Episode 142 – A Wrongheaded Man

In this episode, we tackle the years 415 and 414 BCE and the downfall of Postumius, a very wronghead man.  

Episode 142 – A Wrongheaded Man

Did you remember to RSVP for the war?

In 415 BCE, the Romans were gearing up for war with Veii and the Aequians… but neither of their dance partners turned up! It takes two to tango and in this case, neither the people of Veii or the Aequians felt ready to get down and boogie.

A Wrongheaded Man Indeed!

War against the city of Bolae kicked off in 414 BCE. One of the military tribunes with consular power, Postumius, was placed in command against this Aequian tribe. Whilst the Romans enjoyed success in battle, their internal problems overshadowed the victory.

How do you create chaos in Rome? Simply take a tribune of the plebs, add a dash of agrarian reform, then stir in an arrogant patrician.  Livy described Postumius as a wrongheaded man, and a questionable comment certainly had serious repercussions. Will sticks and stones, or words, do the most damage?

Quote courtesy of Teacher’s Corner.

Join us for another tale of disaster with one of the Postumii at the centre.

Need to catch up on the previous conflict with the Labici? You can find our previous episode here.

Things to Look Out For:

  • Dr G accidentally skipping over 415 BCE
  • Various attempts at agrarian reform
  • What is #trending amongst the elite
  • A snide aside with very dramatic consequences
  • Several important lessons from the Romans that could also be applied to parenting

Our Players 415 BCE

Military Tribunes with Consular Power

  • P. Cornelius A. f. P. n. Cossus (Pat)
  • C. Valerius L. f. Volusi n. Potitus Volusus (Pat) Cos. 410, Mil. Tr. c.p. 407, 404
  • N. (or M.?) Fabius Q. f. M. n. Vibulanus (Pat) Cos. 421, Mil. Tr. c.p. 407 *
  • Q. Quinctius L. f. L. n. Cincinnatus (Pat) Mil. Tr. c.p. 405

Tribune of the Plebs

  • L. Decius

Our Players 414 BCE

Military Tribunes with Consular Power

  • Cn. Cornelius A. f. M. n. Cossus (Pat) Cos. 409
  • L. Valerius L. f. P. n. Potitus (Pat) Cos. 393, 392, Mil. Tr. c.p. 406, 403, 401, 398
  • Q. Fabius Q. f. M. n. Vibulanus (Pat) Cos. 423, Mil. Tr. c.p. 416
  • P. Postumius A. f. A. n. Albinus Regillensis (Pat)

Tribune of the Plebs

  • M. Sextius


  • P. Sextius (or Sestius)

Our Sources

Dr G reads Virgil, Aeneid, 6.771-776; Diodorus Siculus 13.34.1, 13.381, 13.42.6; Dio Cassius, Roman History, 6.23; and the Fasti Capitolini.

Dr Rad reads Livy ab Urbe Condita 4.49-50.

Broughton, T. R. S., Patterson, M. L. 1951. The Magistrates of the Roman Republic Volume 1: 509 B.C. – 100 B.C. (The American Philological Association)

Cornell, T. J. 1995. The Beginnings of Rome: Italy and Rome from the Bronze Age to the Punic Wars (c. 1000-264 BC) (Taylor & Francis)

Forsythe, G. 2006. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War(University of California Press) 

Lomas, Kathryn (2018). The rise of Rome. History of the Ancient World. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. doi:10.4159/9780674919938ISBN 978-0-674-65965-0S2CID 239349186.

Ogilvie, R. M. 1965. A Commentary on Livy: Books 1-5 (Clarendon Press). 

Sound Credits

Our music was composed by Bettina Joy de Guzman. Sound effects courtesy of BBC and Orange Free Sounds.

Automated Transcript.

Courtesy of Otter AI.

Dr G  00:12

Welcome to the partial historians.

Dr Rad  00:15

We explore all the details of ancient Rome. Everything from political scandals to love affairs, the battles waged, and when citizens turn against each other. I’m Dr. Rad.

Dr G  00:30

And I’m Dr. G. We consider Rome as the Roman saw it by reading different ancient authors and comparing their accounts.

Dr Rad  00:41

Join us as we trace the journey of Rome from the founding of the city.

Dr G  01:00

Hello, and welcome to a brand new episode of the partial historians. I am one of your hosts. I am Dr. G.

Dr Rad  01:10

And I am your other hosts, Dr. Rad.

Dr G  01:13

Hello, Dr. Rad.

Dr Rad  01:16

It’s so nice to have you back from Italy. Well, for me,

Dr G  01:20

it is a pleasure to be back. I’ll admit I regretted it for a little while. But today is very sunny and warm and feels kind of Romanesque. So I’m back on board with being in Australia.

Dr Rad  01:33

It is getting very hot in here.

Dr G  01:36

Maybe too hot too soon.  Yeah, it’s a worrying sign. But nonetheless, this is going to cool down a bit later this week. So I can return to my wintry state. Your natural habitat as it were.

Dr Rad  01:49

Exactly, yes.

Dr G  01:51

So we are tracing the history of Rome from the founding of the city. And if you are interested in supporting our work, we have a Patreon. We also do some merch. And we’ve also just released our book on The Roman kings. So there’s plenty of ways when you miss us between episodes, to feel like you have us close at heart,

Dr Rad  02:14

and D and you can pick up our book online in a digital version from Gumroad or from Amazon. Or you can pick it up in a physical form from Abbey’s bookstore in Sydney.

Dr G  02:29

Yeah, we are very lucky to have it stocked in our hometown. So we’re thrilled about that. And so in the grand tradition of where we’re up to in this narrative history, I think we should start with a bit of a recap of what might have been happening up till now.

Dr Rad  02:48

Yes, well, last episode, we were talking about the years 417 and 416. And they were a bit blurred together, as far as I could see. Couldn’t really separate them out. But what I could tell was that there was some classic conflict of the orders happening. Oh, boy,

Dr G  03:06

it’s the subject that just keeps on giving.

Dr Rad  03:08

It certainly does. And so last episode, we were dealing with the fact that some of the tribune of the plebs were trying to pass a law about land, which is an ongoing concern, obviously, for the plebeian class. And in order to foil them, the patricians came up with an evil plan.

Dr G  03:32

Classic times, I mean, the minute you ask for agrarian reform, I think you’re also at the same time asking for patrician evil plans. That’s kind of these two things go naturally together for the elite in Rome.

Dr Rad  03:44

They certainly do. And so we had one of the Appii Claudii people, the Appius Claudius’ is of the world coming along with a douchebag plan of turning Tribunes against each other, which of course, worked,

Dr G  04:00


Dr Rad  04:02

So that’s kind of what we were dealing with last episode Dr G.

Dr G  04:06

All right. Now, I suspect that you will have lots of things to tell me about the things that are coming up.

Dr Rad  04:14

That’s a relative term.

Dr G  04:16

All right. Okay. Well, that’s good to know, because I am still sort of swimming about sort of, without a real proper narrative source to hold on to so always cobbling together little bits and pieces from all sorts of source material and hoping that I have a hint of something that might have happened.

Dr Rad  04:35

I know I’m picturing you very much as being like, adrift in an ocean just like paddling about like doggy paddle style, grabbing at pieces of woods that are just like floating there, just like at the end of Titanic.

Dr G  04:48

I always hoped as a as a dog in the ocean that I’ll find a big stick. But no, sometimes I have more. Sometimes I have less.

Dr Rad  04:58

I’ll take you any which way, Dr G.

Dr G  05:02

Excellent. All right. Well, let’s jump in

Dr Rad  05:05

Let’s do it 415 BCE

Dr G  05:25

Don’t you mean 414 BCE?

Dr Rad  05:29

No I mean 415

Dr G  05:33

Let me scroll up. No wonder I don’t know what’s going on.

Dr Rad  05:38

I’m quite definite on that.

Dr G  05:41

Fair enough. It’s 415 BCE certainly

Dr Rad  05:47

It is Dr. G. And I’m gallantly allowing you to once again tell me about the magistrates.

Dr G  05:53

Thank you. I have so little to say otherwise. So I really appreciate this generosity. Absolutely. This is a year where we have military tribunes with consular power. And there’s a whole bunch of them.

Dr Rad  06:07

Yeah, there are, no there is, I mean, there was.

Dr G  06:09

They’re all patricians. So let’s get the big stuff out of the way. First. We have Publius Cornelius Cossus. We have one Gaius Valerius Volusi Potitus Volusus. I feel like that’s a bit repetitive, but sure. He’s got a lot of names. This will be the start of an illustrious career. So keep your eye on this guy. We have somebody who we’re not really sure about the praenomen. It’s either Numerius or Marcus as the praenomen Fabius Vibulanus, okay. And just to sort of cement the confusion around this guy, Broughton thinks that this might have also been the guy that was consul in 421. Now that guy had a praenomen, possibly of Gnaeus. So that leaves us with like three possible praenomens and so we really have no idea which dude this is. It’s one of the Fabii Vibulani.

Dr Rad  07:13

He’s a fabulous Fabian and that’s all we need to know

Dr G  07:15

he’s fabulous. And we continue onwards and hope for the best. Exactly. And we also have Quintus Quinctius Cincinnatus. Now this sounds like a very familiar dude. But actually, we haven’t seen this guy before.

Dr Rad  07:29

No, but he must be from that family.

Dr G  07:32

Ooh, very illustrious, very esteemed. Well, all

Dr Rad  07:35

of these names are actually pretty illustrious, aren’t they? We’ve got the Cornelii, the Valerii the Fabii…

Dr G  07:42

Yeah, these are all families or patrician families that have been swimming around in positions of power before. So we we’ve definitely seen all of these families. Nobody here is like a fresh novus homo as it were into power.

Dr Rad  07:56

What did you call me???!

Dr G  08:00

Nothing, nothing. You’ve been here the whole time. I also have the name of a tribune of the plebs. Oh, yes. One Lucius Decius. Is he a 10 out of 10? You and I are making the same jokes now.

Dr Rad  08:18

Too in sync, Too in sync.

Dr G  08:21

That’s it. This podcast is over. Right?

Dr Rad  08:24

Is that making the same jokes, it’s time to move on.

Dr G  08:27

So I’ll have some things to say about Lucia gaseous. I think at some point, maybe the narrative should unfold a little bit before I go into that kind of bit of detail.

Dr Rad  08:38

Okay, fair enough.

Dr G  08:39

I handed over duly to you

Dr Rad  08:41

Why thank you. Let me tell you what Livy’s says about this year, I mean, this is going to excite you so be prepared. Rome would have been facing two wars in this year. Now you notice I said would have been

Dr G  08:57

Livy, What are you doing?

Dr Rad  09:00

and that’s because they both postponed Oh, I knew

Dr G  09:06

I couldn’t possibly make that time somebody somebody send for the army in three months. That’s when I’ll be next available.

Dr Rad  09:13

Exactly. I’ve made I’ve accidentally double booked myself. I can’t possibly go to war with Rome right now.

Dr G  09:18

I have a tea party. Don’t you understand?

Dr Rad  09:20

I’ve got to have my hair done. Takes a while.

Dr G  09:23

What do you mean they’ve been postponed Livy?

Dr Rad  09:26

Well get ready for the enthralling account of how these wars were postponed. I late I’m late for a very important date.

Dr G  09:34

I’m on the edge of my seat. Yes. Okay.

Dr Rad  09:37

So what are the first conflicts was with Veii. Who I actually feel like we haven’t mentioned they in a little while. They’ve been a bit quiet, haven’t they? Yeah, I mean, there was a bit of conflict going on there for a while, but here they are back back back again. Anyway, so the first conflict was meant to be with today. Now, allegedly, the leaders of Veii got spooked about going to war, because the Tiber had flooded, ruining some of their farms and farmhouses. And if you’re about to get out geographical on me, just wait, because I will come back to that. Wait a minute. All right, if you’re thinking that there is a problem now, I’m not geographically minded, so I probably would not have noticed this, but this is where geographers come in and save the day. But I’ll come back to that in a second. The other one was with the Aequians. Now, yeah, okay. They were put off after having been defeated when they had allied with a group called the Bolani. Now, the Bolani sound like a delicious sandwich meat.

Dr G  10:52

What are you having? I’m having the Bolani, what about you? Exactly,

Dr Rad  10:56

exactly. Yeah. Now, it seems that the Bolani were a tribe that lived within this wider Aequians group. So that’s why the other Aequians were helping them out. And Bolani had been one of the groups that had been attacking the territory of the Labici. And the new settlers at Labici. Hmm,

Dr G  11:20

yeah, I might have something to add to that. Okay. Well,

Dr Rad  11:23

I’ll finish my little story about them, and then you can add your thing. Bolani had been hoping that they were able to get away with attacking Labici By getting all the Aequians together to support them in this quest. But they didn’t get the backup that they were hoping for ended up losing their town and all their lands after a siege and a battle. And I quote my translator of Livy in a war, which does not even merit description. Wow. Okay. So I’m presuming that this means that this is a war that we haven’t heard about, but

Dr G  11:59

I’m willing to talk about this war, but I’m not willing to describe it. It happened. We’re moving on.

Dr Rad  12:04

Exactly. Put it behind us. All right.

Dr G  12:06

Look, I appreciate that. And I wish that happened more with military history. I mean, the details are always baffling. Somebody ran down a hill. Somebody else was hiding behind a tree. Yes. Outrageous.

Dr Rad  12:17

The cavalry was you know, secreted behind some bushes.

Dr G  12:21

That’s right. No, no, somebody jumped out of a cave, haha!

Dr Rad  12:25

took me by surprise.

Dr G  12:27

Goodness me. All right. So I think Bolani, the the Bolani people that you’re talking about are probably the inhabitants of Bola or Bolae.

Dr Rad  12:37

Yes, yes they are. Yeah. Yes, I can confirm that.

Dr G  12:40

Okay, so this is the ancient city in Latium. That is, we think we know the position of it. So I’m getting sort of geographical again southeast of Rome, right. But even further east than the Castelli Romani region, so those mountains, there’s not that many of them, they kind of stick out of the ground in an odd spot because they’re volcanic in nature. Okay. But once you get around those, and like, you know, the magma stops spinning out and stuff, then you go back into like, you know, plains and valleys, and boiler is supposed to be over in that direction. So it’s near the ancient city of Labicum. Okay, so the Labici and the Bolani would know each other probably quite well their neighbours,

Dr Rad  13:26

it makes sense why the people from Bolani you are trying to steal from the Labici then either way, I’m just gonna say for any other people who are watching drag race out there. I can’t say this now without thinking of the Australian drag queen, Gabriella Labucci. This must be where she’s from.

Dr G  13:44

There’s a nice synergy there. And the other little tidbit of detail that I have about Bolae as a place is that it is thought to have been founded by the king of Alba longa. This is a little detail that comes through in Virgil’s Aeneid.

Dr Rad  14:00

Nice. Okay. Yeah, this is I think another reason why it comes up. So not only does this situation with the Aequians mean that there is no war with the Aequians in this year. This is where our attribute of the plebs comes in. When Lucius Decius, as you said, he is trying to pass a law in which colonists would be sent to Bolae as well as Labici. But his fellow Tribune stop him from doing this and would not allow a plebiscite without the Senate saying it was okay with this idea. Insert sound effect

Dr G  14:41

Yeah, I mean, you’ve caught me speechless. So they want agrarian reform in the form of colonisation. So putting people out there giving them some land so they can do their stuff, giving them a new life offworld opportunities and all that kind of thing, but the Senate needs to approve it somehow.

Dr Rad  15:00

I know well, this is where we once again come back to the confusion of the early republic. A plebiscite is a measure that’s passed in the plebeian assembly. And it’s meant to be binding for all plebeians and eventually also, all Roman citizens. However, this is something we know comes about much later. We don’t really know if there was exactly such a thing at this moment. And certainly, we can’t be certain obviously, who would be applicable for, you know, would it have been the plebeians? Do the plebeians even exist? I mean, we come back to that question.

Dr G  15:38

Yes, and this is where we have that sort of the issues with our source material, as always, where we have a position known as the tribune of the plebs, but it’s not yet well established, what distinguishes them out necessarily, besides being not the elite? And to what extent are there formal processes in place for the tribune of the plebs to sort of bring this group of people together, or representatives thereof to make any kind of decision? We don’t know if the tribune of the plebs has that kind of power at this time?

Dr Rad  16:10

Yeah, exactly. So as it turns out, it’s a bit of a moot point because Bolae ends up being recaptured the following year, the Aequians set up a colony there to make it stronger, and obviously more resistant to the Romans, I suppose coming along and taking it back. Yay. And so that’s pretty much all I have officially for that year.

Dr G  16:33

Okay. May I jump in with some details about Lucius Decius, our tribune of the plebs. You know

Dr Rad  16:39

what? You may, but only after my geographical detail.

Dr G  16:44

Are we going back to Veii. For a quick minute,

Dr Rad  16:46

we’re going back to that question about the geography of this whole story. So that’s the official account that comes from Livy. Subsequent scholars have pointed out that it seems unlikely that the Tiber would have flooded in the area of they, the flooding usually happens closer to Rome. So if there was flooding, presumably, would have been Roman farms that were being flooded, which makes this story of not wanting to go to war because of a flood. A little confusing,

Dr G  17:23

huh, it’s not that it would be impossible, I’m sure. It would have to be quite a significant flood. I guess it just depends. I’m not good enough with water and my knowledge of flooding to be able to speculate further on that one.

Dr Rad  17:37

Well, this is where you might be able to help me out. Because apparently, whilst the geography doesn’t entirely make sense, at the same time, if we’re just talking about flooding in general, rivers are obviously very important to communities. I mean, to be honest, they’re still very important to this day, but we just for a lot of people, because we live more urban lives, we perhaps are less aware of our dependence on water, because it seems to just come effortlessly out of taps. And that’s obviously not really the reality of the world that we live in. But nonetheless, I’m not going to get distracted by it, environmentalism tangent. So rivers, obviously very important. People depend on them, obviously, as like a life giving source. And floods are definitely often seen as prodigies. So they have this added religious element. And therefore this might be the kind of thing that might have been recorded in the annals of that year, because it would have been something obviously, that people would have been observing and considered important. And so what Ogilvie who’s the commentary that I’m looking at for this has suggested is that maybe this there was a record of a flood in this time, and later historians have come along and somehow twisted it into a motive as to why there wasn’t a war in this year.

Dr G  18:58

I mean, that sort of presupposes that they had a narrative about there being a war before they knew about flood, which seems a bit odd as well. I’m like, Guys, I mean, you don’t have to have a war every year. It’s excellent of having domestic issues. But realistically, if we’re thinking geographically as well, ancient vai is now it’s, it was about eight kilometres from Rome, right? Shouldn’t Rome. Yeah. In modern terms, Veii is part of Rome. Yeah, that is passed on, you’re still you’re still very close to the city at that point. In terms of the river itself, these things would be very hard to judge now as well, because there’s been a lot of work done on the Tiber to prevent it from flooding. Yeah, because it is a river that goes through a city and it constantly flooding is an issue for people. So the Tiber is very much built up on all of its banks in order to prevent that from happening. Yeah, it would be, this is one of those moments where you want to go back in time, like, what did it Look like? topographically? Yeah, these are the things that that you want to be able to sort of come to grips with because it will give you a sense of the nature of the landscape and how it might have people interacted with it, and how nature might have taken its toll on the people around it with things like flooding for Yes,

Dr Rad  20:21

yes, I agree with what you said, because I felt the same thing. I’m like, Well, sure, they could twist it into a motive. But they’d have to have known that there was a possibility of a war because there is no war. So why would they even say that? Why would they just say,

Dr G  20:34

wouldn’t it just be easy to talk about a flood instead mean, like there was a terrible flood guys.

Dr Rad  20:39

We all love hearing stories about so floods, just ask the Christians,

Dr G  20:43

it might come from a desire to continue to bolster this idea of Rome being in a constant state of like military alertness and activity, which is all about them gaining the skill set that will enable them to eventually dominate the entire Italian Peninsula,

Dr Rad  20:59

I can’t get on board with the idea that there would have been a record of a significant flood because it would have been something in the natural world that might have been seen as some sort of, you know, some sort of sign. Oh, it’s just me can be a sign I saw the sign. And that I that’s all I have on that I do have a little bit of detail about Decius as well, but I’m gonna let you run with what you’ve got and see if mine is different.

Dr G  21:29

All right, so Lucius Decius, what a man. But more importantly, what a name. Am I right,

Dr Rad  21:37

that’s where I was going. Take it away, Dr G.

Dr G  21:41

So things get tricky with this guy. Because he’s involved in this idea of agrarian reform and trying to get things done and it not really working out, which for the reader of sources, like Livi is immediately I think, going to put them in mind of a much later Decius, who was also attribute of the plebs. And this is probably as Decius Subolo, who was doing his business in a roundabout 120 BCE, tribune of the plebs and a huge supporter of the Gracchi who are infamous for their interest in agrarian

Dr Rad  22:23

the people that love land the most, or land reform the most.

Dr G  22:29

Yeah, you say agrarian, I say Gracchi. But there are some other Decius characters that sort of crop up in the Republic of Rome’s history. I’m not sure that these are necessarily a launch point for anything to do with our particular Decius. But I’m just going to do a little bit of foreshadowing, because I think it will be fun. So we have a few Decius is coming up. And one of them is Publius Decius Mus from around about 325 BCE. Yeah, so give us another century of the podcast and we will get there. But he is most well known for sacrificing himself in battle. His son, Publius, Decius Mus. So the first son is also infamous, for winning a battle for Rome through self sacrifice,

Dr Rad  23:31

are noticing a trend. And then we also have

Dr G  23:34

the grandchild, Publius Decius Mus, who is also attributed to having won a battle through sacrificing himself.

Dr Rad  23:46

How on earth did this family survive?

Dr G  23:49

I don’t think that line did, at least not very well. But these DSCI seem to be outside of sort of like the there doesn’t seem to me to be a substantial connection between these guys and why you might mention a name like Decius for the tribune of the plebs. But we’ve got some interesting figures coming up in our history, but there does seem to be this weird sort of parallel with this Kraken Decius which I think is probably worth keeping in mind.

Dr Rad  24:17

Yeah, Look, I think you’re right about that. Because from my research, definitely there is suspicion about someone of this name popping up so early in Rome’s history. We have had a few mentions of this name before in Dionysius. But it seems like as you say, this is a name that becomes famous and important later on. And so in typical Roman historical tradition, they have rejected them back into early rooms pass because they want to, you know, play out their their significance and the continuity that’s there and all of that kind of stuff, but certainly It seems dubious that there would have been anyone from his family in Rome earlier than the full century BCE. So yeah, it just it just doesn’t seem to quite tally up. And apparently this is a family that hail from Southern Italy

Dr G  25:15

ah yes the Decii Mures, possibly thought to be from Campania originally so moving up for Rome for a brand new life and then maybe just sacrificing themselves all the time

Dr Rad  25:28

they just love it so much they love it so much.

Dr G  25:31

Let me fight for you room let me die for you indeed.

Dr Rad  25:35

And that’s all I’ve got for 415 BC Dr. G. So are you ready to tackle 414?

Dr G  25:40

Oh, so ready all right, let’s do it

Dr Rad  25:58

so once again 414  BCE, Dr G, who were the magistrates? there are a lot of them.

Dr G  26:05

Finally, I feel like I’m on firmer territory now – 414 was where I wanted to start. We have four military Tribunes with consular power. Big surprise there. All Patrician.

Dr Rad  26:21

Oh yeah.

Dr G  26:22

We have Gnaeus Cornelius Cossus

Dr Rad  26:27

Seeing something here.

Dr G  26:30

Lucius Valerius Potitus, Quintus Fabius Vibulanus.

Dr Rad  26:36

Oh, there’s a trend.

Dr G  26:38

There’s a trend. Publius Postumius Albinus Regillensis.

Dr Rad  26:43

Does that mean he was as pale as me? 

Dr G  26:46

As white as snow. We have those four guys. Yeah. Now, reputedly. Postumius has some business with Bolae that might be coming up. That I suspect you will have the details.

Dr Rad  27:00

Oh, I have all the details.

Dr G  27:02

I’m looking forward to those details. Because all I have is the barest sketch of what might have happened.

Dr Rad  27:07

Yeah. You know, when I Look at these names, once again, we’ve got some families that are really clinging with their fingernails to power.

Dr G  27:17

Yeah, and actually, this was something that in the lieu of having like a strong narrative source, I do have some things to say about families and power, okay, in this period, so when we come to the end of the narrative aspect, let me know and I will give you some more details on that. Y’all know. We also have a tribune of the plebs. Marcus Sextius.

Dr Rad  27:38

Oh, yeah. Bring it on.

Dr G  27:41

was time for a sixth.

Dr Rad  27:42

Whatta man, whatta man, whatta man, whatta mighty Good man. He’s a migthy mighty good man.

Dr G  27:49

Sexy Sextius, he is here. And apparently, we also have a quaestor, Publius Sextius.

Dr Rad  27:56

Yeah, I’m not gonna give him the song.

Dr G  27:58

maybe maybe less sexy.

Dr Rad  28:01

It’s just you know, it sounds a lot like pubic, which I suppose should make it more sexy, but…

Dr G  28:05

Ouch. So the thing I think to mention here is that how do names work? And actually what we will be having an episode coming on names soon. So watch that space. But we do have both a tribune of the plebs coming from the gens Sextius. And we also have a quaestor coming from the gens Sextius. And yet, it would be more likely than not that the quaestor is a patrician from the patrician gens Sextius, and Marcus would be a plebeian. Sure. Yeah. So I don’t really have a resolution for that. I haven’t I haven’t solved that at all. I’m just mentioning it in passing?

Dr Rad  28:46

Well, again, it sort of highlights what we’ve been talking about there about this patrician-plebeian divide, how much does it really exist? How much and as you know, imagining that it was so strong as it was. And obviously, it’s possible to have branches of the family,  where one line is patrician and one line isn’t. So

Dr G  29:06

definitely, definitely. And I think this is a moment where having a quest or means it’s probably worth touching on what’s acquire store at this point in time. So there are two versions of quiet stores to consider. There’s the very ancient quaestore parracidii. They are brought together only for special occasions.

Dr Rad  29:27

They the Ms Marples of the ancient Roman world.

Dr G  29:30

Ah, very cute little detectives. They get their magnifying glass out there like Pikachu, Detective Pikachu. They investigate capital offences. And these guys go back at least as far as the 12 tables, so, but they’re sort of CO opted when needed. They might lead juries they might be the head of a jury, and it largely seems to be unconnected to what is later famously the quaestor role which is considered the first rung on the cursus honorum.

Dr Rad  30:00

Yes. And they deal with financial matters a lot of the time today.

Dr G  30:05

Well, this is where the other part of the quaestorship comes into it. So essentially the parracidii could do some of that sort of stuff. But it seems like these sorts of roles do get split, right? So the magisterial quaestors the one that we become famously associated with the cursus honorum are sort of suggested in later sources. And this is where Tacitus comes back into play. Yeah, so this is Annals, our only mention of this. So goodness knows where he turned up this piece of information and whether we can believe it is just bonkers. But he suggests that quaestors existed in there sort of like the monetary sense, looking after finances and things like that, as far back as the kings. I’m not sure that any of us believe that necessarily, though, somebody must have been in charge of the cash.

Dr Rad  30:54

Well, yeah, I mean, God knows, I don’t think the kings are doing it.

Dr G  30:58

I mean, it would be weird if they were just bathing in their own money

Dr Rad  31:01

like Scrooge McDuck.

Dr G  31:04

I mean, conspicuous consumption is pretty important for elites in the ancient world. So maybe, but you might have wanted somebody for the mundane business of your day to day, and maybe you had a person for that. But we do have this idea, again, from Tacitus, that we have two quaestors elected each year from 447 BC onwards. So that would suggest, even though we don’t have any sort of record of them, that this magistracy has been in place for a good sort of 20-30 years already.

Dr Rad  31:34

Well, that’s obviously the time period that we talked about with this sort of refounding of the Roman state. After the second decemvirate has its downfall.

Dr G  31:43

They decided they needed somebody in charge of the Treasury that was separate from the people holding power.

Dr Rad  31:48

That’s not new. And then of course, we had we had some issues where it was like, Can patricians only hold it? Can plebeians hold that we’ve had some back and forth about that in our sources? Definitely. So yeah, is some stuff that’s coming through about them existing. But if we’re looking at when they originally, of course, Levy, Dionysius Tacitus. They’re all from that late Republic, early Empire time period.

Dr G  32:14

Yeah, so we’ve got to be a little bit suspicious of what they might be telling us. So Tasos has this idea of there being two coin stores from 447. And then Livy’s, suggests that this was increased to four qui stores in 421. So very recently, and as far as we’re at our narrative in 414, because of all the paperwork, there’s just so much well, you’ve got wars on multiple fronts, and part of the role of the quiet store is administering the state treasury. So doing the doing the things in the city, looking after the cash, maybe bathing in the money when nobody’s looking. But also importantly, two things connected with the military. And that is looking after the war chest itself. So whatever excellent booty has been taken that might be in coin or valuable, precious materials that is highly karibal. That will be something that quest or looks after. And this might be why you have to have more than one quest, or because if you’ve got more than one war going on, you’ve got more than one war chest.

Dr Rad  33:15

And you also want someone watching the people with the money, you can’t just have one guy looking after the money,

Dr G  33:21

you telling me they have to come in pairs, like the guys with the armoured trucks, and the vans and stuff coming to get the money out of the

Dr Rad  33:27

ATM machine. 110%.

Dr G  33:31

They both have guns so they can shoot each other if necessary.

Dr Rad  33:35

It’s just a recipe for corruption. If you’ve only got one guy, the Romans knew that. I know that.

Dr G  33:42

The other key thing that they seem to be involved with besides sitting on the war chest and having a good time there is the actual logistics supplies more for itself. Less obviously sitting on the money is one thing, but being able to spend it to get the supply lines happening is also very, very important. So the choir still would have to be working very closely with the military commander on the in the field, to make sure that things were going smoothly on the supply line front. So if what was needed, so it was actually a really important role. And these are the sorts of things that we think why stores might be doing around about this period in time

Dr Rad  34:22

indeed. But who knows, as we’ve already

Dr G  34:27

I offered plenty of doubt in that explanation field.

Dr Rad  34:31

Always have to always have that caveat. All right. Well, Dr. J. Strap yourself in for a rollicking good time, because I have got some gusts for you about this year. As you highlighted one of our military Tribune’s with concealer power for this year is one Postumius. Now this is a name that we have heard many a time before and unfortunately it’s rarely in a great light like They’re not always like terrible people, particularly by Roman standards, but they’re not, you know, soft and cuddly. They’re not going to be the spokespersons for fabrics off now, if you know.

Dr G  35:10

I hear

Dr Rad  35:13

so Postumius of this year is put in charge of the delayed campaign against the Aequians. Hmm. According to Livy, Postumius was and I quit my translator, a wrongheaded, man.

Dr G  35:30

That is unfortunate. Yeah.

Dr Rad  35:32

So starts off, okay. He manages to gather an army, you know, get his forces together, go to Bolae, manages to defeat the Aequians. In some trifling engagements. I don’t know whether this is the conflict where Livy’s Like, it’s not where the your description, very confusing.

Dr G  35:51

It’s now being described, though. So surely this is different. I

Dr Rad  35:55

feel like Livy’s way of describing things just leave me with more questions. And I probably need to I need to probably actually, like sit down and like storyboard this conflict. But whenever Livy does mention it, he makes it sound so unimportant that I don’t know why I’d be bothered. But anyway, he does manage because he is successful, in admittedly fairly conflict to get inside the city of Bolae. Now Postumius had initially said that the booty gained from this engagement would go to his soldier.

Dr G  36:29

Okay, I mean, that sounds reasonable. I mean, that’s why, but

Dr Rad  36:33

yeah, very nice. Very nice. It is very nice. However, he does that classic thing that to be honest, parents and teachers should never do. And that is he’s made this promise. And then once they’re inside the city, he changes his mind to follow through Dr. G. Oh, no, You never say something that you’re not prepared to follow through it. That is my number one rule for both parenting and teaching.

Dr G  36:58

Yeah, it’s got to be realistic. That’s got to be the consequence has to be real. Yeah. Regardless of whether it’s positive or negative.

Dr Rad  37:05

Clearly, we have to be given this detail, because it would seem that it’s fairly definite in the source material that the army became very upset with Postumius. And they need to find a reason as to why

Dr G  37:18

was he revolting?

Dr Rad  37:19

Let me record a couple of versions. So obviously, the reason for them being upset is not set in stone, the fact that they were upset seems failing. Yeah, so Livy’s thinks that this is why the army is upset, because Postumius obviously made them a promise. It’s obviously a pretty important one, because it’s about getting that sweet, sweet cash. But there is another version, where the army became upset with him because when they entered the city, and started obviously like ravaging it, they didn’t find that it was as as wealthy as they had imagined. So they feel is a disappointment. Quite frankly, there’s there those are two very different stories. One of them I feel soldiers rightly upset. Other version, entitled much.

Dr G  38:08

I mean, what do you expect? I mean, we all know the booty has been shifting around in the region for for decades at this point.

Dr Rad  38:14

Yeah. Anyway, the situation rapidly starts to deteriorate. Either way. It’s not looking good. And then the other military tributing send for Postumius because there are some problems back in room. So let’s segue now to back in room. This is where our tribute and if the plants comes in. One Marcus Sextius Oh, yeah.

Dr G  38:39

What I’m looking forward to hearing what he’s done to receive this sexy epithet.

Dr Rad  38:45

He has deserved absolutely nothing other than having something to do with the number six, I would imagine. I don’t know. I don’t know. But either way, he’s obviously a classic tribune of the plebs, because he’s trying to once again pass and agrarian law.

Dr G  39:01

Well, good for him. I mean, that is the job of the tribune of the plebs, at this point that people need land, they need to be able to live their lives.

Dr Rad  39:10

They do they do. So he is once again pushing for this idea that there should be colonists from Rome sent out to the city of Bolae, specifically because he thinks it should be given to the people who actually captured it as and I don’t mean literally the soldiers but obviously that group that they supposedly belong to, yeah, seems reasonable. Unfortunately, when Postumius hears about what’s going on back in Rome, he made some snide comment, basically, very aggressive and threatening to those who fought under him, which was something along the lines of you’ll fight for me and you’ll like it and you’ll shut the hell up.

Dr G  39:54

Wow, okay. Postumius I think this is the wrong headedness coming through.

Dr Rad  39:58

Exactly. Now. This comment that will be in assembly hear about it and they are very upset. And to make matters worse, the comment is also reported back in the Senate, and they’re also angry at him because they’re like, Oh, my God, we’re already dealing with a troublesome tribute. We really didn’t need to add fuel to the fire. Hey, guys, stop it. Now the tribune of the plebs, however, sees this as a chink in the patrician armour because he understands that clearly, Postumius is very easy to bait. He’s someone who’s got that patrician arrogance, and could easily be trapped into falling into an argument. And not only would he therefore, probably damage his own rep, but probably the people that he represents. So I presume they may in the Senate and the patricians at large he Marcus Sextius made sure to draw Postumius into this debate about the agrarian law, more than any of the other military tributes with consular power for this year. He’s the one that he’s like laser focused on.

Dr G  41:10

Let’s make him break.

Dr Rad  41:12

I mean, he’s described as wrongheaded. So maybe he’s also really easy to spot. Marcus Sextius really seizes upon the comment. He’s like Postumius, How dare you threatening your own soldiers threatening to punish them like they are mere slaves. And he you are holding such a high office, you know, you’re entrusted with this amazing position. And yet, you so looked down upon the men that have actually thought and given their lives, given their blood to capture this territory, and yet you don’t even see them as worthy. And of course, and this is a great news rhetorically, he’s like, why do people like this keep getting elected as military? Why, why are we electing patricians instead of plebeians when they are clearly gigantic douchebags?

Dr G  42:05

Just keep putting them into power. You know, we got to eat the rich.

Dr Rad  42:12

I know. Now, of course, this comment has also got back to the army who I mean, they were angry before for some reason. Now. They’re really, really angry. Like,

Dr G  42:23

wait a minute, this guy.

Dr Rad  42:26

Exactly, exactly. This is where our quaestor comes into this situation.  Our man on the ground, Publius Sextius.  Well, this is the thing. There’s a bit of confusion about whether it’s Sextius or Sestius. Oh, I know. I know. I know. Just to really throw a spanner into the works.

Dr G  42:45

Let me update my notes.

Dr Rad  42:48

No, I mean, there is genuine confusion. Like we don’t really know. I’m gonna say Sestius just to keep him distinct. Yeah. Good plan. Exactly. Yeah. All right. Oh, maybe I’ll just call him Publius. I’ll call him Publius. So he probably is caught wind of the fact that there’s clearly some mutinous feeling happening for the soldiers who were technically under the command of Postumius. And he decides, I know what the answer to this is violence. And that threat of violence has got them really riled up. So I’m going to use actual violence to deal with this situation

Dr G  43:24

Oh dear. Yeah. Oh, poor summer quaestor.

Dr Rad  43:29

So what ends up happening is he uses a lictor. And these are the guys that obviously follow now just straight surround with the fasces and whatnot.

Dr G  43:39

Yeah, request should have about two maximum.

Dr Rad  43:42

Well, he’s using one of them to arrest a brawling soldier. Now, this leads to more violence. I mean, it’s a lesson here, right? Violence just begets more violence, and a disturbance breaks out. And our quaestor is struck by a stone in the fray. And he runs away before he gets hurt. Even worse. I mean, I presume that by this stage, he’s probably terrified, he’s going to be like, lynched or something like that. Now, the man who was thrown the stone at our quaestor, or Publius, shouts out that Publius had been treated, as Postumius had intended to treat the soldiers. So it’s like a poetic justice. He’s like, this is clearly what Postumius wanted to do to us. And now you guys are getting some of your own medicine.

Dr G  44:32

Goodness me.

Dr Rad  44:34

So Postumius is summoned back to this army, because he clearly has to address the situation.

Dr G  44:41

You gotta get your troops out of control, man, they just threw a rock at your questo

Dr Rad  44:46

even hitting the head, it’s not good. Now Postumius continues to be a wrongheaded man. Because he makes his situation even worse again. Oh no. My dealing with it with really harsh interrogation and brutal punishment?

Dr G  45:04

Good. Oh, just let me go into any detail of what those might be.

Dr Rad  45:09

Yes, he does actually. His anger gets really out of control. Some men are executed. I mean, there’s really no higher punishment than that. Yeah. And I can kind of understand why not in the sense that I think it’s justified. But in a Roman mindset, if they are actually like mutinous soldiers, well, you do tend to see pretty extreme punishments to deal with that kind of stuff in ancient Rome.

Dr G  45:33

Yeah. And military discipline historically has sort of followed these kinds of lines. Because if you can’t follow the orders of your superiors, then it creates a huge issue for the safety of everybody.

Dr Rad  45:45

Yes, exactly. These executions were apparently carried out using a hurdle. Now, my only knowledge of a hurdle is the thing that you would jump over. I wasn’t

Dr G  45:57

gonna say I’m like, are we talking like the 100 metre hurdles? Because like, I suppose anything that’s heavy, you could slap at somebody, but I, I suspect that this is not what is being referred to?

Dr Rad  46:07

No, because what Livy’s says is that the people who are being executed who I presume I like, the ringleaders, you know, maybe the guy who threw the stone. He would be the obvious target. We’re calling him Rocky. Yeah, Rocky I. So rocky one cried out during his execution. And this ends up attracting the attention of a crowd of people, it would seem that a hurdle might be something which allows you to be crushed to death. So they put really heavy weights and stones on top of you until you are crushed.

Dr G  46:40

Geez, that is a terrible way to die. Yeah,

Dr Rad  46:43

I mean, this guy is out of control. He really is wrongheaded.

Dr G  46:47

Postumius. What were you thinking wrong things all the time.

Dr Rad  46:50

I know. So obviously, a crowd is gathering around because there’s noise coming from the place of executions, so Postumius and rushes over from his tribunal, because he doesn’t want anyone to try and interfere with the executions and to try and stop them and feel sorry for these guys. lictors and Centurions start lashing out at the crowd, and they’re trying to push them back so that they can’t interfere with the punishments that are going on. And of course, does the crowd take this? Well, you better believe they don’t. And essentially, what ends up happening in all of this, in this violence, mele is that Postumius is stoned to death.

Dr G  47:30

Wow. Okay,

Dr Rad  47:32

By his soldiers, not just a random crowd.  Yeah, it becomes full circle, essentially. It’s like one stone was thrown, but it’s led to a whole volley. So obviously, this is a huge deal because one of the leading magistrates of the state has just been killed by his own army, whilst trying to administer justice and discipline.

Dr G  47:57

Wow, okay. Look, these details are really interesting. I have a slightly different version of events, which I’m not going to suggest in any way would be superior to what you’ve just told me because it comes from Dio Cassius.

Dr Rad  48:13

Oh, okay. So for our listeners, Dio Cassius is writing hundreds of years after Livy and Dionysius, so really, really late really late.

Dr G  48:23

And he also writes the history of Rome from the foundation of the city. But he’s he’s starting from a much later point in Rome’s history in his ability to get hold of material is even more challenging. But he does talk about this. And it comes under a heading, it comes from a fragment. With a heading, democracy consists not in all winning absolutely the same prizes, but in every man obtaining his desserts,

Dr Rad  48:52

ah, that kind of sounds like he’s on the side of the crowd.

Dr G  48:56

So he tells us that Postumius has conquered the Aequii, and he’s captured Bolae. Yes, but the soldiers had had it turned over to them for pillage, but they weren’t awarded a share of the plunder when they requested it. So they did the job that Postumius is leading. Now like we need to pillage this place we need to get the loot. And once the loot has all been collected, Postumius rounds it all up and places it with the quest all the trips are like, what about our booty? We where’s our share of the booty because usually it comes in and then it gets redistributed. It’s not just like a free for all and you pick up whatever piece that you pick up and it’s yours. The idea is it’s done as a collective and then it’s redistributed out. So if you did really well that day in the pillaging on the battlefield or whatever, the commander would give you maybe a bigger portion of the booty, a nicer piece if you like. Yeah, when that didn’t happen when that request was denied. This is when things become really unhinged for This army, okay, and they surround the quaestor. So because they have a particular spot where, and obviously their city got all of the booty, and then they kill the quaestor, just like that. Right? And then when Postumius reprimands them, and it’s like, Excuse me, guys, you can’t just kill quaestor. I know. No Reason No. Why are you listening? And he starts to try to sort of do an investigation to try and figure out like, you know, who’s the ringleaders in this, get around them up, bring them to justice, the army turn on him and kill him as well.

Dr Rad  50:35

Right. So it’s a bit more dramatic, and there’s a little less justification?

Dr G  50:41

Well, I don’t know if there’s less justification, I think the idea of being denied a portion of the booty is actually a hugely significant move from Postumius. Because this is not something that we’ve really come across before where a commander says, under no circumstances, you’re getting a share of this booty. Yeah, I

Dr Rad  51:01

know. But I feel like my vision where he said they could have it and then to change his mind. I mean,

Dr G  51:07

that does make him more wrongheaded. That’s true.

Dr Rad  51:11

I could get quite murderous if someone said I could have a piece of cake and then said, fair enough, is a dangerous move. It is

Dr G  51:19

a dangerous move. And regardless of how this came about, so we’re not really quite sure of the technicalities on this, what we’re seeing is that there is a disciplinary sort of breakdown within the armed forces, that is the result of a style of leadership, for sure. Yeah. So Rome is starting to build out an understanding of what is possible to get soldiers to do and to agree to and where the line is for what you cannot ask a soldier to do. Yeah, at the risk of your own life as a commander or one of the officers. All

Dr Rad  51:55

right, what happens in my account next is that naturally back in Rome, people hear about the fact that Postumius was I don’t know, stoned to death, and the military tribunes with constant power, obviously want a senatorial inquiry into the death because this is super unusual. However, the tribune says the plebs step in and use their veto power to stop an inquiry from going forward.

Dr G  52:19

Wow. Okay, so Marcus Sextius Getting in there

Dr Rad  52:24

he is. And now, of course, we don’t know if this review is really did have at this point in time, but let’s run with it. Now, the Senate are really worried because obviously, the men under Postumius command were really riled up to go through with this. And the people back in Rome are really riled up because of this comment. Postumius made I mean, never before has sticks or stones may break your bones, but words can really hurt me been so true, For everybody involved. And they’re really concerned, and they are worried that if they go ahead and have elections for military tribunes with consular power, that this might be the year where a plebeian finally gets elected, because the people are just so angry.

Dr G  53:08

I’m so pissed off, I’m going to run for government

Dr Rad  53:11

exactly good and make that I’m going to be the change I want to see in the world. And they want, they might want to play and in that office, because they could then stop any Inquisition from going forward. So that would be the idea. I guess that the tribunes have vetoed it. And their way of making sure that it couldn’t come up in the following year was by getting one of their own on the inside, you know, they pushed really hard for Consular elections. They wanted to have consuls, so that it had to be patricians. And then obviously, they want to have their inquiry, right. The tribunes of the plebs naturally see through this, and they’re not gonna let it happen. And so once again, we find ourselves in a standoff between the Senate and the tribune of the plebs. And we’re in an interregnum, basically, huh? Yeah. Which is this weird thing, this weird hangover from the Regal period?

Dr G  54:07

Well, when Yeah, whenever you can’t find a way to get a magistracy up and happening using the appropriate timeframe and the appropriate ritual circumstances then you have to have this interim official. Yeah, then. So they’re still called the interacts even though they’re largely responsible for the chief magistrates, the consulship.

Dr Rad  54:28

Anyway, eventually the Senate ended up prevailing so spoiled that there’s going to be consuls in the next year.

Dr G  54:37

I’ll keep that one under my hat.

Dr Rad  54:40

It’s pretty crazy, but that is where the story really wraps up. Interesting. I know. So it’s again, it is another episode that kind of ties into the conflict of the orders, but it also has a lot more to it than that, I think, because of the way that you know the army is involved and also the reputation of one particular family. If I made after she, I’d like to say a little bit about the Postumii.

Dr G  55:03

Please do.

Dr Rad  55:04

The Postumii have not had a great run. In our history so far, they’re always coming across as the harshest of harsh Romans. I mean, they’re the Brillo pads of the Roman world,

Dr G  55:19

the elite of the elite,

Dr Rad  55:21

they just getting into trouble a lot recently. So we had the really severe dictator not that long ago, who was a Postumius guy who killed his own son for his conduct during a battle that he was in charge of. So this guy wasn’t wrongheaded, per se, but he was held up obviously, as being particularly severe because he would kill his own son as a punishment. Then, of course, we also had a military Tribune with consular power in the mid 420s, who was terrible in his conduct of battle against Veii and ended up being hauled over the coals for that. So you end up in court, they wanted to find him he was that bad. And then, of course, we also had, lest we forget the Vestal virgin Postumia, who’s obviously from this family, who was very nearly buried alive not long ago.

Dr G  56:14

It’s not her fault. I don’t think you can throw her in with all of them. No, no, no. But it might have been a move to get back at their family, for

Dr Rad  56:22

sure, exactly. This is the question that we can pose. Obviously, we can’t answer it. But is it possible that in this very tumultuous period, where we’re looking at sort of from the second decemvirate, it really almost down to the close of this century, there’s a lot of issues, obviously, with Rome, that’s why we’re seeing all these stories about the conflict of the orders, even though the conflict of the orders might not be a real thing is quite clear that Rome is going through some teething problems. And if we Look at this as being part of what you and I have talked about, as maybe this period is actually more about warlords and strong men and alliances, you know, families very much alike, if you will, it’s possible that the Postumii are on the outs, then not doing well in these, you know, in this these feuds, perhaps, between families. And we can, of course, see that there are links between the Postumius and other families. So we’ve, we’ve seen some familiar links between them and their Sempronii and the Quinctii and that sort of thing. But it seems like maybe these bonds are being really tested by what is happening at this moment. Yeah,

Dr G  57:31

you got enough bad eggs. So you’re gonna have to flick through the whole family away, as it were. So I think this ties in really nicely to this pattern of patrician families that I’ve been looking into. So I thought,

Dr Rad  57:44

Wait, I have one more to hold on. One more details. And I promise it’s all yours. So just another interesting thing to note, and again, not that I’m saying this, this wasn’t a real guy, he was really a douchebag. But there is an interesting parallel with a much later story about Postumius Albinus, who was killed by sailors under his command and 89 BCE, during the siege of Pompeii, during the social was Hmm. So that’s also just an interesting thing to note. I mean, again, doesn’t mean that this guy wasn’t starving to death, or it doesn’t mean he didn’t exist or whatever. But once again, we’re seeing those interesting trends, or those interesting connections, maybe foreshadow, who knows, from that later public, which is more obviously better documented, particularly for the people who are writing and our main sources.

Dr G  58:44

Yeah, for sure. A bit in the same way that we see those potential parallels with Decius from the previous year. Yeah, exactly. They’ve got some closest stories, and they they’re interested in building out a sort of a moral pattern related to families, which is very much in this Roman way of thinking that, you know, your family determined something about your character. And certainly, that’s true, but it doesn’t bode well for the Postumii as a particular gens right now, because they’re coming across badly.

Dr Rad  59:14

And with that being said, I will now hand over to you and you can tell me everything you want about the Postumii Oh, Look, it’s some basic maths, but what I was interested in, because we’re seeing a lot of names crop up a lot. And I was like, well, actually, am is that a feeling for me? Or is this a pattern in the evidence? And I was like, it’s time to do some spreadsheet eating. So the question I asked myself, because I didn’t want to go back to write to the beginning of the Republic, because I just, I’m not in the mood for that right now. But I was like, Who has dominated the politics in the last 20 years from a family perspective? Who has really come across as like, you know, the top families to to watch out for so in my examination of like, you know, all of the magistrates that we’ve looked at so far And I just focused on the protrusion. So I left the treatment of the plebs to one side for now. There were 28 distinct gens that came up in that. So there’s a lot of family competition going on. There’s definitely more families than we’ve got years that we’ve studied. So I’m looking at 434 down to 414. Okay, the top family in terms of position holding is the Quinctii again, no surprises there, which Yeah, I don’t think that would come as a surprise because that the branch of the Cincinnatus comes out of that gens, for instance. Exactly. And they hold for console ships, five military tributes, and they also have a military Legate chucked in there, but even I am very impressed by your mathematical dedication.

Dr G  1:00:47

Oh, no, I can I made a spreadsheet and then I did some at the end, it was very impressive. That is about the extent of my mathematical skill. So even if you discount the one military legate because that’s, you know, not a hugely illustrious position. Big deal. They still have nine, we’re still puts them ahead. So for consulships, five military tribunes, they’re followed swiftly by the Papirii. Again, yes, who have two consuls, three military tribunes with consular power, two censors, and one interrex. Ooh, fancy pants time for them. And then we get into a three way tie. So things are not straight and smooth at the top. It is highly competitive, even in his very early period, according to the records that we have the three way tie for third position, so they’re all getting the bronze medal, the Servilii, the Postumii and the Fabii. Yes, so the fabulous Fabians, they’re in there. Each of these gens hold seven positions of elite power across those 20 years. Yeah. Now whether the Postumii can continue up with this trend may very well depend on what kind of characters they produce in the next generation. I know they better watch so there’s wrong heads. I know I mean, get their heads screwed on straight, you know, the wrong headedness of it. So, the only other thing I have to mention is things like you know, Diodorus Siculus, getting all of the names kind of wrong for this year. Very cute. He’s trying his best, he got all the kind of the gens names, right, and all of the praenomens wrong as far as we can tell. And that is the end of 414 BCE. As far as I’m concerned.

Dr Rad  1:02:34

Well, I’m very impressed by your spreadsheet. And because I avoid Excel like the plague.

Dr G  1:02:40

Fair enough, fair enough. I wouldn’t say I go to it to have a good time. But I was like, You know what, I need to put this in a different way. So my mind can sort of wrap around the information differently. And I think it helped. I think

Dr Rad  1:02:51

it helped. Yeah, like, and it does confirm, you know, because of the way that we do this, where we’re going year by year, like the Romans themselves would have done. Sometimes you kind of have a very hazy feeling of like, Look, that name sounds familiar, but I can’t really remember how many times I’ve really said it in the past year. Maybe I said it every episode, you certainly know that certain names are coming up more than others. For sure. It’s good to have it all at all confirmed. Now the final interesting detail I’m going to add because we just we did just note that obviously we’ve got this like weird interregnum period thing. When we’ve got a standoff between the plebeians and the Senate. It’s possible that what we’re seeing with the interregnum is me not necessarily when there is a standoff between patricians and plebeians. But potentially it’s something that comes up when we’re switching from military Tribune’s to consuls or back the other way.

Dr G  1:03:48

Yeah, potentially. And I could see how this might have more of effects for the consulship than it would for military Tribunes with consular power. Yes, they might be considered lesser, just in general. Sure. If indeed, they existed at all.

Dr Rad  1:04:03

Who knows? I mean, this is the thing did interregnum even happen. I like

Dr G  1:04:08

to think so. I know, well believe that because the Romans do like this kind of thing of like, you know, it’s got to be done the right way. So the interrex is basically a ritual and legislative functionary to ensure that things happen in the right way, in the periods where things are not currently happening the way that they’re supposed to.

Dr Rad  1:04:27

Indeed, Indeed. All right, Dr. G. Well, I think that that means it’s time for the Partial Pick.

Dr G  1:04:38

Well, those 50 Golden Eagles up for grabs, they can you can win up to 10 Eagles in each of the five categories. And we’ll see how Rome goes, indeed. All right.

Dr Rad  1:04:48

What’s our first category Dr. G, military cloud? Ah, yes. Well, I mean, technically, militarily, they actually do pretty well. I mean, it’s not obviously a major thing. Livy’s clearly unimpressed.

Dr G  1:05:00

Describe it at all. Well,

Dr Rad  1:05:01

so unimpressed that I’m really confused about what I’m talking about, like, is this the thing that he didn’t want to describe? Did that happen earlier? I don’t know. But it’s obviously not the battle itself. That’s impressive. But nonetheless, they win Bolae for a short time anyway.

Dr G  1:05:17

They do. And only the other wars got cancelled. So that’s fine.

Dr Rad  1:05:22

Yeah. Yeah. So I guess I’d probably give them I don’t know, like, maybe a full

Dr G  1:05:27

Yeah, cuz it doesn’t work out great afterwards. And it is related to the warfare. So

Dr Rad  1:05:31

it is related to that. But in terms of them actually conquering something they have that done well, yeah. Yeah. Okay. That’s cool.

Dr G  1:05:39

All right. Our second category is diplomacy. I don’t know. I think that’s a zero to diplomacy. No.

Dr Rad  1:05:50

Externally where there’s war, I don’t think there can be much diplomacy. So that’s a zero and On the homefront. Certainly everyone’s at each other’s throats.

Dr G  1:05:58

Yeah, exactly. That’s it. That’s no way you’re right there. Okay. Expansion.

Dr Rad  1:06:03

Well, yes, they do add Bolae to their empire for a short time, at least.

Dr G  1:06:10

They haven’t lost it yet. So I suppose we can give them one point for that. It’s very close to home.

Dr Rad  1:06:16

It is. But you know what, it’s been a long time. Well, no, actually, you know, it hasn’t been that long. We had Labici Recently, but it it’s been a long time before Labici came along. And now Bolae, which is right next door, I feel like we have to get them at least a three.

Dr G  1:06:31

Oh, negotiate you to

Dr Rad  1:06:35

everyone’s gonna call you then you pursued me, because you’re being way harsh. Oh, my God, but that’s fine, too.

Dr G  1:06:43

You know, I just, you know, when they do something good, I want to give them a reward. And I feel like, you know, it’s next door. And you know, like, you didn’t really have to try that hard, did you?

Dr Rad  1:06:50

Well, yeah. But like, that’s gonna be the case for a really long time. Technically, everything’s next door, the more that they keep expanding, everything’s gonna be next door.

Dr G  1:06:58

And I will continue to be wrongheaded.

Dr Rad  1:07:02

You know, I think they’re gonna conquer like, I don’t know, Dacia and you’re gonna be like, whatever the border was right there.

Dr G  1:07:08

I mean, you were literally next door when you started,

Dr Rad  1:07:10

right? I mean, like, you would just like, you’re right there. Or you were like, you were like camped there. I mean, you had like an encampment, whatever.

Dr G  1:07:18

Guys. All right, Virtus. What was there expressions of manliness going on?

Dr Rad  1:07:26

Well I mean, Postumius was harsh.

Dr G  1:07:31

But that doesn’t really work out for him. So

Dr Rad  1:07:35

I don’t think we can count it as way to us as much as douchebaggery.

Dr G  1:07:41

Fair enough. Okay. So that’s a zero, I believe, as well. It is. And finally the citizens score. Was this a good time to be a Roman citizen?

Dr Rad  1:07:51

Or no, no, no. I mean, they I didn’t even get a piece of booty. Oh, my God. Yeah. Not only that, but they’re obviously also really upset by feeling undervalued that people higher up in their society. I mean, there is no one higher than a military champion with concealer power, you know, at the time that they hold office. Yeah, they’re not feeling good. And it’s obviously a pretty terrible time to be a citizen, I think. Especially because if it was going on, as we know, obviously, that means that people are also serving away from their families risking their lives.

Dr G  1:08:27

Indeed, this is a big ask, well, how many how many golden eagles that they get. I never do the math on this.

Dr Rad  1:08:36

appropriately in a year, which we have a tribune named Sextius, we end up with six golden eagle.

Dr G  1:08:43

Wow, six. Okay. Look, that sounds pretty good. Really, given how Rome has been trending lately?

Dr Rad  1:08:50

Well, six out of 50 is not great, but I guess that’s what you get for stoning your commander today. Oh, and for the commander to crush people to death, and I really, really heavy stone. Yeah, not

Dr G  1:09:04

great. Not ideal at all. It is. It is not? Well, it has been an absolute pleasure to discuss the years 415 and 414. With you, Dr. Rad,

Dr Rad  1:09:16

I know I’m looking forward to discussing 413 Because I mean, I feel like that’s got to be an unlucky age.

Dr G  1:09:24

We will soon find out

Dr Rad  1:09:26

who knows maybe consuls will be being murdered in a street.

Dr G  1:09:30

Stay tuned for our next episode.

Dr Rad  1:09:33

Before Dr. G and I leave you we just like to remind you that we are going to be speaking at the intelligent speech conference this year. So please head on over to the intelligent speech website. And if you use the code, P E I C E, you will be able to get a discount off your ticket and down there the partial historian sent you. It’s coming up very soon in November. So you’ll probably want to register soon. Thank you for listening to this episode of the partial historians. You can find our sources, sound credits and an automated transcripts in our show notes. And music is by Bettina joy de Guzman, you too can support our show and help us to produce more excellent content about the ancient world by becoming a Patreon. In return, you receive exclusive early access to our special episodes and some occasional bonus content as well. Today we’d like to give a special shout out to Dendrio and Asrar who became Patreon back in September 2022. So if our math is correct, since we are releasing this episode in September 2023 That makes it our one year anniversary. You could also support us by buying us a coffee on Kofi. However, if you aren’t feeling particularly patrician these days, please just tell someone about the show or give us a five star review. That goes for our book as well. If you enjoyed Rex, the seven kings of Rome please make sure you leave review on Amazon or Gumroad. Until next time. We are yours in ancient Rome

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Drs R and G laugh and spar their way through the ancient Roman world!


  1. […] In this episode we tackle the years 413 and 412 BCE. These years come hard on the back of the murder of the patrician Postumius. Rome is facing challenges that seem to be bound up in the spolia in times of war and the broader annalist focus on the idea of the Struggle of the Orders which has been the defining feature of the early republic in Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. To catch up on the unfortunate fate of Postumius, check out Episode 142 – A Wrongheaded Man. […]

  2. […] In this episode we tackle the years 413 and 412 BCE. These years come hard on the back of the murder of the patrician Postumius. Rome is facing challenges that seem to be bound up in the spolia in times of war and the broader annalist focus on the idea of the Struggle of the Orders which has been the defining feature of the early republic in Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus. To catch up on the unfortunate fate of Postumius, check out Episode 142 – A Wrongheaded Man. […]

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