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May 29, 2011


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Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

I'd like to share this link with Mike and THoR fans. The chap doing the history sculpture is "Greg Duncan". (Could it be a relative??) This history/sculpture presentation is vastly different to THoR podcast, subject, time and place but it also tells a story. I can thoroughly recommend seeing it as it took my breath away! The work is done in rare Huon Pine, which has a distinct and pleasant aroma. As so much sculpture was done in Roman times, and some survives for us to see, I thought you would all understand the link.

here it is...


Regards, Luise.

Jeff Larsen

When Constantinople was officially dedicated in 330AD it was know as Nova Roma (New Rome). The city was unofficially known as the "City of Constantine" (Constantinopolis in latin) shortly after. Under the reign of Theodosius II the city officially became known by the honorific eponym of Constantinople.


Battlestar Galatica reference! Wooo!!!!!


ah, I understand. The time zone difference. For me, ypu are launching the podcast on monday, while for you, it's barely sunday. That explains it all.


Yeah, loved the BSG reference. Nice!


This link somehow is not working today May 31, 2011. Thanks


I must say, without hesitation, that the bi-weekly podcast schedule, while not the idyllic constant of the weekly, is far preferable to the alternative. Thank you for keeping all of us left behind learning while on your trek!

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

Seem that the founding of a new settlement by inviting the dregs of society is fairly successful...Rome...Constantinople...Tasmania...(English convicts were our first settlers...)

Account Deleted

This is the second time you've cleared up a development glossed over by the secondary schol curriculum. First it was the evolution of walled cities, and now you've explained the rise of rural fiefs through Constantine's policies. Another golden podcast!


Love the podcast! Thanks for all the hard work you put into this. It makes my Monday drive a treat. Any chance you could post a document with all the books you use for reference or, at least, have suggested in your audible bits? Thanks again!

Matt, NL

@Jesse: Mike posted a part of his source material, see top of this page (right)


Mike, thanks for the great podcast! As to the BSG reference: the same sentence was used by Titus Pullo in Ep. 8, Season 2 of HBO's Rome, when suspecting that Mascius might have been involved in the theft of the triumvirs' gold. :)


Can you give us some photos of your little trip?

Monkey Hanger

Great podcast!

I would love to know what significance the City of Rome has at this point. It seems to be stripped of political, economic, religious and military significance.

It makes me wonder why the sacking of Rome will mark end of the Empire when the City has so little influence.


I like Mike's teaser for the next episode
".... and finally on his death bed Constantine will be baptised."

Constantine dies in 337CE. The Roman church created an entire mythology around a supposed baptism of Constantine in 314CE by Pope Sylvester, who was said to have cured him from leprosy (which he never had). This also tied in with the fraudulent "Donation of Constantine", whereby the Emperor was supposed to have given dominion over the City of Rome to the Pope. There are paintings and frescoes in churches around the city showing these imagined events.

I hope people will forgive a spoiler if I say that he was finally baptised by an Arian priest (ironic really, after the Council of Nicaea). "Last minute deathbed baptism" was also an idea held by a different heretical sect who believed that once you were baptised there was no further forgiveness of sins (one shot deal!), and so they left it late so as to not risk messing up. It was a hangover from the novationist schism about re-baptism of apostates who denied christianity to survive the persecutions of Decius.
Strange that the man who presided over the Council of Nicaea should indulge in 2 heresies when he finally gets baptised.

After his death he was deified by the Senate to become Divine Constantine. I believe he was the last emperor to be deified.


Now a point of pedantry : Constantine is only considered a saint in the orthodox( eastern) church, and not in Roman Catholicism, which has 3 or 4 "Saint Constantine"s, none of which are this one.

Also his epithet "the Great" was added later by christian hagiographers, although he probably deserves it objectively, but for his ability to hold the empire together through 2 civil wars and to totally incorporate the christian religion into the fabric of the empire, thus allowing the empire to exert influence over religion in the way it always had with the old pagan gods.

And just for interest (I hope) - the word pagan was not in use at this time in a religious sense. "Paganus" in latin means the inhabitant of a small country village. After Theodosius outlawed the old religions at the end of C4th only the rural folk were able to cling to their old "pagan" beliefs due to being away from the controls present in the major cities.

As ever, Mike does a really fantastic job with a complex and difficult subject - although I'm inclined to be a little more cynical about Constantine's motives for sponsoring christianity so fully. I see it as more political, since by this stage the old gods were more like cultural traditions and the newer montheistic cults of Mithras and Sol Invictus were either too exclusive or didn't motivate the people like christianity did. Christianity was obviously not going to go away, so it was better to have them "inside the tent" as it were.

Of course only Constantine knows what he really believed - perhaps I'm a harsh judge!


Whew! I just caught up. I feel a bit lost. I've had the luxury of having several episodes available for commuting and yard work for the last couple (few?) months, and now that I'm caught up, I think I might start over.

This is the best podcast I've listened to, ranking right up there with the likes of Quirks and Quarks, Hardcore History, *anything* put out by the various universities doing course podcasts, TEDTalks, Historyzine, Binge Thinking...

You have won the internet, sir.
Thanks for all the great research and hard work.
Now to go mark all of THoR as unplayed and start again.

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

I for one don't mind "spoilers" there is so much to learn and I have learnt almost as much from the discussions after each episode as I have from the podcast itself. It spurs me on to read more and find where these things are recorded.
Thanks for the contribution of opinion, fact and generally adding to the story.


Loved the BSG reference! Great episode once again.

Luise (Tasmania,Australia)

As Stephen Dando-Collins books have been mentioned before I would like to share another link here just a little off topic but still history. A bit more local for me but fascinating all the same. I live about 40 minutes from the town mentioned.


Those who have read his books or listened to them, listen to his voice and his story. Enjoy!


This is kind of a derail but does THoR have a faceboook page? I'd "like to like" it. :D


Does anyone know precisely when the city founded by Constantine began to be called 'Constantinople'? The name sounds Greek. The Latin for City of Constantine would be something like Urbs Constantini.


There is a facebook group "The History of Rome podcast listeners" - search for it on facebook.

@Mark - to my knowledge it was commonly refered to as Constantinopolis from roughly the time of his death, even though it seems he wanted it called "Nova Roma".

Also the "Byzantine Empire" was never called that, but from 1600s onwards (to my knowledge) European historians called it that.
The Bizantines referred to themselves as the Roman Empire up to the end (1453), while everyone else called them "the Greeks".

This is my understanding of the names used at various periods in history - I'd be interested if anyone could confirm or deny the above.


@Mark - just for further interest....

The final name of Nova Roma/Constantinopolis/Byzantium is Istambul. This simply means "in the city" - a follow-on from the habit of refering to Constantinopolis as simply "The City" during the Byzantine Empire.

Strangely Istambul was even in use in Turkish as a name for "The City" even before 1453, but on official documents and coins it is called by the Turkish variant "Kostantiniyye" up until the 1700s.


@RomeStu - Thanks for the information. I think there is some poetic justice in the Greeks making a comeback in the final centuries -actually two thirds the lifespan - of the Empire of their conquerors.


First time commenter. Long time listener!

Thank you for your hard work.

I teach 6th grade so I get to suppliment my Rome lessons with your cool insights. You get an A

John Doran

Hi. As always its a delight to listen to the History of Rome. Many a car journey has flown past listening to this.

After this, it may come across as churlish to point out the tiny error that Trier is not on the Rhine but on the Moselle (which does flow into the Rhine at Confluentes/Coblenz).


That the church considers this man a saint says it all really. Good to understand where the moral bankruptcy of the Christian church really began.

Stephen Chakwin

The name of the city stayed Constantinople officially until 1930 when the Ataturk government changed it. Maps and documents from before then referred to it by that name and the Europeans were not quick to take to the new name.
The term Byzantine, as I understand things, was used for the first time by German Renaissance scholars who wanted to make a distinction between the old Roman Empire and its surviving form in the East. There was more than a simple difference to keep things easy going on there.
When this change in nomenclature was made, the Turkish conquest of the shrunken remains of the Eastern Empire - reduced to a rump state by the combination of long years of misrule and political folly and the predatory Fourth Crusade - was about a hundred years old and the European West had no fond memories of the society that it had looted and helped destroy. Part of the idea was to paint the Eastern Empire as a decadent shadow of the "true" Rome, which means that they were a bunch of sneaky heretics who deserved what they got.

Jack Napiare

Ahhhh Give it back!!!!


"This is the second time you've cleared up a development glossed over by the secondary schol curriculum. First it was the evolution of walled cities, and now you've explained the rise of rural fiefs through Constantine's policies. Another golden podcast!"

You took the words out of my mouth five weeks earlier. :)


Well, I did my early schooling in Istanbul, among other places in Turkey, and I can tell you that history textbooks describe 'that empire' as Byzantine Empire (Bizans Imparatorlugu).

I strongly suspect however that 'Roman Empire' was how the Ottomans originally called their mortal enemies and that the switch to 'Byzantines' occurred in the 20th Century as the new Turkey sought to adapt the way westerners did things.

In Turkey, the word 'Rum' (presumably derived from Roman) is sometimes used interchangeably with 'Yunan' (Greek), but there is one community that Turks still insist on calling nothing but 'Rum': the Greek Cypriots.

Also, in addition to those who have already replied, the name Istanbul is derived from Constantinople and it has absolutely no other meaning in Turkish. The city was officially called Stambol and later Istambol while it was in the Ottoman hands.



re: Constantinople/Istanbul

Approx 2 hours ago, at the neighbour's place, I met a Greek chap who happened to be a bit of a history buff.

The talk inevitably came to the original name for Istanbul and he confirmed precisely what you had said (actually, he said 'istamboli' meant 'to the city', not 'in the city').

He also added that many of his fellow Greeks didn't know that little fact and that he would often cop flak for calling the city with its 'Turkish' name, instead of Constantinople.

Apologies for the earlier confusion.


Catching up after my own romp through Roman territory. As others have said, the Battlestar reference was excellent. And as others have also said, hope to see photos of your trip. Thanks for a great podcast!

manolo blahnik

Good stuff as per usual, thanks. I do hope this kind of thing gets more exposure.

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