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November 07, 2010


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Good episode, and I can't wait for your show on Aurelian, who I feel is a much under appreciated Emperor.

Anywho, have fun at San Antonio, and good luck to the Mrs. History of Rome!


Nice shout out for Simon Schama. Far preferable to the reactionary lickspittle that is David Starkey.


Love your work, looking forward to learning about Aurelian. I notice you haven't mentioned your sources for this chaotic period much - who do you read to find out about this time?


Good luck to Mrs THOR.


Can someone answer a question for me? What was the official language of Rome at that time for its legal system?
The reason why I ask is that the Bible was written in Greek and why not Latin?


The new Testament was written in Greek and I assume Latin was the official language of Rome but I could be wrong. I do also understand Rome was comprised of many cultures and languages but its government had to have, I assume, one language for communications.

Jared Roberts

My understanding is that latin was the official language for state business until Emperor Heraclius changed it to Greek in the early 600s. I'm assuming that includes the court system. Heck, we *still* use lots of latin terms in law.


My understanding is that Latin was the official state language and all administration and official stuff was done in Latin, however Greek tended to rule culture, learning and trade.


Hi Mike,

I couldn't find an email address to just email this to you, but I wanted to thank you for the effort you've put into this podcast. It's made my hourly walk to and from law school much more enjoyable.

I had two questions, though. (I just passed the 100th episode and I'm still catching up, so maybe they've been asked since then, but I'm still curious.) The first question is about the popular assemblies and what happened to them after Augustus came to power. Were they just disbanded? Was there a public outcry that the populares with whom they sided seized absolute control and pushed them aside? Also, once the principate was put in place, was anyone elected to anything anymore? It seems like around this period the princeps would appoint certain people for certain offices (either straight up or by sham election), but did the princeps do this for all offices or only special appointees the princeps particularly wanted?

I realize that my first question was really a cluster of questions, so my second one is a lot simpler: If you had to choose (and ignore the fact that they weren't really organized factions), would you have sided with the optimates or the populares?

Thanks again!


Much of the eastern empire was the old Hellenistic empire founded by Alexander the Great so many, if not most, would have natively spoken greek rather than latin. The switch fully to greek in the later Byzantine empire is mentioned in the In Our Time episode http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006qykl/episodes/player?page=38 a great program in a (mainly) great series.


Thanks for the answers to my questions everyone! Much appreciated. There you go, Mike needs to do a podcast on the languages of Rome!

Eric Greene

I found this timeline webpage and have just begun to investigate it, but it seems like a great tool for thinking about the overall arc of world history. Thanks for the effort you have put into THoR. I have greatly enjoyed every episode and passed it on to many others.


John A. (Jay) Niesse

I came late to your podcast. I came, I listened, I learned and enjoyed. I never had any interest in history, math and science were all I cared about. But, as I grow older history is more and more and more interesting.

You have made the history of Rome exciting and enjoyable. My 11 year old son and I enjoy listening together.

Thanks for all of your effort.


John Niesse


Hey i love the podcast but i forgot something: what was the minimum age of a Roman Legionary?


With respect to the greek question for the Bible, my understanding is that the Jews at the time were on the first steps of the Diaspora. The word "diaspora" itself is a Greek word. They were kicked out of Israel in 70 AD. The Christains had not fully separated from the Jews. The Romans certainly did not distinguish between them at that time.

One of the places that was a first stop after leaving the levant was Greece, hence early Greek Bibles.

Bob Hoyler

Hello Mike,

I can't find an email address for you anywhere, and I'm not on Facebook, so there were two things that I was inetrested if you would cover specifcially that I wanted to mention here:

1) Roman Religion - I know you have touched on this in the past, and I would understand if you wait until the rise of Christianity to delve into this further, but I am very interested in how the rise of Eastern cults (e.g. Mithraism, the Cult of Isis, the cult of Sol Invictus, Christinaity) affected the day-to-day functioning of the empire, and the ways in which the Romans looked at the world

2) Barbarian (and Persian) Battle Tactics - I was relistening to some of the old THoR podcasts the other day. One of the podcasts I listened to was "A Phalanx with Joints." You did such a great job of explaining how the old Greek phalanx was no match for the newer Roman legion in that podcast that I became very curious to hear your deconstruction of the Barbarian and Persian battle tactics that eventually brought down the legion. I know that there is a lot more going on with that topic than purely military tactical operations, but I was curious as to how the Roman legion - domninant for so long - eventually met it's match.

You do a great job with this, Mike! Thanks for keeping SPQR alive.


Hanging on for the next fortnightly episode...! =D

A Fan.


I can't get enough of this series, Mike. Fantastic stuff.
An avid follower from New Zealand

mark Pointer

Hi Mike I just want to let you know how much i'm enjoying your podcast, I am a good few episodes behind but i have just spent 2 weeks in tunisia listening to several episodes whilst visiting Carthage and El Jhem, i hope El Jhem is on your places to visit list. It is truly amazing!! Also nearby they have unearthed the remains of a middle class area of a roman town. It is quite something to think the people who lived there over hundreds of years thought that the Empire would go on forever. Anyway thanks again for the podcact



I've FINALLY caught up with the latest episode. It took me more than a month!

I just want to let you know how much myself, and I'm sure everyone else, appreciates what you are doing here. You do a great job. I seriously cannot get enough! Keep the episodes coming!!

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