We live at a time of increasing economic inequality worldwide. What is driving this trend? And what are the factors that can stabilize or even reduce levels of inequality? Answering this question empirically would require a deep dive into the archives of history. One would have to sift through millennia of economic data across continents and civilizations.
Our guest today took on this gargantuan task of writing a “global survey that covers the broad sweep of observable history” regarding inequality (as he puts it). Walter Scheidel is professor of Classics and History at Stanford University. He is a prolific author, and one of the most cited historians of Rome alive today. In 2017 he rekindled the debate about the history of inequality with the publication of his book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the 21st Century.
ANNOUNCEMENT: Jeff Wright's long-awaited serial reimagining of Homer's Odyssey has finally launched! Check out "Odyssey: The Podcast" on your favorite app or listen at: odysseythepodcast.com
A big thank you to listener Hein Roehrig for your generous support through Patreon.
How did the ancient Greek religion evolve? What was the meaning of sacrifice and other rituals? Did atheism exist back then? How about alternative religions?
We explore all these topics and more in conversation with Barbara Graziosi, professor of classics at Princeton University and author of the book The Gods of Olympus. Stay tuned at the end of the episode to learn how you can win an autographed hard copy of The Gods of Olympus.
The intro to this episode was provided by Elizabeth from the Footnoting History podcast. On Footnoting History, Elizabeth and a team of academic historians share their favorite stories from across history. With 200 episodes to date, you can pretty much find any historical topic you're interested in. Check them out on your podcast app or at www.footnotinghistory.com
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The oldest Roman epics we have were produced during the Roman Empire. But before becoming an empire, Rome was a powerful republic for hundreds of years. What happened to the Roman epics from the republican period?
In this episode, we examine the evidence from this fascinating yet elusive early period, when Rome was a powerful Republic, but there were still other powerful states around, all competing for cultural prestige. Our guest on the show is someone who has spent years studying the early fragments as well as the later complete epics of the empire.
Rhiannon Evans lectures in Classics and Ancient History at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. She is also a veteran podcaster, being one of the lead voices on the Emperors of Rome podcast, and has published several of her lecture series as free podcasts as well.
The intro to this episode was provided by Brandon Huebner of the Maritime History Podcast, a show exploring the major naval powers of history and how their destinies were shaped by the sea. Check out the Maritime History Podcast on your podcast app of click here.
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Hesiod's didactic epic Works and Days is probably most famous for containing the stories of Prometheus and Pandora. But these tales are part of a greater mission of explaining how one can live justly and succeed in a harsh world.
Our guest today is widely recognized as having produced the best translation of the Works and Days into English. Alicia Stallings is an acclaimed poet, author, McArthur fellow, and translator of Hesiod and of Lucretius. If you would like to read the Works and Days, get yourself a copy of her translation.
The intro to this episode was provided by Derek of The Hellenistic Age Podcast, a show exploring the vast arena of cultures impacted by the conquests of Alexander the Great. Check out The Hellenistic Age Podcast on your podcast app or click here.
Hundreds of city-states in the ancient world experimented with democracy. Most of them experienced some kind of civil strife at some point. What caused these breakdowns of social order, and are we headed towards a similar fate?
In this episode we explore the phenomenon of political polarization (stasis in Greek), its causes, and the solutions that ancient thinkers offered to prevent it from happing. Our guest is Melissa Lane, Professor of Politics and associated faculty of Philosophy and Classics at Princeton University, where she is also the director of the University Center for Human Values. Her most recent book is The Birth of Politics: Eight Greek and Roman Political Ideas and Why they Matter.
BOOK GIVEAWAY: To win a copy of The Birth of Politics, autographed by Melissa Lane, go to our Facebook page and share our latest post announcing this episode. Then, from our page, send us a message with the word "shared." On March 10 we will randomly select a winner.
The intro to this episode was provided by Nitin Sil of the Flash Point History podcast, a show that has done epic series on Attila the Hun and the Punic Wars. Check out Flash Point History on your podcast app or click here.
At a time when kings and emperors ruled the world, the Founding Fathers of the US were striving to resurrect a millennia-old dream: that of a free republic. Drawing inspiration from ancient Athens, the Roman Republic, and Carthage, they helped craft a society that was at once radically new and rooted in antiquity.
Joining us to explore the influence of classical models on early American history is Caroline Winterer, professor of American History and of Classics at Stanford University and director of Stanford's Center for Humanities. Winterer is the author of American Enlightenments: Pursuing Happiness in the Age of Reason and of The Mirror of Antiquity: American Women and the Classical Tradition, 1750–1900 among many other books and articles exploring the connections between antiquity and the early American experience.