The Storm Before The Storm: Chapter 1- The Beasts of Italy
Audio excerpt from The Storm Before the Storm: The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic by Mike Duncan. Forthcoming Oct. 24, 2017. Pre-order a copy today! Amazon Powells Barnes & Noble Indibound Books-a-Million Or visit us at: revolutionspodcast.com thehistoryofrome.com
In the early 450s a string of deaths changed the political dynamic of Roman world. Between 450 and 455 Galla Placidia, Aelia Pulcheria, Atilla the Hun, Flavius Aetius and Valentinian III would all die- leaving the stage wide open for the next generation of leaders.
Also, an announcment.
Constantius III continued to lead the Western Empire as its defacto Emperor until 421, when he was officially elevated to the rank of Augustus. Unfortunately, this elevation was not recognized by Cosntantinople.
Following the death of Eudoxia, the Praetorian Prefect Anthemius took control of the Eastern Empire and ran it wisely for the next decade. Meanwhile in the West, anti-barbarian policies will lead to the invasion of Italy by Alaric.
From 383-387 the tense quasi-partnership of Maximus, Valentinian II and Theodosius ruled the Roman Empire. During those years Bishop Ambrose and Nicean Christianity pushed themselves to dominance over their Arians rivals.
In 383 the General Magnus Maximus rose up in revolt against Gratian. The power sharing agreement that followed Maximus's victory would be negotiated in part by St. Ambrose, the influencial new Bishop of Milan.
Following Adrianople, Theodosius was brought in to salvage the situation. After determining that he could not beat the Goths in battle, the new Emperor was forced to sign a peace with the barbarians that treated them as, gasp, equals.
After two years of sporadic war, Constantius II defeated the usurper Magnentius in 353. Following his victory the Emperor let his advisors talk him into executing first Gallus in 354 and then Claudius Silvanus in 355.
In the mid-to-late 290s the Imperial Tetrarchy was at war on multiple fronts. In the west Constantius undertook the reconquest of Britain, while in the east, Galerius fought a newly hostile Sassanid Empire.
Aurelian became Emperor in 270 and immediatly faced an invasion of Italy by the Juthungi. After succesfully driving the Germans off, Aurelian turned his attention to building a new wall circuit around Rome to protect the capital in the future.
After the Battle of Abrittus, Trebonianus Gallus was proclaimed Emperor. After reigning for two years he was ousted by Aemilianus, who lasted less than a month on the throne before being ousted by Valerian.
Gordian III died in 244 AD and was succeeded by his Praetorian Prefect Philip the Arab. While Philip dealt with internal revolts and external invasion, he found time to celebrate Rome's 1000th birthday in 248 AD.
After defeating Clodius Albinus, Septimius Severus turned over daily administration of the Empire to his Praetorian Prefect Gaius Plautianus, while the Emperor himself went looking for further military vicotries in Parthia.
The Roman world was divided between slaves, freedmen, and free citizens of every economic class. Gross inequality though was the order of the day, with the Emperor himself controlling the lion's share of the Empire's wealth.
Domitian attempted to emulate Augustus, but his heavy-handed treatment of the Senate earned him many enemies. Meanwhile, his focus on frontier defense brought charges of cowardice and his treaty with the Dacians was seen as a humiliation.
Titus succeeded his father to the throne in 79 AD, but ruled for only two years before dying of a sudden infection in 81. Throughout the reign of the Flavians, Agricola campaigned in Britain to Romanize the island.
After murdering Galba, Otho ascended to the throne in January 69 AD. He immediately had to deal with Vitellius revolt and after suffering a defeat at Bedriacum in April, Otho committed suicide having served as Emperor for just three months
In 66 AD the Great Revolt broke out in Judaea, leading Nero to appoint Vespasian to crush the uprising. But the Emperor did not live to see the end of the conflict- in 68 AD he committed suicide after a palace coup.
The early years of Tiberius's reign were defined by his growing
jealousy of his nephew/adopted son Germanicus. After winning victories
on the far side of the Rhine, Germanicus was sent east, where in 19 AD
he died under mysterious circumstances.
Augustus promoted his steps sons Tiberius and Drusus to high office
long before they were technically eligible. He hoped they would share
power with him until Gaius and Lucius Caesar came of age, but Drusus
died young and Tiberius went into self-imposed exile.
After winning the Battle of Philippi Antony and Octavian divided the
empire into two halves. Antony took control of the east where he formed
an alliance with Cleopatra, while Octavian commanded the west.
In 43 BC Marc Antony, Octavian and Marcus Lepidus formed the Second
Triumvirate. After initiating proscriptions to raise funds and purge
their enemies, the Triumvirs headed east, where they defeated Brutus
and Cassius at Philippi.
Caesar posthumously adopted his great nephew Gaius Octavius and the
19-year-old was thrust into the center of Roman politics. In the months
following the assassination Octavian and Mark Antony vied for the
support of the legions.
In the last months of his life, rumors swirled about Caesar's
monarchical ambitions. On the Ides of March 44 BC, a group of Senators
put the issue to rest by assassinating Caesar during a session of the
Caesar took the overland route back from Egypt back to Rome and along
the way pacified what little resistance he came across. After a brief
stay in Italy he sailed for North Africa where he defeated the
regrouped Republican army. Having emerged from the Civil War triumphant
he returned to Rome and began his ambitious reform programs.
Following a setback at Dyrrachium, Caesar decisively won the Battle of
Pharsalus in 48 BC. After defeating Pompey, Caesar sailed for
Alexandria, where settled a civil war by placing Cleopatra on the
After beginning his proconsulship of Cisalpine Gaul in 58 BC Caesar was
asked to halt the advance of a migrating Celtic tribe. He managed to
turn them around, but was immediately called to face an even deadlier
threat at the banks of the Rhine River.
From 73-71 BC a gladiator named Spartacus led a slave revolt in
southern Italy. Despite defeating the Romans on numerous occasions, the
slave army was eventually defeated by Marcus Crassus (with an
unsolicited assist from Pompey).
After Sulla's death two men emerged as the vanguard of Rome's new
political generation: Marcus Crassus who would become Rome's richest
man and Pompey the Great, who would become Rome's greatest general. In
a few years these two men would join forces with Julius Caesar to form
the first Triumvirate.
The Greek cities of southern Italy called on King Pyrrhus of Epirus to
protect them from Roman encroachment. Though Pyrrhus was undefeated in
battle, his victories were so costly that he was forced to withdraw
from Italy in 275 BC, leaving Rome in control of Magna Graecia.
After a five year break, hostilities resumed between the Romans and
Samnites. Despite early setbacks, Rome eventually emerged victorious in
304 BC. During these years a controversial politician, Appius Claudius,
initiated a series of ambitious public works projects that advanced
From 343-341 BC Rome fought a brief war against the Samnites, a
powerful hill tribe who would plague the Romans for the rest of the
century. The Romans won an inconclusive victory, but the war was only
the opening salvo in a long running struggle between the two peoples.
In the decades after the Gauls abandoned Rome to its fate, the Romans
were forced to battle both external threats and internal sedition. The
Plebes, saddled with debt from the reconstruction, forced through
reforms in 367 BC that finally gave them access to the most powerful
office of state: the Consulship.
Soon after the war with Veii, Rome was sacked by invading Gauls. The
event traumatized the Romans and left their city in ruins. It would be
the last time a foreign army breached the walls until the fall of the
empire 850 years later.
Economic necessity forced a final conflict with Veii, Rome's Etruscan
rival to the north. After years of inconclusive fighting, Marcus Furius
Camillus was appointed dictator and lead the Romans to victory.
The years after the creation of the Twelve Tables were hard. Political
discord, grain shortages and famine all conspired to weaken the city,
but the Romans soldiered on in the face of seemingly insurmountable
In 451 BC a committee was ordered to compile and then condense Roman
law into a single text called the Twelve Tables of Law. Despite
tyrannical machinations by the committee, the Twelve Tables secured an
objective rule of law for all Roman citizens regardless of wealth or
The infant Roman Republic faced many challenges as it grew into
adolescence, both internally and externally. Most significantly class
divisions led to a confrontation between patricians and plebs that
resulted in the creation of the office of Tribune.
The monarchy had been overthrown and the Roman Republic was now
established. Despite the appearance of a free democratic republic, the
Romans were beset with economic and political divisions that threatened
the unity of the young State.
The last days of the Roman Kingdom were ruled over by the three members
of the so-called Tarquin Dynasty: Tarquinius Priscus, Servius Tullius
and Tarquinius Superbus. The last proved to be such a tyrant that he
was overthrown and monarchy was forever outlawed by the Romans.
This week we cover the first three of Romulus's successors to the
throne: Numa Pompulius, Tullus Hostilius and Ancus Marcius, who they
were and what affect they had on the evolution Roman law and culture.
Last time we discussed the events that lead to the birth of Rome,
covering the arrival of Aeneas in Italy and the story of the twins
Romulus and Remus. Today we will cover the remainder of Romulus's life,
his questionable morality and ultimate disappearance from the world of
Welcome to The History of Rome, a weekly series tracing the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. Today we will hear the mythical origin story of Rome and compare it with modern historical and archaeological evidence. How much truth is wrapped up in the legend? We end this week with the death of Remus and the founding of Rome.