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The History of Byzantium podcast
July 27, 2012 10:16 AM   Subscribe

The History of Byzantium is a podcast that picks up where The History of Rome left off, detailing happened to the eastern half of the Roman Empire after the last Western Emperor was dethroned. The podcaster, Robin Pierson, does a good job explaining the often, ahem, byzantine politics and thorny theology of Byzantium. So far there are five episodes, taking us from the chaotic years following the decline and fall of the West into the reign of Anastasius (491-518). [iTunes link]
posted by Kattullus (38 comments total) 89 users marked this as a favorite

 
Oh man... History of Rome was EPIC. Thanks for linking this!
posted by Artw at 10:19 AM on July 27, 2012


Fantastic find. Looking forward to exploring it. Thank you for posting this!
posted by MonkeyToes at 10:20 AM on July 27, 2012


Excellent. Thank you.
posted by CheeseDigestsAll at 10:25 AM on July 27, 2012


Sweet!
posted by PapaLobo at 10:26 AM on July 27, 2012


How good is Robin Pierson at explaining these things to someone who has no interest in listening to the previous series but rather wants to listen to this one?
posted by griphus at 10:29 AM on July 27, 2012


I've really got to get my car-radio fixed, so I can start listening to this on my new 45 minute commute. This is going to be the perfect way to stave off the boredom.

Is there a good way in iTunes to manage downloading these in chronological order instead of "newest" order?
posted by furnace.heart at 10:32 AM on July 27, 2012


I loooooove history podcasts--which I posted a query about recently in AskMe--but I'd also like to pimp The British History Podcast as well because Jamie does an excellent job of exploring Britannia's interesting bits. (We're only up to the Dark Ages right now.)

So I will be checking these two out! Yay! Thanks!
posted by Kitteh at 10:34 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm pretty sure Mike actually delved into Livy, Gibbon, et al and wrestled with primary sourcework (in translation), it took him hours and hours every week and that was with no job. This guy says he works two jobs. Is he doing more than just collating Wikipedia articles?
posted by absalom at 10:35 AM on July 27, 2012


Griphus - this is a different guy so I'm assuming there's no real link except starting in the area of history where the other one left off.
posted by Artw at 10:35 AM on July 27, 2012


At last! A post on Constantinople which is not just the Turks' business!

Slightly more seriously, I am super excited about this, and looking forward to weeks of Iconoclasm and related religious discord! Plus, Norse mercenaries punching (OK, stabbing the crap out of) sports fans!
posted by GenjiandProust at 10:46 AM on July 27, 2012


I approve of this post.
posted by Justinian at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Excellent, thanks for posting this! I'm still working my way to the end of The History of Rome, but this will be next in the queue. It'll be interesting to see how it compares to 12 Byzantine Rulers, because I absolutely loved that one.
posted by hackwolf at 11:00 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


I feel like there should be a T-shirt for getting to the end of History of Rome.
posted by Artw at 11:02 AM on July 27, 2012 [13 favorites]


Weird. I also wonder how this compares to "12 Byzantine Rulers", which has spawned a book. While I enjoyed Brownworth's series, there was the occasional Euro- and Catholic- centric element to it that didn't resonate with me.
posted by benito.strauss at 11:07 AM on July 27, 2012


Artw, I would buy one. If the money went towards giving Mike Duncan an actual triumph through the streets of Austin, I would buy several.
posted by hackwolf at 11:11 AM on July 27, 2012 [6 favorites]


Dude needs an arch.
posted by Artw at 11:15 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could somebody provide a link to the predecessor "The History of Rome" -- I'm not sure where to find that or what it is.
posted by rossmeissl at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2012


I'd also like to pimp The British History Podcast as well because Jamie does an excellent job of exploring Britannia's interesting bits.

I wasn't too impressed with his early episodes for some reason, and dropped it in favour of The History of England. Unfortunately, sometimes it does feel like listening to collated Wikipedia articles (Great expression), despite the host being really, really charming. Maybe I'll have to give TBHP another go.

It'll be interesting to see how it compares to 12 Byzantine Rulers, because I absolutely loved that one.

There've been a couple of instances where people've expressed issues with Brownworth's approach, FWIW.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 11:18 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could somebody provide a link to the predecessor "The History of Rome" -- I'm not sure where to find that or what it is.

The History of Rome podcast. Also find it on iTunes. It's great (RIP).
posted by no regrets, coyote at 11:20 AM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Alvy Ampersand, TBHP gets better as it goes on. I liked the trio of mini-podcasts he did about food in the Middle Ages. And the most recent one was interviewing two archaelogists in Wales about the Denbeighshire Hill Forts. It has a crazy loyal following via the forums.

Also, any story about his dog Kerouac--who by all accounts should NOT be alive--is an amusing sidetrack.
posted by Kitteh at 11:34 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Thanks!
posted by cool breeze at 11:38 AM on July 27, 2012


I listened to the first couple episodes of The History of Byzantium when they were released and was underwhelmed. The Wikipedia mentions here are justified, and the whole thing has a bit of an air of empire-building about it.

Doesn't the first podcast start something like this? (paraphrasing from memory): "I'm the creator of a number of successful podcasts, so when I saw that Mike Duncan had set the ball down, I figured, why not add it to my stable? BTW You will need to send me money eventually."
posted by waterunderground at 12:02 PM on July 27, 2012


You are basically confirming my fears in a surprisingly accurate check-list format, waterunderground.
posted by absalom at 12:18 PM on July 27, 2012


> While I enjoyed Brownworth's series, there was the occasional Euro- and Catholic- centric element to it that didn't resonate with me.

That and I always found his vocal style to be very flat and monotone, to an almost soporific level.
posted by Panjandrum at 12:42 PM on July 27, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ave atque vale, rossmeissl. You have started down a very deep and very enjoyable rabbit hole.
posted by benito.strauss at 1:34 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


For those who just can't get enough of this stuff, there were three little follow-up states that survived the collapse of Byzantium (the Empire of Trebizond, the Empire of Nicaea, and the Despotate of Epirus), the rulers of each of which considered himself the successor of the Caesars. Can't find any podcasts, though, so you may be stuck with wikipedia. Or even books.
posted by jfuller at 2:41 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


waterunderground: I listened to the first couple episodes of The History of Byzantium when they were released and was underwhelmed.

It started a bit roughly, but it got better. The episodes about Anastasius have been excellent. Wikipedia doesn't seem to be a source.
posted by Kattullus at 3:27 PM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


Oh right, you mentioned this in the Byzantium 1200 post. I'll check the podcast out this weekend. Thanks for posting this!
posted by homunculus at 5:47 PM on July 27, 2012


I completed the History of Rome and now have a frisson of sadness every Sunday night where I usually would have listened to the new episode. I'm enjoying the History of England quite a bit, and was psyched for the Ancient World podcast, on Mike Duncan's recommendation. However, due to time constraints on the creator, it's a bit hit and miss time-wise right now, but the episodes are quite good.

When all else fails, I go back to the In Our Time archive.
posted by ltracey at 7:05 PM on July 27, 2012


I'm 2 minutes into the first episode -- and I might change my mind, and I'll be the first to fess up if I do -- but it already seems like this ponce is not fit to carry Mike Duncan's jockstrap.

I've just listened to 2 minutes of a podcast that seems to want to carry the torch for one of the greatest, most entertaining, most nuanced and fun non-professional pop-historical efforts in recent history... and this guy, so far, won't shut up about his Buffy the Vampire Slayer podcast.

Un-pausing, now... but this is an inauspicious start. I'll give him two episodes and will sincerely try to take into account for the enormity of shoes he seems to think himself capable of filling.
posted by jjjjjjjijjjjjjj at 10:18 PM on July 27, 2012


Well, the first few episodes of The History of Rome aren't up to Mike Duncan's later standards either.
posted by Kattullus at 3:01 AM on July 28, 2012


no regrets, coyote: The History of Rome podcast. Also find it on iTunes. It's great.

Link to the free History of Rome podcast on iTunes (US). I'm not sure if there are locational limitations, as it's a free podcast. It's also floating around as a complete collection on a torrent site, but that site seems to be having server problems as of late. But if you have iTunes, that's probably the fastest and most straight-forward to get everything.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:28 AM on July 28, 2012


If iTunes isn't convenient for you, you can just start working through them one at a time from the archives on the podcast's web site.
posted by benito.strauss at 2:45 PM on July 28, 2012


A friend of mine recently told me that he went looking for a Chinese history version of the History of Rome podcast. He found one that seemed promising, but quit after the first episode, which began, "History began when the emperor laid the universe, much as a chicken lays an egg."

I'll recommend The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps. It's great.
posted by painquale at 12:47 AM on July 29, 2012


painquale, could you get the URL from your friend? I'd always thought that history began when a severed head spit into a young girl's palm, thus impregnating her. I'm curious to see how that can be squared with this egg-laying emperor.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:37 AM on July 29, 2012


A friend of mine recently told me that he went looking for a Chinese history version of the History of Rome podcast.

I can't help with a podcast, but a couple of good audio lecture series were recommended in this AskMe, and they are easily available via inter library loan in the US.
posted by GenjiandProust at 12:19 PM on July 29, 2012 [2 favorites]


I've listened to six episodes now, and I'm enjoying it pretty well. It is a bit rough sledding at times, but then so were the last 30-40 episodes of The History of Rome, since the complexity of the events means there pretty much has to be a lot of "OK, this doesn't make much sense now, but, next session, I'll jump over to this other topic/part of the empire/barbarian horde, and then it will be clearer." His style is different from Duncan's, but it's growing on me. If you liked The History of Rome, it is worth a couple of hours to find out if this is for you.

I do wish he would pick up the pace of releasing episodes; biweekly is a bit slow when you are dealing with a complicated political situation (which it looks like he will be doing for the next 1000 years...).
posted by GenjiandProust at 7:00 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


GenjiandProust: biweekly is a bit slow when you are dealing with a complicated political situation (which it looks like he will be doing for the next 1000 years...)

Well, there was that one week in June of 1016 when things were pretty clear cut and simple.
posted by Kattullus at 8:00 AM on August 7, 2012 [1 favorite]


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