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The Partial Historians
81 minutes | a day ago
Special Episode – Murder in Ancient Rome
One of the funniest pieces of theatre set in Ancient Rome has to be A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962). Now there is a book about murder in Ancient Rome that matches the title inspiration for comedy as well. We sat down to talk to historian and author Dr Emma Southon about her new book A Fatal Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Dr Southon is also one of the hosts of the podcast History is Sexy and author of Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore. We were excited to discover that not only does Emma share our affection for Julio-Claudian women, but she is a fellow murderino and lover of Drag Race at heart. Special Episode – Murder in Ancient Rome with Dr Southon Why is there so much DEATH in Ancient Rome? Listeners of our podcast have probably already noticed just how many murders take place in Rome’s mythology and history. The foundation myth about the twins Romulus and Remus has fratricide at its very core. The overthrow of the kings and the beginning of the Republic was triggered by a rape and the suicide of Lucretia. These moments are probably mythological, but the fact that the Romans chose to tell such stories about themselves says a lot about their culture. Oath of the Horatii (1784) by Jacques-Louis David. The tale of the Horatii is probably mythological. The three brothers volunteered to fight three brothers from one of Rome’s enemy cities, one of whom happened to be engaged to their sister. All the combatants perished, except one of the Horatii, who thus secured victory for his city. Upon his return to Rome, his sister wept as she knew her betrothed was dead. Her brother promptly ran her through, and his father defended the murder as justified. You can learn more about this episode in Rome’s early history in our Episode 38 – Tullus Hostilius.Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. To add to this rather blood-soaked mythology, the history of Rome is punctuated with murders that take place at what are now seen as pivotal historical moments. The rather graphic murder of the Gracchi brothers during disputes over land reform, the assassination of Julius Caesar, and then we get to the empire and there are almost too many to list! The assassination of Gaius (Caligula), the murder of the emperor Claudius by his wife (and niece!) Agrippina the Younger, the brutal end of the emperor Vitellius in the civil wars of 69 CE, and the memorable stabbing of the emperor Domitian (straight to the groin!). These are just the highlights, so it is clear why someone like Dr Emma Southon needed to sit down and think about just what all of this murder can tell us about Roman society. What is the difference between murder and homicide? Homicide is the act of killing another person, but murder is a social construct. With murder, you need to take the circumstances of the killing into account. Was there intent? Was it planned? Each modern country has different ways of constructing the crime of murder, but one thing that unites most nations in our world is that they do have a law about murder. That was not actually the case in Ancient Rome. Even though they were very proud of their first law code, The Twelve Tables, there was no legislation included regarding the killing of another human being. And they weren’t in a rush to amend that either! Dr Emma Southon takes us on a hair-curling journey through a variety of killings in the Roman world. What to expect in this episode? Murder by and of the elite Murder in the imperial family Murdering emperors Murder in the family Murder in a marriage Murder by magic Murder by the state Murder of and by slaves An view of the Flavian Amphitheatre (or Colosseum). The Romans were big believers in capital punishment – who has the time or resources for rehabilitation? A criminal had done something to make Rome suffer, and so their death would also involve suffering. Executions were something that crowds of people would watch for amusement in theatres like this one, although they were often far less popular than beast hunts and gladiatorial shows… both of which also involved death and murder! Image by Davi Pimentel from Pexels What becomes disturbingly clear is just how much murder there must have been in the Roman world, some real and some imagined. Given how little material has survived from the ancient world, to have a picture like this emerge is quite shocking. Even more sickening is how clearly Roman society valued certain lives far above others. The study of murder highlights how little your death mattered without the ‘right’ connections and status. The fact that modern societies are still wrestling with these issues is perhaps the most sobering take-away. We highly recommend picking up a copy of Emma’s book to get the full scoop on all of these topics. And if all of this doesn’t give you your true crime fix for the day, then you should probably consider seeking professional help! If you have the chance, we recommend supporting independent booksellers: For readers in Australia For US readers For UK readers For readers in Spain
47 minutes | 22 days ago
Episode 112 – The Disastrous Decemvirs
We pick up the action straight from the dramatic senate meeting from the previous episode in which was marked by conflict: Lucius Valerius Potitus and Marcus Horatius Barbatus opposed the decemvirs and faced violent intimidation and lead decemvir Appius Claudius faced off against his uncle Gaius Claudius. Episode 112 – The Disastrous Decemvirs The Conflict Continues Once again, we see clear division between the members of the senate. Speaking in favour of the decemvirs is Lucius Cornelius Maluginensis, who just happens to be the brother of one of the decemvirs. He emphasises the need to deal with the external threat from the Sabines and the Aequians, rather than stirring up opposition to their leaders. Cornelius’ views win some support, but Lucius Valerius Potitus is determined to speak as well. Valerius feels the need to highlight how dire the political situation is in Rome. Will these decemvirs ever give up their power? What is to be done? Taking on the Enemy As there is no right of appeal against the decemvirs, the levy is held to raise an army. The decemvirs divide the commands between them, with some sent against the Sabines, some are off to deal with the Aequians, and Appius Claudius and Spurius Oppius intend to hold the fort in Rome itself. If they were thinking that this was their time to shine, they are sadly mistaken as they face defeat across the board. Support for this regime, such as it was, is evaporating quickly and the decemvirs start taking ever more drastic measures to maintain their grip on power. Things to Come Patrician versus patrician conflict People fleeing the city Military defeats on every front Murder and mayhem The popularity of the decemvirs sinks lower still Our Players The Second Decemvirate Appius Claudius. Ap. f. M. n. Crassus Inregillensis Sabinus Pat – Cos. 471, 451 Marcus Cornelius – f. Ser. n. Maluginenesis Pat Marcus? Sergius Esquilinus Pat Lucius Minucius P. f. M. n. Esquilinus Augurinus Pat – Cos. 458 Quintus Fabius M. f. M. n. Vibulanus Pat – Cos. 467, 465, 459 Quintus Poetelius Libo Visolus Titus Antonius Merenda Caeso Duillius Longus? Spurius. Oppius Cornicen Manius Rabuleius The Senators Lucius Cornelius Maluginensis (brother of decemvir Marcus Cornelius) Lucius Valerius Potitus Marcus Horatius Barbatus Gaius Claudius (uncle of Appius Claudius) Our Sources Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.39-40 Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman History 11.16-24 Sound Credits Additional music and sound in this episode includes: an original composition for our podcast by the incredible Bettina Joy de Guzman and additional sound effects from BBC Sound Effects Beta, Orange Free Sounds, Sound Bible and Fesilyan Studios A picture of the Roman forum as it can be seen today including the Curia Julia (senate house). The Curia Julia was not where our decemvirs would have met as this curia was built in 44 BCE by Julius Caesar. Caesar’s curia replaced the Curia Cornelia which was itself a replacement for the Curia Hostilia. This image is courtesy of Rachel Claire via Pexels.
62 minutes | a month ago
Special Episode – Disability in Ancient Greece
There are many groups that are often overlooked in both ancient and modern societies. One of those are people with disabilities, and we were fortunate to talk to expert Dr Debby Sneed about her work on impairment in antiquity. Dr Sneed has examined a range of sources about this topic, including human remains, temples and textual evidence. Her focus has mostly been on physical impairments that leave a trace in human remains. Sneed’s focus is ancient Greece, but we couldn’t resist bringing Rome into the conversation every now and then! In order to make this episode as accessible as possible, a full transcript will be provided for this episode. Special Episode – Disability in Ancient Greece with Dr Debby Sneed What’s up for discussion? In this conversation we delve into a number of questions, including: How do you classify a disability in this line of research? How many people in the ancient world would have had a disability? What kinds of sources are available for studying disability in the ancient world? What would life have been like for people with disabilities in the ancient world? Topics that come up in the conversation: Artistic representations of disability in Greece and Rome The Panhellenic Sanctuary of Asklepios at Epidauros with its eleven ramps! The practice of infanticide in ancient Greece Disability and impairment among the elite including King Agesilaus II of Sparta, Philip II of Macedon, father of Alexander the Great, and the Roman Emperor Claudius Welfare systems in ancient Athens, as highlighted by Lysias 24, For The Disabled Man. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to check out some of the suggested readings. This is a huge topic, and we did not get the chance to discuss issues that leave less of a physical trace, such as blindness or muteness, nor did we touch on disabilities that might have arisen from disease or mental illness. You can also follow Dr Sneed on Twitter @debscavator and track her research at Academic.edu. This vase by the ‘Clinic Painter’ is one of Dr Debby Sneed’s favourites. It may show two men in a courtship pose, but this is still debated by scholars. One of the men is a dwarf or little person.Photograph by Maria Daniels, courtesy of the Musée du Louvre, January 1992. Transcript [00:00:00] Dr Rad Hello, there! You are in for a treat and you’re going to be hearing a special episode from The Partial Historians. Today we’re going to be talking to Dr. Debby Sneed. Dr. Debby Sneed is a lecturer in Classics at California State University. She has a PhD in Archaeology from UCLA. And a MA in Classics from the University of Colorado, at Boulder, as well as a BA in English and History from the University of Wyoming. She has worked on archaeological projects in Greece, Italy, Ethiopia, and the American Southwest. [00:00:46] And she’s currently working on a monograph about disability accommodations in ancient Greece. She’s got some publications that are also forthcoming. So keep your eyes peeled for that. But in the meantime, here is our episode with Dr. Debby Sneed. [00:01:09] Welcome to a special edition of The Partial Historians. I am one of your hosts, Dr. Rad. Dr G And I’m Dr. G. And we are super excited today to be sitting down with Dr. Debby Sneed. And we’re going to be looking at disability in ancient Greece, and potentially also, as a side note, a little bit of ancient Rome coming from us. [00:01:31] Dr Rad Absolutely. You know, we can’t resist that and I must admit, this is a topic that, I’m going to admit full disclosure. I apologize to both of you. I have never really thought that much about disability in the ancient world, which is actually doubly shameful because, on a personal note, I’m just going to throw it out there. I actually have a condition which means that I’m gradually losing my hearing. And I’ve actually lost quite a lot. I wear hearing AIDS now. And so, I suppose, I have a very mild disability, which, I’m really lucky, it doesn’t affect my life too much at this point in time. But it’s something that I suppose has been coming more and more into my life as I lose more hearing. [00:02:08] So I’m really fascinated to get talking about disability in the ancient world and what that entails. Dr G Yeah, so it’s fantastic to have you here, Debby, thank you so much for joining us. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, thank you for having me. I’m glad to be here to talk about this. Dr Rad So like dive straight in with, uh, with one of our first questions, which is exactly how do you define or classify a disability in your research? Dr Debby Sneed [00:02:30] This is a really difficult question for a lot of reasons. And one of them has to do with a lot of the attitudes that people bring to the topic of disability in the modern period. Um, but for me, in my research, I focus specifically on physical disabilities. My work is primarily interdisciplinary, which means I look at material and evidence from a lot of different fields and reconcile them in various ways. [00:02:52] So I look at not just literary evidence and artistic evidence, but also physical remains. So I studied human remains as well. And so in [00:03:00] order to do this correctly, I tried to look at things that could potentially be archaeologically recovered, uh, in that is specifically physical disabilities. So I look at things like cleft palate, missing limbs, short stature, stuff like that. Dr Rad [00:03:16] Maybe just building on that. Can you tell us a little bit about this, the sites that you’ve looked at in your research when you’ve been looking at the human remains or do you, or do they – the human remains – come to you? Dr Debby Sneed Well, the human remains come to me. I am not a bio-archaeologist, so I rely on the work and the reports that are filed by people who are skeletal archaeologists, osteoarchaeologist, bio-archaeologists. [00:03:38] And so I am beholden to who’s doing work where. And so I have used things like, uh, there’s a lot of great work done from cemeteries in Northern Greece, specifically Pydna, for example, Amphipolis, um, a lot of great work being done from cemeteries and deposits in Athens. But also in places like, Thebes. [00:03:58] Um, and so it just sort [00:04:00] of depends on what’s available and who’s doing the analysis. And if they’re asking the kinds of questions that will help me in identifying who is potentially disabled and what we can say about it. Dr Rad Absolutely. And so roughly how many people do you think would have been classified as disabled in the ancient world? Dr Debby Sneed [00:04:20] It’s kind of an impossible question for a lot of reasons. Uh, first of all, there’s not really a category of the disabled in ancient Greece. So now we have sort of legal definitions as included, as well as societal definitions of what is disability, who is disabled, but that just didn’t exist in the ancient world. [00:04:38] So even if the ancient Greeks did keep, sort of records of things like this, they wouldn’t have used disability as a category for keeping track of the population. Second of all, disability is, it’s really fluid as a concept, right? So you can be disabled for a period of time and then become cured or well, or something like that. [00:04:57] Um, you could also be non-disabled for most of [00:05:00] your life and then become disabled. You could be involved in a battle, for example, where you become injured and it leads to a permanent disability, old age leads to disability. So right now, the World Health Organization estimates that about 15% of the world’s population is disabled. In the United States [00:05:18] the estimates are somewhere between 20 to 25% of the population. Uh, it’s actually the largest minority group in the United States. So these are modern statistics and it’s not possible to sort of import those to the ancient world. The reasons that people are disabled, how people become disabled, and how we classify disability would have been quite different. [00:05:37] But we can probably guess, based on a variety of evidence, that a great number of people in the ancient world either lived with a disability from birth or became disabled or interacted on a very close basis, either as a family member or a close community member with somebody who was disabled. Dr Rad Yeah, it’s actually something that I suddenly realized how horrifying it [00:06:00] really was. [00:06:00] How many people must have had to live in discomfort or just with constant inconvenience in the ancient world. Because when you think about it, when I was looking at the research, I really liked this idea that, you could really only classify someone as having a disability, if the society they live in doesn’t really help them out anyway. [00:06:20] And it doesn’t meet their needs in some ways. So for example, I wouldn’t classify myself as having a disability per se, because I have access to hearing AIDS because I live in a society and I have a job where I can afford them. But in a different context, I might be, I might be classified that way because I wouldn’t have access to an aid, which allows me to do my work. [00:06:39] And when you think about the lack of technology and all that kind of stuff available in the ancient world, it is really quite staggering, isn’t it? Dr Debby Sneed So, what you’re describing there is actually called the social model of disability. So people who are engaged in studies of disability in the past and present, people involved in disability activism, operate – at least tend to operate – according to different models of disability. [00:07:00] And the social model of disability is one that is very prevalent in disability studies, but it’s specifically organized against what’s called the medical model of disability. The medical model is something that situates the problem of disability in the body of the disabled person. It says you are the problem. [00:07:17] And in order to overcome your disability, you need to overcome your own body, right? And so this is where treatments and cures and rehabilitation specifically focus on correcting the person with the disability so that they can function in a quote unquote, “normal” society. Right. The social model of disability is kind of the opposite of that, right? [00:07:37] So what the social model of disability does is, sort of like what early feminist scholarship did with sex and gender where sex is considered sort of a biological fact and gender was something that was imposed on to sex, right? So the social model of disability does something like that with impairment and disability. [00:07:56] Impairment being so the biological reality of a body [00:08:00], so missing limbs, loss of hearing, deafness, uh, vision impairments, things like that. And disability is something that’s imposed externally on the impaired body. So disability is then a problem of society and not a problem of the individual and correcting disability means disability accommodations. [00:08:19] It means creating an environment that allows the impaired people to survive. Not just survive, but exist and thrive and participate in society. Dr G If we’re thinking about ancient Greece and how these models might be playing out, because obviously even though ancient Greek people themselves might not be thinking in terms of these models, they might still be useful ways of looking and thinking about the evidence that’s left behind. [00:08:45] How would you say that you see these kinds of models present in the evidence from the ancient world? Dr Debby Sneed Well, some of these models are in my own research, keeping in mind that, for example, the social model of disability is not without its problems. So there’s [00:09:00] some really great work done by, for example, Tom Shakespeare, on the problems of the social model of disability, talking about how it kind of treats the impairment as if it’s irrelevant, right? [00:09:08] Um, but that’s actually not the reality for a lot of people with disabilities; that, while there are problems that are created by society, impairment in and of itself is not neutral, right? It is something that they live with. It is something that affects their experience of the world, their interactions with people. [00:09:25] And so, um, there’s a lot of movement away from the social model, not just to amend the social model, but actually to take a completely different approach. One of the things that I really like about the social model of disability is its emphasis on contingency. And what that means is that, um, what is considered disabling, what impairments are considered disabling is going to change depending on the context. [00:09:47] And so what I do in my research is I try to look at accommodations for disability, so ways that I can see that society changed to account for the fact of impairment, um, and [00:10:00] use that as a kind of metric for understanding how the ancient Greeks thought about people with disabilities. So, um, not just looking at the instances in myth or in tragedy, for example, where we might have comments about people who are disabled, but looking instead at the structures of society to see how they changed or didn’t change depending on the needs of the population. [00:10:20] It’s specifically focused on, um, things that were intended or could have benefited people with disabilities. Dr Rad It’s been really fascinating actually, to look at some of your work. I believe that you’ve done quite a lot of study on the use of, uh, ramps to try and help people access temples or sanctuaries and that sort of thing [00:10:39] in ancient Greece, if they had some sort of mobility impairment. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, definitely. So this is an article that, that I wrote on ramps specifically, focused on ramps and healing sanctuaries in ancient Greece. So ramps are a kind of feature that we’re really familiar with, especially in a type of Greek architecture called Doric architecture, [00:11:00] which we primarily situated in the Peloponnese, even though it’s not completely confined to the Peloponnese. [00:11:06] So we don’t really see a lot of ramps. I think a recent study of – a sort of catalogue of ramps in the ancient Greek world – found fewer than twenty, like total ramps on temple buildings, specifically in the Greek world. So that is not a lot of ramps or a lot more temples than twenty. And so when I was looking at the distribution, however, of those ramps, um, and looking at not just temple buildings, but also secondary and subsidiary buildings at sanctuaries, the healing sanctuary of Asclepius at Epidaurus has eleven built ramps. [00:11:37] So if I consider the fact – Dr G Oh wow Dr Debby Sneed – yeah. If you consider that most sanctuaries have no ramps or one ramp, the fact that this one sanctuary has eleven ramps needs to be explained in some way. And so I moved to then to think, okay, how could we explain this? So the traditional explanations for ramps are having to do with animals. [00:11:57] You know, that this would be an easier way, uh, [00:12:00] for animals to enter the buildings. Except that animals didn’t enter the buildings. And so that doesn’t really work as an explanation. Animals that were sacrificed were sacrificed outside of the temple. And you can’t really imagine bringing a bowl, for example, into a temple with all of this, the furniture, all of the dedications that were housed in there. [00:12:19] Uh, other explanations, um, include, uh, sort of wheeling dedications in and out. So if you imagine people dedicate stone statues, for example, or marble statues, those are very heavy. So maybe you would want to use a ramp so that you could wheel it in and out. However, there are specific treasury buildings in ancient Greek sanctuaries. [00:12:38] We can think of the treasuries at Delphi, for example, or at Olympia. And the explicit function of these very small buildings was to house really expensive and heavy dedications. And these buildings never have ramps. And so if ramps facilitated the movement of these heavy dedications, we would expect them to be on buildings whose only job was to hold these dedications. Dr G [00:13:00] Yeah, the last thing you’d want to do is, like, wheel something in there and then make it really easy for somebody to wheel it back out again. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, exactly. So possibly they had sort of temporary ramps for those purposes. I have no idea. And so when you look at the fact that most of the explanations that have been [00:13:17] put forth for ramps at sanctuaries just don’t work, right. And then also look at how many ramps there are at healing sanctuaries, which were specifically marketed to people with disabilities. It just sort of fits together into this really great picture of a sort of intentional purpose, an intentional building of these ramps to assist the pilgrims who came to the healing sanctuaries in search of healing. Dr Rad [00:13:40] So I’m really curious to ask, exactly what do you think – from your studies – life would have been like for people with the kind of disabilities that you study in the ancient world? because, I mean, I know that’s a massive question because there’s just a huge amount, as you mentioned before, of conditions and just, you know, [00:14:00] factors like age that could be what’s causing someone to have some sort of mobility impairment. But can you tell us anything about what you think life would’ve been like from what you’ve looked at? Dr Debby Sneed [00:14:10] Yeah, sure. I don’t think that it’s, it’s another kind of impossible question. Um, life in the ancient world for anybody disabled or not disabled was difficult, right? So we tend to think about ancient Greek life, we think about philosophers, Aristotle and Plato. We think about generals. Uh, we think about the names of people that we can think of. [00:14:31] And, uh, those were not the typical people who are living in ancient Greece. These are very privileged, very elite men. And so, for the most part, people are engaged in subsistence agriculture, right? They’re sort of living harvest to harvest. Life was just difficult in general. People worked all the time. They were constantly engaged in all sorts of things. [00:14:51] Um, so this idea of a sort of easy life in the ancient world is based on a very small segment of the population. But even when you’re thinking about that, [00:15:00] we have evidence for people with disabilities in both classes of people. So among elite men, as well as among the more general population. And it’s impossible to say what life was like. [00:15:09] It really depended on somebody’s status on their gender, on their wealth, et cetera. But we have evidence for disabled slaves. We have evidence for disabled generals. We have evidence for disabled Kings, disabled women, women who sort of gave birth to Kings, right? Who were themselves, the women were themselves disabled. [00:15:28] So you can’t really pinpoint a specific thing because there’s something that Martha Rose has talked a lot. She’s a big, big person in the study of disability in ancient Greece. One of the things that she’s really emphasized is what she calls the community model of disability. Where it didn’t really depend on the sort of functional limitations of your body, but instead on your functional ability within the community. [00:15:49] And so everything was negotiated on a sort of individual basis. What could you do? What couldn’t you do? Could that be accommodated? Who are you? Are you expected to be contributing in one way and you [00:16:00] can’t et cetera? It just depends on so many different factors that, um, it’s really not possible to say what life would have been like in the generic sense for somebody with a disability. Dr G [00:16:10] And that’s really interesting as well, if we’re thinking about just how many ramps are associated with that sanctuary to Asclepius as well, because it seems like that feeds into a bigger idea about, well, how do we go about looking after the people in our community who potentially are suffering from disabilities? [00:16:30] How do we negotiate that and how do we come together as a community to try and solve that problem? Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, this is one of the, there was a lot of interesting feedback that I got about that article. And a lot of it was just incredulity at the idea that the ancient Greeks would have given conscious thought to people with disabilities. [00:16:48] But I find that to be a very surprising reaction. Ancient Greeks had a God of healing. It’s not objectively true that every society will have a God of healing. So the Greeks [00:17:00] had a God, Asclepius, who was dedicated to healing other gods focused on healing as well, okay. So it’s not, it’s not a given that they’ll have a God of healing. [00:17:07] It’s then not a given that they will build elaborate sanctuaries to that God. Okay, so this is another step of sort of cultural or societal choice that they’re making. And once you make the choice that you want to have a sanctuary, that people who are ill, people who are disabled, people who are injured, that they can come here to seek healing. [00:17:28] Once you’ve made that decision, it’s not a big leap to assume that the ancient Greeks would have considered what would make that effective to that purpose. So in much the same way that the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia, which hosted these huge athletic games every four years – and sort of original Olympics – had athletic facilities, right? [00:17:45] So it had gyms. It had places for people to stay who came for the games. It had all sorts of athletic facilities because they hosted the athletic games. Sanctuaries where they did ritual dining, where dining was a really important function of your ritual practice [00:18:00], they had dining rooms. Sanctuaries where water played an important element, were built near water sources, right? [00:18:07] It’s not, it’s not sort of radical to think that if they built a sanctuary specifically intended to serve people with disabilities, that they would consider what would actually be effective for that purpose. It’s more of a practical decision, um, than an ideological one. So we tend to think about disability accommodations, ideologically, that we are this progressive society, that we care about people who are vulnerable, et cetera. [00:18:32] So we gray up to the privilege of accommodation, but for the Greeks, I think it was really just a practical choice. Dr Rad Yeah. I think looking at the literature and thinking about, as we said before, how, how much people must have either experienced disability themselves in varying ways, or have had close contact with someone who had a disability. [00:18:54] It seems that they – people with disabilities – must have been fairly [00:19:00] integrated into society. It’s not like they were necessarily, you know, shunned or anything like that. And, as you say, I mean, you look at Philip the Second of Macedon, you look at the emperor Claudius, there were people of high status as well who had, um, various impairments. [00:19:13] Although we can’t always be sure with Claudius exactly what the, you know, what was going on there. But yeah, there’s definitely a level of integration and practicality to the fact that these people, they are still working and they are getting married and they still have families. Some of them need families in order to have someone to help look after them and to help them maneuver the world. Dr G [00:19:34] And this seems to run counter to, like, one of the big sort of assumptions that people make about ancient Greece, which is that they just abandoned children on the side of the road. And this is something that gets repeated a lot. And, and the assumption being that children who were born, who didn’t fit the criteria of normalcy in ancient Greece would have been left to die. [00:19:56] And this would have reduced the percentage of people potentially with disability [00:20:00] in society at large. I’m wondering if you could speak to that a little bit. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, I definitely can. I have an article coming out on this topic this year, actually in the journal Hesperia. Yeah. So it’s interesting because if you open any textbook, if you Google the topic, you’ll see very confidently stated that the ancient Greeks killed infants who were born with, [00:20:20] uh, noticeable physical deformities or disabilities. And this is based on, like almost no evidence, which is really interesting. It’s, it’s a myth, right? So I present this in my article that I think that this is just a false, a false thing. And not only do the evidence that people put forth, does it not work to support this argument, but we also have a lot of evidence that argues against this, right? [00:20:43] That demonstrates people giving extraordinary care to infants who had more needs than other infants. So infants already require a great deal of care, right? So this is already, they need a lot of attention. They already need more care than an adult does, for example. And [00:21:00] so. Um, you know, this is one of the things to keep in mind, right, this idea of sort of an intersectional approach to disability, that how old someone is really affects how they’re regarded in terms of disability, right? So we don’t expect adults to require a lot of care. And so somebody who does require a lot of care, deviates more from what’s expected or what’s typical, than an infant who already requires a lot of care and a disabled infant who might require a little bit more care. [00:21:27] The gap between those things is much smaller than it would necessarily be for an adult, for example. Um, and so the evidence that people have for this practice of infanticide is, uh, primarily Plutarch, and Plutarch is a Roman author. And he says that the Spartan King Lycurgus instituted a law where parents brought their infants to a council of elders who evaluated the children and decided which ones should be raised and which ones should be killed. [00:21:56] And it specifically mentioned that infants who are disabled are deformed as [00:22:00] specifically the word should be put out or exposed. Um, there’s no other evidence for this practice. So we have a bunch of other sources closer to the time of Lycurgus, if he was even real. People like Xenaphon, who were talking about the Spartans, were discussing Spartan law who were specifically talking about Lycurgus and no one else mentions this law. [00:22:20] So Plutarch is the only one. It’s very weak evidence, especially because Plutarch’s starts his, his sort of biography of Lycurgus by saying, uh, something like concerning Lycurgus the law-giver there is, it’s not possible to say something that is undisputed, right? And so, um, it’s pretty shaky evidence to use. [00:22:41] And then we also have a couple of prescriptions by Plato and Aristotle, the fourth century BCE philosophers, where they say that, um, they have these sort of utopian texts and they outline what their ideal society would look like. And both of them specifically mentioned disabled infants and about how they should either be sort of hidden away [00:23:00] or exposed. [00:23:01] But these are utopian texts, right? Utopia is not real life. And so it just doesn’t really work to use that. So, there’s a modern philosopher named Peter Singer, who is probably one of the most famous philosophers and who is hated among the disability community, because he is similarly eugenicist in his thoughts, right. [00:23:20] This idea that, um, we should just like, sort of erase disability if we could. Um, it would be like taking Peter Singer and using him as evidence for modern sort of American society, right. And saying like, “Oh look, this very famous philosopher thinks that this should happen. Therefore it was happening,” right. [00:23:38] When we know in reality, it’s not happening. Dr G And indeed there’s a lot of systems in place in order to facilitate the support of people, uh, who have a disability or an impairment of some kind. And so the idea that somehow to erase that out of existence, um, it’s almost offensive at that point. Dr Rad And I think also looking at the [00:24:00] evidence, um, from the Roman world as well as the Greek world. And I think you kind of mentioned this as well, uh, in some of your other responses, uh, some of the disabilities that people suffered from were things that they didn’t necessarily have at birth. So obviously, as you say, life was really tough in the ancient world. And so people developed forms of disability because they didn’t have enough nutrition as children, or because they were forced to perform heavy labour from a very young age. [00:24:29] People also get injured. People get hurt in battle. People age and, therefore, just develop disabilities. I mean, there, there are certain things that you couldn’t erase, even if you wanted to at birth. You know, lots of these children were probably born healthy and then became disabled or impaired later on. Dr Debby Sneed [00:24:48] Yeah, definitely. And we have plenty of evidence even for disabled infants. So there are medical texts, there’s one Hippocratic treatise, uh, data to the late fifth or fourth century BCE, it’s called On Joints. [00:25:00] And that author talks about a few things. He talks, for example, about infants who were born with clubfoot and, uh, this is a very common. [00:25:07] Very common. It’s not an uncommon disability or impairment, sort of congenital impairment in the modern period. Um, and he has lengthy treatments that he outlines for how to, and he says, you know, it’s not a problem, right. And he outlines the treatment for clubfoot, how you can sort of correct it. And regardless he says, there are special shoes that people with this can use that provide additional support to that foot. [00:25:30] He talks about infants who were born with what he calls a weasel arms. Um, so I don’t know if you’ve seen a weasel, they’d have very short arms relative to their body size. And so this is infants who are born with something like a shrunken arm. It could be any number of conditions, right. And he says, it’s no problem. [00:25:46] He said, he lists the tools that these people can use when they grow older. Um, he says they perform equally well sometimes. Almost as well with their sort of affected arm as they do with their unaffected arm. He [00:26:00] explicitly says, this is no problem whatsoever for people who are born with this congenital deformity. [00:26:06] Um, we have things like these feeding models from the ancient Greek world. There are these really cute little cups that are sort of small. They’re kind of globular with a handle on one side and then a really narrow spout coming out of it. And there’s a lot of, um, a lot of speculation about what these cups are used for. [00:26:23] And, in my article, I discuss what I think is convincingly that these cups were used to assist infants who were born with things like cleft palate, other oral facial deformities, um, or were just who were just so sick, um, or weak that they couldn’t suckle, right, at the breast. And so these are active accommodations for infants who required additional care. Breastfeeding was the norm. [00:26:49] And so I think that these cups provided additional levels of support for infants who needed it, right. Dr Rad Yeah. Well, I think it’s, I think it is just so fascinating that [00:27:00] once you start looking, you just, you just find all these pieces of evidence that I had no idea until I started thinking about it, just how much there actually was. [00:27:10] And, um, I was looking at some evidence for Rome about some four skeletons that were found near the Via Collatina. And the fact that these, uh, you know, three out of the four people in this particular burial site had had the care of a burial, and like not a flash one, and you know, it wasn’t amazing, but some of these people had extraordinary issues to deal with, you know, some spine curvatures. And one of the skeletons [00:27:36] was a woman who only had one tooth. And she must have had someone helping her or looking after her in some way. And then someone who saw to her burial. Um, and so it’s just, it’s just so fascinating that when you start looking for the evidence, these various pieces come out of the woodwork. Dr Debby Sneed [00:27:52] Yeah, it’s an interesting phenomenon, uh, even in the modern period. So I think it’s very difficult to find, for example, a novel, any [00:28:00] novel, just pick up something and read it and not find disability in there, right? So a lot of people, if you challenge them, they say, you know, well, disability just doesn’t show up in things. [00:28:10] If you challenge them to think about their favourite movie or their favourite book, right, it starts to become apparent that there’s disability everywhere. And the same is true in the ancient world. I don’t think that I have come across a single genre of literature where disability does not feature – sometimes quite prominently – in the ancient world. [00:28:27] There’s even a type of poetry that is disabled in the sense that, um, it’s called choliambic verse, and that’s a “limping” verse. So the word “choliambic” comes from the word χωλός in Greek, which means “lame” or “limping”. So where that’s often applied to Hephaestus, for example. And so it has to do with the type of meter. [00:28:47] And it was actually referred to in the ancient world as this kind of “limping meter” because of the way that it was so heavy across the page, right. And so you see it everywhere and it’s in the archaeological evidence, it’s in the literary evidence, it’s in the iconographical evidence. It’s everywhere. [00:29:01] And so, the next question becomes, well, if the evidence is everywhere, why hasn’t other – why haven’t other people – talked about this, right? And I think that that has to do with, just sort of the, the modern makeup of the field. So who are scholars? What is acceptable to study in the ancient world? This is why, sort of, as a part of sort of an adjunct of my work [00:29:23], um, I tried to get more people with disabilities involved in the study of classics, in the study of archaeology. And part of that is doing things like this podcast, right? Trying to tell people: this is a thing. You’re allowed to study it. You’re allowed to ask questions about it. You’re allowed to look for evidence for it. [00:29:40] Um, this is a perfectly acceptable field of study because, you’re right, the evidence is everywhere. Dr G Yeah, and I think from the reading that I’ve been doing around this subject, in the lead up to this conversation, um, it seems that, like, part of what has been a real boon to this kind of study is the ability for us to use [00:30:00] searchable databases and being able to do keyword searches and [00:30:05] trying to draw out, um, the way in which ancient languages talk about disability and impairment, and then trying to filter that through the systems that we now have for being able to look at evidence. Because one of the things that tends to happen to students when you’re going through the standard model for being taught classics and ancient history is you’re given a text and you have to read it quite closely. [00:30:29] But actually what we’re looking for is really broad – and maybe really quite slim – mentions of things about everyday life, which, for a lot of people, they’re not reading the right texts or they’re coming into contact with myth and higher literature, but they’re not coming into contact with things that might give them a sense of the every day. [00:30:48] And, I think that element of the way that we study history is actually changing the nature of the sorts of things that we can get out of it as well. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, definitely. But even [00:31:00] that has limitations, right? So when you form a database, I think specifically, for example, if the Beasley Archive – the pottery database that you can find online and sort of search the corpus of Greek vase painting – one of the things that’s really difficult is the search terms that are available are the ones that the creators of the database decided were relevant. [00:31:19] So, for example, you can’t search for crutches. “Crutch” is not an acceptable search term. And so you have to think of synonyms that other people might have used in order to categorize these objects. And so it makes it really difficult sometimes to use those databases because they’re created by people and it depends on what they thought was relevant in their creation of that database. Dr Rad [00:31:43] I actually think that’s quite interesting. Just thinking about the, as you said, the vase painting and the artistic representations, because when I was doing a bit of reading about Greece and Rome, it seems that that might be one of the areas of difference with these two societies. In that, whilst the Romans do certainly have, [00:32:00] obviously, you know, you can look at the bodies from Pompeii and Herculaneum and you know, there are skeletons, and you can also look at textual references to various types of impairments. [00:32:09] Uh, when it comes to artistic representation, the Romans tend to be quite realistic with someone’s face, but then have quite idealized bodies. Whereas, I believe, if you look at the Greek record, there are, I think it’s a bit more common to have artistic representations of disabilities due to the kind that you study with like the lower limbs and that kind of thing. Dr Debby Sneed [00:32:31] Um, I think it depends. So, um, there’s some really great studies on this. So Lisa Trentin, for example, has a book on hunchbacks and Hellenistic and Roman art. It’s really interesting. There is Véronique Dasen, who has a book on dwarves in Egypt and Greece, but she talks a little bit about what would be sort of more Hellenistic depictions of dwarves. [00:32:51] And I guess you’re right.. But the Greeks have their own idealizations. So if you look at Greek statues, we have a very, idealized version. And a [00:33:00] lot of vase painting, um, is similarly idealized, but I think you’re right that the vase painting as a specific medium offers opportunities for visualization, that we just don’t see in Rome. [00:33:11] Um, so we do see a lot of depictions of things like that. One of my favourites is, uh, this little vase by what’s called the Clinic Painter. So I actually had a reproduction of this vase made when I finished my PhD – Dr Rad Oh amazing! Dr Debby Sneed – Uh, yeah, it was in the ancient Corinth, there was an artist in who does sort of reproductions. [00:33:29] And so I commissioned him to make one. It shows what’s traditionally interpreted as a doctor’s clinic, which is why this artist is called the Clinic Painter, and it has a bunch of men on it. Some of them are being, uh, sort of, you know, given treatments by a doctor who’s seated. But then there’s also this really weird scene of a man, an adult man, he’s bearded, he’s standing, he’s clothed, he’s leaning on his staff and he’s in a sort of romantic pose with another figure [00:33:54] who’s a dwarf, a little person. He was also an adult man, and it’s in a sort of [00:34:00] courtship pose. But we have some issues. I don’t know how to interpret this vase at all. I just like looking at it because it just is so interesting the way that this gets depicted as a sort of courtship scene in this otherwise doctor’s office, right. [00:34:13] It’s just sort of a really weird scene. Dr Rad That does sound very interesting and confusing. Dr G It sounds like it’s got a lot of potential for interpretation. This might drive your research until you can find a way into what is the interpretation of the scene. Dr Rad And well it actually, has actually raised one of my, one of my other questions that came up when I was looking at some research. [00:34:33] So I know that in some of the Roman depictions that we do have of people with disabilities, it seems as though – although we can obviously never be sure with artistic representation – it seems as though some of the artwork we do have, which shows people with the kinds of impairments that might be intended to shock or even make people laugh. [00:34:55] And certainly one of the most famous texts about someone with very well-known [00:35:00] disabilities is, of course, Seneca’s work about the emperor. Claudius. And how he’s made fun of when he tries to join the rest of the gods after his death. Can you speak at all to the way that people might be treated cruelly or might be made the butt of jokes [00:35:15] if they have some sort of impairment in the ancient world? Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, definitely. And you will definitely see more of that in Rome. So the way that disability in Greece versus Rome is treated is very different. And I don’t think, um, I personally don’t think that it’s useful to discuss them together except comparatively. In Rome you see a lot of what I would call fetishization of disability. [00:35:36] So it is treated, uh, with shock with awe, uh, I mean that sexually as well. So it was sort of sexual fetishization as well. Um, we have stories about, uh, Uh, what is it called? Like a monster market, right? Where slaves with physical disabilities would bring a higher price. Right, so we have all of this in Rome in a way that I just find, [00:36:00] so, um, I don’t know how to word it. So different than what we see in Greece. So in Greece, people get made fun of for things all the time, right. But disability doesn’t seem to be a category. So an individual might be made fun of, for aspects of his physical appearance. We can think of all this sympotic poetry where people are, uh, making fun of each other for being ugly or, you know, having sort of non-ideal bodies, et cetera. [00:36:24] But in Rome, it’s just a completely different beast, where it’s just something that ends up being the focus. And then other things are sort of put on top of that, right. So the sort of physical disability is used in a way to explain other aspects of somebody’s personality or character, which is what I think you have going on in things like Seneca. That the disability is used almost metaphorically to refer to other aspects. This is why Claudius so difficult is because it’s hard to separate what is the real – whatever is actually real – um, with the sort of metaphoric uses of disability in Roman literature. Dr Rad [00:36:59] Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right. There is an element, uh, that seems to be coming through, um, philosophical works like from the Stoics where you wouldn’t necessarily make fun of someone just because they have an impairment. But if that impairment is the result of “bad choices” and a “disreputable lifestyle”, then it’s open season. [00:37:20] And Claudius, of course, with his wives and freedmen and his love of drink and food and all that kind of stuff. It’s his lifestyle, which they seem to be having a problem with. And so he’s kind of fair game. Dr G But it’s certainly the case that in ancient Rome, they sort of see an intimate connection between the physicality of the person and the character of the person. Dr Rad [00:37:40] Definitely. Dr G And that, and it sounds to me, Debby, that what you’re saying is that this union is less the case when we’re looking at ancient Greek evidence. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, of course it’s not absent entirely, but it is very different the way that disability is treated. We see a lot of different ways. So, you know, it’s not irrelevant that one of the twelve Olympian [00:38:00] gods, Hephaestus, is disabled in ancient Greece, so that when he gets to Rome, when he’s Vulcan, his disability is almost entirely erased. [00:38:07] You know, I think Greece has just a very different situation. They’re treating things differently. Their culture is different, right. This is that sort of contingency of disability. And this is, this is why – so a lot of people will think about disability in the past, and they just sort of lump everything in the pre-modern period together. [00:38:22] That life was hard, therefore, it must’ve been harder for people with disabilities. There’s this kind of – we think that people with disabilities don’t have any inherent value. And that they’re only given value in a modern society, where we’re rich enough to afford, and we’ve got these high moral values that will grant, you know, rights to people with disabilities. [00:38:42] So we just assume that if you were to rewind the clock, that that wouldn’t be the case in the past, but in fact, it’s not necessarily, not the case. It’s not necessarily the case. It’s just a different situation and deserves its own treatment. And so some of our earliest studies of disability in the ancient period in the ancient [00:39:00] Mediterranean sort of looked at sort of the Greco-Roman understanding of disability. [00:39:04] But I think that if you were to distinguish them, I think it would be an excellent case study for how exactly the Greeks Romans are different. It would be a great way of explaining the differences in the cultures so that people stopped just eliding them into the same thing. Dr Rad That’s true. I mean, I actually hadn’t, again, I’d never really stopped to think about this before, but the Roman naming system where they got, you know, the, the three barrel name, at least, sometimes more. [00:39:28] I never stopped to think about the fact, even though we often talk about the meaning of some of those names, um, how many of them actually refer to some sort of physical defect. Apparently 44% of Roman cognominia refer to physical defects of some kind, which is just amazing. And it’s built right into, you know, their naming system. [00:39:49] It just blew my mind when I saw exactly how high that was. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah. It’s really just such an interesting part of the Roman conception of disability, how it’s just sort of there [00:40:00] and ever present and can be used in this way. It’s one of the reasons that I actually really struggle to talk about disability in Rome is because I feel like [00:40:09], uh, it just requires such an intimate knowledge of Roman society. One that I just don’t have coming from the Greek, like studying the Greek world. That even though I know a lot about disability and how to study disability, um, just looking at statistics like that, looking at the stories that we have, looking at figures like Claudius, it just makes it so difficult to understand, unless you can situate it appropriately in the context of Roman history. [00:40:34] I don’t think that the same person can do both, if that makes sense. Dr Rad No, I completely hear you in terms of the level of expertise that must be required. So let’s bring it back to ancient Greece as we move towards the end. Just before we finish up, I’d love to hear about some of the particular bodies or cases that you have looked at in your career. [00:40:53] Can you tell us about some of the most interesting cases that you’ve come across? Dr Debby Sneed Definitely. The one that I love. You know, I [00:41:00] don’t have answers for a lot of these figures that I’d bring up. I’m still struggling with exactly how to situate them. But one of my favourites is the speaker. We don’t have his name, but he’s a speaker and a law court speech by the orator Lysius. Lysius is a very well-known logographer, I guess, from the fourth century BCE, he wrote speeches for people. [00:41:20] He was a metic, so he was a sort of a resident of Athens, but not a citizen. And, so he wrote speeches for other people. And in one of them, it is for a man who has been accused of welfare fraud, essentially. So Athens had a pension system for people with disabilities. And what’s interesting about this pension system is that it wasn’t just for people with disabilities. [00:41:44] It was for people who were so disabled that they couldn’t work, which does a couple of things. First of all, it presumes that there are people with disabilities who could work, right? Who could. Perform and, you know, perform within the sort of labour market bringing enough money. [00:42:00] And so we have this guy who has been accused of receiving it fraudulently. And so this speech is his defense and what’s interesting is that he’s disabled. He talks about how he walks with two crutches. And so the argument isn’t that he’s not disabled, it’s that he’s lying about his financial need. And so, you just get this really great characterization of somebody, sort of in his own words, quote unquote, it was written by Lysias, right. [00:42:26] So it’s kind of hard to say whose words we have here. And there are a lot of open questions about this speech. But you get this great characterization of somebody who is disabled and we get a great understanding of what disability might have meant. He talks about how, you know, yes, he owns a shop. [00:42:43] So he doesn’t tell us what kind of business this shop is, which is one of the big questions, right? It seems a little shady that he’s not telling us what his business is. But he says, you know, but it’s not enough money to bring anyone in. He says, I don’t have a slave to help me with my work. I don’t have children who can care for me in my old age. [00:42:59] And I’m just getting older. So my disabilities are compounding. And he talks about all of this. He talks about how, you know, he has to borrow other people’s horses to get around. So when his distances are too great for his crutches to take him there, you know, he has to take a sort of equine transport in order to do it. [00:43:16] Um, so it’s just this really great speech. And I think that it is Lysias 24, if anyone wants to read it. It’s such a great way to start thinking about this topic of disability in ancient Greece, because this is probably the closest that we get hearing the words of somebody who identifies as disabled. Dr G [00:43:34] Mmm, I think this is a fascinating piece of evidence actually. And the fact that we can glean from this, that there is, uh, a system set up of support, uh, for people who fall within a particular category of disability as well, I think is fascinating. And speaks to something really particular about the structure of ancient Greek society that, perhaps a lot of people coming to the ancient world [00:44:00] and haven’t considered at all. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, and I mean, this is specifically Athens, right. We can’t say what anyone else would have thought about this exactly. And we have it in other evidence. So we know that at least this man was eligible for it. Uh, he has some sort of mobility impairment. [00:44:14] We have another speech, um, by, I forget who right now, but we have another speech where somebody is blind. And receives the payments, right? So he’s an older man who is blind and the payment is also listed in The Athenian Constitution that sort of pseudo-Aristotelian text, uh, sometimes referred to as the AthPol, it’s a abbreviation, a reference to this pension. [00:44:38] So it’s pretty secure, right, that this is a real thing, uh, that at least in the fourth century, there was this pension system. Not charity exactly. I mean, there’s some really great work by Matthew Dillon on this, I think, where he talks about how, you know, it’s not specifically, uh, it’s not charity, right. It’s an attempt to avoid patronage in Athens, [00:45:00] right. To prevent people with disabilities who couldn’t work from relying on the financial support of an individual and therefore developing a sort of allegiance to that individual instead feeling allied to the state. Dr Rad Absolutely. So we’re getting towards the end of our time. [00:45:15] But before we finish up, I thought I would like to give you a chance to talk a little bit about some of the difficulties of this area of study. Obviously, I’m sure you face the usual problems, so, you know, not having enough source material, you know, you obviously love to have more always from the ancient world. But I imagine that looking at this particular area, there’s also issues with, um, you know, sensitive language and that sort of thing as well. [00:45:40] So would you care to speak to some of the difficulties that you’ve encountered in this particular area? Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, definitely. So, uh, in terms of source material, I actually think that there’s a lot. Especially relative to some of the other, uh, topics that you can study in the ancient world. I think that there’s a lot of evidence for disability. I, in fact, I find it almost too much to grapple with, and I hope that [00:46:00], sort of, future directions of this study, um, I sort of try to grapple with all of it together and try to reconcile the different pictures that we get from different kinds of evidence. Um, but what I would like is, what I prefer is, if people who are specialized in these different areas, in ancient warfare, in ancient children and childhood, et cetera, actually looked at disability in a theoretically engaged way, so that we have specialists [00:46:24] on these different topics, actually looking at the topic in a sensitive way. The use of language is a difficult one. Um, you know, even if you just look at my dissertation, two recent articles to the way I discuss now, right. My terminology has changed. And part of that is, as I learned more, but part of it is also just that language is constantly developing. [00:46:45] So “able-bodied” was a term that I think was preferred, you know, even a few years ago, but now the term for somebody who is not disabled, the preferred term is “non-disabled”, right. And so, you know, you do want to be sensitive? Uh, you’ll find plenty of evidence in the [00:47:00] scholarship of people not being sensitive to terminology. [00:47:03] So it can actually be very difficult to read some of the work on disability in the ancient Greek world. Um, because you could read a lot of, sort of ableist bias into the way that people discuss it. Um, but one of the most difficult things that I find about this subject has nothing to do with the ancient world, but actually all to do with the modern world. [00:47:20] I get a lot of pushback on this topic. A lot of skepticism. And what’s interesting about it is that the skepticism that I receive is not based in evidence, it’s based on people’s impressions. They just don’t believe that people with disabilities in ancient Greece could have been treated with anything except disgust or disdain or pity. [00:47:41] And so it’s really difficult to convince people even based directly in the evidence that that is not the case. So when people bring up Sparta, for example, and about how, you know, Spartans had no place in their society for somebody who is disabled. And I say, well, we have this fourth century BCE [00:48:00] King Agesilaus, the Second, who is disabled. [00:48:03] And they just excuse that example. I’m like, okay, well, I mean, there’s a Spartan who was disabled, so, okay. And so the more that you bring up examples, they all get explained away as opposed to, uh, just sort of reconciling them and accepting that this is a feature and then questioning from there, what that means. [00:48:23] So a good example is the ramps. You know, there are eleven at this healing sanctuary, whether it’s a regional phenomenon is irrelevant. You still have to explain why there are eleven ramps at this one sanctuary when other ones have no ramps or just one ramp. So you have to explain these things, but I find it really difficult to [00:48:44], sort of, get over people’s initial inclination to reject the idea. Dr Rad Yeah, no, look, I must admit doing reading for this, I’m very grateful to have had you on the show. Not just because you’ve been wonderful to talk to, but it encouraged me to do reading that I wouldn’t have [00:49:00] otherwise done. And a lot of the time I was looking at material that I’ve encountered before, like looking at the remains from Pompeii and Herculaneum, thinking about people like Claudius, thinking about, you know, philosophers like Seneca, looking at people like, you know, Philip of Macedon, and even the Twelve Tables. [00:49:17] We’ve actually just done an episode on the Twelve Tables, where we had mentioned the fact that they built into that law code in Rome, the fact that if people couldn’t physically get to the court, there had to be provision for them to be carried there. And I’d never stopped to think about it. And I’ve never really stopped to think about just how much evidence there really was in this world for people who had a variety of conditions [00:49:41], which would have made life different for them in some way. So I am so grateful to have had you on the show to discuss this topic. Dr G And I think it’s very revealing as well in terms of – just to jump in with a little piece of evidence that I quite like that I’ve encountered through this. Because one of the areas that I’m very interested in is the [00:50:00] rise of Augustus. [00:50:00] And he institutes this law of the three children and we get a whole commentary from Ulpian on this, about what constitutes “the three children”. And it seems that at law, the decision is made that – even if the child is considered “monstrous”, and so we’re not sure to what extent that means in terms of disability, but it seems like there’s some sort of birth deformity at play [00:50:25] – that the mother is not to be held responsible for this and the child still counts towards the three in the eyes of the law. And that’s just a little aspect of a much bigger part of history that is part of my studies that I am now thinking about because of these kinds of discussions that are happening. [00:50:44] So I think the work that you’re doing, Debby, is really important and significant for the way we approach evidence in the ancient world, across the board. Dr Rad And of course, Dr. G, is a Vestal fanatic. And of course, to be a Vestal at this time – Dr G Oh yes! Dr Rad as well, you [00:51:00] also have to have – Dr G You have to have no speech impediment to be a Vestal Virgin. [00:51:04] That is one of the core tenants. Um, young women would not get chosen for the role if they had a speech impediment. Dr Debby Sneed Yeah, definitely, right. So religious ritual is all about repeating things in the exact appropriate way. Uh, so this is something that, um, it’s not really surprising, I guess, about the Vestal Virgins and the Ulpian thing is really interesting. [00:51:22] One of the things that is great, and that makes it difficult to study this, especially – I’m a non-disabled person, uh, which is a really important thing to bring up and I should have brought it up sooner, um, because I’m studying this as a non-disabled person. Um, and I would like it if I was not the one, right [00:51:41], who was sort of doing this work. You know, I hope that we can get more people with disabilities involved in research, doing this research, asking these questions because, um, you know, we’ve known about the ramps. So back to the ramps. We’ve known about these forever, right? However long we could have known that there were ramps. We’ve known [00:52:00] that there were ramps at some of these sanctuaries. But I think that non-disabled people, so, which includes many archaeologists, right, we sort of take for granted aspects of mobility. We don’t ask how people get into buildings because we never consciously think about it. We just walk into them. [00:52:16] Whatever’s there we use. If there are stairs, we use stairs. If there is a ramp, we use a ramp. If the stairs are really tall, we just use them, right. So we just don’t really think about it. And I think that if we had had more people with disabilities involved in some of these studies, I think that the question would have been asked a lot sooner. [00:52:34] And, um, just because, you know, it’s just something that people with mobility impairments are consciously aware of. And so even if disability is not the answer, it’s worth asking the question and it’s just something that we don’t get, right. When you have only one type of person asking questions. And this is one of – there’s this really great interpretation of Oedipus. [00:52:56] So Oedpius, the King of Thebes. So, you know, very [00:53:00] famously killed his father and married his mother. And he also solves the riddle of the Sphinx. And the riddle of the Sphinx is, you know, “what walks on four legs in the morning, two legs at midday and three legs in the evening?” And it’s of course humans. [00:53:15] So, you know, crawling as an infant, walking on two legs and then when you’re an adult, and then using three legs, so two legs, plus a crutch or a cane, in old age. And there’s one really interesting suggestion by David Mitchell and Sharon Snyder, who are both disability studies scholars, that Oedipus is able to answer this question because he has a mobility impairment, because when his parents sort of exposed him at birth in order to avoid his fulfillment of this prophecy, that they actually intentionally mutilated him. [00:53:46] So they had his heels, sort of, clipped or something like that. And that, because he has this mobility impairment, when he reaches the riddle of the Sphinx, this riddle that nobody before had ever been able to answer, right. That he was uniquely [00:54:00] situated to answer that question because he was uniquely positioned to think about mobility constantly. [00:54:06] And so, I think that this is a really important thing, is, based on, not just my non-disabled status, but based on all other aspects of my identity, I individually have limited in the kinds of things that I can come up with. The questions that I can ask the interpretations that I can come up with. And so, one of the challenges that I have is that there just aren’t people asking these questions. And so, uh, we just need a lot more people asking them and thinking about them and offering solutions, not just disabled people, right. So they don’t have, it’s not like these are their ancestors or something like that, but they just have this other perspective that just hasn’t really been sort of appreciated in an academic context. Dr Rad [00:54:35] No, I think you’re absolutely right. As I say, my experience is extremely limited. And as I say, I consider myself to be an extremely fortunate human being, but certainly the way that I interact with the world and things that I’m aware of, that other people aren’t aware of, because I’ve become extremely hard of hearing. It’s really changed particularly over the last ten years. Yet, you know, just things like going out to restaurants and also I’m a teacher. [00:55:00] The kinds of rooms that I can teach in effectively. I become much more aware of sound qualities and various things like that than other people are just because I struggled so much more to understa
24 minutes | a month ago
The Partial Recap – the 450s BCE
It’s our second episode in The Partial Recap series. This is a short, sharp, scripted overview of all the big events that defined the 450s BCE. If you’re inspired to delve into more details, all the episodes from this decade can be found in our Foundation of Rome series. Let’s jump into the refresher! It’s the Partial Recap of the 450s BCE! The Partial Recap – the 450s BCE A view to the East over the Roman Forum with the Temple of Saturn on the left and the Palatine Hill on the right, showing the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Arch of Titus, Santa Francesca Romana, and the Colosseum. Detail from the photograph by Nicholas Hartmann, June 1976. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons. Used under license. Transcript Introduction FR – Welcome to the Partial Recap for the 450s BC! PG – I’m Dr G FR – and I’m Dr Rad PG – and this is our highlights edition of the 450s in Rome. We’ll take you through from 459 to 450 in an epitome of our normal episodes. FR – Perfect for those mornings when you don’t want some lengthy rhetoric with your coffee PG – Get ready for a recappuccino. 459 BCE In 459 BCE, the consuls were Lucius Cornelius Maluginensus Uritnus and Quinctus Fabius Vibulanus, an old-hand in his third consulship. Rome is picking up the pieces after the recent invasion. A census is carried out. Rome has 117 319 citizens. Lustral sacrifices are needed to cleanse the city. Livy and Dionysius don’t really agree on the exact course of events. Perhaps Rome is trying to restore its rep after the military humiliation of the previous year? What seems clear from both accounts is that the Volscians and Aequians are up to something and the Romans set off to deal with it. They are particularly keen to help out the Tusculans who are under attack from the Aequains – or is this just a method for the Romans to restore their reputation after the invasion. Under Fabius, the Romans defeat the Aequians decisively. The consuls meet up and target the lands of both the Volscians and the Aequians. Antium, in Volscian territory, is a particular hotspot. It seems like there is a revolt going on in this territory, only recently captured by the Romans. After a messy battle, Antium is retaken and some locals and colonists are publicly scourged and beheaded. Now there’s an example no one will want to follow. Back at home, there is agitation for the law about the laws, but the Prefect of the City, Lucius Lucretius Tricipitinus, says that nothing can take place when consuls are away. The quaestors, Aulus Cornelius & Quintus Servilius, try to pursue Volscius for the charge of committing perjury about Caeso Quinctius being responsible for his brother’s murder – and it seems like they have a genuine case. The tribunes hold them off – after all, the consuls are away, right? Once the consuls return, it’s triumph time! Almost as though the invasion of 460 never happened… 458 BCE In 458 BCE, the consuls were Lucius Minucius Esquilinus Augurinus and Caius Nautius was consul for the second time. Rome is facing war on many fronts, so both of the consuls are need out in the field. Ex-consul, Quinctius Fabius Vibulanus, is made Prefect of the City – probably to keep an eye on the tribunes as well as the enemies of Rome. The exact order of events is different in Livy and Dionysius, but external wars constitute the main events of the year. The Aequians are back in action in spite of making peace the year before. The Aequians feel that they are not violating the deal as they are attacking the Latins – Rome’s allies, not Rome itself. The Romans send an embassy to talk to the Aequian’s leader, Cloelius Gracchus, Quinctius Fabius Vibulanus, Publius Volumnius Amintinus Gallus and Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis Cloelius tells the distinguished ROmans to talk to the tree, because he ain’t listening And it’s on like Donkey Kong Minucius does not take a bold approach against the Aequian forces, which gives them confidence. Nautius has to be sent for as back-up. The tribunes pull their classic move of trying to prevent the levy of forces, and they almost won, but the Sabines then attack ROman territory, terrifying everyone. Nautius enjoys success against the Sabines, before being summoned by Minucius. However, they are going to need more help. What they need is a silver fox with enough virtus to choke an elephant. They need a dictator and they need Cincinnatus, father of the exiled Caeso. At least, the patricians do – they plebs aren’t thrilled at first. Cincinnatus whips the citizens into action and devises a strategy that wins the day against the Aequians. Cincinnatus demands the city of Corbio and Gracchus is brought to him in chains – YOU talk to the tree, smart-ass! Cincinnatus is now free to rescue the Tusculans. Minunius steps down from the consulship but remains in Cincinnatus’ service – he’s just so amazing! The army is in the best shape ever and all because of him. He is awarded an elaborate gift and a triumph. Because he is Cincinnatus, he is prepared to give up his power now that the external threat has passed…. But only after he finishes the case against his son’s accuser, the tribune Volscius. Between Cincinnatus and the Quaestors Marcus Valerius Volusi Maximus and Titus Quintius Capitolinus Barbatus, Volscius is found guilty and exiled. Cincinnatus can now return to his life as a private citizen on his farm. 457 BCE In 457 BCE, the consuls were Quintus Minucius Esquilinus and Marcus Horatius Pulvilius in his second consulship. In this year, the Sabines become a problem once more, attacking ROman territory. The tribunes are undeterred, demanding the codification of the laws. Give us the law! The consuls want to ignore this issue and conduct the levy. Cincinnatus shames people into enlisting by making appeals to ROman masculinity and pride – if no one fights, the ROmans will lose their empire! The patricians will fight – but will the plebs? An assembly is called, and the consul Horatius openly admits that the patricians will not give up their privileges. He brings out the old patricians to shame the plebeians and again questions their masculinity. The tribune Verginius counters as he can see the crowd is being affected by these theatrics. No one is betraying anyone here – they just want some concessions. Horatius will entertain any reasonable requests, so the tribunes ask for their number to be doubled. Cincinnatus and Claudius are in favour of making this deal – more tribunes means a greater possibility for them to be divided into factions. The tribune election takes place immediately – the plebs know they need to get the money up front now! The levy can now proceed and Minucius is sent to deal with the Sabines, who retreat and allow their lands to be pillaged. Horatius defeats the Aequians and razes Corbio to the ground. 456 BCE In 456 BCE, the consuls were Marcus Valerius Volusi Maxumus Lactuca and Spurius Verginius Tricosus Caeliomontanus. The tribunes for the year were Lucius Icilius and Lucius Alienus. Icilius is keen to meet with consuls, but they are ghosting him. When he tries to force the issue, Icilius’ attendants are driven away by the consuls’ lictors. In retaliation, the tribunes seize one of the lictors and decide to throw him off the Tarpeain Rock. The consuls are distressed, but helpless to fight off the tribunes. Luckily for them, the tribunes decide to release the hapless lictor. Icilius instead pursues a law about the use of public land. This law would mean that land that has been taken by force or fraud would be given over to the populace, the occupiers reimbursed and the rest to be divided up amongst the public The Senate agreed, except for Gaius Claudius, and this law was unusually named after Icilius. 455 BCE In 455 BCE, the consuls were Titus Romilius Rocus Vaticanus and Gaius Veturius Cicurinus. Once again, two of the tribunes were Lucius Icilius and Lucius Alienus. This is a tricky year, as the accounts of Livy and Dionysius diverged. In Livy, the tribunes were all feeling very ashamed as they felt they had not accomplished much – especially with ten of them working for the people. They are pushing hard to get the law about the laws through. Unfortunately for them, the Aequians were on the loose and attacking the Tusculans. No Roman can resist an adorable Tusculan in distress! The consuls were despatched and killed 7000 Aequians in battle. The remainder of the Aequians fled, leaving lots of booty behind for the Romans. The consuls decided to sell the spoils as the treasury needed to be replenished. The army is furious and the tribunes see their opportunity to impeach the consuls once they are out of office. In Dionysius, the consuls decide on war as they need to distract people from the law about the laws. Some of the people are reluctant to enlist, so the consuls start arresting the culprits. The tribunes denounce the consuls, especially as they are arresting people who are appealing to their protection. The tribunes claim that they are able to release people from the levy, and when that didn’t work, they try to physically stop the levy. A fight breaks out between the young patricians and the tribunes and their supporters. The patricians win the day, but the tribunes put out the call for more plebeians to join them, and soon the patricians were outnumbered. The tribunes demand that the consuls join their assembly and they don’t show up, the tribunes head to the senate. They confront the consuls about their behaviour, but the consuls think the tribunes are the problem. The Senate reaches no decision about how to act. The tribunes call a meeting and propose that the plebs secede, but not everyone is ready for this dramatic a step. It doesn’t help that some of the tribunes have been won over the senate! After much discussion, the tribunes decide to fine the consuls. They call an assembly and tell the people that they are going to fight for land allotment and equality before the law. It’s time to get more than just part of the Aventine Hill. The tribunes call on plebs in the audience to come forward and speak about their experiences. The crowd goes wild, but they haven’t seen anything yet. Lucius Siccius Dentatus steps up the rostra. He is an eloquent solider with extensive military experience and too many honours to name. Who deserves land more Siccius? How can someone who has given so much have so little? Everyone goes nuts for Siccius, but Icilius says they need to hear from others. The consuls are desperate to block the tribune’s plans, so they make sure that they stake out the forum early. When people arrive to speak, they make their approval or disapproval known. The tension rises between the tribunes and consuls. When it is time for the vote to take place regarding the law, the patricians disrupt the process and push people off the bridge they need to cross to cast their vote. Needless to say the law does not get passed, largely thanks to the work of three patrician families – the Postumii, the Cloelii and the Sempronii. The tribunes will not take this offence lying down. They decide to go after the patrician families responsible – after all, this is an offence against the gods. The patrician estates are confiscated and dedicated to Ceres – except that their friends buy their estates back for them. At least the tribunes made some money out of the deal! It is at this point that the Tusculans arrive with news of an Aequian attack, and both consuls are sent to the rescue – very unusual, but that is how special the Tusculans are. Although the tribunes object to the levy, the consuls have a secret weapon – an appeal to the gods. They declare that those who sign up for the campaign will please the gods – and you know what will happen to those who don’t. Most people are too scared to refuse. Siccius, always one to do his duty, arrives with his own legion of veterans. When the Romans engage with the Aequains in battle. Limited progress is made because both armies are so evenly matched. Romilius devises a plan for Siccius and his men to try and attack the Aequians from behind whilst the attacks from the front. Siccius knows that this is a suicide mission, but Romilius refuses to back down. No one gets rid of Siccius that easily. He comes up with a cunning plan to find a different path to reach the Aequians. His men capture a local farmer and he informs them that there is just such a path. The Aequains are defeated and Siccius’ men love him more than ever for saving their lives whilst securing a victory. Now it’s time for revenge on Romilius. Siccius and his men destroy all the spoils in the Aequian camp before marching directly to Rome and telling everyone that the consuls forced him to do this. The consuls are in serious trouble – no triumphs for you! 454 BCE In 454 BCE, the consuls were Spurius Tarpeius Montanus and Aulus Terminius or Aternius Varus Fontinalis. Once more, there was quite a lot of difference between Livy and Dionysius. Dionysius is still following the career of the Roman Achilles – Siccius. Lucius Siccius Dentatus, now a tribune, pursued a trial against Romilius for injuring the state. Siccius brought out numerous witnesses about Romilius’ callous attitude to himself and his men. The tears shed by the audience don’t bode well for Romilius. Romilius remained a haughty patrician to the last, claiming that he did what he had to do as commander. Every tribe voted to condemn him and Romilius was fined 10 000 asses. Meanwhile, former tribune and now Aedile of the plebs, Lucius Alienus, prosecuted the other former consul, Veturius, and he was fined 15 000 asses. With this unpleasantness out of the way, once again the law about the laws comes up for discussion. Romilius surprisingly was in support of the codification. Although he was a staunch patrician and had always despised the plebs, his recent trial taught him a valuable lesson. The patricians were not powerful enough to protect him and all those other persecuted patricians (cough cough) like Caeso, so something needed to change. Romilius suggested seeking advice from other states that are running smoothly – like somewhere in Greece! This connection to Greece has been seen as an attempt to associate Rome with the fame of Athens and the law code of Solon. After all, if the Romans wanted to learn about Greek laws, they could have have just headed south. The consuls supported Romilius’ proposal and Siccius praised him for placing the public good first. In tribute to Romilius, Siccius suggested cancelling the fine. All of this information about the fines issued to the ex-consuls seems to be related to the Lex Aternia Tarpeia, which set a maximum penalty on the fines that could be applied for offences involving illegal attempts to gain authority and disrespect. In Livy, the trip to Athens comes up after the tribunes pursue the law about the laws with the new consuls. The tribunes assure the consuls that they are prepared to be reasonable. They suggest that patricians and plebeians should just get together and chat about their priorities and how to devise a law code. They agree, but only if the chat is patricians only – no plebs allowed! The tribunes just want some progress, so they agree. It is after this that the educational foray to Greece is planned. 453 BCE In 453 BCE, the consuls were Publius Curiatus Fistus Trigeminius and Sextus Quinctilius The suffect consul Spurius Furius Medullinus Fusus This was one of the lowest points of the decade. A terrible pestilence broke out and caused a huge amount of suffering and death in all social classes and even the animals. We cannot be sure of the numbers, but it seems that half of the citizen population were wiped out and most of the slaves. One of the consuls was struck down, and tragically, so was his replacement – Spurius Furius. So many people were affected that the fields were neglected and famine ensued, adding to the misery of the Romans. The Aequians considered taking advantage of Rome’s weakness, but they became infected by the pestilence when they tried to attack and had to retreat. 452 BCE In 452 BCE, the consuls were Menenius Agrippa (his praenomen could have been Gaius, Lucius, or Titus) and Publius Sestius The pestilence has passed, but there are still food shortages in Rome and the consuls need to buy corn to address the grain crisis. The delegation that had been sent to Athens to study the laws of Solon return, full of ideas for the Roman law code. The Romans are getting serious about the codification of their laws and start to discuss the best way to proceed. The idea for a decemvirate, a group of ten magistrates, is suggested. These men would take the place of all the normal offices and there would be no right of appeal. This could not take place immediately, as there were already consuls in office who needed to serve their full term. Whilst having a mixture of plebeian and patrician magistrates is discussed, the patricians are quick to squash those dreams – it will be patricians only or nothing. This sends up some red flags for the plebeians, who are only willing to agree to this system if they are assured that the tribunes and land allocation on the Aventine will be protected and restored once the decemvirate is over. A slight hitch is that there are already some consul-designates who have been chosen to serve in 451 – Titus Genucius and Appius Claudius. Appius addresses the senate about the importance of the law code and volunteers to give up his chance to be consul so that the decemvirate can go ahead. What a guy! No wonder he is chosen to serve as decemvir. 451 BCE The first decemvirate begins, and it is a big success. The decemvirs get along remarkably well and they aren’t flaunting their power or status. They produce the Ten Tables, which are approved after consultation with the populace. Confusingly, the laws do not seem to address many issues that have been concerning the plebeians, but they do provide some insight into life in Rome at this time. Whilst everyone is satisfied, there is general agreement that a few more laws are needed and it is decided that the Romans need a second decemvirate. Elections are set, and Appius Claudius campaigns hard. He is determined to hang on to his position, so he starts getting friendly with the plebs and tribunes – even badmouthing the patricians. His colleagues are suspicious of his behaviour but they refrain from calling him out on his behaviour. Appius manages to get re-elected, along with some of his friends. Unusually, some plebeians seem to be chosen as well. What is going on? 450 BCE As soon as he has secured his position, Appius reveals his true self. He becomes cruel and arrogant, and encourages his other decemvirs to aim for tyranny. They start meeting in secret and vow never to give up their power. Each man has his own fasces and is attended by lictors in public. Everyone, patrician and plebeian, is dismayed by their behaviour, but their power is absolute and there seems to be little that anyone can do. The decemvirs add two tables to the law code, making it The Twelve Tables, including a controversial ban on intermarriage between the plebeians and patricians. True to their secret evil plan, the decemvirs remain in office, even though their business is seemingly now complete. As we slide into the 440s, the situation in Rome continues to deteriorate. The decemvirs start using the young patricians to bully the populace. Citizens are scourged with rods, their property can be confiscated and some are even murdered. Conclusion FR – And that was the 450s in Ancient Rome… or was it? PG – Remember, this has just been the highlights from the ancient sources, so if you want to delve into the complexities of the different evidence from this period, check out our narrative episodes. FR – Thanks for joining us for this Partial Recap!
46 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 111 – Decemvirs in the Senate
The Second Decemvirate is hotting up and it’s not surprising to learn that Appius Claudius is somehow at the centre of things. We trace Rome through a precarious time, one that our sources have trouble dating – is it one year, two, three? It’s c. 437 BCE; the magistracies are in disarray and the decemvirs hold sway. The situation takes a turn as Rome’s neighbours sense an opportunity to invade… Episode 111 – Decemvirs in the Senate The Meeting of the Senate It is perhaps a measure of how the Second Decemvirate is going that we’re not sure how much time has passed before the decemvirs seek a meeting with the senate. There’s a haziness around dates that indicates we could be looking at up to three years of decemvirate rule! Appius Claudius speaks first in the Senate ostensibly to discuss how Rome will navigate the threats to her territory. But the Senate, having finally been called together under the rule of the decemvirs, have a lot of things they’d like to talk about! And boy do they have criticism to level. One very important point is that the decemvirs are operating outside the terms of their special magistracy and they are by consequence corrupting the nature of the republic. Looking to catch up on the action so far? Episode 109 – The First Decemvirate and Episode 110 – The Mask Comes Off are just what you need! The Power of Family The real thorn in Appius’ side while in the senate meeting is the presence of his uncle, Gaius Claudius. The patriarchal structures dictate that Appius show respect for Gaius’ opinion and this opens the way for some power speechifying. Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus differ in their accounts of how this moment unfolds, but the significance of a familial connection in the senate is retained by both writers. We’ll explore the similarities and differences of these sources. There’s some explosive details with Gaius Claudius touching on everything from what makes an honourable patrician, to his personal take on Appius’ character flaws, to a savage endictment as to what can happen when you ignore relatives. The Distraction Factor Livy shifts from speeches to explore the politicking in the senate including a possible interregum and calls for the decemvirs to give up office by the Ides of May. Meanwhile Dionysius of Halicarnassus continues to explore the rhetorical potential of a large-scale senatorial debate! Things to Come A patrician call for a tribune to represent them and protect them from the decemvirate! The accusation that the decemvirs are the ‘Ten Tarquins’ – ouch! Intimidation in the senate! Appius Claudius faces some heated criticism from his uncle Gaius… Concerns about how Rome will raise an army Has Rome been abandoned by her citizens? Gaius Claudius offers Appius a way to salvage his reputation with the people The possibility of an interrex A Sabine defection! Our Players The Decemvirs (named in this episode) Appius Claudius Quintus Fabius Vibulanus (cos. 467, 465, 459 BCE) Marcus Cornelius – f. Ser. n. Maluginensis The Senators Lucius Valerius Potitus Marcus Horatius Barbatus Lucius Cornelius – f. Ser. n. Maluginensis (brother of the decemvir Marcus) Lucius Quintius Cincinnatus Titus Quinctius Capitolinus Lucius Lucretius Appius Claudius’ Family Gaius Claudius (Appius’ uncle) Our Sources Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.39-40 Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman History 11.4-15 Sound Credits Additional music and sound in this episode includes: a piece called ‘Ancient Tragedies’ by 13NHarri an original composition for our podcast by the incredible Bettina Joy de Guzman and additional sound effects from BBC Sound Effects Beta The Roman Senate in action. Image via wallpaperaccess.com
54 minutes | 2 months ago
Special Episode – The Reception of Cleopatra
Cleopatra looms large in the imagination, but her legacy is often overshadowed by the western cultural tradition. It turns out that there are many ways to understand the last Pharaoh of Egypt. Special Episode – The Reception of Cleopatra with Yentl Love We were thrilled to sit down with Yentl Love to discuss the Islamic reception of Cleopatra. Love is known for her work in making ancient history and classics accessible through her blog the The Queer Classicist. Love has been studying Ancient History and Classics for a number of years and is now bringing the ancient world to life for readers across the globe. Egypt’s last pharaoh has a rather negative reputation in the western tradition. A classic example is the characterisation of her as a poisoner. Alexander Cabanel, Cleopatra Testing Poisons on Condemned Prisoners, between circa 1845 and circa 1887. Wikimedia Commons Rethinking Cleopatra Cleopatra VII was the last Pharaoh to rule Egypt. She was part of the Ptolemaic dynasty, descendants of one of Alexander the Great’s generals. She experienced her fair share of family drama. One of her sisters was executed for seizing the throne from their father! It may not have been a relaxing childhood, but it did prepare her for a political career when she became pharaoh at just eighteen, alongside her younger brother, Ptolemy XIII. In this episode, we discuss Cleopatra’s journey and her encounters with some of the most famous Romans in history, including Julius Caesar, Mark Antony and Octavian (later Augustus!), and how these relationships would impact the way she was represented in the surviving sources. There are many Greco-Roman sources that refer to Cleopatra, and these include histories, biographies, poems and letters. One factor that they have in common is the negative portrayal of the Egyptian Pharaoh. This is in contrast to the archaeological record, such as coins, statues and buildings. One of the most arresting portraits is by Artemisia Gentileschi, Death of Cleopatra, 1613 or 1621-1622. Here we see a woman in middle age, stripped bare of all the insignia of power in her final moment of defiance. Cleopatra the Scholar We explore some of the reasons behind the differing portraits that have survived of Cleopatra, before delving into the Islamic source tradition. Produced much later than the Greco-Roman sources or the archaeological material, the Islamic sources provide a distinct portrayal of Egypt’s last queen; one that is not bound up in her relationships with men or her appearance. Cleopatra the scholar? Elizabeth Taylor in the title role of the 1963 film with writing implement in hand!Image courtesy of www.mediafactory.com.au Join us for this episode about the historiography of Egypt’s last pharaoh; a woman whose fame deserves to include more than just her Roman lovers. Select Bibliography Ashton, S. Cleopatra and Egypt. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2008. El-Daly, O. Egyptology: The Missing Millenium: Ancient Egypt in Medieval Arabic Writings. London & New York: Routledge, 2016. Gillett, M. “Goddess, Whore, Queen and Scholar.” Teaching History 51, no. 1 (March 2017): 19-23. Hughes-Hallet, L. Cleopatra: histories, dreams and distortions. London: Pimlico, 1997. Welch, K. “Cleopatra as Pharaoh?” Teaching History 53, no. 1 (March 2019): 10-15.
43 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 110 – The Mask Comes Off
The First Decemvirate was a big success, so much so that Rome opts for a Second Decemvirate! The decemvirs were popular figures in Rome and during 451 BCE they produced the Ten Tables. This initial set of law codes was positively received by the population, but there was something missing… MORE LAWS! But it isn’t too long before some red flags appear… Episode 110 – The Mask Comes Off Wait a Second… Decemvirate Appius Claudius campaigns hard to get himself re-elected, along with some of his patrician buddies. There are also some new and unusual names that appear in the list for the Second Decemvirate – we might have some plebeian magistrates on the team. Gasp! As soon as they are confirmed in their positions, the charismatic, approachable and charming Appius reveals his true self and his real intentions. Tyranny! Life in Rome quickly becomes extremely unpleasant for everyone as the decemvirs and their thugs flex their muscles, but it’s especially tough if you are one of the less privileged persons in the populace. This a dark time for Rome. Join us to find out how they deal with the infamous Second Decemvirate! The Cancelleria relief, frieze B. This piece is a relief from the rule of Domitian so far ahead of where we are in the narrative, but it does include a lictor carries the fasces with the axe. The first complete figure from the right is a lictor holding the fasces in his left hand. Our Players The Second Decemvirate Appius Claudius. Ap. f. M. n. Crassus Inregillensis Sabinus Pat – Cos. 471, 451 Marcus Cornelius – f. Ser. n. Maluginenesis Pat Marcus? Sergius Esquilinus Pat Lucius Minucius P. f. M. n. Esquilinus Augurinus Pat – Cos. 458 Quintus Fabius M. f. M. n. Vibulanus Pat – Cos. 467, 465, 459 Quintus Poetelius Libo Visolus Titus Antonius Merenda Caeso Duillius Longus? Spurius. Oppius Cornicen Manius Rabuleius Our Sources Cornell, T. J. 1995. The Beginnings of Rome Eder, W. 2005. ‘The Political Significance of the Codification of Law in Archaic Societies: An Unconventional Hypothesis’ in K. Raaflaub (ed) Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders Forsythe, G. 2005. A Critical History of Early Rome Momigliano, A. 2005. ‘The Rise of the Plebs in the Archaic Age of Rome’ in K. Raaflaub (ed) Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders Perello, C. F. A. 2020. ‘The Twelve Tables and the leges regiae; A Problem of Validity’ in S. W. Bell & P. J. du Pleissis (eds) Roman Law Before the Twelve Tables: An Interdisciplinary Approach Raaflaub, K. 2005. ‘From Protection and Defense to Offense and Participation: Stages in the Conflict of the Orders’ in K. Raaflaub (ed) Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders Scullard, H. H. 1935. A History of the Roman World 753-146 BC Sound Credits Sound Effects: Fesliyan Studios, Sound Bible, BBC. Original Music: the fantastic Bettina Joy de Guzman
36 minutes | 3 months ago
Special Episode – The Twelve Tables
The Twelve Tables are a landmark moment of early Republican Roman history. The lex duodecim tabularum see the codification of Rome’s laws! The name ‘The Twelve Tables’ is derived from the idea that these laws were inscribed on to twelve oak tablets. We happen to know quite a lot about the content of the tables, even though they have not survived in epigraphic form. The evidence for the tables comes from extant literature. Special Episode – The Twelve Tables The main literary sources that we’re reading at the moment, Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus, place the landmark moment of the codification around 450 BCE. The process is not a smooth one from their perspective! Normal magistracies are suspended in favour of a specially selected cohort of ten men who are granted authority to put together the law code. Believe us when we tell you that the drama associated with the decemvirate has only just begun to be revealed in Episode 109. The End of Long Struggle? According to our literary sources, both of whom are writing hundreds of years after the events they describe, the Twelve Tables are the result of the Struggle of the Orders. This ongoing rift between sections of the Roman population is contentious in its own ways, so it is worth considering the content of the Tables as a point of comparison. The difference between what we might expect of a law code that is the result of a class struggle and the laws themselves is quite something. So that’s just what we’re going to do in this special mini-episode! Join as we dip into the details of the law code and some of the fascinating details we learn from this document 😊 Roman civilians examining the Twelve Tables after they were first implemented. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Looking to explore the Twelve Tables in more detail? You can read them all here! Other readings to consider: Forsythe, G. 2006. A Critical History of Early Rome: From Prehistory to the First Punic War. University of California Press – contains a chapter on the Twelve Tables and how the politics unfolds Bell, S., du Plessis, P. (eds.) 2020. Roman Law Before the Twelve Tables: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Edinburgh University Press – this one is hot off the press and we’re super excited to jump in and read it soon! This shows the forum in ruins, but it is in this space that the Twelve Tables would have been present to the populace. Image curtesy of Wikimedia Commons, by Kimberlym21
23 minutes | 3 months ago
The Partial Recap – the 460s BCE
The history of Rome is complex, even in the early Republic. Sometimes it’s hard to keep all the details straight so we thought it might be a good time to try something new. The Partial Recap series will be a scripted overview of each decade of Roman history. First cab off the rank is the decade of the 460s BCE. This is the last complete decade we’ve covered in our Foundation of Rome series, and we’ll be working through the previous decades over the next few months. Part of the benefit of these episodes will be to help refresh the memory of the key events of each year. We’re also trying out a scripted style that easy allows us to share a transcript, which is a good step forward in terms of accessibility for our podcast. As technology progresses, we’re hoping to automate accurate transcripts for our conversational episodes. Join us for a Partial Recap of the 460s BCE! The Partial Recap – The 460s BCE “A view to the East over the Roman Forum with the Temple of Saturn on the left and the Palatine Hill on the right, showing the Temple of Castor and Pollux, the Arch of Titus, Santa Francesca Romana, and the Colosseum.” Detail from the photograph by Nicholas Hartmann, June 1976. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons. Used under license. Transcript Inroduction FR – Welcome to the Partial Recap for the 460s BC! PG – I’m Dr G FR – and I’m Dr Rad PG – and this is our highlights edition of the 460s in Rome. We’ll take you through from 469 to 460 in an epitome of our normal episodes. FR – Perfect for those mornings when you don’t want some lengthy rhetoric with your coffee PG – Get ready for a recappuccino. 469 BCE In 469, the consuls were Titus Numicus Priscus and Aulus Verginius Caelimontanus. There were some domestic issues that surfaced as the plebeians were pushing for progress with the agrarian law – looking for a fairer share of the land. They were quickly distracted by issues with the Volscians. The Volscians start making incursions into Roman territory and the consuls journey forward to meet the threat. Numicius heads off to the belly of the beast – Volscian territory – and his forces pillage and capture coastal settlements as they go. Antium, a major Volscian city, is in their sights. Verginius goes to deal with Aequians in the east. The Aequians are enemies of Rome and allies of the Volscians. After a bit of a rocky start, he defeats them in combat. He then turns around to deal with the Sabines. Turns out Rome is surrounded by enemies! Meanwhile, back in Rome, the plebeians decide not to vote in the annual elections. They are tired of the lack of progress on the agrarian law, so what is even the point anymore? The agrarian reform the plebeians have been pushing for would mean a fairer distribution of public land for all Roman citizens. The elite patricians have been stalling, knowing it’ll mean a loss for them. 468 BCE In 468 BCE, the consuls were Titus Quintius Capitolinus Barbatus (consul for the second time) and Quintus Servilius Priscus. Unrest between Rome and their neighbours continues. Rome is facing issues with the Sabines to the north east, and the Volscian-Aequian alliance which stretches from the south to the east. Servilius is off campaigning against the Sabines. They stay well protected behind their walls as the Romans destroy their lands. Quintius takes on the Volscian-Aequian alliance and meets them on the battlefield. It’s tough, but with some quick thinking (and lying) on his part, as well as charging into battle on foot himself, the Romans pull through on the first day. The fighting continues the next day and the Romans are massively outnumbered. But one again, the generalship of Quintius saves the day. The Romans seize the enemy camp and the city of Antium! These amazing deeds secure a triumph for Quintius. Want to hear more about the politics and dramas of 469 and 468? Check out our Episode 88: Battle after Battle 467 BCE In 467 BCE, the consuls were Titus Aemilius Mamercus (cos. From 470 BCE) and Quintus Fabius Vibulanus. Fun fact: the consul Quintus Fabius is the sole survivor of his family from the infamous battle of Cremera in c. 477 BCE. Long live the Fabii! Aemilius Mamercus is drawing some heat from his fellow patricians because he seems open minded when it comes to the issue of agrarian reform and land allotment. The plebeian mood is one of optimism. However, the patricians as a whole are still resistant. Fabius has a cunning plan to settle the dispute. He suggests they use the new land they have captured near Antium to appease the plebeians. This suggestion is well-received as three past consuls are ushered in as triumvirs for assigning land to the people (triumviri agro dando). The lucky gentlemen are: Titus Quintius Capitolinus (cos. 471), Aulus Verginius (cos. 469) and Publius Furius (cos. 472). The plebeians aren’t in a hurry to leave Rome and don’t appreciate being banished from Rome, so the Senate allows Rome’s allies (the Latins and Hernicians) and some Volscians (who have been suitably cowed) to sign up for some land The consuls have other fish to fry. Aemilius attempts to fight the Sabines. Again they aren’t interested in engaging in open battle and they watch as their territory is ravaged by the Romans Fabius ventures into Aequian territory only to find that they are very willing to strike a deal with the Romans, perhaps a little too willing…. 466 BCE In 466 BCE, the consuls were Spurius Postumius Albinus Regillensis and Quintus Servilius Priscus (Structus), who had previously been consul in 468 BCE. It’s a bit confusing but it seems there are some issues with the newly acquired territory and the Latin allies who have moved south aren’t happy about it. Could it be that Rome has offered her allies a bum deal? Quintus Fabius is no longer consul, but he’s pretty invested in the whole southern territory thing because it was his suggestion, so he heads down to chat to the Aequians to find out whether they are actually violating the new treaty or not. He soon realises from the suspicious behaviour of the Aequians that he is in trouble and that these guys are up to something The Romans dispatch the fetiales (deploy the war priests!) and declare unless those responsible for the wrongdoing are expelled from Antium there shall be a just war waged upon them by Rome with the full support of the Roman gods. The Aequians prefer war – although combat is delayed by a plague that strikes the Roman forces (awkward divine sign?) Once the Romans can get out of bed (this might take until the following year, sources disagree), both the consuls are sent to deal with the faithless Aequians. After a tough battle, the Romans win the day, leaving some very disgruntled Aequians behind. The Romans round out the year with a temple dedication to Dius Fidius (sometimes known as Sanctus) – a mysterious god that may have been Sabine in origin. You can learn more about the years 467 and 466 by tuning into Episode 89 – A Fabian Abroad 465 BCE In 465 BCE, the consuls were Titus Quintius Capitolinus (who was on his third consulship!) and Quintus Fabius Vibulanus (consul for the second time). Quintius Servilius serves as the Prefect of the City. The Romans are all a-flutter as the Aequians are already back in action and raiding nearby territory! Titus Quintius Capitolinus heads out and rebukes his men for being so scared, quickly setting up patrols of the borderlands – unfortunately he keeps missing the enemy Meanwhile Fabius is enjoying a lot of success against the Aequians and captures some booty With that settled, the courts can re-open back in Rome and it’s time for a census. Livy records 104 714 citizens, not including orphans and widows. 464 BCE In 464 BCE, the consuls were Aulus Postumius Albus Regillensis and Spurius Furius Medullinus Fusus. There are ongoing issues with the Aequians and the new territory in Antium – some problems relating to offering land to people you just took it away from perhaps… Rome’s allies, the Hernicians, bring word that all is not well in the new colony Trouble seems to rapidly accelerate! Martial law is declared and Postumius is given dictatorial powers Fighting breaks out unexpectedly in the middle of the night when the Aequians launch an attack on Antium and things are looking very dicey for the Romans. Spurius Furius gets injured in the battle. Fortunately, Titus Quintius Capitolinus (just off the back of his third consuldhip) turns up with the flower of the Roman youth and the allies just in time. The year finishes in a bit of a stalemate with a lot of loss on both sides. Catch all the details of 465-464 BCE in our Episode 91 – The Furious Romans 463 BCE In 463 BCE, the consuls were Lucius Aebutius Helva and Publius Servilius Priscus. The year does not begin auspiciously. There are some bad omens which has everyone concerned. Soon, a serious plague breaks out in Rome and the surrounding areas It wipes out almost all livestock and a quarter of the senators died – including both the consuls, meaning we see the use of some interregna as a result The Aequians and the Volscians decide to take advantage of this weakness to attack Roman territory Whether it was due to the enhancement of natural defences or supernatural forces, the Aequians and Volscians decide not to go through with the assault on the city, and with the help of their allies, Rome lives to fight another day. As the year wraps up, the plague starts to pass – almost a little too neatly. Was this just a year without enough military action and so the annalists got creative? Dig into the details of this year with our Episode 92 – The Pestilence of 463 BCE 462 BCE In 462 BCE, the consuls were Lucius Lucretius Tricipitinus and Titus Veturius Geminus Cicurinus. Rome’s allies, the Hernicians need help as they have Volscians and Aequians camped on their border. Hernician territory is south-east of Rome and lies between the Aequians in the east and the Volscians in the south, so it’s not surprising they find themselves in a tight spot! The plebeian tribunes aren’t interested in foreign diplomacy and are busy pursuing domestic issues. The tribune Sextius Titus is trying to reignite support for the land allotment bill – but the populace want to wait for a better time for agrarian reform as it looks like Rome will have to go to war. The Senate find no problems signing people up for this new war The Romans keep one army at home with Quintus Fabius (cos. 465), send one against the Volscians, and send another to help their allies. That’s three armies. Nothing much happens out in enemy territory but… The Volscian-Aequian forces manage to get around the Roman forces, causing a bit of panic in the city. Fabius is quick to calm everyone down and the bandits aren’t brave enough to attack the city itself On their way home, the Volscians-Aequian force run into Lucretius and are severely defeated – the Volscians are reportedly wiped out Veturius is awarded an ovatio and Lucretius a triumph, but this celebration is delayed due to some new trouble at home As we slide from 462 into 461, the tribunes are trying to take advantage of the absence of the consuls. Gaius Terentilius Harsa in particular pushes for reform. He believes that Rome needs to move away from the informal legal system that they have been using. The informal system relies on tradition and only a few (elite) people understand how things work. What Harsa wants is a system that is more transparent and where case law is written down. On top of that, Harsa also lobbies to place a limit on the amount of power that a person can hold. Harsa suggests putting together a college of 5 men to write down some laws and limit the imperium of the consuls. The patricians are completely freaked out. The Prefect of the City, Quintus Fabius, steps in and violently opposes Harsa’s ideas. How dare Harsa stir up trouble with the consuls out of town and a war going on? Fabius paints the tribunes as enemies of the state, and Harsa’s colleagues back off. As things calm down, Lucretius can safely return to have his triumph. He organised a large lost and found with all of the booty that he recaptured during his campaign out on the Campus Martius. We explore the thorny details of 462 in Episode 93 – Divide and Conquer 461 BCE In 461, the consuls were Publius Volumnius and Servius Sulpicius. The plebeian tribune Harsa’s proposals from 462 have struck a chord with the people. And the new tribunes continue to push for legal reform, particularly Aulus Verginius. However, disaster clearly lies ahead, as all sorts of prodigies take place – spectres, earthquakes, a talking cow and a rain of flesh that doesn’t smell or rot. Even the soothsayers were stumped. There’s only one thing to do in such a situation: consult The Sibylline Books, a collection of ancient wisdom. The wise message: The Romans are warned to be wary of foreigners that might enslave the Romans and to avoid factionalism The tribunes aren’t deterred by this “wisdom” and accuse the patricians of trying to buy time. Rome’s allies, the Hernicians show up to warn the Romans that the Volscians are preparing for another war. The Senate wants to levy troops, but the tribunes call foul – seeing this as just another stalling tactic. The tribunes take matters into their own hands, call an assembly of the people to put forward ideas for their approval. The most Important proposal – to have a group of 10 men elected by the people to draft a set of public and private laws. These laws would be publicly accessible and everyone would be bound by them. The consuls are provoked by this situation and go on the offensive, attacking the tribunes and pointing out that it is not their job to propose new laws. The consuls accuse the tribunes of just being after more power for themselves. The consuls attempt to hold a levy to build up the armed forces, but the tribunes arrive and to prevent it from proceeding. Things get violent pretty quickly. And the senators repay the favour – physically preventing the tribunes from holding a vote on the law about the laws The senators are keen to drive home the point that the tribunes have no authority beyond helping the poor. As far as the senate is concerned, the tribunes have no legal or sacral basis to propose new laws. The consuls and older patricians start to take a step back from getting physically involved, but the young patricians are prepared to do no such thing, particularly the feisty Caeso Qunctius. Caeso a gift from the gods – physically strong, a distinguished soldier, rhetorically gifted and known for getting aggressive with the tribunes. The tribunes find Caeso an intimidating prospect, except for Aulus Verginius, who brings Caeso up on capital charges. Caeso has lots of supporters who come forward to try and save him, including his dad, Cincinnatus, who asks for clemency based on his own deeds for the Republic. However, Marcus Volscius Fictor, another tribune, comes forward and reveals that Caeso was responsible for the murder of his brother. The crowd is so angered by this tale, that Verginius considers putting Caeso in gaol just to keep him safe. The patricians manage to strike a deal instead – Caeso is released in return for a large sum of money that will be forfeit if he fails to show for his trial. Caeso promptly disappears, leaving his dad behind to pay the money that was pledged. 461 is a big year! We delve into the nuance of it all in Episode 94 – Flesh Rains Down Upon Thee 460 BCE In 460 BCE, the consuls were Publius Valerius (a previous consul from 475 BCE and friend to the people) and Gaius Claudius, a die-hard patrician. This is one of the most complex years in the Early Republic! Marcus Volscius Fictor and Aulus Verginius return as tribunes, and they are pretty pleased that Caeso is out of the way. The rest of the young patricians start to use a new strategy against the tribunes – moderation all the way unless the law about the laws comes up – then the aggression hits 11 The tribunes decide to devise a conspiracy, forging threatening letters to themselves, supposedly from Caeso, who has taken refuge with the Volscians and Aequians. The tribunes read out these letters in front of the Senate and beg for protection. The consul Gaius Claudius is quick to see through the tribunes and sends them packing. He then berates the senate for creating the tribunate and allowing such people to falsely accuse an excellent young man like Caeso of murder. The tribune Verginius takes his grievances about the threats to the people and manages to secure some support from them With the tribunes and plebeians in a suitably paranoid state, an unexpected attack comes from Appius Herdonius – a noble Sabine – and his band of either slaves, exiles, clients or a mixture of them all Herdonius & Co sneak into Rome by night and capture the Capitol and citadel. Herdonius invites the plebs and slaves to join him – looks like the Sibylline books were right after all! The consuls are concerned that this is the beginning of a civil conflict. But the city is in danger, so they take a chance and arm the plebs as they need forces and they needed them right away The tribunes, on the other hand, are crying “fake news” and urging the plebs not to fight until they secure their rights in return. Claudius is furious with the plebeians and makes no secret of it, but the consul Valerius manages to talk them into joining the fray with promises that the Senate will look into the law about the laws, just as soon as they have all saved the city – priorities people! The Romans get ready for a lengthy siege, and get some unexpected help from Lucius Mamilius, the dictator of Tusculum. Mamilius noticed the Sabine ships and rushed on over to help. What a man! The fighting is fierce, and in the final push, Valerius is tragically killed. But at least the Sabines are defeated. The Sabine leader Herdonius dies a heroic death. In the aftermath, the plebeians give some of their own money towards the funeral of the great Valerius. But the tribunes aren’t going to let the issue of the law drop The remaining consul, Gaius Claudius, uses some delaying tactics to stall them, most notably the fact that he has no colleague The patricians eventually bring in a man who is capable of dealing with these meddlesome tribunes – Cincinnatus! Cincinnatus is brought in from his humble farm and promptly lectures the Senate for letting the tribunes get out of control A stand-off quickly ensues between Cincinnatus and the tribunes as they each try to push their own agendas through Cincinnatus scores points with everyone in Rome for his strict but fair attitude. He’s sure that the only way to really whip Rome back into shape is to bring in a dictator – those tribunes are out of control In the short term, a deal is struck in which the consuls agree not to make the plebeians go on campaign and the tribunes let the codification of the laws drop… for the time being However, the senate also tries to limit the amount of time a magistrate could hold office. But the tribunes are not willing to bend on this issue. The tribunes Verginius and Volscius are quickly reinstated – again The patricians want to follow suit and bring Cincinnatus back for a second consulship but he refuses to stoop to the level of the plebs. There’s a lot going on in 460 and to really come to the grips with the detail takes some doing. Tune into the following episodes for all the details: Episode 95 – Introducing Caeso Quinctius Episode 96 – Letters and Rumours Episode 97 – Surprising Sabines Episode 98 – Cincinnatus Suffect Consul Conclusion FR – And that was the 460s in Ancient Rome… or was it? PG – Remember, this has just been the highlights from the ancient sources, so if you want to delve into the complexities of the different evidence from this period, check out our narrative episodes. FR – Thanks for joining us for this Partial Recap!
45 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 109 – The First Decemvirate
The Roman republic is in full swing and it’s time for the first decemvirate! The growing discontent amongst the population is reaching breaking point according to our narrative sources. Episode 109 – The First Decemvirate This conflict is often referred to as the Struggle of the Orders. It’s predicated on the idea that there is an ongoing tension between the patricians and the plebeians, two groups of Roman citizens at odds with each other. The patricians are the ‘haves’ and the plebeians are the ‘have nots’, but there are plenty of reasons to be wary of this division, since we’re not quite sure what qualities firmly exclude someone from patrician status in this early period. While modern scholars tend to see this division of the Roman population as a retrojection of our narrative and annalistic sources, this is nevertheless the lens through which Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus are navigating the early history of the republic. And where they lead, we shall follow. In terms of chronology, it’s 452 BCE, which means Rome is now over 300 years old! From here we begin to delve into the details of how the first decemvirate emerged. Ten Men! To alleviate the concerns of the people, we see the rise of the decemvirs. The decemviri consulari imperio legibus scribundis ‘the ten men with consular imperium for the writing down of the laws’ have a very specific task. It is considered of such importance that normal governance is suspended while the decemvirs do their things. The task is to put down the best laws of Rome and Greece into a document that can be placed in public for use in perpetuity. There are some concerns about what this decemvirate is designed to achieve from the out set. Livy suggests that there may have been legitimate concerns about this being a grab for power by the privileged patricians. This is supported by the requests for the Icilian law and the land allotment on the Aventine that it provided to be kept in place (Interested in the details of the Lex Icilia de Aventino Publicndo? We explore all the details in Episode 104 – Aventine, Aventine). There are also concerns that the decemvirate may attempt to dissolve the tribune of plebs, a magistracy that was hard won and often a thorn in the side of the patrician senate. Appius “Building Unity” Claudius When the consul for 452 BCE Menenius falls ill and is unable to fulfil his duties as consul, Appius Claudius (consul designate for 451 BCE) offers to support the remaining consul, Publius Sestius, by organising the decemvirate which is due to begin the next year. He works closely with the tribunes and other inserted senators and seems very invested in harmony, peace, and ensuring the unity of the state as they embark upon the codification of the laws. Things to listen out for: The way the decemvirs share power A day in the life of the decemvirs The charisma of Appius Claudius The Ten Tables! Ager publicus (or the absence thereof) Suppression of tribunician power Our Players Consuls of 452 BCE Publius Sestius Q. f. Vibi n. Capitolinus(?) Vaticanus (Pat) Lucius / Titus Menenius Agripp. f. Agripp. n. Lanatus (Pat) The First Decemvirate of 451 BCE Meet your decemvirs! The decemvirs are led by the consul designates for the year 451 BCE Appius Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Crassus Inrigillensis Sabinus Titus Genucius L. f. L. n. Augurinus They are joined by Publius Sestius Lucius Veturius (Livy) / Titus Veturius (Dionysius of Halicarnassus) Gaius Iulius Aulus Manlius Publius Sulpicius (Livy) / Servius Sulpicius (Dionysius of Halicarnassus) Publius Curiatius (Livy) / Publius Horatius (Dionysius of Halicarnassus) Titus Romilius Spurius Postumius The Second Decemvirate of 450 BCE This episode also features an introduction to the second decemvirate! Welcome back to our Appius with the mostest: Appius Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Crassus Inrigillensis Sabinus This time joined by Quintus Fabius Vibulanus M. f. M. n. (Pat) (cos. 467, 565, 459 BCE) Marcus Cornelius – f. Ser. n. Maluginensis (Pat) Marcus Sergius – f. – n, Esquilinus (Pat) Lucius Minucius P. f. M. n. Esquilinus Augurinus (Pat) (cos. 458 BCE) Titus Antonius – f. – n. Merenda (Pat) Manius Rabuleius – f. – n. (Pat, according to Dionysius of Halicarnassus, but thought now to be a plebeian name) Quintus Poetelius – f. – n. Lino Visolus (plebeian) Kaeso Duilius – f- n- Longus(?) (plebeian) Spurius Oppius – f. – n. Cornicen (plebeian) Sound Credits Musical interlude and final credits: Bettina Joy de Guzman Additional sound effects: BBC Sound Effects (Beta) A day in ancient Rome; being a revision of Lohr’s “Aus dem alten Rom”, with numerous illustrations, by Edgar S. Shumway (1885). Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
56 minutes | 5 months ago
Special Episode – The Year of the Four Emperors with Dr Rob Cromarty
We are thrilled to be joined by Dr Rob Cromarty, better known as Doc Crom, for this special episode on the Year of the Four Emperors. Doc Crom, is a teacher, author, and fellow fan of #PhallusThursdays and #FannyFriday over on twitter and we recommend you follow him for his excellent tweets about Latin literature and ancient artefacts. In this very special episode we talk about his journey into Classics and his take on the personalities and power struggles involved in the aftermath of the death of the Emperor Nero. Special Episode – The Year of the Four Emperors with Dr Rob Cromarty What is ‘The Year of the Four Emperors’? The Emperor Nero made several mistakes in the last few years of his reign. Following the brutal suppression of a serious conspiracy against him, Nero left Rome in the hands of his freedmen so that he could compete in the Olympic Games. Back in Rome, the people were dealing with low grain supplies. The aristocracy had been alienated for years, and the increasing use of delatores (informers) only made matters worse. The army was also on edge after the execution of talented generals like Corbulo. The situation in early 68 CE was tense. The extent of Roman power in the crucial years of 68 and 69 CE. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. That’s Revolting The Year of the Four Emperors really kicks off with rebellion. In March, Caius Julius Vindex, then stationed in Gaul, revolted in protest against Nero’s tax policy. Some problems never change. Servius Sulpicius Galba, an old associate of some of the Julio-Claudians, was stationed in Spain and decided to throw his lot in with Vindex. Vindex’s rebellion was put down by Lucius Verginius Rufus, and Galba was declared a public enemy. But that did not last long. The Praetorian Prefect, Nymphidius Sabinus, promised the guard a hefty donative to transfer their allegiance from Nero to Galba, and before long the Senate had made Nero himself a public enemy. The First of the Four Galba became emperor in June 68 CE after the suicide of Nero. As a stern, experienced candidate, he must have seemed like a promising choice. However, he soon acquired something of a reputation. According to sources, his assumption of power involved the death of many, and he was stingy with money. Most importantly, he did not provide soldiers with the bonuses they had been promised in exchange for their support. As Tacitus (Hist. 1.49.6) remarked, “…no one would have doubted his ability to reign had he never been emperor.” Galba was also 73 years old and had no children. This didn’t bode well for stability, and so he decided to focus on improving his position in this area by adopting Lucius Calpurnius Piso in January of 69 CE, a deliberate snub to one of his most prominent supporters – Otho. A portrait bust of the Roman emperor Galba. This piece is held in the Antiquities Museum in the Royal Palace, Stockholm. Photo credit to Wolfgang Sauber via Wikimedia Commons. The Year of the Four Emperors, Take Two To say that Otho was displeased is an understatement. He bribed the Praetorians to back his cause; after all, they weren’t getting bonuses from Galba! On the 15th of January 69 CE, Piso and Galba were assassinated in the forum. Otho thus became the first emperor to unequivocally acquire power by killing the previous emperor. Otho was well known as he had been a prominent member of Nero’s court; indeed, Nero’s most beloved wife, Poppaea Sabina, had once been married to Otho. Unlike Galba, who sought to distance himself from Nero and condemn his reputation, Otho played on the connection. However, he faced challenges from the outset. Otho became emperor on 15th January 69 CE and took control of the city of Rome, but another would-be emperor had already taken initiative. The soldiers in Germania Inferior refused to swear loyalty to Galba on the 1st January 69 CE, soon to be followed by the troops of Germania Superior. Vitellius had been stationed in Germania Inferior by Galba, and he began to organise his bid for power. Otho had a lot of support, but his forces were not close by, and he was defeated by Vitellius’ forces at the First Battle of Cremona and driven back to Bedriacum. Rather than prolong the civil war, Otho committed suicide on 16th April 69 CE. But his death would not bring the conflict to an end. Silver Denarius of Otho, Rome mint. His bare head right, IMP M OTHO CAESAR AVG TR P around / Securitas standing left holding wreath and scepter, SECURITAS P R. RIC 8. BMCRE 17. Sear RCV 2162. Source: accla.org Looking to learn more about Galba and Otho? We’ve got a vintage episode just for you. The Third of the Four Of all the emperors to reign in this period, Vitellius probably has the worst reputation (thank you, Flavians?). He had a good relationship with parts of the army and was a well-known figure from the Julio-Claudian period, but the sources record that he was also a glutton, and associated with actors, chariot-drivers and freedmen. As Vitellius’ popularity started to decline, another emperor was proclaimed in the east on 1st July 69 CE. A man from a modest background, Titus Flavius Vespasianus, had become a trusted military commander. He was supported by the Prefect of Egypt, Tiberius Julius Alexander, and gradually others joined his cause, including the governor of Upper Pannonia (Primus) and the governor of Syria (Mucianus). A second Battle of Cremona ensued in September 69 CE between the Vitellians and some of Vespasian’s supporters. By December, Vespasian’s men were in Rome itself, and Vitellius was located and slaughtered in the Forum. This portrait of Vitellius is based on the bust held by the Capitoline Museums in Rome. This particular example is held by the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid. Photo credit: Luis García (Zaqarbal) via Wikimedia Commons What’s going on with Otho and Vitellius? Tune into our classic episode for more details. A New Dynasty Begins! The year of the four emperors draws to a close with Vespasian. He managed to hold on to power for the next ten years, and was succeeded by his two sons, establishing the second dynasty of imperial Rome. But how much did his victory influence the historical accounts of this time? Join us as we discuss the ins and outs of this complicated period, which actually lasted for longer than just one year. Portrait of Titus Flavius Vespasian, who emerges as a stable ruler from the chaotic years of 68 and 69 CE. Photo credit: Heribert Pohl via Wikimedia Commons Major Primary Sources Suetonius, The Twelve Caesars, the lives of Nero, Otho, Galba, Vitellius, and Vespasian Tacitus, The Histories Sound Credits Musical interludes by Bettina Joy de Guzman. Check out her work, it’s fabulous! Additional sound effects: Fesliyan Studios, the BBC, Sound Bible, and Pond5
58 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 108 – Plague and Politics
It’s 453 BCE and just as Rome seems to be heading towards a legal milestone disaster strikes: it’s a plague! Now plagues are terrible, of that there is no doubt, but how does this influence the path to codification? We’re here to find out. Episode 108 – Plague and Politics The Character of the Plague It is hard to identify the plague with certainty. What is clear from our later written sources is that the collective memory recalls this plague as highly contagious with the capacity to leap between species. People caught it but so too did some of the animals that people worked closely with. The origin of the plague and how it eventually came to an end are lost to us. In lieu of strong osteoarchaeological evidence, it is possible to interpret this plague as a shared idea of opposition to the codification of the laws, which the elites likely saw as infringing upon their power. Both Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus focus on the devastating consequences of the plague. Things to listen out for: The horrific death toll The Aequians! The issue with the harvest With 453 BCE wholly occupied with pestilence and its effects, everyone still standing is hoping for a better time in 452 BCE… The Athenian Junket Returns! Lucky for Rome, the plague does not go so far as Athens. The delegates sent out to find out about the law codes that others have produced return with some new ideas. There are some odd things about our narrative accounts though which Dr Rad delves into. Some pertinent questions: Why would the Romans go all the way to Athens? What are the law codes of the Greeks like? Do the Twelve Tables really suggest a Greek influence? What might our narrative accounts gain by suggesting a connection with Greece at this point? Rome’s Heading into Uncertain Territory It’s fair to say that our narrative sources leave us somewhat dissatisfied. Our sources inspire less confidence the further we move into the Struggle of the Orders. Who are the patricians? Who are the plebeians? How were these demarcations understood by the Romans? Do our writers from the late Republican period really have a clear handle on what happened in the past? Will the Twelve Tables live up to the suspense? Only time will tell… Thomas Cole The Course of Empire. Desolation 1836. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Our Players in 453BCE Consuls Publius Curiatus — f. — n. Fistus Trigeminus (Pat) Sextus Quinctilius Sex f. P. n. ‘Varus’ (Pat) Suffect Consul Spurius Furius Medullinus Fusus (cos. 464 BCE) (Pat) Flamen Quirinalus Servius Cornelius Augur C. Horatius Pulvillus Our Players in 452 BCE Consuls Gaius/Lucius/Titus (?) Menenius Agripp. f. Agripp. n. Lanatus (Pat) Publius Sestius Q. f. Vibi. n. Capito(linus?) Vaticanus (Pat) Consular Nominations Appius Claudius Ap. f. M. n. Crassus Inrigillenssis Sabinus (Pat) Titus Genucius L. f. L. n. Augurinus (Pat) Our Sources Dr Rad reads Livy ab urbe condita 3.32 Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.53-54 Sound Credits A big shout out to Ancient History Hound, whose work we recommend Musical interlude and final credits: Bettina Joy de Guzman Additional sound effects: Freesound (User bone666138)
49 minutes | 7 months ago
Episode 107 – Let the Codification Begin!
We jump into 454 BCE where we start to see the consequences of the events of the previous year play out. It’s hard to get away from our “Roman Achilles” who, in his position as plebeian tribune, levels a charge of “injuring the state” against the former consul Romilius. This sets up a cascade of interesting incidents. Episode 107 – Let the Codification Begin There’s little agreement between our major written sources for this year. Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus diverge in much of the details even though they hit upon some shared touchstones. But this is partly about what we don’t know… Dr Rad explores some of the complexities of who is who during this period. While our sources use categories like ‘patrician’ and ‘plebeian’, these terms offer a binary model for thinking about the structure of Roman society. Often this is a simplification of what was really happening. By the time we get to the first century BCE when these histories were written, the composition of these groups is more clear cut than they were in the fifth century. Speeches as didactic tools Dr G delves into Dionysius of Halicarnassus’ use of speeches as a means of teasing out a Roman perspective. Speeches are a significant feature in his writing and sets his work apart from Livy during this period. Dionysius’ penchant for rhetoric offers a means of appreciating how the Romans thought. They also offer a framework for Greek readers to appreciate the reasoning of the Romans. Listen in for… Consuls with attitude! A story of a father, a son, and filial duty The Lex Aternia Tarpeia The law about the laws! A surprising consular return The laws of Solon Our Players for 454 BCE The Consuls Spurius Tarpeius M. f. M.n. Montanus Capitolinus (Pat.) Aulus Terminius/Aternius – f. – n. Varus Fontinalis (Pat.) The Consuls of 455 BCE Titus Romilius T. f. T. n. Rocus Vaticanus (Pat) Gaius Veturius P. f. – n. Cicurinus (Pat) Tribune of the Plebs Lucius Siccius Dentatus “The Roman Achilles” Aedilis plebis Lucius Alienus Patricians of Note Spurius Verginius Aulus Verginius – legate Spurius Postumius Albus (Regillensis) – cos. 466 BCE Aulus Manlius (Vulso?) – cos. 474 BCE Publius or Servius Sulpicius Camerinus (Cornutus?) – cos. 461 BCE Plebeians of Note Marcus Icilius Sound credits With gratitude we offer thanks to Bettina Joy de Guzman for the evocative musical interlude that accompanies this episode. Additional sound effects courtesy of Alexander Nakarada – Nomadic Sunset and BBC Sound Effects (Beta) Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi ‘Consul’ by Pascal Quidalut
58 minutes | 8 months ago
Special Episode – Medusa with Let’s Talk About Myths Baby
Medusa fills the imagination with a very particular kind of fascination. Pity for her situation and dread of what she is capable of make her one of the most recognisable figures from Greek myth. She has transcended that context with her story reimagined by the Romans, the artists of the Renaissance, and she continues to excite wonder today. We sat down to talk about Medusa and her representation with the fabulous Liv, host of Let’s Talk about Myths Baby. Special Episode – Medusa with Let’s Talk About Myths Baby In this far-reaching conversation, we’ll be considering some of the key stories that make up the mythological world of Medusa including: How she came to have snakes for hair The challenges she faced as the mortal Gorgon And how her representation often reflects the values of the context of the artwork. Who is Medusa? When you start to look, Medusa is everywhere (but also, don’t look!). She is an extremely ancient figure best known for the Greek myths associated with the hero Perseus. Medusa is famous for her snaky hair and ability to turn living things to stone with her gaze. This ability has been immortalised in movies such as Clash of the Titans (1981) and its 2010 remake, and Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief (2010). Her decapitated head—the Gorgoneoin—can be found on the breastplate of the goddess Athena, the logo for Versace and the Sicilian flag, as well as decorating many ancient buildings, floors and pottery. Medusa endures today as a polyvalent symbol of danger and empowerment. She recently featured in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey (2018) and her name is given to the crime network in The Hustle (2019), the gender-swapped reboot of Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988). Join us as we discuss Medusa’s journey to becoming a symbol that can seemingly serve many masters. Ancient Accounts of Medusa This is not an exhaustive list, but a guide to those we mention in this discussion and a great place to start reading! Hesiod Theogony 270ff Homer Iliad 5.741 – The Gorgon’s head is described as a “ghastly monster” and a “potent symbol of Zeus”. Also see 8.349, where Hector’s gaze is likened to that of Gorgo and 11.36f for a description of a Gorgon’s head on the face of Agamemnon’s shield. Ovid Metamorphoses 4.604-803 Pseudo-Apollodorus Bibliotheca 2.4 Depictions of Medusa in Art A great deal of Medusa’s complexity has developed through her reception over time. This is particularly apparent in art. We explore a few key examples that draw attention to a range of interpretations The Rondanini Medusa Dating to the late Hellenistic or Augustan periods, the Rondanini Medusa is iconic. It captured the imagination of Goethe during his travels in Italy and it shares many visual elements with the Versace logo as well. “So-called “Rondanini Medusa”. Marble, Roman copy after a 5th-century BC Greek original by Phidias, which was set on the shield of Athena Parthenos.” Source: Wikimedia Commons, photograph by MatthiasKabel, 2005-10-26. Perseus by Cellini, 1545-1554 This exceptional bronze can be found in Florence where it offers interpretation of the ancient myth and comment on Medici politics… Bronze and marble (base), 1545–1554. Under the Loggia dei Lanzi, Florence, since 1554. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons, photograph by Jastrow, 13-9-2005 Medusa by Caravaggio 1595-98 Florence is home not only to the Cellini bronze, but also the famous Caravaggio portrait, where the face of Medusa is interchangeable with that of the artist himself. Uffizi Gallery, post-restoration. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons You can also explore Caravaggio’s Testa di Medusa in detail here. Bust of the Medusa by Bernini 1644/8 Liv cites Bernini’s Medusa as a piece that encourages empathy for the subject. This perspective will come to the fore again in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Held by the Musei Capitolini, Rome. Source: Wikimedia Commons, photograph by Miguel Hermoso Cuesta, 17-4-2014. You can explore Bernini’s sensitive artistry in detail here. Medusa in King’s Quest 3, 1986 Check out this quality graphic! For Dr G, this was a definitely encounter with Medusa. For many children of the 80s, encountering myths through computer games was a window into the ancient world and its amazing stories. Screenshot sourced from here. Medusa by Luciano Garbati 2008 Garbati’s Medusa flipped the heroic narrative of Perseus and cast our snake-haired heroine as a woman of her own destiny. This reimagining of Medusa’s story demonstrates how cultural perspective can shift representation. You can explore high quality images of Garbati’s work here. The complexities of Medusa’s story allow for a variety of interpretations. Garbati’s sculpture positions her as a figure of female empowerment, gaining power by taking the head of Perseus. The image of her head severed from her body has also been repurposed as political imagery by pro-Trump, anti-Hillary campaigners. In such cases, the myth of Medusa is designed to keep women from power. Why are we drawn back to her story time and again? Good Greeks! Since we recorded this episode, we’re excited to say that Liv has a book coming out soon! It’s all about Greek myth and is gorgeously illustrated. If you’re looking for a little more Greek myth in your life, this might be just the ticket 🙂 Looking for more on ancient Greece? In conversation with Ryan Stitt from The History of Ancient Greece Podcast, Dr Rad talks about slavery and Dr G explores women in religion. Additional Readings Looking to delve further into the world of Medusa? We’ve got you covered. Below are the works we refer to in this episode as well as readings that will build your appreciation for this incredibly engaging figure from Greek myth. Bremmer, J. N. & Welwei, K. 2006. ‘Gorgo’, in Brill’s New Pauly. Consulted online on 11 January 2020. Burkert, W.1992. The Orientalizing Revolution: Near Eastern Influence on Greek Culture in the Early Archaic Age (Harvard) Cixous, H. 1976. ‘The Laugh of the Medusa‘ Journal of Women in Culture and Society 1.4, 875-893 Freud, S. 1940. ‘Das Medusenhaupt’ Der Internationalen Zeitschrift für Psychoanalyse und Imago 25.2 (manuscript from 1922). Garber, M. Vickers, N. J. (eds.) 2003. The Medusa Reader (Routledge) Hirst, K. 2019. ‘Medusa: The Ancient Greek Myth of the Snake-Haired Gorgon’, Thought Co. Hirst’s article is a great place to start. This is an accessible overview of who Medusa was and the main myths associated with her in the ancient world. Keith, A. .2018. ‘Medusa’s Gaze in Imperial Latin Epic: In memoriam R. Elaine Fantham (1933-2016)’, Helios, 45.2, 145-167. Keith focuses on Ovid, Lucan and Statius and analyses how these Roman authors reconciled themselves with the power of Medusa’s image. Ovid and Lucan’s work has been very influential in shaping the Medusa myth! Lewis, S. 2011. ‘Women and Myth’, in A Companion to Greek Mythology, eds K. Dowden & N. Livingstone (Wiley), 443-458. Mergenthaler, V. 2008. ‘Gorgon’, in Brill’s New Pauly Supplements I – Volume 4: The Reception of Myth and Mythology. Consulted online on 11 January 2020. Topper, K. (2007), ‘Perseus, the Maiden Medusa, and the Imagery of Abduction’, Hesperia: The Journal of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 76.1 (Jan-Mar), 73-105. Topper’s article is extremely useful for anyone interested in the artistic representations of Perseus and Medusa. Topper explains that earlier attempts to categorise representations of the Gorgon were too “neat” and linear, suggesting that Medusa and her sister moved from more monstrous or grotesque to a beautified image in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Vernant, J-P., Zeitlin, F. I. (eds.) 1991. Mortals and Immortals: Collected Essays (Princeton) Zajko, V. & Leonard, M. 2008. ‘Introduction’, in Laughing with Medusa: Classical Myth and Feminist Thought, eds V. Zajko & M. Leonard (Oxford), 1-16. This introduction provides a succinct overview of the work of French feminist Hélène Cixous’, namely her ‘Laugh of the Medusa’. Keener readers may wish to consult the full essay on Cixous contained in this volume by Zajko. Sound Credit With gratitude we offer thanks to Bettina Joy de Guzman for the evocative music that accompanies this episode. She’s an incredibly talented musician and scholar as well as a fantastic supporter of our podcast.
63 minutes | 9 months ago
Episode 106 – Spoiler Alert
We continue to follow the cause of our Roman Achilles–more formally known as Lucius Siccius Dentatus–in 455 BCE. Dentatus is truly the star of the this period of history from the perspective of Dionysius of Halicarnassus and Dr G has a lot to say about that! Episode 106 – Spoiler Alert What can we glean from a history written long after the fact? Dr Rad takes us through some of the key concerns we face when approaching the written sources for the early republic. Part of the trouble steams simply from the time of the events when people like Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus lived centuries later. But we also run into the challenge of stock figures, whose names and existence are open to question. Such figures serve an important role in bringing a historical narrative to life. The complications of public discourse The traditionalist streak runs deeply through the patricians. This comes as no surprise as they are the beneficiaries of the structures already in place in Rome, but it does lead to some questionable behaviour. Things to listen out for: The patricians position in the forum The challenges raised by the pons or ‘voting bridge’ Patrician power called into question through trials Some intriguing exchanges through the goddess Ceres… Trouble in Tusculum! A real set to between Romilius and Siccius The discrepancy between Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus about the treasury Our Players The Consuls Titus Romilius T. f. T. n. Rocus Vaticanus (Pat) Gaius Veturius P. f. – n. Cicurinus (Pat) Tribunes of the Plebs L. Icilius L. Alienus + 8 others! Notable Plebeians Lucius Siccius Dentatus Some Family Appearances the Postumii the Sempronii the Cloelii Our Sources Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.40-47 Dr Rad reads Livy ab urbe condita 3.31 Further Reading Interested in knowing more about this period in Rome’s history. Take a leaf from Dr Rad and jump into some scholarly reading: Cornell, T. J. 1995. The Beginnings of Rome Forsythe, G. 2005. A Critical History of Early Rome Momigliano, A. 2005. ‘The Rise of the Plebs in the Archaic Age of Rome’ in Rafflaub, K. (ed) Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders Rafflaub, K. 2005. ‘From Protection and Defense to Offense and Participation: Stages in the Conflict of the Orders’ in Rafflaub, K. (ed) Social Struggles in Archaic Rome: New Perspectives on the Conflict of the Orders Roman warrior charging – Alex Broeckel. Source: Pinterest. Sound Credits Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta)Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi
56 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 105 – The Roman Achilles
There’s nothing quite like learning that there’s a Roman Achilles! In this episode we get to meet the man behind the legend. Episode 105 – The Roman Achilles Before we jump in, let’s find out where things stand. It’s 455 BCE and our narrative sources have put forward the case that the opening up of the Aventine was an important step under the new collective of ten tribunes. But all is not well on the homefront of Rome. Things get off to a bad start when the consuls try to forcibly raise the levy. The tribunes step up to the plate in defence of the plebeians and we delve into what privileges and powers go along with the position. What we begin to see is the some of the complex workings of contested public space and the challenges of fighting for your rights with only a small crowd of citizens. As the crowd of disaffected plebeians swells in significance, the new consuls are faced with a dilemma – met with the crowd or remain in the safety of the senate… How does the tribunicianship operate? This seems to be a big looming question in our sources. There’s a range of possible activities that an expanded collective can work towards. The capacity to be decisive, to operate on multiple fronts for common goals, to get passionate about taking strong action. It’s intriguing to see how this potential is redirected under the influence of the patricians. Events to anticipate: The tribunes enter a meeting of the senate A big push for the law about the laws A consular venture to Tusculum to save them from the Aequians A controversial decision about what to do with some of the spoils of war Some clear deviation between the narrative focus of Livy and Dionysius of Halicarnassus A speech from the ‘Roman Achilles’ including mention of the corona aurea Our Players The Consuls Titus Romilius T. f. T. n. Rocus Vaticanus (Pat) Gaius Veturius P. f. – n. Cicurinus (Pat) Tribunes of the Plebs L. Icilius L. Alienus + 8 others! Notable Plebeians Lucius Siccius Dentatus “born with teeth” Our Sources Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Rom. Ant. 10.33-39.Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.31 Looking to brush up of the historical events Dentatus refers to in his speech? You can check out the happenings of 486 BCE here and catch the action of 473 BCE here. Joseph-Désiré Court 1820 Achilles Introduced to Nestor. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons Sound Credits Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta)Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi
64 minutes | a year ago
Special Episode – Agrippina the Younger with Dr Emma Southon
As far as incredible women in history go, it’s hard to top Agrippina the Younger. Political, ambitious, and a savvy operator are all ways we might interpret the evidence that remains for her life. But its fair to say that our ancient sources are a little less than kind. Special Episode – Agrippina the Younger with Dr Emma Southon Quite the Pedigree… As the Julio-Claudian family developed into a fully formed imperial dynasty, Agrippina the Younger emerged as an important figure in the rule of three emperors: her brother Caligula, her uncle (and later husband) Claudius, and her son Nero. She could trace her connections back to Augustus through her mother’s line. She was also the daughter of the wildly popular Germanicus, who died too soon and under circumstances palled with suspicion. Her family connections through her father were Claudian and ultimately this meant she embodied the Julio-Claudians. After the demise of her siblings, we can think of Agrippina as the distilled essence of the family. But having an illustrious ancestry is not necessarily indicative of how one’s life will turn out, and in this special episode, we have the great pleasure of sitting down with Dr Emma Southon, who has written an accessible academic history of Agrippina the Younger to delve further into the life of this amazing woman. A recent reconstruction of Agrippina the Younger as potentially the lead singer of an 80s band…Source: Royalty_Now on pinterest What does it take to write a historical biography? Dr Emma Southon’s book Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore was published by Unbound in 2018. This biography of Agrippina the Younger combines historical detail, engagement with the ancient sources and a colloquial tone to make for a roaring read. We consider the path to publication for this biography and how academics are finding ways to bring detailed critical history to a broader readership. Looking to delve further in the life and times of Agrippina? Here’s some sources to get you started: Primary Sources Tacitus Annals, esp Books 12-14; Agrippina the Elder’s tears as read in Agrippina the Younger’s memoirs by Tacitus Annals 4.53 Pliny the Elder Nat. 7.6 – Agrippina’s breech birth Dio Cassius Roman History Books 59-62 Suetonius’ Life of Gaius, Life of Claudius, and Life of Nero Secondary Sources Barrett, A. A. 1999. Agrippina: Sex, Power, and Politics in the Early Empire (Routledge) Barrett, A, A. 2002. Agrippina: Mother of Nero (Routledge) Ginsburg, J. 2005. Representing Agrippina: Constructions of Female Power in the Early Roman Empire (OUP) Southon, E. 2018. Agrippina: Empress, Exile, Hustler, Whore (Unbound) One of the most famous depictions of Agrippina on coinage is her representation with her sisters on the reverse of one of Gaius ‘Caligula’ Augustus’ issues. c. 37-41 CE. The depiction of living women on coinage was rare and Agrippina’s appearance here is an exceptional moment in Julio-Claudian iconography. Before things went wrong… Nero and his mother, Agrippina the Younger depicted together on the obverse side. c. 54 CE. Source: Wikimedia Commons and Classical Numismatic Group, Inc.
40 minutes | a year ago
Episode 104 – Aventine, Aventine
We return to the City of Rome in 456 BCE and follow the ongoing domestic struggles that Rome faces in defining herself in terms of transparency at law. Episode 104 – Aventine, Aventine With a new crop of tribunes come some important consequences. While in previous years the tribunes have focused on the goal of ensuring that there is a clear and public way for any Roman citizen to access the laws in order to understand them, with new tribunes comes a shift in thinking. A Return to Redistribution of Public Land After a long hiatus, the issue of public land returns to the tribunician agenda. It’s safe to say that things are about to get messy in Rome. If there’s one thing the patricians never seem to want to budge on, it’s negotiating the fair use of public land. Ten Tribunes Means Twice the Representation! Not only are there new tribunes but there are now plenty more of them representing the plebeians. We’ll get a taste of what can happen with a larger group of tribunes. That’s a lot of bodies to protect the interests of citizens and we’ll see how that magisterial privilege can be deployed. The Lex Icilia de Aventino Publicando We delve into the nitty gritty of the law passed in this year which is unusual for a number of reasons. The Players Consuls Marcus Valerius M’. f. Volusi n. Maxumus Lactuca (pat) Spurius Verginius A. f. A. n. Tricostus Caeliomontanus (pat) Tribunes Lucius Icilius Lucius Alienus Sources Dr Rad read Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.31Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.31-32 J. M. W. Turner c.1820s-1836. Rome, from Mount Aventine. Finding a painting that could do justice to the early Republican Aventine was tough, so we opted for this gorgeous, though much later view back onto nineteenth century Rome instead. Sound Credits Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta), Pond5, and Lewi Pilgrim Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi
43 minutes | a year ago
Episode 103 – Ten Terrific Tribunes
It’s c. 457 BCE in Rome and in this episode we explore the state of affairs in the wake of Cincinnatus’ dictatorship. Rome’s affairs with her neighbours are not off to a good start. As the City lifts her gaze outward after recent troubles, nearby peoples have taken matters into their own hands. The Sabines and the Aequians are both making bold moves stretching Rome’s attention both to the north and the south. Episode 103 – Ten Terrific Tribunes The Law About the Laws As Rome faces threats from a range of peoples, the usual patrician policy of fielding a citizen army through the levy comes about. We’re in pretty familiar territory here as the levy has been a sore point for years according to our narrative tradition and we can reliably expect the tribunes of the people to request greater transparency in relation to the laws. The desire for a law code that is public and accessible is increasing. As tensions rise, the differing political aims of the Senate, the consuls, and the tribunes clash. Things to Look Forward to Roman masculinity – how to define it and what it means from the perspective of a Greek writer Cincinnatus makes a fantastically interesting speech! Horatius tries to rally the people together for war while preserving the patrician position of privilege A discussion of some of the intersections and conflicts that arise from gender and class narratives A rhetorical exploration of age versus youth A proposal to increase the number of plebeian tribunes to ten! The senatorial back-and-forth regarding the pros and cons of increasing the number of the plebeian tribunes Hints of when we recorded this piece – during the long Australian bushfire season, but prior to concerns about COVID-19 Who’s Who Consuls Quintus Minucius P.f. M. n. Esquilinus (pat.) Marcus (Gaius?) Horatius M. f. M. n. Pulvillus (pat.) COS II Tribunes Aulus Verginius Volscius Fictor (?) Two or three other tribunes unnamed in our sources Sources Dr G reads Dionysius of Halicarnassus Roman Antiquities 10.26-30 Dr Rad reads Livy Ab Urbe Condita 3.29-30 Jean Lemaire c. 1645-55 Roman Senators and Legates Sound Credits Sound Effects courtesy of BBC Sound Effects (Beta), and John Stracke via Sound Bible Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi
67 minutes | a year ago
Special Episode – An Interview with Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge
We had the very great pleasure to sit down with Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge to discuss his latest publication The Failure of Augustus: Essays on the Interpretation of a Paradox (2019). Special Episode – An Interview with Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge Judge has a long-reaching career, accepting his first junior lectureship in the 1950s and going on accept the inaugural History Chair at Macquarie University in Sydney. Dr G and Dr Rad met as undergraduate students at Macquarie so it is our extraordinary pleasure to sit down with Judge and have the chance to chat. Dr G (left) holding Cooley’s Res Gestae, Emeritus Professor Edwin Judge (centre), and Dr Rad (right) holding Judge’s The Failure of Augustus In this far reaching conversation we learn about Judge’s evolving thoughts on Augustus over the course of his academic career, some of the salient connections between Augustus and Tiberius that emerge from considering Augustus’ aims, the content of the Res Gestae Divi Augusti, and consideration of Augustus in terms of failure. Things to look forward to: A consideration of the importance of understanding time as a means of approaching historical interpretation The challenges that Tiberius faces in the wake of Augustus’ death The importance of the Res Gestae as a lens to Augustus’ life and career Key materials for approaching the subject of Augustus’ failure. The cursus honorem of Augustus, as visualised by Edwin Judge. Used with permission of the author. This table appears on the cover of The Failure of Augustus and page 8 of the collection. Reading recommendations Cooley, Alison E. 2009. Res Gestae Divi Augusti: Text, Translation and Commentary Judge, E. A. 2019. The Failure of Augustus: Essays on the Interpretation of a Paradox Lintott, Andrew W. 1999. Violence in Republican Rome Ridley, Ronald T. 2003. The emperor’s retrospect: Augustus’ Res gestae in epigraphy, historiography and commentary Final credits: Excerpt from ‘Ancient Arcadian Harp’ by Cormi
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