Nothing on TV. I just love these podcasts by Robyn Annear. The episode Buried Treasure is a little different from her other episodes in that she starts off with a newspaper article that is not in Trove, because it comes from the Sun News-Pictorial in March 1936 about a ‘foreign’ man who turned up in Richmond, wanting to dig up the back yard of a house in Canterbury Street. She riffs off this story to talk about overseas ‘swindlers’ who would send letters claiming that treasure was hidden nearby and that for a price, they would send the map (an early manifestation of the Nigerian scam email!). She then goes on to talk about other so-called buried treasure in Victoria. A lovely, chatty, discursive story.
History This Week I really don’t know much about Roman history, and I wish I knew more. Perhaps that might be a little project for me. Fiddling with the Truth is about Nero, and the story that he ‘fiddled while Rome burned’. This episode featured Anthony Barrett, author of Rome Is Burning: Nero and the Fire That Ended a Dynasty. It was all very clear, even for someone who knows little Roman history. He talked about how Nero got to be emperor (a grubby story) and what happened afterwards (another grubby story) and explained why this largely false story was created to meet the political needs of the time.
The History of Rome Podcast. I’ve done it. I’ve launched into Mike Duncan’s 170-odd episode podcast series on the History of Rome from start to finish! At least the episodes are much shorter in this series (about 10-15 minutes), although they may increase later on. In Episode 1 In the Beginning he traces through the Romulus and Remus myth (for myth it is). I didn’t realize that there was a supposed link to Troy, many generations previous. Episode 2 Youthful Indiscretions covers the remainder of Romulus’s life, his questionable morality and ultimate disappearance from the world of men. Really, the Romans were pretty warlike and dodgy. I always wondered what the Rape of the Sabines was about – it was a violent mass abduction to bring women (and children) to this male-dominated society. Episode 3a The Seven Kings of Rome looks at first three of Romulus’s successors to the throne: Numa Pompulius (715-673 BCE), Tullus Hostilius (673-642 BCE) and Ancus Marcius (642-617 BCE). They seem to alternate between warlike: religious: warlike: religious. Mike Duncan raises an interesting question: what is the difference when religion is introduced to a basically warlike society compared with introducing war and fighting into what had previously been a religious society? Episode 3b deals with the three Tarquin (Etruscan) kings: Tarquinius Priscus (616-579 BCE), Servius Tullius (578-535) and Tarquinius Superbus (535-510BCE) . The first was a wily, manipulative but essentially competent King who usurped the two sons of Ancus Marcius by sending them out of the country; the second was his adopted son, who came to power by pretending that his father was still alive and that he was acting in a temporary capacity only. The third, Tarquinius Superbus was a tyrant. He knocked off Servius Tullius (literally) and eventually the people decided that they didn’t want any more kings. The first built the Circus Maximus and started the tradition of the Triumph; the second started the census and the system of contributing to the army by social class and the start of representative democracy for some, and the third limited the power of the Senate. His son Sextus Tarquinis was even worse: he was the one who raped Lucretia. Tarquinius Superbus’ nephew Brutus got the support of the army, the aristocracy and the people, and they overthrew Tarquinius Superbus, the last of the Etruscan kings. They decided not to have any more kings: just two consuls. And all of this might be bullsh** anyway, because the sources all tell a different story.
Rear Vision (ABC) I really do not like Jair Bolsonaro, and this episode The Trump of the Tropics: Jair Bolsonaro reminds me why. He sat in Congress alone for years, mouthing off his anti-liberal policies, and came to power on a wave of anti-politician sentiment and the Beef, Bible and Bullets mob. None of the commentators on this program thought that he would be impeached, no matter how bad his handling of the pandemic, because Lula will want to keep his powder dry, and at the moment another centre right politician would replace him who might attract more support.
Outlook (BBC World Service) I was in 1st year uni in 1974 and I really don’t remember Frank Sinatra’s comeback tour. He didn’t really mean much to me: he was the sort of singer that my parents liked. Frank Sinatra’s Australian Showdown tells the story of his rambling conversation about the press during his opening show, leading to union bands and HAWKIE! This is a replay from 2018.
The Spies in my House tells the story of East German activist Ulrike Poppe who discovered, when the Berlin Wall fell, that she had been under surveillance for 15 years. She went through her files and was interested to find what they did, and what they didn’t know about her. She found the Stasi officer in charge of her case, and out of curiosity and a sense of injustice, she met with him.