History (and her story, too)

Travertine - IMG_7968
Creative Commons License photo credit: Nicola since 1972

I’ve been listening to “The History of Rome,” Mike Duncan’s series of half-hour podcasts tracing… the history of Rome. That is, the Roman Empire, of course.

So far, there are 115 podcasts and more coming, and I’ve listed to almost 60.

Today, while hearing about the tragic fate of Augustus’s grandchildren (both were dead before their 25th birthdays), I idly wondered about what regular Romans thought about those events.

‘Cause there are lots of ways to think about history, right?

This isn’t a new idea or anything, but the blog is about what I’m thinking, not about original thoughts that no one else has ever thought before. So there.

  • One bucket contains rulers, battles, and major uprisings.
  • Another, popular of late, is history of tiny things, like salt, or the color blue, or one particular elephant.
  • Another bucket contains regular people.

For example, these lectures are really great (and free) and they cover bucket # 1.

I would never expect a single work (like a series of podcasts) to try to cover more than one bucket, or even to cover one bucket fully. So this isn’t a critique of the podcasts at all.

But I think it’s worth remembering that in the hundreds of years covered in the 58 lectures I’ve heard so far, there’s been no mention of inventions that improve people’s lives (as opposed to military inventions).

No mention of religious or cultural currents (Christianity will be coming soon, but again, that’s a major shift and will affect the emperors). There’s been no mention of the foods that people eat, or how those foods have changed as the empire grew to remote spots. Did people’s lives improve through those years? Were spices, cloths, and other luxury items easier for ordinary people to get? Did styles of speech change? Did mores and ethics change?

And on and on and on.

Any given period of history is bursting with interesting stuff. Even ours!


The History of Rome Podcast Web Page

Salt, a World History

Blue, the History of a Color

The Pope’s Elephant

3 Responses to History (and her story, too)

  1. Kevin November 11, 2010 at 3:25 pm #

    Podcast Schmodcast – I just watched the HBO series and feel I have a solid grip of the first two Caesars.

  2. Kevin November 19, 2010 at 8:41 am #


    Seems to be along the same lines of what you were discussing here.

  3. admin November 19, 2010 at 9:21 am #

    See? I told you it’s nothing new!

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