Episode 30 – The Samnite Mountains

— While Rome did everything using their own fists and nails, Carthage outsourced the work to others, as to not to get their fists and nails dirty.

Rome will face the Samnites when these decide to attack the southern city of Capua. We also introduce Marcus Valerius Corvus, and Publius Decius Mus.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 30 — The Samnite Mountains.

The famous Roman poet Virgil would sometimes write three sentences in a whole day, and then he would delete them, not happy with his work.

This is what one day, he wrote in his famous work, known as “The Aeneid.”

Remember, Roman,

it is for you to govern the nations.

This will be your task,

impose the ways of peace,

forgive the vanquished,

and tame the proud.

I’m pretty sure the day he wrote this, he didn’t feel bad about himself.

During the next one hundred years we are going to see how Rome will go from a small — let’s call it, regional power — to becoming the undisputed powerhouse of Italy.

Less than 40 years ago, everyone within striking distance joined in on the fun of kicking Rome, thinking Brennus left the city dying.

But soon, no tribe in Italy will be causing headaches for Rome, and when they will do it again — some 150 years down the road, it will not be to defy the power of Rome, but to beg to be included — as citizens of Rome.

But, of course, we’re not there yet, so let’s take is easy.

[…]

The envoys from Capua, smart old men, already knowing that that’s exactly what they were going to get for an answer, then said something like this:

— “Well, given that Rome cannot help us, since Rome is obliged to respect her peace treaty with the tribes that are threatening us with death and with slavery, a Treaty we totally understand and respect, we are left with no other choice but to submit Campania, Capua and all our surrounding cities and fields, entirely under the command of Rome. “

— “What?”

The Roman senators must have wondered, if what they were hearing was possible.

— “That’s right. Sadly — for the people of Capua, and all of Campania, we have come to the conclusion that it is better to die under the protective wings of the power of Rome, than to live under the yoke and abuse of the Samnites. “

— “Hold on, hold on!“ Another senator interrupted. “Let me get that straight. Are you guys saying that everything that Campania has, and produces, would be under the command, and at the full — I mean, full disposal of Rome?”

— “These were my words, o Senator!”

Immediately, Roman senators asked for a brief recess, to discuss this issue, this totally new offer, totally out of the blue — opportunity of a lifetime.

Episode 29 – The First Plebeian Consul

— When Lucius Sextus Lateranus walked up those stairs, he was conscious that all Rome was staring at him.

Finally, Plebeians have a Consul of their own. And just about in the right moment, because the Samnites are knocking on Rome’s doors. We also see the passing of Marcus Furius Camillus.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 29 — The First Plebeian Consul.

We are in the year 368 BC.

A young man of high stature, named Lucius Sextus Lateranus, dismounted from his horse in front of the Senate building. Three big parchments of paper were rolled under his shoulder.

Lucius Sextus Lateranus was a Tribune of the Plebes.

In other words, he was automatically an enemy of 100% of Rome’s Patricians, and nothing that was in his possession was welcome in the Senate.

Much less, three parchments, containing laws that would change Rome.

When Lucius Sextus Lateranus walked up those stairs, he was conscious that all Rome was staring at him.

Three of his projects were about to become laws, and this time, not even Camillus himself would get in the way.

The first law ruled all that all moneys paid in the form of interest, became the capital of a debt, and thus the payment of debts would no longer be like a treadmill, or a mule tied to a post, endlessly turning and grinding grain.

The second law forbade any person, Patrician or Plebeian, to possess more than 300 acres of unused land, within the confines of Rome.

It also forbade having more than 100 cows, or goats, using public lands surrounding Rome.

The third law — the most important one, said that one of the Consuls elected every year in Rome, was to be of Plebeian origin.

Patricians knew they were going to lose, and they sent for Marcus Furius Camillus to save them, once more.

So, while the deliberations of all that began, secret messengers went at full speed toward Camillus’ residence.

[…]

If you look at any chronological map of the history of Rome from the 4th Century BC, the first two things you will notice is — ONE — the year 390 — the year of the looting, and — TWO — a gap that goes from 375 to 370 BC.

Yep. A gap of five years.

There were no Consuls, or Tribunes in Rome during those years, according to Livy.

It’s like Rome skipped those years. A total vacuum.

And to explain this — as always, there are two versions.

On one hand, Livy used those years to reconcile his own dates, that is, the stuff that he has been writing in his first five books, with the reality of what was happening, because now the chronicles were true, and impossible to hide, deny, or invent. So, he found that his tale was some five years — off record.

So, a gap.

The other version is that, here there was a space where certain Plebeian Tribunes blocked votes in the Roman Senate, to the point where they gave a veto to each and every one of the decisions taken by Senators.

[…]

Episode 28 – The Tarpeian Rock

— No one wanted a king — not even Plebes, full of debts.

The second start of Rome, after the ashes. Marcus Furius Camillus and Marcus Manlius Capitolinus are the two undisputed heroes of Rome, but one of them will end up a villain. We will also see a miracle at Aeliana’s home.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 28 — The Tarpeian Rock.

Last week we saw the end of our trilogy of Rome’s darkest hour, so far.

The attack, the siege, and the plunder of Rome.

We saw how the Gauls finally left Rome, and how Camillus became the person who truly led the city’s destiny.

And here, I think it’s a good time to tell you guys, what Livy wrote on the front page of his sixth book, that gigantic work he did, called Ab Urbe Condita, or “From the Founding of the City” in English.

I am reading this from the first page, Book 6:

The transactions of the Romans, from the creation of the city of Rome to the capture of it, first under Kings, then under Consuls and Dictators, Decenvirs and Tribunes with consular powers, their wars abroad, their dissensions at home, all of this, I have exposed in five books.

Themes and events were obscured, both because of their great antiquity, as if they were objects that from their great distance I can hardly perceive, as well as because in those times the use of the letters, the only faithful guardian of the memory of events, was inconsiderate and rare.

Moreover, what was contained in the remarks of the Pontifex, and other public and private records, was all lost during the fires that our city had to endure.

Henceforth, from this second origin of the city, which was born from its own ashes, this time healthier and more vigorous, the achievements of Rome — within Rome and abroad, will be narrated with more clarity and authenticity.

OMG.

I believe that even Livy himself must have smiled the day he wrote that.

[…]

And this is where Manlius saw an opportunity.

Although Manlius came from a family of Patricians himself, he began to help Plebeians.

He first began by telling them that the treatment that Plebeians were getting for not being able to repay their loans on time, was not fair, and then he began to create agitations along the streets of Rome.

On one occasion, in the year 387 BC, a Centurion was being arrested for this same cause, and as people started to gather protesting, Manlius showed up at the scene, and paid the debt of the Centurion, out of his own pocket.

The government of Rome decided that Manlius was creating too much mess in the city, and they arrested him the day after that.

But then the people of Rome made an even bigger protest, and the Senators of Rome had no other choice, than to let Manlius go free.

Manlius even sold some of his properties, with the purpose of helping people in situations like that.

But the Patricians saw this whole thing with twisted eyes, because during the agitations that Manlius created among the Plebes, he began to mention that Rome didn’t really need a Senate.

Well — that was a crime!

[…]

Episode 27 – Iron and Gold

— When they finished with that, the Gauls walked out the same door they had come in, some seven months earlier.

The end of our trilogy of the sack of Rome. Brennus is history, and Rome is saved. We also get the best of news from Aeliana and Lucius.

Partial Transcript

Last week we saw Brennus and Quintus Sulpicius holding meetings to decide the fate of Rome.

Both sides were exhausted, both sides had dead piling up on a daily basis, and both sides had an ego larger than the Seven Hills of Rome, combined…

But here, one of the two sides had a slight advantage, and that advantage was the hope that Camillus would arrive with his troops, any time now.

In the meantime, I want you to imagine the city of Rome.

The Circus Maximus, which still only possessed some disposable wooden grades, had become a temporary morgue, and the stench coming from the place, let everyone know where the Gauls decided to pile up and and burn their dead warriors.

To make matters worse, that year had an extremely temperate winter — as if goddess Cloacina, goddess of Rome’s sewers, had decided to clog the drains of the city.

And it was as if Poena, goddess of punishment, and Tempesta, goddess of the storms, had decided to work hand in hand, and between the two of them, they decided to not to unleash a single winter storm during that year.

A storm would at least help get rid of some of the deadly particles, flying in the air.

Yes, the Gauls got the shorter end of the straw, that year.

From the cattle market, just south of the city bridge, all the way to the Porta Capena, in the southeastern corner of Rome, everything was burning, melting, and otherwise getting spoiled.

This was the Rome, that Marcus Furius Camillus was about to save, according to the version the Romans described.

[…]

But Rome…

Rome had no cure.

That’s right, after the citizen grabbed and seized bricks and rocks, and after they built their new homes, Rome was beyond any fixing.

Streets went in zig-zag, they crossed each other in angles that defied any logic, and even sidewalks were of different width as you would walk along one same street, depending on the whim of the homeowner that just built that sidewalk.

[…]

Episode 25 – Here come the Gauls

— And the worst of all, not a single one of Rome’s eight gates was manned, locked, or otherwise taken care of.

The Senons attack and sack the city, all the while Marcus Furius Camillus is banned from Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 25 — Here come the Gauls.

Last week we saw how Marcus Furius Camillus was exiled from Rome, after having conquered Veii, and after having doubled Rome’s landmass.

As for Veii, the city became a ghost town.

The peasants around Veii — who were initially not disturbed by Rome, were quickly absorbed by a few patrician senators, who took their farms, livelihood, and anything else they had left.

In fact, most of Rome’s new lands fell into the hands of a really small group of Patricians, and Rome felt like the king of the heap.

But — as the saying goes, the higher you fly, the harder you fall, and this was no exception to the rule.

[…]

And then, something that wasn’t supposed to happen, happened.

One of the Roman ambassadors, to be more exact, Quintus Ambustus put a sword in the guts of a Gaul. The Gaul turned out to be one of Brennus’ own counselors.

I can imagine blood swelling out of his guys’ chest like a Roman fountain, until the tall, thick guy finally collapsed on the floor.

Dead.

Everyone stopped for an instant, and Brennus himself jumped back.

After a pause that must have felt like a whole century, Brennus withdrew from the Hall, and all his Gauls followed suit.

People still did not understand what exactly happened, but the only thing everyone understood, was that the chief of the Gauls was more furious than a caged lion, in a city that had its lion games banned, by imperial decree.

Immediately, the three brothers left the Senate, and embarked on their way back to Rome, at full speed.

The diplomatic mission failed, and the brothers — as ambassadors, they were supposed to be totally neutral, failed as well.

A day later, envoys of Brennus arrived at the gates of Rome, and they were immediately escorted to the Senate of Rome.

[…]

 

Episode 24 – Marcus Furius Camillus

— “Don’t do anything halfway through, son.”

Five times appointed Dictator of Rome. Four times Military Tribune. Three triumphs along the streets of Rome. So then, why was he kicked out of the city?

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 24 — Marcus Furius Camillus.

“Father.”

Even though Lucius’ voice was firm and audible, old Marcus did not move a single muscle, in his bed.

Lucius tried again, placing a hand on the old man’s shoulder. Very gently, for he feared to cause him pain with his touch.

“Father Marcus!”

Slightly, Marcus opened his eyes, and a smile showed on his face.

“Did you beat them, boy?”

“Yes, Father,” said Lucius, proudly. “We destroyed them, Father. And I got you this.”

Lucius raised a few scrolls at the height of his father’s eyes, so that he could see them.

Without waiting for the old man to ask, Lucius explained that the parchments were blueprints of machines to stretch leather and animal hides, such as they had never seen them before.

The Etruscans, it turned out, were much more technologically advanced than the Romans, and part of the loot was of immense value to Roman scientists and engineers.

From how to build arches with three center points, all the way to how to improve their sewers systems.

From how to deal with leaking water in pipes, to how to hoist ship sails with the strength of a single man, almost everything in Veii was entirely new to the engineers of Rome of those times.

“Father!  This machine can even stretch reindeer leather,” said Lucius, excited. “We’ll have soooo much work,” the young man figured.

“Ah, the reindeer,” said old Marcus. “There won’t be reindeer in a few more years, son. You’ll see… “

And the old man was right.

In less than two generations the climate slowly began to return to temperatures like those that reigned in Rome, before.

Reindeer, alpine lions, and the long winters, they all began to disappear from Rome.

Never again, did the river Tiber freeze over.

It should add here, that alpine lions were the flowers that we know today as the Edelweiss, and I’m not talking about the African felines.

Lions, as such, had been gone from Italy — and from almost all of Europe, for more than a thousand years now, and the flowers, named Leontopodium Alpinum, or Alpine lions, were now also vanishing from the vicinity of Rome.

“Tell me, son. With all that science, how did you guys manage to get into Veii?”

[…]

Disgusted with the teacher’s stupid idea, Camillus ordered him tied up on the spot, and then tortured with wooden sticks under his fingernails, and other parts, that I don’t even want to mention here.

After that, Camillus went to Falerii, and told the citizens what just happened, and Camillus returned all the innocent children unharmed, and he also gave them the sneaky, stupid teacher.

The people of Falerii were so grateful for Camillus for his attitude, that they immediately cancelled all plans of war, and submitted to Rome, without any conditions whatsoever.

Personal comment: I don’t even want to imagine what that teacher went through, after Camillus was gone.

[…]

Episode 23 – Don’t Cry for me, Veii

— And at the end of that day, no one cried for Veii. Not Lucius, and certainly not the slaves.

In this episode we get to see the end of Veii. Forever. We also see the emergence of Marcus Furius Camillus.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 23 — Don’t Cry for me, Veii.

It’s not for nothing that there is a saying like “Home Sweet Home,” in the English language.

I do not believe — not even for a minute that there is any language in the world, that does not have a phrase or expression along those lines, and I think, this also applies to the ancient Rome.

But, as we will see in this episode, this also counts for the enemies of Rome, and today we speak of two of Rome’s enemies: Fidenas and Veii.

The first was the only city south of the river Tiber, and the second was the most well-known Etruscan city, and probably the strongest city, in the entire Etruscan confederation.

Firstly, let’s remember that Veii and Rome were something like an image reflected in a mirror, each having power on one side of the Tiber, and each holding a small piece of land on the other side of the river.

The Etruscan holdout on the southern side of the Tiber, was some 5 miles upstream from Rome.

The Romans, meantime, kept control of the northern side of the Tiber, right in front of their own city gates.

[…]

The main Roman camp was commanded by Verginius, who refused to help unless Sergius actually asked for help.

Sergius — much too proud to do that, was finally forced to retire, and return to Rome.

The other guys, now alone, also had to other choice but to flee back to Rome.

Good job, you two!

Needless to say, both idiots were fired from their posts once the Senate heard the news.

Anyways, let’s go on.

Nothing of importance happened in the years 401 and 400 BC.

But in the year 399 BC the Capenats and the Faliscans made a second attempt to get rid of the Romans.

But, this time around, the Romans worked as a true team, and while the enemies attacked the Roman trenches, they were attacked by the Romans from behind, and they were forced to flee.

They suffered a second defeat, when they stumbled upon a Roman assault team, as they were returning home.

And then again, the next two years nothing of importance happened.

Finally, the year 396 BC was different. Really different!

Marcus Furius Camillus was named dictator, and this is a name we need to keep in our memory, because our next episode bears his name.

[..]

Episode 22 – Decades of Death and Plagues

— And believe me, every citizen of Rome had a personal explanation of why the gods abandoned Rome.

The decades that followed. Thousands died, and thousands more wished they could die.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 22 — Decades of Death and Plagues.

When we talked about the life and death of Lucius Quinctius Cinncinatus, we saw a time when Rome was standing at the gates of one its greatest and most challenging centuries, even though Rome couldn’t know it.

And Rome did not know that for a good reason, because things were not going well in Rome.

And when I say “things” I mean the following five aspects:

ONE – from the south of Italy, commercial caravans were showing up with less and less frequency, and the ones that did, were not bringing good news to Rome.

A new tribe — well, new in our podcast, and relatively new to the ears of common Romans, began to cause troubles in what we today know as the Italian Campania.

I’m talking about the Samnites — the tribes from the hills.

Campania spread all the way to the south of our well known Latium, and went all the way to the Apennine Mountains in the east. To the south it went to the bay of what we know as Naples, next to the famous volcano, Mount Vesuvius.

Among those bad news, as we will see, was the fall of a city called Capua, which fell after a long, long siege, set by the Samnites.

But we’re not there yet, so let’s go to the next point.

TWO – The climate has begun to decline for reasons that the Romans had no way of understanding. Today we know this as a wave of climatic variation throughout Western Europe, which stretched to the center of the Mediterranean Sea.

Although scientists today have a very well-defined name for this brief period of temperature drops, in ancient times this was interpreted as a bad omen from the gods, who had surely put themselves against Rome itself.

And believe me, every citizen of Rome had a personal explanation of why the gods abandoned Rome.

[…]

Popular belief was that if they slept one night inside the temple, they would get a dream, which would give them an interpretation of what they had to do, in order to cure themselves of whatever disease they had.

But, if they had no dream during that first night, patients used to stay up to three consecutive nights in the temple, after which, the priests generally told them to go home, because obviously the gods did not want to communicate with them, and that meant that even the gods wanted them dead.

FIVE – While many bibliographic sources only cite the year 441 BC as a year of famine in Rome, these same sources do admit that many other hunger waves followed.

[…]

Episode 20 – Lucius Quinctius Cinncinatus

— His symbols were the plow and the toga, instead of the sword and the fasces.

The life of the man who, when elected Dictator of Rome, decided to give that power back to the Senate, after just 16 days. Why? Simply because he finished the task he was given to do. And then, he went to plant lettuce in the outskirts of Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 20 – Lucius Quinctius Cinncinatus.

— “Marcia! When father told you what happened to your mom, did he tell you what a certain Appius Claudius did? “

— “You mean, To Mom?”

— “No, not to mom. He didn’t do anything to mom, personally. I mean, what he did in general, in Rome. “

Marcia and Aunt Julia stayed up late that night, something very unusual in ancient Rome, where people — especially Plebeians, went to sleep right after sunset, and rose way before sunrise.

Aunt Julia told her the story of the wicked Decemvirs, those ten men elected by the Senate, and how they schemed together to stay in power, and not to return that power to the Senate of Rome. They didn’t care they swore an oath for one, and only one year.

Actually, truth be told, they DID need two years for the Twelve Tables to be written and polished, because every single bit of these laws was analyzed by the Patricians, especially the old Patricians, who used to gather in forums and discuss piece of law by piece of law.

[…]

Between the two dictatorships combined, he did not rule Rome for a single month.

His example inspired the name of the American city of Cincinnati, in the state of Ohio.

That name was given in honor of the Society of the “Cinncinatus,” which honored George Washington.

Washington was considered to be a true “Cinncinatus” by this society, back in the days of the American Revolution.

His symbols were the plow and the toga, instead of the sword and the fasces.

Even though he was incredibly good at using the sword, and incredibly righteous at the use of the fasces.

[…]

Episode 19 – The Battle of Mons Algidus

— Word of what Cinncinatus did to the Senate spread like wildfire through the streets of Rome.

This time Romans don’t fight the Latins. Instead, they have to face the dangerous Aequi tribe.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 19 – The Battle of Mons Algidus.

Last week we saw the arrival of the Twelve Tables.
Written laws so that all Romans could be tried and treated the same way.
And we also saw how all over Rome people learned those laws by heart. Among them, the oh-so-eager eight-year-old boy in our little family saga.

To give you a few more examples of what these Tables contained, lets check out  a few of these laws:

Killing an intruder in one’s own house, if it was nighttime, was OK. No punishment, not even a case. But if it was daytime, the homeowner had to get the intruder to a magistrate for trial.

If the court called a person to appear in front of a judge, and if that person was incapacitated in any way, the court would out send four soldiers, and four slaves to bring the man to the courthouse.
But if the person’s issue was an infectious disease, the date of the trial was postponed until above mentioned infection had passed, up to a period of six months.
During those six months, the other person, the accuser, had the right to go to the defendant’s house every three days, stand in front of the house of the accused, and yell in a loud voice, reminding the accuser that a trial awaited him. The purpose, of course was to embarrass the entire family by this way.

When a lawsuit began, the judge gave two options to the opposing parties:
ONE – To agree and resolve the problem without any involvement from the judge, and
TWO – To not to agree, and go the nearest forum of the court in question, on the next working day. A debate would start there. That debate usually began around sunrise, and by obligation, a judge had to resolve the case before sunset.

[…]

After a crippling march, the Roman army arrived at the height of the mountain.

They arrived at night.

Cinncinatus sent the people in Tusculum a secret message, so that the Romans who were trapped inside the beleaguered city knew, they would be free soon.

[…]

Episode 12 – The First Two Consuls

That’s what I love about Rome. They kick each other, regardless of family lines, or family ties. So much for family love!

Rome gets to choose two Consuls, then they change their mind about one of their fresh Consuls-elect, and replace him with one of the most famous public servants ever – even today: Publius Valerius Publicola.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 12 — The First Two Consuls.

Last week, we saw—finally, the final moments of the monarchy in Rome.

We saw how Tarquin the Proud got locked out of his own city, after the rebellion started by Lucius Brutus and Lucius Collatinus.

Without any soldiers left, and knowing that the gates of Rome would be blocked, he and the idiot of his son went into exile.

Today we will see how that exile of his went on, and what exactly happened after Romans got to taste their very first hours without kings.

The very first order of the Roman Senate was to publicly declare Tarquin as an Enemy of the State, and that Rome would never again be ruled by a king.

Neither the king nor his wife Tullia would ever be allowed to put their feet within the city of Rome, and here I want to add that Romans sent a very strong message for Tullia, as a persona non-grata in their city. Do not come back to Rome, as you have killed your own father, back in the time when nobody could do anything about it.

Even though that was decades ago, Romans did not forget.

[…]

I don’t know if you guys realized, but both these guys were relatives of the king Rome had just kicked out.

Excuse me? They kick a king out of their city, and they put two of his relatives as the first two Consuls of Rome?

Yep. Lucius Tarquinius Collatinus was the ex-king’s cousin, and Lucius Junius Brutus was the ex-king’s nephew.

That’s what I love about Rome. They kick each other, regardless of family lines, or family ties.

So much for family love!

[…]

Episode 9 – Killed by his own Daughter

The Tale of Rome – Servius Tullius ends up under the wheels of a chariot, driven by none other than his very own daughter Tullia. We are also approaching the birth of the Republic of Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 9 — Killed by his own Daughter.

Last week we saw the end of Tarquin the Elder, and how Servius Tullius became the sixth king of Rome.

This week, we’ll see how this Tale continues.

The one thing we need to highlight again, is that the last three kings were the father—Tarquin the Elder, followed by his adoptive son—Servius Tullius, and then followed by his true blood son, Tarquin the Proud.

[…]

The tale goes, that—and this is according to Livy himself, the very own daughter of Servius, took a chariot and drove over the dying body of her father, effectively finishing his reign.

That’s right, Tullia, wife of Lucius, and daughter of Servius Tullius, carefully maneuvered the chariot so that the wheels sliced the old man’s body in two.

[…]

Episode 8 – Tarquin the Elder

The Tale of Rome. The life and death of the first of the Tarquins, and a curious prophecy that came true.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 8 — Tarquin the Elder.

Last week we saw the life of Ancus Marcius and Rome’s expansion to the Mediterranean Sea.

This week we’ll see the life of Tarquin, aptly nicknamed “the Elder” –after he managed to send away the two sons of Ancus Marcius away from Rome, and have himself elected king of Rome by a more-than-willing-to-oblige bunch of Senators.

And here I’d like to add that the tale of the Kings of Rome can be roughly divided into two big sections.

The first one consisted of Romulus, Numa Pompilius, Tullus Hostilius, and Ancus Marcius.

So, first a fighter. Then a pacifist. Then another fighter, and finally another pacifist who saw himself forced to wage wars, and ultimately did just that.

And so, today we are officially starting the second part of the tale of the Kings, because the three kings we haven’t seen yet, they all belong to one—the same family. The Tarquins.

And first among these is Lucius Tarquinius Priscus.

Then, we have Servius Tullius, an adopted son of Tarquin the Elder, and lastly, the real son of Tarquin, whom history named Tarquin the Proud, who took the throne by force, and who ended up being such a bad king, that the Romans kicked him out of Rome, and decided never again to have kings.

[…]

Let’s quickly mention here, that this was not out of the customary, since kings often sat at the forum, and acted as judges in people’s differences and disputes.

But then, when the king, too, was going to take his seat, one of the guys, ran to the king, and took out an axe that he had hidden in his robes.

In a single stroke, he lodged the axe, blade-deep, into the head of the king.

[…]

Episode 7 – Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia

The Tale of Rome – Ancus Marcius, the grandson of Numa Pompilius, shows that he is neither a lame priest nor a cruel bully.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 7 — Ancus Marcius Founds Ostia.

Last week we saw the life and death of Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome, and we also saw how Rome itself became a synonym of war.

In fact, Rome—again, became all the things nobody wanted to have in a neighbor.

This week’s episode deals with the fourth king of Rome, a man named Ancus Marcius.

Ancus Marcius was a man with many different and sometimes contrasting aspects. For one, he was the son of Numa Marcius, who in turn was elected by Numa Pompilius to become Rome’s very first Pontifex Maximus, which we talked about in Episode five.

[…]

We also cannot reliably assess all these events, and their dates. Anecdotes, above all, are to be read as a tale, and rather than taking them as pure facts, they serve the purpose of answering questions of the origins of Rome to the romans that lived centuries later, as well as trying to teach morals.

As a perfect example of these quite incredible mess-ups with dates, we have that Numa Pompilius, the now well-known second king of Rome, was born on April 21st of the year 753 BC, which just so happens to be the day Rome was founded.

Come on! Don’t make me laugh!

The other thing that we can kind of be sure of, is that one of the major jobs Ancus Marcius had to do, was to transcribe all those documents left by Numa Pompilius, about the religious ceremonies of Rome, since the third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius ignored that job completely.

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Episode 6 – Tullus Hostilius’ Holy Cow

Who was Tullus Hostilius, the third king of Rome? The bully of ancient Rome, or another king that ended up in god Jupiter’s frying pan?

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 6 — Tullus Hostilius’ Holy Cow.

Last week we saw how—after forty years of peace, Rome went back to its martial virtues. By the hand of King Tullus Hostilius, Rome went back to war, and it doesn’t seem strange to me, that the English word “hostile” or “hostilities” come from this king’s last name.

Before we really dive into the rest of the life of Tullus Hostilius, I want to add a very short anecdote here.

When the Sabines attacked Rome in the year 752 BC, because of the issue of their kidnapped women, Romulus organized a counterattack, as you might remember from Episode 3 of this podcast.

You also might remember that the counterattack did not really bring any results, and that the Sabine women themselves solved the issue, at the end of the day.

Finally, you also might remember how those Sabines took their time to carry out their attack, and so, almost a whole year had passed between the kidnapping and the actual attack of the Sabines.

So. On the day of the attack, and while the two armies were stuck in a stalemate near the citadel of Rome, a warrior named Hostus Hostilius fought alongside Romulus and the other Romans.

And at one moment during that fight, this guy Hostus Hostilius, singlehandedly went on the attack, and while he was holding his sword high in the air, he ran towards the Sabines, screaming and going berserk.

Needless to say, a moment or two later, his companions joined in on the run.

And even though they got nothing out of this whole thing, the lone act of brave, crazy warrior made the Sabines pull back for a moment, and this deserved him a thank-you-speech, given by Romulus himself, on the next day of the battle.

Well… That was because Hostus Hostilius was one of the few casualties on that day.

Why do I mention this?

You see, Hostus Hostilius was also the grandfather of our third king of Rome, Tullus Hostilius.

And as it seems, the itch to fight ran deep in the veins of the Hostilius family.

Good. End of anecdote. Back to Tullus.

We now know that the name of the king—Tullus, was an extremely rare name at the time, but his last name—Hostilius, not – so – much.

We also know that there was a building that is said to have been built by this king, and the building was named the Curia Hostilia, and that THAT was the first building where the early senators of Rome used to meet and hold their sessions.

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Episode 5 – Numa, the God Whisperer

Life and death of the second king of Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 5 — Numa, the God Whisperer.

http://www.thetaleofrome.com/rome-005

Last week we talked about the end of Romulus, the first king of Rome.

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Numa also gets credit for almost all the most important religious institutions in Rome, and here goes a short list of his achievements:

ONE – Numa created the institution of Pontifex Maximus, which was the equivalent of the highest priest of Rome. There could be only one such Pontifex Maximus, and the job was for life.

Think of a Supreme Court Justice, in the US—unless a Justice quits or resigns, he gets to have the job forever.

The number one responsibility of a Pontifex Maximus was to overview the preparation and the delivery of religious services in Rome.

The number one privilege was that he was pretty much the only person in the city who was allowed to dismiss, and in some instances, disobey, both the Senate and the king of Rome, as you will see in future episodes.

Now, check this out:

Numa knew that the future of Rome would be filled with wars, as soon as he would be gone, and he knew that if a king would also be a Pontifex Maximus, religious services all over Rome would suffer, because such king would obviously give priority to war over all other things.

So, Numa solved this by simply setting in stone that kings or any future type of supreme rulers of Rome could not be elected to the office of Pontifex Maximus, while they reigned with the city.

He simply explained that the gods would punish Rome with plagues, floods, earthquakes, and all other kinds of disasters, if ever a king was elected to that office, and if ever the services to the gods were not properly done.

And in fact, the office of the Pontifex Maximus was left in peace by rulers for centuries. It wasn’t until the first emperor of Rome, Augustus dared to take the office of chief priest of Rome in his own hands, that Numa’s rule was being respected.

And that should speak volumes. Furthermore, the office itself still exists today.

That’s right, the institution created by Numa Pompilius is currently being exercised by the Vatican’s Pope, as the head of the Catholic Church, and that’s a tradition that’s been unbroken for some 2,600 years, now.

TWO – Numa Pompilius instituted the first vestal virgins within Rome.

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Episode 4 – Throne of Thunders

The end of Romulus’ life, the way the Romans describe it.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, in Beijing, China. Welcome to my podcast.

The Tale of Rome, Episode 4 — Throne of Thunders.

Last week we saw how Romulus dealt with three top topics of the day: the army of Rome, the female population of Rome, and the Senate of Rome.

This week we will see the rest of his life and how his life ends, not an ounce less mythological than his whole life before.

But before we start, I would like to make something clear: Rome, the city on the Seven Hills, had Seven Kings.

Right? Right.

From the year 753 BC until the year 509 BC, Rome had a grand total of Seven Kings. That means, those Seven Kings ruled Rome for 244 years.

Let’s see. Seven Kings – 244 years.

If I divide 244 by 7, I get 34.8, which means that each king must have ruled Rome for an average of 34 years and 9 months.

Even though this is not a physical impossibility, I can tell you something right away. In the course of human history, there has not been any empire, or state, or nation, or even a private company or entity that has been so blessed to rule for so long, and have only seven rulers.

The exceptional case of her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, is by far one of the longest reigns in recent history, but this cannot be seen as the norm.

Yes, she has ruled since 1952 which means she held the crown for 65 years. But that will not be repeated two, three, or—let alone, seven times.

A little more on that in a bit, but first let’s go to the Latin Word of the Week.

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A big thunder cracked down on them, and a great dust cloud rose up, all around the throne and around the people standing by Romulus.

But… When the cloud dissipated, Romulus was no longer seated on his throne.

According to the legend, the senators who were next to Romulus during the military exercise, searched everywhere, but never found the body of their king.

He was gone with a thunder while sitting on his throne!

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Episode 3 – Roman M Seeking F

Romulus takes care of setting up an army and a Senate. Also, he makes sure of getting wives for his new Roman citizens.

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China.

Welcome to the Tale of Rome, Episode 3 — Roman M Seeking F.

Last week we saw how, after many generations, Rome was established at the edge of the river Tiber, and we also saw how Romulus, Numitor’s grandson—and son of Rhea Silvia and god Mars, became the first King of Rome.

I think if for a common man there is nothing as sweet as having a home of his own, for a man the size of Romulus, there couldn’t have been anything sweeter than having a city of his own.

The only tiny problem for the moment was that his city was still not able to defend itself, and it also couldn’t grow.

So, we are going to see how Romulus addressed these two issues of high priority.

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After Romulus founded his city, it became pretty obvious that it would be necessary to attract people to the city.

Rome needed new inhabitants.

To that end, Romulus opened the gates of his city, but what happened next was that the first immigrants to the new city were, to put it in nice words, characters of a colorful past.

OK, let’s be more honest here! The first arrivals were people on the run from other places.

Fallen or escaped gladiators, crooks and beggars, fugitive slaves and prisoners of war, people who owed too much money and people who used to collect too much money from others, pimps and smugglers, pickpockets and murderers, and a whole lot more.

You name it, Rome had it!

Anyone who offended any of men’s laws or any of god’s laws, moved to Rome to have a fresh start.

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Episode 2 – Immaculate Conception

Romulus and Remus are born, grow and help their grandfather Numitor to retake Albalonga’s throne. Afterwards, they found Rome.

Partial Transcript

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China.

Welcome to the Tale of Rome, Episode 2 — Immaculate Conception.

Last Week we saw how Aeneas managed to escape Troy, and how he finally settled on the western coast of Italy. And we saw how his son came to found a city named Albalonga.

Today we will see how his grand-grandchildren prepare the stage for us, so that we get to see how Rome as founded.

And to get there, today we’ve got it all.

Traitors.

Vultures bring messages from the gods.

An amazing saving of two babies floating in a basket along a river. We even have a woman conceiving children in a rather miraculous way, something that people in the western civilizations call an “Immaculate Conception.”

After Ascanius, the kingship was passed from father to son for many generations, until we got to the 13th generation, and the power came to rest upon the shoulders of a man called Numitor.

As Numitor became King of Albalonga, his brother Amulius watched, filled with jealousy and hatred.

Soon enough, Amulius decided to take the throne all to himself, and by lying to the people of Albalonga, and by using false rumors, Amulius managed to chase Numitor out of the city.

The sons of Numitor were killed without any mercy.

But Amulius decided to spare the life of Numitor’s daughter, a woman called Rhea Silvia, and instead of killing her, he ordered her to become a Vestal Virgin. By converting her into a Vestal, Amulius felt assured that she would not have any children, and there would be no threat to his own future generations.

A Vestal Virgin, as historians explain to us, spent her whole life dedicated to the service of the goddess Vesta, goddess of the home and the heart.

Vestals had to fulfill three conditions in order to be accepted in the temple of Vesta, where they would be in charge of keeping the divine flame on, for all eternities.

One: they had to be virgin.

Two: they had to come from a prominent family of the society.

Three: they had to be incredibly beautiful.

Episode 1 – Once Upon a Time

Aeneas leaves Troy, stays in Carthage for a while, and later navigates to Italy. There, he joins the forces of King Latinus. Later on, Ascanius founds Albalonga.

Partial Transcription

Hello, this is Abel, speaking from Beijing, China.

Welcome to the Tale of Rome, Episode 1 — Once Upon a Time.

Rome was founded in the year 753 BC, but to start our tale we need to do two things:

ONE—I want to tell you a bit about this podcast, as a project, and TWO—we need to travel a little bit back in time. Some 500 years back, to the twelfth century BC.

To the Trojan War, to be more exact.

Alright, let’s go with ONE, and let me sum up this podcast in exactly three sentences.

I was born in what once was called West Germany, and being fond of the history of both China and Rome, I began writing historical fiction novels, one of them being set in Roman Egypt during the latter part of the 2nd century AD.

I soon realized I needed more research to write my book, and after going through many other books, documentaries, maps, and podcasts, I decided I had to create my own account of what actually happened before I could continue with my writing.

Knowing that podcasting was a totally new field to me, I first decided to delve into a narration of the story of Rome in Spanish language—a language I acquired in both Miami and Argentina, while always keeping an eye set on an English version of the same podcast, once the time was right.

So, here we have it. Three sentences.

The Spanish podcast is LIVE since April, and this—the English version, is coming to the world right now, as you are hearing me speak.

And I guess, by now you know where my accent comes from, even though I lived for almost half my life in the States.

And yes, I do live in China now, but that is stuff for some other footnote, in some other episode.

Perhaps.

I also like to say that I started podcasting as a way to talk about the things I like to talk about, such as ancient Rome.

Now, let’s go with TWO. Let’s go to the last years of the Trojan War.