Terry Young's Profile
Member Since: Jan 27th, 2015
Last Online: Jan 28th, 2015
|Mike Duncan's magnum opus "The History of Rome" (THoR) was a landmark in history podcasting, indeed, podcasting in general. It's what inspired me to start my own detailed narrative podcast "The History of the Early Church." When I finished the last episode of THoR I found myself wanting more even after nearly 200 episodes! But thank God we have Robin Pearson to continue the story of Romania. "The History of Byzantium" (HoTB) is a welcome continuation of Mike's work, both faithful to the style of its predecessor, but also its own standalone podcast. Robin's diction is clear and fluid, and his accent makes for soothing audio. Robin's fearlessness is also to be commended. He plans to take the narrative of the Roman Empire from the mid-fifth century to the fall of Constantinople in 1453. In many ways this narrative task is even more ambitious than THoR given that in Mike's podcast, while covering slightly more time than Robin's will, the early centuries of Roman history until Julius Caesar, and especially before the Punic wars, were covered in about 40 to 50 episodes given the lack of detailed contemporary source material. Robin will have a greater challenge in that every century of Byzantine history has, more or less, detailed primary sources. Where as Mike Duncan could cover the entire 250 years of the Roman kingdom in just a few episodes, Byzantine history affords Pearson no such thing. Byzantine history also spans across many historical periods (ie. Late Antiquity, Early, High, & Late Medieval). This means an ever changing geological cast of people's and nations around the Roman Empire, a lot of to cover! Thus, Robin is to be commended for his fearless ambition and he has thus far succeeded in spades. The two hour episode on Heraclius' victorious campaign against Persia was masterful and is perhaps the best example of Robin being able and willing to set himself to the historical task at hand. |
Since this is a history of the Byzantine Empire, the subject of religion plays a key role in a way that it did not in THoR. Robin's coverage of Byzantine Orthodox Christianity is done with accuracy and maturity. While some may think his coverage is a bit thin on the details with subjects like say Monophysitism, this would be to misunderstand his purpose. His podcast is about the Roman state, with the Christian Church playing a secondary role in his narrative. It is the intricacies of the imperial court, not the councils and schism of clerics, that he aims to cover. The subject of Islam also now plays a major role, though I felt Robin was a bit over cautious here, as though he felt he was stepping on eggshells with every sentence.
One of the novel additions Robin has brought to the story of the Roman Empire are his end of the century review episodes. While Mike took a break from the narrative in the reign of Antoninus Pius, Robin takes these breaks every 100 years, surveying not only the Empire but the world around it. This is, I think, an improvement of the THoB over its predecessor. Robin really makes you feel like you are in the world of Late Antiquity.
"The History of Byzantium" is one of the best history podcasts on iTunes. No podcast and/or history lover can afford to not listen to it!