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Emperors of Rome
La Trobe University
“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” - Tacitus. A podcast series looking at the rulers of the ancient Roman empire, by Dr Rhiannon Evans, Dr Caillan Davenport and Matt Smith.
13 hours ago
Episode CLXIII - Foundations of Rome
Rome dates its beginning to the 21st April 753BCE, when legend has it that it was founded by the twins Romulus and Remus. While not the only myth connected to this event, it has been the most enduring, and commemorating it became an important event in the Roman calendar. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)
Mar 31, 2021
Episode CLXII - Anthology of Interest III
Rhiannon Evans, Caillan Davenport, Gillian Shepherd and Matt Smith each share three items of Roman interest for three minutes! You will hear: - Silius Italicus and his unbearable bunion - Pomponius Mela and the wonders of the Nile - Snarky soldiers at the Vindolanda fort - Legacy hunters and the jewels of Matidia - Unusual dedications to the gods - Early sources for the great fire of Rome - The effectiveness of Roman concrete - How Rome dealt with mass burial of the poor - Sea monsters - Curse tablets and sporting fanatics - Vedius Pollio throws a clumsy slave to the lamprey - The rare instances of Romans sacrificing people Guests: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University) Assoc. Professor Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt) Dr Gillian Shepherd (Director, Trendall Centre, La Trobe University)
1 hr 4 min
Mar 19, 2021
Episode CLXI - Syrian Matriarchy
The Severan dynasty was founded in 193CE by Septimius Severus, but in many ways it was his wife Julia Domna and her sister Julia Maesa who would guide the family, both powerful augustae and instrumental in securing their family’s imperial position. Part X of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Dr Emma Southon (Historian and author of 'A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum').
Mar 11, 2021
Episode CLX - Faustina
As the daughter of the previous Emperor, Faustina provided her husband, Marcus Aurelius, with a solid link to the imperial throne. Besides continuity she came to embody motherhood, not just to the next Emperor, but to the empire as a whole. Part IX of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Assoc. Professor Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Feb 19, 2021
Episode CLIX - Sabina
Sabina bought some much needed legitimacy to the rule of Hadrian. As a grand-niece of Trajan she was an important dynastic link to the previous emperor, and in death Hadrian could deify her, and be the husband to a god. Part VIII of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Professor T. Corey Brennan (Classics, Rutgers University).
Feb 8, 2021
Episode CLVIII – Plotina
When Trajan came to the big city he bought his provincial wife with him. Plotina stood on the steps of Domitian’s palace and promised the people of Rome that she’d keep it real. And from what we can tell from our ancient sources, that’s exactly what she did. Part VII of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Professor T. Corey Brennan (Classics, Rutgers University).
Feb 1, 2021
Episode CLVII – Domitia
Domitia was princess of the Julio-Claudians who caught the attention of a young Domitian. As Augusta she kept a low profile, and managed to survive and thrive across three imperial dynasties. Part VI of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Dr Trudie Fraser (Honorary Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne).
Jan 11, 2021
Episode CLVI – Agrippina, Mother of Nero
As the wife to the Emperor and daughter of Germanicus, Agrippina had grown accustomed to being a voice of influence in Rome. When her son Nero takes the title this changes, and she struggles to have her voice heard. Part V of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Dr Emma Southon (Historian and author of Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore).
Dec 13, 2020
Episode CLV – Agrippina, Wife of Claudius
In many ways Agrippina can be associated with the worst qualities of Livia – a scheming, deceiving and manipulating. But in her marriage to Claudius you can see a different side of her: an ambitious, capable Empress who made Claudius look good. Part IV of 'Empresses of Rome' Guest: Dr Emma Southon (Historian and author of Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore).
Dec 9, 2020
Episode CLIV – Messalina
Messalina, third wife of Claudius, is likely one of the Roman Empresses with the worst reputation. The historians accuse her of adultery and prostitution, avarice and greed, and her name becomes synonymous with a woman of loose morals and licentiousness. Part III of 'Empresses of Rome' Guests: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)
Nov 24, 2020
Episode CLIII - Livia (with Sian Phillips)
Livia is often known by association - the wife of Augustus and the mother of Tiberius - but she becomes a figure of power and influence in Rome in her own right. This episode is a redux of Episode XXV (from 2016), followed by an all new interview with Sian Phillips who played Livia in The BBC’s ‘I Claudius’ in 1976. Part II of 'Empresses of Rome' Guests: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University) Sian Phillips (Livia in ‘I, Claudius’)
Oct 29, 2020
Episode CLII - The Roman Empress
A Roman Empress could often be one of the influential individuals in Rome. Always close to the seat of power, they have been recorded as dutiful, scheming, seductive and conniving - as interesting individuals as the Emperors themselves. Part I of 'Empresses of Rome' Guests: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)
Oct 12, 2020
Episode CLI - Ovid's Fasti
The Fasti is a poem about the Roman calendar, written by the poet Ovid during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Writing the poem gave Ovid the chance to think about contemporary Rome through the medium of some of the best known Roman stories, like the City's foundation by Romulus and Remus, and the creation of the republic by Brutus. This is the first episode of a miniseries now funding on kickstarter. Back it now to receive an additional six episodes. Guests: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of School of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University) Dr Peter Davis (Visiting Research Fellow in Classics, University of Adelaide)
Oct 1, 2020
Episode CL - Q and A VI (Live)
For the sixth time, listeners provide questions and Rhiannon and Matt answer! In this episode: - Which Roman Emperor would our guests like to interview? - Did Romans have pets? - How did Romans organise construction? - How did we decided when the Roman Empire ‘ended’? - Are the ancient sources reliable? - Did women and men in Rome share bath houses? - Favourite Cicero self-aggrandisement? Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of School of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University) Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt) Virginia Trioli (ABC Journalist and Newsreader)
Sep 17, 2020
Episode CXLIX - Herodian
Herodian was a Roman historian living and writing during the reign of the Severan dynasty. He is a valuable record of events for some of the most turbulent days of Roman history, and while at times lacking details, he knows what he’s doing with an exciting narrative. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Sep 4, 2020
Episode CXLVIII - The Always Unpredictable Outcome of War
During the civil war of 238CE no less than six Emperors were vying for the purple. When the dust finally settled on the child Gordian III remained in power, not because he was the best person for the job, but because he was the most convenient. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Aug 21, 2020
Episode CXLVII - The Vagaries of Chance
Maximinus Thrax was an unorthodox Emperor, a man of lowborn status who kept to the frontlines with the military. It was only a matter of time before the Senate threw in with someone more on their level, but their choice, Gordian, would have the shortest rule of any Emperor. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Aug 6, 2020
Episode CXLVI - The Sun is Getting Real Low (Maximinus)
The Roman Empire was unprepared for the rule of the Emperor Maximinus. Regarded by many as a savage barbarian, he came to the purple by blood, would rule by blood, and would leave it the same way. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Jul 24, 2020
Episode CXLV - Battle of the Teutoburg Forest
In 9CE three Roman legions were walking through Germany when they were ambushed in what would become one of the most notorious defeats throughout Rome’s history. The loss of the legions were a crippling blow to Rome’s plans of expansion, and redrew the borders in the province. Guest: Barry Strauss (Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies at Cornell University, author of Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors From Augustus to Constantine).
Jul 13, 2020
Episode CXLIV - Ulpian
Ulpian was a Roman jurist, who became quite influential during the rule of the Severan Dynasty. He was considered one of the great legal authorities of his time, and his writings and thoughts formed the basis of the Western Roman Empire. Guest: Dr Zachary Herz (Assistant Professor, Classics, University of Colorado Boulder)
Jun 23, 2020
Episode CXLIII - Damnatio Memoriae
If an emperor has been disappointing, cruel, tyrannical, or just related to the wrong person he is at risk of being damned, erased, have his likenesses destroyed and his name stricken from the records. The process of danmatio memoraie was intended to be a permanent judgement, and the final vengeance of an angry Rome. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jun 4, 2020
Episode CXLII - Deification
When an emperor passed away it gave the Roman empire a chance to reflect on his reign. If he wasn’t terrible and the circumstances allowed it, he would be deified and worshiped as a god throughout the empire. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
May 22, 2020
Podcast Announcement - Raising Standards
Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith have started Raising Standards, An occasional rewatch podcast of HBO’s Rome. Available now from all good podcatching services.
May 5, 2020
Episode CXLI - Translating Suetonius
The last Penguin edition of The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius was translated by Robert Graves in 1957. Historian Tom Holland is now working on a new translation, and took time away from the manuscript to talk to me about his process. Guest: Tom Holland (author of Rubicon, Dynasty, and an upcoming translation of Suetonius' 'The Twelve Caesars')
Apr 22, 2020
Episode CXL - A Ridiculous Waste of Time (Severus Alexander IV)
Severus Alexander comes from a strong military dynasty with a string of victories against Rome’s enemies, and it’s fair to say the Roman army was less than impressed with his performance against Sassanian and Germanic tribes. The empire needs a leader! Should they turn to a fighter, or to a weakling and his mother? Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Apr 8, 2020
Episode CXXXIX - A Fish in a Net (Severus Alexander III)
When Severus Alexander leads the Roman armies east, he meets Artaxerxes and the Sasanians in battle but his tactics are unprepared. Artaxerxes attacked unexpectedly with his entire force and trapped the Romans like fish in a net; firing their arrows from all sides at the encircled soldiers, the Persians massacred the whole army. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Mar 24, 2020
Episode CXXXVIII - Rise of the Sasanian Empire (Severus Alexander II)
Severus Alexander was an emperor who spent much of his reign at war, but he was ill-suited to it and would likely have preferred to be elsewhere. His main enemy was the Sasanians, an empire that rose out of the ashes of the Parthians, and would be a leading regional power for the next 400 years. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Mar 11, 2020
Episode CXXXVII - Mother Knows Best (Severus Alexander I)
Severus Alexander was a young boy when he came to power in Rome in 222CE, in the wake of the death of his unpopular cousin, Elagabalus. He would reign for 13 years but struggle to assert authority, bringing the once proud Severan dynasty to a chaotic ending. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Feb 25, 2020
Episode CXXXVI - Spartacus (1960)
Spartacus is an epic historical film based on the life of a Roman gladiator who led a slave rebellion against Rome in the 1st C BCE. In this episode we’ll take a fond look at this cinematic classic, in memory of its leading man, Kirk Douglas. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Feb 10, 2020
Episode CXXXV - Lupercalia
Lupercalia was a Roman festival which took place in the middle of February, and had the effects of purifying and cleansing the city. Participants would take part in a blood sacrifice, strip off their togas, and run naked through the streets of Rome. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jan 29, 2020
Episode CXXXIV - Roman Health and Medicine
The Romans had some strange ideas when it came to medical practice, but you have to give them some leeway, and a lot has changed in 2000 years. Some of the thoughts and techniques showed forward thinking, but you might have to ignore the cabbages. Guest: Dr Leanne McNamara (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jan 13, 2020
Episode CXXXIII - Anthology of Interest II
Rhiannon Evans, Caillan Davenport and Matt Smith each share three Roman topics of interest for three minutes! You will hear: - Scaurus and the marble columns - The 206 fragments of the Portland Vase - The paranoia of Emperor Claudius - The Roman perception of Ireland (featuring exploding sheep) - The vanity of the Alexander the Sophist - An early example of chemical warfare - Living it rough with Seneca - Goldflake and Innocence - The nazi fascination with Tacitus' Germania Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University) Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Dec 18, 2019
Episode CXXXII - Q and A V
For the fifth time, listeners provide questions and Rhiannon and Matt answer! In this episode: - How the orders of Roman society worked - The materials Romans used in clothing - How Romans marked years by Consul - Augustus adopting his wife, Livia - The truth about the Cantabrian warrior Cococotta - How to actually pronounce ‘Pompey’ - Is the Roman salute accurate? - How much of Latin is Greek? - How did the Romans say their own numbers? - How did the relationship change between Patricians and Plebs? - Which Roman figure do we wish we knew more about? Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Nov 27, 2019
Episode CXXXI - Champions of the People (Gracchi IV)
Gaius Gracchus - awe-inspiring and passionate to exaggeration, a demagogue pure and simple, seemingly shunned the family business, at least to begin with. But however much you may try to defer your fate, sometimes decisions are made for you. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Nov 6, 2019
Episode CXXX - Unpopular Reforms (Gracchi III)
Tiberius Gracchus had introduced property laws that, while unpopular with the ruling elite, went down well with the people of Rome. You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. But that’s just politics, isn’t it? Nothing to lose your head over. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Oct 22, 2019
Episode CXXIX - Tiberius Gracchus and the Landless Masses (Gracchi II)
Any system of government that has been around for long enough is going to develop its problems, and that is definitely the case with the Roman republic. There was inequality between the ruling class and the common people, and if young Tiberius Gracchus decides to take up the cause, what’s the worst that could happen? Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Oct 8, 2019
Episode CXXVIII - Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi (Gracchi I)
What we do know about Cornelia is mostly through the lens of her famous sons, but to the Romans she was much more than that. She was put on a pedestal, in bronze, no less, as the ideal mother for Romans to aspire to, and may have been quite influential in politics at the time. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Sep 25, 2019
Episode CXXVII - Augustus: The Making of an Emperor (Live in Melbourne)
Octavian was barely an adult when he arrived in Rome in 44BCE. Two months had passed since his adopted father, Julius Caesar, was murdered by members of the senate who resented his control as dictator. Octavian stood to inherit Caesar’s fortunes, but few could have imagined that he would inherit Caesar’s power. He would become emperor in 27BCE, reigning as the Augustus and transforming the republic of Rome into an autocratic principate. Under his leadership of forty years Rome would grow in territory, reputation, economy and culture, and change from a city of sun-dried bricks and leave it clothed in marble. How did the young Octavian transform himself into Rome's first emperor? Sponsored by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University. Held at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on 23 September, 2019. Guest: Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Sep 11, 2019
Episode CXXVI - Vestal Virgins
The Vestals were an order of priestesses who were sacred to Rome, and were respected and referred as symbols of a safe and stable empire. They had the all-important duty of maintaining the sacred flame, and if it were extinguished, it would be a sign of impending disaster. Guest: Dr Peta Greenfield (Public Historian, co-host of 'The Partial Historians' podcast)
Aug 28, 2019
Episode CXXV - Call Me Not a Lord, for I Am a Lady (Elagabalus III)
Elagabalus has long been remembered as deviant and sexually depraved. His behaviour was shocking for a Roman citizen, let alone the leader of the empire, and Rome was relieved to see the end of him. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Aug 12, 2019
Episode CXXIV – The Lowest Depths of Foulness (Elagabalus II)
When Elagabalus finally reached Rome, the city seemed to hold its breath. The young Emperor embraced both the roles of ruler and high priest of a foreign religion, and there were many that questioned where his priorities lie. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Jul 31, 2019
Episode CXXIII - Here Comes the Sun (Elagabalus I)
Macrinus has made a treaty with the Parthians and at long last, the two mighty empires are at peace. It likely won’t last, but at this point it matters little: now he can finally get down to the business of ruling the empire. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Jul 9, 2019
Episode CXXII - Purple by Merit
With the murder of Caracalla one of the most unlikely men steps into power. Macrinus is unassuming, of the wrong position, and the wrong class. He’d argue he’s the best man for the job, but very few in Rome would agree with him. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Jun 24, 2019
Episode CXXI - Assassination
Assassination was a regular occurrence in the right Roman circles, and the gossip around the senate floor must have frequently turned to who's knifing who. An emperor would need to keep the senate, the army, and the people on side, or risk a well-placed dagger. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jun 12, 2019
Episode CXX - Adultery
By modern standards the Romans had some fairly unusual ideas, which could be putting it mildly when it comes to the subject of adultery. For the most part the Romans were lack lax in repercussions, unless of course you were embarrassing a man of high status. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
May 29, 2019
Episode CXIX - Fragments of Early Roman Literature
While we are lucky that much Roman literature from the late republic and the imperial period comes down to us complete or almost complete, most of the historical and poetic works from the mid-republic have been lost and only survive in fragments. Guest: Dr Hannah Čulík-Baird (Assistant Professor, Classical Studies, Boston University)
Apr 30, 2019
Episode CXVIII - The Roman Calendar
The Roman calendar was important to the civic management of Rome - it told when to plant and harvest crops, when to celebrate festivals and when to go to war. The calendar designed by the Romans is used today, more or less unchanged for 2000 years - including paying homage to both Julius Caesar and Augustus. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Apr 16, 2019
Episode CXVII – Disgraced Human Nature (Caracalla V)
The historian Edward Gibbon perhaps summed up Caracalla quite succinctly, when he used this phrase to describe his demise while answering a call of nature on the side of the road: "Such was the end of a monster whose life disgraced human nature, and whose reign accused the patience of the Romans." Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Apr 1, 2019
Episode CXVI - Red Wedding (Caracalla IV)
The Roman Empire had engaged in Parthian wars for generations, stretching back, off and on, to the days of Pompey the Great. Caracalla makes his foray into this arena, but as always, he’s going to do things a little differently. He shall have a wedding. Or a hanging. Either way he’s going to have a lot of fun. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Mar 18, 2019
Episode CXV - Ausonian Beast (Caracalla III)
After unleashing his unique brand of rule on the people of Rome, Caracalla becomes the problem of the provinces. After 212 he’ll spend the rest of his reign either at war or on tour, making the beast of Italy a problem for all Romans to deal with. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Mar 4, 2019
Episode CXIV - Mutilating Rome (Caracalla II)
Now that Caracalla is the sole emperor of the Roman empire he’s able to act as he wishes. While he does little to please anyone outside the military, it’s his economic and social reforms that will affect the empire for years to come. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Feb 18, 2019
Episode CXIII - Fratricidal Discord (Caracalla I)
The death of Septimius Severus left a strong line of succession with two sons ready to take control of the empire. There was no love lost between Caracalla and Geta, and it would be the Roman empire that bore the scars of their relationship. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Feb 4, 2019
Episode CXII - The Book of Love
The Roman poet Ovid penned The Book of Love in three volumes as a manual for how to deal with the art of love and seduction during the slightly austere days of the reign of Augustus. This isn't exactly 'Men are From the Temple of Mars, Women are From the Temple of Venus', but happy Lupercalia everyone! Guest: Assoc Professor Peter Davis (Visiting Research Fellow, Classics, University of Adelaide)
Jan 22, 2019
Episode CXI - The Equestrian Order
The equites belonged to a class of Roman citizen dating back to the kingdom of Rome. Ranked below the senatorial class, they grew in power and influence, occupying key positions in the government and military. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Jan 7, 2019
Episode CX - Anthology of Interest
The ultimate triumvirate! Three people present three Roman history topics each for three minutes. In this episode you will hear: - The unfortunate demise of Cinna the poet - Cicero's reluctance to send panthers to those in need - The sensitive subject of baldness - PTSD bought on by the Carthaginian War - Women donning a toga - Claudius' edicts and defending 'stupidity' - The last of the Ptolemys - The hazard of regifting the world's largest apple Guests: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University) Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)
Dec 16, 2018
Episode CIX - Saturnalia
Saturnalia was the biggest festival on the Roman calendar - that special time in December when you gathered all your loved ones close, made a sacrifice to Saturn, and celebrated the festive season. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Nov 27, 2018
Episode CVIII - A Lesson in Latin II
The power and prevalence of Latin - how did it develop, how has it influenced language, and where can we still come across it today? Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Nov 11, 2018
Episode CVII - The Legacy of Spartacus
Spartacus amassed an army and had some victories against the Romans. While he was ultimately unsuccessful, the story of his rebellion against oppressors would grow, and find a sympathetic audience in the modern time. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Oct 29, 2018
Episode CVI - The Third Servile War
When Spartacus escaped the gladiator training school he may not have realised what he had started. What began as a simple bid for freedom soon became a cause for slaves around Italy, and he attracted thousands of followers. The Romans were forced to pay attention to this enemy from within, despite the fact that there was little glory to be found fighting an army of slaves. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Oct 16, 2018
Episode CV - Spartacus the Gladiator
The Roman empire was made mighty through the hard work of slaves, but occasionally they escaped, banded together and fought back. The last and greatest slave rebellion was lead by Spartacus, a man who has come to symbolise the oppressed and resistance against tyranny. We begin the story of his life by looking at his time as a gladiator. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Oct 1, 2018
Episode CIV - Slavery
Slaves were an integral part of the Roman society, responsible for much of the domestic duties and manual labour for any self respecting and vaguely wealthy Roman citizen. Life as a slave was harsh – you were treated as property, the best you could hope for was freedom, and at worst being worked to death. But it’s unlikely Rome would be a city clothed in marble without slaves to exploit. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Sep 18, 2018
Episode CIII - Old Age in the Roman World
Classical authors such as Cicero and Plutarch would have us believe that the elderly were revered, active citizens of ancient Rome. But on closer inspection that may not be the case, and older people mightn’t have the power and respect in society that we first supposed. Guest: Professor Tim Parkin (Elizabeth and James Tatoulis Chair of Classics, University of Melbourne)
Sep 4, 2018
Episode CII - Clodia
The women of Rome are largely missing from the written records, and often come up only tangently in works by and or about the men in their lives. They’re often painted as villains, temptresses, and poisoners – Clodia is no exception. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Aug 20, 2018
Episode CI - The Last Will and Testament of Caesar
A silence settled over the Theatre of Pompey, and Rome moved quickly. Will Brutus and Cassius be hailed as liberators and restorers of the Roman republic, or will Rome lament the demise of its leader? Much of it comes down to the actions of Antony, and the legacy left in the will of Caesar. ‘Caesar’s Gallic War’ podcast is now crowdfunding on kickstarter. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Aug 6, 2018
Episode C - The Death of Caesar (Live in Melbourne)
Julius Caesar was popular with the people, but that didn't extend as far as the senate. Wary of the risk of a new monarchy and eager to restore the proud Roman republic, Brutus, Cassius and Decimus decide to do away with their dictator. Recorded live at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne, on 8th August 2018. ‘Caesar’s Gallic War’ podcast is now crowdfunding on kickstarter. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jul 25, 2018
Episode XCIX - Q and A IV
For the fourth time, listeners provide questions and Rhiannon and Matt answer! In this episode: - Was Livia the scheming sociopath that Robert Graves portrayed? - What is the difference between Caesar and Augustus? Are the titles the same? - What did the Romans write their manuscripts on? - How did the Romans picture the shape of their empire? - Could a senator quit the senate? - What were the limitations of Roman naming conventions? - Would Donald Trump make a good Roman Emperor? - What happened between Caesar and Titus Labienus? - What are some of the lesser known Roman gods? - Did Caesar actually say 'I came, I saw, I conquered'? ‘Caesar’s Gallic War’ podcast is now crowdfunding on kickstarter. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jul 16, 2018
Episode XCVIII - Caesar's Gallic War
After his year as consul, Caesar heads north to govern the province of Cisalpine Gaul. He will spend years fighting against Gaul, extending the empire, and establishing his reputation as a mighty leader. We now give an introductory episode to his text. This is the first episode of a new premium podcast series, ‘Caesar’s Gallic War’, now crowdfunding on kickstarter and available to supporters only. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jun 27, 2018
Episode XCVII - Sallust
Sallust was a Roman politician and historian writing during the time of the fall of the Roman republic. The two main surviving examples of his work are The Cataline Conspiracy and The Jugurthine War and they give an informative and partisan view of the Roman events. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Jun 11, 2018
Episode XCVI - Dictator of Rome
The first triumvirate is over, but for Julius Caesar he got the desired outcome – he’s now poised with an army to march into Rome. Over the next few years he will exert his influence over the empire, and his legacy will bring and end to the Roman republic. Part VI of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
May 28, 2018
Episode XCV - The First Triumvirate
The Roman republic is now at a point where it can be manipulated, particularly if powerful people decide to work together to further their interests, which is exactly what Caesar, Pompey and Crassus have in mind. Part V of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Apr 18, 2018
Episode XCIV - A Republic Worth Fighting For
Rome is now past the years of Sulla as dictator, but the rich and powerful are only encouraged, finding new ways to attain power. Both Crassus and Pompey use the might of the sword to force their agenda, while Cataline prefers the old fashioned method of a dagger to the back. Part IV of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Apr 5, 2018
Episode XCIII - Powerful Personalities
As the senate clawed more power from the people, it was inevitable that a few would rise above others, and take over command and influence with an army. Marius, Sulla, and the civil war that followed would just be another log on the funeral pyre of the Roman republic. Part III of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Mar 20, 2018
Episode XCII - The Beginning of the End of the Republic
The Roman Republic was still going strong 400 years after it had been established but cracks were beginning to show. We can put a year on when it started to go wrong: 133BCE. In this year there would be two significant deaths that would begin the end. Part II of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Mar 7, 2018
Episode XCI - The Roman Constitution
The Roman Republic is often held up as a foundation model of western democracy, and while it worked well for some of the Romans at the time, it did have its flaws. These became more pronounced as the centuries passed. Part I of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Feb 18, 2018
Episode XC - Herodes Atticus
Herodes was a distinguished Roman senator from Greece, and also had the reputation of being the greatest sophist of the age. While he wasn’t always the most popular person in his home province, he did do a lot to elevate the culture and standing of Athens in the Roman Empire. Guest: Dr Estelle Strazdins, (Research Fellow, Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens).
Feb 5, 2018
Episode LXXXIX - A Man the World Could Not Hold
Determined to end his time as Emperor on a high note, Septimius Severus sets his sights on what is one of the few places in the empire having trouble with the locals – Brittania, an island that has never been entirely under Roman rule. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Jan 29, 2018
Episode LXXXVIII – Severan Stories II
Three completely different events in the reign of Septimius Severus. Act I – If you build it they will come Septimius Severus was establishing a dynasty, and one of the best ways to do that is through building. Not only did you get to beautify the empire, but it gives the opportunity to list your names and accomplishments for all to see Act II - The superfluous senators of Septimius Severus Many Roman emperors were harsh towards the senators, and Septimius Severus in particular was adept at thinning the ranks and getting rid of perceived threats. This continued throughout his reign. Act III - I beg of no man There will always be dissatisfaction in the empire, but every now and then a figure will rise from the lower classes, so to speak, and rally some men around him. This happened during the reign of Septimius Severus, when an individual known as Bulla the Brigand started causing trouble in the empire. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Jan 22, 2018
Episode LXXXVII – Severan Stories I
Three different events in the reign of Septimius Severus. Act I - A hair of the beard Gaius Fulvius Plautianus was a trusted relative of Septimius who became pretorian prefect and remained a close advisor. There was no love lost with the rest of the emperor’s family, which led to a swift demise. Act II - Princes who adore you Septimius’ sons Antoninus and Geta were constant rivals, and the Emperor worried about their behaviour and indulgences during the idle days in Rome. Act III - Cordially detested Septimius had a close relationship with his wife Julia Domna, and the empire respected her as the mother of the dynasty. She is remembered as having a keen political mind and being a patron of thinkers, but she wasn’t always respected in the palace. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Dec 11, 2017
Episode LXXXVI – Ascent to Greatness, However Steep and Dangerous
Septimius Severus is now ruler or Rome without opposition, had been all things, and all was of little value. He is now distracted with the care, not of acquiring, but of preserving an empire. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Nov 26, 2017
Episode LXXXV - Black and White
Septimius Severus is proclaimed the new Emperor of Rome, but doesn’t have time to rest on his laurels. With rivals to the east and west, not to mention the problematic Parthians, he has an empire to consolidate. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Nov 12, 2017
Episode LXXXIV – The African Emperor
The Roman Empire shudders in the wake of Commodus’ death, which if you recall, was a matter of months but a whole two emperors ago. Striding into Rome at the head of an army is Septimius Severus, ready to set the right path and found a new, powerful dynasty. Year of the five emperors, take three. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Oct 30, 2017
Episode LXXXIII – Didius Julianus
Enraged at the lack of a decent bonus, the Praetorian Guard cut down the newly installed Emperor Pertinax and resolve to sell the throne to the highest bidder. Stepping forward with a sufficient bank balance is Didius Julianus, a man with a proven track record in both the military and the senate. What could go wrong? Year of the five emperors, take two. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Oct 16, 2017
Episode LXXXII - Pertinax
Many saw Pertinax as a safe pair of hands to hold the empire - an old general and close advisor of Antoninus Pius, he represented a regime change from the days of lavish excess of Commodus. But was it too much too soon? Well they don't call 193CE the year of the five emperors for nothing. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Oct 2, 2017
Episode LXXXI - Livy
Livy was an historian writing during the Augustan age of Rome, who wrote one of the empire’s most famous works – an extensive and exhaustive history, spanning 142 books. Of those we have the first quarter, and they’ve influenced every work on Rome that has been written since. Guest: Professor Ronald Ridley (Honorary,Historical and Philosophical studies, University of Melbourne).
Sep 18, 2017
Episode LXXX - Dio Cassius
For much of our journey through the Antonine dynasty we’ve had Dio Cassius as our guide. As both a historian and a senator, Dio had a ringside seat to some of the greatest Emperors the Roman empire had seen. He wrote an extensive and what is considered reliable history of the Roman empire, spanning 80 volumes, many of which we have today. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).
Sep 4, 2017
Episode LXXIX - Epicureanism
Epicureanism was an ancient philosophy founded in Athens which became popular throughout the Roman world. It teaches that the greatest good is to seek modest pleasures, and this will lead to a state of tranquility. Guest: Dr Sonya Wurster (Lecturer in Literature and Philosophy, Yale-NUS, Singapore).
Aug 21, 2017
Episode LXXVIII - Borders of the Roman Empire
The borders of the Roman Empire grew and shrank throughout its history, reaching its greatest extent during the rule of Trajan. How the Romans viewed and managed their provinces changed with the politics of Rome, and their relationship with outside powers influenced what it meant to be a Roman. Guest: Dr Paul Burton (Senior Lecturer, Centre for Classical Studies, Australian National University).
Aug 15, 2017
Announcement: The Status Quo
One thing you can say about the reign of Commodus is that it must have been an interesting time to live in Rome. Between the spectacles in the colosseum and the lowered life expectancy in the Senate, it was just a matter of time until someone took a knife to Commodus, and after almost a century in power, the Antonine dynasty comes to an end. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Aug 7, 2017
Episode LXXVII - Such was the End of Commodus
One thing you can say about the reign of Commodus is that it must have been an interesting time to live in Rome. Between the spectacles in the colosseum and the lowered life expectancy in the Senate, it was just a matter of time until someone took a knife to Commodus, and after almost a century in power, the Antonine dynasty comes to an end. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Jul 24, 2017
Episode LXXVI - It's Good to be the King
Commodus took a hands-off approach to ruling Rome, but what was he doing with all that free time? It turns out quite a lot. Commodus redefined what it meant to be an emperor, on one hand debasing himself by fighting against the lowest classes in the arena, and on the other hand elevating himself to the level of a god and hero. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Jul 10, 2017
Episode LXXV - Flying Too Close to the Sun
Commodus wasn't the most attentive emperor to rule Rome, preferring to dedicate his time to indulging his vices. Inevitably, someone will step forward to call the shots, as someone has to keep the grain flowing. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Jun 25, 2017
Episode LXXIV - Iron and Rust
With the passing of Marcus Aurelius, his son Commodus is made emperor. The 19 year old youth had been raised knowing the empire would be his to rule, and he spent it doing what he pleased. The next twelve years under the reign of Commodus would be bloody and chaotic, and many historians believe it to mark the beginning of the end of the Roman empire. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Jun 12, 2017
Episode LXXIII - From a Kingdom of Gold
Marcus Aurelius faced many threats to Rome during his time as Emperor and spent more time at war than he did at peace. Unlike most Emperors, succession was never an issue, as he had a legitimate son, Commodus, ready to take his place. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
May 29, 2017
Episode LXXII - On Behalf of the State
"For it is on behalf of the State that I continue to toil and to undergo dangers and that I have spent so much time here outside of Italy, though already an old man and weak, unable to take either food without pain or sleep without anxiety." - Dio 72:24 An ageing Marcus Aurelius continues to toil and undergo dangers – be they warring tribes to the north, the insurrection of Avidius Cassius, an alleged betrayal by his beloved wife, or the disappointing prospects of his son and heir. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
May 15, 2017
Episode LXXI - Meditations
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are the private musings of a stoic philosopher, primarily written while he was on campaign during the Marcomannic Wars. While they lack extensive details, they give a rare insight into the mind of an Emperor, and the popularity of the text has shaped our modern understanding of the thoughtful Emperor. Guest: Dr Sonya Wurster (Honorary Fellow in the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne).
May 1, 2017
Episode LXX - The Marcomannic Wars
With the Parthians once again defeated and the Antonine plague sweeping through the empire, Marcus Aurelius must defend Rome from yet another opportunistic enemy – the tribes to the north, or as Rome called them, the barbarians. The northern borders were under threat from a rough coalition chiefly lead by the Marcomanni, and Marcus heads out to take control of the Roman forces himself. It is a conflict that will dominate his time for the rest of his life. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Apr 17, 2017
Episode LXIX - Galen and the Antonine Plague
As the Parthian War comes to end the troops are dispersed throughout the corners of the Empire, and with them goes the Antonine plague. The effects of the plague will be felt for decades to come, and we know much about it through the extensive writings of the physician Galen. Guest: Dr Leanne McNamara (Classics, La Trobe University).
Apr 3, 2017
Episode LXVIII - Never Underestimate the Parthians
The reign of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus quickly erupts into war, a state which will continue for the rest of their lives. The first threat the empire encounters comes from the east, where the long-time enemy of the Romans, the Parthians, make their move. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Mar 20, 2017
Episode LXVII - Heir and a Spare
Introducing Marcus Aurelius: scholar, warrior, philosopher,leader, lover. And his younger brother, Lucius Verus. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University).
Mar 6, 2017
Episode LXVI - Fronto
When Marcus Aurelius was a young man he was important enough to be given the best education sestertius could buy, in the form of a number of prominent tutors. One of those was the respected senator, Marcus Cornelius Fronto, who remained close to Marcus for the rest of his life. His letters to and from the Emperor, as well their relationship, give a rare insight behind the scenes of imperial power. Guest: Dr Callain Davenport (ARC DECRA Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland).
Feb 20, 2017
Episode LXV - Antoninus Pius
Antoninus became emperor in 138CE as part of a solid succession plan, keeping the empire safe until Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus came of age. No one expected him to be so successful, ruling over a peaceful and prosperous Rome for 22 years.
Feb 7, 2017
Episode LXIV - Q and A III
Listeners provide questions and Rhiannon and Matt answer! In this episode: - What did the Romans know about China and India? - At what point does someone who is conquered become a slave? - Where did the colours come from for Roman garments? - What did Romans celebrate? - What did Romans eat? - Do we know where Julius Caesar was stabbed? - Who is our favourite Emperor? - How did the ancient texts get to us today? - How do we prepare and do our research for the podcast?
Jan 23, 2017
Episode LXIII - Women Poets
All our talk of Roman writing has focused on men, for the simple reason that, for the most part, that is all we have. This makes the fragments of work we have by Roman women an important aspect of life and culture in ancient Rome. Unfortunately, it can be covered in a single episode.
Jan 8, 2017
Episode LXII - Juvenal
Juvenal was a poet from the second century CE, and was one of the last and greatest satirical poets of the Roman empire. His five books, collectively known as the Satires, can be a brutal critique of life in Rome, but his use of comedic expression and his tendency to exaggerate has made interpreting them a field of debate.
Dec 19, 2016
Interlude - The Bronze Head of Augustus
One of the treasures of the British Museum collection is a bronze head of Augustus. Matt Smith is introduced by Dr Lily Withycombe, a curator from the National Museum of Australia.
Dec 12, 2016
Episode LXI - Gladiator (2000)
The movie Gladiator is a work of historical fiction, telling the story of the fallen Roman general Maximus, his journey as a Gladiator, and his fight in the arena against the Emperor Commodus. So how much did Ridley and Rusty get right?
Nov 28, 2016
Episode LX - Cleopatra (Live at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne)
Cleopatra was a ruler of Egypt at a time when the land of the Pharaohs were coming to an end. The impression we have of her will always be through the relationships she had with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. So what's her real story? Recorded live at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne, on 22nd November, 2016.
1 hr 2 min
Nov 14, 2016
Episode LIX - Martial
Martial was a poet writing during the time of Domitian, Nerva and Trajan. He was famous during his time, well-known for his books of epigrams, many of them witty, brief, and/or offensive. As this is a historical work and a historical figure, we are presenting this uncensored.
Oct 31, 2016
Episode LVIII - Tacitus
"It is the rare fortune of an age in which we may feel what we wish and may say what we feel." - Tacitus, Histories, Book I.I Tacitus is one of the most important historians of the Roman empire, writing some of the most reputable biographies of early Roman emperors.
Oct 17, 2016
Episode LVII - Little Soul, Little Wanderer, Little Charmer
Hadrian has wandered to every province in the empire, built impressive buildings, waged war against the jews, and ruled a vast empire. He now withdraws to live in seclusion, and spends the rest of his life struggling to find a suitable heir.
Oct 3, 2016
Interlude - The Singing Colossus of Memnon
In 129CE Hadrian visits Egypt, and stops to take a look at one of the country's top tourist destinations: the singing colossus of Memnon.
Sep 19, 2016
Episode LVI - May His Bones Rot
Jerusalem rebels against conditions imposed upon it by Roman rule, and Hadrian responds with such force that his name and acts are never forgotten.
Sep 6, 2016
Episode LV - What Hadrian Loves Best
With Hadrian safely back from his travels we take a moment to have a look at what could debatably be the loves of Hadrian's life - his building projects, his wife Vabia Sabina, and a certain young man named Antinous.
Aug 23, 2016
Episode LIV - There and Back Again (An Emperor's Tale)
With his position as Emperor secure Hadrian sets about doing what he's always wanted to do: touring the provinces and taking a ridiculously long gap year. For the next four years Hadrian will be living his life on the road, and he leaves his name on every part of the Empire he visits.
Aug 8, 2016
Episode LIII - Rome Welcomes Hadrian
Hadrian is now the emperor of Rome, and he makes some quick changes with large-reaching consequences - he pulls troops back from Parthia and in the eyes of Rome gives up the territory, and he has four influential Romans 'murdered' before they cause him any problems.
Jul 25, 2016
Episode LII - Hadrian the Little Greek
Trajan was a capable and admired emperor, and his death leaves Rome with uncertainty as to what the future ruler will bring. Into these times step Hadrian, but the transition to power never goes without incident.
Jul 11, 2016
Episode LI - Frontinus
Frontinus was a Roman senator who rose to prominence during the time of Domitian, Nerva, and Trajan. While a respected military man, he is best known as an author of technical treatises, especially De Aquaeductu, the authority on the aqueducts of Rome. Guest: Dr Alice König (Lecturer in Latin & Classical Studies, University of St Andrews, Scotland)
Jun 13, 2016
Episode L - Historia Augusta
The Historia Augusta is one of the few historical sources we have for learning about the later emperors of the Roman empire - it's just a shame it's so untrustworthy.
May 30, 2016
Episode XLIX - Suetonius
When learning about the lives of the early Roman emperors, one of the most valuable resources we have is the work of Suetonius. He was an early writer who rose to prominence during the time of Hadrian, where he made excellent use of his access to imperial records.
May 16, 2016
Episode XLVIII - Trajan: Optimus Princeps
Trajan wasn't just a respected military leader or a man of the sword - he won over both the people of Rome and the senate. He not only cemented an impressive reputation, he set the benchmark against which all future emperors would be measured.
May 2, 2016
Episode XLVII - Pliny the Younger
The letters of Pliny the Younger are a great source of information for life in 2nd C. CE Rome - they tell us about administrative issues, villas, the eruption of Pompeii, and give us an invaluable record of correspondence with the Emperor himself, Trajan.
Apr 18, 2016
Episode XLVI - Trajan vs Dacia
An experienced and seasoned military leader, Trajan doesn't wait long to lead the Roman legions into battle, and turns his attention towards Dacia in the north-east. Long since ruled by the Dacian king Decebalus, Dacia could bring much wealth into the Roman Empire, and all that stands between them is the Danube River.
Apr 4, 2016
Episode XLV - In Trajan we Trust
Coerced by the praetorian guard, Nerva names the respected general Trajan to be his successor. Trajan would go on to become one of the most well regarded emperors the empire had ever seen.
Mar 29, 2016
Interlude - Valerius Flaccus
Valerius Flaccus was a poet writing during the reign of Vespasian in the 1st century CE. Much of what he's written has been lost, save for an partially written epic 'The Argonautica', telling the story of Jason and the Golden Fleece.
Mar 21, 2016
Interlude - Q and A II
In which listeners provide well-composed and thoughtful questions on topics of Rome, Matt Smith butchers all the names he reads out, and Rhiannon Evans provides the answers!
Mar 7, 2016
Episode XLIV - Roman Sexuality
Popular media has given us many misconceptions about sexuality in ancient Rome. While we're all familiar with the sordid details, Romans thought very differently about sex and marriage to the modern day moral code.
Feb 21, 2016
Episode XLIII - Virgil
Virgil was a poet living in the Augustan period, and likely the best regarded writer of the classical period. His work the Aeneid tells the story of Aeneas, refugee from the fall of Troy and mythical founder of Rome. To this day it is the template for epics.
Feb 16, 2016
Interlude - Latin Pronunciation
Last week we told you the meanings and origins of some well-known Latin terms. But how do we know how Latin letters and words were pronounced?
Feb 8, 2016
Episode XLII - A Lesson in Latin
Let's learn some Latin! How did it work? How should we be pronouncing these words? What is the origin of some of the most famous Latin phrases?
Jan 24, 2016
Episode XLI - Nerva
The death of Domitian leaves a Flavian-sized hole in the fabric of Rome. In this past this would be filled with a quick, dramatic round of 'Who's got the biggest army?', but in this case it's different. The senate acts fast, putting one of their own, Nerva, in the seat of power.
Jan 11, 2016
Episode XL - What is an Emperor? (redux)
Think about the time spanning from Julius Caesar becoming a dictator right through to the assassination of Domitian. In that period of time Rome has gone from a Republic to being a Monarchy in everything but name. So what is an Emperor now, how has it changed, and what does it mean to hold that power?
Dec 14, 2015
Episode XXXIX - Asterix and the Missing Scroll
Asterix and the Missing Scroll is one of the highest selling graphic novels of the year, but how does it stack up when you hand it to a dubious Roman classicist?
Nov 30, 2015
Episode XXXVIII - Domitian Must Die
Life under Domitian hasn't been easy for the Roman empire. After 15 years of cruelty and paranoia, those close to him decide to bring the Flavian dynasty to a messy ending.
Nov 16, 2015
Episode XXXVII - Domitian Dominates
Domitian becomes emperor, and goes from being ignored and having little to Caesar of the greatest empire in the western world. but with great power comes great responsibility…
Nov 3, 2015
Episode XXXVI - The Debut of Domitian
Titus dies without an heir, leaving his brother Domitian to take his place as Emperor. Before we get to that point, who exactly is Domitian, and what happens in his youth to shape him as a ruler?
Oct 28, 2015
Interlude - Titus' Birthday
Clearing up a discrepancy - in what year was Titus born?
Oct 19, 2015
Episode XXXV - A Pleasant Surprise From the Emperor Titus
Making the most of his father's power, Titus sets the standard for all playboy princes yet to come. When Vespasian dies and Titus becomes Emperor, Rome was probably bracing themselves for the worst. Fortunately, he steps up to the challenge.
Sep 21, 2015
Episode XXXIV - Titus and the Siege of Jerusalem
Titus is left in command of the troops in Judea by his father Vespasian, who leaves to become the new Emperor of Rome. Eager for a quick resolution, Titus sees taking Jerusalem as the key to ending conflict.
Aug 31, 2015
Episode XXXIII - Emperor Vespasian, Becoming a God
Vespasian is not the best-known Emperor, perhaps because he had an unremarkable rule, was well liked, managed things well… and wasn't notorious. Perhaps he should be known for the notable characteristics of being approachable and having a good sense of humour!
Aug 24, 2015
Episode XXXII - Vespasian, as Prophesised
Vespasian had a proud military career, and being of the equestrian ranks, showed little desire to ever become Emperor. The civil war changes this, and faced with so many prophesies Vespasian finally embraces his destiny.
Aug 17, 2015
Episode XXXI - Enter Vespasian
The final contender for emperor in the civil war of 69CE is Vespasian, a general who at the time is off fighting a war against the jews in Judea. Before he rises to power he was a competent general of the Equestrian ranks, and had little desire to rule.
Aug 3, 2015
Episode XXX - Vitellius
Vitellius has been vocally gaining support amongst his troops in Germania, enough to take on Otho and become emperor himself.
Jul 27, 2015
Episode XXIX - Otho
When Otho dispatches with his predecessor Galba and declares himself Emperor he quickly finds himself under siege from Vitellius in Germany.
Jul 12, 2015
Episode XXVIII - Galba
Rome descends into civil war and four contenders eventually vie for the rank of Caesar. The first to have any real success is an ageing governor and general from Spain, Galba.
Jul 6, 2015
Interlude - Reading List II
As we delve into the civil war of Rome and reach the Flavian dynasty, we take the time to look at the sources and recommend some readings. A complete list will be available on Facebook.
Jun 28, 2015
Episode XXVII - Ovid
Ovid is one of the most well-remembered poets of the ancient world, most notably for his work the Metamorphoses, but to contemporary Romans he had his critics - in particular the Emperor Augustus.
May 17, 2015
Episode XXVI - Seneca the Younger
Seneca is best known as the the tutor and advisor of Nero, but he was a respected stoic philosopher, a writer of tragedies, and one of the richest men in the Roman empire.
May 4, 2015
Episode XXV - Livia
Livia is often known by association - the wife of Augustus and the mother of Tiberius - but she becomes a figure of power and influence in Rome in her own right.
Apr 16, 2015
Episode XXIV - Cicero
Cicero was a self-made man who rose through the ranks of the Roman senate on the strength of his oration. This episode of Emperors of Rome looks at his life, his career and philosophy.
Apr 1, 2015
Episode XXIII - Romans vs Christians
How did the Roman Empire deal with Christians and religious cults in general, and what do we know about the Roman interactions with early Christians?
Mar 23, 2015
Episode XXII - What a Artist Dies in Nero
Nero always seemed more interested in a playboy lifestyle than managing Rome, and this angered the people of Rome, the Senate and the military.
Mar 16, 2015
Episode XXI - The Great Fire of Rome in 64CE
Nero’s biggest test as an Emperor came when a great fire tore through Rome in 64AD. What caused this fire and how Nero acted and reacted is a debate that academics continue to this day.
Mar 12, 2015
Interlude - Q and A
We put out a call to the audience for questions and you responded! Here are our answers.
Mar 8, 2015
Episode XX - Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger was well connected in Rome - the sister of emperor Caligula, the wife of Claudius and the mother of Nero, she was at the centre of power for many years - and some say she held it herself.
Mar 1, 2015
Episode XIX - Nero the Youngest Emperor
At the age of 17, Nero is the youngest Emperor yet. Through influence and guidance he takes Rome through what is called ‘five good years’, but it isn’t going to last.
Feb 16, 2015
Episode XVIII - The Life of Claudius
Claudius brings his own style to the emperor which makes him enemies in both his family and the senate.
Feb 9, 2015
Episode XVII - Claudius Conquers Britannia
The new emperor Claudius has a strong grounding as a scholar, but little experience as a soldier. He turns his attention to a land that has remained virtually untouched since Caesar's time: Britannia.
Feb 2, 2015
Episode XVI - Claudius the Unlikely Emperor
With Caligula's brief rule leaving the Julio-Claudians in a sorry state, there isn't much of the imperial family left to become emperor. The title goes to his uncle Claudius mostly be default.
Jan 26, 2015
Interlude - Reading List I
We’ve had requests for books to compliment this podcast series, so here’s a few suggestions. There’ll be a complete reading list available on our Facebook page.
Jan 18, 2015
Episode XV - The Assassination of Caligula
Caligula's erratic rule has led to a fast erosion in popularity and support, and rumours of assassination come to head just four short years after he becomes emperor. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at downfall of this hated ruler of Rome.
Jan 11, 2015
Episode XIV - The Madness of Caligula
Caligula is best known for his erratic and tyrannical behaviour, but were his reactions a result of deviance or madness? Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at the literary sources on Caligula and the wrongs that they accuse him of.
Jan 4, 2015
Episode XIII - The Rule of Caligula
When Caligula became emperor there was a lot of expectations after the disappointing neglect of Tiberius. But for an emperor with such a short time in power he had a lasting impact on the Roman Empire. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith discuss the promising beginning of the reign of Caligula.
Dec 21, 2014
Episode XII - Tiberius the Gloomiest of Men
Tiberius has withdrawn to a life of seclusion on the island of Capri, and while he’s there he loses control of both Rome and his reputation. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at the downfall of Tiberius, his trashed reputation, and the scheme of Sejanus.
Dec 15, 2014
Episode XI - Tiberius the Reluctant Emperor
Tiberius became emperor of Rome at the relatively advanced age of 55. He was well-known as a military commander and was popular with the soldiers, but history portrays him as a reluctant leader. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith discuss the reality of Tiberius.
Dec 8, 2014
Episode X - The Augustan Succession
After a lengthy reign of 41 years the Emperor Augustus needs to designate his successor, and after a number of candidates die young he is left with limited options. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at Augustus' succession problem and how he secures his legacy.
Dec 2, 2014
Interlude - Pax Romana
Pax Romana - the 'Roman peace' was a long period of relative peace experienced by the Roman Empire, and is said to have been established during the rule of Augustus. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at the contemporary views of peace and how Augustus used it to his advantage.
Nov 24, 2014
Episode IX - Augustan Rome
During Augustus’ time as emperor he had a lasting impact on Rome, during which culture thrived and there was extensive building projects. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at Augustan Rome’s good and bad - from culture to censorship.
Nov 13, 2014
Episode VIII - The Augustan Revolution
Augustus was the founder of the Roman Empire and its first emperor, and after the tumultuous rule of Caesar he enjoyed a long reign. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at how he came to power and whether he was a man of war or peace.
Oct 15, 2014
Interlude - What is an Emperor?
What does the word 'emperor' mean and who can it be applied to in Rome's history? Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at what the emperors called themselves in antiquity, and why the title doesn't apply to Julius Caesar.
Jun 22, 2014
Episode VII - The Legacy of Caesar
For someone who had power for a short amount of time, Caesar’s impact is undeniable. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at the impact of Julius Caesar – the veneration, the public works in his name, and the attempts of emperors to style themselves in his image.
Jun 9, 2014
Episode VI - The Death of Caesar
Between winning the civil war and holding power, Caesar's won the support of the people of Rome, but gains more than one enemy in the Roman Senate. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at Caesar's great downfall.
May 26, 2014
Episode V - Caesar and Civil War
Julius Caesar turns his eyes on a greater prize - the Roman Empire itself. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Lecture in Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University and host Matt Smith discuss Caesar’s civil war, and the resistance within the Senate.
May 11, 2014
Episode IV - Caesar's Triumph
With Gaul and the Germanic tribes conquered and the borders of the Roman Empire expanded, Julius Caesar returns to Rome, hailed as a heroic conqueror. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University), Sarah Midford (Lecturer and PhD student in Classics, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at Caesar's triumphal procession.
Apr 30, 2014
Episode III - Caesar and Gaul
Caesar eyes the territory to the east, inhabited by hoards of Gauls, and sees a chance to push forward his military career. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith cover Caesar's conquest of Gaul, and his use of writing to push his agenda.
Apr 10, 2014
Episode II - Caesar the Politician
Caesar reaches the age where he can enter politics, but quickly finds that the rules don’t suit him. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith look at Caesar's time as a politician, and a tenuous alliance called the Triumvir.
Mar 28, 2014
Episode I - The Early Years of Caesar
How do Caesar’s formative years shape his decisions in years to come and impact on the Roman Empire? Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) and host Matt Smith discuss what we know about Caesar’s early life, his entry into the military and his encounter with pirates.