Tuesday, 9 March 2010

The Legend of Ossian: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 6 Part 1




Severus had two sons, Caracalla and Geta.  Their mother was his second wife, Julia Domna. She was a great beauty and also a friend and patron of artists and writers.  She wasn't the kind of woman I would have picked out for the soul mate of a dour professional soldier.

Monday, 8 March 2010

Severus: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 5 Part 3

Right click on the link to download Severus Podcast (Control Click on the Mac) or just click it to listen now.

 

Sending a severed head is rarely a sign of affection.  Severus did not hold much truck with the Senate, or anyone else who might get in his way either. 

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Civil War: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 5 Part 2

Right click on the link to download Civil War Podcast (Control Click on the Mac) or just click it to listen now.

 

Augustus had discovered that you could get away with murder so long as you dressed it up in the right way. And when I say murder I mean that quite literally – actually killing people.

Praetorians: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 5 Part 1


One of the things I love about the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is the artful way analysis and commentary are slipped in just where they seem to belong. A good example is found at the start of Chapter Five where we are treated to an explanation of the role of the army and in particular of the Praetorian Guard in Roman politics.

Gibbon was a member of parliament and counted among his friends the leading statesman of his day. I imagine that it was during some smoky late night port drinking session that he picked up this interesting observation.

Pertinax: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 4 Part 3


Away from Rome things were going badly. In Gaul and Spain troops deserted and set up in bands to make a living by raiding the cities.

Gladiator: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 4 Part 2



Commodus. Not a noble character. Gibbon thought that he was more weak than evil. But perhaps it isn't very meaningful to make judgements. After all, the early life of Commodus could not have been more divorced from reality. Michael Jackson probably led a more normal life.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

Commodus: Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 4 Part 1



If you want to be an emperor, the easiest way is to be born into it.

Continue reading at the blog's new home http://historybooksreview.co.uk/commodus-gibbons-decline-and-fall/

Michael Foot RIP: The British Cicero

The whole History Books Review organisation was saddened to hear this week of the death of Michael Foot. In addition to his career as a politician he was of course also a historian of some note and his biography of Aneurin Bevan is on the list of books I intend to review. This particular book is interesting as an example of a history of his own time written by a participant in that history. This is quite a rare thing nowadays.