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Friday, September 23, 2016

Episode B36 - The Black Stone

Synopsis:  Elagabalus spearheads a religious revolution in Rome, but his unpopular rule drives Julia Maesa to enact a back-up plan.

“To this temple, as to the common center of religious worship, the Imperial fanatic attempted to remove the Ancilia, the Palladium, and all the sacred pledges of the faith of Numa.  A crowd of inferior deities attended in various stations the majesty of the god of Emesa; but his court was still imperfect, till a female of distinguished rank was admitted to his bed.  Pallas had been first chosen for his consort; but as it was dreaded lest her warlike terrors might affront the soft delicacy of a Syrian deity, the Moon, adorned by the Africans under the name of Astarte, was deemed a more suitable companion for the Sun.” – Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, Chapter 6
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B36_The_Black_Stone.mp3

Friday, September 9, 2016

Episode B35 - Bassus

Synopsis:  Deception, good fortune, and Macrinus’ failings allow the Severans to retake the Roman throne.  As Emperor, Elagabalus makes plans to install the black stone of Elah Gabal in the Capital.

“(Elagabalus and Severus Alexander) were priests of the sun god, whom their countrymen worship under the Phoenician name Elagabalus.  A huge temple was erected to this god, lavishly decorated with gold, silver, and costly gems.  Not only is this god worshipped by the natives, but all the neighboring rulers and kings send generous and expensive gifts to him each year.  No statue made by man in the likeness of the god stands in the temple, as in Greek and Roman temples.  The temple does, however, contain a huge black stone with a pointed end and round base in the shape of a cone.  The Phoenicians solemnly maintain that this stone came down from Zeus; pointing out certain small figures in relief, they assert that it is an unwrought image of the sun, for naturally that is what they wish to see.” – Herodian, History of the Roman Empire from the Death of Marcus Aurelius to the Accession off Gordian III, Book V, Chapter III
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B35_Bassus.mp3

Friday, August 26, 2016

Episode B34 - Keepers of the Fire

Synopsis:  King Artabanus of Parthia gathers his forces to seek revenge on Rome.  Usurpation and war gain the Sasanids control over the southern territory of Fars.

“Macrinus, seeing that Artabanus was exceedingly angry at the way he had been treated and had invaded Mesopotamia with a large force, at first of his own accord sent him captives and used friendly language, urging him to accept peace and laying the blame for the past on (Caracalla).  But the other would not entertain his proposition, and furthermore bade him build up the forts and demolished cities, abandon Mesopotamia entirely and offer satisfaction in general, but particularly for the damage to the royal tombs.  For, trusting in the large force that he had gathered, and despising Macrinus as an unworthy emperor, he gave reign to his wrath and expected that even without Roman consent he could accomplish whatever he wished.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 78
Map of the Parthian Empire
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/PARTHIA_FINAL.jpg

Friday, August 5, 2016

Episode B33 - Semiramis

Synopsis:  Caracalla cuts a murderous path through Rome, and provokes a dangerous war with Parthia.  After his murder, Julia Domna is forced to contend with a would-be usurper.

“Julia Domna deserved all that the stars could promise her.  She possessed, even in advanced age, the attractions of beauty, and united to a lively imagination a firmness of mind, and strength of judgement, seldom bestowed on her sex.  Her amiable qualities never made any deep impression on the dark and jealous temper of her husband; but in her son’s reign, she administered the principal affairs of the empire, with a prudence that supported his authority, and with a moderation that sometimes corrected his wild extravagancies.” - Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, Chapter 6
The Bloodline Family Tree – Part I

The Bloodline Family Tree – Part II

http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/B33_Bloodline02.pdf

Friday, July 22, 2016

Episode B32 - The Fourth Caesar

Synopsis:  Severus’ close friendship with Plautianus estranges him from his family.  In his final years, a rebellion in Britannia provides one last opportunity to shape his legacy.

“The contemporaries of Severus, in this enjoyment of the peace and glory of his reign, forgave the cruelties by which it had been introduced.  Posterity, who experienced the fatal effects of his maxims and example, justly considered him as the principal author of the decline of the Roman Empire.” – Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, Chapter 5
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B32_The_Fourth_Caesar.mp3

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Another Break

I wanted to let everyone know that the latest Episode, “Perish in Blood”, will be the last one for a month or two.  I’ll be off on Vacation for a while, and generally taking a break.  In the meantime, I hope you’re all enjoying the Severan story arc.  Like I mentioned early on, the extended family of Julia Domna was the original inspiration of the series, and I’m hoping to flesh out all the family members as much as I can.  At the same time, I’m planning to give a lot of attention to the Sasanids, including their history and background, their conflict with the Parthians, and - eventually - their conflict with Julia Domna’s great-nephew, Severus Alexander.  So, look for all that when I pick the story back up in a month or two. 

In the meantime, please do a couple things to support the show.  First, for those of you on iTunes, please swing by and review The Ancient World.  You can just give it a starred rating, or you can also leave a comment, which I always love to read.  And second, The Ancient World may be in the running for this year’s Podcast Awards.  The final slate will be announced on May 22 at www.podcastawards.com.  On the off-chance we are in the running, please do whatever you can to support the show - it’s a great way to get the word out.  Otherwise, thanks again for listening, and I’ll see you in a month or two!
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Another_Break.mp3

Friday, April 29, 2016

Episode B31 - Perish in Blood

Synopsis:  Severus confronts Albinus at Lugdunum, then launches a war against the Parthians.  At the pinnacle of his power, the oracle of Zeus Belos reveals his family’s fate.

“The youth of Severus had been trained in the implicit obedience of the camps, and the riper years spent in the despotism of military command.  His haughty and inflexible spirit could not discover, or would not acknowledge, the advantage of preserving an intermediate power, however imaginary, between the Emperor and the army.” – Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, Chapter 5
“Here is one man who overthrew three Emperors after they were already ruling, and got the upper hand of the Praetorians by a trick…He prevailed over them all by his courage.  It is not possible to name another like Severus.” – Herodian, History of the Roman Empire from the Death of Marcus Aurelius to the Accession of Gordian III, Book 3, Chapter 7
Map of the Near East c. 198AD (provinces):
Map of the Near East c. 198AD (cities):