Emperors of Rome

Emperors of Rome

www.latrobe.edu.au
“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.
Announcement: The Status Quo
Aug 15 • 5 min
There’s changes ahead for Emperors of Rome. Rest assured, they are all lovely.
LXXVII - Such was the End of Commodus
Aug 7 • 25 min
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…
LXXVI - It’s Good to be the King
Jul 24 • 25 min
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…
LXXV - Flying Too Close to the Sun
Jul 10 • 22 min
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,…
LXXIV - Iron and Rust
Jun 25 • 24 min
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…
LXXIII - From a Kingdom of Gold
Jun 12 • 23 min
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…
LXXII - On Behalf of the State
May 29 • 34 min
“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…
LXXI - Meditations
May 15 • 20 min
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…
LXX - The Marcomannic Wars
May 1 • 28 min
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…
LXIX - Galen and the Antonine Plague
Apr 17 • 23 min
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…
LXVIII - Never Underestimate the Parthians
Apr 3 • 25 min
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…
LXVII - Heir and a Spare
Mar 20 • 25 min
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).
LXVI - Fronto
Mar 6 • 25 min
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…
LXV - Antoninus Pius
Feb 20 • 34 min
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.
LXIV - Q and A III
Feb 7 • 34 min
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…
LXIII - Women Poets
Jan 23 • 24 min
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…
LXII - Juvenal
Jan 8 • 30 min
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…
Interlude - The Bronze Head of Augustus
Dec 19, 2016 • 13 min
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.
LXI - Gladiator (2000)
Dec 12, 2016 • 35 min
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?
LX - Cleopatra (Live at the Wheeler Centre, Melbourne)
Nov 28, 2016 • 62 min
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…
LIX - Martial
Nov 14, 2016 • 33 min
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…
LVIII - Tacitus
Oct 31, 2016 • 24 min
“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…
LVII - Little Soul, Little Wanderer, Little Charmer
Oct 17, 2016 • 20 min
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 3, 2016 • 9 min
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.
LVI - May His Bones Rot
Sep 19, 2016 • 26 min
Jerusalem rebels against conditions imposed upon it by Roman rule, and Hadrian responds with such force that his name and acts are never forgotten.
LV - What Hadrian Loves Best
Sep 6, 2016 • 26 min
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.
LIV - There and Back Again (An Emperor’s Tale)
Aug 23, 2016 • 28 min
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…
LIII - Rome Welcomes Hadrian
Aug 8, 2016 • 17 min
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…
LII - Hadrian the Little Greek
Jul 25, 2016 • 26 min
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.
LI - Frontinus
Jul 11, 2016 • 30 min
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.…
L - Historia Augusta
Jun 13, 2016 • 23 min
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. When in Rome has a campaign on kickstarter to fund season 2. Please show your support.…
XLIX - Suetonius
May 30, 2016 • 25 min
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…
XLVIII - Trajan: Optimus Princeps
May 16, 2016 • 32 min
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.
XLVII - Pliny the Younger
May 2, 2016 • 39 min
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.
XLVI - Trajan vs Dacia
Apr 18, 2016 • 22 min
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…
XLV - In Trajan we Trust
Apr 4, 2016 • 16 min
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 29, 2016 • 11 min
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 21, 2016 • 21 min
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!
XLIV - Roman Sexuality
Mar 7, 2016 • 22 min
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.
XLIII - Virgil
Feb 21, 2016 • 30 min
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…
Interlude - Latin Pronunciation
Feb 16, 2016 • 9 min
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?
XLII - A Lesson in Latin
Feb 8, 2016 • 26 min
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?
XLI - Nerva
Jan 24, 2016 • 21 min
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,…
XL - What is an Emperor? (redux)
Jan 11, 2016 • 29 min
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…
XXXIX - Asterix and the Missing Scroll
Dec 14, 2015 • 16 min
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?
XXXVIII - Domitian Must Die
Nov 30, 2015 • 26 min
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.
XXXVII - Domitian Dominates
Nov 16, 2015 • 30 min
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…
XXXVI - The Debut of Domitian
Nov 3, 2015 • 20 min
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 • 2 min
Clearing up a discrepancy - in what year was Titus born?
XXXV - A Pleasant Surprise From the Emperor Titus
Oct 19, 2015 • 25 min
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.
Biography 1- Spartacus the Gladiator
Oct 6, 2015 • 21 min
Who exactly is Spartacus? Many of the sources are fragmentary, and provide little insight into the motives of the slave gladiator turned rebellious legend. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Ancient Mediterranean Studies, La Trobe University) explores the early years of…
XXXIV - Titus and the Siege of Jerusalem
Sep 21, 2015 • 20 min
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.
XXXIII - Emperor Vespasian, Becoming a God
Aug 31, 2015 • 27 min
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…
XXXII - Vespasian, as Prophesised
Aug 24, 2015 • 21 min
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.
XXXI - Enter Vespasian
Aug 17, 2015 • 22 min
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.
XXX - Vitellius
Aug 3, 2015 • 20 min
Vitellius has been vocally gaining support amongst his troops in Germania, enough to take on Otho and become emperor himself.
XXIX - Otho
Jul 27, 2015 • 19 min
When Otho dispatches with his predecessor Galba and declares himself Emperor he quickly finds himself under siege from Vitellius in Germany.
XXVIII - Galba
Jul 12, 2015 • 21 min
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 6, 2015 • 9 min
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.
XXVII - Ovid
Jun 28, 2015 • 21 min
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.
XXVI - Seneca the Younger
May 17, 2015 • 23 min
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.
XXV - Livia
May 4, 2015 • 23 min
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.
XXIV - Cicero
Apr 16, 2015 • 20 min
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.
XXIII - Romans vs Christians
Apr 1, 2015 • 21 min
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?
XXII - What a Artist Dies in Nero
Mar 23, 2015 • 20 min
Nero always seemed more interested in a playboy lifestyle than managing Rome, and this angered the people of Rome, the Senate and the military.
XXI - The Great Fire of Rome in 64CE
Mar 16, 2015 • 14 min
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 • 18 min
We put out a call to the audience for questions and you responded! Here are our answers.
XX - Agrippina the Younger
Mar 8, 2015 • 23 min
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.
XIX - Nero the Youngest Emperor
Mar 1, 2015 • 14 min
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.
XVIII - The Life of Claudius
Feb 16, 2015 • 18 min
Claudius brings his own style to the emperor which makes him enemies in both his family and the senate.
XVII - Claudius Conquers Britannia
Feb 9, 2015 • 11 min
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.
XVI - Claudius the Unlikely Emperor
Feb 2, 2015 • 13 min
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 • 7 min
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.
XV - The Assassination of Caligula
Jan 18, 2015 • 13 min
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…
XIV - The Madness of Caligula
Jan 11, 2015 • 12 min
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…
XIII - The Rule of Caligula
Jan 4, 2015 • 15 min
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…
XII - Tiberius the Gloomiest of Men
Dec 21, 2014 • 17 min
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…
XI - Tiberius the Reluctant Emperor
Dec 15, 2014 • 17 min
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…
X - The Augustan Succession
Dec 8, 2014 • 11 min
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…
Interlude - Pax Romana
Dec 2, 2014 • 6 min
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…
IX - Augustan Rome
Nov 24, 2014 • 16 min
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…
VIII - The Augustan Revolution
Nov 13, 2014 • 16 min
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…
Interlude - What is an Emperor?
Oct 15, 2014 • 7 min
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…
VII - The Legacy of Caesar
Jun 22, 2014 • 14 min
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…
VI - The Death of Caesar
Jun 9, 2014 • 13 min
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…
V - Caesar and Civil War
May 26, 2014 • 13 min
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.
IV - Caesar’s Triumph
May 11, 2014 • 15 min
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…
III - Caesar and Gaul
Apr 30, 2014 • 15 min
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…
II - Caesar the Politician
Apr 10, 2014 • 15 min
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…
I - The Early Years of Caesar
Mar 28, 2014 • 12 min
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…