Podcasting: The History of Rome podcast draws to a close. An Appreciation

I first became aware of Mike Duncan’s excellent HISTORY OF ROME podcast somewhere around the episodes featuring one of my favorite Roman Emperors, Vespasian. At least I believe it to be true– #70, if memory serves, on Galba and Otho. So I missed from 1-69, more or less. From that point on I just listened to them as they arrived on my feed, mostly once a week, for almost two years. I’m reasonably studied in the broader reach of the History of Rome (roughly up the era as described by Suetonius) but was fairly ignorant of the Roman Empire in later years. It’s fascinating material. Mike Duncan has soldiered on, week after week, providing me with intriguing commuting fodder, always interesting, as the Roman Empire expanded, collapsed, expanded, collapsed, went through dynastic change, then religious change, then eventually the long, slow contraction to the point we are at now, just after Attila. Mike announced at the end of episode 173 that the story is almost at an end– historians differ about what year was the true “fall of the Western Empire”, but Mike has selected ca. 476 AD.    He is doing this for two reasons: 1) “Mrs. History of Rome” is 7 months pregnant and he will soon have a baby boy to take care of; and 2) after 476, there is material to cover but it is much of a muchness to Mike, being a series of Empirical candidates, political marriages, and pretty much the big implosion of what is left of the West, and he would rather go out on a high note.

Those are both excellent reasons, particularly number 1.  So, Mazel Tov, Mr. and Mrs. Duncan, and enjoy your new child, you are in for an adventure.  Mr. Duncan, if by some chance you read this, I just wanted to thank you personally for the effort, research and talent it has taken to produce this wonderful series.  I am saddened that you are departing from the podcasting scene (one hopes, only for a little while…) but I understand your motivation.   And, extra bonus, I can go back and listen to episodes 1-69 to catch up on what I missed!  Thanks again, and happy parenting.

For the rest of you, if you haven’t considered podcasting and you love history, you owe it to yourself to give Mike’s magnum opus a try, even if it is just an episode or two.


(also syndicated on ITunes)


  1. I’ve been listening to these for a good month or so and just got to episode 36; it’s great to know that there are another 137 or so left. Congratulations to Mike for making such a great series!

  2. I knew we were getting close, but I do hate to see it go. It turned my boy into a Roman history buff. That Mike Duncan has produced such an entertaining podcast for so long and at such a remarkable quality level is something we all can savor. I know I will likely go back and listen through them again.

    Also good, but complete is the 12 Byzantine Emperors podcast by Lars Brownworth and his follow on called Norman Centuries which is still ongoing, but very slow to update. Brownworth is very good, but lack’s Mike Duncan’s human touch and sounds a bit lecturey at times.

  3. Brett: I’ve listened to the Lars Brownworth podcasts and I like them, but like you I don’t like them as much as History of Rome– he lacks Mike Duncan’s dry humor and the way he can occasionally drop an 21st century aphorism into a passage to make a point clear without taking away from the narrative one bit. Of the remaining history podcasts, I’m still loving Professor Bob from History according to Bob and Dan Carlin’s show, although he isn’t nearly as prolific as I’d like.

  4. I am a longtime History of Rome listener and started with Lars Brownworth’s 12 Byzantine Rulers. Dan Carlin is really good, but if you want something with the same sort of feel, look up The British History Podcast by Jaime Jeffers. It shows the Romans from a different side (briefly) and then keeps on going. It also has a very active fb page.

    • Hi, Red. I’ve been listening to the British History podcast since roughly the plantagenets onward. I quite agree, Jaime Jeffers brings a certain detached droll humor to it all. I’m really enjoying it. Of course I hadn’t quite discovered the joys of Stitcher audio when I wrote that and that is the happy accident that introduced me to that podcast.

      • I’m glad to know that people know about…always looking to expand awareness of a good podcast!

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