Join 3,564 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Vox Roma
July 10, 2011 2:32 PM   Subscribe

Over 143 episodes of audio, Mike Duncan has covered the founding of Rome through the Crisis of the Third Century in his History of Rome podcast [previously], having now reached the last pagan Emperor, Julian The Apostate. Enlivened by drawing on comparisons to popular culture, from The Empire Strikes Back (when Hannibal makes his appearance) to The Godfather (as a metaphor for Rome's social client system), Mr Duncan's work makes for fun, informative 25-minute sessions with the greatest empire of the ancient western world. If you're interested in more, the podcasts could be handily supplemented with...

In his "Hardcore History" podcast (previously), former broadcaster Dan Carlin covered the fall of the Roman Republic (episode I, II, III, IV, V and a suitably epic final five-hour part VI). He also dramatically addressed the wars against the Carthaginians as the "Punic Nightmares" series (now sadly behind a paywall). Much of the same era was covered by Melvyn Bragg with an In Our Time episode on the destruction of Carthage. IOT has also recently broadcast an episode on Cleopatra (as NPR's All Things Considered did in a brief interview with the author of Cleopatra: A Life) along with episodes on Roman Britain, the broader influence of Rome on European civilization, and the decline and fall of the empire.

From another angle, Professor Bob Packett has just summarized the life of Ceasar (MP3) after an extensive audio biography [recent archive]. The penultimate episode of the series, on Ceasar's funeral, was his very first broadcast, almost 2000 episodes ago.

If you're more the visual type, Mr Duncan (recent BBC profile) has nicely illustrated many of his podcasts with maps, but you may wish to add: Of course, you might also want to consult the original sources, from the Perseus Digital Library: Livy's History of Rome, the Annals and History of Tacitus (about whom there is another IOT episode), and Caesar's Gallic War. And if you want to know what happened after Romulus Augustulus, the fittingly named last emperor of Rome, at least for the eastern half of the empire you could do worse than turning to the podcast that inspired Mr Duncan to produce his own work: 12 Byzantine Emperors, by Lars Brownworth, who has since turned to covering the history of the Normans (previously).
posted by Bora Horza Gobuchul (42 comments total) 305 users marked this as a favorite

 
It's not free, but you might also want to check out audio from Great Courses(formerly the Teaching Company on Rome:
Famous Romans
Rome and the Barbarians
History of Ancient Rome
Emperors of Rome
World of Byzantium
posted by Carius at 2:49 PM on July 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


Quality post. Thanks for this.
posted by Senator at 2:52 PM on July 10, 2011


best.post.of
the year.
posted by clavdivs at 3:02 PM on July 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


Flagged as fantastic. Was already a Mike Duncan fan and am looking forward to digging through the rest of these links. Thank you so much for this.
posted by EatTheWeak at 3:09 PM on July 10, 2011


My inner classics geek salutes you.
posted by The Whelk at 3:12 PM on July 10, 2011


Great! Thanks. It's a weird coincidence that I've just picked up studying this. You read my mind.
posted by tatma at 3:16 PM on July 10, 2011


Julian the Apostate was also the model for Julian Comstock in Robert Charles Wilson's novel of the same name -- in the book, 22nd-century America is a feudal theocracy after the end of oil, and Julian is a liberal-minded soldier who challenges the hereditary president and tries to bring science and liberty back to the country. Lots of interesting (and disturbing) parallels there.
posted by Rhaomi at 3:16 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Both the Rome and the Viking podcasts are fantastic. Highly recommended.
posted by immlass at 3:33 PM on July 10, 2011


Roman-era shipwreck reveals ancient medical secrets
posted by homunculus at 3:43 PM on July 10, 2011


Hardcore History's latest wrap up on the fall of ancient Rome is mindblowing. Will definitely check out Duncan's stuff as well...
posted by ph00dz at 3:44 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Hardcore History's latest wrap up on the fall of ancient Rome is mindblowing. Will definitely check out Duncan's stuff as well..."

It's all good stuff, I'm going to have to delete a lot of stuff to make room for "Death throes of the Republic VI" (sounds like a Star Wars prequel). Carlin's presentation can be bit over the top at times but I guess that's better than some of the really, really dry history podcasts out there. I forget where I left off with Duncan's History but I may have to get back into that one as well.
posted by MikeMc at 4:39 PM on July 10, 2011


I've been listening to Duncan for ages now and was wondering if he would ever show up here. Considering the greatness of this post, I'm pretty glad I waited.
posted by Winnemac at 4:39 PM on July 10, 2011


Dude.
posted by Space Kitty at 4:55 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Duncan and Carlin are my two favourite podcasters! Though, I do miss Mike's early podcast, where he delved a little more into some of the fun stories about specific battles and incidents. Once we get to the more solid ground of the empire, he picks up the pace a lot more and focusses on a more macro perspective, which I personally don't find quite as fun as the earlier, kooky stories and what not.

Carlin's Shatneresque delivery put me off initially, but I've actually grown to love it!

Brownworth's 12 Byzantine Rulers is wildly popular online, but as history I find it a bit problematic; there are numerous factual errors he makes, but more importantly his weird "Byzantine Christians saved Europe from the slavering Muslim hordes!" angle is ahistorical to the extreme, and ironically his focus on the rulers actually grossly understates the role that Christianity played in the Byzantine Empire, and the fact that at many times, the Emperor was almost wholly irrelevant. I recommend instead Matthew Herbst's lectures on the Empire from UCSD - they are uni lectures, so the audio quality isn't as good, and Herbst jumps right in with both feet - his take on the Byzantines is much less structured and free form, but the insights are far, far deeper and you will come away with a much better understanding of the Byzantines than from Brownworth's - which is quite a distorted take in many ways.
posted by smoke at 4:58 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


anyone who can turn me on to the American History version of this, much obliged. Would love a podcast source for studying the birth of the United States with similar vigor.

If only to cleanse my palate from watching the abomination that was The Story of Us.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 5:14 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, now I know what I'm going to be listening to while I'm driving from Florida to Massachusetts in three weeks. Many thanks.
posted by Johnny Assay at 5:17 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Previously
posted by empath at 5:31 PM on July 10, 2011


When I saw iTunes downloading Carlin's "Death Throes of the Republic VI" my heart lept with joy. When I saw it was listed as five-and-a-half hours long, I assumed it was some kind of bug in the software...
posted by Jimbob at 5:32 PM on July 10, 2011


Oh. Thanks for this. I've also been enjoying Carlin's podcast. Guess I should check out Duncan's stuff too.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:37 PM on July 10, 2011


(oh, didn't notice that he'd already previously'd my post, carry on).
posted by empath at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2011


Carlin's Shatneresque delivery put me off initially, but I've actually grown to love it!

Hah! Yeah. I have to stifle a laugh every time he quotes someone and slips into his Captain James T. Kirk Reads the Classics voice. He does this in his normal podcast too.
posted by eyeballkid at 5:41 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


anyone who can turn me on to the American History version of this, much obliged.

The story is basically the same, if you swap out a few names, except that America does everything much faster.
posted by localhuman at 5:59 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


anyone who can turn me on to the American History version of this, much obliged. Would love a podcast source for studying the birth of the United States with similar vigor.

FYI, in Duncan's 100th episode (actually episode 90, because he did some part a and part b episodes early on) episode he spent the entire podcast answering questions from listeners, but also suggested what he might do after The History of Rome wraps ... his similarly intense interest in American history apparently led him to consider doing a project looking at the lifecycle of the six distinct political parties in US history ... at 34 minutes in that podcast if you have it saved somewhere.
posted by buffalo at 6:00 PM on July 10, 2011


Wicked awesome. I've been devoted to Duncan since I found out about it,and Carlin as well. I will check out the Herbst.

Vale.
posted by ltracey at 6:16 PM on July 10, 2011


The last pagan emperor so far.
posted by Flunkie at 6:50 PM on July 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


In all seriousness, the is the first post I've ever favourited, bookmarked, and filled my "References" folder with another half-dozen links. Words fail to describe the awesome contained within this post.
posted by Dark Messiah at 6:52 PM on July 10, 2011


BoraHorza, stop peeking at my 'Podcasts' bookmarks folder!

Seriously, these are all great. Though I too found Brownworth's "Thank God for Christianity" occasionally off-putting, but it doesn't stop the 12 Emperors podcast from being enjoyable. (And I don't know enough to judge whether or not it is inaccurate.) Thanks for the UCSD link, too. It'll be interesting to read another take on it.
posted by benito.strauss at 7:10 PM on July 10, 2011


from The Empire Strikes Back (when Hannibal makes his appearance)

This briefly confused me. "Sure kid, we can help you. BA and Murdoch, help fend off the invasion of Hoth. Face, we'll go to Cloud City and see if we can't protect our friends there. I love it when a plan comes together."
posted by A dead Quaker at 7:13 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for this wonderful post! I am a huge fan of Roman history. This fills in so many gaps in books I used to have.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 7:52 PM on July 10, 2011


I've been a long time listener of Duncan's podcast, and not only is it fantastic, this post is fantastic too. So much new stuff to look through!
posted by sparkletone at 9:25 PM on July 10, 2011


Neat! I've been thinking lately about how much there is to learn from "boring mainstream" history - Roman in particular. I know: duh. But it's so easy to dismiss classical studies as Old White European canon, and I see people do this so often. It's a shame, not only because of the incredible perspective it provides, but because it's so damn saucy and exciting!

On a lighter but very related note, I'm working my way through the wonderful Marcus Didius Falco books by Lindsey Davis: fun detective novels set in Vespasian Rome. They're a surprisingly rich view of daily life, and perspective on living through the big events like the Year of Four Emperors. What did that mean to the Legions, who got payouts from each new emperor to ensure their loyalty? What did it look like from "across the river" in Germany? How did people talk about disgraced emperors when out drinking? Much more fun than I'd been expecting.

OK, off to update my podcast portfolio, thanks!
posted by freebird at 10:00 PM on July 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Mike Duncan's History of Rome is too interesting for me to listen to when I'm doing anything complicated (like data entry or coding data). And I don't want to miss any, so I can't listen while falling asleep. So I'm still in c40 BCE. But I'm storing up the rest and I'm really looking forward to it.

I love that he gives dates. The Byzantine Emperors podcast was good, but he so rarely gave dates that I was totally confused about when things were happening, and couldn't slot the Byzantine dates into the rest of my historical knowledge. I actually stopped listening around the time of Justinian, because of that, so I never got to the bits about Islam.
posted by jb at 10:17 PM on July 10, 2011


Duncan is the only podcast where I feel like I should be taking notes so I retain this stuff.
posted by The Whelk at 10:21 PM on July 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm actually listening to all of the republican period again, and second time round I'm remembering more.

I have actually taken notes during In Our Time episodes, but they were topics more closely related to my field.

In Our Time is just about the finest academically historical radio show (as opposed to popular/story oriented ones). They get people who really specialize in the given topic -- most media have their go-to historians that they use for all sorts of topics, and it pisses me off because they often get stuff subtly (or in the case of Niall Ferguson, blatantly) wrong and there is no public voice to correct them.
posted by jb at 10:40 PM on July 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Mike Duncan's History of Rome is too interesting for me to listen to when I'm doing anything complicated (like data entry or coding data). And I don't want to miss any, so I can't listen while falling asleep. So I'm still in c40 BCE."

This is why I listen to most of the history podcasts I subscribe to more than once. But it is really nice to fall asleep to someone with a pleasant voice quietly telling you about interesting moments in history. Especially when I have insomnia. That way if I still can't manage to fall asleep I don't mind staying awake and listening.

You might also add Jamie Jeffers' The British History podcast (website) - for a few of the podcasts on Roman Britain. I only listened to the two on Boudica, and haven't gotten around to the rest. I have a long long Podcasts To Listen To list. Which happily you have helped me add to!
posted by batgrlHG at 12:24 AM on July 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


They're a surprisingly rich view of daily life, and perspective on living through the big events like the Year of Four Emperors. What did that mean to the Legions, who got payouts from each new emperor to ensure their loyalty? What did it look like from "across the river" in Germany?

Both questions are much fun to speculate upon. When you get tired of that, put in the whole five minutes it takes to actually read Tacitus on either subject...
posted by 7segment at 4:59 AM on July 11, 2011


That scale model of Rome is *amazing*. I wish there were a behind the scenes process video or something.

Also, I thought I was a nerd for reading and re-reading I, CLAVDIVS. Ima 'bout to get a lot nerdier.
posted by DU at 7:35 AM on July 11, 2011


This is excellent. Thank you. Is there a comparably good podcast on classical Greek or ancient Asia Minor history?
posted by the sobsister at 7:46 AM on July 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thanks so much for this - Roman history has long been a favorite subject of mine, and this podcast will make my daily commute a far more pleasant experience.
posted by Telpethoron at 8:17 AM on July 11, 2011


Is there a comparably good podcast on classical Greek or ancient Asia Minor history?

Once again it's not podcast nor it's free.
Check out
Peloponnesian War
Great Ancient Civilizations of Asia Minor

See if your library have them.
posted by Carius at 5:49 PM on July 11, 2011


Both questions are much fun to speculate upon. When you get tired of that, put in the whole five minutes it takes to actually read Tacitus on either subject...

If you meant that comment like it sounds, you're a huge example of why most people get turned off of reading about this stuff.
posted by freebird at 12:03 AM on July 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


"...the last pagan Emperor"

Hey! They haven't gotten rid of me yet!
posted by Blasdelb at 12:05 AM on July 15, 2011


« Older Leon Panetta says U.S. is "within reach" of defeat...  |  Your Paintings... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments