150 episodes

Dr Rad and Dr G explore all things ancient Rome. With source analysis, interviews with experts, and looking at how the ancient world appears in popular culture, we take you you through the sources for ancient Rome while having a good laugh along the way. Dr Rad is an expert on Kubrick's Spartacus and Dr G is an expert on the Vestal Virgins.

The Partial Historians The Partial Historians

    • History
    • 4.7 • 38 Ratings

Dr Rad and Dr G explore all things ancient Rome. With source analysis, interviews with experts, and looking at how the ancient world appears in popular culture, we take you you through the sources for ancient Rome while having a good laugh along the way. Dr Rad is an expert on Kubrick's Spartacus and Dr G is an expert on the Vestal Virgins.

    Factional Foibles

    Factional Foibles

    We jump into the year of 402 BCE and Rome and Veii are tooth and nail in siege mode. In addition to this, Rome is rapidly approaching the end of the 5th century BCE, a date that is meaningful for historians and scholars but less significant for the Romans who understood the years through the names of the magistrates more than being overly interested in the base ten system.

    Episode 151 - Factional Foibles

    Watch your back!

    Rome’s siege of Veii continues so there’s good reason to see six military tribunes with consular power in the role this year. But it may be the case that Rome’s military preoccupation with Veii is about to become costly. Just ask the Rome’s new garrison at Anxur in Volscian territory…

    Siege Developments

    Now you’d be forgiven for thinking a siege is not the most exciting form of warfare. And if it was just Rome versus Veii, it may indeed have remained a boring affair. But sometime in this year, it seems that Veil’s northern neighbours have realised that Veii falling to Rome might be terrible for them. Enter the Capenantes and Falscians and cue siege chaos! How will the situation be resolved? Tune in to find out.

    Map of Veii including cities to the north Capena (Capenantes) and Falerii (Falsicans).

    Things to Listen Out For

    * The joys of Cornettos

    * Skipping through the daisies

    * A hideous sandwich situation

    * Consideration of the extent of the powers of the tribunes of the plebs

    * A potted introduction to the 3rd century CE writer Dio Cassius

    * Some details about the archaeological record between Veii and Rome during this period

    * A new record with the Partial Pick!

    * A very late background contribution from one of our star podcats :)

    Our Players for 402 BCE

    Military Tribunes with Consular Power

    * Gaius Servilius P. f. Q. n. Ahala (Pat)

    * Quintus Servilius Q. f. P. n. Fidenas (Pat)

    * Lucius Verginius L. f. Opetr. N. Tricostus Esquilinus (Pat)

    * Quintus Sulpicius Ser. f. Ser. n. Camerinus Cornutus (Pat)

    * Aulus Manlius A. f. Cn. n. Vulso Capitolinus (Pat)

    * Maelius Sergius L. f. L. n. Fidenas (Pat)

    Our Sources

    * Dr Rad reads Livy 5.8.1

    * Dr G reads Diodorus Siculus 14.38.1; Fragmentvm de Praenominibus; Fasti Capitolini; Dio Cassius Book 6.23ish

    * Arizza, M., Rossi, D. 2022. ‘The territory between Veii and Rome in the Archaic period: Rural structures as territorial markers of cultural frontiers’ Frontière.s, Revue d’archèologie, histoire et histoire de l’art Volume 6: 49-62. https://journals.openedition.org/frontieres/1297

    * Bradley, G. 2020. Early Rome to 290 BC (Edinburgh University Press). 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 href="https://www.google.com.

    Ovid's Metamorphoses with Professor Stephanie McCarter

    Ovid's Metamorphoses with Professor Stephanie McCarter

    It is not often that we get to say that there is a new translation of a classical text that has taken the world by storm. But that was exactly what happened when Professor Stephanie McCarter released her 2022 translation of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. We were honoured that Professor McCarter agreed to talk to us about the mysterious Ovid and her process of translation.

    Stephanie McCarter is currently a Professor of Classics at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee. She published a monograph entitled Horace between Freedom and Slavery: The First Book of Epistles in 2015 and a translation of Horace’s Epodes, Odes and Carmen Saeculare in 2020.

    We would like to warn our listeners that this episode will touch on instances of violence and sexual assault. This is not one to listen to with the kids in the car.

    Special Episode - Ovid's Metamorphoses with Professor Stephanie McCarter

    Who was Ovid?

    Ovid is one of our favourite Latin poets over at the Partial Historians. This is partially due to his work, which can be touching but also highly comedic. However, it is also because Ovid himself is hard to figure out.

    He lived and worked during the reign of Augustus but claimed to have been exiled in approximately 8 CE. Academics are still trying to figure out what Ovid did that was so terrible… or whether he was making it up entirely!

    Whatever he was up to, Ovid’s back catalogue is pretty impressive. He composed the Amores, the Heroides, the Fasti, the Ars amatoria, and his masterpiece, the Metamorphoses.

    Translating Ovid for the 21st Century

    Translation is an immensely difficult and often underappreciated task. We don’t mean getting out your dictionary and figuring out a passage here and there. We delve into the technique of translating an entire work, trying to make it accessible and enjoyable for a new generation, whilst staying true to the voice of the original author. Whew! What an undertaking.

    Professor McCarter’s translation of the Metamorphoses is the first English translation of the work by a woman in many decades and it seems to have struck a nerve. There are many episodes of sexual violence in this work that have been softened or glossed over in previous translations. McCarter’s work aims to be more accurate and direct in the language, not shying away from the troubling aspects of these myths. This has allowed themes to emerge more clearly from text.

    It was a delight to talk to someone as passionate and dedicated to their work as Professor McCarter. Her work highlights the way that translations often reflect the values of their creator and their context, hence the need for fresh interpretations.

    Things to look out for:

    * The powerful art of Elizabeth Columba

    * An amazing New Yorker article on McCarter’s work

    * The uterus and double helix cleverly woven into the mind-blowing cover art for McCarter’s book by Aiko Tezuka

    * Professor McCarter makes reference to concordances as part of her process. These are essentially word indexes – very handy tools for translators!

    Rhetorical Fireworks

    Rhetorical Fireworks

    It is 403 BCE and we’re about to be blinded by some rhetorical fireworks. The situation between Rome and Veii is getting more serious.

    Episode 150 - Rhetorical Fireworks

    We've Got Chills, They're Speechifying!

    As the Romans prepare for a long siege, the suggestion was casually made that the soldiers will need to remain in winter quarters. The Romans were not used to being in the field this long and the tribunes of the plebeians were immediately suspicious. Is this why military pay had just been introduced? To distract the people whilst forcing them to live in a state of slavery? Outrageous. Nonetheless, this is what the plebeians get when they keep electing patricians into office.

    One of the military tribunes decides to hit back at the tribunes with their own epic speech. Who better for the task than the uber-patrician Appius Claudius? Let's watch those rhetorical fireworks fly!

    Appius’ speech, with its’ mixture of conservatism and logic, is so effective that he wins some of the people over. As everything hangs in the balance, word reaches Rome of a serious setback at Veii. A sneaky night attack led to all the Roman siege equipment being destroyed by fire and some of the soldiers had died trying to extinguish the blaze.

    Aule Metele (The Orator). A hollow-cast bronze showing an Etruscan male known as Aulus Metellus or Aule Metele in Roman-style clothing, dated to early 1st century BCE.. While this figure is not from our time period, the combination of Etruscan and Roman culture and the speechifying aspect of this statue seemed appropriate! Courtesy of https://www.collegesidekick.com/study-guides/boundless-arthistory/later-etruscan-art

    This disaster tips the balance in favour of Appius’ arguments. Patricians and plebeians put their differences aside so that they could focus on the war effort. Those Etruscans were asking for it!

    The senate no longer had to worry about whether the people were on board regarding winter service. Romans from various backgrounds were throwing themselves at the senate, begging to be allowed to go to war.

    Who knew that war could make people so happy? That’s the Romans for you!

    Please Sir. I Want Some... More?!

    Camillus, one of the Furii clan, makes his debut in this year as one of the censors. In order to pay for some of these new expenses, the censors introduced some new taxes on unmarried men and …orphans. Way to be harsh, Rome!

    Our Players 403 BCE

    Military Tribunes with Consular Power

    * M’. Aemilius Mam. f. M. n. Mamercinus (or Mamercus) (Pat) Cos. 410, Mil. Tr. c. p. 405, 401

    * L. Valerius L. f. P. n. Potitus (Pat) Cos. 392, Mil. Tr. c. p. 414, 406, 401, 398

    * Ap. Claudius P. f. Ap. n. Crassus Inregillensis (Pat) Cos. 349 ?

    * M. Quinctilius L. f. L. n. Varus (Pat)

    * L. Iulius Sp.? f. Vopisci? n. Iullus (Pat)

    * M. Furius – f. – n. Fusus (Pat)

    * ? M. Postumius (Pat)

    * ? M. Furius L. f. Sp. n. Camillus (Pat) Mil. Tr. c. p. 401, 398, 394, 386, 384, 381

    * ? M. Postumius A. f. A. n. Albinus Regillensis (Pat) Mil. Tr. c. p. 426


    * M. Furius L. f. Sp. n. Camillus (Pat) Mil. Tr. c. p. 401, 398, 394, 386, 384, 381

    * M. Postumius A. f. A. n. Albinus Regillensis (Pat) Mil. Tr. c. p. 426

    • 1 hr 31 min
    Exploring Place in Regal Rome with Neil, The Ancient Blogger - Part 1

    Exploring Place in Regal Rome with Neil, The Ancient Blogger - Part 1

    We are thrilled to sit down with Neil, The Ancient Blogger and host of the Ancient History Hound podcast to explore space and place in the Roman regal period.

    Neil, or ancientblogger as he's more commonly known, studied ancient history at degree level and then completed an MA in Classical Civilisation. Though he has a full time job he spends most of his time creating content on  Instagram, X, YouTube and TikTok - just search for ancientblogger. He also has a website ancientblogger.com and several years ago started what is now the Ancient History Hound podcast, where he covers a wide array of topics from ancient history.

    He also gets the chance to volunteer at schools around Brighton where he helps students with Greece and Rome, the latter usually whilst  wearing his legionary armour. As his website states - he's all about ancient history and passionate about making the topic accessible to one and all."

    Special Episode - Exploring Place in Regal Rome with Neil, The Ancient Blogger - Part 1

    Neil seems to have found himself in a museum of ancient vases while wearing a tshirt of ancient vases!

    What was the landscape of regal Rome like?

    There's no doubt that the topography of ancient Rome was very different to what we are able to see today. With the restraints around archaeological work you can expect in a city that is still as important and vibrant as the capital of Italy, it is partly through evidence on the ground and partly through reading the ancient sources that we can come to grips with what ancient Rome may have been like in its very early iterations.

    The Palatine and the Aventine

    Neil takes us through the importance of hills in general, in Italy, and for Rome in particular. Romulus has a connection with the Palatine hill and Remus is connected with the Aventine. Neil delves into the details of the wolves in this area including the development of the Lupercalia rites and the significance attached to blood sacrifice in cultivating the meaning of place.

    The early pomerium

    How did it the sacred boundary of Rome work? Where was it? What were the implications for trying to cross it with early armies? None of these questions can be answered definitely because evidence is thin on the ground archaeologically speaking, but considering later written sources offers some ways into the topic. Looking to read more on this topic, consider Koortbojian, M. 2020. Crossing the Pomerium: The Boundaries of Political, Religious, and Military Institutions from Caesar to Constantine (Princeton University Press)

    The Campus Martius

    The campus Martius ‘Field of Mars’ was the site of the potential murder of Romulus, Rome’s first king. The area covers a fair amount of land next to the Tiber and we consider some of its historical details.

    The Tarpeian Rock

    Bound up with the early defence of Rome is the Capitoline Hill where the earliest defences of the city were thought to have been built. We explore the stories that the Romans told about how the rock got its name. This leads into a consideration of how death was treated in respect to place.

    The First Bridge over the Tiber

    • 1 hr 19 min
    The Brief Life and Times of Servius Romanus

    The Brief Life and Times of Servius Romanus

    Who is Servius Romanus you might ask? Well, in this episode we’re about to find out. But when we tell you it’ll be brief - we are telling only the truth! On the back of the putative introduction of pay for Roman soldiers in 406 BCE (a much disputed idea in scholarship), Rome is facing challenges from their neighbours. These challenges are coming from many directions, so it’s no doubt a relief when someone helps them out. Enter: Servius Romanus.

    Episode 149 - The Brief Life and Times of Servius Romanus

    Siege at Veii!

    Watch out Veii, Rome is coming for you! Veii seems to be well aware of the Roman threat, however, and might just be looking to call in the broader Etruscan peoples to support them. How will things pan out for Veii in the years 405 and 404? We consider the fairly limited details for your listening pleasure.

    But what about the Volscians?

    Rome is facing trouble on multiple fronts (perhaps indicated by the sheer number of military tribunes with consular power listed for both the years 405 and 404). It comes as no surprise that pursuing an aggressive policy against Veii opens the way for more conflict from the Volscii. Listen out for mentions of places including Ferentium, Ecetra, and Artena.

    Aerial photograph of the modern town of Artena in Lazio, Italy. Photo by FrancescoSchiraldi85 via Wikimedia Commons.

    Our Players for 405 BCE

    Military Tribunes with Consular Power

    * Titus Quinctius T. f. L. n. Capitolinus Barbatus (Pat)

    * Quintus Quinctius (L. f. L. n.) Cincinnatus (Pat)

    * Gaius Iulius Sp. f. Vopisci n. Iullus (Pat)

    * Aulus Manlius A. f. Cn. n. Vulso Capitolinus (Pat)

    * Lucius Furius L. f. Sp. n. Medullinus (Pat)

    * Manius Aemilius Mam(ercus). f. M(arcus). n. Mamercinus (or Mamercus) (Pat)

    Our Players for 404 BCE

    Military Tribunes with Consular Power

    * Gaius Valerius L. f. Vol. n. Potitus Volusus (Pat)

    * Manius Sergius L. f. L. n. Fidenas (Pat)

    * Publius Cornelius (M. f. M. n.) Maluginensis (Pat)

    * Gnaeus Cornelius P. f. A. n. Cossus (Pat)

    * Kaeso Fabius M. f. Q. n. Ambustus (Pat)

    * Spurius Nautius Sp. f. Sp. n. Rutilus (Pat)

    Things to listen out for

    * Challenges with the extant source material

    * The organisation of the Etruscan federation

    * The Shrine of Voltuma (the Central Perk?)

    * What’s going on with the politics of Sicily and Carthage?

    * The intriguing modern history of Artena

    * Military strategy re citadels in action

    * Food security in the ancient world compared with climate change today

    * A sneaky mention of Velitrae

    Our Sources

    * Dr Rad reads Livy, ab Urbe Condita, 4.60-61

    * Dr G reads Diodorus Siculus 14.17.1; 14.19.1; Fasti Capitolini for 405 and 404 BCE

    * Bradley, G. 2020. Early Rome to 290 BC (Edinburgh University Press).

    * 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.

    • 46 min
    Augustus' Mausoleum with Dr Victoria Austen

    Augustus' Mausoleum with Dr Victoria Austen

    It is not often that we are fortunate enough to get to chat to one of our amazing guests a second time, but sometimes the gods are just that kind. We sat down to speak to the one and only Dr Victoria Austen about Augustus’ mausoleum.

    Special Episode - Augustus' Mausoleum

    Dr Victoria Austen holds a MA and PhD from King’s College London. She has lectured in the Classics at the University of Winnipeg and is currently the Robert A. Oden, Jr. Postdoctoral Fellow for Innovation in the Humanities and Classics at Carleton College, Minnesota. Her monograph Analysing the Boundaries of the Roman Garden: (Re)Framing the Hortus’ was released in 2023 as part of the Bloomsbury Ancient Environments Series. Vicky has recently been speaking for the American Institute of Archaeology on gardens and commemoration.

    ‘The Mausoleum of Augustus’ from Pietro Santi Bartoli, Gli antichi sepolcri ii, 1727. courtesy of Carleton College Special Collections.

    What is Augustus' mausoleum?

    Augustus did not rest on his laurels after winning the Battle of Actium against Cleopatra and Mark Antony. He set about consolidating his political position and figuring out exactly what that would entail.

    Augustus set about transforming the city itself as part of his political machinations. Some of his key monuments include the Ara Pacis, the Horologium Augusti (think giant sun dial), and the mausoleum.

    He started construction on this tomb in 28 BCE and positioned it on the Campus Martius (Field of Mars). This is much earlier than you might expect. Augustus’ position was not unchallenged and there was still much to be decided regarding his status in Rome. Nonetheless, Augustus set about building this large circular mausoleum, intending to use it not just for himself, but his family.   

    Eventually the tomb would house the remains of numerous members of Augustus' family, as well as the princeps himself. Names you might recognise include Agrippa (his BFF and the husband of his daughter Julia), Marcellus (his nephew), Octavia (his sister), and Gaius and Lucius (his adopted sons).

    After Augustus’ death, his family continued to use the mausoleum. Livia (his wife), the emperors Tiberius and Claudius, Germanicus, Antonia Minor and Britannicus would all find their way to this monument.

    However, there was not an open-door policy for anyone with Julio-Claudian blood. The mausoleum became a sort of litmus test of who had fallen from grace and would be punished with exclusion… forever! You might already have spotted that Julia, Augustus’ only biological child, and her daughter Julia, did not make the cut. Ouch! Nor did the emperors Caligula and Nero. You had to earn your spot.     

    Donati, A. (1584-1640) Roma vetus ac recens, courtesy of Carleton College Special Collections.

    What happened to the mausoleum?

    As with so many ancient monuments, the mausoleum has been repurposed many times. Tune in to hear about the Soderini family and their resurrection of the space, as well as good old Mussolini, who just loved to forge connections between himself and figures like Augustus.

    Things to Look Out For:

    * Augustus getting BURNT by Dr Rad on numerous occasions.

    * Good-natured tolerance from Drs A and G about afore-mentioned Augustan burns.

    * Deep-seated longing to see inside the mausoleum.

    • 1 hr 6 min

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5
38 Ratings

38 Ratings

Nigels3rdgirl ,

Wonderful find

I only just discovered this wonderful podcast today and am very glad I did! Highly entertaining and enjoyable, the hosts make what can be a dry subject very interesting and engaging!

Spid3rW3bb ,

Crown Worthy

How am I only finding out about this now!! Informative, well balanced and probably most importantly incredibly entertaining.
More akin to a chat with friends than a lesson in a classroom and perhaps that’s the way it should be!
It’s surprisingly novel to hear a history podcast in my own home accent 😅
The only downside is at some point I will catch up and won’t be able to binge it anymore!

Stephanie201457 ,


I'm so glad I came across this podcast! You guys are great!!

Top Podcasts In History

The Rest Is History
Goalhanger Podcasts
D-Day: The Tide Turns
The Spy Who
Goalhanger Podcasts
Short History Of...
Dan Snow's History Hit
History Hit

You Might Also Like

Emperors of Rome
La Trobe University
History Is Sexy
History Is Sexy
Gone Medieval
History Hit
Tides of History
Wondery / Patrick Wyman
The Ancients
History Hit
The Hellenistic Age Podcast
The Hellenistic Age Podcast