The Emperors of Rome podcast brings history alive

Caillan Davenport and Matt Smith recording episodes of ‘Emperors of Rome’ at the Centre for the Public Awareness of Science, ANU.
Wednesday 23 August 2023

Did the Roman emperor Nero really start the Great Fire of Rome? What sort of letters did the emperor Marcus Aurelius write? How did the emperor Aurelian restore the fractured Roman empire in the third century CE?

Join Associate Professor Caillan Davenport (Head of the Centre for Classical Studies at the Australian National University), Associate Professor Rhiannon Evans (Classics and Ancient History, La Trobe University), and Matt Smith (La Trobe University) as they answer these questions and more in the award-winning Emperors of Rome podcast.

The podcast is an ongoing series looking at the rulers of the ancient Roman Empire and has been named Best Australian History Podcast in 2019 by Apple.

Associate Professor Davenport is a regular contributor to the podcast and loves bringing the historical characters – the emperors, their wives, generals, and advisors -- to life for the audience. His research areas include Roman history from the Republic to Late Antiquity, Roman emperors in antiquity and their reception in later periods, Roman imperial court society and ceremonial, and Roman letter writing, especially the correspondence of Marcus Aurelius and Fronto.

Since joining the podcast in 2017, his episodes have focused on the tumultuous and poorly understood years of the third century CE, when the empire was beset by numerous internal crises and external invasions.

“I have researched and written about this period in my scholarly books and articles and the podcast is an opportunity for me to share my enthusiasm about this period with a wider audience,” Associate Professor Davenport said.

“The sources for the third century CE are very fragmentary, but that’s what makes researching this period really exciting – it’s like putting together a jigsaw puzzle. There have been a number of exciting discoveries in recent decades, such as new inscriptions and new fragments of a lost history written by a Greek called Dexippus. So I try to share these new puzzle pieces with our audience.”

Associate Professor Davenport’s favourite episodes include those examining the Emperor Septimius Severus, the first Roman Emperor from Africa.

“Not many people have heard of his story because it's not often taught at the undergraduate level even though it’s an exciting period of change in history. This subject will always be close to my heart because I did my Master’s research on Severus’ reign,” Associate Professor Davenport said.

The podcast is produced by La Trobe University. “It’s a real honour to be invited to be part of the podcast, and I love working with Matt and Rhiannon to bring the stories of emperors to life,” Associate Professor Davenport said.

Learn more about the Centre for Classical Studies at ANU here.


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Updated:  25 August 2023/Responsible Officer:  CASS Marketing & Communications/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications