142 episodes

Dr Fiona Radford is an expert on Rome on film and wrote her thesis on Kubrick’s Spartacus. Dr Radford is exponent of not only Ancient History, but also Reception Studies.

Dr Peta Greenfield is an expert on the Vestal Virgins. Dr Greenfield’s research interests include: religion and politics in Rome, the late republic and Augustan period, and the role of women.

The Partial Historians The Partial Historians

    • History
    • 4.3 • 107 Ratings

Dr Fiona Radford is an expert on Rome on film and wrote her thesis on Kubrick’s Spartacus. Dr Radford is exponent of not only Ancient History, but also Reception Studies.

Dr Peta Greenfield is an expert on the Vestal Virgins. Dr Greenfield’s research interests include: religion and politics in Rome, the late republic and Augustan period, and the role of women.

    Episode 119 – The Triumphant Return of the Consulship

    Episode 119 – The Triumphant Return of the Consulship

    In an epic turn of events, Rome finds herself deep in 449 BCE. Appius Claudius may be dead, but what happens next? We're here to find out! Importantly, some of our key players in the plebeian set find themselves upgraded to the status of tribune of the plebs.

    Episode 119 - The Triumphant Return of the Consulship

    The end of Spurius Oppius

    It's not just Appius Claudius who finds himself in trouble after the end of the decemvirate. Spurius Oppius, another decemvir also finds himself in a spot of bother.

    Publius Numatorius - tribune of the plebs, maternal uncle of Verginia, leds the cause against Spurius Oppius.

    Livy has Oppius embroiled in a terrible affair involving a loyal solider of Rome while Dionysius of Halicarnassus has a much more speedy account of Spurius Oppius' ultimate fate.

    It may not be surprising to hear that the rest of the decemivirs realise they need to find their way out of Rome!

    The Consulship Returns

    The moderate patricians Lucius Valerius Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus have managed to pass a range of laws that help support stability in the City. To catch up on the action of this front, check out Episode 118. But now that the major crises have passed, Rome begins to look outwards. It turns out that Rome's neighbours have noted their preoccupation with internal politics. The time has come for Rome to take a stand.

    Valerius takes a force against the Volscians and the Aequians. Horatius also takes out a force against the Sabines. We delve into the details of the strategies deployed by the Roman commanders. Both consuls and their forces make an excellent showing on the battlefield and return home with high expectations of a triumph or two.

    What are the Tribunes up to?

    As the year 449 BCE unfolds some of tribunes behaviour starts to garner suspicions. Is it just the case that groups of ten men now look a little shady to Romans in general? Or is there a new grab for power happening? The tribune Marcus Duilius may have some of the answers...

    Things to listen out for

    * A soldier scourged * The quaestores parricidii* The amazing returning booty* Some very interesting fracas about triumphs* Tribunes acting suspiciously...* A new buddy system for tribunes

    Our Players

    The Decemvirs

    * Appius Claudius. Ap. f. M. n. Crassus Inregillensis Sabinus Pat – Cos. 471, 451* Spurius Oppius Cornicen* Quintus Fabius M. f. M. n. Vibulanus Pat – Cos. 467, 465, 459* Quintus Poetelius Libo Visolus* Manius Rabuleius* Marcus Cornelius – f. Ser. n. Maluginenesis Pat* Lucius Minucius P. f. M. n. Esquilinus Augurinus Pat – Cos. 458* Marcus? Sergius Esquilinus Pat* Titus Antonius Merenda* Caeso Duillius Longus?

    The Senators

    * Lucius Valerius Potitus* Marcus Horatius Barbatus

    The Verginii and Supporters

    * Verginia – a Roman maiden, murdered by her father in order to protect her from the lust of Appius Claudius* Verginius – father of Verginia and newly elected tribune of the plebs* Publius Numitorius – Verginia’s maternal uncle and newly elected tribune of the plebs* Lucius(?) Icilius – Verginia’s betrothedand newly elected tribune of the plebs

    Tribunes of the Plebs, 449 BCE

    * Lucius Verginius* Lucius Icilius (who had served as a tribune previously)* Publius Numitorius* Gaius Sici...

    • 44 min
    Special Episode – Women and Money with Professor Karen Carr

    Special Episode – Women and Money with Professor Karen Carr

    We sat down recently to have a conversation with Professor Karen Carr who is Emerita at Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology and we were thrilled to discuss the ideas for her latest work. We explore Carr's research on the connections between women, money, and the economy in the ancient world.

    Special Episode - Roman Women and Money with Professor Karen Carr

    Carr has an impressive breadth and depth to her research work. She's the author of Vandals to Visigoths: Rural Settlement Patterns in Early Medieval Spain. Carr also has a book coming out in 2022 called Shifting Currents: A World History of Swimming. However, in this conversation we were focusing on her radical new theories on women and their place in economies. The conversation ranges from the Stone Age through to the modern world! Professor Carr is currently writing a book on this topic that is slated for release in 2023 through the University of Liverpool Press.

    Thinking about ancient economies

    Professor Carr suggests that manufacturing, and thus the production of wealth, was initially tied to the work of women. They say that money makes the world go around, so it seems like women were making the world go around since the Stone Age! They helped to produce items like beads and textiles that could be used for trade long before humans invented coinage.

    This all started to change when Greeks and Romans started to export silver and gold in larger quantities, especially in the form of coinage. Mining for metals and minting the coins was largely men's work and this type of money started to be promoted as 'masculine', while items like beads and textiles were labelled as 'feminine'. As parts of the world, such as Asia and Africa, continued to engage in the manufacture of these goods for trade, foreigners also started to be associated with femininity. If you are starting to feel like the economy in the ancient world was complex, you would be correct!

    Penelope and the Suitors by J. W. Waterhouse. Work that wool, Penelope!

    Roman Women and Money

    Tune in to hear how all of these developments may have contributed to slavery in the ancient and modern world. With the fashion industry being one of the largest contributors to carbon emissions and coming under more scrutiny for the poor conditions of workers, you won't want to miss Professor Carr's theories about how contemporary attitudes towards fast fashion may go back further than you think.

    Close-up of some of the coins from the Frome Hoard. This hoard contains 52 503 Roman coins which date from 253-305 CE!

    Music and Sound Effects

    The music featured in this episode is an original composition for our podcast by the glorious Bettina Joy de Guzman.

    • 41 min
    Episode 118 – The Death of Appius Claudius

    Episode 118 – The Death of Appius Claudius

    Appius Claudius: what a man, what a couple of decemvirates! But while the title of this episode might have given some things away, it's all about how it happens.

    If our sources are to be believed, 449 BCE was one hell of a year. In our previous episode, we witnessed the end of the tyrannical Second Decemvirate and the Second Secession of the Plebeians. Two patricians, Valerius and Horatius, had managed to coax the plebeians back to Rome and their protest helped to oust the decemvirs from power. This episode, we will delve into the aftermath of these dramatic events, and we finally get to kill off that much-hated decemvir, Appius Claudius.

    Episode 118 - The Death of Appius Claudius

    Is Justice blind? We'll find out in the case of Appius Claudius!Image Source: Salvis Juribus

    Review the Career of Appius Claudius

    Looking to catch up to speed before heading into this episode?

    Appius Claudius' story starts at Episode 109 - The First Decemvirate.

    The Consulship of Valerius and Horatius

    With the office of the tribune of the plebs restored, it is time to secure some new consuls as well. Who better than the patricians who defied the decemvirs, Lucius Valerius Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus? And isn't an interesting coincidence that these two men were chosen to mop up the mess when their ancestors, P. Valerius Volusi Publicola and M. Horatius Pulvillus, were consuls back when the Republic was first established in 509 BCE? 

    The Romans are known for associating particular gens with certain characteristics and policies, but it also may be the case that Romans followed paths that would uphold their family legacy.

    The Valerio-Horatian Laws

    In spite of their patrician backgrounds, the consulship of Valerius and Horatius was particularly beneficial for the Roman people. This is largely due to some new laws that were introduced, now known as the Valerio-Horatian Laws. According to our sources, the legislation:

    * restored the sacrosanctity to the tribune of the plebs and instituted harsh penalties for anyone who violated this law* restored the consular law about the right of citizens to appeal. They also ensured that all future magistracies that were created would include the right to appeal.* the decisions of plebeians (plebiscites) would now be considered binding for all Roman people, and not just the plebeians.

    These laws are clearly a direct response to what had transpired under the Second Decemvirate and restored a lot of power to the people.

    We'll explore some of the ramifications of these laws, the scholarly controversy over the dating, and what some of the more conservative patricians thought about them.

    The Death of Verginia by Doyen (1756-8). Image Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    The Death of Appius Claudius

    With these new laws in place, the people feel confident enough to seek vengeance. Appius Claudius, the most despised decemvir, is the first to be targeted. His attempted abduction of the free Roman maiden, Verginia, comes back to haunt him as her father is now a tribune of the plebs.

    In both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, Verginius pursues Appius Claudius and has him arrested, seemingly with the intention of bringing him to trial. But while he awaits justice in prison, Appius Claudius ends up dead.

    • 53 min
    Special Episode – Disruption with David Potter

    Special Episode – Disruption with David Potter

    Disruption is at the heart of great changes in human society. How might we understand disruption? How can we recognise it? And just what historical precedents do we have for successful change? We sit down with Professor David Potter to examine just these kinds of questions!

    David Potter is Francis W. Kelsey Collegiate Professor of Greek and Roman History and Arthur F. Thurnau Professor at the University of Michigan and has written extensively on the ancient world. In his latest book Disruption: Why Things Change, Professor Potter considers the disruption in Rome that reverberates today: the rule of Constantine and the relationship of Rome with the Christian Church.

    Special Episode - Disruption with David Potter

    The Disruption of Constantine

    Setting the stage is the life and times of the Roman Emperor Constantine. He is famous for bringing Christianity into Roman imperialism in a way that would have been unthinkable to Romans of previous generations. Professor Potter takes us through some of the pivotal moments in Constantine's rule. These are revealing for how Constantine builds towards consensus with Christian bishops.

    What does this change look like to the Romans? How did the thinking about Christians change? What steps did Constantine take that separated him from the emperors that came before?

    All this and more comes up for discussion in this episode.

    Statue of Constantine at York. He became emperor in 306 CE in Roman Eboracum, now modern York. This statue is a modern piece by the sculptor Philip Jackson and was unveiled in 1998. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

    Disruption as a Model for Action

    One of the key threads in Potter's book is that there are recognisable patterns for successful moments of disruption. A consideration of Constantine and Christianity in Rome is really just the tip of the iceberg with this text. Potter's view extends beyond ancient Rome to consider the rise of Islam, the Protestant Reformation, the Enlightenment and French Revolution, as well as disruptive political theories such as those of Marx and Spencer.

    What we see by taking a long view of history is that there's room to consider disruption not just as a culmination of circumstances, but as a potentiality that can be tapped into.

    Things to Listen Out for

    * The writer Eusebius' enthusiasm for Constantine's adoption of Christianity* The Donatist controversy in North Africa involving book burning* Constantine's letter to the Praetorian Prefect* Julian's Theodoric Neoplatonism!* The emperor Heraclius and the kings of Persia

    Significant Works by Professor Potter

    * The Origin of Empire: Rome from the Republic to Hadrian* Constantine the Emperor* The Victor's Crown: A History of Ancient Sport from Homer to Byzantium* Theodora: Actress, Empress, Saint* Disruption: Why Things Change

    Disruption: Why Things Change by David Potter

    • 52 min
    Episode 117 – The Death of the Decemvirate

    Episode 117 – The Death of the Decemvirate

    We have been trapped under the tyrannical rule of the Second Decemvirate for too long!

    But never fear, listeners. Their day has finally come. In this episode, we finally see the decemvirs overthrown and the office of tribune of the plebs restored. It is a time of non-stop drama!

    Episode 117 - The Death of the Decemvirate

    All About the Aventine

    With Dionysius of Halicarnassus' account getting very patchy, and Diodorus Siculus considered unreliable, Livy provides the bulk of the detail for this episode. The movements of the plebeians are a little confusing, but two locations are mentioned, the Mons Sacer (or Sacred Mount) and the Aventine. Both of these locations were also mentioned in the accounts of the First Secession of the Plebs in 494 BCE, but the Sacred Mount is definitely most associated with this event.

    In 449 BCE, the Aventine seems to play more of a role. Cicero’s references to the Second Secession in his pro Cornelio and de re Publica indicate that the plebs seceded to the Mons Sacer before heading to the Aventine Hill, whereas Livy’s plebs move from the hill to the Sacred Mount when it becomes clear that the senate was not making any decisions in a hurry. Diodorus Siculus only mentions the Aventine. With such a spotlight on this location, Dr Rad started reading the excellent work of Lisa Marie Mignone (2016). She has investigated the Aventine as it has developed a reputation as being particularly plebeian – but why?

    The Significance of the Aventine

    Mignone explains that the link between the Aventine and the plebs was firmly established by Alfred Merlin’s L’Aventin dans l’antiquité (1906), and Mignone is not so sure that we should be labelling any region of the city this way. However, there are a few notable reasons for this association, outside of the secessions:

    * the lex Icilia de Aventino publicando from 456 BCE (which seems to have led to the distribution of land on the Aventine to plebeian families) and* it was the locale of the temple of Ceres, and Gaius Gracchus (a troublesome tribune of the plebs) fled to the Aventine in 121 BCE when his career took sour turn. Indeed, Gracchus was zeroing in on the temple of Diana Aventiniensis, which Dionysius claimed was the plebs place of retreat during the Second Secession.

    However, hundreds years separate these instances, and since the majority of Rome’s populace were plebeian, is that enough to claim the Aventine had a distinctly plebeian character? This will be something we shall continue to explore as we progress through the Republic.

    The Ultimatum

    As Livy provides the most extensive narrative for this part of the tale, we pursue his version of events. The Senate continues to dither, despite the threat posed by a group of armed men on the outer edge of the city. Tired of waiting, the rebel army decide to leave the Aventine for the Mons Sacer (or Sacred Mount), and are followed by many Roman citizens, united in their determination to show the patricians that they mean business. It's either the plebeians or the decemvirs, and the senators need to choose! The days of the decemvirate might be numbered!

    It Takes Two, Baby

    With the city of Rome practically deserted, Valerius and Horatius are finally able to persuade their fellow senators that the decemvirate needs to end. Rome needs her plebeians back! The dynamic duo set off to negotiate an end to the second secession and the plebs manage to secure the return of the tribune of the plebs. According to Dr G's account, they may even have secured an upgrade in status for the decisions made by the tribal asse...

    • 57 min
    Special Episode – Pompeii with Professor Ray Laurence

    Special Episode – Pompeii with Professor Ray Laurence

    We sit down to talk to the fabulous Professor Ray Laurence from Macquarie University in this special episode about urban space in Pompeii and the place of children within the society. These topics are close to his heart as his work mostly focuses on:

    * The Roman City* Communications and Mobility – especially Roman roads* Age and Ageing in the Roman World

    Special Episode - Pompeii with Professor Ray Laurence

    You may also recognise his name because, in addition to his scholarly publications, Ray has worked with TEDEd to produce some amazing short videos on the life of children in Ancient Rome. Join us for this fascinating discussion on life in Pompeii!

    The Urban Environment and Street Life

    Pompeii is a very famous site, but there are a lot of misconceptions about what this place was actually like before the eruption. Ray Laurence explains why life in Pompeii was tough and how the built environment reflects the fact that this was a very average town. It had been around for centuries before the eruption in 79 CE and shares the influences of various people who lived in the region, including the Etruscans, the Oscans, the Samnites, and finally, the Romans.

    The layout of Pompeii evolved over time and areas like the Forum were used in different ways throughout its existence. We can learn more about how people experienced the urban environment by piecing together a variety of evidence including wheel ruts, the width of streets, graffiti patterns, literature, and the building remains. While Pompeii may not have been especially fancy, it was a bustling town and people spent a lot of time in the streets, conducting business, conversing, stopping at shrines, fetching water, or grabbing some takeaway.

    The Forum, Pompeii.

    Children in Pompeii

    We tend to see Pompeii from the perspective of adults as children leave less evidence – whether this is literary, archaeological or even human remains. Scholars such as Katherine Huntley and Ray Laurence urge us not to discount their experiences as they make up a sizeable proportion of the town. Once we start thinking about the urban layout from their perspective, it is surprising what we can discover.

    By using the average heights of adults in Pompeii, we can approximate the growth of children in the towns and thus consider how accessible the amenities were for the smallest residents. For instance, children over six years old would probably be able to access water fountains and the bars, therefore securing their own food and drink! As they grew older, they would have had more ease of access to sacred spaces such as household shrines.

    Katherine Huntley has carried out extensive global studies of children's drawing and applied what they have uncovered to the graffiti of Pompeii. In spite of the differences in time and culture, there are patterns in how children start drawing that can help us to determine which samples of figural graffiti in Pompeii were produced by children.

    The Temple of Isis, Pompeii.

    There are also famous examples of children, such as Numerius Popidius Celsinus, a six year old who paid for the restoration of the Temple of Isis after it was damaged in the earthquake in 62 CE. In recognition of his contribution, he was elected to the town council! This seems odd to modern eyes,

    • 55 min

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5
107 Ratings

107 Ratings

Jehmag ,


Writing a review halfway through the first “real” episode because I don’t know I’ll make it any further. Subject matter is interesting so far and they seem knowledge but the constant “stupid girl” laughing is so irritating it’s hard to concentrate on the subject at all. Going to try and give them a chance with hopes they chill after a couple of episodes.

Update- I did make it through the entire podcast to date (November 2020). They did work out a lot of the early “jitters”; still a lot of loud laughter but it’s much better and they seem move away from the mic when they laugh now which helps a lot. I have enjoys the episodes to date and will continue to listen. Update rating to 4 stars from 1, would be 5 if they hadn’t added a random ranking session at the end of each episode that just didn’t make a lot of sense with the little amount of source material. Also added long stretches of random music.

SunshineCityLassie ,

Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

One of the hosts basically says yeah every two seconds and it makes listening to this show unbearable. Too bad, the subject matter is super interesting.

elsevier ,

Informative and entertaining!

I love this podcast and would recomend it to anyone interested in history and has a sense of humor. These people are killing! Great job!

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