Podcast

Emperors of Rome

“Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” - Tacitus. A podcast series looking at the rulers of the ancient Roman empire, by Dr Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith.

Episodes

  • Episode CXII - The Book of Love

    Feb 04 2019

    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)

  • Episode CXI - The Equestrian Order

    Jan 22 2019

    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)

  • Episode CX - Anthology of Interest

    Jan 08 2019

    The ultimate triumvirate! Three people present three Roman history topics each for three minutes. In this episode you'll here: - 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 Lectur...more

  • Episode CIX - Saturnalia

    Dec 17 2018

    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).

  • Episode CVIII - A Lesson in Latin II

    Nov 28 2018

    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).

  • Episode CVII - The Legacy of Spartacus

    Nov 12 2018

    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).

  • Episode CVI - The Third Servile War

    Oct 29 2018

    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).

  • Episode CV - Spartacus the Gladiator

    Oct 16 2018

    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).

  • Episode CIV - Slavery

    Oct 01 2018

    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).

  • Episode CIII - Old Age in the Roman World

    Sep 18 2018

    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)

  • Episode CII - Clodia

    Sep 04 2018

    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)

  • Episode CI - The Last Will and Testament of Caesar

    Aug 21 2018

    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)

  • Episode C - The Death of Caesar (Live in Melbourne)

    Aug 06 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCIX - Q and A IV

    Jul 25 2018

    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 happ...more

  • Episode XCVIII - Caesar's Gallic War

    Jul 16 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCVII - Sallust

    Jun 28 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCVI - Dictator of Rome

    Jun 11 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCV - The First Triumvirate

    May 29 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCIV - A Republic Worth Fighting For

    Apr 18 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCIII - Powerful Personalities

    Apr 05 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCII - The Beginning of the End of the Republic

    Mar 20 2018

    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)

  • Episode XCI - The Roman Constitution

    Mar 08 2018

    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)

  • Episode XC - Herodes Atticus

    Feb 19 2018

    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).

  • Episode LXXXIX - A Man the World Could Not Hold

    Feb 06 2018

    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).

  • Episode LXXXVIII – Severan Stories II

    Jan 30 2018

    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 ...more

  • Episode LXXXVII – Severan Stories I

    Jan 23 2018

    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 - Cordiall...more

  • Episode LXXXVI – Ascent to Greatness, However Steep and Dangerous

    Dec 12 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXXV - Black and White

    Nov 27 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXXIV – The African Emperor

    Nov 13 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXXIII – Didius Julianus

    Oct 30 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXXII - Pertinax

    Oct 16 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXXI - Livy

    Oct 03 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXX - Dio Cassius

    Sep 19 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXIX - Epicureanism

    Sep 05 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXVIII - Borders of the Roman Empire

    Aug 22 2017

    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).

  • Announcement: The Status Quo

    Aug 15 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXVII - Such was the End of Commodus

    Aug 07 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXVI - It's Good to be the King

    Jul 25 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXV - Flying Too Close to the Sun

    Jul 11 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXIV - Iron and Rust

    Jun 26 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXIII - From a Kingdom of Gold

    Jun 12 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXXII - On Behalf of the State

    May 30 2017

    "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 R...more

  • Episode LXXI - Meditations

    May 16 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXX - The Marcomannic Wars

    May 01 2017

    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 Lectur...more

  • Episode LXIX - Galen and the Antonine Plague

    Apr 18 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXVIII - Never Underestimate the Parthians

    Apr 04 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXVII - Heir and a Spare

    Mar 21 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXVI - Fronto

    Mar 06 2017

    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).

  • Episode LXV - Antoninus Pius

    Feb 20 2017

    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.

  • Episode LXIV - Q and A III

    Feb 07 2017

    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?

  • Episode LXIII - Women Poets

    Jan 24 2017

    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.

  • Episode LXII - Juvenal

    Jan 09 2017

    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.

  • Interlude - The Bronze Head of Augustus

    Dec 20 2016

    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.

  • Episode LXI - Gladiator (2000)

    Dec 12 2016

    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?

  • Episode LX - Cleopatra (Live at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne)

    Nov 29 2016

    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.

  • Episode LIX - Martial

    Nov 14 2016

    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.

  • Episode LVIII - Tacitus

    Nov 01 2016

    "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.

  • Episode LVII - Little Soul, Little Wanderer, Little Charmer

    Oct 18 2016

    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.

  • Interlude - The Singing Colossus of Memnon

    Oct 04 2016

    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.

  • Episode LVI - May His Bones Rot

    Sep 20 2016

    Jerusalem rebels against conditions imposed upon it by Roman rule, and Hadrian responds with such force that his name and acts are never forgotten.

  • Episode LV - What Hadrian Loves Best

    Sep 06 2016

    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.

  • Episode LIV - There and Back Again (An Emperor's Tale)

    Aug 23 2016

    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.

  • Episode LIII - Rome Welcomes Hadrian

    Aug 08 2016

    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.

  • Episode LII - Hadrian the Little Greek

    Jul 25 2016

    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.

  • Episode LI - Frontinus

    Jul 12 2016

    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)

  • Episode L - Historia Augusta

    Jun 14 2016

    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.

  • Episode XLIX - Suetonius

    May 31 2016

    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.

  • Episode XLVIII - Trajan: Optimus Princeps

    May 17 2016

    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.

  • Episode XLVII - Pliny the Younger

    May 02 2016

    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.

  • Episode XLVI - Trajan vs Dacia

    Apr 19 2016

    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.

  • Episode XLV - In Trajan we Trust

    Apr 05 2016

    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.

  • Interlude - Valerius Flaccus

    Mar 30 2016

    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.

  • Interlude - Q and A II

    Mar 22 2016

    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!

  • Episode XLIV - Roman Sexuality

    Mar 07 2016

    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.

  • Episode XLIII - Virgil

    Feb 21 2016

    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.

  • Interlude - Latin Pronunciation

    Feb 17 2016

    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?

  • Episode XLII - A Lesson in Latin

    Feb 09 2016

    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?

  • Episode XLI - Nerva

    Jan 25 2016

    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.

  • Episode XL - What is an Emperor? (redux)

    Jan 12 2016

    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?

  • Episode XXXIX - Asterix and the Missing Scroll

    Dec 15 2015

    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?

  • Episode XXXVIII - Domitian Must Die

    Nov 30 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXXVII - Domitian Dominates

    Nov 16 2015

    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…

  • Episode XXXVI - The Debut of Domitian

    Nov 03 2015

    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?

  • Interlude - Titus' Birthday

    Oct 28 2015

    Clearing up a discrepancy - in what year was Titus born?

  • Episode XXXV - A Pleasant Surprise From the Emperor Titus

    Oct 19 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXXIV - Titus and the Siege of Jerusalem

    Sep 22 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXXIII - Emperor Vespasian, Becoming a God

    Sep 01 2015

    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!

  • Episode XXXII - Vespasian, as Prophesised

    Aug 25 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXXI - Enter Vespasian

    Aug 17 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXX - Vitellius

    Aug 03 2015

    Vitellius has been vocally gaining support amongst his troops in Germania, enough to take on Otho and become emperor himself.

  • Episode XXIX - Otho

    Jul 27 2015

    When Otho dispatches with his predecessor Galba and declares himself Emperor he quickly finds himself under siege from Vitellius in Germany.

  • Episode XXVIII - Galba

    Jul 13 2015

    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.

  • Interlude - Reading List II

    Jul 07 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXVII - Ovid

    Jun 29 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXVI - Seneca the Younger

    May 18 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXV - Livia

    May 04 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXIV - Cicero

    Apr 16 2015

    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.

  • Episode XXIII - Romans vs Christians

    Apr 02 2015

    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?

  • Episode XXII - What a Artist Dies in Nero

    Mar 23 2015

    Nero always seemed more interested in a playboy lifestyle than managing Rome, and this angered the people of Rome, the Senate and the military.

  • Episode XXI - The Great Fire of Rome in 64CE

    Mar 16 2015

    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.

  • Interlude - Q and A

    Mar 12 2015

    We put out a call to the audience for questions and you responded! Here are our answers.

  • Episode XX - Agrippina the Younger

    Mar 09 2015

    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.

  • Episode XIX - Nero the Youngest Emperor

    Mar 02 2015

    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.

  • Episode XVIII - The Life of Claudius

    Feb 16 2015

    Claudius brings his own style to the emperor which makes him enemies in both his family and the senate.

  • Episode XVII - Claudius Conquers Britannia

    Feb 09 2015

    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.

  • Episode XVI - Claudius the Unlikely Emperor

    Feb 02 2015

    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.

  • Interlude - Reading List I

    Jan 26 2015

    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.

  • Episode XV - The Assassination of Caligula

    Jan 19 2015

    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.

  • Episode XIV - The Madness of Caligula

    Jan 11 2015

    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.

  • Episode XIII - The Rule of Caligula

    Jan 04 2015

    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.

  • Episode XII - Tiberius the Gloomiest of Men

    Dec 22 2014

    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.

  • Episode XI - Tiberius the Reluctant Emperor

    Dec 15 2014

    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.

  • Episode X - The Augustan Succession

    Dec 08 2014

    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.

  • Interlude - Pax Romana

    Dec 02 2014

    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.

  • Episode IX - Augustan Rome

    Nov 24 2014

    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.

  • Episode VIII - The Augustan Revolution

    Nov 14 2014

    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.

  • Interlude - What is an Emperor?

    Oct 15 2014

    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.

  • Episode VII - The Legacy of Caesar

    Jun 23 2014

    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.

  • Episode VI - The Death of Caesar

    Jun 09 2014

    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.

  • Episode V - Caesar and Civil War

    May 26 2014

    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.

  • Episode IV - Caesar's Triumph

    May 12 2014

    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.

  • Episode III - Caesar and Gaul

    May 01 2014

    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.

  • Episode II - Caesar the Politician

    Apr 10 2014

    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.

  • Episode I - The Early Years of Caesar

    Mar 28 2014

    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.