Emperors of Rome
Summary: “Great empires are not maintained by timidity.” - Tacitus. A podcast series looking at the rulers of the ancient Roman empire, by Dr Rhiannon Evans and Matt Smith.
As the senate clawed more power from the people, it was inevitable that a few would rise above others, and take over command and influence with an army. Marius, Sulla, and the civil war that followed would just be another log on the funeral pyre of the Roman republic. Part III of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
The Roman Republic was still going strong 400 years after it had been established but cracks were beginning to show. We can put a year on when it started to go wrong: 133BCE. In this year there would be two significant deaths that would begin the end. Part II of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
The Roman Republic is often held up as a foundation model of western democracy, and while it worked well for some of the Romans at the time, it did have its flaws. These became more pronounced as the centuries passed. Part I of The Fall of the Roman Republic. Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University)
Herodes was a distinguished Roman senator from Greece, and also had the reputation of being the greatest sophist of the age. While he wasn’t always the most popular person in his home province, he did do a lot to elevate the culture and standing of Athens in the Roman Empire. Guest: Dr Estelle Strazdins, (Research Fellow, Australian Archaeological Institute at Athens).
Determined to end his time as Emperor on a high note, Septimius Severus sets his sights on what is one of the few places in the empire having trouble with the locals – Brittania, an island that has never been entirely under Roman rule. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Three completely different events in the reign of Septimius Severus. Act I – If you build it they will come Septimius Severus was establishing a dynasty, and one of the best ways to do that is through building. Not only did you get to beautify the empire, but it gives the opportunity to list your names and accomplishments for all to see Act II - The superfluous senators of Septimius Severus Many Roman emperors were harsh towards the senators, and Septimius Severus in particular was adept at thinning the ranks and getting rid of perceived threats. This continued throughout his reign. Act III - I beg of no man There will always be dissatisfaction in the empire, but every now and then a figure will rise from the lower classes, so to speak, and rally some men around him. This happened during the reign of Septimius Severus, when an individual known as Bulla the Brigand started causing trouble in the empire. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Three different events in the reign of Septimius Severus. Act I - A hair of the beard Gaius Fulvius Plautianus was a trusted relative of Septimius who became pretorian prefect and remained a close advisor. There was no love lost with the rest of the emperor’s family, which led to a swift demise. Act II - Princes who adore you Septimius’ sons Antoninus and Geta were constant rivals, and the Emperor worried about their behaviour and indulgences during the idle days in Rome. Act III - Cordially detested Septimius had a close relationship with his wife Julia Domna, and the empire respected her as the mother of the dynasty. She is remembered as having a keen political mind and being a patron of thinkers, but she wasn’t always respected in the palace. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Septimius Severus is fresh from a victory at the Parthian front lines, and the senate and the Roman people waste little time in throwing him a triumph and erecting a triumphal arch. Completed in 202CE, it sits at the edge of the forum, and is one of only a few examples of triumphal arches left in Rome. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Septimius Severus is now ruler or Rome without opposition, had been all things, and all was of little value. He is now distracted with the care, not of acquiring, but of preserving an empire. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Septimius Severus is proclaimed the new Emperor of Rome, but doesn’t have time to rest on his laurels. With rivals to the east and west, not to mention the problematic Parthians, he has an empire to consolidate. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
The Roman Empire shudders in the wake of Commodus’ death, which if you recall, was a matter of months but a whole two emperors ago. Striding into Rome at the head of an army is Septimius Severus, ready to set the right path and found a new, powerful dynasty. Year of the five emperors, take three. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Enraged at the lack of a decent bonus, the Praetorian Guard cut down the newly installed Emperor Pertinax and resolve to sell the throne to the highest bidder. Stepping forward with a sufficient bank balance is Didius Julianus, a man with a proven track record in both the military and the senate. What could go wrong? Year of the five emperors, take two. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Many saw Pertinax as a safe pair of hands to hold the empire - an old general and close advisor of Antoninus Pius, he represented a regime change from the days of lavish excess of Commodus. But was it too much too soon? Well they don't call 193CE the year of the five emperors for nothing. Guest: Dr Caillan Davenport (Roman History, Macquarie University).
Livy was an historian writing during the Augustan age of Rome, who wrote one of the empire’s most famous works – an extensive and exhaustive history, spanning 142 books. Of those we have the first quarter, and they’ve influenced every work on Rome that has been written since. Guest: Professor Ronald Ridley (Honorary,Historical and Philosophical studies, University of Melbourne).
For much of our journey through the Antonine dynasty we’ve had Dio Cassius as our guide. As both a historian and a senator, Dio had a ringside seat to some of the greatest Emperors the Roman empire had seen. He wrote an extensive and what is considered reliable history of the Roman empire, spanning 80 volumes, many of which we have today. Guest: Dr Rhiannon Evans (Senior Lecturer, Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University).