Warning: This article has little to do with customer relationship management. It won’t hurt my feelings if you skip to the end of the article for the gratuitous xRM History of Rome application.

May 6, 2012 – Today’s episode wraps up the remarkable five-year run of the best podcast ever, The History of Rome. I discovered Mike Duncan’s podcast in early 2008; Episode 1 (In the Beginning) was published July 2007. So, unlike Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Cowboy Bebop, The Wire, and other masterpieces of popular culture, I came to this one early on. Of the 250 or so Sundays since kicking things off, Duncan clicked Publish on 179 of them. For me and lots of other THoR fans, that always took the sting out of the end of a weekend.

I don’t believe Duncan considers himself a professional historian, and that’s one of the reasons this podcast so much fun. I’m no authority on Roman history, but my guess is the podcast doesn’t cover much ground academic historians would consider new. But if you’re like I was a few years ago – like history but don’t know much about Rome – you should start from the beginning and listen to every one of these episodes. What will you learn? Well, here are a few nuggets from my top x favorite episodes:

  • In Episode 1 we learn who Queen Dido was, and the real reason Rome eventually got into it with Carthage.
  • In Episode 2 (Youthful Indiscrations), we learn what the Rape of the Sabine Women was all about. (I’d always wondered what that was, and now I know!)
  • Just to pick two gems from the Ten episodes devoted to the three Punic Wars (five alone to The War with Hannibal), we learn where the term Fabian Strategy comes from, and how the charismatic, long-haired rock-star/general Scipio Africanus sowed the seeds of the fall of the republic.
  • 29-34 are the “rise of the populists” episodes, introducing, in order, the brothers Gracchus (Tiberius and Gaius), then Marius, then Sulla, then Marius and Sulla.
  • Next we come to Crassus and Pompey…and then of course to Julius Caesar, who gets Episodes 39-46. Caesar’s got a bad rap (killing off the republic & all), but he gets my vote for the Roman I’d most want to drink beers with. Episode 39 (The Young Julius Caesar Chronicles) is one of my personal favorites, and if you ever wondered where O. Henry got the idea for The Ransom of Red Chief, listen to this episode now!
  • Then we move on to the emperors. I’m going to be very selective here (since this is already getting too long): Episode 61 (What, me Claudius?) is also on my top-three list. In Episode 66 (666) we learn why Nero could not possibly have fiddled while Rome burned; in Episode 70 (Galba and Otho) I learned that Galba is among the emperors I’d least like to drink beers with; Episodes 79-95 (98 to 180 AD or so) cover the golden age of the empire, from Trajan to Marcus Aurelius. In episode 95 (The Beginning of the End) Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix in the movie) starts to screw everything up, and leads the way into the confusing and completely messed up 200s AD, during which the empire split into Three Empires (episode 113, 260 AD), and might have gone down the tubes entirely if it weren’t for episode 116 (Here Come the Illyrians).
  • Another episode on my top-three list: 119 (Restitutor Orbis, 274 AD). The big takeaway: when it comes to peak value (as opposed to career value), Aurelian is the Sandy Koufax of Roman emperors.
  • Duncan also has an apparently solid understanding of economics. His explanation of inflation, by way of analogy with the famous Donald Duck episode where Huey, Dewey and Louie get hold of the Duplicator Ray, is not to be missed. It’s also not to be found (by me, this weekend)…but I know it’s there somewhere in one of those 179 episodes.

About halfway through the podcast, Duncan was offered a sponsorship from www.Audible.com and started reading a short pitch at the start of most episodes. I was glad when he did that; anybody who creates content as good as The History of Rome deserves to be rewarded for it. The pitch includes a URL — http://www.audible.com/historyofrome — where you can sign up for a free trial, and if you ever want Audible, I encourage you to use that link to do so. He also started doing History of Rome tours: http://www.historyofrometour.com/. My hope is that the tours have been so lucrative that he keeps doing them until I can work my schedule around one.

What else might he spin off from THoR? Well, if he did a book, I’d buy it for sure. Two of the best reasons to do a book:

  1. He could include some nice maps. There are some on the podcast site, but I think book-quality maps would add a ton of value.
  2. I could look up “Huey, Dewey and Louie” in the index and find that inflation episode.

I’ve already completed one spinoff with absolutely no commercial value, but it was fun and didn’t take too much time. (see below)

Vale, THoR

The 1,229 year history comes in at just about 7 years per episode. With an average episode length of about 25 minutes, Duncan covered about three months of Roman history per podcast minute. Just right.

Thanks Mike. Sunday nights just won’t be the same.

xRM History of Rome Application

Want a list of Roman emperors in a spreadsheet? Here you go.

Spreadsheets are OK, but if I have structured data to track and analyze I always go with Dynamics CRM. When I wrote What if they took the C out of CRM, I was still new to Roman history and didn’t fully appreciate how much more insight I’d gain from it if the historical data were in an xRM application. For example, consider the following figure:

This is the Emperors view of the Romans entity (renamed Contact), with the Emperors by Cause of Demise chart selected. (I customized the Status Reason field for “cause of demise”.)

An application like this demands dashboards. For example, here’s the Emperors at a Glance dashboard:

If I ever need a reminder on who the real stinkers were, I can simply drill down on the 5 bar in the Emperors by Rating chart:

And on the off chance I forget which emperor died because those darned Goths just made him so mad, I can drill down on the Emperors by Cause of Demise chart:

And talk about a perfect use of the Connections feature! Here are just a few of the connection roles I’ve created to keep track of the various ways these people were connected to each other: