On the 1st March 2013, something momentous happened. We published our first episode of the Partial Historians podcast! Clearly, this is an event akin to Hannibal crossing the Alps or the expulsion of the kings.
Well, perhaps not quite. But it certainly changed our lives forever in ways that we could not imagine. Therefore, we decided to mark the occasion by getting together and discussing our Top Ten Moments from the Roman Republic thus far.
We hope you enjoy our chat about the Republic as much as we have enjoyed making this show for the past ten years.
Special Episode – Our Top Ten at Ten
Things to Look Out For:
- The Conspiracy to Restore the Tarquins (Episode 45 – The Last Gasp of the Regal Period)
- The Downfall of Spurius Cassius (Episode 71-73)
- The Career of Lars Porsenna (Episode 46-47)
- The First Secession of the Plebs (Episodes 58-59)
- The Rise of Volero (Episode 85-86)
- The Sneak Attack of Appius Herdonius (Episodes 96-97)
- The Death of Verginia (Episodes 114-115)
- The Life and Times of Dentatus (Episodes 105-106, 113)
- The Rise and Fall of Spurius Maelius (Episode 127 – The Assassination of Spurius Maelius)
- Aulus Cornelius Cossus vs Lars Tolumnius (Episodes 129-130)
Thanks to the talented Bettina Joy de Guzman for our music.
Just a few photos of us together over the years. Are we partial to a dress up for the sake of Roman history? You betcha!
Dr Rad 0:00
That’s right isn’t just any bonus episode. Dr. G. It’s our anniversary episode. I know I can’t believe it. But we have been recording this podcast for 10 years as of today, the first of March.
Welcome to a special bonus episode of the Partial Historians. And this might just be the most special bonus episode that you will hear of this show for a long time. Not that you should stop listening or anything. But just because this is our 10 year anniversary show. That’s right. 10 years ago to this day, we released our very first episode. And so to mark that occasion, Dr. G, and I did what we did 10 years ago, which is we sat down, and we had a chat in our living room about Roman history. We hope that you enjoy the show.
Dr G 0:54
Hello and welcome to a fabulous bonus edition of the Partial Historians. I am Dr. G.
Dr Rad 1:04
And I am a 10 year old Dr. Rad
Dr G 1:08
10 years old.
Dr Rad 1:09
That’s right isn’t just any bonus episode. Dr. G.
Dr G 1:13
It’s our anniversary episode. I
Dr Rad 1:15
know I can’t believe it. But we have
Dr G 1:18
10 years old??
Dr Rad 1:23
the first of March.
Dr G 1:26
Look, there are marriages that do not last as long as this podcast.
Dr Rad 1:31
I know. And I felt we could not let this occasion pass without marking upon it. Because being independent podcasters as we are and have been for 10 years. I think that really the fact that we’re still here now actually has a lot to do with the fact that we are just determined in clueless.
Dr G 1:54
We shall persist regardless the circumstance. Well, I mean, that may be so but I think it is also the case genuinely that over time, we have found our audience, our beautiful listeners, they’re out there,
Dr Rad 2:08
I know. And we’re so incredibly grateful because we look back to 10 years ago, and it really doesn’t feel like 10 years ago because we even though we don’t release episodes as often as other podcasts because we are dependent, and we have to balance full time jobs and all that kind of stuff. At the same time. We actually haven’t taken a break. There hasn’t been a month where we haven’t released a podcast in 10 years, we have never stopped making the show.
Dr G 2:35
That is pretty consistent. I’m gonna give us a large pat on the back for that. Congratulations. For a while we were doing them every two weeks. I think that was a that was a period of early insanity, where we thought we had more time. And podcasting was not so strenuous.
Dr Rad 2:52
Yeah, because I mean that this is the thing. I was thinking back to our early days. And initially you and I had mooted the idea of starting a YouTube channel. But back in 2012, when we were initially having these discussions, that was a little out of our budget.
Dr G 3:08
It was it was and to be honest, who knows what would happen if we attempted to start a YouTube in 2012? It’s like the dark ages of YouTube.
Dr Rad 3:18
Exactly. But instead, we decided that we would start a podcast because it required a little bit less investment. And back in those days also a little bit less know how.
Dr G 3:27
Yeah, I look, I don’t know that it requires heaps of know how now, but we certainly do know more now.
Dr Rad 3:35
Yeah, definitely. But yeah, so we basically for an hour, if there’s a word that I say all the time? Of course, I have to say it on our turn. Yeah, I say basically a lot on the show. But we initially take that basically, just we’re recording our conversations, and we proudly did not edit our shows at all until I think about maybe three years ago.
Dr G 3:59
This is true. We did spend a long time not editing anything. Yeah. And and that my friends is the secret to an independent podcast.
Dr Rad 4:11
Yeah, but it wasn’t it wasn’t just because of time. I mean, we genuinely sat down I think to record our conversations. And I think that’s been one of our challenges as well. The fact is that you amuse me endlessly Dr. G, and I am what we call a laugh speaker naturally, as anybody who knows me in real life knows, I tend to laugh as I speak all the time, regardless, and I’m a teacher so there are a lot of people out there that have to listen to me teach history whilst simultaneously somehow
Dr G 4:42
I think that’s fine. It’s more like when it gets into like disciplining the students and you’re still laughing and that’s that’s the toughy.
Dr Rad 4:50
Ahh Yes, my my notorious laugh-yelling less heard on the podcast. But anyway, I think that that’s exactly it when we first started sitting down and having conversations it genuinely, I think it still is to a certain extent. But for a really long time, you and I were really just in a bubble, I felt like where I almost forgot we were recording. I just don’t have a great time talking to you. And therefore getting too excited, laughing too much being too loud.
Dr G 5:21
Oh, look, and I don’t think that’s a real issue. And I have to say that if we’re in this sort of compliment sandwich, which is this anniversary episode, and I feel like that’s where we, that I enjoy your company events. And I would not be able to turn up every time for 10 years and have such a good time. If it weren’t for you, my esteemed colleague.
Dr Rad 5:43
No, I couldn’t agree more. And the crazy thing is that if we hadn’t come together, I mean, we met at university, everybody, I think, who listens to our show probably noticed that we did meet at university, but we really didn’t know each other at all, while we were doing our degree. I remember having a conversation with you at some postgrads thing that was at Macquarie I can’t even remember what it was about. And we were talking about the fact that at the time, we were both dating men who were really keen cricketers. And so we were talking about how the fact that we were like cricket widows on a Saturday or something along those lines. But apart from that, I don’t think we exchanged more than five words to each other whilst we’re at uni together. It wasn’t until we were both graduating essentially, that we were kind of thrown together and somehow decided that even though we knew each other, but we didn’t know each other that well that we would start a podcast together.
Dr G 6:35
Let’s just do this thing. I think at that point, we were really driven by our passion for history and wanting to continue to do history. Yes. And that was pretty clear. And we also, the circumstances of us getting to know each other more through doing the podcast is absolutely true, because we did know, of each other. But I wouldn’t say that we necessarily knew each other deeply at the time that we agreed to do this thing. And in a way that’s potentially a benefit. But I would have to say also, that the circumstance of us coming together was through a mutual friend.
Dr Rad 7:11
Dr G 7:12
And so we, we had both already been vetted and approved by somebody we both trusted.
Dr Rad 7:18
And we had been spending some social time together because of the mutual friend, definite
Dr G 7:23
Shout out Abby!
Dr Rad 7:24
Our original photographer, guys. And that’s just it, we ended up developing a number of important mutual friendships, such as Dr. Smith. Hi, Dr. Smith, also one of our photographers are our long suffering friends that have had to take photos of us wherever we go.
Dr G 7:44
Yes, and we’ve really only sorted that out recently, as well by buying a ring light. So we could put this phone on a stand to take the photos for us. And goodness knows. That may be more silly than having somebody take your own picture. I don’t know.
Dr Rad 7:58
This is true. But it just seems crazy to me that if it hadn’t been for that brief moment, that we might not ever have stayed in touch. Like, I know, it’s kind of crazy to me, like you’re literally the person I talk to you the most in the world.
Dr G 8:14
That’s a sliding doors moment
Dr Rad 8:16
That’s actually listening to me, that’s the key.
Dr G 8:19
Oh, no, is this the time where I tell the truth?
Dr Rad 8:25
But anyway, but no look, it has been such a an immense privilege and pleasure to talk about. I’m just gonna say history, because although it is Roman history, we have talked about other things as well. So just talk about history with you for 10 years now. And for you to tolerate my laugh talking.
Dr G 8:42
It is really no burden at all.
Dr Rad 8:45
And also, I mean, you know, there are many co hosts out there that can say they’ve also had to adjust to podcasting with a co host who’s losing their hearing, which has got to be a challenge.
Dr G 8:57
I mean, between the two of us, I guess we’ll see what happens. But as long as we’re able to figure it out, I think we can keep talking about for sure. So this will be our transition into video and sign.
Dr Rad 9:09
It’s coming. It’s coming. I’m learning Auslan slowly. So we decided to get together today because we also wanted to share this moment with our listeners. Because whilst you and I, for the vast majority of our podcasting career have mostly just talked to each other and assumed that nobody else is listening, it turns out that we were wrong about that. That’s actually a lot of people that listen to our podcast. Yeah. And honestly, we are so incredibly grateful for the people that we’ve collaborated with over the years. I mean, they’re too numerous to mention. But we have had a lot of people who had us on this show who shared expertise who shared their support, whether it’s, you know, through resources that they have access to that we didn’t have access to. I mean, we’re really so grateful for all the people out there that have reached out and also to the people that have taken the time to write to us and write nice reviews and nice comments. I mean, honestly, for two people that are still podcasting after 10 years in their living rooms, it’s really, really so incredibly meaningful when you do that. So thank you so much for listening. And thank you for your support. And now as a gift to you, we decided that since it was our 10 year anniversary, that we would get together and have a bit of a bonus chat about our 10 top moments from the Roman Republic, which has absorbed our attention for the vast majority of the past 10 years, not entirely. But obviously, if you want to know what we think about the Regal period, you can go and buy our book now.
Dr G 10:40
Oh, yeah, we’ve sealed the deal on the Regal period by writing a book about it. And we are still in the Republican period. And we will be for hundreds more years. Yeah, I suspect that our 20 year anniversary will probably so banner above like, Look, if we get to the Punic Wars by the 20th anniversary, I think we will have done well.
Dr Rad 11:01
Deal, we’ve gotta go now. The Punic Wars by 2033.
Dr G 11:09
Everyone’s gonna have a 10 year strategy, don’t they?
Dr Rad 11:12
Exactly. So let’s talk through some of our top 10 moments Dr. G, and just re-live the violence the horror, because I realized looking at this list, there aren’t that many nice list. We can pull this list and it’s it’s full of violence. I’m not gonna lie. Well, why don’t you tell me what’s your what’s your fav?
Dr G 11:35
Oh, look, I don’t know that I necessarily have a fave. So we have compiled a document. So I’m just gonna go from number one to number 10. That’s how this is gonna work. Number one is the conspiracy to restore theTarquin dynasty the final terrible family of kings. And somebody at Rome like, you know, it would be a great idea to have those sad sacks back in charge, even though we just literally kick them out.
Dr Rad 12:03
Definitely. Look, I think that this is one of our top moments because it’s one of Brutus’ top moments. And Brutus, as we know is you know, Roman man, par excellence?
Dr G 12:16
Yes, a very honorable man indeed.
Dr Rad 12:18
So just for those of you who don’t recall, Episode 45. When we dealt with this, you can go back and listen to it in more detail. But as you might expect, when a regime is toppled, there are those that were attached to the regime that are no longer enjoying quite the cushy benefits that they used to. And you know who I’m talking about Dr G? It’s time to mention the young patricians.
Dr G 12:44
Dr Rad 12:46
Now to be fair, they’re not I don’t think they’re actually explicitly in my account, called the Young patricians. But Livy is explicit that they are young men have important families. So I’ve been read between the lines. Young men have important families, it sounds like we’re dealing with the elites, at the very least, exactly. Even if they’re not called the patricians in this time period. Exactly. They’re the people that are going to spawn their patrician class, and therefore I burn them. These young people, they’re not loving, being without the talk wins, because they’re just not enjoying the lifestyle to which they have become accustomed. And therefore, when envoys come from the Tarquins, saying, hey, so like, you know, how they’re exiled and all but what about their property that’s still hanging around the place? What about that? What about it?
The young men of Rome are open to some subterfuge on the side. So whilst ostensibly representing the property interests of the top ones, these envoys are putting out feelers and lo and behold, they find some people that are willing to try and assist the torque winds to get back into power. Now, they don’t seem to be the best conspirators I’ve ever come across. I’m not going to lie. Because not only do they put things down in writing, which I feel like it’s never a good idea. Awkward guys.
Dr G 14:15
Dr Rad 14:16
Yeah, exactly. Letters are exchanged. So not only is stuffed down in writing, but they don’t seem to be very secretive when discussing the super secret plot to bring back the king in their own homes. Now, Hmm. Maybe this is just complacency, because the people that overhear them are slaves. So maybe they’re just like, well, you know, I do everything else in front of my slaves. You know, I have sex in front of them. I address in front of them. I go to the toilet in front of them. I eat in front of them. You’re certainly not expecting them to do the dirty on you, that’s for sure. Yeah. But anyway, as a result of all these various types of evidence, they ended up getting found out pretty quick-smart and convicted of conspiracy now why? Why Dr. G? You might ask Does any of this have anything to do with Brutus?
Dr G 15:10
I think some of his relatives, nay, his children may be involved.
Dr Rad 15:16
Exactly. So Brutus, supposedly was one of the first consuls, see our other episodes for the lengthy discussions about whether consuls actually existed this quickly or not. Brutus is apparently one of the very first consuls, and he is naturally you know, taking charge of steering this ship that is room through the dangerous waters that lie ahead as they enter the Republican harbor after exiting from the kingship. But he has to face the fact that his own sons, Titus and Tiberius seem to have been caught up in this conspiracy. And this is not entirely surprising, because lest we forget, Dr. G. Brutus is a part of the Tarquin family.
Dr G 16:01
Yes, he’s part of the extended gens that is related to Superbus himself. So it is perhaps problematic that his sons are involved, and also unsurprising.
Dr Rad 16:15
So this means that Brutus has to oversee not only the conviction of his sons, which would be shameful enough, but the punishment and this is what I think really cements, Brutus, his reputation in the Roman mind, putting state above self.
Dr G 16:33
Indeed. And it’s an unpleasant business to execute people in ancient Rome. These guys are stripped their scourged and then ultimately beheaded.
Dr Rad 16:46
And Brutus has to stand by and watch it all. Ugh.
Dr G 16:51
Well, I mean, he doesn’t have to stand by and watch it all. But he does.
Dr Rad 16:54
This is true. And this is the this is the thing. It’s that toughness, isn’t it? You know, Roman men are meant to be either masculine in this sense. So he’s tough. He’s got that sort of stoic vibe to him. I know that it’s probably a bit anachronistic to say that, but you know what I mean, I’m using it in the modern sense. And he is absolutely putting the New Republic above his own family.
Dr G 17:21
Yeah, it’s a impressive and tragic start to the New Republic.
Dr Rad 17:27
But for that reason, I had to put her on the list because Brutus will continue to be a bit of a touchstone I think for subsequent generations of Romans, because of his key role in overthrowing the Tarquin dynasty and then ensuring that they can’t sneak their sneaky little way back in.
Dr G 17:46
They certainly cannot. Yeah, people will die. Yeah, heads will fall.
Dr Rad 17:51
Absolutely. And this moment, for those of you who are playing along at home, was immortalized by Jacques Louis David, French painter who was quite drawn to the Republican period during the French Revolution. You can see his illustration of the lictors bringing Brutus the bodies of his sons. If you feel like a visual that would just cheer you up no end. And on that happy note, this brings us to another horrible incident in the Roman Republic, this made our list Dr G and that is the downfall of Spurius Cassius.
Dr G 18:24
And look, I’m not going to pretend that I remember much about this one, to be honest. I mean, he clearly he’s important. We spend at least two episodes on him. But. But what did he do?
Dr Rad 18:38
Well, this is the thing is first, Cassius, some people might think he’s a bit of a controversial choice. We did talk about him in Episode 72 and 73. Just to be clear, we’re talking about Spurius Cassius Vecellinus, or Vecellinus, which sounds a little bit like Vicks Vapor Rub or something like that to me. But he held the consulship quite a few times. And he seems to have been prominent in this early Republican period as well, because he holds it in 502 and 493, which is kind of a key year, because that’s the year that Rome is dealing with the whole Lake Regillius, and all of that kind of stuff where they’ve been battling the Latins, and so on, and then finally in 486, so yeah, that’s a pretty decent run early on and thinks it does sound impressive. So spirit, Cassius is mostly known, I think, probably there for his downfall, which was a pretty big deal in our show. And look, I think the reason why some people might find him a controversial choice is because his downfall is probably a little bit anachronistic. But nonetheless, I think it was still a pretty big moment and the fact that whether it was entirely in the way that Livy and Dionysius painted it or whether it is a bit of a retrojection from their own time period. It still comes across as a pretty key moment in the republic to me. And that’s because his downfall is very much tied up with the whole question of land redistribution in room.
Dr G 20:15
Yes, this is a big and perennial issue.
Dr Rad 20:18
So in spite of the fact that Spurius Cassius is a patrician as generally all our early magistrates seem to be, he seems to have been in favor of putting forward an agrarian law that was going to help the barbarians in terms of securing land, which obviously is key to survival and status in the Roman world. His family, patricians weren’t super keen on this idea. And so he ends up being basically, I think, set up as someone who’s aspiring to be a tyrant, and he is convicted and taken down and he ends up being thrown off the Tarpeian rock.
Dr G 21:01
Oh, intense. The fact that I can’t even remember this is a testament to just how long were they podcasting. Because that’s a pivotal event!
Dr Rad 21:10
Absolutely. I mean, look, for those of you who are fond of the latest Republic, you’ll probably think that this sounds a little bit like a man we mentioned very often for people that are still in the Regal period and the early republic most of the time, and that is Tiberius Gracchus.
Dr G 21:26
Dr Rad 21:29
Yeah, Tiberius Gracchus also came to a sticky end because of his push for land laws, and I think fair treatment for the people. And so it is suspected, that perhaps spurious Cassius as life has somehow been maybe jazzed up a little bit, whether with a crack and feel so Gracchan glitter, sprinkle sprinkle. But as you often said to me, Dr. G, it seems really unlikely that our sources would entirely lie to us about something.
Dr G 22:07
Yeah, I mean, I tend to I tend to take that line.
Dr Rad 22:12
Yeah. And so there must be something about this man. That I think I mean, there must be some truth to his story. I think the nature of his death, I find it hard to believe that people would make that up.
Dr G 22:25
Yeah. But the idea that there is a crisis going on, and that somebody is trying to stand up for the little man, that seems relatively believable. I mean, that’s the broad brushstrokes of the story. You’re like, okay, I can I can be on board with something like that. That makes sense. It’s politically expedient, if nothing else, to try and pick up some of that support in some way.
Dr Rad 22:53
For sure, and like, we don’t know, a lot of things about the Republic, including exactly how land that was public land was managed to this point in time, we can’t be entirely certain how much of an issue, land ownership was, at this time, in the sense that I’m sure it was an issue because, you know, as I said, it is the basis of wealth and prosperity and status in this society. So I’m sure it’s probably always an issue. But at the same time, we can’t be entirely sure exactly if the nature of the tension at this point in time, but I had to put Spurius Cassius on the list, because to me, it seems like he was actually maybe one of the not so bad patrician, because you and I are both crazy leftist.
Dr G 23:41
That’s true. And it’s very rare that one of the good guys comes through. Well, I think this leads us to our third on the list on our top 10 Lars Porsenna. What a man what a man. And this guy is like a king from outside of Rome, who manages according to some sources to take over Rome.
Dr Rad 24:09
Absolutely. I mean, how could we not bring back Lars Porsenna, the king of Clusium?
Dr G 24:15
Look at him go. And not just king of Clusium I tell you, he might also be in charge of this place as well.
Dr Rad 24:23
Yeah, so last four centers on we talked about as well back in the very, very early days of the Republic. But I do enjoy this story. And I do remember this story. So that that tells you something. We did talk about him for a number of episodes if you go back to our 40s because that’s how long ago it was. You’ll find a number of episodes that mention Lars Porsenna.
Dr G 24:45
And there is this great set piece story of the moment that Porsenna is trying to infiltrate Rome militarily speaking, and there is the amazing story You have of Hartius Cocles who defends Rome from this attack, over the only bridge that appears to exist at this point in time, the Sublician bridge over the Tiber.So this means that Porsenna’s forces are sitting somewhere near the Janiculum. And it means that the Romans are kind of like this is our last chance to defend ourselves. It’s this bridge or bust. And Horatius Cocles does some incredible work to try and save Rome
Dr Rad 25:33
That he does. In fact, I believe from memory he cops are very serious butt wound in the process.
Dr G 25:35
I was gonna say he saves Rome’s arse, but he’s not able to save his own.
Dr Rad 25:38
So true, so true. So Porsenna is it is a really interesting character because he comes up seemingly because the exiled Tarquin and dynasty have taken refuge with him, and perhaps trying to persuade him to attack Rome. And I guess they’re hoping that this is going to be their avenue back into power, since that conspiracy inside of Rome has failed.
Dr G 26:14
Dr Rad 26:16
I know. But scholars have tried to make sense of this because whilst Livy and Dionysius represent it in this kind of light. We have later sources like Tacitus, and plenty that are seemingly certain that Porsenna actually captured Rome, really low point, obviously, for Rome, because not only did he capture it, but he also brought in some really, really serious baby steps that were not beneficial to Rome at all.
Dr G 26:45
Yeah, I mean, I think it’s an interesting sort of alternative tradition, as it were, because you’ve got the Romans very much are interested in not being captured by an external force. And they do have to navigate that at various points in their history. So for this to be one of the examples that they don’t necessarily agree on, I think is fascinating and tells us something about the politics of this moment. And this, I think, heads right back in towards what we know about the Roman kings as well, in terms of like, was there an Etruscan takeover during the Regal period? And, you know, the sources try to worm their way away from that interpretation in various ways. And it seems like maybe something similar could be happening here.
Dr Rad 27:38
Definitely. I mean, some people say Porsenna is actually the real end of the monarchy, because he starts being a problem for Rome in about 508. So a year after the kings have been kicked out, supposedly. But yeah, some scholars have seen this as actually being the moment where the monarchy ended, because you have this foreign takeover of Rome. But that when looking back, the Romans maybe found it a bit easier to write a history where the kings were horrible, and they were kicked out. And then they allied with persona, and therefore, these guys were the enemy together, rather than Porsenna potentially being the person to come in and take room. And also, of course, Porsenna’s lengthy campaign against the Rams, because it lasts for quite some time. He’s really an annoyance to them for a good four years, maybe five years according to our records. We have some of the most famous moments of the early republic, including Gaius Mucius Cordis otherwise known to history as Scaevola.
Dr G 28:45
Dr Rad 28:47
And this is another of course, amazing moment of virtus much like Horatius Cocles that you mentioned earlier. So Scaevola’s story is all about room being besieged by Porsenna. They’re not in a great state. So this guy, guy sneaky has caught us, puts his hand up, puts his hand up and says, you know, I’ll infiltrate the camp. I’ll pretend to be a deserter. And I will assassinate Porsenna and that will put an end to this whole issue.
Dr G 29:18
We’ll cut off the head of the Hydra. That’s how we’ll do it.
Dr Rad 29:22
Exactly. Now, I won’t go into all the details of his story. But eventually he is found out within the camp of Porsenna. He actually ends up putting his own hand into flames to sort of be like Hiiiii. And Porsenna is so impressed by his bravery, by his physical fortitude, that he releases him.
Yeah, and this is where this is where the hand thing comes in, because of course Scaevola is a name that he earns apparently, yeah, because he becomes “The Left Handed”.
Dr G 30:01
Well yes, the right one. It’s a bit dodgy now.
Dr Rad 30:05
So we’ve got that famous moment. And then of course, we’ve got a very rare appearance from a heroic woman.
Dr G 30:11
Oh yeah, I’m excited about the story of Cloelia, who manages to get some hostages back to Rome at a daring escape. And for this, she gets awarded an equestrian statue. And this is huge. It’s very rare for Roman women to win a statue of any kind. And, yeah, she stands out as one of the very impressive early Republican women.
Dr Rad 30:42
Absolutely. Now, of course, the fact that scandal or include Cloelia and Horatius Cocles are probably mythological figures should not dampen our enjoyment of their stories. And also, we have to thank Lars Porsenna for bringing them to us.
Dr G 30:59
Thank you, Porsenna. Okay, number four on our list, the first secession of the plebs. Now this, this is a massive issue.
Dr Rad 31:08
Yeah, the moment that started at all I mean, we’re still dealing with the repercussions of the struggle of the artist, and we will be for so many more episodes,
Dr G 31:16
We will and you know, it’s tied up to some elements of debt. And there seems to be like, how do you get yourself out of debt? And how do you get yourself out of debt bondage, this is a real problem. So the plebeians are struggling under the economic shackles of the early republic, not that they weren’t suffering under the Kings, they probably were, but it’s now it’s really a headline act. Now the the trouble that the plebs are facing, and the consuls are taking a pretty hard line on this sort of stuff, and they do not want to negotiate. And this ultimately means that the plebs decide to leave room altogether. They’re like, that’s it. You know what, I cannot live in this place, if you’re going to treat me so badly. I’m the guy that gets up every day when there’s a war, and I fight on the front lines. And when I come home, it’s all just taxation, and enslavement, and no land, and what am I supposed to do with my life? Why don’t I live over here on this hill, so they repair to somewhere else, they’re like, I’m out. I’m just out, I’ll make friends with other people, I’ll find a new place to live, it’s going to be fine. And it takes a lot of backwards and forwards diplomacy on the behalf of some very patient, but sympathetic patricians to talk to these guys and really be like, Look, actually, Rome cannot be Rome. Without you. We are a unified people. And I think this is the moment where we get the head and the stomach analogy coming for that moment where the patricians or the head and the plebeians of the stomach, and neither can function without the other. And it’s some sort of glorious symbiotic relationship that exists.
Dr Rad 33:12
Yeah, that’s the immortal words of Menenius Agrippa. There, give me the analogy of look, Rome is like a body. And you guys have you know, the hands and that kind of stuff, and the patricians of the stomach and we just need to absorb what you give us and, and we also take on board, you know, the, the food to the brain, and we end up being the mastermind of this whole operation.
Dr G 33:34
Ah the patricians are the stomach, of course.
Dr Rad 33:39
Look, I had to put this one on the list, personally, not only because we’ve been talking about the struggle of the orders, which is this lengthy tension between patricians and plebeians, which we have so little information on considering how long it apparently lasted. But it certainly been the topic of many episodes it. In fact, I don’t think there are many episodes where we don’t mention something about the patricians and plebeians at this point in time, whether it’s warranted or not. And so I thought, we have to mention this particular moments in Republican history. Because again, it’s one of those moments sliding doors, as you say, where everything could have really changed because, of course room at the time was at war with the Sabines in the Volsicians. And the patricians really needed the plebeians to come back, which I think is probably why they entered into negotiations in the first place.
Dr G 34:33
And lucky they did I mean, it works out well for the patricians as far as I can tell.
Dr Rad 34:39
It did it did indeed, because they do end up prevailing upon the plebeians to come back. And one of the things that the plebeians apparently get out of coming back is, of course, the office of the tribune of the plebs. The tribune of the plebs. They’ve caused me so much To light with all their troublesome meddling.
Dr G 35:04
Well, and this is actually a really interesting segue to number five on this list. So it is the life and times of Volero Publilius. Which is fair enough, and you might think to yourself, now wait, I remember those episodes. What’s that got to do with the tribune of the plebs. But the whole year that this guy is involved with and his rise up is preluded by the sudden death and probable murder of a tribune of the plebs. A Gnaeus Genucius. And so this is what 473 BCE. And so this kind of time period, a we’ve clearly got a little bit of political tension in the city. We’ve we’ve got a tribune of the plebs turning up dead, which is a bit of a disaster, because those guys are supposed to have inviolable bodies. Under no circumstances, are they meant to be murdered? And so, this kind of sets the scene for what will be the life and times of Volero? Publius.
Dr Rad 36:21
Absolutely. Because this guy Volero Publilius. Or, if we use his slightly easier version of his name, Volero Publius. Gah that rolls off the tongue so much easier. He is a centurion. So kind of just a fairly average joe, Dr. G. You know how it goes. He turns up to enlist for the army, because that’s what you do. If you’re a decent Roman man, you do duty, even though it’s tough. But when he turns up to enlist, he finds that he has seemingly been demoted from centurion to a common soldier.
Dr G 37:04
Dr Rad 37:06
Could there be a larger disgrace for a man like this? Who’s done his duty for so many years?
Dr G 37:12
Oh, just you wait, I think there might be.
Dr Rad 37:16
So causes a bit of a fuss. He ends up being bundled up by the lictors. And nobody’s very happy about this situation. We ended up getting full on brawling in the streets of Rome, that plebeians will not have these violent hands being laid on Volero, not they’re Volero.
Dr G 37:35
No, yeah, this brawling really gets out of hand because Volero is pretty adamant that nobody should be laying any hands on him. He’s merely raising some important questions about the whole situation. And he’s like, I’ve fought for a long time. What do you mean, I’m not not a centurion anymore? And, you know, so he’s raising those questions, he gets bundled up by the lectores. So this means that the consuls essentially at the levy doing their job of getting soldiers enrolled, and their electors are then like, on him, because he’s starting to cause some trouble. But instead of that settling the trouble, what this does is inflames the street violence, because the plebeians that are there at the time, presumably also lining up to satisfy the levy are like, wait a minute, if this can happen to this guy, this could happen to us. Oh, no, it’s time. And so like, whatever that five is, and that tension in the air for this particular levy, it does not go well. And things get so out of hand that reportedly the fast skis themselves get broken, which is a lot.
Dr Rad 38:46
Absolutely. I mean, the fast guys are meant to be this representation of the consul’s power over the population to beat them and if necessary to execute them, so that they have smashed these out, is a pretty big message of defiance. And I think if we put this all together with the mysterious death of Genucius, it seems like there’s some serious class issues going on in Rome at this time. And of course, Volero ended up being quite a character in a few of our episodes. Chi Chi, so I had to put him on the list because I had fond memories of him,
Dr G 39:20
He’s always standing up for the little man.
Dr Rad 39:22
Dr G 39:24
So number six on our list, the Sneak Attack of Appius Herdonius, the Sabine in 460 BCE. This is an epic moment in Rome’s history. I have to say this one stands out just because it is both horrifying and surprising and then becomes an environment in which a whole bunch of people really go to in terms of Roman virtus.
Dr Rad 39:57
Absolutely. I vividly remember Are these episodes where we talked about this because I don’t think it’s something you hear about all that often, I guess, because it’s kind of in the middle of this century that is kind of known for being a tough one for the entire area room included. And it’s not a period that people I think dwell on too much. So I don’t think I’d actually ever heard of this, say, by an attack on Rome before.
Dr G 40:23
But the Sabines actually take the Capitol. And this is the thing that makes you want to follow up on a story like this, because there are really famous stories of Rome being sacked by the goals and things like that stories that we have not reached our narrative episodes. But before those pivotal moments, we have something like this, like the Republic is always in danger, there is never a moment where it is really safe. And the city is constantly under pressure from its neighbours. And for the Sabines to turn up and to do a sneak infiltration into the Capitol, which is the most sacred hill of the city is suggestive that of Rome sort of like place within this broader relationship in central Italy, it is by no means secure in its own power. And when they find out about this attack, they really are on the backfoot. And they have to get all of their forces organized quite quickly to defend the interior. And this is tough, because the Capitol is a hill and the Romans themselves and not on the top of that hill.
Dr Rad 41:39
Dr G 41:40
This is bad news. And so we have the the tragic death of Valerius Publicola, one of the heroes of the Romans, who’s who was famous for holding, I think, many consulships by this point. And he is lost in this battle. This is a tragedy. But also and we learn this much later. This is also a battle that Dentatus fights in. So we’ll come back to that guy. But Dentatus is here fighting as well. And he talks about this battle in really particular terms because it is so intense.
Dr Rad 42:21
This is true. And I think that the other reason why I had to mention this one as one of our top 10 moments is because it’s an ancient Roman example of fake news. Because of course, this episode has something to do with the conflict of the orders as well, because I think one of the reasons why the Sabines were supposedly able to sneak into Rome and seize the Capitol before people seem to really know what was going on, is that the Romans were really distracted by their own internal problems. The young patricians, my favorite characters of our show, had been terrorizing the plebeians. And when trouble initially is afoot, because of Appius Herdonius, it seems that there’s some suspicion that may be the consuls, just saying that there’s an attack and an invasion, in order to deal with the class warfare because this is the classic go to patrician move, right to distract the plebeians with external problems, so that they will stop talking about their unhappiness with the internal political situation. And the tribunes I think, are encouraging them to believe that this is, you know, this is potentially something that the consuls have stirred up, either that or that this is their moment to stand firm and not act and be like, well, this is what happens. I don’t want to serve when you don’t treat me very well. Maybe I’d be better off with the Sabines. Have you ever thought about that patricians?
Dr G 43:48
Disaster, if they don’t fight now, they’ll lose everything they ever, ever valued.
Dr Rad 43:53
Exactly. So they do they do come together as at this point, they always seem to do, but I think that instance of you know, who do you trust in these moments of crisis? Who do you listen to? Who are the authority figures that you go to? To get reliable sources of information? I mean, that always touches a bit of a nerve with me.
Dr G 44:14
Fair enough. And as a historian, I’m not surprised.
Dr Rad 44:19
All right, and that brings us to number seven on the list.
Dr G 44:21
Ooh, this is the death of Verginia slash or the beginning of the end of Appius Claudius
Dr Rad 44:30
I like to say is about we’re getting out because we get so few women in the Republic, it’s crazy.
Dr G 44:36
And it looks like Verginia holds a really particular place in this narrative of the end of the decemvirate. So there is a point in which the Republic of Rome does collapse. This there is no doubt and it doesn’t take very long into it. And what replaces it is this decemvirate this group of 10 men who refuse to let go of power, and Appius Claudius is by far the most proud and offensive of the lot of them, but also the one who’s most charismatically in charge, apparently, honing in on those very patrician qualities that the Romans really quite like, from their elites, you know, the arrogance, the refusal to negotiate, and all of that kind of stuff.
Dr Rad 45:27
This is all tied up with again, part of the apparent struggle of the orders, although we’ve switched, as you may have noticed, for I’m talking about land issues to talking about the laws, because this all came out of the law about the laws, which became a big issue, I think, particularly in the late 460s in the 450s, where it seemed like the issue so that obedience became that they really wanted to have set down somewhere, the rules that were being applied to their society, which seemingly the patricians who occupied the senior magistracies and priesthoods had exclusive knowledge of or access to. And so the decemvirate was meant to fix all of that they were meant to produce a law code, and the first decemvirate went pretty well, but the second decemvirate, as you say, not so much, because they decided they were going to stay in power forever.
Dr G 46:13
Yeah, rather than producing the laws and letting everybody get on with it. They were like, wait a minute, I’m enjoying this power, what if I don’t do my job and just stay forever?
Dr Rad 46:23
Exactly. Now, we spent quite a lot of time talking about this. So we won’t go into heaps of detail now. But essentially, beginning I think, becomes a bit of a symbol for Appius Claudius, and the way that he is out of control.
Dr G 46:35
Yeah, she is a reputedly a very beautiful young woman. And he decides that he desires her and that he can have her because he’s so powerful, and no one can stop him. And as it turns out, the Romans don’t agree with that. And despite his best efforts to try and find a way to make it legal for him to have his way with her, she is defended by her family at every turn. And they go into bat for her, and they see the injustice and they rail against it. And ultimately, it ends in tragedy, where her father is with Verginia. And they’re in the forum together. And it seems like what Appius Claudius is going to do is he’s going to seize her anyway, and just do his business. And Verginia’s father decides that the only way to save her from this fate is to is to kill her.
Dr Rad 47:39
Absolutely. And this is such a pivotal moment, it really seems to be the turning point for I think a lot of people when it comes to Appius Claudius and a second decemvirate, as you say, becomes the kind of the thread that is pulled and starts to unravel that whole regime. But what a tragedy for a woman’s death, murder at the hands of her own father in public, how, yeah, how deeply disturbing it is that this is how it is in Rome, that a woman must die in such circumstances or so it would seem in order for tyranny to be brought to justice.
Dr G 48:18
Yes, it tells tell us something about the way that this society dysfunctionally navigates its relationship with women,
Dr Rad 48:25
Indeed. And that of course, then brings us to another person who fell afoul of the second decemvirate and that is Lucius Siccius Dentatus.
Dr G 48:36
Dentatus, the man born with teeth. I shall never forget. And Dentatus is renowned, first and foremost for being an excellent soldier. And he earns a reputation in some of the latest source material as the Roman Achilles, which I think is fantastic. But he also at some point is able given the opportunity to to stand up in front of the crowd to speak at the rostra. And boy, does he reveal his political hand at that point, because he has been a soldier for 40 plus years, by the time he gets to speak. And he tells everybody about his achievements, his golden crown for recovering the standards, which he did personally when he was 27 years old. talks about his 45 wounds that he’s received over the course of his 40 year career. All of those wounds on the front of his body, very respectful. Everybody’s like bow down. The man is great. Not only that 12 of those wounds he tells us were received on the day that Herdonius seized the Capitol. So that you know, there’s there’s references even within our top 10 lens.
Dr Rad 48:53
Dr G 49:07
You can have a top 10 list but they all connected. He also won 14 corona civica. So this is the crown for saving a Roman citizen himself three corona muralis for going over the wall first and numerous other awards and and then he says, regardless of all of this, all of the things that I’ve achieved in my career, I have no land that I can call my own basically starts riot right there. Everyone’s like, oh my god, it doesn’t matter how hard you work in life, the system is rigged against us and we’re never going to have anything. And so this becomes his – he might not realize it at the time, but this speech becomes the speech that really gets him into the tribuncianship. So he becomes a tribune of the plebs on the back of this kind of like discussion. Everyone’s like, well, if this guy, this guy will be able to get us the land. So we’ve, we’ve switched from like law about the laws, which is also very important simultaneously back to like, the first crux issue that the plebeians had raised, which is like, we need some land to be able to do our farming and look after ourselves.
Dr Rad 51:12
Yeah, well, I think there’s no matter no matter what you’re talking about, with the struggle of the orders, there are three themes that float in and out. And there doesn’t seem to be much rhyme or reason to why certain issues are, you know, prevalent at certain times and not others, but it’s definitely land allotment. That’s one, debt bondage and debt. That’s another and the law about the laws. And essentially, what that is relating to obviously, as we said, is like control of the knowledge.
Dr G 51:37
Yeah, a law about the laws is basically also the publication of law in such a way that the everyday man can have access to it.
Dr Rad 51:47
Yeah, we know they had laws before the 12 Tables, which is what comes out of the decemvirate. But as you say, it’s about well, does everybody know about them? Does everybody have access to them in this sort of society? Probably not.
Dr G 52:00
It’s unlikely. I think it’s suffice to say that the old Dentatus gets on the wrong side of the elites, which at this time, are the decemvirs.
Dr Rad 52:15
Oh, yeah, he’s another he’s another for being here. And we love our party and heroes like Volero and Dentatus
Dr G 52:21
But it doesn’t go well. And it seems like Dentatus who sent back into the fray essentially, after his tribuncian days are over. And he is of the understanding that he is going to be meeting up with the army and getting the right sort of support. But instead what happens is some Roman soldiers have been paid, it would seem to turn against their own and he is taken down. And this all comes out eventually. hugely problematic. But at the time, it’s told us a story of tragedy being like we lost Dentatus. Who knew?
Dr Rad 52:58
You know what that sounds like? To me, Dr. G. It sounds like an evil plan.
Dr G 53:05
There is some conspirosity going on.
Dr Rad 53:09
Couldn’t get through our 10 year anniversary about an evil plan.
Dr G 53:13
Fair enough! Fair enough.
Dr Rad 53:14
Speaking of evil plans. That brings us to number nine analysis, which is the rise and fall of Spurius Maelius.
Dr G 53:21
A popular figure. This guy is a plebeian who happens to be quite rich,
Dr Rad 53:27
Another plebeian hero!
Dr G 53:29
Yeah, plebeian hero. It doesn’t bode well for him either. Like spoilers, as as we’re all aware. So it’s, there is a crippling famine in Rome. And it’s around about 444-39 BCE. And there is a prefect of the grain, Lucius Minucius, who is in charge of making sure that Rome is fed. And he is having trouble completing that task, because grain is in short supply.
Dr Rad 53:56
It is and I’m sorry, I just have to interrupt because you’re not using his official title, which is the Nacho King of Rome. And I think we all agreed on that.
Dr G 54:05
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Lucius Minucius. The Nacho King of Rome, is in charge of sourcing grain, but he’s finding it hard to purchase it at a reasonable price. And it seems like everybody else is also going through a famine. So maybe they’re not for sale. These grains are not for buying. And so he’s having some issues. So enter stage left Spurius Maelius, very rich plebeian, who’s like, well, you got to offer more cash, you know, very Han Solo about it. And so he sets up some relationships that really do work out and he has riverboats of grain coming into the city, and they are stamped all over with the name spirits. Maelius bought this grain and the plebeians, they know. They might not be able to read everything, but they can tell and yeah, You know, Maelius is handing it out and the plebeians take the position that well, if spurious, Maelius is bringing in the grain, surely that makes him the prefect of the grain.
Dr Rad 55:18
Exactly, we’ve got a new natural King in town, and I’m loving it.
Dr G 55:22
Not only is this guy bringing it in, it’s raining grain, and I’m hungry. So this guy is now he’s our prefect, this is man we go to nothing could be more calculated to ruin a patrician stay than finding out that their position of political power has been hoisted out from underneath them by a plebeian and popular support. Minucius is not happy. And this leads to trouble. Ultimately, things get really, really like sort of heated and chaotic, and it seems that the Romans decide that maybe murder is okay.
Dr Rad 56:04
Yeah, there seems to be a bit like the whole Porsenna plot with Scaevola. Or it seems in some accounts, like this is a case of state-sanctioned murder.
Dr G 56:15
It does feel that way. And you know, they institute a dictator. So and this is all coming from the elites, obviously. So a dictator is put into place. He asked for a master of the horse, a madman, basically volunteers. He was like, I love stabbing people. Let me stab somebody.
Dr Rad 56:33
They’re like, they will hold a sign that he was a madman. I mean, for God’s sakes, his name means “Armpit”.
Dr G 56:38
And so you know, they send Ahala “the armpit” off to Maelius. And then a hollow does away with him in broad daylight. And everyone’s like, wait a minute, did that. Did that guy just murdered that? Wait, what? No.
Dr Rad 56:55
Yeah, so this is another guy who I mean, he is an equestrian. So he is actually as we say, he’s wealthy. He’s not suffering, like the average Roman citizen probably is at this point in time. But nonetheless, like Spurius Cassius before him, he seems to be someone who’s at least trying to do something for the people may be self motivated. I mean, you know, it’s rare in this world for anyone to do anything for free. But nonetheless, he seems to be doing these nice things for the people at this time of crisis. And in my account, certainly, it was all painted like he was again aspiring to tyranny like trying to make himself a king or something like that. Just like whisperers, Cassius before him, you know, where he ends up being accused of aspiring to some sort of higher power. And, of course, that’s a surefire way to get rid of someone in ancient Rome.
Dr G 57:47
Dr Rad 57:47
We spent, we spent quite a bit of time dealing with Spurius Maelius and mopping up that whole affair, so we couldn’t help but mention him.
Dr G 57:53
Oh, look, I think I think it’s a it’s a nicer second last position, because coming in, drumroll, please. Number 10, for 10 years of the podcast, it’s all as Cornelius Cossus vs. Lars Tolumnius. This is our second Lars in the top 10.
Dr Rad 58:22
It’s no coincidence that he’s also Etruscan.
Dr G 58:23
No, I remain unsurprised.
Dr Rad 58:26
No. But look, I had to put Cossus in because over the years, we have had several really, really ridiculously good looking men come into history,
Dr G 58:37
It would be a shame to miss out old Cossus. One because he’s very good looking, according to all reports, but also he achieved something that has not yet been achieved in the Republic until he does it. And that is for him as a military commander to slay the enemy commander. So in the field about a one on one, and this is what Cossus reputedly does with Lars Tolumnius. And it’s bad like there’s a gouging of the thigh. You know, it depends on who you read, but it gets quiet.
Dr Rad 59:13
Yeah, I think last Tolumnius ends up pinned to the ground in my account, which sounds so painful. I really don’t like to think of
Yeah, he gets pushed off his horse and then pinned to the ground and then yeah, it’s it’s unpleasant. So Cossus does something incredibly violent, and has only been topped by Romulus in this regard in terms of taking out an enemy commander. So you have to go right back to the very early days of the Roman kings to get a story quiet like this.
And the reason why he’s number 10 is because Romulus is probably mythical, and there are so many questions about exactly how on earth he managed to get this accolade given that We’re not sure when it happened. We’re not sure if it happened, because there’s so many question marks about when it supposedly happened and what position he was actually holding at the time. But I will say this, to go back to what you always say to me, Dr. G, the Romans really make everything up. So I do believe that last Tolumnius existed, that there was an Etruscan King, and that he was taken out by ridiculously good looking Roman.
Dr G 1:00:28
We just don’t know when or exactly how.
Dr Rad 1:00:33
Exactly, but what a note to end on uncertainty with our sources, which has also been a constant refrain for 10 years.
Dr G 1:00:42
And I don’t think that’s gonna get cleared up anytime soon. To be honest.
Dr Rad 1:00:47
It’s not. But look, we hope you enjoyed us counting down our top 10 moments over the Roman republic, and we hope that you appreciate just how violent and bloody and gory really is.
Dr G 1:00:59
Yes, and here’s to another 10 years.
Dr Rad 1:01:04
To get worse, I think
Dr G 1:01:05
Dr Rad 1:01:06
Yeah, but we have so enjoyed having you all along for the ride. We really appreciate your support. We’ve accomplished things that I don’t think we ever dreamed of when we first sat down in one of Dr. G’s apartments that you have had in the time I’ve known you. Actually, I was just remembering the other day how there have been recording sessions where you know, one of us would go over to the others house and then someone next door to be doing renovations and we had to flee to the library and the library kept putting announcements over the loudspeaker, you would have no idea listeners, just how much we have sometimes been challenged.
Dr G 1:01:42
Well, it’s been a wild ride so far, and may it long continue.
Dr Rad 1:01:47
And I mean, I’m actually amazed that we’ve managed to get through this podcast without one of our little furry guests making an appearance. It’s true,
Dr G 1:01:53
My cat has been yelling outside the door.
Dr Rad 1:01:58
Well, here’s to another 10 years, Dr. G. Thank you so much for starting the Partial Historians with me.
Dr G 1:02:05
Oh, and thank you, and always huge thanks to you listening it out there.
Dr Rad 1:02:23
Thank you for listening to this extra special episode of the Partial Historians. Dr. G and I are so proud that we finally been able to put an X on the old bedpost and we’re looking forward to notching up a few more because our passion for ancient Rome will never fade. And we are so incredibly grateful that we have found other people who not only love ancient Rome, but love making fun of ancient Rome as much as we do. When we started out in 2013. I don’t know that we were entirely certain that two women from Down Under who love history would necessarily find an audience. And yet, here you are. Thank you so much. We particularly like to thank anybody who’s ever reached out to us and written us a really kind message, or written a five star review, you have no idea how much particularly as independent podcasters those mean to us as we’re researching, recording and editing the show. This is probably also a good time to thank our Patreons, I mean, where would we be without our Patreons past and present, it means so much that you would consider spending your hard earned money on our show. And you’ve certainly allowed us to upgrade our equipment. And we’re also looking to expand into new areas this year. So keep your eyes peeled. Speaking of new areas, we’d like to thank Highlands Press our publisher. It’s been so much fun to be able to write a book together, particularly a book that’s kind of rooted in our podcast. So thank you so much to the Highlands Press. On a more personal note, as we sign off, we would like to thank our friends and family who have offered us constructive criticism, support, they have been very tolerant at the time that we’ve invested in the show over the years. We’d also like to say thank you and hello to all the podcasting community that have been so generous with their time and expertise over the years. It really is an amazing community to be a part of and social media has allowed us to connect with so many other podcast shows all over the world. And it’s been such a blast getting to know you all and we look forward to many further collaborations. And also as a part of that, we would like to say thank you to anyone who has ever guessed it on the Partial Historians. What a special honour it has been to talk to so many academics who have been incredibly generous with their time and expertise. And I think we can all say that we have learned so much from those special episodes and I just can’t imagine a bigger privilege than being able to talk to academics about their specialty. So with all that being said, it’s time for Dr. G and I to sign off. That’s 10 years a wrap. And until next time, we are yours in ancient Rome.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
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