Just a few days ago the History of Rome ended. No, not the empire, the podcast. I found the History of Rome just after I listened to most of the Norman Centuries by Lars Brownworth. It made so much sense out of what few fragments I remembered about the Normans. Embarrassingly most of what we know about the Normans comes from what we watch in Robin Hood movies and you can just imagine how deep and faithful to history that is - hah.
So after being impressed by how little I knew about the Normans I though I’d benefit from a run through the History of Rome podcast. The Normans were just 13 episodes long. Rome however, ends up running for 179 episodes and ironically seems way too short by the time you get there. Hey, we’re talking the history of Rome here - a lot happened.
Now, at the end, as the empire fights one petty tyrant after another our author, Mike Duncan, declares that for all practical purposes the Roman Empire is sufficiently dispersed that it’s history no longer matters in the epic sense that we usually think of it. It all degenerates into soap opera and trivial affairs. No one will benefit from continuing, not even Mike. That, probably, is the deepest insight into how the Roman Empire fell than anything else will ever provide. Even the people most involved no longer really care.
However, the easter Roman Empire does continue for another 1,000 years and is still yet another story to be learned. I look forward to someone claiming it as their turf and expanding our understanding of how that part of history unfolds. We’ll see.
But to mollify my grief over the ending of Rome, I went back and downloaded all of them and have started over from the beginning. To my great surprise I hated the first one. Mike is stiff and way too formal in his reading. The writing, too, is stiff and clunky. It’s too pedantic and caught up in trivialities and the whole experience is nothing like what I enjoyed at the end – a feeling you had a personal friend versed in historical perspective who was explaining it all just to you.
But of course – he got better over time. It’s a great example of how doing the thing makes you better. That practice and action win out given enough time should be obvious. Reading a podcast is a practiced art as is the writing and even doing the research. It all takes time and repetition to come together to form a personal style that’s both authoritative yet relaxed. (To say nothing of finding the right mic and sound deadening the room.) He’s built up his own perspective on what’s really important about the epic of time and events passing before us. It’s what you’d expect of study, improvement and knowledge gained.
Knowing more now, at the beginning, gives new perspective to actions and events. I can’t wait to find out how the History of Rome ends, again.