed to hold its breath. The young Emperor embraced both the roles of ruler and high priest of a foreign religion, and there were many that questioned where his priorities lie. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe Unive ...…
 
The conflict betweenpatricians and plebeians continues apace as we explore the politicalcomplexities of 460 BCE. Much like a Jane Austen novel, letters andrumours abound in the fair city of Rome… Episode 96 – Letters and Rumours According to the annalist tradition, debate continues to rage about the proposal for clarity around laws and the idea ...…
 
According to the historical evidence, the first stirrings of philosophical inquiry began 2600 years ago in ancient Greece with a group of thinkers known as the Presocratics (or pre-Socratics). In this episode we try to shed light on these early pioneers of philosophy. Our guest is André Laks, professor of ancient philosophy at Universidad Panam ...…
 
According to the historical evidence, the first stirrings of philosophical inquiry began 2600 years ago in ancient Greece with a group of thinkers known as the Presocratics (or pre-Socratics). In this episode we try to shed light on these early pioneers of philosophy. Our guest is André Laks, professor of ancient philosophy at Universidad Panam ...…
 
Macrinus has made a treaty with the Parthians and at long last, the two mighty empires are at peace. It likely won’t last, but at this point it matters little: now he can finally get down to the business of ruling the empire. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe Unive ...…
 
With the murder of Caracalla one of the most unlikely men steps into power. Macrinus is unassuming, of the wrong position, and the wrong class. He’d argue he’s the best man for the job, but very few in Rome would agree with him. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)…
 
Episode 95 – Introducing Caeso Quinctius The complex relationship between the patricians and plebeians is central to our appreciation of the 460s BCE. In this episode we’ll get to consider the complexities first hand with the entrance of Caeso Quinctius (remember this name, he’s going places!). We jump back intothe narrative history of c. 461 B ...…
 
Assassination was a regular occurrence in the right Roman circles, and the gossip around the senate floor must have frequently turned to who's knifing who. An emperor would need to keep the senate, the army, and the people on side, or risk a well-placed dagger. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe Un ...…
 
By modern standards the Romans had some fairly unusual ideas, which could be putting it mildly when it comes to the subject of adultery. For the most part the Romans were lack lax in repercussions, unless of course you were embarrassing a man of high status. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe Unive ...…
 
Episode 94 – Flesh Rains Down Upon Thee We return to Rome’s narrative from the founding of City. The year c. 462 BCE ends on a high note with the consuls both gathering honours for their military exploits. L. Lucretius Tricipitinus is awarded a triumph for his successes against the Aequii while T. Veturius Geminus scores an ovatio for his part ...…
 
We live at a time of increasing economic inequality worldwide. What is driving this trend? And what are the factors that can stabilize or even reduce levels of inequality? Answering this question empirically would require a deep dive into the archives of history. One would have to sift through millennia of economic data across continents and ci ...…
 
We live at a time of increasing economic inequality worldwide. What is driving this trend? And what are the factors that can stabilize or even reduce levels of inequality? Answering this question empirically would require a deep dive into the archives of history. One would have to sift through millennia of economic data across continents and ci ...…
 
While we are lucky that much Roman literature from the late republic and the imperial period comes down to us complete or almost complete, most of the historical and poetic works from the mid-republic have been lost and only survive in fragments. Guest: Dr Hannah Čulík-Baird (Assistant Professor, Classical Studies, Boston University)…
 
We return to the fray with the most excellent Rob and Jaime to tackle Dr Radness’ favourite emperor. How will Tiberius fare against the criteria of Totalus Rankium? We’re about to find out! How great is Tiberius? Tune in to find out! How are we judgingTiberius? Oooo better not toask me, Dr G, author of this post, because I’m too much of anAugus ...…
 
How did the ancient Greek religion evolve? What was the meaning of sacrifice and other rituals? Did atheism exist back then? How about alternative religions? We explore all these topics and more in conversation with Barbara Graziosi, professor of classics at Princeton University and author of the book The Gods of Olympus. Stay tuned at the end ...…
 
How did the ancient Greek religion evolve? What was the meaning of sacrifice and other rituals? Did atheism exist back then? How about alternative religions? We explore all these topics and more in conversation with Barbara Graziosi, professor of classics at Princeton University and author of the book The Gods of Olympus. Stay tuned at the end ...…
 
The Roman calendar was important to the civic management of Rome - it told when to plant and harvest crops, when to celebrate festivals and when to go to war. The calendar designed by the Romans is used today, more or less unchanged for 2000 years - including paying homage to both Julius Caesar and Augustus. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lec ...…
 
Rome emerges from the year of pestilence and moves straight on to divide and conquer. While this seems implausible, we’re still navigating the tricky gaps in our annalist historians – uncertainty is the name of the historical game at this stage. Welcome to c. 462 BCE! The pestilence ensured the death of both consuls of c. 463 BCE so it’s only a ...…
 
The historian Edward Gibbon perhaps summed up Caracalla quite succinctly, when he used this phrase to describe his demise while answering a call of nature on the side of the road: "Such was the end of a monster whose life disgraced human nature, and whose reign accused the patience of the Romans." Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, R ...…
 
The oldest Roman epics we have were produced during the Roman Empire. But before becoming an empire, Rome was a powerful republic for hundreds of years. What happened to the Roman epics from the republican period? In this episode, we examine the evidence from this fascinating yet elusive early period, when Rome was a powerful Republic, but ther ...…
 
The oldest Roman epics we have were produced during the Roman Empire. But before becoming an empire, Rome was a powerful republic for hundreds of years. What happened to the Roman epics from the republican period? In this episode, we examine the evidence from this fascinating yet elusive early period, when Rome was a powerful Republic, but ther ...…
 
The Roman Empire had engaged in Parthian wars for generations, stretching back, off and on, to the days of Pompey the Great. Caracalla makes his foray into this arena, but as always, he’s going to do things a little differently. He shall have a wedding. Or a hanging. Either way he’s going to have a lot of fun. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senio ...…
 
We are super excited to announce that we sat down recently with Stephen Guerra, the host of the History of the Papacy Podcast to talk all about the classic 1951 sword-and-sandals film Quo Vadis. This is a three way conversation with a variety of perspectives to enjoy. Stephen offers insights into the representation of Christianity. Dr Rad offer ...…
 
Hesiod's didactic epic Works and Days is probably most famous for containing the stories of Prometheus and Pandora. But these tales are part of a greater mission of explaining how one can live justly and succeed in a harsh world. Our guest today is widely recognized as having produced the best translation of the Works and Days into English. Ali ...…
 
Hesiod's didactic epic Works and Days is probably most famous for containing the stories of Prometheus and Pandora. But these tales are part of a greater mission of explaining how one can live justly and succeed in a harsh world. Our guest today is widely recognized as having produced the best translation of the Works and Days into English. Ali ...…
 
We’re very excited to bring you a special episode where we sit down with Cam from The Life of Caesar podcast! We’re talking about Tiberius Caesar Divi Augusti filius Augustus or ‘Tibbo’ as he’s affectionately known. As you know, Tiberius holds a special place in Dr Rad’s heart. The Life of the Caesars duo are in the midst of examining his life ...…
 
After unleashing his unique brand of rule on the people of Rome, Caracalla becomes the problem of the provinces. After 212 he’ll spend the rest of his reign either at war or on tour, making the beast of Italy a problem for all Romans to deal with. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)…
 
We’re jumping back into the narrative. The title might be a bit of a giveaway, yes yes, we’ll be talking about … pestilence! But before we get there we need to consider the circumstances. Rome has been having lots of problems with their neighbours, particularly the Aequians and we’ve seen a shift in tactics from Aequians engaging in guerilla st ...…
 
Now that Caracalla is the sole emperor of the Roman empire he’s able to act as he wishes. While he does little to please anyone outside the military, it’s his economic and social reforms that will affect the empire for years to come. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)…
 
Hundreds of city-states in the ancient world experimented with democracy. Most of them experienced some kind of civil strife at some point. What caused these breakdowns of social order, and are we headed towards a similar fate? In this episode we explore the phenomenon of political polarization (stasis in Greek), its causes, and the solutions t ...…
 
Hundreds of city-states in the ancient world experimented with democracy. Most of them experienced some kind of civil strife at some point. What caused these breakdowns of social order, and are we headed towards a similar fate? In this episode we explore the phenomenon of political polarization (stasis in Greek), its causes, and the solutions t ...…
 
In exciting news, we got together recently with the amazing and very hilarious gentleman of Totalus Rankium, Rob and Jaime, to discuss all things Augustus! We love their work on the Roman emperors and thought it would be great fun to see how all our different perspectives on Augustus shaped up in conversation. The results are in!Enjoy a sparrin ...…
 
The death of Septimius Severus left a strong line of succession with two sons ready to take control of the empire. There was no love lost between Caracalla and Geta, and it would be the Roman empire that bore the scars of their relationship. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)…
 
We’re back and as the title for this episode notes, you’re about to tune into the tale of some furious Romans! It is none other than Dr Rad and Dr G tracing the history of Rome from the founding of the city and ooooh boy are we heading back into that sweet Early Roman Republican narrative. The Big Names c. 465 BCE Titus Quintius Capitolinus (co ...…
 
The Roman poet Ovid penned The Book of Love in three volumes as a manual for how to deal with the art of love and seduction during the slightly austere days of the reign of Augustus. This isn't exactly 'Men are From the Temple of Mars, Women are From the Temple of Venus', but happy Lupercalia everyone! Guest: Assoc Professor Peter Davis (Visiti ...…
 
The equites belonged to a class of Roman citizen dating back to the kingdom of Rome. Ranked below the senatorial class, they grew in power and influence, occupying key positions in the government and military. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)By Dr Rhiannon Evans.
 
We’returning 90 and it’s time for a special episode on the reception ofSpartacus! What better way to do this than to examine the history ofSpartacus, the ballet. Dr Rad is our expert on the ground on allthings Spartacus and reception. Dr G brings a wild curiosity and asmall knowledge of ballet. So howdoes a famous freedom fighter like Spartacus ...…
 
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