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May 15, 2011


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Hurray! More THoR! Hope the trip is goin' great. :)


Great ep, Mike. Thanks for prerecording them to get us through your Roman history tour.

I was especially thrilled at your recommendation of Asimov's Foundation series. Sweet! :D

Vancouver Val

Hi Mike, thanks for your great planning. I hope the trip is all you hoped it would be:) I am looking forward to stories and pictures from yourself and the others.
Cheers, Val

Vancouver Val

oops it died as you spoke, Hadrian. Is that symbolic? Perhaps another listener can tall me what I can do. I tried replaying, but it stops at the same place each time. Thanks in advance for your knowledgable suggestions.


Vancouver Val - sounds like you need to download it again.

Mike - excellent stuff, as always.


Yeah, Val. This sometimes happens if you mean you only got part of the episode (or is the rest of the file shown as part of it's length and it stops? Either case, you need to re-download) when the browser stops the download for some weird reason. Is your file 10.5 mb ? If it isn't, it's only a partial (or maybe it's corrupt as said).


Huge thanks for the name check... been a while since I read the Foundation books, I hadn't realised the background to the stories, but did know it was based on Gibbon... the gift that keeps on giving! Great!
Hope you are all enjoying the tour, sorry I cannot be there but strangely you are closer now than usual.
Grew up with the Romans having been born a stone's throw from Antonine's Wall. The emprire's limit. Now living near York, Constantine's first capital.
Favourite Roman site - Hadrian's Villa outside Rome, it would be good to learn which your fellow campers enjoy most.

ken meece

the detailed story of the Arian controversy and Constantine's role in it is in the book "when Jesus became God" by Richard E. Rubenstein, a professor of conflict resolution at George Mason University, specializing in religious conflict. it is a nearly month-by-month drams of people, motives. ideologies and long-term results.

this is arguably the most important century / drama in all of world history.


Apropos of Ep. 137, a BBC history series called "In Our Time" recently did an episode on Pelagius.
Pelagius precipitated one of the doctrinal disputes that characterized Christianity in the 4th and 5th centuries.

IOT has done a number of episodes relating to Rome.

Episodes can be streamed using the BBC Media Player. Episodes since late September of 2010 are available as free downloads at the iTunes store.


According to one tradition, the clergyman who punched Arius at the Council of Nicea was the Bishop of Myra, St. Nicholas, who is known to many today as Santa Claus.


Nice try. Not quite up to your usual impeccably high standards, though. In the first place, it's pronounced "a - THAN - a - sius", not "a - NA - tha - sius" (emphasis to draw attention to the correction, not as an indication of stress) - though I have to admit having made many similar blunders in pronunciation due to textual transpositions as I learned facts from reading (as I assume you have done here) rather than from listening.

More importantly, what was at stake in the Arian controversy was rather more significant than the outside observer might see - which is why so many outside observers tend to trivialize this pivotal controversy. I remember my university history professor reducing the whole conflict to an argument over a single iota: homoousios (of the same essence) vs. homoiousios (of similar essence). You (as usual) do better than most, but don't quite get (as, admittedly, Constntine himself might not have gotten) the full significance of full difference between Jesus being God Himself (of one essence with the Father) and being just a sort of divine first-created being (of like essence).

Even beyond the important theological distinction, though, what was at stake here was how Christianity was going to react to becoming the religion of the empire. Was it going to do so by accommodating its beliefs and teachings to what was most palatable to the Greeks and Romans who were used to an utterly transcendent prime-mover (the main reason that Arius was so allergic to the idea that Jesus was God Himself made flesh), or was it going to figure out how to articulate, in Greek philosophical language, the much less palatable Jewish idea of a God intimately involved with His creation?

I admit, however, that this is a tough assignment for any secular historian to take on - and I can see you are doing your best, which, as usual, is far better than most! Keep up the good work. I LOVE THoR (the podcast, that is, not the Norse god, so much), and look forward every week (or so) to the next episode's release. Hope you are having a great time touring the Old Country. Wish I could have come!


Um... That should have been "...the full significance of THE difference..." (not quite so "full")! Proofread, proofread, proofread before posting!


Great reference to Asimov :).
It's Fantasy and Sci-fi (Mostly Asimov's Foundation, everything by Terry Pratchett & George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire) that got me hooked on history and mythology in the first place.
This podcast is my real introduction to Rome, easy to understand and an enjoyable listen, great work :).


@FrJustin Thanks for fleshing out the theology behind this controversy. As I understand your comment the pivotal historical significance of this theological disagreement is that it was the line in the sand between a pagan monotheism which had been taking over the empire at a slow creep since Aurelian, and the JudeoChristian version of monotheism we are familiar with today.
@Ken Meece. Thanks for the book recommendation I am now very curious to know more about this.


Hi Mike,

Not sure if this has been brought up (ah, who am I kidding, it probably has) - now that you're only one and a half centuries from the deposition of Romulus Augustulus, are you going to end the podcast there? Byzantine history is fascinating, and I think you'd be great at it. Or, barring that, do you have any other projects in mind beyond THoR?

Audiobook recommendation: George RR Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series. It's a fantastic series and Roy Dotrice does a great job at reading the books, imo.

Bill from Philly

Mike - thanks again - great show!

All of my readings (and now listenings) regarding Constantine always begs me to question how the man isn't clearly one of the top 10 most important individuals in human history. Not only did he legitimize an eastern religion (which became the foundation and justification for European dominance over the past 6 centuries), he literally, conquered the whole empire (what? 2 times over?). He modernized the military to herald and embrace middle ages military might. He built a city that lasted for 1000 years, that served as the capital of Christendom for most of its life. So much was the lore of Constantinople, that the Turks purposely capped their conquest when they toppled it. Let alone that he commanded full control over a territory that was deemed too much for one man, and by and large would never be under one unified gov't again. Quite an impressive resume.

Ben Nicholson

He did mention something about what he had in mind after THOR which he thought will never happen and that is in the 100th episode.
Well as for when it ends and the Byzantine era and the end! Well......... can I answer that bit for you after it ends.


@Nicole: Yep. That would be an excellent way to sum up the pivotal significance of the Arian controversy!


So...I just gone through the entire History of Rome podcast during the last couple of weeks, and now I don't know what to do. Am I seriously supposed to sit around doing nothing for a week waiting for the next show to be posted? Is there help out there for me? An "Anonymous-HistoryofRomeics" or something of that nature?

Jokes aside, great podcast, can't wait to get to hear more. And I don't know what Mike plans to do after THR but he sure found a winning formula


I have a set of standard podcasts and In Our Time is a good listen, I have recommended it as well. I hope others pick it up.
Join the growing club, I started about 30 episodes in and really pine if they are 2 weeks between readings.

Michael C

Yee-hah! I started THoR about six or seven months ago, and as of today I am all caught up and for the first time will have to wait for the next episode. It's nice to be on the same page as the rest of the class finally!

@ Mike - I've also really appreciated your coverage of the past couple centuries. My basic knowledge of the history of the empire was: Augustine, great! Caligula, bad! Nero, bad! mumble mumble mumble Trajan Hadrian Marcus Aurelius great! mumble mumble mumble throw the Christians to the lions mumble mumble mumble watch out for the Germans and Persians mumble mumble mumble Constantine!

It's nice to have all the blanks filled in.


Seconding the request for History of Byzantium!

Jack R.

It sucks that the Turks took it though.

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James Luke

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to you guys who just caught up and are jonesing for more: consider yourselves lucky! I finally got caught up around ep 110. When I realized I couldn't just press "next" on my iPod my heart basically broke! :(

I can't believe we are over 130 episodes....of a podcast......a history podcast.....researched/written/recorded/edited by a single person. Truly a mindblowing endeavour.


Hear hear! I started listening to the podcast around Caesar's Gallic Wars, caught up at the Donations of Alexandria. Adjusting to one episode a week was hard.


Great episode as ever Mike.

Sorry to be really pedantic, but you said that Constantine's Basilica of Saint Peter was built over the site where Peter was crucified.

Close (about 50 yards probably), but not quite accurate. After his death in Nero's circus Peter was then buried in the nearby necropolis on the vaticanus ridge. This was then filled in and levelled off in around 320CE to create a platform on which to build the basilica. The high altar is directly over the supposed tomb of Peter.

The church might overlap slightly with the circus, but it was the location of the tomb which was important, as with the Constantinian Basilica of St Paul on the Via Ostiense, built on the necropolis where Paul was buried, rather than the site of his martyrdom.

Also, the obelisk from Nero's circus was moved a short distance to its current position in front of St Peters in the late 1500s, giving rise to the misunderstanding that it was the site of the circus itself.

It's a small thing, and I hate to nitpick - your research and presentation are fantastic.

Dr. Hugo

Yeah it's to bad the turks took Constantinopal though..

Jack Napiare

Someone tell the Turks to give it back allready! lol

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