Friday, February 5, 2016

Episode B25 - Discindo

Synopsis:  The overthrow of King Gaius Julius Sohaemus of Armenia leads to war between Parthia and Rome.

"For Vologases had begun war by assailing on all sides the Roman camp under Severianus, situated in Elegeia, a place in Armenia; and he had shot down and destroyed the whole force, leaders and all.  He was now proceeding with numbers that inspired terror against the cities of Syria." – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 71 
Avidius Cassius Family Tree:

Friday, December 18, 2015


Episode B24, “The Yona Kings”, closes out the second story arc of “The Ancient World – Bloodline.”  The first dozen episodes – which I guess you could call the “Mauretanian story arc” – covered the final years of Antony and Cleopatra, then discussed the lives of Cleopatra Selene, Juba and their son Ptolemy – all the way up through his murder by Caligula.  The next dozen episodes – the “Judean story arc” – started with Ptolemy’s daughter Drusilla and her marriages to Marcus Antonius Felix and Gaius Julius Sohaemus.  We then covered Drusilla’s short-lived son Gaius Julius Alexio, her grandson Silas, and began the story of Silas’ three sons: Longinus, Agrippa and Sohaemus. 

So far it’s breaking down to around 3 generations, and around a dozen episodes, per story arc.  Which I didn’t particularly plan for but will totally take - since round numbers are always nice.  What that also means is that - based on my calculations - we’re around halfway done with the “Bloodline” series.  Which sounds like a good time for a break.  Which is why I’m taking one.  The break will probably last for a couple months - and we’ll pick back up sometime in February with the story of Silas’ three sons.  I’ve also posted the Bloodline Family Tree – so far – up on both the blog and Facebook sites.

In the meantime there are a couple of things I wanted to mention.  First off, as many of you know my wife Tracy DeLuca produces her own podcast called “Results May Vary.”  In the series Tracy and her friend Chris draw on their vast work experience in design thinking and innovation to help people design the lives they want.  No guarantees – I mean, the title is “Results May Vary” – just lots of interesting interviews, test cases and practical advice about living life by design. 

What you might not know is that Tracy's latest episode is with Mike Duncan – creator of “The History of Rome” and “Revolutions” podcasts and author of the forthcoming book “The Storm Before the Storm.”  Among other topics, the episode covers how to design the past to better engage people in our shared history and how to apply the lessons of history toward designing a better future.  The episode is posted at resultsmayvarypodcast.com.  And while you’re at it make sure to check out ongoing episodes of “Revolutions” at revolutionspodcast.com.  You can also find both series on iTunes.

Second, I wanted to engage the many wonderful and talented listeners out there in a little project.  Part of what I’ve been trying to do with “Bloodline” is bring the stories of Antony and Cleopatra’s descendants to life by talking about the times, places and events they lived through.  But of course what I do is mainly audio - and I was thinking it would also be pretty amazing to bring the story to life visually.  I’m a pretty crap artist myself, but I’m betting many of you out there are much, much better.

So I’ve decided to hold a bit of a contest.  Pick any subject from the series – a place, a scene, a character, even a concept - render it in whatever visual medium strikes your fancy, and e-mail the image to stches@ancientworldpodcast.com with the Subject “Bloodline Images.”  Whether it’s the execution of King Ptolemy, the Temple of Elah Gabal, even a creative rendering of the Bloodline Family Tree – if it’s from the series it’s fair game. 

I’ll feature some of my favorites on The Ancient World media sites.  And – even better – every contributor will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win two books.  The books in question are Tom Holland’s “Persian Fire” and Richard Miles’ “Carthage Must be Destroyed.”  Both books were a big help in creating the original series, and they’ve got the extensive highlighting to prove it.  I’m also more than happy to sign them for you.  The contest runs between now, December 18, and January 31, 2016 - when I’ll announce the winner of the drawing.  In the meantime, uncork that creativity, have fun and I look forward to seeing your handiwork.

So that’s it for the moment.  I really hope you’re enjoying the “Bloodline” series as much as I am making it – which is very, very much.  And trust me, the upcoming story arc is going to be epic.  Because it’s with the Severans that the descendants of Mark Antony and Cleopatra finally stake their claim to the Roman Empire – and the result is, well, kind of a disaster.  But it is fun to watch.

Until then, thanks for all the kind words and support, and thanks again for listening.

The Bloodline Family Tree (so far!)


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Episode B24 - The Yona Kings

Synopsis:  The Macedonian kingdoms of Central Asia endured for centuries before being absorbed into the Kushan Empire.  Hadrian’s actions in Judea spark a third Jewish Revolt.

"Has it ever happened to you, O king, that rival kings rose up against you as enemies and opponents?
-Yes, certainly.
-Then you set to work, I suppose, to have moats dug, and ramparts thrown up, and watch towers erected, and strongholds built, and stores of food collected?
-Not at all. All that had been prepared beforehand.
-Or you had yourself trained in the management of war elephants, and in horsemanship, and in the use of the war chariot, and in archery and fencing?
-Not at all. I had learnt all that before.
-But why?
-With the object of warding off future danger."Milinda Panha (The Questions of King Menander), Book III, Chapter 7 
Map of Central Asia:

Friday, November 6, 2015

Episode B23 - Parthicus

Synopsis:  At the far point of his campaign, Trajan’s Eastern conquests begin to slip from his fingers.

“Thence he came to the (Persian Gulf) itself, and when he had learned its nature and seen a boat sailing to India, he said: ‘I should certainly have cross over to the Indi, if I were still young.’  He gave much thought to the Indi, and was curious about their affairs.  Alexander he counted a happy man and at the same time declared that he himself had advanced farther.  This was the tenor of the dispatch that he forwarded to the Senate, although he was unable to preserve even what territory had been subdued.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 68 

The Near East c. 116AD - Provinces and Kingdoms 

The Near East c. 116AD - Major Cities

Friday, October 23, 2015

Episode B22 - Optimus

Synopsis:  Silas guides Emesa in its transition to a pilgrimage site.  The death of King Tiridates I of Armenia brings Rome and Parthia into conflict.

“(Parthomasiris) greeted him, took off his diadem from his head, and laid it at (Trajan’s) feet.  Then he stood there in silence, expecting to receive it back.  At this the soldiers shouted aloud, and hailed Trajan imperator as if on account of some victory (they termed it an uncrowned, bloodless victory to see the king, a descendant of Arsaces, a son of Pacorus, and a nephew of Osroes, standing beside Trajan without a diadem, like a captive).  The shout terrified the prince, who though that it heralded insult and destruction for him.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 68

Friday, October 9, 2015

Episode B21 - Betrayal

Synopsis:  Gaius Julius Sohaemus is compelled to help the Romans conquer Commagene.

“Petus…fell upon Commagene before Antiochus and his people had the least expectation of his coming.  He had with him the tenth legion, and also some cohorts and troops of horsemen.  These kings also came to his assistance: Aristibulus, king of the country called Chalcidene, and Sohaemus, who was called King of Emesa.  Nor was there any opposition made to his forces when they entered the kingdom, for no one of that country would so much as lift up his hand against them.” – Josephus, The Jewish War, Book VII, Chapter 7

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Episode B20 - The God of Dusk

Synopsis:  The destruction of Jerusalem.

Shalim (semetic):  Caananite god of dusk and the evening star, paired with Shahar, god of dawn and the morning star.  Root of Hebrew shalom and Arabic salam (peace), associated with sunset and the completion of the workday.  Related to the Caananite sun goddess Shapash, a possible manifestation of Shamash.  An element in the names of King David’s sons Solomon and Absalom.  Original guardian, patron and protective deity of Jerusalem. 

“Before the fifteenth of July all Syria had sworn the same allegiance.  Vespasian’s cause was now joined also by Sohaemus with his entire kingdom, whose strength was not to be despised, and by Antiochus who had enormous ancestral wealth, and was in fact the richest of the subject princes.  Presently Agrippa, summoned from Rome by private messages from his friends, while Vitellius was still unaware of his action, quickly crossed the sea and joined the cause.” – Tacitus, The Histories, Book II