The Layman’s Historian
Episode 21 - At Acragas

Episode 21 - At Acragas

May 5, 2018

Having drifted into the First Punic War, Rome and Carthage both marshaled their forces and shipped them to Sicily. The Carthaginians sought to establish the city of Acragas as their base of operations due to its strategic location in southern Sicily and proximity to Roman-controlled territory. Similarly, the Romans besieged Acragas to cut off the Carthaginians from this vital port. Under Hanno, a Carthaginian relief army complete with sixty elephants met the Roman legions in a full-scale battle which resulted in a costly Roman victory. As the Carthaginians retreated westward, the Roman Senate realized that Rome now had the opportunity to wrest Sicily from Carthage forever. Before she could do that, however, Rome would have to challenge Carthage on her own element: the Mediterranean Sea.

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Episode 20 - So It Begins

Episode 20 - So It Begins

April 7, 2018

The day has arrived. After Pyrrhus's retreat from Italy in 275 BC, Carthage and Rome found themselves to be new neighbors with only a two mile stretch of water in the Strait of Messina separating them from each other. Although it is debatable whether the First Punic War was inevitable, its causes were rooted in many things, including the Romans’ belief that they stood alongside the Greeks against the barbarian world and its inhabitants such as Carthage as well as political rivalry and fear. Sparked by a local quarrel between Syracuse and the Mamertines, a group of rogue mercenaries who had seized control of the city of Messana, the First Punic War escalated from a regional skirmish into a full-scale conflict which would become one of the longest and costliest wars of Antiquity.

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Episode 19 - Pyrrhus of Epirus: Part II

Episode 19 - Pyrrhus of Epirus: Part II

March 25, 2018

In Part II of our overview of the career of Pyrrhus of Epirus, we pick up with Pyrrhus's campaigns in southern Italy. After whipping his Tarentine allies into shape, Pyrrhus defeated the Romans in two brutal battles, although both battles cost him so many of his own men that the term "Pyrrhic Victory" became proverbial. Following a brief stint in Sicily fighting against the Carthaginians, Pyrrhus returned to continue his wars in Greece. Despite the fact he failed in his efforts to carve out a new Greek empire in the West, his campaigns in Italy and Sicily set Rome and Carthage on a collision course that would result in the longest continuous war Antiquity would ever see.

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Episode 18 - Pyrrhus of Epirus: Part I

Episode 18 - Pyrrhus of Epirus: Part I

March 11, 2018

Resuming our narrative of the history of Carthage, we turn to one of the successor realms in the West. Pyrrhus, a second cousin of Alexander the Great, rose to become King of Epirus after a tumultuous and eventful childhood. After distinguishing himself by his skill as a military commander and his personal bravery, Pyrrhus invaded Italy in 280 BC at the invitation of the Greek city-state of Tarentum to support the western Greeks against the rising power of Rome. The resulting Pyrrhic War would be an epic clash between the dynamic Pyrrhus and the solid, relentless Romans, and the conflict would eventually draw Carthage's involvement due to its importance. In this episode, we cover the rise of Pyrrhus up until he sets foot in Italy. In Part II, we will cover the Pyrrhic War in detail and how Pyrrhus's actions set the stage for the Punic Wars to come.

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Episode 17 - The Senate and the People of Rome

Episode 17 - The Senate and the People of Rome

February 25, 2018

Completing our tour of the Mediterranean circa 300 BC, we finish with the history of the upstart city-state of Rome. Born into the harsh and competitive world of ancient Italy, Rome from the start was an aggressive, warlike, and proud civilization intent on not only surviving but thriving in the chaos which surrounded her. Her history is one of constant struggle, disaster, and triumph, but by 300 BC, through sheer grit and determination, Rome stood as the mistress of Italy, a formidable and relentless power in the Mediterranean.

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Episode 16 - The Diadochi: Heirs of Alexander

Episode 16 - The Diadochi: Heirs of Alexander

February 11, 2018

Continuing our tour of the Mediterranean circa 300 BC, we now turn to the squabbling Hellenic successor kingdoms in the East. Alexander the Great and his Macedonians succeeded in building a world empire that stretched from Greece to India in twelve short years, but Alexander's sudden death threw his newly-acquired realm into chaos. Following nearly twenty years of constant warfare, Alexander's generals, the Diadochi, managed to impose some order on the situation by divvying out the empire for themselves. However, the instability of the times as well as the mythos and legacy of Alexander would spill out into the Western Mediterranean, setting both Carthage and Rome on a collision course which would lead to the First Punic War.

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Episode 15 - The Keltoi: The Terror of Civilization

Episode 15 - The Keltoi: The Terror of Civilization

January 28, 2018

Having explored the peoples of North Africa and Spain, we move north to examine one of the most feared peoples of Antiquity: the Keltoi. Centered on Gaul, modern-day France, the Keltoi or Celts were renowned for their ferocity in battle as well as their great physical stature and strength, the prototypical barbarians. Yet they built well-organized and well-populated cities, crafted beautiful and intricate art, and traded vigorously all across the Mediterranean. Their achievements make them a paradox in the ancient world, simultaneously savage and sophisticated, but their legacy of terror and triumph lives on to our days.

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Episode 14 - North Africa and Spain

Episode 14 - North Africa and Spain

January 14, 2018

Continuing our tour of the Mediterranean around 300 BC, we look at the peoples of North Africa, specifically the Libyan tribes including the fierce Garamantines, the stern Mauri, and the nimble Numidians. From there, we briefly touch on the Liby-Phoenician colonies in North Africa and Spain before finishing with the Iberian tribes of Spain. If you get a chance, check out the new Facebook page and website for the Laymen's Historian for extra pictures and news regarding the podcast.  Also, make sure to subscribe via iTunes to keep up with the latest episodes.

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Episode 13 - Carthage: Her City, Her People, and Her Soul

Episode 13 - Carthage: Her City, Her People, and Her Soul

January 6, 2018

With the close of the Sicilian Wars, we have a perfect opportunity to pause in our narrative and take a look around at Carthage and the surrounding civilizations.  In this episode, we will cover the city of Carthage in detail as she stood in the early 200s BC before covering what the everyday Carthaginian looked like as well as the different social classes in the city.  Finally, we will discuss the culture or soul of Carthage, what they believed and how those beliefs molded them into the people they were.

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Link to an overhead diagram of the City of Carthage on the episodes page

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Episode 12 - The Battle for Carthage

Episode 12 - The Battle for Carthage

December 16, 2017

After the stunning Greek victory at White Tunis, Agathocles began leisurely pillaging the Carthaginian countryside, amassing riches and terrorizing the inhabitants.  Back in Sicily, Hamilcar Gisco was not so lucky, ultimately losing his life in a disastrous night attack.  Now, with her armies crippled, a foreign invader at her gates, and traitors within her walls, Carthage would have to summon all her strength and resourcefulness to survive the coming days.  As a special Christmas present to you all, I have uploaded a map of Carthage and the surrounding civilizations to the notes of this episode.  Merry Christmas!

 Update: As I feared, the map did not show up in the episode notes on iTunes. Until I get it sorted out, I have attached a link to the map here. Enjoy!

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