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Emperors of Rome

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.

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Episode CLIX - Sabina

Sabina bought some much needed legitimacy to the rule of Hadrian. As a grand-niece of Trajan she was an important dynastic link to the previous emperor, and in death Hadrian could deify her, and be the husband to a god.

Part VIII of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guest:

Professor T. Corey Brennan (Classics, Rutgers University).

2021-02-19
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Episode CLVIII ? Plotina

When Trajan came to the big city he bought his provincial wife with him. Plotina stood on the steps of Domitian?s palace and promised the people of Rome that she?d keep it real. And from what we can tell from our ancient sources, that?s exactly what she did.

Part VII of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guest:

Professor T. Corey Brennan (Classics, Rutgers University).

2021-02-09
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Episode CLVII ? Domitia

Domitia was princess of the Julio-Claudians who caught the attention of a young Domitian. As Augusta she kept a low profile, and managed to survive and thrive across three imperial dynasties.

Part VI of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guest:

Dr Trudie Fraser (Honorary Fellow, School of Historical and Philosophical Studies, University of Melbourne).

2021-02-02
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Episode CLVI ? Agrippina, Mother of Nero

As the wife to the Emperor and daughter of Germanicus, Agrippina had grown accustomed to being a voice of influence in Rome. When her son Nero takes the title this changes, and she struggles to have her voice heard.

Part V of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guest:
Dr Emma Southon (Historian and author of Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore).

2021-01-12
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Episode CLV ? Agrippina, Wife of Claudius

In many ways Agrippina can be associated with the worst qualities of Livia ? a scheming, deceiving and manipulating. But in her marriage to Claudius you can see a different side of her: an ambitious, capable Empress who made Claudius look good.

Part IV of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guest:
Dr Emma Southon (Historian and author of Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore).

2020-12-14
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Episode CLIV ? Messalina

Messalina, third wife of Claudius, is likely one of the Roman Empresses with the worst reputation. The historians accuse her of adultery and prostitution, avarice and greed, and her name becomes synonymous with a woman of loose morals and licentiousness.

Part III of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guests:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)

2020-12-09
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Episode CLIII - Livia (with Sian Phillips)

Livia is often known by association - the wife of Augustus and the mother of Tiberius - but she becomes a figure of power and influence in Rome in her own right.

This episode is a redux of Episode XXV (from 2016), followed by an all new interview with Sian Phillips who played Livia in The BBC?s ?I Claudius? in 1976.

Part II of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guests:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)
Sian Phillips (Livia in ?I, Claudius?)

2020-11-24
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Episode CLII - The Roman Empress

A Roman Empress could often be one of the influential individuals in Rome. Always close to the seat of power, they have been recorded as dutiful, scheming, seductive and conniving - as interesting individuals as the Emperors themselves.

Part I of 'Empresses of Rome'

Guests:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of Department of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)

2020-10-29
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Episode CLI - Ovid's Fasti

The Fasti is a poem about the Roman calendar, written by the poet Ovid during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. Writing the poem gave Ovid the chance to think about contemporary Rome through the medium of some of the best known Roman stories, like the City's foundation by Romulus and Remus, and the creation of the republic by Brutus.

This is the first episode of a miniseries now funding on kickstarter. Back it now to receive an additional six episodes.

Guests:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of School of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)
Dr Peter Davis (Visiting Research Fellow in Classics, University of Adelaide)

2020-10-13
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Episode CL - Q and A VI (Live)

For the sixth time, listeners provide questions and Rhiannon and Matt answer!
In this episode:
- Which Roman Emperor would our guests like to interview?
- Did Romans have pets?
- How did Romans organise construction?
- How did we decided when the Roman Empire ?ended??
- Are the ancient sources reliable?
- Did women and men in Rome share bath houses?
- Favourite Cicero self-aggrandisement?

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Head of School of Languages and Linguistics, La Trobe University)
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)
Virginia Trioli (ABC Journalist and Newsreader)

2020-10-01
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Episode CXLIX - Herodian

Herodian was a Roman historian living and writing during the reign of the Severan dynasty. He is a valuable record of events for some of the most turbulent days of Roman history, and while at times lacking details, he knows what he?s doing with an exciting narrative.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-09-17
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Episode CXLVIII - The Always Unpredictable Outcome of War

During the civil war of 238CE no less than six Emperors were vying for the purple. When the dust finally settled on the child Gordian III remained in power, not because he was the best person for the job, but because he was the most convenient.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-09-04
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Episode CXLVII - The Vagaries of Chance

Maximinus Thrax was an unorthodox Emperor, a man of lowborn status who kept to the frontlines with the military. It was only a matter of time before the Senate threw in with someone more on their level, but their choice, Gordian, would have the shortest rule of any Emperor.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-08-21
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Episode CXLVI - The Sun is Getting Real Low (Maximinus)

The Roman Empire was unprepared for the rule of the Emperor Maximinus. Regarded by many as a savage barbarian, he came to the purple by blood, would rule by blood, and would leave it the same way.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-08-07
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Episode CXLV - Battle of the Teutoburg Forest

In 9CE three Roman legions were walking through Germany when they were ambushed in what would become one of the most notorious defeats throughout Rome?s history. The loss of the legions were a crippling blow to Rome?s plans of expansion, and redrew the borders in the province.

Guest:
Barry Strauss (Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies at Cornell University, author of Ten Caesars: Roman Emperors From Augustus to Constantine).

2020-07-24
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Episode CXLIV - Ulpian

Ulpian was a Roman jurist, who became quite influential during the rule of the Severan Dynasty. He was considered one of the great legal authorities of his time, and his writings and thoughts formed the basis of the Western Roman Empire.

Guest:
Dr Zachary Herz (Assistant Professor, Classics, University of Colorado Boulder)

2020-07-13
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Episode CXLIII - Damnatio Memoriae

If an emperor has been disappointing, cruel, tyrannical, or just related to the wrong person he is at risk of being damned, erased, have his likenesses destroyed and his name stricken from the records. The process of danmatio memoraie was intended to be a permanent judgement, and the final vengeance of an angry Rome.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2020-06-23
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Episode CXLII - Deification

When an emperor passed away it gave the Roman empire a chance to reflect on his reign. If he wasn?t terrible and the circumstances allowed it, he would be deified and worshiped as a god throughout the empire.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2020-06-04
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Podcast Announcement - Raising Standards

Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith have started Raising Standards, An occasional rewatch podcast of HBO?s Rome. Available now from all good podcatching services.
2020-05-23
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Episode CXLI - Translating Suetonius

The last Penguin edition of The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius was translated by Robert Graves in 1957. Historian Tom Holland is now working on a new translation, and took time away from the manuscript to talk to me about his process.

Guest:
Tom Holland (author of Rubicon, Dynasty, and an upcoming translation of Suetonius' 'The Twelve Caesars')

2020-05-06
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Episode CXL - A Ridiculous Waste of Time (Severus Alexander IV)

Severus Alexander comes from a strong military dynasty with a string of victories against Rome?s enemies, and it?s fair to say the Roman army was less than impressed with his performance against Sassanian and Germanic tribes. The empire needs a leader! Should they turn to a fighter, or to a weakling and his mother?

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-04-22
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Episode CXXXIX - A Fish in a Net (Severus Alexander III)

When Severus Alexander leads the Roman armies east, he meets Artaxerxes and the Sasanians in battle but his tactics are unprepared. Artaxerxes attacked unexpectedly with his entire force and trapped the Romans like fish in a net; firing their arrows from all sides at the encircled soldiers, the Persians massacred the whole army.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-04-08
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Episode CXXXVIII - Rise of the Sasanian Empire (Severus Alexander II)

Severus Alexander was an emperor who spent much of his reign at war, but he was ill-suited to it and would likely have preferred to be elsewhere. His main enemy was the Sasanians, an empire that rose out of the ashes of the Parthians, and would be a leading regional power for the next 400 years.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-03-24
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Episode CXXXVII - Mother Knows Best (Severus Alexander I)

Severus Alexander was a young boy when he came to power in Rome in 222CE, in the wake of the death of his unpopular cousin, Elagabalus. He would reign for 13 years but struggle to assert authority, bringing the once proud Severan dynasty to a chaotic ending.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-03-12
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Episode CXXXVI - Spartacus (1960)

Spartacus is an epic historical film based on the life of a Roman gladiator who led a slave rebellion against Rome in the 1st C BCE. In this episode we?ll take a fond look at this cinematic classic, in memory of its leading man, Kirk Douglas.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2020-02-26
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Episode CXXXV - Lupercalia

Lupercalia was a Roman festival which took place in the middle of February, and had the effects of purifying and cleansing the city. Participants would take part in a blood sacrifice, strip off their togas, and run naked through the streets of Rome.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2020-02-11
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Episode CXXXIV - Roman Health and Medicine

The Romans had some strange ideas when it came to medical practice, but you have to give them some leeway, and a lot has changed in 2000 years. Some of the thoughts and techniques showed forward thinking, but you might have to ignore the cabbages.

Guest:
Dr Leanne McNamara (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2020-01-29
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Episode CXXXIII - Anthology of Interest II

Rhiannon Evans, Caillan Davenport and Matt Smith each share three Roman topics of interest for three minutes! You will hear:
- Scaurus and the marble columns
- The 206 fragments of the Portland Vase
- The paranoia of Emperor Claudius
- The Roman perception of Ireland (featuring exploding sheep)
- The vanity of the Alexander the Sophist
- An early example of chemical warfare
- Living it rough with Seneca
- Goldflake and Innocence
- The nazi fascination with Tacitus' Germania

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2020-01-14
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Episode CXXXII - Q and A V

For the fifth time, listeners provide questions and Rhiannon and Matt answer!
In this episode:
- How the orders of Roman society worked
- The materials Romans used in clothing
- How Romans marked years by Consul
- Augustus adopting his wife, Livia
- The truth about the Cantabrian warrior Cococotta
- How to actually pronounce ?Pompey?
- Is the Roman salute accurate?
- How much of Latin is Greek?
- How did the Romans say their own numbers?
- How did the relationship change between Patricians and Plebs?
- Which Roman figure do we wish we knew more about?

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-12-19
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Episode CXXXI - Champions of the People (Gracchi IV)

Gaius Gracchus - awe-inspiring and passionate to exaggeration, a demagogue pure and simple, seemingly shunned the family business, at least to begin with. But however much you may try to defer your fate, sometimes decisions are made for you.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-11-27
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Episode CXXX - Unpopular Reforms (Gracchi III)

Tiberius Gracchus had introduced property laws that, while unpopular with the ruling elite, went down well with the people of Rome. You can please some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time. But that?s just politics, isn?t it? Nothing to lose your head over.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-11-06
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Episode CXXIX - Tiberius Gracchus and the Landless Masses (Gracchi II)

Any system of government that has been around for long enough is going to develop its problems, and that is definitely the case with the Roman republic. There was inequality between the ruling class and the common people, and if young Tiberius Gracchus decides to take up the cause, what?s the worst that could happen?

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-10-22
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Episode CXXVIII - Cornelia, Mother of the Gracchi (Gracchi I)

What we do know about Cornelia is mostly through the lens of her famous sons, but to the Romans she was much more than that. She was put on a pedestal, in bronze, no less, as the ideal mother for Romans to aspire to, and may have been quite influential in politics at the time.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-10-08
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Episode CXXVII - Augustus: The Making of an Emperor (Live in Melbourne)

Octavian was barely an adult when he arrived in Rome in 44BCE. Two months had passed since his adopted father, Julius Caesar, was murdered by members of the senate who resented his control as dictator. Octavian stood to inherit Caesar?s fortunes, but few could have imagined that he would inherit Caesar?s power.

He would become emperor in 27BCE, reigning as the Augustus and transforming the republic of Rome into an autocratic principate. Under his leadership of forty years Rome would grow in territory, reputation, economy and culture, and change from a city of sun-dried bricks and leave it clothed in marble. How did the young Octavian transform himself into Rome's first emperor?

Sponsored by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, La Trobe University. Held at the Wheeler Centre in Melbourne on 23 September, 2019.

Guest:
Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-09-25
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Episode CXXVI - Vestal Virgins

The Vestals were an order of priestesses who were sacred to Rome, and were respected and referred as symbols of a safe and stable empire. They had the all-important duty of maintaining the sacred flame, and if it were extinguished, it would be a sign of impending disaster.

Guest:
Dr Peta Greenfield (Public Historian, co-host of 'The Partial Historians' podcast)

2019-09-11
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Episode CXXV - Call Me Not a Lord, for I Am a Lady (Elagabalus III)

Elagabalus has long been remembered as deviant and sexually depraved. His behaviour was shocking for a Roman citizen, let alone the leader of the empire, and Rome was relieved to see the end of him.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2019-08-28
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Episode CXXIV ? The Lowest Depths of Foulness (Elagabalus II)

When Elagabalus finally reached Rome, the city seemed to hold its breath. The young Emperor embraced both the roles of ruler and high priest of a foreign religion, and there were many that questioned where his priorities lie.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2019-08-12
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Episode CXXIII - Here Comes the Sun (Elagabalus I)

Macrinus has made a treaty with the Parthians and at long last, the two mighty empires are at peace. It likely won?t last, but at this point it matters little: now he can finally get down to the business of ruling the empire.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University/Humboldt Research Fellow, Goethe University, Frankfurt)

2019-08-01
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Episode CXXII - Purple by Merit

With the murder of Caracalla one of the most unlikely men steps into power. Macrinus is unassuming, of the wrong position, and the wrong class. He?d argue he?s the best man for the job, but very few in Rome would agree with him.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-07-09
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Episode CXXI - Assassination

Assassination was a regular occurrence in the right Roman circles, and the gossip around the senate floor must have frequently turned to who's knifing who. An emperor would need to keep the senate, the army, and the people on side, or risk a well-placed dagger.

Guest:
Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-06-25
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Episode CXX - Adultery

By modern standards the Romans had some fairly unusual ideas, which could be putting it mildly when it comes to the subject of adultery. For the most part the Romans were lack lax in repercussions, unless of course you were embarrassing a man of high status.

Guest:
Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-06-12
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Episode CXIX - Fragments of Early Roman Literature

While we are lucky that much Roman literature from the late republic and the imperial period comes down to us complete or almost complete, most of the historical and poetic works from the mid-republic have been lost and only survive in fragments.

Guest:
Dr Hannah ?ulík-Baird (Assistant Professor, Classical Studies, Boston University)

2019-05-29
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Episode CXVIII - The Roman Calendar

The Roman calendar was important to the civic management of Rome - it told when to plant and harvest crops, when to celebrate festivals and when to go to war. The calendar designed by the Romans is used today, more or less unchanged for 2000 years - including paying homage to both Julius Caesar and Augustus.

Guest:
Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)

2019-04-30
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Episode CXVII ? Disgraced Human Nature (Caracalla V)

The historian Edward Gibbon perhaps summed up Caracalla quite succinctly, when he used this phrase to describe his demise while answering a call of nature on the side of the road: "Such was the end of a monster whose life disgraced human nature, and whose reign accused the patience of the Romans."

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-04-16
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Episode CXVI - Red Wedding (Caracalla IV)

The Roman Empire had engaged in Parthian wars for generations, stretching back, off and on, to the days of Pompey the Great.

Caracalla makes his foray into this arena, but as always, he?s going to do things a little differently. He shall have a wedding. Or a hanging. Either way he?s going to have a lot of fun.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-04-01
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Episode CXV - Ausonian Beast (Caracalla III)

After unleashing his unique brand of rule on the people of Rome, Caracalla becomes the problem of the provinces. After 212 he?ll spend the rest of his reign either at war or on tour, making the beast of Italy a problem for all Romans to deal with.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-03-18
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Episode CXIV - Mutilating Rome (Caracalla II)

Now that Caracalla is the sole emperor of the Roman empire he?s able to act as he wishes. While he does little to please anyone outside the military, it?s his economic and social reforms that will affect the empire for years to come.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-03-05
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Episode CXIII - Fratricidal Discord (Caracalla I)

The death of Septimius Severus left a strong line of succession with two sons ready to take control of the empire. There was no love lost between Caracalla and Geta, and it would be the Roman empire that bore the scars of their relationship.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-02-19
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Episode CXII - The Book of Love

The Roman poet Ovid penned The Book of Love in three volumes as a manual for how to deal with the art of love and seduction during the slightly austere days of the reign of Augustus.

This isn't exactly 'Men are From the Temple of Mars, Women are From the Temple of Venus', but happy Lupercalia everyone!

Guest:
Assoc Professor Peter Davis (Visiting Research Fellow, Classics, University of Adelaide)

2019-02-05
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Episode CXI - The Equestrian Order

The equites belonged to a class of Roman citizen dating back to the kingdom of Rome. Ranked below the senatorial class, they grew in power and influence, occupying key positions in the government and military.

Guest:
Dr Caillan Davenport (Senior Lecturer, Roman History, Macquarie University)

2019-01-22
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