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February 13, 2011


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In the latin word dux the "u" is pronounced like in duke rather than in duck



Since the "u" in dux is short, the vowel sound would be more akin to the sound in "put." So it would more or less rhyme with English "books."

Anyways, great podcast as always; this is one of the highlights of my week. Looking forward to the 4th century!

Kate Macdonald

It's a great podcast. I knit to it, commute from Brussels to Ghent to it, and look forward to it very much. In the past few episodes you've been retreading old ground for me, since I grew up obsessively reading the novels of Rosemary Sutcliff. Her excellent novel 'The Silver Branch' is set in southern Britain in the period of Carausius and Allecto, and taught me all I know about that period of Roman history. So I enjoyed hearing about it frm the historical side rather than the fictional side. I'm now looking forward to when you get to the withdrawal of Rome from Britain, when you meet up with her even better novel 'The Lantern Bearers'. Also Rudyard Kipling's short stories in 'Puck of Pook's Hill', set in the reign of Maximus.

Scott Scheule

Patrick, Steve:

I've seen both pronunciations suggested, but the "put" vowel is more common. Regardless, the Romans lacked the schwa sound of English "ducks."

The plural of "dux" is "ducēs." That's "u" as in "put" and "e" as in Spanish "que" (though twice as long as the short vowel. That might sound less silly than having it sound the same as English "ducks."

Alternatively, one could simply use the English words "duke" and "dukes."


I really like your pod cast , you do a great job .I have a question about the predecessors of the Ilyrians !Who are they ?


@scott, steve

At this point I wish I hadn't said anything, but just stop pronouncing "dux", "ducks" because it was just annoying me


After the Chaos of the Third Century I am shocked that the Romans didn't actually lose any territory. Was this because the situation was not as dire as you made it out to be? Or is it because they where besieged by raiders and not conquerors?


Not as dire? The 3rd Century was nigh apocalyptic. I think they so survived so intact (geographically at least) because the Romans got lucky with getting the right leaders at the right time. Gallienus and Claudius led vigorous campaigns that smacked the Goths around a lot and led them to turn down the heat on their border with the empire.

In the West, Postumus led a robust defence of the Rhine that stopped the Franks taking over Gaul.

In the East, just as it seemed Sharpur would seize the Eastern Empire, Odaenathus came out of nowhere and beat the Sassanids back. Then, when Sharpur died, the Sassanids had a succession crisis.

After that, Aurelian comes along and reunites the Empire so that once again Rome is the major power in Europe.

However, they did lose some territory. I think it was in Ep. 118, Aurelian evacuates Dacia so they lost that slice of the Empire.

This is what I picked up from listening to THoR though, I could have misconstrued what Mike was saying.


Hello, I just would like to know how the Romans counted thier time line. We count time line from Death of Jesus. Like 45 AD or 45 BC. BUt, How the roman kept track of thier years. For example, the year 55 BC for Roman in Roman Times would have being the year 687 and so on. This did realy happen?


Mike, Just another big thankyou for continuing your marathon effort. It must be hard to keep motivated... your fans do appreciate it.
As for pronunciations! I forgive you your efforts, I'm sure Roman's would be appalled at my British efforts, why should yours be any worse?
Incidently being Scottish educated, the head-boy at our school was a dux, I always wondered where it came from.

Scott Scheule


Usually the Romans simply used the name of the two consuls appointed that year. For example, here's a bit from Caesar's Commentary on the Gallic Wars:

"Among the Helvetii, Orgetorix was by far the most distinguished and wealthy. He, when Marcus Messala and Marcus Piso were consuls, incited by lust of sovereignty, formed a conspiracy among the nobility, and persuaded the people to go forth from their territories with all their possessions, [saying] that it would be very easy, since they excelled all in valor, to acquire the supremacy of the whole of Gaul."

There you go. That's the "number" of the year, the year of "Piso-Mesalla." This was common even after the Empire came about, though you could also refer to the regnal year of the current Emperor (hence the Gospel of Luke's "In the fifteenth year of the Emperor Tiberius...").

When absolutely necessary (to compare very distant events, for example), Romans would use a dating from the founding of the city of Rome (by tradition 753 BC).

See generally: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Julian_calendar#Year_numbering


Very interesting! Listening to how Diocletian completely marginalized the Senate and set himself up as "your lord and god", I was reminded a lot of Domitian. Except that it seems Diocletian was much more effective at establishing his much more autocratic rule and wasn't unreasonably paranoid.

Chris Perry

Hi Mike, thanks for all the work you put into the podcast - I have learnt so much!

Anyway, I am playing catch up and just recently listened to the 100th episode with the listeners' questions. I now have two questions having listened to some more episodes:

1. Several times you have suggested that we will only know the truth about a particular event if we had a time machine. If you did have a time machine, what three events would you most like to find out the truth about?

2. I am trying to get my head around just how bloodthirsty and dangerous the Roman world could be. An incredible number of people meet their end through murder or suicide; this got me thinking, were there more murders or suicides that saw the end of the prominent people mentioned throughout the History-of-Romecasts?

Thanks again for these brilliant podcasts.


Val in Vancouver

That map is awesome!!


Love the podcast but have a minor quibble: You state that expanding the bureaucracy was a drain on the economy. Sounds like modern-day right-wing propaganda that all government is wasteful and inefficient. Any facts to back that up? The rest of the podcast seems to contradict the statement; the reforms restored a functioning judicial system, reinvigorated the empire, etc.

בניית בריכות שחייה

I like the historical aspect, rather than fiction. Now I am waiting when you get to the withdrawal of Rome in Britain. It's really interesting.


Many times you suggested that just want to know the truth about a particular event, if had a time machine.


Love the map! Finally can see where Pannonia is (or was).

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