I hear with my little ear: Podcasts 16-23 September 2021

The History of Rome Episode 39 The Young Julius Caesar Chronicles goes back to Julius Caesar’s childhood and early career. His Aunt Julia was Marius’ wife, which meant that when Sulla took power he put Julius Caesar onto the list of 1500 nobles to be killed. But Sulla was persuaded to remove him from the list and Caesar kept his head down. He served in Asia Minor until Sulla died, then returned to Rome to work as a lawyer. While travelling, he was captured by pirates and joked with them that he would crucify them all one day. He wasn’t joking: after the ransom was paid he sailed back and captured them and crucified them all (although he did cut their throats before hanging them on crosses). When his widowed aunt Julia died, he took advantage of the funeral procession to display images of her former husband Marius, reminding people of Marius’ good points and his family relationship with him. He was appointed as quaestor to Spain, where he was successful. He supported Pompey, and was starting to put himself forward for election as Consul. Cato the younger tried to thwart him, but too late! Episode 40 In the Consulship of Julius and Caesar is a bit of an in-joke. Even though Caesar had a co-consul, Bibulus, really he was the only one who counted. He arranged with Crassus and Pompey that they would have each other’s back (later known as the Triumvirate) and he embarked on land reform. When Cato the younger fillibustered in the Senate to stop the reform, Caesar had him thrown in jail for a while, and then decided to bypass the Senate completely. Once his year of consulship was over, he made sure that his father-in-law would be the next Consul, in order to protect him from any revenge and he went up to Gaul, where he was governor. In Episode 41a The Gallic Wars, the Helvetians who lived beside Lake Geneva decided that they would come down into Roman territory, but the Romans built a wall! So, unable to enter Rome, they pushed up into Gaul instead. Caesar was asked by the Gauls to kick them out. Then the Germans over the Rhine tried to invade, so he defeated them too. The Gauls were grateful, but ready for the Romans to go back home, but Caesar had other ideas and decided that the legions should stay there on a permanent basis. In Episode 41b The Gallic Wars, now firmly ensconced in Gaul, Caesar crossed the Rhine by building a bridge in 10 days, defeated the Germans, then destroyed the bridge on the way back. He also went up into Belgium and defeated rebel tribes up here too. He made two inconsequential forays into Britain but the proper invasion would have to wait. The triumvirate hung together for a while with Caesar up in Gaul, Pompey in Spain and Crassus in Syria. But Crassus was killed, and the family connection between Caesar and Pompey was severed when Caesar’s only child, Julia, died in childbirth. Pompey started becoming more conservative and moved towards the Senate. Episode 42 Meanwhile Back in Rome starts off with Caesar up in Gaul, itching to come home. Clodius (i.e. Publius Clodius Pulcher) had been made Tribune of the Plebs with Caesar’s connivance, was running amok with his gang of thugs. Pompey had gone over to the Senate by now and he and Caesar were in a standoff, with the Senate threatening to arrest Caesar and charge him over all the dodgy things he had done if he dared come back with his army.

The Ancients (History Hits). While I’m learning about Clodius, by coincidence what should pop up in my feed for The Ancients than Murder in Ancient Rome: Milo and Clodius. In an interview with a rather giggly Dr, Emma Southon, this tells the story of Clodius, who she sees as a horrible character, and how he came to be killed. I don’t really know that she backs up that he was SO terrible, but certainly the republic is falling down around their ears.

Lit Century (Lit Hub) In this podcast series, the hosts Sandra Newman and Catherine Nichols discuss over one or two sessions one book for each year of the 20th century. For 1922 they chose Sigrid Undset’s Kristen Lavransdatter. I’m just about the only person that I know has read Kristen Lavransdatter, so I jumped onto these podcasts when I saw them. On Desire (and its Absence) discusses the novel as a romance (a bit problematic given that we’re talking about the 13th century) and the second episode On Catholicism and Doomscrolling includes author Timothy Paulson in the discussion. They talk about Lutheranism and Catholicism (and how many readers at the time felt betrayed by Kristen’s conversion to Catholicism) and whether it is a feminist novel (probably not, in the same way that Prohibition was not a feminist policy, but it benefited women).

Revisionist History Thanks, Mum, for training me to do my laundry the ‘right’ way. In Laundry Done Right, cold water washing gets a big tick. Doesn’t everybody separate their whites and coloureds? Doesn’t everybody hang their washing on the line?

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