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Monday, December 19, 2016

You Are Here

Episode B39, “Excidium,” finishes off the third story arc of The Ancient World Bloodline.  We’ve come a pretty long way from the days of Cleopatra Selene and Juba II – in fact we’ve come about ten generations - and now there’s only a little ways left to go.  The upcoming final story arc will focus on Palmyra, Emesa and the Sasanids, while out West the Romans’ll be tearing through Emperors like used paper towels. 

Just to give some context, the first two story arcs – on Mauretania and Judea – went 12 episodes each, and the latest one on the Severans took 15.  If I had to guess I’d say the final story arc will run less than 10 episodes, but it’s really too early to say.  What I can say is it’ll be quite a while before any new episodes are posted.
First off I’ll be taking a long break over the Holidays and through my birthday in early February.  And by the way that’ll be my 50th birthday, for which I’m already working up some pretty fun plans.  Actually next year is also my 10th wedding anniversary and also marks 5 – yes 5 - years as a podcaster.  Which is why my tentative plan is to post the next episode, Episode B40, around my 5-year podcasting anniversary in April 2017. 
So what can you do in the meantime?  Well, you could always marathon old episodes of Bloodline.  It’s still less than a full day back-to-back.  You could tell friends, neighbors and fellow history fans – or even just fans of a good story – to give the podcast a listen.  And if you really want to help out the show - cue the broken record - you could stop by and review the series on iTunes.
You can also keep in touch on Twitter and Facebook.  That’s @TheAncientWorld on Twitter and @ancientworldpodcast on Facebook.  I’ve been posting tons of photos from my recent history-related travels up on the Facebook page, and I always try to keep my Twitter feed chalk full of ancient history stuff.  So if you like the podcast I’m pretty sure you’ll like both sites.
That’s about it for now, I just wanted to give a status and a bit of a look-ahead.  When I return we’ll cover the last few generations of Cleopatra’s heirs, and I’ll also be telling the story of Palmyra – a place which is unfortunately back in the news for very tragic reasons.  But for a short time under Zenobia Palmyra ruled the entire Roman East and was powerful enough militarily to fend off the Sasanids.  It’s an interesting story, and I’m going to do my best to give it its due.  In the meantime please have a great Holiday Season and I’ll see you all in 2017!
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/You_Are_Here.mp3

Friday, December 2, 2016

Episode B39 - Excidium

Synopsis:  Alexander marches East to counter Ardeshir’s invasion, but the conflict ends in a stalemate.  A short time later, a legionary rebellion along the Rhine brings the Severan regime to a bloody end.

“The lenity of the Emperor confirmed the insolence of the troops; the legions imitated the example of the Guards, and defended their prerogative of licentiousness with the same furious obstinacy.  The administration of Alexander was unavailing struggle against the corruption of this age…Fresh mutinies perpetually broke out; his officers were murdered, his authority was insulted, and his life at last sacrificed to the fierce discontents of the army.”  - Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter VI, Part IV
The Roman War Plan for 233 AD

The Bloodline Family Tree (Part 1)

The Bloodline Family Tree (Part 2)

http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/B39_Bloodline02.pdf

Friday, November 11, 2016

Episode B38 - The Last Severan

Synopsis:  Overseen by his mother and grandmother, Severus Alexander’s early reign was marked by wisdom and temperance.  A decade later, a Sasanid invasion would test both Rome and its emperor.

“When Alexander received the empire, the appearance and the title of Emperor were allowed him, but the management and control of imperial affairs were in the hands of his women, and they undertook a more moderate and more equitable administration.”  – Herodian, History of the Roman Empire from the Death of Marcus Aurelius to the Accession of Gordian III, Book VI, Chapter I
“(Ardeshir) did not remain quiet, however, nor stay on his side of the Tigris River, but, after scaling its banks and crossing the borders of the Roman empire, he overran Mesopotamia and threatened Syria.  The entire continent opposite Europe, separated from it by the Aegean Sea and the Propontic Gulf, and the region called Asia, he wished to recover for the Persian empire…When the Eastern governors revealed these developments in their dispatches, Alexander was greatly disturbed by these unanticipated tidings, particularly since, raised from childhood in an age of peace, he had spent his entire life in urban ease and comfort.” – Herodian, History of the Roman Empire from the Death of Marcus Aurelius to the Accession of Gordian III, Book VI, Chapter II
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Episode_B38_The_Last_Severan.mp3

Friday, October 28, 2016

Episode B37 - Shahanshah

Synopsis:  Ardeshir defeats Artabanus in battle and claims the Parthian Empire for the Sasanids.  After a failed attempt to conquer Armenia, he sets his sights on the Roman East.

“Then (Ardeshir) came to battle with Artabanus, killed the entire army of the latter, seized their wealth, property, horses, and portable lodges, and settled himself in Istakhr.  He collected soldiers in large numbers from Kerman, Mokristan, Isfahan, and different districts of Fars, and came to fight with Artabanus himself.  So Artabanus sent for soldiers and provisions from different frontiers...But as the Glory of the Kayanians (Achaemenids) was with Ardeshir, the latter gained success. He killed Artabanus, whose entire wealth and property fell into the hands of Ardeshir, who married Artabanus's daughter, and went back to Fars.” – The Book of Deeds of Ardeshir Son of Pabag, Chapter IV 

“Artaxerxes, a Persian, having conquered the Parthians in three battles and killed their king, Artabanus, made a campaign against Hatra, which he endeavored to take as a base for attacking the Romans.  He did make a breach in the wall but, as he lost a number of soldiers through an ambuscade, he transferred his position to Media.  Of this district, as also of Parthia, he acquired no small portion, partly by force and partly by intimidation, and then marched against Armenia.  Here he suffered a reverse at the hands of the natives, some Medes, and the children of Artabanus, and either fled (as some say) or (as others assert) retired to prepare a larger expedition.  He accordingly became a source of fear for us.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 80 

Map of the Roman-Sasanid Frontier c. 232 AD:

http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/SASANID_FINAL.jpg

Friday, September 30, 2016

Off Again

Just a quick note to say that the latest Episode, “The Black Stone,” will be the last one for the next month or so, due to Vacation and a few other things.  Around the end of October, I’ll be back with the final three episodes of the Severan story arc, which should wrap up just before the Holidays.  At that point, I’ll be over three-quarters done with “The Ancient World – Bloodline” - and’ll be rounding the corner toward home.  And by the way, the next episode – Episode B37 – will officially make Bloodline my longest series to-date! 

While I’m away, please keep helping out with the Twitter Follows, the Facebook Likes and – especially – the iTunes Reviews.  And for anyone listening to the show on iTunes outside the US, I’d really appreciate if you could copy and paste my written iTunes reviews (for your country) and e-mail them to stches@ancientworldpodcast.com.  I can’t access my foreign reviews from the US and would like to check them out.  Thanks again and I’ll see you all in a month or so! – Scott C.
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/Off_Again.mp3

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):

Friday, April 15, 2016

Episode B30 - Mater Castrorum

Synopsis:  Severus defeats Niger and wages a limited Eastern campaign.  While Julia Domna is hailed as Mother of the Camps, Caracalla’s elevation to Caesar prompts a second civil war.

“There used to be an oracle about Hannibal’s death.
‘The soil of Libyssa would cover Hannibal’s body.’
The later emperor of the Romans, Severus,
Who was a descendant of the Libyans, he put upon this man’s
Tomb a white piece of marble to honor the commander Hannibal.”  
- John Tzetzes, Chiliades (or Book of Histories), Book 1, 801 - 805

Friday, April 1, 2016

Episode B29 - 193

Synopsis:  After Pertinax and his successor are killed in the same year, Severus’s claim to the Empire is contested by two rivals. 

"Pertinax was one of those men to whom no exception can be taken, but he ruled only for an exceedingly brief space of time and was then put out of the way by the soldiers.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 73
“The Pannonian army was at that time commanded by Septimius Severus, a native of Africa, who, in the gradual ascent of private honors, had concealed his daring ambition.” - Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Volume 1, Chapter 5
Bloodline Family Tree (c. 193AD):

Friday, March 18, 2016

Episode B28 - Bestiarius

Synopsis: Julia Domna marries Septimius Severus and gives birth to Caracalla and Geta. Left behind in Rome with her young children, Julia watches as Commodus re-founds the Empire in his own image.

"The effect of Commodus upon the Romans was worse than that of all pestilences and all villainies.” – Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 72
Detailed Map of the Roman Empire (brilliantmaps.com):
Julia Domna Family Tree:

Friday, March 4, 2016

Episode B27 - Lucifugus

Synopsis:  Julia Domna was daughter of the Emesene High Priest, destined to marry a king.  Then she met Septimius Severus.

"Our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust.” - Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 71
“The primitive Christians perpetually trod on mystic ground, and their minds were exercised by the habits of believing the most extraordinary events.” – Edward Gibbon, The Christians and the Fall of Rome
Bloodline Family Tree (c. 182AD):

Friday, February 19, 2016

Episode B26 - Emanes

Synopsis:  The revolt of Avidius Cassius.

"There is only one thing I fear, fellow-soldiers…and that is that (Avidius Cassius) may either kill himself because ashamed to come into our presence, or someone else upon learning that I shall come and am setting out against him may do it. Then should I be deprived of a great prize both of war and of victory, and of a magnitude such as no human being ever yet obtained.  What is this?  Why, to forgive a man that has done you an injury, to remain a friend to one who has transgressed friendship, to continue faithful to one who has broken faith.” – Marcus Aurelius, quoted by Cassius Dio, Rome, Book 71
Avidius Cassius Family Tree:
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/B25_Avidius_Cassius.pdf

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:
http://s407341505.onlinehome.us/B25_Avidius_Cassius.pdf