What with so many open-ended internet media projects out there, I admire any that come to a close. People start plenty of things on the net that wind up petering out, but few display the conviction to work toward a decisive end. Then again, this goes for all forms of human endeavor; even the builders of the Roman Empire must have operated on the assumption that it might go on forever. We now know, of course, that it wouldn’t, and this knowledge provides formal and intellectual premises for Mike Duncan’s podcast, The History of Rome (iTunes - RSS). The Roman Empire ended by the year 476. The history of the Roman Empire in podcast form ended last Sunday, after almost five years, 179 episodes, and 1654 near-universally laudatory iTunes reviews.
I reviewed The History of Rome myself back in 2009, for the Podthoughts column I write for MaximumFun.org. Podthinking has taught me that history as a subject suits this verbal, episodic, straight-into-your-mind type of medium almost ideally. Though Duncan chooses to get straight to the point and tell the Roman Empire’s story in a clear, ascetically unadorned manner, different podcasts deliver their slices of history with styles and sensibilities all their own. If you historically inclined podcast-listeners have already been keeping up with this show, others await you: Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History, Twelve Byzantine Rulers, A History of the World in 100 Objects, and (my own current listening experience of choice) Topics in Korean History, to name but a few. But if you haven’t been, sit down and let Mike Duncan tell you about a certain Romulus and Remus, with whom the history of Rome mythically began.