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May 23, 2010


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matt, netherlands

Great addition Mike, especially appreciate the fact that you don't blame the entire decline of the empire on Commodus. Even though the guy was obviously a disaster, he didn't single handedly bring it down..

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

Hi All,
Have been in Perth Western Australia, for a conference and can recommend the "A Day in Pompeii" exhibition on until September at the Perth Cultural centre in James Street. Anyone in WA thinking of visiting, I can recommend it.
Great episode Mike!

Joseph RJ

Very awesome


Hey Mr. Duncan, I live near the Seattle area too and I really really love your podcast. Also I'm just wondering, what job do you have with a political science degree? Are you having fun with it? I really love history and political science, and I'm still in High School, and I'm thinking about pursuing a degree for either.

What do you recommend?


Great episode! It's interesting to think just what Marcus might have accomplished had fate not been against him at every turn.

Thanks for the pictures of the column, in the rain miracle, I'm guessing the being in the sky with all they wavy things (rain?) is a roman god? Its a very interesting depiction, and im wondering, just how many surviving images of the gods as the Romans saw them do we have? And which god is this specific one?

Kinda a rhetorical question, but whoever wants to feel free to answer XD

Dave Glencross

Crap, after having discovered your podcast a few months ago I have finally caught up with you. I may stave off listening to episode 95 for a bit.

joey d

Hi Mike, I've been barreling through your series since March this year. As I'm seeing everyone else has been, the 'there will be no episode next week' was once just an expression which had no effect for me to skip months at a time but now it seems I'll be patiently waiting with the rest of them.

Coincidentally I started listening while I had a week to kill working in Austin, going for runs up and down the river walk. This weekend I'm flying to Portland, and will probably be listening to the most recent by the time I get there. It's a counter History of Rome tour.

A fine fine job, your obsession has become ours.


What I can not understand with these column narratives is why the city patrons ordered the sculptors to deliver so much detail when it made the story amongst the upper halves all but unreadable to any ancient audience save the crows. The pointlessness seems, well, to me at least, quite unpragmatic and so most un-Roman. The Bayeux Tapestry is infinitely more readable, literally with it's Latin script, and has the added utility of being able to be folded up for easy storage, or at least to be read by any discerning scholar at any elevation. Further to this, I wonder: perhaps Bayeaux is a blueprint, a draft script for a column that William I was musing on ordering to eternalise his conquest of England? Before he decided to spend the budgeted monies on more castle building, of course.


screw this waiting for new episodes thing!

I would gladly pay a subscription fee so mike could do this full time.

Ryan Reyes

If you listen to the 100th episode special it sounds like the show prep is pretty much a full time gig.

Ron Baakkonen

Thanks for a great series on Marcus Aurelius. He is now my favorite Roman emperor. He strikes me as perhaps the least uncynical potentate until you get to George Washington. Someone who despite his best intentions found himself as the crux upon which history would turn and decided he better make the most of it. Would you agree?

Mikey Pears

I know that this is totally off subject. However this is a burning issue that I have been agonising over for some time....

If the Romans and the Parthians were to meet directly in battle. Both empires had no distractions, they could afford to take all the garrisons away from the frontiers. Who would win?

Mikey Pears

Again this is completely off the point and I apologise.

Also, we know that the Romans had a powerful bureaucracy. Did that bureaucracy have the power of, to take an example. Yes minister (British TV, Showhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yes_minister. Where the civil servants are the ones that really run the government. Or was the Civil service there to serve the emperor or themselves.

The emperor must have delegated tasks to various people. If the civil service did something nasty, like declare war on something. Could the emperor discipline them (execute them).

You have told us that during the reign of Claudius the civil service had huge power (Narcissus), had their power declined in the reigns of the five good emperors. Or did it explode, like in yes minster, where the Ministers worked for the civil service not the other way round?


Congratulations, Mike, for the best podcast evah. I'm just sorry that I finally caught up, so now I have to wait for a new episode!
I urge you to do a book or audiobook. I think it will be recognised in future as a classic.
I look forward to your " History of the USA" podcast.


Paul doesn't strike me as the type who would particularly care to have a ridiculously vainglorious statue plopped on top of a column. I can't stand defacement of historical monuments.


Hi mike, excellent podcast as usual, long time fan. Great picture of the column of marcus. Did you take that picture on a visit to Rome?

Mike (other Mike)

Thanks for the column picture. Can almost taste the Della Palma gelato while viewing it.


wow, this podcast is amazing. good work mike. i am still at the punic wars and dread the day i catch up to the pack and have to wait for more. brilliant.

might i ask about your career and qualifications, i am currently studying history and political science at university and am interested in writing/podcasting in a similar fashion to your history of rome. do you get paid for these substantial efforts?

thanks once more for the podcast, entertains and informs me on the bus trips to university and furthermore learning.


What!?!?!? No mention of the movie gladiator? Possibly the best Dude movie of all time?


Steve Gad

Anyone interested in some video's I made of a small Legion (more a Contubernium really)at Bolsover castle recently can view them at:


Hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed making them. :-)

Steve Gad

Does anyone else, like myself, think it a minor miracle that these columns have survived all these centuries? It always amazes me how they manage to escape the wrath of later invaders, who must have looked upon these monuments with utter hatred - them being symbols of their own defeat and all.
Think of what that column has seen and lived through in its lifetime.
To survive with only a change of statue (a great shame) is remarkable, and although the bottom (reachable) parts are well worn, it's in great shape.
Whoever took this picture should be knighted at once and given command of the tenth.

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

I agree with Steve Gad on the "minor miricle". If only these monuments could talk,eh? We must be content to see them in photos or as tourists. People in the future may not be so lucky as to be able to visit them if they deteriorate. These photos are brilliant!

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

oops! I meant "miracle"


Too bad they replaced Marcus at the top with St. Paul but oh well, I'm glad we still have the pillar though. How did people at the time "read" it though, wouldn't it have been a bit high to be able to see the top half or top third of figures?

Unfortunately I have caught up with the podcast... now I can't listen to the Rome podcast every single day!
Thanks for the fantastic work :)


Walked past this everyday on the way to school when I was studying abroad in Rome. Some friends came to visit me at the end of the semester in Rome, and thanks to your podcast, I talked their ears off with things I have learned from your podcast. I was so excited to find it because, despite the fact that I was studying abroad in Rome, there wasn't a Roman history class available. Your podcast became that Roman history class I didn't get to take and I would listen to it on the 40 bus driving past the Capitoline Hill everyday. Quite the experience, and further enhanced by your great podcast.


In your episode, I believe it was the 100th episode, you said that you rated Marcus as on of the top five best emperors. After listening to the podcasts about his reign, I am still not entirely sure why that is true. He does seem to be a fairly capable and intelligent emperor especially for the mess that he was haphazardly thrown into, but so were many others, and it doesn't seem that he was all that distinct from what you said about him. So I was wondering if you had any more information on why he would be in the top five best emperors of Roam.

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