Would any Ancient Roman podcast hosted by two women be complete without a very special episode on one of the most famous women in the City’s history, Livia Drusilla? Obviously not and here we are 🙂
Category: The Roman Emperors
We kick start this project with an examination of Octavian, later Augustus. If not technically an emperor, he sets the precedent for the Julio-Claudian dynasty. This series take you through to the end of the so-called ‘good’ or adoptive emperors.
The Colosseum is the most famous example of a Roman amphitheatre and also the largest! The connection between competition, sport, and power is all up for grabs in this special collaboration between the Wonders Podcast and Dr G from our very own Partial Historians. You can hear it all here. Enter Vespasian Stage Right Vespasian comes from a middling political family, who made his name as a commander of troops. So how does he become…
The Doctors investigate the life and rule of the reputedly *very nice* emperor, Antoninus Pius. The character of his imperial rule is like a breath of fresh Italian air in Rome. With only a few sources to guide a reading of this emperor, a little mystery, and perhaps a little warm feeling, is preserved for this elder statesman.
Hadrian is a complex and interesting figure who divides the opinion of the senate, and is both praised and critiqued by the historical record. The Doctors guide you through some of the interesting details of his rule!
In this episode, the principate of Trajan is presented in swathes of very Pliny-coloured praise!
His rule is significant for the definitive transformation of the Roman principate from a dynastic system after the disaster left behind by Domitian to what eventually will be referred to as ‘the adoptive emperor’ period.
So who is this Imperator Caesar Nerva Traianus Divi Nervae filius Augustus character? And why does he appear to be so popular?
Domitian is dead! Murder most foul! Who will take the wings? Only man is right for the task … Marcus Cocceius Nerva. Who, you might ask? A man of Roman politics, a man of some distinction and it seems a man of many talents for reform. His reign is quite short, but it packs some reform punch!
The Doctors take you through the reign and tumultuous drama of the final Flavian emperor. Was he really as bad as the sources would have us believe? And why is there such a negative tradition against Domitian in any case?
The Flavian dynasty is getting into the swing of things with a new, charismatic emperor. Welcome to the reign of Titus, a man of many talents and a knack for having a rule riddled with natural disasters. The Doctors explore the details of Titus’ style of rule and the sad, quick end of this most stellar example of imperial majesty.
There are no prizes for guessing who takes home the prize of ruling for longer than a few months. You’re totally right, it’s Vespasian! So let’s dive in – your Doctors consider Vespasian’s background and the character of his rule.
The year 69 CE continues apace, and Doctors R and G peer through the mists of time to focus on the shifts in power and machinations postulated in the source material. Herein the short reigns of Otho and Vitellius.
When the Julio-Claudian dynasty falls, what happens next? Prepare yourself for chaos, as the infamous Year of the Four Emperors is here. In this episode we turn our gaze on two of the early contenders for the rule of Rome: Galba and Otho.
Oh Nero … It’s a long way to the top, and when you get there it’s a long way to fall. We like to think of it this way, he sings “I didn’t start the fire”, but of course he didn’t fiddle while Rome burned. No, it was far more interesting than that!
Claudius is dead, and who should emerge as the new imperator … none other than Nero, the son of Agrippina. While we explore the early years of Nero’s rule under the guidance of his mother Agrippina the Younger, we also consider the influential roles of Seneca and Burrus.
With Messalina dead, Claudius begins the process that any good Roman man would: choosing a new wife. As emperor, Claudius just happens to be the most eligible bachelor in town. He has a pick of the ladies and decides on Agrippina.
This is an unusual match in a number of respects, not least because she is his niece! In this episode, Doctors R and G explore the various intricacies of the relationship between Claudius and Agrippina.
Valeria Messalina was a cousin of Claudius and there was quite an age difference between them. He was born in 10 BCE, while she was born in c. 20 CE. This thirty year age gap may go some way to explaining the character of the marriage as it developed over time. In this episode, your intrepid Doctors explore the myth, the legend, and the history that is her legacy.
In this episode, we consider Claudius’ less than illustrious beginnings and the progression of his career into Rome’s top job. Claudius’ expansionist policy, his relationship with the Praetorian guard, and the focus of the sources on his freedmen are all up for discussion!
We examine Caligula’s rise to power, the changes his principate means for the developing empire of Rome, and touch on the some of the shocking tales connected with his reign. It’s times like these, dear listener, that you begin to wish Tacitus’ account of this period had survived – could the sources be less balanced?
We take a detour from the Julio-Claudian emperors to examine one of the women pivotal to Augustus’ family and the future of his family line: Julia Maior, Augustus’ biological daughter. Who was Julia exactly? And why was she important?
In this episode, we tackle the issues Tiberius faced in his career as he tried to fill the political shoes of Augustus. We consider the following questions in regard to Tiberius’ leadership: What style characterised his rule? What troubles did he face and how did he address them? And what about those stories of sexual deviancy?
What was Tiberius’ early life like? What milestones mark his political career? And how does he journey to become the princeps of Rome? In this episode, we trace Tiberius’ life from his birth in 42 BCE to the moment of his transition from citizen of Rome to the leading man of the state in 14 CE.
Our exploration of Augustus (63 BCE – 14 CE) takes a titillating turn as we consider some of the evidence for Augustus private life. With a reasonable degree of historian skepticism, we consider some of the challenges with the source material relating to sex in ancient Rome!
Octavian, later Augustus, rises to become the foremost politician in Rome and establishes the Principate (a percursor to the Roman Empire). From his humble beginnings being taken under the wing of Julius Caesar, he rises to become the most powerful politician and military leader of his generation. We explore his rise here!