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The Partial Historians

Updated 2 months ago

Education
Society & Culture
History
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An Ancient Roman History podcast hosted by Roman Historians!

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An Ancient Roman History podcast hosted by Roman Historians!

iTunes Ratings

58 Ratings
Average Ratings
46
2
3
6
1

Absolutely fantastic

By Mar1na17932 - May 20 2020
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All I listen to are history podcasts and out of the 15 I listen to this is easily my second favorite (after DIG), for someone who doesn’t like rome that is quite an accomplishment. Dr. G and Dr Rad do an amazing job. The history is detailed and flows well. And even though they are doing a narrative history using two super masculinist elitist sources they always make sure to talk about social conditions and women whenever they can find them. I also really like how much they spend talking about masculinity (vietus) it often gets left out of political narratives. Also the production quality is good. I have literally nothing but praise for this podcast it is fantastic and you should listen!! :)

Addictive, brilliant fun!

By Thoughts on this one - May 15 2020
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Love this podcast! Highest marks! The energy and dynamic between these two is highly addictive. They are funny and and I find myself laughing out loud while learning. The best is when they disagree on a historical figure on razz each other about their favorites.

iTunes Ratings

58 Ratings
Average Ratings
46
2
3
6
1

Absolutely fantastic

By Mar1na17932 - May 20 2020
Read more
All I listen to are history podcasts and out of the 15 I listen to this is easily my second favorite (after DIG), for someone who doesn’t like rome that is quite an accomplishment. Dr. G and Dr Rad do an amazing job. The history is detailed and flows well. And even though they are doing a narrative history using two super masculinist elitist sources they always make sure to talk about social conditions and women whenever they can find them. I also really like how much they spend talking about masculinity (vietus) it often gets left out of political narratives. Also the production quality is good. I have literally nothing but praise for this podcast it is fantastic and you should listen!! :)

Addictive, brilliant fun!

By Thoughts on this one - May 15 2020
Read more
Love this podcast! Highest marks! The energy and dynamic between these two is highly addictive. They are funny and and I find myself laughing out loud while learning. The best is when they disagree on a historical figure on razz each other about their favorites.
Cover image of The Partial Historians

The Partial Historians

Latest release on Jul 16, 2020

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An Ancient Roman History podcast hosted by Roman Historians!

Rank #1: Episode 4 – Sex and Matronae

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Hello fellow traveller of the laneways of history. Episode Four – Sex and Matronae has arrived! In this episode, we tackle the weighty issue of Roman wives. The Latin term for wife is matrona. 

Were Roman wives having sex?

Why would they even want to do it?

And what were the consequences when things turned a little bit kinky?

Find out here! Sex and Matronae

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Episode-4-Sex-and-Matronae-2018-Update.mp3 Juan Giménez Martín c. late 19th century, Dresser of a Roman Lady. Currently held in the Prado Museum. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Looking to follow up on some of the source material? Oh boy do we have a page for you 🙂

https://partialhistorians.com/2013/04/26/sources-for-sex-in-ancient-rome/

Apr 25 2013

25mins

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Rank #2: Episode 36 – Romulus and Remus

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The Doctors return with a new mission! The history of Rome from the founding of the city. Many illustrious Latin historians have paved the way with this bold genre, so the doctors are following in the footsteps of giants. On the plus side, this means a foray into those enigmatic brothers, Romulus and Remus.

It’s a founding mixed with parts teenage rebellion, revenge, and violence; it’s the beginning of Rome.

Click on the link to listen or download:

Romulus and Remus

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/episode-36-romulus-and-remus.mp3

Wenceslaus Hollar, Romulus and Remus, after Giulio Romano. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Oct 06 2014

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Rank #3: Episode 5 – Sex Workers in Ancient Rome

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It’s here! Our examination of sex workers has arrived.

Your doctors tackle the issues surrounding the topic of sex work in ancient Rome.

Part of this process is acknowledging the significant difference between our world and the world of ancient Rome. The language and terminology in this episode reflects in part when the episode was recorded and in part the differences in the way this subject is discussed in history rather than cultural studies.

Turning to the big questions:

  • What evidence do we have for the subject of sex workers and sex work?
  • And what ideas did the Romans have about the oldest profession?

Listen in to find out more!

Sex and Prostitutes

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Episode-5-Sex-and-Prostitutes-2018-Update.mp3 Erotic scene. Provenance: Pompeii, Terme Suburbane, VII.16.a. Currently held by the National Archaeological Museum, Naples. Image courtesy of Marie-Lan Nguyen / Wikimedia Commons

Interested in learning more about sex work in ancient Rome? You might find the following are a good place to get started:

https://partialhistorians.com/2013/04/26/sources-for-sex-in-ancient-rome/

May 08 2013

25mins

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Rank #4: Episode 46 – Rome and Porsenna

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The Doctors head into the dangerous territory of the sixth century BCE. Junius Brutus, a key figure in the expulsion of the King Tarquinius Superbus, has been slain in battle.

But the Tarquinii are down, not out. In this episode, witness the rise of Lars Porsenna and the noble deeds of Horatius Cocles!

Click on the link to download or listen:

Rome and Porsenna

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/episode-46-rome-and-porsenna.mp3

Artwork: Charles Le Brun 1642/3 Horatius Cocles Defending the Bridge. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Mar 15 2015

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Rank #5: Episode 18 – Spartacus 1960

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In this episode we take a walk into Dr Radford’s specialisation – history on film! And where better to start than with Spartacus, the 1960 epic directed (eventually) by Stanley Kubrick and starring the one, the only, Kirk Douglas.

A Complex Film for a Complex Man

This film has a number of complications to explore:

  • There’s the 1951 novel by Howard Fast that inspired the screenplay
  • There’s the screenplay itself, where major credit is given to Dalton Trumbo
  • And there’s the complications that arise from the challenges of finding a director who could stick with the project

This is all before we even cut to the chase on the primary source material!

So what relationship does the film bear to the historical sources? And who exactly was Spartacus?

Find out in this foray into the translation of ancient history into popular entertainment!

Spartacus 1960

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Episode-18-Spartacus-1960-2018-Update.mp3 Original studio production still of Stanley Kubrick directing Kirk Douglas in film Spartacus (1960). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Unfortunately there are very few images available in the public domain of the film making the photo above the best we can offer you!

Dec 05 2013

36mins

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Rank #6: Episode 81 – Livia Drusilla

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Would any Ancient Roman podcast hosted by two women be complete without a very special episode on one of the most famous women in the City’s history, Livia Drusilla? Obviously not and here we are 🙂

We’re taking a detour from our usual primary source focus to start with the depiction of Livia in the seminal I, Claudius BBC series (1976). As we get further into the topic we move backwards through the material. Finally we’ll hit at the ancient sources.

I, Claudius: Livia Just Another an Evil Woman?

Doctors R and G jump in with the depiction of Livia by Siân Phillips. Her performance really sets the tone for budding historians growing up in the later twentieth century (Who us? *Never*). But the script for I, Claudius didn’t come from nowhere. This sends us on the trail of Robert Graves’ novels I, Claudius (1934) and Claudius the God (1935). Where did Graves get the inspiration for these novels? We’ve got your back.

The connection to Claudius is apparent in the title of the series and this colours the representation of Livia. Find out about the challenges Claudius faced with his family and how this sets the tone the for the ‘evil woman’ trope.

The Ancient Material: How does Livia stack up?

Well, it really depends on the source you read. Dr R notes the problematic account of Dio Cassius, where Livia does not fare so well. Dr G takes a turn through Tacitus’ Annals (and, yes, Dr R is right about Agrippa!). While Livia is up for criticism, she also seems to garner some back-handed praise from Tacitus …

We dig into the prosopography of Livia, her family connections and her important first marriage in which she bears her two children. Livia’s liaison with Octavian begins controversially at a dinner party when Livia is six months pregnant with her second child. Suetonius (hilariously) claims to have access to some of the personal correspondence between Mark Antony and Octavian from this period. Antony lambastes Octavian for his moral scruples in this moment. But what can we learn about Livia amidst this kind of source material that tend towards political invective?

Reading Livia Between the Gaps

We peer between the pieces of evidence to see what else can emerge. The longevity of the marriage between Octavian (aka Augustus) and Livia speaks to the connection they shared. Livia’s public role in Augustus’ moral reform program and her legacy speaks to her significant position and her influence, which while not measured in magistracies leaves its mark in the developing principate.

Ultimately we’re left with a complex woman living in the public gaze in complex times. The enduring Livia continues to fascinate us even today.

Find out all the details here: Livia Drusilla

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Episode-81-Livia-Drusilla.mp3

Empress Livia Drusilla, AD 14-19, from Paestum, National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and Carole Raddato

Apr 19 2018

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Rank #7: Episode 24 – The Year of the Four Emperors – Part the First

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The Partial Historians are back with a shiny new episode! When the Julio-Claudian dynasty falls, what happens next? Prepare yourself for chaos, as the infamous Year of the Four Emperors is here and we turn our gaze on two of the early contenders for the rule of Rome: Galba and Otho.

69 CE was a turbulent whirlwind of politics, battles, and uncertainty. The first man to stake a claim to rule is Servius Sulpicius Galba (Caesar Augustus) and he is quickly followed by Marcus Salvius Otho (Caesar Augustus).

Let the doctors guide you through to the calm waters on the other side.

Herein are the short reigns of Galba and Otho:

The Year of the Four Emperors – Part the First

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Episode-24-The-Year-of-the-Four-Emperors-Part-the-First-2018-Update.mp3 Bust of Roman emperor Galba. Antiques Museum in the Royal Palace, Stockholm. Courtesy of Wolfgang Sauber / Wikimedia Commons

Gold coin depiction Marcius Salvius Otho. Courtesy of Ángel M. Felicísimo / Wikimedia Commons

Mar 30 2014

30mins

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Rank #8: *Special Episode* What Does Your Toga Say About You?

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Dr Amy Place from the University of Leicester sits down with Dr Rad to discuss the humble Roman toga, fashion and social identity, and everyday life in late imperial Roman North Africa!

On a recent tour to Australia, Place presented a paper for the SPQR Roman History Forum at Macquarie University on the representation of fashions in Late Roman North Africa. The Partial Historians we lucky enough to grab the chance to chat.

*Special Episode* – What Does Your Toga Say About You?

Late Roman North Africa is a time period and an area that is understudied, but just as fascinating as Italy. Place is particularly interested in how clothing is represented and how it was used to express social identity.

Dominus Julius Mosaic from Carthage, Bardo Museum. Copyright credit: Sean Leatherbury/Manar al-Athar

When are we talking?

Dr Place’s research focuses on 200-550 CE. The late Roman empire is full of intrigue and was a time of great change. While there was some stability under the emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193-211 CE, with his death and the succession of his son Caracalla, a century of turmoil began.

Amidst the political chaos that characterised much of this century, the Christians rose in prominence. By the beginning of the fourth century, Rome would have its first Christian emperor, Constantine I. This emerging system would rapidly became established as the exclusive religion of the empire as Rome entered the fifth century.

Where are we talking?  

The focus of Place’s research has been the coastal regions of North Africa, examining an area that spans Namibia to Morocco. Parts of North Africa began to be acquired by Rome in the 2nd century BCE with the end of the Third Punic War. Roman influence continued to expand in this region throughout the late Republic and into the Empire.

What is the source material like for fashion and togas?

Place’s research is based in part on literary sources but is supplemented with mosaics. She highlights the difficulties that come with using textual evidence to understand something that was visual. The terms used in the sources are not always easily matched to a surviving representation and it is extremely rare for any actual samples of clothing to survive to the modern day.  

Matron at her Toilette Mosaic from Sidi Ghrib, Bardo. Copyright credit: Sean Leatherbury/Manar al-Athar.

How did people in North Africa use clothing to construct and express their identity?

Place’s research focuses on the impact that the growth of Christianity had on dress and identity. A particularly important author was Tertullian, a Christian writer who made some very vocal criticism of female dress in this region.

Although Roman writers had been critical of women dressing too provocatively before the advent of Christianity, for Tertullian there was an extra moral imperative for women to dress modestly and plainly. Austerity was a means of advertising one’s commitment to the new religion, most especially if one was wealthy enough to have a choice.

We see a stark contrast between words and deeds, however, when we consider the mosaics from the region. As Place notes, these don’t often show people have taken Tertullian’s advice – quite the opposite!

Tune in to hear all Place’s insights into the local trends for women and men and the place of the toga.

Tomb cover for Victoria, originally from Tabarka, now in the Bardo. Copyright credit: Sean Leatherbury/Manar al-Athar.

Interested in learning more about this fascinating topic? You can consider more of Dr Amy Place’s work at Academia.edu

Nov 07 2019

30mins

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Rank #9: Episode 52 – The Roman Dictator

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The early Roman republic hits its first major snag. As Rome finds itself friendless after continual aggression throughout Italy, the citizens begin to consider how they can guide the city with decisiveness and clarity. Enter, stage left: the dictator.

Join Doctors R and G as they explore the creation of the Roman dictator and some of the surprising details surrounding the formation of a position that seems to have quite a good deal in common with a rex.

Click the link below to download or stream straight away:

The Dictator

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/episode-52-the-dictator.mp3

Artwork: Rome and Latium, including Fidenae given that the poor city comes up a lot in these early narratives! With thanks to wikimedia.

Jul 27 2015

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Rank #10: Episode 61 – Hail, Caesar! (2016)

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The intrepid Doctors return with an all new, all fabulous episode! The episode in which Drs R and G explore the Coen Brothers take on the Golden Age of Hollywood with Hail, Caesar!

We may have been enticed by the prospect of George Clooney as a Roman general, but we stayed for the tribute to the big studio days of American cinema.

Take a sojourn with your ears and see how the film stacks up according to your resident expert on Rome on film – Dr Radford, with curious questions and comments from Dr Greenfield!

Hail, Caesar

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/episode-61-hail-caesar-2016.mp3

With kind thanks to: Rayukk via wikimedia commons

Jun 06 2016

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Rank #11: *Special Episode* – Barbarians with Dr Rhiannon Evans

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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 thought about the peoples they came into contact with.

What makes a
Barbarian?

Connotations have a very important place when thinking about barbarians. Our modern usage also influences how we think of the category. So the first order of business is a consideration of etymology and to consider who the Romans are applying the term to and why.

There are a range of factors to consider when turning to the Roman use of the term. Up for discussion:

  • who cops the designation of barbarian from the Roman perspective
  • what makes someone more and less barbarous
  • just what is happening on the other side of the Rhine
  • and some of the problems with our source materials – written versus archaeological

Julius Caesar’s
Barbarians

There’s nothing quite like expansion to bring a Roman into contact with barbarians. Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars detail his campaigns. Reading the source closely provide some clues as to:

  • the divisions between the peoples
  • the Roman criticism of the role of writing and speaking amongst non-Roman peoples
  • maybe what’s not happening (Roman victory)
  • and differences in attitude to land use

Implications of the
Past on the Present

The concept of barbarian may emerge from an ancient past, but it continues to have relevance today. The idea of who belongs and who is considered an outsider, and the concept of the Other, are part of an ongoing engagement with how people navigate their relationships with strangers.

The conversation weaves through the dangers of Caesar’s description of the Germani and touches upon Claudius’ relationship with the Gauls, both of which have modern echoes that Dr R and Evans explore.

Join us for all this and more!

I, Dr G, sadly lament my absence from this episode – but having done the write up for this episode, I can assure you it is good!

Henri Paul Motte 1886. Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar. Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons.

We love this version of the chief of the Arverni surrendering to Caesar for Motte’s decision to centre the composition on Vercingetorix. The spectre of Caesar remains, but he is a distant haze of red surrounded by soldiers and defences. Vercingetorix is poised and still holding his sword.

Aug 29 2019

57mins

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Rank #12: Episode 37 – Numa Pompilius

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Numa Pompilius is to laws as Romulus and Remus are to violence.

Following in the wake of the violent founding of Rome, a king is chosen for his steady character, disinterest in being a leader, and Sabine heritage.

Let the Doctors take you in the rule of Numa Pompilius, the second monarch recognised from the founding of the city, who secured the favour of the divine Egeria.

Click on the link to listen or download:

Numa Pompilius

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/episode-37-numa-pompilius.mp3

Ulpiano Checa, La ninfa Egeria dictando a Numa Pompilio las leyes de Roma. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Oct 20 2014

Play

Rank #13: Episode 21 – Spartacus 2013 Season 3

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Dear Listeners – welcome back for a brand new episode! We take our last turn about the room with the enigma, the charisma, that is Spartacus. The final season of the Starz series Spartacus: War of the Damned, follows the final confrontation between the slave rebels and the might of Rome.

A mixture of fact and fiction, tune in for a deconstruction of the action!

Spartacus 2013 – Season 3

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Episode-21-Spartacus-2013-Season-3-2018-Update.mp3 Promotional material for the Starz – Spartacus: War of the Damned © Starz Entertainment, LLC

Feb 13 2014

36mins

Play

Rank #14: Episode 41 – Servius Tullius

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Oh, Servius Tullius. A king whose destiny is foreshadowed! A king who rises from obscurity to greatness! The doctors embark upon an exploration of the sixth Roman king, the drama of his life and rule, and the expansion of Roman organisational systems that are attributed to him in some of our written sources.

Click on the link to listen or download:

Servius Tullius

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/episode-41-servius-tullius.mp3

Artwrok: Jean Bardin c. 1765 Tullia drives over the corpse of her Father (also, spoiler alert). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Dec 15 2014

Play

Rank #15: *Special Episode* – The Thread of Women’s Representation

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In this special
episode, we’re joined by Liz Smith, who has recently completed her
doctoral research of the representation of women’s dress in statuary
at Macquarie University. Together we’ll trace the threads of evidence
for women’s attire in the Roman world.

The Thread of Women’s Representation with Liz Smith

Liz’s research includes the fashion of women’s dress in ancient representations in order to investigate what we can learn about the representation of women. This means considering how representations of women in statuary were often mediated by a male perspective and asking what this might reveal about women’s lived experience.

The Importance of Material Evidence

A consideration of material evidence, especially when combined with inscriptions offers an alternative to the literary sources for thinking about women and daily life in the ancient world. Our evidence in this episode dates from the third century CE, which means we’re thinking about a Rome embroiled in empire and imperial rule.

In this episode
we’ll be considering the head coverings on statues in the round and
sepulchral depictions of women. We explore the implications of topics
such as:

  • drapery in statues and reliefs
  • the colour of statuary
  • the stola
  • the palla
  • dress as status

Epiktesis

Epiktesis outlives her family. We consider the monument she dedicates to her husband, her children, and herself. Liz takes us through the pose adopted by Epiktesis – the Large Herculaneum Woman Type – and its implications.

Grave stele dedicated by Epiktesis to her family, from Prilep, Macedonia. Skopje Archaeological Museum, inv. AMM 41. Photography © Skopje – Archaeological Museum of Macedonia. Photograph: Ortolf Harl 2017 November.

The husband remains
unnamed in this relief as do the children. This in itself is somewhat
unusual but this evidence goes to the next level when we consider
that the children are represented as divinities!

With Epiktesis
herself depicted in a very modest, unrevealing style and her daughter
assuming the quite revealing Bathing Aphrodite Type, this
representation has a lot to offer in terms of thinking about the
meaning conveyed by poses and attire.

Liz explains how
size plays a role in the representation of family in this monument
and we consider what this might have suggested to an ancient viewer.
We also consider the unique aspects of this piece in terms of its
arrangement of the figures and their poses.

Aurelia Eutychia “I
am Prosperous” c. 250s CE

We consider the
sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia to herself and her husband Marcus
Aurelius Marino which can still be seen today in Ferrara. Liz takes
us through the significance of the statuesque features of this
artefact.

Social status is a
particular feature at play in all these representations and the
capacity of Aurelia to have for a sarcophagus where the figures
display a range of statuesque features tells us a lot about how she
wanted to be understood by her community.

Sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia Eutychia to herself and her husband Marcus Aurelius Marino. Originally in Voghiera, then moved to Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Italy. Front panel. Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Italy. No inventory number. DAIR Inst. Neg. Rom. 64.2022

Sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia Eutychia to herself and her husband Marcus Aurelius Marino. Side panel.

Liz explores the
implications of Aurelia’s personal representation of herself. We
discuss the potential implications of being veiled versus not being
veiled.

Here’s the inscription found on the sarcophagus:

Aurelia Eutychia built this sarcophagus while alive for herself and her husband Marcus Aurelius Marino a veteran of Syrian lineage at the behest of the patron and her most dutiful husband with whom she lived for forty-three years by order of the patron out of his own funds. If someone after the death of the both opens it they will deposit a thousand sesterces to the tax authorities.

Translation ~ Liz Smith

Join us for a lively
exploration of women’s representation through statuary and
inscription!

Addendum: In exciting news, in the time between our chat with Liz and the release of this episode, we can confirm that Liz has passed her doctoral examination and joins us as a full academic. Congratulations Dr Liz Smith!

Edit: Since conducting this interview, further analysis of the sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia has revealed the insight that Aurelia would have been Marcus Aurelius Marino’s enslaved property, before he freed and married her. As his freedwoman, Aurelia would have been bound by custom and law to respect Marcus and give him services (operae), even after her manumission. Accordingly, it is all the more interesting that Aurelia represented herself as an equal partner to her husband through the statuesque elements we see on the front and lateral sides.

For further reading:

Peter Stewart 2003. Statues in Roman Society

Oct 04 2019

44mins

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Rank #16: Episode 80 – The Year 478 BCE

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Rome and Veii

Rome and Veii are central to the politics and military activity of c. 478 BCE.

Rome and the Fabians have developed a whole new military tactic by building a fortress near Veii. This is momentous! It allows Rome to station soldiers outside the City in preparation for battle. This force though is made up largely of Fabians and their supporters which will have implications.

Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus continue to offer competing narratives for this very early period. Both are quite concerned with what is happening in the north including both the immediate threat, the people of Veii and their even further northern allies, the Tyrrhenians. The Romans now realise there are more hostile people behind Veii than previously suspected.

The Distribution of Roman Forces

The traditional levy of troops continues this year but without the usual report of Plebeian discontent. Lucius Aemilius Mamercus (cos II) takes his troops north to join the Fabians while his co-consul Gaius Servilius Structus Ahala heads south to deal with the Volscii. An additional army is sent out against the Aequians in the north east led by one Servius Furius. The extent of the armies raised and the fact they they are sent out in all directions suggests that Rome sees itself as at the centre of threat in the region.

The major conflict (no surprise here!) is between Rome and Veii. For some reason Veii has set up a camp for their troops outside their city, which Aemilius attacks continuously…

When Rome finally breaks through to take the camp they are in for some surprises!

Rome’s Place in the Region

The Romans’ challenges in this year are bound up in the divisions of the forces. The Fabians in their Cremera fortress are acting as a single gens force largely beyond senatorial control.

The Roman forces sent north in support are led by Mamercus who previously held the consulship with Caeso Fabius in 484 BCE, so there is a block of pro-Fabian forces near Veii.

This feeds into the complexities of the situation when Veii sues for peace. Without telling you how it ends, let’s just say that things start to get weird when Aemilius makes a very favourable deal with Veii…

Hear all the details: The Year 478 BCE

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/Episode-80-The-Year-478-BCE.mp3 Etruscan male torso from Veii, probably Hercules, c 550 BCE / Image courtesy of Rjdeadly / Wikimedia Commons

Mar 20 2018

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Rank #17: Episode 92 - The Pestilence of 463 BCE

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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 style raiding to seeking out the Romans in pitched battle. To say that Rome has been vexed by this is an understatement. Livy has offered some portents for the times ahead which, in a narrative history of Rome, can’t be good!

Our
Main Players

The
Consuls for c. 463 BCE:

  • Lucius
    Aebutius Helva
  • Publius
    Servilius Priscus

HARK,
PLAGUE!

Livy kinds informs us of some dreadful details about a plague that is sweeping through the countryside. We take you through the grisly details from both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus.

What
initially seems confined beyond the city though soon moves within and
this means problems for urban citizens, visitors, and the body
politic (both figuratively and literally).

AN
OPPORTUNITY?

While Romans struggle just to stay alive, the Aequians and the Volscians consolidate their growing friendship of mutual convenience into a straight up alliance. This places Rome in a difficult spot between needing to keep her own allies – the Latins and the Hernicans – appeased as well as the knowledge that their previous irritations have formally combined forces.

COME
FOR THE PLAGUE, STAY FOR THE…

…Other
excitement afoot!

Things
to look forward to in this episode. We’ll
consider:

  • The
    first acts
    of the new Aequian-Volscian alliance
  • The
    Roman response to their allies’ call for support
  • The
    defence systems of the City
  • The
    power of divine intervention
  • Some
    reasons why Rome doesn’t fall in this moment
  • And
    questions and discussion about the role of the interreges

Episode 92 – The Pestilence of 463 BCE The angel of death striking a door during the plague of Rome.
Engraving by Levasseur after J. Delaunay
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons and Wellcome Images

Mar 12 2019

31mins

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Rank #18: Episode 65 – Coriolanus: Trial Imminent!

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Doctors G and R return with a brand new episode from the realms of the ancient past! As the suspense develops in Coriolanus’ career, how are the relationships between the patricians and plebeians working out? With the new force of the tribune of the plebs to reckon with, Coriolanus is not a happy patrician.

Let’s take a look at the different narrative on offer from the primary sources – Livy, Plutarch, and Dionysius of Halicarnassus:

Coriolanus, Trial Imminent

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/episode-65-coriolanus-trial-imminent.mp3

Artwork: In an attempt to save depictions of Coriolanus and his relations for where they fit in the historical narrative, we offer a snippet from the First Folio of Shakespeare here (did anyone just say reception studies?)

Nov 21 2016

Play

Rank #19: Episode 8 – The Life of Tiberius … Part I

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We are back, dear listeners, with a brand new episode! For your aural pleasure, we explore the life of Tiberius.

What was his early life like? What milestones mark his political career? And how does he journey to become the princeps of Rome?

His connection to the history of Rome’s transition from republic to principate is a significant one. As the son of Livia and Ti. Claudius Nero, he shares no blood connection with Augustus and his position in terms of the emerging dynastic vision of Augustus is not always clear.

In this episode, we trace Tiberius’ life from his birth in 42 BCE to the moment of his transition from citizen of Rome to the leading man of the state in 14 CE.

Tiberius’ Life

https://partialhistorians.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/Episode-8-Tiberius-Life-2018-Update.mp3 Roman emperor Tiberius and his mother Livia, 14-19 CE, from Paestum, National Archaeological Museum of Spain, Madrid. Image courtesy of Carole Raddato / Wikimedia Commons

Jul 14 2013

24mins

Play

Rank #20: *Special Episode* Totalus Rankium and The Partial Historians on Augustus

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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 sparring match of words that goes in all directions. We
explore some of the highlights and low-lights of Augustus’ life and
career. You can hear all the fruits of our conversation as Dr G tries
valiantly to salvage something from the criticism coming from all
directions!

Totalus Rankium join The Partial Historians for Augustus!

The controversial politics of Augustus is central to the conversation and we’ll even take a spin on judging Augustus’ career against the categories developed by Totalus Rankium. We really enjoyed this collaboration and stay tuned because we’ll be delving into Tiberius next 🙂

Augustus, Octavius, Thurinus?

Augustus is always a
bit of a tricky figure, so let’s back up the truck for just a moment,
here are some of the key details of Augustus’ life through his
different names.

The first problem is
always Roman naming conventions and even these get a run for their
money when we come to Augustus. Here’s a brief overview of his names
in a timeline:

C. Octavius
(Thurinus)

63 BCE, 23rd of
September

  • The son of Atia and C. Octavius. As is customary, they name their son after his father: C. Octavius. Suetonius Aug. 7 reports he is also known as Thurinus because of an ancestral connection with the Thurii region.

Caesar, son of
Caesar

44 BCE, post the
Ides of March

  • His adoption by Gaius Julius Caesar leads to the assumption of a new name. According to Appian BC 3.11, he begins to refer to himself as Caesar, son of Caesar – this is a different formulation than usual for adopted children. While Romans may have been expecting him to become known as C. Julius Caesar Octavianus, with a nod to his birth family, he instead takes a radical approach of renaming himself as though he were Caesar’s legitimate natal son rather than simply his grand-nephew adopted by will.
  • Ancient historians tend to refer to him as Octavian for the period between 44-27 BCE. Octavian is a shortened version of Octavianus and it is a useful distinction to prevent confusion regarding which C. Julius Caesar is under discussion.

Gaius Julius Caesar
Divi Filius

42 BCE onwards

  • Construction begins on the temple to the deified Julius Caesar. This allows our main man to add something a little bit fancy to his name: he’s not just C. Julius Caesar son of Caesar, he is now C. Julius Caesar son of the God (C. Julius Caesar). It’s a bold political move!

Imperator Caesar
Divi Filius Augustus

27 BCE, 16th of January

  • In the wake of the defeat of Antony and Cleopatra in 30 BCE, and the ostensible restoration of the republic, he accepts the honorific ‘Augustus’, proposed to the senate by Munatius Plancus. He’d been using the military title imperator for some time, but his transformation from humble Octavius to Augustus is something of a zenith. He will be known as Augustus for the rest of his life.
Giovannu Battista Tiepolo 1743. Maecenas Presenting the Liberal Arts to Emperor Augustus

Feb 20 2019

1hr 16mins

Play

Episode 105 – The Roman Achilles

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There’s nothing quite like learning that there’s a Roman Achilles! In this episode we get to meet the man behind the legend.

Episode 105 – The Roman Achilles

Before we jump in, let’s find out where things stand. It’s 455 BCE and our narrative sources have put forward the case that the opening up of the Aventine was an important step under the new collective of ten tribunes.

But all is not well on the homefront of Rome. Things get off to a bad start when the consuls try to forcibly raise the levy. The tribunes step up to the plate in defence of the plebeians and we delve into what privileges and powers go along with the position.

What we begin to see is the some of the complex workings of contested public space and the challenges of fighting for your rights with only a small crowd of citizens. As the crowd of disaffected plebeians swells in significance, the new consuls are faced with a dilemma – met with the crowd or remain in the safety of the senate…

How does the tribunicianship operate?

This seems to be a big looming question in our sources. There’s a range of possible activities that an expanded collective can work towards. The capacity to be decisive, to operate on multiple fronts for common goals, to get passionate about taking strong action. It’s intriguing to see how this potential is redirected under the influence of the patricians.

Events to anticipate:

  • The tribunes enter a meeting of the senate
  • A big push for the law about the laws
  • A consular venture to Tusculum to save them from the Aequians
  • A controversial decision about what to do with some of the spoils of war
  • Some clear deviation between the narrative focus of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus
  • A speech from the ‘Roman Achilles’ including mention of the corona aurea

Our Players

The Consuls

  • Titus Romilius T. f. T. n. Rocus Vaticanus (Pat)
  • Gaius Veturius P. f. – n. Cicurinus (Pat)

Tribunes of the Plebs

  • L. Icilius
  • L. Alienus
  • + 8 others!

Notable Plebeians

  • Lucius Siccius Dentatus “born with teeth”

Our Sources

Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Rom. Ant. 10.33-39.
Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.31

Looking to brush up of the historical events Dentatus refers to in his speech? You can check out the happenings of 486 BCE here and catch the action of 473 BCE here.

Joseph-Désiré Court 1820 Achilles Introduced to Nestor. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sound Credits

Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta)
Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi

Jul 16 2020

55mins

Play

Special Episode – Agrippina the Younger with Dr Emma Southon

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As far as incredible women in history go, it’s hard to top Agrippina the Younger. Political, ambitious, and a savvy operator are all ways we might interpret the evidence that remains for her life. But its fair to say that our ancient sources are a little less than kind.

Special Episode – Agrippina the Younger with Dr Emma Southon

Quite the Pedigree…

As the Julio-Claudian family developed into a fully formed imperial dynasty, Agrippina the Younger emerged as an important figure in the rule of three emperors: her brother Caligula, her uncle (and later husband) Claudius, and her son Nero.

She could trace her connections back to Augustus through her mother’s line. She was also the daughter of the wildly popular Germanicus, who died too soon and under circumstances palled with suspicion. Her family connections through her father were Claudian and ultimately this meant she embodied the Julio-Claudians.

After the demise of her siblings, we can think of Agrippina as the distilled essence of the family.

But having an illustrious ancestry is not necessarily indicative of how one’s life will turn out, and in this special episode, we have the great pleasure of sitting down with Dr Emma Southon, who has written an accessible academic history of Agrippina the Younger to delve further into the life of this amazing woman.

A recent reconstruction of Agrippina the Younger as potentially the lead singer of an 80s band…
Source: Royalty_Now on pinterest

What does it take to write a historical biography?

Dr Emma Southon’s book Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore was published by Unbound in 2018. This biography of Agrippina the Younger combines historical detail, engagement with the ancient sources and a colloquial tone to make for a roaring read.

We consider the path to publication for this biography and how academics are finding ways to bring detailed critical history to a broader readership.

Looking to delve further in the life and times of Agrippina?

Here’s some sources to get you started:

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources

One of the most famous depictions of Agrippina on coinage is her representation with her sisters on the reverse of one of Gaius ‘Caligula’ Augustus’ issues. c. 37-41 CE.
The depiction of living women on coinage was rare and Agrippina’s appearance here is an exceptional moment in Julio-Claudian iconography.

Before things went wrong…
Nero and his mother, Agrippina the Younger depicted together on the obverse side. c. 54 CE. Source: Wikimedia Commons and Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.

Jun 12 2020

1hr 3mins

Play

Episode 104 – Aventine, Aventine

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We return to the City of Rome in 456 BCE and follow the ongoing domestic struggles that Rome faces in defining herself in terms of transparency at law.

Episode 104 – Aventine, Aventine

With a new crop of tribunes come some important consequences. While in previous years the tribunes have focused on the goal of ensuring that there is a clear and public way for any Roman citizen to access the laws in order to understand them, with new tribunes comes a shift in thinking.

A Return to Redistribution of Public Land

After a long hiatus, the issue of public land returns to the tribunician agenda. It’s safe to say that things are about to get messy in Rome.

If there’s one thing the patricians never seem to want to budge on, it’s negotiating the fair use of public land.

Ten Tribunes Means Twice the Representation!

Not only are there new tribunes but there are now plenty more of them representing the plebeians. We’ll get a taste of what can happen with a larger group of tribunes. That’s a lot of bodies to protect the interests of citizens and we’ll see how that magisterial privilege can be deployed.

The Lex Icilia de Aventino Publicando

We delve into the nitty gritty of the law passed in this year which is unusual for a number of reasons.

The Players

Consuls

  • Marcus Valerius M’. f. Volusi n. Maxumus Lactuca (pat)
  • Spurius Verginius A. f. A. n. Tricostus Caeliomontanus (pat)

Tribunes

  • Lucius Icilius
  • Lucius Alienus

Sources

Dr Rad read Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.31
Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.31-32

J. M. W. Turner c.1820s-1836. Rome, from Mount Aventine.
Finding a painting that could do justice to the early Republican Aventine was tough, so we opted for this gorgeous, though much later view back onto nineteenth century Rome instead.

Sound Credits

  • Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta), Pond5, and Lewi Pilgrim
  • Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi

May 14 2020

39mins

Play

Episode 103 – Ten Terrific Tribunes

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It’s c. 457 BCE in Rome and in this episode we explore the state of affairs in the wake of Cincinnatus’ dictatorship.

Rome’s affairs with her neighbours are not off to a good start. As the City lifts her gaze outward after recent troubles, nearby peoples have taken matters into their own hands. The Sabines and the Aequians are both making bold moves stretching Rome’s attention both to the north and the south.

Episode 103 – Ten Terrific Tribunes

The Law About the Laws

As Rome faces threats from a range of peoples, the usual patrician policy of fielding a citizen army through the levy comes about. We’re in pretty familiar territory here as the levy has been a sore point for years according to our narrative tradition and we can reliably expect the tribunes of the people to request greater transparency in relation to the laws. The desire for a law code that is public and accessible is increasing.

As tensions rise, the differing political aims of the Senate, the consuls, and the tribunes clash.

Things to Look Forward to

  • Roman masculinity – how to define it and what it means from the perspective of a Greek writer
  • Cincinnatus makes a fantastically interesting speech!
  • Horatius tries to rally the people together for war while preserving the patrician position of privilege
  • A discussion of some of the intersections and conflicts that arise from gender and class narratives
  • A rhetorical exploration of age versus youth
  • A proposal to increase the number of plebeian tribunes to ten!
  • The senatorial back-and-forth regarding the pros and cons of increasing the number of the plebeian tribunes
  • Hints of when we recorded this piece – during the long Australian bushfire season, but prior to concerns about COVID-19

Who’s Who

Consuls

  • Quintus Minucius P.f. M. n. Esquilinus (pat.)
  • Marcus (Gaius?) Horatius M. f. M. n. Pulvillus (pat.) COS II

Tribunes

  • Aulus Verginius
  • Volscius Fictor (?)
  • Two or three other tribunes unnamed in our sources

Sources

  • Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.26-30
  • Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.29-30

Jean Lemaire c. 1645-55 Roman Senators and Legates

Sound Credits

  • Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta), and John Stracke via Sound Bible
  • Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi

Apr 10 2020

43mins

Play

Special Episode – An Interview with Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge

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We had the very great pleasure to sit down with Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge to discuss his latest publication The Failure of Augustus: Essays on the Interpretation of a Paradox (2019).

Special Episode – An Interview with Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge

Judge has a long-reaching career, accepting his first junior lectureship in the 1950s and going on accept the inaugural History Chair at Macquarie University in Sydney. Dr G and Dr Rad met as undergraduate students at Macquarie so it is our extraordinary pleasure to sit down with Judge and have the chance to chat.

Dr G (left) holding Cooley’s Res Gestae, Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge (centre), and Dr Rad (right) holding Judge’s The Failure of Augustus

In this far reaching
conversation we learn about Judge’s evolving thoughts on Augustus
over the course of his academic career, some of the salient
connections between Augustus and Tiberius that emerge from
considering Augustus’ aims, the content of the Res Gestae
Divi Augusti
, and consideration
of Augustus in terms of failure.

Things to look forward to:

  • A
    consideration of the importance of understanding time as a means of
    approaching historical interpretation
  • The
    challenges that Tiberius faces in the wake of Augustus’ death
  • The
    importance of the Res Gestae as a lens to Augustus’ life and
    career
  • Key materials
    for approaching the subject of Augustus’ failure.

The cursus honorem of Augustus, as visualised by Edwin Judge. Used with permission of the author. This table appears on the cover of The Failure of Augustus and page 8 of the collection.

Reading
recommendations

Cooley, Alison E. 2009. Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Text, Translation and Commentary

Judge, E. A. 2019. The Failure of Augustus: Essays on the Interpretation of a Paradox

Lintott, Andrew W. 1999. Violence in Republican Rome

Ridley, Ronald T. 2003. The emperor’s retrospect: Augustus’ Res gestae in epigraphy, historiography and commentary

Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi

Mar 12 2020

1hr 6mins

Play

Episode 102 – Cincinnatus, Dictator

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It’s c. 458 BCE and
Rome’s troubles culminate in the appointment of a dictator. In this
episode we explore the context which leads to the appointment of this
emergency position and trace Rome’s progress as she attempts to face
enemies on multiple fronts.

Episode 102 – Cincinnatus, Dictator

Not only are Roman forces squaring off against the Sabines and the Aequians, but there are ongoing issues on the home front. According to the narrative histories of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, the tribunes of the plebs continue to lobby for transparency regarding the laws. The struggle to pin down a public law code seems elusive. In this year it is also overshadowed by the troubles that Minucius’ consular forces face in the south-east.

The Aequians are currently led by Cloelius Gracchus and the Roman forces led by the consul Minucius have been trapped in a valley, while the other consul Nautius is campaigning against the Sabines.

The Dictator

Our sources are at pains to let us know that Cincinnatus was both unprepared for his appointment as dictator and not particularly pleased to have the role foist upon him. This is part of a larger trope established in Latin literature of the good leader whose fitness for the role is encapsulated by his lack of ambition for it.

In this way, both Livy and Dionysius offer us a chance to see Cincinnatus—and indeed this era of patrician history—as one populated with brave, proud characters who understood the hierarchy and were staunchly traditional in their outlook.

What does a dictator
do?

As the most significant magistrate in Roman society, the dictator has a superior legal capacity to make commands and can hold the position for up to six months. Despite his generally dissatisfaction with the situation, Cincinnatus jumps straight in. We’ll be looking at how he goes about:

  • Raising an
    army
  • Organising
    troops
  • And getting
    on the march

We explore what Cincinnatus gets up to in the role and how he contributes to supporting Minucius against the Aequians at Mount Algidus. Tune in to hear all about:

  • The military tactics Cincinnatus deploys
  • How Cincinnatus deals with requests for peace
  • Some rather unusual divisions of booty
  • Just what happens to the Aequian city of Corbio
  • A triumph!
  • The incredible virtus of Cincinnatus!

Alexander Cabanel 1843. Cincinnatus receives the ambassadors of Rome

Our players

458 BCE

Dictator

  • L. Quinctius
    L. f. L. n. Cincinnatus

Master of the Horse

  • L. Tarquitius
    L. f. Flaccus

Consuls

  • C. Nautius
    Sp. f. Sp. n. Rutilus – cos II
  • L. Minucius
    P. f. M. n Esquilinus Augurinus

Prefect of the City

  • Q. Fabius
    Vibulanus

Tribunes

  • Aulus
    Verginius
  • Marcus
    Volscius Fictor (it’s not certain whether Volscius holds the
    tribunianship in 459 BCE)

Aequian Leader

  • Cloelius
    Gracchus

Dictator’s wife

  • Racilia

‘Freedom of the
City’

  • L.
    Mamilius the
    Tusculan

Sources

Dr Rad explores Livy 3.26-29

Dr G is considering Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.23-25

Sound Credits

Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta) and Free SFX
Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi

Feb 20 2020

51mins

Play

A Tribute to Kirk Douglas

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Join Dr Rad as she reminiscences about one of her film favourites and pays tribute to the man that has unwittingly dominated her life for over a decade.

Special Episode – A Tribute to Kirk Douglas

2020 has been on my radar for a while, listeners, as it marks sixty years since the iconic movie Spartacus was released. However, just a few days before the Oscars, the star of this film has passed away at the age of 103. Given the helicopter crash, the strokes, it is amazing that he lived this long, but I still feel very melancholy that a film star of his stature is no more.

The Chin Dimple that COULD launch a thousand ships. Kirk Douglas’ magnificent face-acting during the famous ‘I’m Spartacus’ scene. Image courtesy of https://hollywoodrevue.wordpress.com/2016/12/11/simpson-sunday-cartoon-without-pity/

I have a strong affinity for Issur Danielovitch (Kirk Douglas) and not just because I grew up watching his movies (which I did). Loyal listeners will be aware that I ended up studying the production of Spartacus (1960), the historical film based on the famous slave revolt against Rome. As the titular hero, but more importantly as the producer of this film, Douglas played a key role in shaping the representation of the rebellious gladiator.

Indeed, it was quite an accomplishment that this movie made it to the screen at all, as film star/producer Yul Brynner was also championing a Spartacus project at the same time. On top of this rivalry, Douglas’ project was plagued with personality clashes and squabbles about the overall vision for the film. This led to constant changes to the script, and Douglas did little to contain this, earning the nickname ‘General Mixmaster’ on set.

Douglas in costume on set talking to his young, and not particularly well-known, director Stanley Kubrick. The men had worked together previously on Paths of Glory, but the tensions over Spartacus would cause a rift to open between them. Image courtesy of https://www.rapportoconfidenziale.org/?p=36320

However, it is undeniable that Douglas’ drive is one of the most important factors that led to the completion and success of this film in 1960.

The movie is largely remembered these days for the iconic ‘I’m Spartacus’ scene and its’ status as the film that finally broke the blacklist (in America at least). The real story about the breaking of the blacklist is a little more complicated, which you can read about here.

During this dark time in America, screenwriters were some of the only professionals in this environment who could potentially evade the restrictions placed on their employment. One such blacklistee, Dalton Trumbo, had been hired by Bryna (Douglas’ production company). Trumbo had been working tirelessly to see his name restored to the credits by the time he started writing the Spartacus script. Douglas probably did not intend to grant this desire during the early days, but he had changed his mind by the time of the premiere.

Kirk Douglas spent hours trying to get his scene on the cross just right. Whilst he may have been one of the causes of confusion on set, no one could question his dedication to Spartacus. Image courtesy of https://www.nieuwsblad.be/cnt/dmf20161208_02615140

There were a variety of external pressures that went into this decision (cough cough Otto Preminger), and we shouldn’t imagine that after Spartacus, the blacklist vanished. Really, this was a sign that change was ahead. The blacklist lingered painfully into the 1960s, but the rebel gladiator had once again struck a blow for freedom.

Although there’s a lot more to the end of the blacklist than this one film, Douglas does indeed deserve a large share of the credit for making what was a bold decision for the time, and one that could have had unfortunate consequences for himself, Bryna Productions or Universal-International.

Farewell, Kirk Douglas, you charismatic egomaniac. Like Spartacus, you will not be soon forgotten.

If you enjoy learning about the 1950s in Hollywood, check out our previous episode on Spartacus and the blacklist series of You Must Remember This.

Feb 06 2020

21mins

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Episode 101 – Talk to the Tree

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It can be quite insulting to be told to ‘talk to the hand’ and, for the Romans, it would seem that being told to ‘talk to the tree’ is just as problematic. In this episode, we explore the tail end of 459 BCE and enter 458 BCE. It’s fair to say that some mud is being flung between Rome and her neighbours…

Episode 101 – Talk to the Tree

The Trouble with
Murder…

Livy and Dr Rad have some excellent details to offer about the ongoing and troubling ambiguity surrounding the plebeian push for the ‘the law about the laws’. This ongoing issues between patrician interests and the tribunes fighting for greater transparency is soon waylaid, however, by concerns pertaining to the recent accusation of murder! Dr Rad delves into the murky narrative and Livy’s account of the affair.

New Year, Same
Tribunes

Intrigues and law cases regarding potentially spurious accusations of murder give way to new elections and we find ourselves in c. 458 BCE. Both Verginius and Volscius make it back it into the tribuneship!

Listen out for Dr G forgetting Volscius (awkward for everyone) and temporarily being unable to read a map (to clarify, the Sabines and the Aequians are both East of Rome, North and South respectively).

Trouble in the South

It isn’t long before Rome learns of Aequian incursions into Tusculum, which is a huge surprise given the peace treaty concluded between Rome and the Aequians just the year before. Listen in to find out how:

  • Rome reacts to threats from the south
  • the fetiales get involved
  • and oak trees take on an important cameo role

While Dionysius of
Halicarnassus gets swept up in the military narrative, Livy seeks to
balance the challenges the Rome faces externally and internally…

Our Players

459 BCE

Consuls

  • Q. Fabius M.
    f. K. Vibulanus
  • L. Cornelius
    Ser. f. P. n. Maluginensis Uritinus

Prefect of the City

  • Lucius
    Lucretius (Tricipitinus)

Tribunes

  • Aulus Verginius
  • Marcus Volscius Fictor (maybe a tribune)

Quaestors

  • Aulus
    Cornelius
  • Quintus
    Servilius (Structus Priscus?)

Patrician

  • Kaeso
    Quinctius

458 BCE

Consuls

  • C. Nautius
    Sp. f. Sp. n. Rutilus – cos II
  • L. Minucius
    P. f. M. n Esquilinus Augurinus

Prefect of the City

  • Q. Fabius
    Vibulanus

Tribunes

  • Aulus Verginius
  • Marcus Volscius Fictor

Quaestor

  • M. Valerius
    M’. f. Volusi Maximus
  • T. Quintius
    Capitolinus Barbatus

Roman Embassy

  • Q. Fabius
    Vibulanus (also Prefect of the City)
  • P. Volumnius
    Amintinus Gallus
  • A. Postumius
    Albus Regillensis

Aequian Leader

  • Cloelius
    Gracchus

Claude Lorrain 1682 Ascanius Shooting the Stag of Sylvia, chosen for its artful arrangement of trees, which are quite pertinent to this episode. The story of Ascanius we’ll save for another time.

Additional sounds in this episode: BBC and WolframTones

Jan 16 2020

49mins

Play

Episode 100 – The Consulship

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We’ve reached a huge
milestone! One hundred episodes is quite something and we’re super
chuffed to have made it this far. To celebrate we’ve put together a
very special episode for you on the consulship.

Episode 100 – The Consulship

While our narrative history of Rome is still very much in the early republic, the consul is a position that many aficionados of ancient Rome are familiar with. But how much do we know about the consul especially in the early years of the republic? We’re here to sift through the evidence!

After the Kings

After the expulsion of the Tarquins, Rome is left facing a crisis of governance. How best to restructure the state in the wake of the collapse of monarchy?

The Romans innovative solution was to divide the powers of the rex between two men, thereby saving the populace from the tyranny of a sole ruler. But to claim that the Romans came to this decision cleanly, and with a clarity of what this would really look like, is to miss the fascinating complexities of the way the role developed over time.

What
Makes a Consul?

In this special episode we’ll trace the some of the key features of the consulship and explore what the position entailed in the early republic, the late republic, and the early empire. There’s plenty to enjoy here including:

  • a return to the relationship between magistracies and assemblies;
  • the role of consuls in war;
  • and the consuls’ relationship with the gods.

Alexandre Jacovleff ‘Ancient Roman Senators’ illustration for The General History Edited by Satyricon (1911)

Sources

Interested in learning more about the consulship? These are the major sources we consulted in preparation for this episode and we definitely recommend them for getting a handle on the subject!

Beck, H., Duplá, A., Jehne, M., & Pino Polo, F. 2011. ‘The republic and its highest office: some introductory remarks on the Roman consulate’ in Beck, H., Duplá, A., Jehne, M., Pina Polo, F. (eds) Consuls and Res Publica: Holding High Office in the Roman Republic (Cambridge University Press), 1-15.

‘Consul’ in Pauly’s Realencyclopadie der classischen Altumsumswissenschaft Band IV, 1, col. 1112-1138 (1900).

Eck, W. 2019. ‘Suffect consul‘ in Cancik, H., Schneider, H., Salazar, C. F. (eds) Brill’s New Pauly (Last accessed 29/9/2019)

Drogula, F. K. 2015. Commanders and Command in the Roman Republic and Early Empire (University of North Carolina Press)

Gizewski, C. 2019. ‘Consul(es)’ in Cancik, H., Schneider, H., Salazar, C. F. (eds) Brill’s New Pauly (Last accessed 29/9/2019)

Hölkeskamp, K. 2011. ‘The Roman republic as theatre of power: the consuls as leading actors’ in Beck, H., Duplá, A., Jehne, M., Pina Polo, F. (eds) Consuls and Res Publica: Holding High Office in the Roman Republic (Cambridge University Press), 161-181.

Hurlet, F. 2011. ‘Consulship and consuls under Augustus’ in Beck, H., Duplá, A., Jehne, M., Pina Polo, F. (eds) Consuls and Res Publica: Holding High Office in the Roman Republic (Cambridge University Press), 319-35.

Malik, S.; Davenport, C., ‘Mythbusting Ancient Rome – Caligula’s Horse’ (4/5/2017), The Conversation (Last accessed on 5/10/2019)

Scullard, H. H. 1982. From the Gracchi to Nero (Routledge, London)

Smith, C. 2011. ‘The magistrates of the early Republic’, in Beck, H., Duplá, A., Jehne, M., Pina Polo, F. (eds) Consuls and Res Publica: Holding High Office in the Roman Republic (Cambridge University Press), 19-40.

Dec 19 2019

57mins

Play

Episode 99 – Tusculum and Antium

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It is c. 459 BCE and Rome faces the consequences of the Capitol having been seized and a consul killed in the previous year. The challenges come on two fronts: Tusculum and Antium.

Episode 99 – Tusculum and Antium

Consuls

  • Quintus Fabius M. f. K. n. Vibulanus cos. III
  • Lucius Cornelius Ser. f. P. n. Maluginensus Uritnus

Trouble at the Margins

The Latins and
Hernicians (Rome’s allies) come to Rome to report that the Volscians
and the Aequians are still causing trouble at the edges of allied
territory. Rome sends some troops to Antium.

The Aequians
surprise attack Rome’s friend Tusculum. According to Dionysius this
involves enslaving many of the women but leaving many of the men
untouched. The Romans are pretty upset by this turn of events and
throw themselves into action.

These tussles lead to military actions in Algidum and Ecetra, both of which are near the territory of the Aequians and the latter is described by Dionysius as the “most prominent city of the Volscian nation” (Dion. Hal. Ant. Rom. 10.21.3).

How Do You Solve a
Problem Like Antium?

Rome has been raiding Antium for the past few years and recently converted the city into a Roman colony. None of these measures can be considered wholly successful.

As news of the seizure of Rome’s Capitol reaches south, it seems like a good time to revolt. This is spearheaded by the Volscians, which makes perfect sense as Antium is part of their historical sphere of influence.

Livy and Dionysius of Haliarnassus disagree on a range of details about how this conflict unfolds so it’s fair to say that we’re less than impressed with our narrative sources right now! Nevertheless, what they do tell us is very interesting:

  • Livy has Rome heading in with a force made up of Romans and allies and devastating the Volscian camp by surprising them.
  • Dionysius offers us a tale of Rome turning Antium into a camp by surrounding it with palisades!

Who’s Doing The
Fighting Anyway?

Despite Rome facing
a war on two fronts this year, Livy suggests that when the forces are
drawn up, they are mostly comprised on allied troops, with only a
third of the manpower offered by Rome herself. Is this a sign of
Rome’s growing hegemony over her immediate neighbours?

Join us for some
very conflicting accounts from Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus as
we delve into the complicated relationships between the Romans,
Volscians, Aequians, Tusculans, Latins, and Hernicians!

P.S. Be on the listen for our podcat Hamish who makes a guest appearance!

An artistic impression of what early Republican soliders may have looked like (right). If you know the artist, please let us know so we can credit them appropriately.

Our Sources:

  • Dr G is
    reading Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.20-21
  • Dr
    R is reading Livy Ab
    Urbe
    Condita 3.22-24

Selected Secondary Sources:

  • Broughton, T. R. S. 1951. The Magistrates of the Roman
    Republic,
    Volume I (American Philological Association)
  • Lomas, K. 2017. The Rise of Rome: from the Iron Age to
    the Punic Wars
    (1000-264 BC) (Profile Books)

Sound Credits:

Additional sounds were provided by:

  • Fesliyan Studios
  • Pond5

Nov 28 2019

41mins

Play

*Special Episode* What Does Your Toga Say About You?

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Dr Amy Place from the University of Leicester sits down with Dr Rad to discuss the humble Roman toga, fashion and social identity, and everyday life in late imperial Roman North Africa!

On a recent tour to Australia, Place presented a paper for the SPQR Roman History Forum at Macquarie University on the representation of fashions in Late Roman North Africa. The Partial Historians we lucky enough to grab the chance to chat.

*Special Episode* – What Does Your Toga Say About You?

Late Roman North Africa is a time period and an area that is understudied, but just as fascinating as Italy. Place is particularly interested in how clothing is represented and how it was used to express social identity.

Dominus Julius Mosaic from Carthage, Bardo Museum. Copyright credit: Sean Leatherbury/Manar al-Athar

When are we talking?

Dr Place’s research focuses on 200-550 CE. The late Roman empire is full of intrigue and was a time of great change. While there was some stability under the emperor Septimius Severus, who ruled from 193-211 CE, with his death and the succession of his son Caracalla, a century of turmoil began.

Amidst the political chaos that characterised much of this century, the Christians rose in prominence. By the beginning of the fourth century, Rome would have its first Christian emperor, Constantine I. This emerging system would rapidly became established as the exclusive religion of the empire as Rome entered the fifth century.

Where are we talking?  

The focus of Place’s research has been the coastal regions of North Africa, examining an area that spans Namibia to Morocco. Parts of North Africa began to be acquired by Rome in the 2nd century BCE with the end of the Third Punic War. Roman influence continued to expand in this region throughout the late Republic and into the Empire.

What is the source material like for fashion and togas?

Place’s research is based in part on literary sources but is supplemented with mosaics. She highlights the difficulties that come with using textual evidence to understand something that was visual. The terms used in the sources are not always easily matched to a surviving representation and it is extremely rare for any actual samples of clothing to survive to the modern day.  

Matron at her Toilette Mosaic from Sidi Ghrib, Bardo. Copyright credit: Sean Leatherbury/Manar al-Athar.

How did people in North Africa use clothing to construct and express their identity?

Place’s research focuses on the impact that the growth of Christianity had on dress and identity. A particularly important author was Tertullian, a Christian writer who made some very vocal criticism of female dress in this region.

Although Roman writers had been critical of women dressing too provocatively before the advent of Christianity, for Tertullian there was an extra moral imperative for women to dress modestly and plainly. Austerity was a means of advertising one’s commitment to the new religion, most especially if one was wealthy enough to have a choice.

We see a stark contrast between words and deeds, however, when we consider the mosaics from the region. As Place notes, these don’t often show people have taken Tertullian’s advice – quite the opposite!

Tune in to hear all Place’s insights into the local trends for women and men and the place of the toga.

Tomb cover for Victoria, originally from Tabarka, now in the Bardo. Copyright credit: Sean Leatherbury/Manar al-Athar.

Interested in learning more about this fascinating topic? You can consider more of Dr Amy Place’s work at Academia.edu

Nov 07 2019

30mins

Play

Episode 98 – Cincinnatus, Suffect Consul

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It’s c. 460 BCE and
this hectic year in Roman history continues! In this episode we
consider Rome in the wake of the sneak attack on the Capitol by
Herdonius’ disaffected Sabines. During the challenges of wrestling
control back, the Romans lose one of their own. The consul Publius
Valerius Pubicola falls in battle. This is a tragic loss and opens
the way for Lucius Cincinnatus to return to the narrative.

Episode 98 – Cincinnatus, Suffect Consul

Looking to catch up on the narrative before diving into this episode? You can find out more about the earlier events of this year here.

Who’s Who

Consuls

  • Publius
    Valerius P. f. Volusi n. Publicola (cos II)
  • Gaius
    Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Inrigillensis (or Regillensis) Sabinus

Suffect Consul

  • Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

Tribune of the Plebs

  • Aulus
    Verginius
  • Marcus
    Volscius Fictor

A Man of the Land

There’s nothing
quite like a man who farms. For fans of men of the land, Cincinnatus
is here for you. We explore the important symbolism of Cincinnatus
working the land and his reaction to learning about his election as
suffect consul.

A New Political
Strategy

Cincinnatus takes
the opportunity to lead in a new way. With much rhetorical flourish,
our new consul lays forth a plan that spells trouble for the
plebeians and the ambitions of the tribunes. We dig into the
discrepancies between our sources – Livy and Dionysius of
Halicarnassus have different takes on the essential narrative. This
is very revealing in terms of thinking about the aims of our written
sources for this period.

Things to Look
Forward To

  • a taking of
    auspices
  • a desire for
    a dictator
  • some
    senatorial love for our man Cincinnatus
Alexandre Cabanel 1843. Cincinnatus receiving the ambassadors of Rome. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Our Sources

Primary sources

  • Dr G is
    reading Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities
    10.17-19
  • Dr
    R is reading Livy 3.19.1-3

Secondary
sources

  • Broughton,
    T. R. S. 1951. The Magistrates of the Roman Republic,
    Volume I
    (American Philological Association)
  • Eck,
    W. (Colonge) ‘Suffect Consul’ Brill’s New Pauly,
    Cancik, H. Schneider, H., Salazar, C. F. (eds.), accessed online
    29-9-2019
  • Lomas,
    K. 2017. The Rise
    of Rome: from the Iron Age to the Punic Wars
    (1000-264
    BC) (Profile Books)
  • Müller,
    C. (Bochum) ‘Q. Cincinnatus, L.’
    Brill’s New Pauly
    ,
    Cancik, H. Schneider, H., Salazar, C. F. (eds.), accessed online
    29-9-2019

Oct 17 2019

38mins

Play

*Special Episode* – The Thread of Women’s Representation

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In this special
episode, we’re joined by Liz Smith, who has recently completed her
doctoral research of the representation of women’s dress in statuary
at Macquarie University. Together we’ll trace the threads of evidence
for women’s attire in the Roman world.

The Thread of Women’s Representation with Liz Smith

Liz’s research includes the fashion of women’s dress in ancient representations in order to investigate what we can learn about the representation of women. This means considering how representations of women in statuary were often mediated by a male perspective and asking what this might reveal about women’s lived experience.

The Importance of Material Evidence

A consideration of material evidence, especially when combined with inscriptions offers an alternative to the literary sources for thinking about women and daily life in the ancient world. Our evidence in this episode dates from the third century CE, which means we’re thinking about a Rome embroiled in empire and imperial rule.

In this episode
we’ll be considering the head coverings on statues in the round and
sepulchral depictions of women. We explore the implications of topics
such as:

  • drapery in statues and reliefs
  • the colour of statuary
  • the stola
  • the palla
  • dress as status

Epiktesis

Epiktesis outlives her family. We consider the monument she dedicates to her husband, her children, and herself. Liz takes us through the pose adopted by Epiktesis – the Large Herculaneum Woman Type – and its implications.

Grave stele dedicated by Epiktesis to her family, from Prilep, Macedonia. Skopje Archaeological Museum, inv. AMM 41. Photography © Skopje – Archaeological Museum of Macedonia. Photograph: Ortolf Harl 2017 November.

The husband remains
unnamed in this relief as do the children. This in itself is somewhat
unusual but this evidence goes to the next level when we consider
that the children are represented as divinities!

With Epiktesis
herself depicted in a very modest, unrevealing style and her daughter
assuming the quite revealing Bathing Aphrodite Type, this
representation has a lot to offer in terms of thinking about the
meaning conveyed by poses and attire.

Liz explains how
size plays a role in the representation of family in this monument
and we consider what this might have suggested to an ancient viewer.
We also consider the unique aspects of this piece in terms of its
arrangement of the figures and their poses.

Aurelia Eutychia “I
am Prosperous” c. 250s CE

We consider the
sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia to herself and her husband Marcus
Aurelius Marino which can still be seen today in Ferrara. Liz takes
us through the significance of the statuesque features of this
artefact.

Social status is a
particular feature at play in all these representations and the
capacity of Aurelia to have for a sarcophagus where the figures
display a range of statuesque features tells us a lot about how she
wanted to be understood by her community.

Sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia Eutychia to herself and her husband Marcus Aurelius Marino. Originally in Voghiera, then moved to Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Italy. Front panel. Ferrara, Palazzo dei Diamanti, Italy. No inventory number. DAIR Inst. Neg. Rom. 64.2022

Sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia Eutychia to herself and her husband Marcus Aurelius Marino. Side panel.

Liz explores the
implications of Aurelia’s personal representation of herself. We
discuss the potential implications of being veiled versus not being
veiled.

Here’s the inscription found on the sarcophagus:

Aurelia Eutychia built this sarcophagus while alive for herself and her husband Marcus Aurelius Marino a veteran of Syrian lineage at the behest of the patron and her most dutiful husband with whom she lived for forty-three years by order of the patron out of his own funds. If someone after the death of the both opens it they will deposit a thousand sesterces to the tax authorities.

Translation ~ Liz Smith

Join us for a lively
exploration of women’s representation through statuary and
inscription!

Addendum: In exciting news, in the time between our chat with Liz and the release of this episode, we can confirm that Liz has passed her doctoral examination and joins us as a full academic. Congratulations Dr Liz Smith!

Edit: Since conducting this interview, further analysis of the sarcophagus dedicated by Aurelia has revealed the insight that Aurelia would have been Marcus Aurelius Marino’s enslaved property, before he freed and married her. As his freedwoman, Aurelia would have been bound by custom and law to respect Marcus and give him services (operae), even after her manumission. Accordingly, it is all the more interesting that Aurelia represented herself as an equal partner to her husband through the statuesque elements we see on the front and lateral sides.

For further reading:

Peter Stewart 2003. Statues in Roman Society

Oct 04 2019

44mins

Play

Episode 97 – Surprising Sabines

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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 to power from the plebeians.

We wouldn’t would to give too many spoilers away, but while the Romans are busy trying to figure out what their internal politics will look like, there might just be an enemy on the horizon!

Episode 97 – Surprising Sabines

You can catch up on the earlier action of this year here.

Just Your Everyday
Ongoing Political Conflict

Some of the
complications in the City stem from the young patricians who have
become a force to be reckoned with, terrorising plebeians. The
tribunes have been lobbying for changes that would make Roman law
transparent but so far there’s been no real movement on the issue.
There are a number of things to consider, such as:

  • connections between this conflict and the First Succession;
  • the use of annual levies by the patricians as a means of controlling the plebeians;
  • and the role of local warfare in preventing plebeians from engaging fully in Rome’s politics.

Surprise, Surprise,
it’s the Sabines!

Just when the Romans
are caught up in their own problems, the Sabine Appius Herdonius
turns up with a goodly number of supporters and seizes the Capitol.
Our sources disagree on just how large Herdonius’ force is or who is
part of it, but, regardless of the figures and identities, the
narrative follows the same trajectory – infiltration!

We discuss the various strategies credited to Herdonius for entering the city and his apparent aims in making such a bold move. Suffice it to say, word of Rome’s internal unrest has spread…

Sabine Attack as a
Microcosm of Rome’s Internal Trouble

Needless to say, the Romans are less than pleased to have an intruder in the heart of the City. Like a kicked beehive, the citizens rally to defend themselves! It’s not long though before this chaos turns into competing calls to arms. The consuls and tribunes seize upon the moment to offer differing opinions about the situation and urging the citizen body to divergent actions.

Hear how the
tensions rise and the Romans respond to the Sabine threat in this
episode!

Our Main Players

Consuls

  • Publius Valerius P. f. Volusi n. Publicola (cos. II)
  • Gaius Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Inrigillensis (or Regillensis) Sabinus

Tribunes

  • Aulus Verginius
  • Marcus Volscius Fictor

Sabines

  • Appius Herdonius

Tusculans

  • Lucius Mamilius

Our Sources

  • Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.15-18
  • Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 9.14-16
Topography of the ancient Capitol, according to the arbitrary reconstitution of Nardini, in The Roman Capitol in Ancient and Modern Times (1906). Source: Wikimedia Commons

Sep 19 2019

41mins

Play

At the Movies – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

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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. This week we saw Tarantino’s latest offering, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019).

Bonus Episode – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
The audio is a little variable on this one, but we decided to keep at much as possible rather than cut. Equipment checking is a high priority before our next recording session.

Did we mention the spoilers? They are coming…

The two main
characters in this film (Rick Dalton, played by Leonardo DiCaprio,
and Cliff Booth, played by Brad Pitt) are fictional, but the backdrop
to their story is historical. Whilst occasionally flashing back to
earlier points, the majority of the film takes place in Hollywood,
1969. 2019 marks the fifty-year anniversary, so the release is
timely. This was a pivotal year for America in many ways. The protest
movement against the Vietnam War reached new heights in the wake of
the Tet Offensive in 1968, not only in terms of the numbers who
attended protests such as Vietnam Moratorium Day, but also with the
trial of the Chicago Eight for demonstrations during the August 1968
Democratic National Convention. This was also the year that the
assassin of Martin Luther King Jr was captured and tried, and the
Black Panthers were named as enemies of the state by the FBI for
being a communist organisation. These are not the events that
Tarantino focuses on.

What is Hollywood Anyway?

Dalton is an actor trying to keep his career afloat and Booth is his stuntman, BFF and all-round handyman. The Hollywood that they used to know is disappearing. For decades, the film industry had been controlled by the major studios (such as MGM, Paramount, Warner Bros) and each movie was subject to strict censorship rules. By 1969, the studios were no longer as dominant and the Production Code had been abandoned, opening the door for a wider range of artists and film subjects. The Graduate (1967) would have been unthinkable at the beginning of the decade and in 1969 Dennis Hopper’s ground-breaking, counter-cultural classic, Easy Rider, would be released.

Even so, Hollywood was about to be rocked by something more earth-shattering than a progressive movie. In August 1969, Charles Manson decided that it was time for his followers to unleash the race war that he had dubbed ‘Helter Skelter’ after the Beatles song from the 1968 White Album. This would lead to the grisly Tate and La Bianca murders. The crimes committed by the Manson Family had many implications, but it is the build-up to these events that Tarantino traces as Dalton and Booth cruise through Hollywood.

Hollywood with a Twist

Just as the audience is preparing to see Sharon Tate and her house guests get brutally murdered by Manson’s drug-addled followers, Tarantino turns audience expectations on their head. Dalton and Booth, who live next door to Tate and Polanski, are attacked by the Family and it is the latter who suffer a gruesome end. This is not the first time that Tarantino has ventured down this road with historical fare. Django Unchained (2013) and Inglorious Basterds (2009) both play with historical reality. Is it in the interest of providing his audience with a sense of catharsis? What are the implications of counterfactual history – of exploring the ‘What ifs?’ of history? This may seem harmless and perhaps beneficial; can exploring what didn’t happen help to shed fresh light on what did happen?

Respected historians such as Niall Ferguson have trodden down this path, but others such as Richard J. Evans have emphatically refuted the value of “parlour games” that seem to lament ‘if only’, rather than ask ‘what-if?’ (Hatherley, 2014). Do these issues apply to historical films, which obviously aim to entertain? Is the silver screen a suitable place for such games, or does the wider audiences of a feature film make counterfactuals more dangerous? This is history at its most controversial.

Join the Doctors as they explore the ins and outs of the 60s, hippies and history.

Select Bibliography

Articles

Podcasts

  • For those interested in learning more about Hollywood in the Manson era, we cannot recommend ‘You Must Remember This’ enough. Host Karina Longworth has produced a 12-part series exploring Charles Manson, the Family and Hollywood in the late 1960s.
  • If you are more of a true crime buff, you may be interested in checking out the Last Podcast on the Left (hosted by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks and Henry Zebrowski) and their series on Charles Manson (Starting at Episode 147). These guys have a conversational, hilarious podcast that is also exceptionally well-researched.
  • And finally, if you’re just loving all things 1969, check out Parcast Presents the ‘Summer of ‘69’ series, which features a number of episodes on Manson, the Manson Girls BUT also other fascinating tales from this pivotal year.

Sep 05 2019

50mins

Play

*Special Episode* – Barbarians with Dr Rhiannon Evans

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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 thought about the peoples they came into contact with.

What makes a
Barbarian?

Connotations have a very important place when thinking about barbarians. Our modern usage also influences how we think of the category. So the first order of business is a consideration of etymology and to consider who the Romans are applying the term to and why.

There are a range of factors to consider when turning to the Roman use of the term. Up for discussion:

  • who cops the designation of barbarian from the Roman perspective
  • what makes someone more and less barbarous
  • just what is happening on the other side of the Rhine
  • and some of the problems with our source materials – written versus archaeological

Julius Caesar’s
Barbarians

There’s nothing quite like expansion to bring a Roman into contact with barbarians. Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars detail his campaigns. Reading the source closely provide some clues as to:

  • the divisions between the peoples
  • the Roman criticism of the role of writing and speaking amongst non-Roman peoples
  • maybe what’s not happening (Roman victory)
  • and differences in attitude to land use

Implications of the
Past on the Present

The concept of barbarian may emerge from an ancient past, but it continues to have relevance today. The idea of who belongs and who is considered an outsider, and the concept of the Other, are part of an ongoing engagement with how people navigate their relationships with strangers.

The conversation weaves through the dangers of Caesar’s description of the Germani and touches upon Claudius’ relationship with the Gauls, both of which have modern echoes that Dr R and Evans explore.

Join us for all this and more!

I, Dr G, sadly lament my absence from this episode – but having done the write up for this episode, I can assure you it is good!

Henri Paul Motte 1886. Vercingetorix surrenders to Caesar. Image courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons.

We love this version of the chief of the Arverni surrendering to Caesar for Motte’s decision to centre the composition on Vercingetorix. The spectre of Caesar remains, but he is a distant haze of red surrounded by soldiers and defences. Vercingetorix is poised and still holding his sword.

Aug 29 2019

57mins

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Episode 96 – Letters and Rumours

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The conflict between
patricians and plebeians continues apace as we explore the political
complexities of 460 BCE. Much like a Jane Austen novel, letters and
rumours 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 of equality before the law. This leads to an unusual situation: the tribunes from the previous year return to continue pushing for these changes. Livy notes that the tribunes are riding on a high after ensuring the recent demise of Caeso Quinctius. But this also means that the incoming consuls are dealing with tribunes who seem be becoming entrenched…

Strategies for
Violence?

We saw in the previous episode that there seems to be a difference between how the older patricians go about politics—through mechanisms such as magistracies and the senate—and how the younger patricians seek to make plays, through public violence and intimidation. Nevertheless, it seems as though the younger ones might just have hit upon a new approach which Dr Rad explores through Livy’s account.

Letters and Rumours Abound…

Perhaps as a response to the violence in the City, the tribunes hit upon a new approach to push for changes. And before you know it, secret letters are being delivered to the tribunes while they’re in the forum! There are a few implications that arise because of this and more than a little drama…

Dr G considers the narrative provided by Dionysius of Halicarnassus which leads into some intense set-piece speeches from Aulus Verginius and Gaius Claudius.

Join us for an episode full of exciting turns, political jousting, letters and rumours, and maybe even…conspiracy!

Our Players

Consuls

  • Publius Valerius P. f. Volusi n. Publicola (cos. II)
  • Gaius Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Inrigillensis (or Regillensis) Sabinus

Tribunes

  • Aulus Verginius
  • Marcus Volscius Fictor

Patricians

  • Caeso Quinctius
Giovanni Battista Piranesi 1756. Map of the Forum Romanum / Courtesy of: Wikimedia Commons.
Although a much later vision of Rome than what we are exploring in this episode, nevertheless, Piranesi conjures up the Forma Urbis Romae project with this elegant etching which includes the forum, the site of much of the action.

Aug 06 2019

38mins

Play

Episode 95 – Introducing Caeso Quinctius

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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 into
the narrative history of c. 461 BCE with our guides of the moment,
Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. Both are writing long after
these events, which means that their accounts leave a lot to be
desired at times. Nevertheless, both are interested in presenting a
narrative on the theme of power. How is it distributed? Who has it
and who doesn’t? And what are the mechanisms of political power in
this system of armies, consuls, patricians, and plebeians?

Young Versus Old?

Livy makes mention of the some generational differences in attitude of the elder patricians and their scions. These simmering tensions influence the way politics plays out in the forum. Dionysius is more interested in discoursing upon the variety of patrician attitudes towards the tribunes, including trying to undermine their legitimacy by noting that they have no connection to the gods. It’s at this point that the young patricians start to emerge with a reputation for public violence…

Enter Caeso
Quinctius

Young, handsome, dangerous, and patrician – he not only has a reputation for words, but he seems like the kinda man who’d back himself in a fight. As a ringleader amongst the young patricians, Quinctius has earned himself a bit of a reputation. Things start to get rough for this youthful specimen of Roman masculinity when Aulus Verginius, tribune of the plebs, seeks to bring charges against him…

Our Key Players

Consuls

  • Publius Volumnius M. f. M. n. Amintinus Gallus (pat.)
  • Servius Sulpicius – f. Ser. n. Camerinus Cornutus (pat.)

Tribune of the Plebs

  • Aulus Verginius
  • Marcus Volscius

Patricians

  • Caeso Quinctius
  • Lucius Quinctius “Cincinnatus”

Further reading

Lintott, A. W. 1970. ‘The Traditions of Violence in the Annals of the Early Roman Republic’ Historia: Zeitschrift für Alte Geschichte 19.1.12-29

Henryk Siemiradzki c. 1880s A Dangerous Game. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons
Although considered to depict a mythological scene, this painting hints at the undercurrent of violence inherent in this episode as well as suggesting the generational factors at play.

Jul 04 2019

40mins

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Episode 94 – Flesh Rains Down Upon Thee

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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 against the Volscii. As for the title of this episode—’Flesh Rains Down Upon Thee’— well, we wouldn’t want to spoil it, but let’s just say it’s best to keep your ears alert for prodigies!

C. 461 BCE is a big
year for Rome in many respects and we’ll be examining it in depth
over a couple of episodes. Here are our main players:

The Consuls

  • Publius
    Volumnius M. f. M. n. Amintinus Gallus (patrician)
  • Servius
    Sulpicius – f. Ser. n. Camerinus Cornutus (patrician)

Prefect of the City

  • Quintus
    Fabius

Tribune of the Plebs

  • Gaius
    Terentius (Terentilius?) Harsa
  • Aulus
    Verginius

Restrictions on
consular power?

One of the big subjects that comes into play is the extent of imperium held by the consuls. We start to get inklings in both Livy and Dionysius’ accounts that something is not quite right in Rome. The tribunes, in particular, are not satisfied with the status quo.

One of the difficulties lies in the nature of the populace, what do our sources mean by the populace and why is it so challenging to understand them in a coherent way?

Beyond the murky and inconsistent character of the populace is the nebulous ideas that the tribunes are raising which include a need for equality of rights and equality of speech. Listen in as we explore the question of what is politically afoot in Rome at this time.

A
Codification of the laws…

The conversation between the senate and the tribunes is tense, but it’s clear that we’re inching closer to a law code. The tribunes (and thus the populace) are calling for transparency, the senate is resisting, and then the heavens themselves open.

‘A day in ancient Rome; being a revision of Lohr’s “Aus dem alten Rom”, with numerous illustrations’, by Edgar S. Shumway (1885) ~ Wikimedia Commons
From left to right: the Tiber, the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, and the emporium

Jun 06 2019

47mins

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*Special Episode* – Totalus Rankium and the Partial Historians on Tiberius

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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 judging
Tiberius?

Oooo better not to
ask me, Dr G, author of this post, because I’m too much of an
Augustan fan-girl to answer this question. Okay, okay, here’s how it
will work. We’ll discuss Tiberius’ life and career and at the end of
the conversation we’ll apply the Totalus Rankium system to form a
holistic judgement of the imperial man himself.

Here are the
categories:

  • Fights Maximus – an emperor’s fighting capacity
  • Opprobrium Crazium – their average level of insanity / taking things just too far
  • Succesus Ultimus – how successful were they (all things considered)?
  • Image Facius – were they attractive? Yes, this is the sexy category

An Origin Story

Like many people, Tiberius rises from humble beginnings. We’ll explore the nature of his childhood and consider how this may have influenced his character and disposition (a very Suetonian approach if we do say so ourselves). We’re on the search for clues that may help us better understand the complex influences on his life.

Tiberius Imperator

Some argue that Tiberius is the first emperor of Rome because he is the first to ‘inherit’ the legal privileges and concessions that secured Augustus’ rule. This is important as it reveals the tenuous nature of the imperial project in these early stages. The differences between Augustus and Tiberius are revealed the moment Tiberius becomes emperor.

Part of the
challenge when examining his rule is the underlying consideration:
what makes a good emperor?

We’ll consider some of Tiberius’ achievements and also some of the more controversial aspects of his rule in this collaborative episode. You just never know what controversy is in the wind when we’re talking about Tiberius!

Obverse: TI[berivs] CAESAR DIVI AVG[vsti] F[ilivs] AVGVSTS (Caesar Augustus Tiberius, son of the Divine Augustus), laureate head right, parallel ribbons
Reverse: PONTIF[ex] MAXIM[us], Livia (as Pax) seated right, feet on footstool, holding sceptre and branch; ornate legs, one line below.
Catalogue: RIC I 30; Lyon 154; RSC 16a. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

May 15 2019

1hr 8mins

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iTunes Ratings

58 Ratings
Average Ratings
46
2
3
6
1

Absolutely fantastic

By Mar1na17932 - May 20 2020
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All I listen to are history podcasts and out of the 15 I listen to this is easily my second favorite (after DIG), for someone who doesn’t like rome that is quite an accomplishment. Dr. G and Dr Rad do an amazing job. The history is detailed and flows well. And even though they are doing a narrative history using two super masculinist elitist sources they always make sure to talk about social conditions and women whenever they can find them. I also really like how much they spend talking about masculinity (vietus) it often gets left out of political narratives. Also the production quality is good. I have literally nothing but praise for this podcast it is fantastic and you should listen!! :)

Addictive, brilliant fun!

By Thoughts on this one - May 15 2020
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Love this podcast! Highest marks! The energy and dynamic between these two is highly addictive. They are funny and and I find myself laughing out loud while learning. The best is when they disagree on a historical figure on razz each other about their favorites.