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November 20, 2011


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Hi, Mike. Ryan from Indianapolis here, long time listener. If it's not too much trouble, I'd like to put in an episode request. Before the empire goes on hospice, can you do another Day-in-the-Life episode? I think it would be interesting to see how much things have changed since the last one, which i think you did back when the Antonines were in power...

Just a thought.

Alex Wall

Wow! I was just thinking the same thing, Ryan. :) Thanks if it can be done, Mike.

LOVE this podcast!


Would it be fair to say that this is the point where the Byzantine empire officially gets its start?

Laurence Bachmann

I don't think historians could ever agree on where and when the Byzantine empire kicks off. Historian Lars Brownnworth includes Constantine and Julian in his 12 Byzantine Rulers. In the instance of Constantine I understand his inclusion: he created the capital that bears his name and that for a millennium was the center of the extant empire. Including Juliann though is a mystery. He was the most Hellenistic of emperors and therefore most emphatically western.

I don't think you really need the term Byzantine until Rome falls and is sacked in the 5th century. The West then devolves into fiefdoms and the eastern portion of The Roman Empire carries on as before. But without Rome as a locus. Add to the confusion the fact that the Byzantines would never consider themselves Byzantine. The term would be absolutely alien to them. They considered themselves Roman and the caretakers of the Roman Empire. Even though Rome had fallen and they now spoke Greek.

Soooooo. I think the Byzantine Empire is an historical construct that modern day readers use to distinguish the Roman Empire of the east that carries on after the fall of the west. But no doubt others think otherwise....Good luck.

Amro Fagir


I started listing to your podcast over the summer. I finally caught up with you this week. I wanted to thank you for doing this podcast.

I also wanted to add my voice to ryan's suggestions about day-in-the life episode for the late roman period. I imagine that a roman from the days of the republic would find the late roman empire a very alien place.


Yes! When you've done the last emperor, please think about doing some occasional themed shows! Personally, I really liked the tour of the provinces and the army ones. And Saturnalia and Weddings.
Life after Romulus Augustulus....


@ Laurence
100% correct. They were Romans and considered themselves Roman. We only use the term Byzantine so that we know that we're talking about Medieval Romans and not Classical Romans. Furthermore, we use the older city name, Byzantium and therefore Byzantines, because using Constantinoplians is far too unwieldy.

Vance Sumner

Hi Mike, Echoing Alex and Ryan's requests above and some others from the past few weeks for a "day in the life episode" - I agree that would be great. Seeing as we're already up to 394, it might be too late to recommend "428 AD: An Ordinary Year at the End of the Roman Empire" by Giusto Traina, but this is a really nice (and reasonably short) march through the empire and its surroundings, starting in Armenia and traveling counter-clockwise around the Mediterranean to end in Persia. Nothing much happened in this year (excepting the permanent loss of Armenia, hushed up by the Byzantine chroniclers), but of course next year is 429 and the advent of everyone's favorite East Germanic property destroyers, so it's a nice moment to take stock.

Absolutely love the show -- without question, my favorite podcast. Vale!

Walter H

Hi Mike,
just a big hello from Brisbane,Australia..
i have managed to get most of my friends to download this fantastic pod cast on the history of Rome. we have become fans and pod cast addicts...my wife says i listen more to you than her on a daily basis lol ! keep up the great work, all over Brisbane your words are listened to with great anticipation
Good on you Mate.


I've been listening to this for several months now, so I though I should thank you for about two straight days of entertainment back to back.

Also, can I put my (probably forlorn) vote in for doing the history of the "Byzantine" Empire (distinction always seemed somewhat arbitrary to me). 1000 more years!


Hi Mike,

It seems like the wealth of the empire and the living standard of Roman citizens has fallen heavily since the peak around Marcus Aurelius. Armies are smaller, I haven't picked up on any new grand monuments in a while, and all-in-all it sounds like the average Roman is worse off.

Could you give a few comparisons on how low they've really fallen? With the decline so gradual it's hard to understand the full difference from those episodes way back.

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John D


Glad you're getting better.

I've listened to all the pod-casts and find them entertaining & informative. It makes the journey to/from work go past very quickly. Keep up the good work.

Listening to other history podcasts, I find few that come up to Mike's standards.

My only whinge is the use of place names. Mike uses Rome, Milan, Paris, London, Constantinople etc but for reasons best known to himself, talks of the city of Thessaloniki / Salonica as Thessalonica - neither Greek nor English. In English, it is Salonica and there are many English references especially with regards to WW1 ("the Gardeners of Salonica"). Alternatively, use the Greek place name, Thessaloniki though this would be inconsistent with using all the other English exonyms.


@ John D. Wait wait wait. How is "Paris" coming from English alone? It's "Paris" in French!

Also the first line in Wikipedia on the city is: "Thessaloniki (Greek: Θεσσαλονίκη [θesaloˈnici] ( listen)), historically also known as ----THESSALONICA----, Salonika or Salonica"

..So presumably he's just reading it as it is in the histories, given that it's a historical name for it and the Latin form, and Salonica itself (a name I haven't really ever heard for the city. Presumably Thessaloniki is the more common english form, given that it's the article's name) is also in the article said to derive from a Greek pet-name for the city.

Rob Mankiewitz

hi Mike, I know you often give your audio books recommendations but any chance that you could give a Christmas book list on this wbsite? many thanks

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