6 – The Heir of Caligula and the Son of Commius

We are rocking through about 100 years of history… from about 54 BCE to 42 CE, and we will cover the events that eventually lead to the Roman Occupation of Britannia. The major characters of this episode will be….

Octavius Augustus – the First Emperor of Rome
Caligula – one of Rome’s more colorful Emperors.
Cassius Chaerea – The Commander of the Praetorian Guard
Claudius – One of the more underestimated emperors in Roman history
Caractacus – Leader of the Catuvellauni, son of Cunobellinus, and all around tough Celt.
Verica – Son of Commius, King of the Atrebates, and Roman ally.

A lot of time has passed since Caesar left these shores and became a human pin cushion. But despite being distracted by internal troubles, Britannia wasn’t fully forgotten in the Roman halls of power. In this episode we are going to learn about Caligula’s ambitions in Britain, and with the rise of Emperor Claudius the stage is set for another clash of titans between the warrior tribes of Britain and the Roman Empire.

(History of Britain, History of England, History of Wales, Celtic History, Roman History)

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  1. This is the BEST history podcast I have ever listened to. Telling history as a story makes all the difference. Your voice is engaging, you are funny, and you make me think. I never learned a shred of anything about Roman (or much about British) history in high school, and never was interested. You are awesome!

    One suggestion I have is to use the past perfect tense where appropriate. Many things have completed. It seems that English–or at least American English–is losing the past perfect. I don’t know why, but it’s a little confusing as sometimes you have to decipher whether the person is discussing something that happened prior to what is currently being discussed.

    Anyway, excellent, excellent, excellent!

  2. I’m enjoying your podcasts generally–but I feel a bit harrumphing on your view of Claudius, which I suspect descends from a line beholden to Suetonius/Robert Graves. Yes, he was deaf, limping, underestimated by his family etc. etc., but he was very intelligent. Among other things, he was a notable historian–his teacher had been Livy. During the reign of Tiberius, for instance, he wrote long works on the Etruscans (a history and a dictionary–he actually went and interviewed some of the last speakers of Etruscan) and the Carthaginians. He also bravely praised the Republic at a time when it was very impolitic (i.e. dangerous) to do so. Almost all of his writings are lost, although pieces survive where they’ve been quoted by other authors such as Pliny the Elder. There’s one recorded text of a speech he gave in Gaul (where he was born), the Lyon Tablet.

  3. Tattycoram, Thank you for a refreshing perspective! I haven’t read Graves “I, Claudius” in decades, but I knew Graves very slightly in his later years, and we chatted a little about Claudius. I think Graves would have been very comfortable with your limning of Claudius, whom he clearly liked, I thought. Graves characterized the novella as a “pop-boiler” he wrote to pay the rent, not an exercise in serious scholarship, and his target audience would have British old boys public schools where they would have been exposed to a little Suetonius, a bit of Caesar, a generous helping of Virgil, washed down with Victorian historical myth. A light read for the beach in Spain on holiday, like James Bond or Dan Brown, I suppose.

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