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February 28, 2010


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For Blood and Sand Fans, a short recap of the time of Spartacus. What else should we know about Capua.

Scott M. DeBruycker

I thought a pivotal event in history was the burning of The Library of Alexandria, an event thought to have set human progress back by 1,000 years. I was astonished when it was not even referenced in a past episode.

Hosung Jin

I thought a description of a typical roman housing would be great to understand a daily lives of roman people. Personally, I was wondering if a room called 'vomitoria' really existed.
Thank you very much, I am learning more and more every week from your podcast.

Dan Limb

hey hey!

Long Time listener, first time poster...

For those of us with a deep interest in city planning (who doesn't?), it would be fun to go through the ins and outs of Roman engineering methods (civil and structural) and the use of concrete.

I thought your attention to Roman tactics and the military structure were outstanding, and provided insight into the novel form of thinking in the Republic. Do you plan to do so again with the further evolutions of the Roman Army in the late Empire? Specifically the heavy use of mercenaries and auxillaries...wink wink nudge nudge Flavius Vegetius...

Personally, I'd like to know your thoughts on the HBO Rome series. Accurate? Sensational?

All told, you are on the right track. Informative, insightful, and well-paced.

Roma Invicta!

Dan in Portland Oregon. PTFC! No Pity in the Rose City.


Hey Mike!

I have a few questions about legionary tactics I haven't been able to solve. The sources I have researched were never really clear on the subject.

1) The checkerboard formation. I've read in several sources that the legions deployed in a checkerboard formation where the second line covers the gaps of the first line. However this doesn't make sense to me. Why not deploy a full straight line with not gaps? I have read somewhere, I forgot where, that the checkerboard formation was used to advance onto the opponent, and when they got close enough they would form a full uninterupted line. So here's my question. How was the checkerboard formation used and what purpose did it have? What advantage does it have over a full uninterupted line?

2) In a documentary on the history channel I have seen an episode on Boudica. There they illustrated how Suetonius had this rotation system in his army which would prevent the first rank of the unit from tiring. A signal would be given whereon soldiers of the first rank would go back to the last rank, and where the soldiers on the second rank would take the place of the first rank soldiers that have just retired to the last rank.

If you look at the first episode of the HBO Rome series, you will see a battle when Lucius Vorenus blows a whistle to let the first rank retreat.

My question is the following. Did this system really exist? It seems very impractical, I imagine the opponent striking an easy blow when the first legionary turns to be replaced. If it existed, what signal did they use?

You would ease my mind if you manage to solve those questions for me Mike.

Thank you for the amazing show!


Oh I could think of so many things! Here's a little list I'm interested in:

1. A presentation, or debate, of what really killed the empire. Did it really die at all?
2. The life of the common Roman, not those of senatorial rank. What kind of jobs did they hold? Where did they live and what was that like? Education?
3. What the heck did Romans do for fun?
4. Rome's greatest inventions (military, scientific, or otherwise).
5. Roman influence on the provinces and tribes, and vice versa - tribal and provincial influence on the Romans. Maybe a discussion of some of the mystery cults that Romans participated in.
6. The arts - music, poetry/literature, drama.
7. And, maybe going off of what Lieven says above, a debunking of popular movies or books on Rome. The HBO series "Rome" definitely comes to mind, as does "I, Claudius" and "The Gladiator." Did this stuff really happen? How is our modern perception of Ancient Rome different from the real Rome?

That's all for now!!

Traci Nielsen

vitruvius.. and this is so lame but how their methods of concrete making and how it was lost for centuries. I'm such an architecture nerd



Matt, Netherlands

- Roman health (what kinds of problems did regular Romans encounter, in terms of health)?

Keep up the great work Mike


I think an episode on roman govoners. Did they play an important part of the empire? or not?

John Brewer

How in the world did Romans keep their money safe?! All those mega-fortunes must have generated tons and tons of metal coins to guard, hide, take with you when you fled, etc... I've heard that each family had a kind of strongbox in the villa, but holy cow, how big could those boxes be??
Spectacular podcast, Mike...you're showing the world how to do it right!


how about spending the episode reading and answering listener questions.

what i'd like to hear is "attention listeners the History of ROME podcast is soon to be available in book form...
the history or ROME volume one 753BCE-27BCE coming out ect ect

keep up the great work

Someone who doesn't speak Latin very well

necesse est tibi in lingua Latina narras!


I agree with steve. I think an episode on roman govoners would be great.

Keep up the great work Mike.

jacob ptak

something that has always fascinated me is the fall of the empire in the west, specifically, though, about the Senate. i know the senate continued well past the "fall" of the empire in the west, but do we actually know when it officially dissolved, or what they were doing in those years after the fall of the empire?

also pertaining to the senate:

how were senators actually elected? I know this is a very general question but ive never really seen it covered, and i probably should know the answer, but anyway, did the general populace elect them? did they have 'campaigns' like we do? how was one elected to Consul or Quaestor or any of those positions apart from the main body of the senate?

and perhaps most importantly, how would i go about running for Consul if i moved to Rome today?

Alfonso Muñoz

1) Roman religion, including theeasterninfluences evenprior to christianity
2) Roman relations with foreign peoples (germans, picts ands cotts, berbers, nubians, parthians and persians of course, and early contacts with the far east)
3) "What if" speculative histories


Great podcast. I know you've addressed it already, but I'd love if you'd reconsider continuing the History of Rome past 476 AD. As we can see, you have a huge fan base and it would be a shame to see this whole thing end, especially with much more story to tell. There's great emperors (Justinian), great generals (Belisarius), terrible emperors (Julian the Apostate), and enough intrigue to, well, coin the term "Byzantine." I know there'd be overlap with Lars Brownworth's podcast, but there's plenty more story to tell. Besides, he'd be a great guest for a portion of the show. With an extended podcast, we get the final defeat of the Parthians, the reconquest of Italy, the rise of Islam, greek fire, Crusades, etc. Most importantly, you get a much better ending to a great podcast. Stopping at 476, we get the pretty sad demise of Augustulus. Continuing to Constantine XI, we end on a legendary last stand made by a heroic emperor.
Thanks and keep up the great work!


I would also like to know your thoughts HBO's Rome series?

Do you plan to combine your transcripts and sell them as a book when all is said and done?

Simon C

I want a comparison between the Gladiator movie and the actual roman history. Which characters were accurate? Did those events really occur?


Hey Mike, big fan of the podcast, just caught up last week (very sad about not getting to plow through three new episodes a day).

Anyway, I've wondered for a long time about how much Latin influenced languages that hail from areas conquered or influenced by the Roman Empire. For example, why is English not a "romance language" like French or Spanish? Was it really more influenced by Germanic languages?

Thanks so much for the podcast, I would be doing far better in a "History of Rome" class than I am doing in my current U.S. History class.


Yeah, I'm trying to find the actual laws Julius Caesar wrote but can't so, what are your exact sources and where did you find them?


Did the Romans have a 'nightlife'. What are your political stances on just about everything (in summary)? And which Roman Emperor/consul/triumvir do you think you personify/emulate most?

Exegesis of Squalor

Big fan here. Nthing the suggestions that you make an episode about a day in the life of the average Roman citizen. A tiny handful of people controlled the vast majority of Roman power, and the podcast has been dealing almost exclusively with these people.

As someone who didn't know much Roman history prior to listening to the podcast, I tend to draw blanks when trying to envision what Rome (the city) was like for an everyday citizen. I'm particularly interested in urban citizens because soldiers and farmers seem fairly self-explanatory.

Rick Bernard

Hello Mike, just a quick comment to say that your podcast is very inspiring, entertaining and informative. I too am one of those who found the HBO series very entertaining and clever. I was particularly interested in how the subject of slaves was treated. You touched on the evolution of slavery in the latest episode and I was wondering if you would spend a little time on the subject. Thanks for doing this. It's one of the highlights of my week.


Lots of great questions here...will the 100th episode be longer than the usual 20-30 minutes? Perhaps you can answer this question at the end of the 99th episode...


Latin - origin, use, slang, dialects, and extinction. Thanks for the great shows!


Questions from a new fan:
- What sources do you use?
- How do you determine whether a source is reliable?
- Why do you do this podcast? I'm amazed at how much work you must put into it and I'm grateful. But I still often wonder why.


I want to know more about Roman philosophy. A show or two about the epicurians and stoics and the rest would be a refreshing change of pace from the current formula of describing one leader's life after another.

Along those lines, maybe taking some time to talk about some of the other great figures in Roman life and history which weren't necessarily leaders would be nice. We got a little of that in the mentions of Apollodorus, but he was still just a background figure in the story of Hadrian. I think a history of someone like Ovid or Philo would be great.


Love, love, love, love the podcast.

My first introduction to the Romans was the movie Spartacus. What was yours?

Why are you so enamored with the Romans? I never could describe it myself

Why does Rome still conquer our imagination?

More things I'd love to hear about:
1) I second the request for more about religion
2) Since I started with Spartacus, and since the collesium is so synonymous with Rome, a podcast about the games would be great!
3) I have a BA in philosophy, so I'm very well read on the hellenistic philosophers, and I think that'd be a great podcast.

Yes, I'm just trying to give you episode topics so it'll continue after the fall of rome. Though I think that makes me a bad stoic.

Johnny Danger

This show is awesome. I am also very interested in the Rome that ended in 1453. I mean it was still Rome right? Just as we are Americans even if we speak and act very differantly than we did 150 years ago.
I am also interested in Roman relations with other countries- such as China, India and Armenia.
Thank you!


Mike The period of Roman dominance is so vast in human terms that even now I struggle to comprehend its timescale. Their impact on our civilization is huge. When they left the west, it plunged into darkness.

I read an article stating that Agricola's retreating roman fort builders in the scottish Highlands buried thousands of nails to keep them from the caledonians, these nails are now being studied by scientists involved in atomic waste storage for the results of long term iron degradation.

Anyways boring as it may seem Roman construction methods are always fascinating to me. Particularly being a Tiler, working with marble concrete and mosaics. Keep up the good work. You really are the Tacitus of the podcasting world!

de Silentio


If you haven't been hailed as such, consider this your first.

As other people commented, I would like to hear about the head count: quality of life, disease, work, education, etc. Perhaps the evolution of the head count, e.g. life got better or worse as time progressed.


Keep it simple. A countdown of your top 100 interesting/quirky facts on the romans.

(100 thanks for your work on this series btw!)


Something on patronage and social relations. Is it true that clients went to greet patrons every morning?


What about some of the very early Christian leaders in Rome - especially those who were in leadership roles before the arrival of Peter and after his death during Nero's persecutions?

Also what are some of your favorite places to visit in Rome and surrounding areas? Such as favorite restaurants, favorite hangouts, etc.

Cory B.

I have a question about the audible.com sponsorship. Did they pay you a flat fee for the plug or do they pay you per listener?

The amount you get isn't any of my business (whatever it is you deserve more), but I've always wondered how the sponsorship works.


So, do I have this right that, essentially from the end of the Kings, that no ruler was allowed simply to pass the throne on to a son, and that through the whole long imperial period a successor who was not a blood relation had to be chosen?
This seems remarkable given the opposite obsession in the succeeding imperial states(from the medieval period on anyway....I'm thinking of Henry the VIII for example.....).
If that's so, it seems remarkable that more is not made of it, seeing as how European rulers always wanted to style themselves as the new Rome.


How about a compilation of the listener's favourite quotes from THoR? You have some crackers. Let people vote for their favourite episode and/or quote? Let people vote on theior favourite character from Rome? Who has listened to your podcasts the most? According to iTunes I am on for 25 listens for some of the episodes :-).


Mike, LOVE the podcast, keep up the good work! I have seen the series I. Claudius 2 or 3 times and just love it. In the series, Claudius was portrayed as longing for the return of the republic...is there any truth to that?


Two things: One...PLEASE CONTINUE after the Fall. I've listened to Lars and, while good, its far too broad. Or maybe just continue up to Justinian?

Second: Could you discuss the small changes, like clothing styles, that occurred during the German migration of the 5th/6th centuries? How did the system of information fall apart EXACTLY. When did people stop wearing togas? and the like. I feel like I'm jumping the gun here as you are far away from this point, but thought I'd ask. You are wonderful my friend!


Mr Duncan Gratia tibi ago! the podcast has kept me sane on many a commute to Portland OR on I-5.
I agree with the poster who suggested a discussion of the Library of Alexandria. I am sure most here wished they had a library card for that institution ;) Whatever you decide I will hear and enjoy ;)


how about stoicism since marcus aurelius will be discussed shortly? stoicism has been experiencing a revival as of late. just check out all the great new books on amazon.


Describe the training of the legionaires and the ranks of the officers


Do you ski?

Sans Testicles

mike am I your son?


It seems like when people talk about decline of Rome, the most weighty, solid circumstance is the inheritance of imperial title by a son or a close relative of the emperor. It really seems like emperors who were picked out of a larger body of senatorial / top executive ranks did much better on the whole. Was there any attempt to codify a simple rule of thumb barring close imperial family from ascension or at least strongly discouraging this practice?


My question is what do you plan after THOR? Are there other periods or civilisations that also have your interest? Love the show.

Duncan C.

Given we're more or less up to the right point in the running for Marcus ("you may have seen me in such films as Gladiator") Aurelius, and in light of the above comments about Spartacus and HBO's Rome, if you had any interest in doing an episode about depictions of Rome in film and media, the 100th episode would seem a sensible juncture at which to do it.


I'd like to know more about Roman fashion. What did they wear? What hair styles were used? What jewelry? What was considered a good looking woman/man?


Hi Mike

Just wanted to give my opinion on the 100th episode and maybe a suggestion on the final episode whenever you choose to finish up.

For the 100th episode:
1.) Debunking popular myths
2.) Rome's contact and relations with outsiders i.e from Hibernia (as I hail from Ireland) or Scandinavia
3.) Roman military technology
4.) Your thoughts on HBOs' Rome, I Claudius, Gladiator, Spartacus etc in terms of historical accuracy

For the final episode maybe your own theory on why the Western Roman Empire fell after all the studying you have done and will do it would be great to get your own insight!

And to fellow listeners I recommend Terry Jones' Barbarians (which you can catch on YouTube) for an alternative look at Rome from the point of view of the Barbarians!

Thank you for a great Podcast


I'd like to second a couple other questions people have asked:

from jacob ptak: "how were senators actually elected?... did the general populace elect them? did they have 'campaigns' like we do? how was one elected to Consul or Quaestor or any of those positions apart from the main body of the senate?"

from ken: "2.) Rome's contact and relations with outsiders i.e from Hibernia (as I hail from Ireland) or Scandinavia"

I happened to read the wikipedia page on Roman contact with China (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino_roman_relations ), and found it interesting. I'd love to hear some more on this subject, though from that article it sounds like there isn't that much known. But since the current time period seems to have the first recorded case of actual official diplomatic contact between the two, I'd love to hear more about it.


I love your podcast! Thank you so much!
I'd like to second the proposals above for debunking/giving support to popular portrayals of Rome like Gladiator, and also like the proposal about 100 interesting facts. Maybe some more Greek/Roman comparisons?

Can I also use this space to beg you to consider doing a Greek History podcast after this one? (say, from 800 B.C. to Alexander the Great?)

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

Ok here's an idea! What are all the inaccuracies in the more famous films and TV shows about Roman history, the "added for dramatic effect" or "filled in 'cos we don't really know" or "blatant mistelling" and the less obvious "misdated, misquoted, and mismatched". Your series is a real gem and as a publication...well, it would be a song of a book!

John M.

The Roman legal system and economy. Who did what kind of labor, who controlled the capital, etc.

Ryan Reyes

I was wondering about the making the dead emperors gods. Where they seen as gods equal to Saturn and the others? How did that work?


Great podcast.

One question that has always fascinated me is the interaction of the Roman world with the greater world and here I am specifically focusing on the ancient civilizations in Asia.

I know there were many trade links (Silk Route) but what was the knowledge in Rome of places like India and China? Where there expeditions sent? Direct diplomatic links? I have heard stories/rumors of stranded Roman soldiers in the Far East fighting as mercenaries for China. A brief expansion on this topic would be interesting.


Just noticed that people have basically already been asking for Roman interaction with the outside world (especially China).

Sorry about that! Well, I second (or third) those requests!

michael knight

Fantastic pocast!

Which legion do you think was the most storied in Roman military history and why? Could you give us a history of that legion and describe a soldier's life?


First time poster.

I would like to know more about the Imperial Cult/s of deified Roman Emperors

Thanks very much for providing such an excellent Podcast! This is awesome work...

Rob S

Thanks for all your work in bringing ancient Rome to life for us!
I want to echo Scott D's request for information on the library at Alexandria. There's something very Indiana Jones-ish about all the long lost treasures that must have been there.
Keep up the good work.

Joseph R. J.

I love this podcast! The only thing that I can worry about is how far this series will go. It is officially labeled to stop at 476 with the final collapse of the last Roman Remnant of power...

The thing is that Justinian and furthermore - Belisarius (wow, what a great patriot, man, general and public servant) I fear will not be addressed. Perhaps an episode of the greatest Roman Generals would be best... I don't know...

Dennis, Bay Area

I listen to your podcasts while jogging. Never have I looked so forward to exercising. How did you get started with this project? Can we hear a bit about "The History of Duncan" (without being too revealing).


quick question: Julius Caesar added a bunch of gallic leaders to the ranks of the senate, swelling their numbers to 1000 or so.

Did the Senate ever revert back to a smaller body, and did they purge the non-Roman/Italian members after Caesar's assassination? When and how? Was it by Imperial decree, or perhaps a dutiful Censor?


Who was the first person to actually call himself the Roman emperor and be called the Roman emperor by his contemporaries?

Francesco Nicoletti

How did the roman empire hold together as long as it did ? Why did it not fall to pieces with the death of Tiberias, or in the year of the four emperors or at any of the other precipi that you document. What was the glue holding the empire together ? The empire does not seem to be based on a natural geographical division (like egypt or china). The beauracracy was composed of slaves & freedmen dependendent on the emperor (unlike china). There was no standard means of succession.
It seems to me teethe empire should have fallen apart under a weak emperor or during a succession crisis as the only thing holding the empire together was the emperor.

Account Deleted

I have a question I've been meaning to ask for a while.

In one of the Augustan episodes you mentioned that after Augustus' victory no descendent of Mark Antony was allowed to use that name again, but in the Year of the Four Emperors there was a "Marcus Antonius Primus" supporting Vespasian in his conquest of Italy.

What happened here? Is this Marcus Antonius related to the more famous one?


Hey Mike, I've been listening since the seven kings of Rome episodes, and have checked in every weekend for new episodes, even during your hiatus! Anyway, my questions pertain to your personal opinions on some of the emperors.

In the episodes on Claudius, you told us that you would include him in your top ten greatest emperors. You mentioned some other emperors you would include, but I'd be interested to know how your own top ten actually shakes out. If you have any honorable mentions as well, please, let us know.

On the same note, I'd also be interested to know who you think the most effective emperors were. I have a feeling Domitian might make your most effective list, while he certainly would not make your "greatest."

Thanks for all the hours of historical fun, and though I haven't been able to donate anything yet, as soon as I get a full-time job I will send something your way.


Roma Surrectum

I like some others would like to see
-information on how the roman economy operated, like slave labour, trade, and taxes ect.
-info on roman interactions with the far east
-how historical th more famous roman tv series and movies are
-How the roman army changed in the middle to late imperial period and a perspective on how the legions and auxillia operated and how they changed as the roman period went on
-and maybe some info on the lives of different classes/jobs of romans, like for example what was the life of a baker, legionary, or a man of equestrian status

Jim Burd


I would love to hear more about the life of an average Roman. Did they own their homes, live in apratments, or was there public housing of some sort? Did they cook their own food? What did they eat? How did they heat their homes? What kind of clothing did they wear? How did they get around a town the size of Rome? How did the life of the average Roman change over time? Was life in 300AD roughly the same as it was in 200BC?

Enquiring minds want to know!

Love your podcast. Keep up the awesome work!!

Boulder, CO, USA


@ Evan

Difference between 'effective' and 'greatest' is a great place to start thinking about how Emporers were viewed and their actions reported. Who controls history is a running theme through this series and is one of the fantastic things about THOR.

It may be too big as a question or an episode but I would love to hear Mike do a literature review on his sources. I know that this has been threaded through the story telling and a critical reflection on the sources has taken place as they relate to the 'facts' of events. I would love to hear how they interacted as texts, how the style of one ancient historian might have affected the style and 'fact finding' of another. If Gibbons drew them all together to produce his thesis for modern readers/historians to start from, who did this for the Romans.

Mike has done a wonderful job of giving us the sources but I guess my question would be, did how Polybius wrote history affect the way Seutonis wrote history? Did the histography change over time and if so how?


1. a top 10 25 50 or a 100 men(and Women) that deserve to be honoured highly for thier contributions to roman society and empire would be nice

2. also a list of the most destructive roman leaders would also be nice

3. Lastly what do you think romes greatest contribution to modern day soceity is

Rory Mitchell

I think your 100th episode should be on Cicero. Cicero's writing has been such a valuable resource in the study of Ancient Rome and it has largely helped to shape the modern understanding of Rome. Through his writings Cicero has left a great impression of Roman beliefs and ideals.

Other good topics could include your top 5 craziest emperors, Juvenal and his satires, or Roman Architecture which was one of their crowning achievements and lasting testaments.


Hello Mike, I was always curious as to what happened to the bloodline of Caesar after Nero, was he truly the end of everyone in that bloodline no cousins, any relatives of any kind? Do you have any material you recommend about this? and I do wish the episodes where a little longer :) thanks for the great podcast!


Hi Mike, I would like to also request more information on Roman relations with the Chinese Empire and the Irish tribes. Also, on a more personal note, I'd like to know more about which baseball teams you like. (Go Braves!)

Ticklinus cambriginus britannicus

In view of celebrating 100 (excellent) episodes why not an episode on Roman games to celebrate in true Roman style!


I have always been intrigued by western martial traditions. Granted there isnt much on it outside of the SCA (and all that would imply...) but I have read the occasional good book about it, notably Chris Amberger's The Secret History of the Sword.

I am interested in the training regimen of the Roman gladiators and how it compares to the training received by Roman troops. I know that there were distinct fighting styles, and Amberger's book touches on it briefly, but not at any great length. I was wondering how much information is out there...

Srinivas Murty

Maybe I'm reading this wrong. But in terms of greatness of Roman emperors, I would argue that Trejan is a greater ruler (thus far in your narration) than even Augustus. Here was a man not shy to mix in when it came to waging war and standing with his troops (unlike our dear friend Octavian) while also exhibiting great statesmanship. I know I'm going to stir up a hornets nest with this statement but just thought I would make things a bit interesting!! I love your podcast. Without it, my knowledge of Roman history started and ended with a Shakesperean Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony.

16-year-old Giants fangirl

Hi Mike, just wanted to throw in my idea. As you mentioned baseball as one of the possible topics (and being a huge baseball fan myself) here is a baseball question:

Who do you think should retire Randy Johnson's number? I know you are a huge fan of him, as am I, and I'm curious. Though he pitched with and made his name with the Diamondbacks, he was not too happy with them not signing him for his last season. So should the Giants retire his number instead?

I'm curious to know what you think. My dad and I have been discussing this for some time. As always, thank you for your excellent podcast!

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

Yes,Ticklinus Cambriginus Britanicus!I second that! A Triumph for Mike! Something on the games, the audiences, the Colosseum...how they filled the stadium, where did they buy tickets?...did they have snack stands/sellers? What about the amenities...where did they, you know,...go! And is it true that the colosseum's marble and metal now resides in other Roman buildings? Are there really ferral cats living in the colosseum today? Whatever you choose, I can't wait!


What did the Romans know about the rest of the world? Did they have contact with India or China?


Hi Mike,

Long time listener and fan. I'd like to know about about the Mike behind the mike:

- What got you into Roman history?
- What inspired you to do the podcast?
- What have you leant in your venture?
- How much of your normal life does the podcast take up??
- What can you see from your window, assuming there is one where you cast from!
- What do your nearest and dearest think of it all?

Nothing too intrusive, we all hear your voice each week but only know a bit about our guide on this journey.


Howard - Winchester, England


Long time listener first time poster. This podcast is truely one of my most favorite. I simple want to know about how much the Romans hit the sauce. What kind of alcohol did they drink? How often did they drink? Did Women/children/slaves/poor/rich routinely go on benders or did certain classes of Romans abstain?

I once heard that romans diluted their wine to 10%.

Very Curious in Korea,

Snowy Wooster


I would like some information on the marriage of Roman religion (legends, myths, and realities) with the rising tide of Christian Philosophy of that time. A religion professor of mine liked to teach that the Greeks altered the Christian philosophy more than the Christians altered the Greeks. That may be true for the Orthodox Church, but is that true for the Catholic Church? The reason why I ask is 1) religion was darned important to the Romans (and many cultures in the world today) and 2) I'd like to know how much of the Catholic Church is Roman. Pontifex Maximus anyone?



I think the only time that archers were ever mentioned in any of the episodes is when the Romans were fighting in the mounted archers of the Numidian cavalry. The maps of battles also contain "the infantry" and "the cavalry" but never "the archers." It always seemed to be a serious tactical error.

Did the Romans simply not employ them? Were their tactics not compatible with archers? Or were archers just included in with the cavalry and infantry but not a separate units?


No specific comment, just THANKS! You rock man.

Gregory Widen

I'll throw my lot in with those that would like to hear more about daily Roman life for the average Joe. Simple things, like did they have glass in their windows?

Also, just finished Harris' novel "imperium" about Cicero's election to consul. It goes into great detail about the voting process and would be interested in your take on its accuracy.

Excellent podcast!


Hi Mike,

I have so many questions, both about Rome itself, and about your podcasting process:

a) Can you tell us more about the Vestal Virgins? How politically important were they, and how did they fit with the other priesthoods of Rome?
b) When did Latin officially "die" as a language? Do we have any record of who the last native speaker of Latin was?

a) How long does it take you to research a week's worth of reading material? Do you keep a personal library of favoured first-hand sources, like Tacitus or Suetonius?
b) Do you type out ever last word you intend to read, including the asides, and then just read it aloud, or do you keep a simple point-form list of talking notes and then use those as a way to jog your memory when you talk?
c) How long does it take you to record a single podcast?
d) What recording equipment do you use?

Gene Ha

You once joked that if Hannibal had won you'd be making The History of Carthage. On that note, I think single episodes dedicated to "The History of Parthia" and "The History of the Germans" would be useful.

What was life like in the Parthian Empire? I understand it's a successor state from Alexander's collapsed conquests. How Greek was it, and how much did it resemble earlier Persian empires? What were their politics and rulers like? What were their foreign policy goals? Did they hope to nibble away at Roman border regions, or did they hope to destroy Rome? What other enemies and allies did they have? How well did they understand Rome?

There really isn't much popular history about the Parthians so I'd love to hear more about them. But as a long time listener I enjoy just about everything you podcast.


How about the history of The History of Rome? What sparked your interest in Rome? What motivated you to start doing a podcast and what is the future of the show?


I would really like to hear as much about Constantine as possible. I spent 2 weeks in Europe visiting as many of the places mentioned in the book Constantine's Sword as I could but would love to get your perspective.

Some of my very warped perspective on Constantine can be found on www.constantinesgourd.blogspot.com

Dustin Hughes

hey just want to say great podcost

i whould like to know about what it meant a be a roman citizen in the empire what was the everday life of the citizen and why go to the auxiliary to become a citizen thanks keep up the good work

Ben Culp

I would like to know how the "technology" has evolved over the period of Rome that you have coveres so far.


Sorry to post off topic, but I just came acros this interesting article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_naming_conventions that really helped me to understand the naming morphology.


Hi Mike, I am loving the podcast.

A few things for the 100th episode:

1. Discussion on if any family lines have been traced to modern day, such as Caesar?

2. Maybe some detailed discussion on the ahuthors of your source material such as Suetonius, an understanding of their bias's or not in their writings?

Keep up the great work and can't wait to ask questions for number 200. :-)

Patrick Kanouse

I'd be curious to hear any information on Roman medicine or medical practices.


I think a podcast on Roman sources would be cool.

Joe from Australia

Hi Mike, what about a bit of a comparison of the mind set of an educated Roman citizen from this golden period of the Empire, and a typical American (or Italian!) of today? I know in some ways people are the same everywhere and everytime, and I know that in terms of education and sophistication a well-off Roman was probably more refined than a lot of modern people, but on the other hand there must have been areas where there would be just a total disconnect if Maximum Typicallus Romanum sat down to have a conversation with you or me today - things like the assumed value of life, status of women, the concept of god(s), family versus society, attitude to work versus pleasure, and so on. So in summary, in what ways did they just think differently than we do?

Morgan Wascko

Dear Mike:
I love this podcast and hope you continue well past 100 episodes!
My questions are about you. How did you get started on the podcast? What do you do as your day job? Do you have a history background? Do you talk about Rome all the time with friends and family, or do you save it just for the podcast?
Wishing you all the best!


How about an episode on the engineering accomplishments of the Roman Empire? Aqueducts, roads, architecture, ports, fortified camps, walls. I would love to hear an episode on how these things were made possible. Technological advancements like hydraulic cement, social factors like the role of slavery and craftsmen in Rome and in the provinces and the engineering specialists in the army.
Thanks for the great podcast. You really know your stuff and how to spin a compelling narrative!


Hi - please could you fix the link to the Sulla episode? It's "No Better Friend, No Worse Enemy", number 35 I think. I can't download it.

Love the show, thanks a lot!


Hello Mike,
I have a very specific question regarding the young Julius Caesar and his holding of the Flamen Dialis. From what I know about Caesar, it seems impossible that he wouldn't have been, by the age of 15 or 16, an extremely ambitious and capable young man. His appointment to this priesthood (by, I assume, Cinna?) must have been an unbelievably cruel blow for Caesar. It's impossible to know whether the motive for this was intentionally spiteful or just unintentionally inconsiderate of a minor's feelings. But what I don't understand is why, considering Sulla's natural enmity for Caesar's uncle Marius and father-in-law Cinna, he nullified Caesar's priesthood. It seems like the absolute greatest favor anyone could have done for Caesar at that point. Unless it was simply to clear the way to proscribe him. Is that your sense of what happened? I realize there must have been so much more going on among these figures than we'll ever know (their relationships to one another outside of the historical records, the events that led up to Sulla's pardoning him, and so on). It's incredibly ironic, though, that Sulla would have paved the way for Caesar's subsequent political and military career (not to mention his being elected Pontifex Maximus, which saved his bacon later on). I was astounded while reading Goldsworthy's bio of Caesar that he seemed to completely miss the significance of the post of Flamen Dialis for Caesar. Are there any primary sources that shed more light on why he was saddled with the flaminate in the first place or more about Sulla's relationship with Caesar, his aunt Julia, or mother Aurelia? I'd read somewhere that Sulla's first wife was a Julia, but not specifically from which branch of the family. Do you know if that's true?

Great podcast, by the way. I've been listening from the beginning and enjoy it more every week.


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