Dan Carlin's Hardcore History: Addendum - Rome Through Duncan's Eyes

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It’s Hardcore History.


I’ve been podcasting since like the Stone Age, 2005.

And way back then and for a long time afterwards, I kind of considered all the other people

who were podcasting as my colleagues.

We’re not really in the sort of industry where you say, yes, my colleagues, and we publish

papers or whatever the normal idea of what you might consider a colleague to be.

But it really felt the same, right?

We’re struggling through the same things, learning the same things, running into each

other in places, either in person or digitally.

These days, of course, it’s a lot harder to call every podcaster your colleague when I

think I saw a number recently that it’s north of 500,000 podcasts or something.

But the person I’m about to talk to is undoubtedly my podcast colleague because, well, heck,

he’s a history podcaster.

So right there, we’re in a pretty small gene pool.

And he is one of the great podcasters ever.

His The History of Rome podcast is legendary.

In my mind, it sort of makes him the audio, the modern audio equivalent of Edward Gibbon

where he goes like the length and breadth of the entire Roman experience to the fall

of the Western Empire.

It’s hugely popular in one of those podcasts that should be in some section of the Hall

of Fame someday.

His other one is an amazingly ambitious project, which he pulls off wonderfully.

And judging from the success, everyone seems to like revolutions where he looks at different


So it’ll be very interesting to talk to Mike Duncan today about his new book, The Storm

Before the Storm.

And if you don’t know enough about this, his book will educate you wonderfully.

His show, of course, is available out there.

The longest series we ever did was on this period of Roman history, the death throes

of the Republic.

So there’s lots of stuff out there.

But I have a feeling most of you are already going to know a ton of this stuff because

Rome is wildly popular, which is one of the first questions I ask my history podcast colleague,

the great Mike Duncan.

Once upon a time, I wanted to do a podcast on Cleopatra.

And I sat down, decided it, ordered a bunch of books, and then tried to figure out where

you should start the story of Cleopatra.

And every time I would go backwards, I would find a domino connected to another domino

and another domino.

Long story short, that show I wanted to do Cleopatra about, or the show I wanted to do

about Cleopatra, turned into the longest series we’ve ever done because you have to go all

the way back to a long way in Roman history for the dynamics to become, you know, even

remotely clear.

And people tend to focus on, you know, if this is the Titanic story, the actual sinking

of the ship.

But Mike, your new book, The Storm Before the Storm, is about the iceberg and the striking

of the iceberg.

You know, tell us a little bit about, you know, this story that most people don’t know

as well as the actual sinking of the ship.

Yeah, the way that I put it.

So my book is The Storm Before the Storm, the beginning of the end of the Roman Republic.

It covers the period from 146 BC around there to about 78 BC, which is the death of Sulla.

And it covers the couple of generations before Julius Caesar comes along, before Octavian

comes along, before Antony and Cleopatra are around, to start looking, as you say, at the

things that led up to the collapse of the Roman Republic, rather than just jumping right

into it.

And you say it’s, you know, people like to focus on the sinking of the ship.

And I say that jumping into Caesar is like jumping into a movie at the third act, at

the beginning of the third act, where, you know, everything is, you know, loud and crazy

and people are fighting with each other.

And obviously, people are really passionately committed to this, that, or the other thing.

But you don’t know how it got to this point.

You don’t know what were the problems that led the Republic to be so brittle that it

could be blown apart a couple of generations later.

And that’s what I hope that the book is able to explore.

And then when you read it and you have completed with it, then you’ll have a much richer understanding

of why what happens with Caesar happens.

Let’s talk about why we even care what happens to Caesar.

I’m a little amazed at the not just modern, but ongoing public interest.

And remember, a public that is generally not thought to be all that history knowledgeable

or even care that much about it.

And yet we can continually publish books and make movies and have discussions that

draw comparisons to this Republic from more than 2,000 years ago.

What do you think accounts for the enduring interest on the part of even lay people to

this place where, if you think about it, no one should even be…this shouldn’t be in

the front of anyone’s mind 1,500, 2,000 years ago?

It’s a good question.

I mean, for people like us, it’s so inherently interesting that it’s almost weird to step

back and say, why would anybody be interested in Rome?

Because Rome is, at least to me, so inherently interesting.

I think what it gets to is that people know that Rome was this ancient, powerful civilization.

And it almost is the epitome of what imperial power is, what civilizational power is.

We know that it lasted for 1,000 years or more, if you include the Byzantines.

So I think Rome just is always gonna have a place in the collective imagination as you

go, okay, if you’re at all interested in history at all, let’s go to sort of the big and important

parts of history.

And you’re always gonna then wind up in Rome.

And specifically where people are gonna wind up is that era between, let’s say, the arrival

of Julius Caesar and the death of Nero, the death of the Julio-Claudian dynasty.

That particular era of Roman history, in part because it’s so well-documented and we know

so much about it, is always going to be the place where people go to…

If they become interested in Rome, that’s where they’re gonna wind up.

And it’s a lot the same way that I think that no matter what, the Napoleonic age is gonna

be permanently something that people keep going back to and back to even 2,000 years

later when you’re like, wow, this is just like some obscure kind of temporary French


There is something about the force of the personalities and the force of just the political

power that is being expressed that’s always going to draw people’s attention.

I see that with Napoleon, just like I see that with a Hitler or even a Genghis Khan.

But to me, the difference is the length of time…

Instead of one supreme figure that is searing across the pages of the history book, and

they’re innately interesting, you have numerous figures.

I mean, just going through your book, it’s one fascinating individual that seems to be


I mean, when you think about what the quota of great men should be in any given civilization

during any given time, the period discussed in your book seems to be an era where humanity

in that place in that time is exceeding its normal quota of fascinating, august human


I would say so, and it’s always been a bit surprising to me, having gone through the

history of Rome and gone through the entire history of Rome in pretty minute detail, that

particular period between the Gracchi and then Marius and Sulla was always a period

that I wanted to come back to.

I kind of had put a pin in it very early on and was like, this is an era that’s going

to be a lot…

It’s going to be worth coming back to.

And to have…

Nobody really have written the book that I wrote, which is, let’s just focus on this

50 or 60 year period all on its own.

I won’t make this the first couple of chapters in a larger book about the fall of the Republic.

I won’t make it one chapter in a larger history about just Roman civilization.

But to really hone in on this particular period, I’d always kind of…

I would watch the book lists with one eye, like, is somebody going to finally discover

that this is a great untapped wealth of material?

And nobody quite put it together.

So I was able to step in and now, I hope, deliver a book that will explain why…

I think when people end the book, they’re going to be like, why hasn’t this been covered

in more detail?

I think that’ll be one of the big questions coming out of it for people.


I love your subtitle, The Beginning of the End of the Roman Republic.

It sounds Churchillian, but maybe you could have called it also the era when things broke

because that really is kind of what it was.

And you can see, like you were talking about in the book, the Romans didn’t have this written


They had sort of a set of conduct rules that were just innately understood by everyone

in customs.

And when they broke that, it’s like, okay, there’s no written constitution.

So once someone violates the way we do things, the way of the elders, all bets are off, right?

It seemed that way.

There was this thing like, but when Rome triumphs, and what happens in 146 BC for people that

aren’t like caught up with this, is that Rome conquers Carthage for the last time, their

great rival.

Now, Carthage was unbearable during the Second Punic War, that’s about 50 years or so in

the past, but their great rival, Ruth Carthage, is now over and Rome has emerged victorious.

They also decide to just outright conquer and annex Greece into the Roman state.

So at this point in 146 BC, Rome is without question the strongest power in the Mediterranean

world and nobody is going to be able to challenge them.

There is something…

This triumph actually opens up a whole host of new problems for the Republic and for the

leadership of the Republic that they just sort of start to fail to address and fail

to deal with.

And it creates a powerfully new confrontational style of domestic politics that had never

really existed before.

The Roman Senate and the Roman elites had always been pretty clubby with each other.

They had always been like, oh, there are some…

We’ll ultimately make compromises with each other or if we don’t all agree on something,

we’ll just put it to bed.

And what happens after 146 is you start having these leaders start to break away and start

to tap into new energies that are floating around out there.

And with this new confrontational style of Roman politics, yeah, people start abandoning

those old unwritten norms and unspoken modes of behavior.

And once you start down that road, I mean, you can pull out of it.

What happened to the Romans is that they were not able to pull out of it.

And if you start going down this road, you ultimately discover that even written laws,

even following written laws is merely a custom.

It’s merely a norm.

There’s nothing about a piece of paper with laws written on it that compels me to do anything,

to follow that law.

I’m just simply…

I’m giving it power with my own because that’s how we do things.

But if somebody, say, has an army or a gun or a baseball bat, that actually is the ultimate

definer of power.

It’s just brute force.

So once you start giving up on sort of what you would call, oh, minor unspoken rules,

you eventually will get to the point where everybody has to admit that only brute force

is really what’s at play.

I love that line, whether it was really said or not, that history doesn’t repeat, but it

sometimes rhymes.

And I look at the Roman Republic, I think like everyone does.

And it’s hard not to see patterns and similar dynamics.

And I think for no other reason than because it’s another commercial republic that’s large

and imperial.

And right there, you’re going to have some things that look similar.

And we all understand that if you look a little beneath the surface, there’s a ton of things

that are different.

I mean, slavery, outright slavery, for example.

But you point out in your book, and I thought it was interesting, you were drawing comparisons

to if the U.S. and the Roman Republic are following a similar charted course, for lack

of a better word, where would we be now in terms of where the Romans were?

Can you talk a little about that?

Because I thought that was, I mean, if you look at the Punic Wars as like the World Wars

and whatnot, I think it’s a fascinating way to come up to a conclusion saying, OK, we’ve

done this, we’ve done this, we’ve done this, we haven’t done this yet.

So where do you put us in the book compared to Roman history in a similar place?


So all caveats aside, this is not actually the way that history works.

We’re not like in some repeating-

That’s right.

We’re speculating wildly and irresponsibly.

We’re putting on different clothes, right?


That’s what I do, Mike.

Welcome to my show.


So let’s say that the Roman Empire is out there and there’s like a thousand years worth

of history and we’re sitting here in the United States or in the West generally at the beginning

of the 21st century.

And you want to say like, well, what is there that we can look to in Roman history?

Is there a period in time that we can look to that is more analogous to our own situation

than another?

And it’s really, it’s a lot by process of elimination, where are we a brand new little

city state that has just recently been colonized or founded by a group of dissidents and vagabonds

and escaped slaves?

Like, no, that happened 400 years ago in our own history.

That would be the early days of the colonization of North America.

Are we at a stage where a group of disgruntled aristocrats overthrows a king and establishes

a new kingless republic that is more or less an elite-led oligarchy?

Like, no, that would be, if anything, that’s the founding fathers.

That’s the American Revolution.

Then what Rome does is it emerges as a new republic and over the next couple of hundred

years it starts to expand slowly across Italy in a series of wars that are collectively

dubbed the Samnite Wars that wind up with Rome being the most dominant power on the

Italian peninsula.

So is the United States a recently emerged regional power?

Again, I don’t think that anybody would describe the United States as a recently emerged regional

power, and all of that probably corresponds to our slow and steady conquest of North America

and everything that we did to the American Indians, battling with Mexico and taking the

entire north half of their country.

And then you even get later on and you say, well, after that, Rome goes to war with Carthage,

goes to war with Greece, goes to war in Spain, and they emerge as this dominant, what you

might call a global power, at least in the context of the Mediterranean.

And again, the United States isn’t even there because we did all of that.

We are one of the acknowledged great powers, and especially after the Cold War, I mean,

the 1990s, we’re describing the United States as a hyper power almost.

Now, I think that’s been tempered quite a bit in the last few years, but certainly we’re

not finding our footing for the first time as a global power.

We’ve been dealing with those issues since the end of World War II and all through the

Cold War.

So then you push forward a little bit more and you say, okay, well, has the Republic…

Have we collapsed into a generations long civil war where a warlord has in effect emerged

victorious from and set himself up as a dictator?

No, that hasn’t happened yet.

So if we haven’t gotten to that point yet, if the Republic has not yet collapsed, and

I certainly don’t believe that the Republic has collapsed, then you say, okay, well, maybe

the United States is kind of now roughly in this same setting where after Rome had emerged

as a global power, but before the Republic collapsed, let’s take a look at this era.

It’s the beginning of the end of the Republic, which is right after this period, 146 BC,

which as we said earlier in the show, earlier in this interview, is already a period that

is inherently fascinating in its own right.

And as it turns out, I think that they were dealing with a number of issues that you could

say the United States is dealing with right now.

And so it’s worth going through what the Romans went through and how they responded to it.

And maybe it could influence how we decide to deal with our own problems today.

I was playing a silly game while I was reading.

Reading your book is to remind me of a bunch of things that I haven’t looked at in a while.

And the battles over public land and the distribution of land to veterans and all that stuff, and

the problem that the Romans were having keeping armies in the field when they were essentially,

you know, conscripts is not really the right word, but farmer armies that had to go home

and tend to their home were now on long service, a thousand miles away from home and the farms

going to heck.

And how long can you maintain?

And I thought, you know, if we tried to run our current foreign policy in the United States

military that was operating with the draft situation that we had, say, in the 1950s,

I don’t know if we could do it.

How much does the dynamic of having, you know, a bunch of veterans coming home from these

wars and having, you know, real gripes about the situation that they find themselves in,

the fact that they might have to go back in service, the fact that their homes are falling

apart while they’re gone.

Talk to talk a little about that dynamic.

Reminds me a little like the Freikorps in Germany or the bonus marchers in our own history.

I mean, a bunch of long service military veterans angry with nothing to do sounds like a recipe

for political change, we’ll just say.

Yeah, I would say so.

And what is happening is, it’s one of these situations where, again, the Romans had been

more or less running what you might call a glorified militia, where you would enter into

the service, you would actually, if harvest time came and everybody was still fighting

each other, like both sides would quit the field and everybody would go home and harvest

their fields.

And these imperial wars of expansion that Rome got caught in, yes, starts to take the

poor, the lower class citizens away from their farms, away from their families for longer

and longer periods of time.

And so this period of triumph is for the Roman state, for the Republic itself as an entity,

the Senate and the people of Rome, turns out to be fairly economically disastrous for

a lot of these lower class Roman citizens.

They’re gonna start to lose their farms.

They’re gonna start to get bought out by wealthy neighbors, because you’d rather take some

money and get out while you can than watch it all go to ruin.

So yeah, it really does.

And the bonus marchers are a good example of this, which happened right in the midst

of the Great Depression here in the United States, is that they had these grievances,

they had these legitimate grievances, their families had had these farms for in perpetuity,

going back into the misty eras of the early Republic or even the kingdom days.

And they’re now starting to lose all of that, and their traditional ways of life are being


And they are feeling that the Senate and the government of Rome is…

They are consolidating all of this massive imperial wealth, but none of it seems to be

trickling down to the poor farmers, to the poor citizens.

So you have a situation where these new leaders, as I was saying, you can start to break out

and say, hey…

As a noble leader, you can say, hey, I think that there’s an opportunity for me here to

get enormous political influence and political power and political popularity by promising

these people who have all of these grievances, I’m gonna solve your problems.

We’re gonna go to the rich, we’re gonna take their land basically by force, we’re gonna

chop it up and we’re gonna redistribute it to all of you.

This is an incredibly popular thing that can be done.

And this opens the new Populare style of Roman politics, which is instead of this elite noble

consensus being the driver of your policies, it’s directly appealing to the rural peasants

and the urban plebs who are feeling negative effects from Rome’s imperial triumph rather

than a bunch of positive effects.

Well, and it brings up the age old question.

I’d like to get your opinion on it as a guy who’s talked about Rome as much or more than

anyone I can think of.

The idea that these people who appealed to the popular crowd, were they really…

Was that a real position or was that they just had latched onto a political wind, they

put their finger in the wind, find out, oh, this cause of giving land to the veterans

is popular, so I’ll do that.

It seems to me that if I look at it as a novice, some of these reformers look more real than


Do you have a feeling, I mean, like Caius and Tiberius Gracchi, I mean, to me, those


People always like to compare them to the Kennedy brothers.

That’s ridiculous.

But at the same time, you have two brothers, both assassinated, both that a lot of people

were able to romantically put a lot of hopes in and lionize afterwards.

I mean, do you look at those guys as sincere reformers or are they all charlatans working

a political angle?

Or are none of them?

No, I have an answer to this because now I’ve gone through it.

And this is, as you point out, this is one of the great debates in Roman history generally,

and also just like world history in general, is are these various popular reformers, are

they merely cynical demagogues or are they genuinely interested in reforming the state?

And certainly, even while the Gracchi were still alive, their allies were saying, oh,

they’re driven by lofty ideals and a genuine regard for the people, and their enemies are

producing pamphlets that say, oh, no, they’re trying to make themselves the new kings of


So where I do come down on it about the Gracchi in particular, I think that they were interested

in genuine reform.

There was no altruism at work here.

I mean, we’re talking about high Roman politics.

There’s not a lot of altruism going around out there.

But I think that they saw simultaneously that a path to personal power, which is what they

were after, they were incredibly ambitious, could simultaneously solve a lot of the problems

that Rome was now dealing with as it transitioned from being merely an Italian city-state, one

among many, to the rulers of the entire Mediterranean world.

But they existed on a spectrum where this same milieu of populare energy coming out

of the rural peasants or the urban plebs, even in the lower equestrian classes that

have a lot of wealth but don’t have a lot of input politically, those can be harnessed

by people like the Gracchi, and they can also be harnessed by cynical demagogues who, yes,

are just there to say, hey, you’re angry.

I know that you’re angry.

I’m going to help you channel that anger, and I’m going to tell you who’s to blame for

all of your problems, and then I’m going to point you at the people who I’m telling you

are to blame for it, and, oh, wouldn’t you know it?

The people who are to blame for it are my personal enemies.

So you can use that same…

It becomes quite a revolutionary energy.

You can start to use that and manipulate it.

So I think it’s never fair to say that all of them are sincere reformers or all of them

are cynical demagogues.

It’s quite a mix of the two, and people are going to land on a spectrum, and people say…

People bring up the Kennedy brothers for the Gracchi, which doesn’t really hold a lot

of water, but if there is anybody in American history who does look like the Gracchi, I

think it’s the Roosevelts, where what Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt and that,

the progressive reforms that they were making, both of them were incredibly ambitious.

Both of them wanted to be president.

Both of them kind of wanted to be president forever.

And they were called traitors to their class.

Yeah, and they were, of course, they were…


They were very similar to the Gracchi in that way, that they were inner circle nobility,

and they’re using all of their power and wealth and influence to really disrupt what the elites

have going for them.

So I think if anybody is out there in American history that does look like the Gracchi, it’s

probably the Roosevelts.

Well, I’m enjoying the analogy comparison too much to stop now.

So maybe you can give me…

Have you ever thought about some of these other figures in your book and thought about

American examples?

I can look at like a Huey Long, for example, and see someone that maybe would have fit

back into the Roman things.

I remember, was it Manchester’s book on MacArthur and American Caesar?

There’s always comparisons.

When you look at the Solos and the Mauruses and Cato the Elder and all those folks, do

you have any analogies that you often think of when you think of some of these major figures?

Well, not to rain on anybody’s parade, but once you get onto that granular level, like

who would Drusus be?

It does start to get harder to pin people down.

Was MacArthur an American Caesar?

I don’t know, but it seems like probably a good thing that Truman fired him.

I think it’s an insult to Caesar myself, but I’m biased.




I would say so.

Of all the people that I’ve ever gone through that you can compare to Julius Caesar, it’s


That’s right.


He really measures up to that particular class of having the totality of I can be genocidal

and also reform the metric system.

And I’m a genius, yes.

So have I successfully dodged the question?

Yes, I think so.

I think so.

Well done.


So then let’s talk then a little bit about the dynamics here.

It’s funny because when you look at the Roman system, it seems to be the wonderful, unless

you want to go to the Greeks, but it’s the wonderful example of the class divisions and

then the problems inherent with class warfare and sharing of power.

I mean, if you wanted to describe, I mean, we’re talking about the iceberg that sinks

the Titanic here, and we can talk about rules shifting and warlords and everything.

But what was it that shifted in terms of a public being willing to accept senatorial

control by, as you pointed out in the book, a really small number of people in a fundamental

sense and be able to push?

I mean, the Tribune of the Plebs was one systemic tool that was introduced to help balance out

those powers.

Could you say that that whole era between Tiberius Gracchus and maybe Caesar is an example

of class warfare sort of playing out?

I mean, how much of a role would you give to that?

Class men versus class warfare versus cycles and trends?

It’s really difficult to get into because Roman politics did operate differently than

modern Western politics.

Like the client system, for example.


So the first and most important thing is to say that these are more like clan rivalries

than class warfare, where you’re a patron, you’re a leader, and you have this network

of clients who are all attached to you, and then your political rivals have that same

network of clients who are all attached to them.

So this is really clans running into each other with almost like nobles and retainers,

if you wanted to use a medieval analogy, rather than like, oh, we’re the lower classes and

we are trying to overthrow you guys, the upper classes.

But that said, during this era, right, after 146, I think you do have a new class style

of politics that one of these rival clans can take advantage of, right?

And so hopefully I’m able to paint this correctly.

So what it is, is you have this ability to go out into just the voting public, right?

Because all of these people could vote, the rural peasants, the urban plebs, they could

all vote, and you could use the popular assemblies to pass legislation to make yourself and your

own clan very, very popular.

So this is almost something that you would be sitting around with your senatorial family,

you’re an ambitious senatorial family, and you’re like, how are we going to get power?

That appeal to the populace is an available method of doing it.

So you’re ginning up class interests, and you’re pointing them at often…

Usually you’re pointing it at the corrupt Senate and saying, we are going to deliver

to you what the corrupt Senate has been denying you.

But five years later or 10 years later, maybe your rival has decided to try to adopt one

of these popular platforms and use that, well, now you suddenly become the defender of old

senatorial interests, because your rival is the one who’s now doing the popular program.

So it was a lot of taking on and putting off of hats, where you might temporarily be the

leader of a popular movement, and then 10 years later, you might be standing in lockstep

with the Senate.

So it was a lot more fluid, I think, than anything that would be going on, say, with

battles between unions, battles between socialists and capitalists in the modern era, where there’s

really class interests involved, and you really had also lower class leaders doing the leading

in that sense, which you don’t really get that in Roman history.

No, and it was interesting, because you had included in the book something, I think it

was Cato the Elder had talked about, and we’re getting back here to the changes in Rome because

of the Punic Wars and the various conquests, about the amount of wealth that was being

dragged back to Rome by some of these people, because most of the people don’t benefit from

these conquests, but some of these commanders and whatnot would come back.

You were talking about 40,000 pounds of silver and things like that.

Talk a little about how, and this is such a Roman moralizer point of view, right, about

how the nouveau riche Romans are forgetting their values, but you included it in the book.

How much did the Roman system change?

Because all of a sudden it went from, well, at least the portrayals of it make it sound

like more Spartan, more old values to, you know, Cato the Elder looking at the nice figs

and saying, Carthage must be destroyed.

I think that the role of this new wealth, there’s a couple of things that all of this

new wealth does bring into play, right?

Like the Cato the Elder style critique, which is that all of this wealth degraded the morality

of the upper class or degraded the morality of the Romans, I think is less important.

I don’t think that that is a huge driver of what the problem was.

I don’t think it was that the wealth degraded their morals.

I think it was that it created a skyrocketing economic inequality, right, where there had

always been rich and poor in Rome, right?

That is going to be true going all the way back.

What was happening is that, as you just mentioned, and I read about this in the book, that you

have these legions going out, they’re going out to Greece and Macedonia, they’re going

to North Africa, and they’re bringing back 300,000 gold coins.

They’re bringing back 80,000 pounds of raw silver.

I mean, literally, like the species of…

The available species of the Mediterranean is being thrown into Roman wagons and hauled

back to Rome, all of which is being controlled mostly by that upper class senatorial elite

or the richer equestrian classes, right, the sort of the sub-senate, the people who are

one step below the senators.

These guys are the ones who are controlling all of this wealth.

And I do think that far from degrading the morality of the thing, it does degrade the

socioeconomic system, where what are they going to do with all this gold?

The Romans did not…

They did not sit around counting their gold pieces like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.

They want to invest their gold into things, and most especially, they want to invest it

in land.

So their ability to now command this huge, huge amount of wealth, they’re pouring it

into trying to buy up as much land as they possibly can.

And this does lead to the further dispossession of all of those poorer Roman farmers that

we talked about a couple of minutes ago.

So there’s that process that is unfolding, that wealth being controlled by a few rich

families is leading those rich families to expand their own land holdings across Italy,

and that’s just going to disrupt the entire socioeconomic system that had been in existence

for hundreds of years.

And that’s just the one thing that they’re investing all of their money in.

And the other thing that they’re investing all of their money in is slaves.

So they’re now able…

The richer Romans are now able to bring slaves into the system on, again, an unprecedented


The Romans had always had slaves.

Slaves had always been around.

But now you really have the slaves beginning to do most of the at least commercial labor

of Roman society.

They’re out there, they’re doing work in the grape fields, they’re doing the olives.

If they’re skilled, if you get captured and you’re like, hey, I can make tables, then

you’re going to be put to work making tables for your owner.

Or if you’re really unlucky, you’re going to be sent off to work in one of the mines.

And again, that’s just going to be producing more and more wealth for the senatorial aristocracy.

So that combination of massive amounts of wealth, massive amounts of slaves, but always

really to the benefit of a very small elite inside of Rome creates, I think, the fundamentally

destabilizing energy that is going to allow some of these, be they genuine reformers all

the way to cynical demagogues, or all the way ultimately culminating with Julius Caesar,

who is the popular reformer slash super ambitious noble par excellence, it’s all going to culminate

with him.

And the slaves to me is the ultimate different variable when they do the comparisons between,

say, the US now and the Roman Republic.

Because even if you wanted to argue about slave labor being equivalent to low income

labor from over the border or whatever, I don’t see the similarity.

And it would be, if you wanted to make an analogy with what the Romans did or what a

lot of peoples did in earlier history, it would be like we went into the Middle East,

toppled Saddam Hussein, and brought thousands of Iraqis back to the United States to serve


It sounds like an inherently unstable situation to begin with.

I found it interesting when you were talking about who had power in Rome and you talked

about assemblies and that the average Joe on the street had more, I would say both more

and less power maybe than one thought, but you’re lying about being able to control.

I think in England, they called it King Mob at one point, the ability to control the political

heart of Rome as the population gave a certain amount of power in the city.

It always amazed me that in that kind of a situation that you never had a French Revolution

kind of thing when it’s so much a large percentage of the population being balanced out by such

a small class, but it’s that client relationship that sort of weaves the threads of connections,

isn’t it, through the rich, the poor, and the middle classes.

And could you talk a minute about the equestrian class maybe and a connection to what today

we would call corporations and the fact that because the Roman senators were not supposed

to involve themselves in business, it sort of left a loophole for these other people

to come in and create what I think today we would call corporations.

You think that’s a fair term?


I think that they were corporations.

You would actually buy stock in these things.



In a rudimentary way that…


So there was this prohibition on the senators, like somebody who was in the Senate and you’re

talking about maybe 300, 350 men and their families are prohibited from conducting commercial


And of course, just the caveat to this is that all of them did it.

They all had fronts.

They all had clients that they would use were like, oh, this is my guy, Publius.

He’s somebody who just so happens to own a large amount of commercial real estate and

I just happen to know him.

It was all a front.

So most senators were able to dodge this quite easily.

But the Roman state itself didn’t perform any of their own logistical enterprises, right?

Even right down to tax collection, right?

The Romans did not have state employees who were tax collectors.

They didn’t have state employees who made uniforms for the legions and shipped them

off to the legions.

This was all done by groups of wealthy individuals who were not in the Senate because you want

to be able to get around that, the commercial prohibitions.

So you have these very wealthy families in Rome who are not a part of the Senate who

are actually the ones who are now handling the wealth of the society, the large scale


What they would do is they would come together, say the tax collectors, if you want one of

these tax farming contracts, and you would say, okay, here’s how much we’re going to

bid to get this contract.

And then the censor once every five years would award a contract and let’s say your

company won the bid, then you would now have the right to go to some province or go to

some area and be in charge of the tax collection where any amount of money that you made out

collecting taxes above what you had bid was going to be your profit.

That model of extracting taxes from provincials left itself open to wild corruption and abuse

where if your profit margin is simply however much you can get out of these people, it’s

going to lead you to strong armed people.

It’s going to lead you to demand more than they actually owed in taxes.

And the Roman government, the Roman provincial administrations, I mean, the people who would

actually be out there in nearer Spain or in further Spain actually representing the Roman

government as like a state agent, I mean, you’re talking about less than 100 people.

You’re talking about it’s the governor, his family, and maybe a couple other elected


Meanwhile, the face of Rome out there, the people who are actually running the province

are these tax farmers with very little oversight.

And if you were a tax farmer, you could go to a family and say like, hey, you owe me

this in taxes.

The provincial pays the tax.

Then you come back around six months later and say, hey, you owe me this tax again.

And the family could say, hey, we already paid that tax six months ago.

And the tax farmer would just say, well, I don’t care.

You pay me.

And there’s no oversight to any of this, no real effective oversight anyway.

And this creates the same kind of really anger and resentment at what the Roman administrators

were up to amongst the provincials out there in Spain or in Greece or later in Asia or

what is today Western Turkey that in and of itself led to a destabilization of their imperial

hold on things.

And that doesn’t all get straightened out really until Augustus comes along and starts

introducing more stable reforms.

Marc Thiessen So fleeced by the contractors, right?

David Levy Very much so.

Very much so.

Marc Thiessen So let me ask you, and there’s a little bit

of storytelling here because I think it’s horrifying.

To me, the first time I ever read anything in ancient history that reminded me of like

George Orwell’s 1984, and maybe this is just the way my brain connects things.

But when you read about, you know, the Marius and the Sulla eras when prescription lists

are going up and people will read about whether or not they’re being sentenced to die, I mean,

that has such a Third Reich kind of Orwellian maybe feel to it.

Can you go into that a little bit and talk about how different that was for Rome to wake

up and go see if you were on the list to die?

David Levy So at the beginning of the book, right, we’re


There’s conflicts between various political rivals, various political groups, various

families, and they start maneuvering around each other and they start breaking down these

like rules of most mayorum.

But kind of in the early days, it’s all very ad hoc, it’s all very spontaneous, and it’s

really more about like maneuvering in new ways that hadn’t been done before.

You start plodding along through the book, yeah, you get to chapter eight, you get to

chapter nine, now we’re talking about these groups having armed, like on retainer armed

gangs who are going to fight for you.

And by the very end of the book, it becomes necessary to not just defeat your rivals and

have them say like, okay, well, I lost that vote or I lost that consulship, I guess I’ll

go home now.

You’re operating in a civil war environment where it’s no longer enough to just beat your

rivals, you have to kill, you have to kill them.

And if you don’t kill them, then they’re gonna come back and they’re gonna kill you.

So there’s a little tight cycle of this where…

I don’t wanna do too much in the way of spoilers if you haven’t read the book, but yeah, we

kinda all know it all ends badly for the Romans, so it’s not too much of a spoiler to say it

ends badly for most of these people.

But Sulla goes off to the east to fight his war against Mithridates.

He’s had this very intense struggle with Marius and Marius’ allies.

And Marius and his allies wind up coming into Rome and recapturing Rome, having been booted

out a couple of weeks earlier, and they start killing the allies of Sulla.

This leads, when Sulla comes back a couple of years later, for Sulla to reciprocate,

to give as good as he gets, and start, yeah, literally putting up named lists.

Here’s a list of names, and if you kill one of these people and bring me their head, then

I will pay you, I will pay you money.

And what is kind of…

And it also, not just Orwellian, but also very Kafka-esque, where it all becomes very

arbitrary, where the whole original point of the prescription list was so that the people

who Sulla was not planning on killing could rest easy.

Like, oh, okay, well, my name’s not on the list, so I’ll be fine.

But every day, a new list goes up with new names on it, and you start having names being

added to the list, not because they are enemies of Sulla, but because they happen to be enemies

of maybe one of Sulla’s allies.

Or in the case of Crassus, and he is like, hey, you own a very rich estate down here

in Campania.

I think I would actually like to own that estate.

So I think I’m gonna declare you an enemy of Sulla and have you killed.

So those prescriptions that sort of eat up the last few chapters of the book are all

very bloody, and they become…

It takes on an absurd level where it doesn’t even matter anymore whether you’re an enemy

of somebody.

And there’s a quote from some rich equestrian who gets killed, and he’s like, ah, done for

because of my Alban farm.

And then, yeah, he gets killed and his farm gets confiscated.

So it moves very quickly from, I have to kill my enemies in order to triumph, to just like,

let’s just kill everybody and confiscate their stuff.

And it’s a wanted, dead or alive kind of approach to getting the enemies, isn’t it?

Sort of like, bring us back the head and we’ll pay.

I mean, a little bit different than sending out your own Gestapo.


And so you actually started having…

You became a fairly lucrative profession for a couple months, and even then for a couple

years where you would go out and you would be like, hey, well, let’s…

Almost like bounty hunters, right?

We’ll go track this person down.

I was just gonna say that.



And we’ll kill them and then we’ll get their stuff.

And what is…

And I also do mention this in the book, is there does come a point where they start to


I mean, they don’t realize the way that we do, that there are no photographs of anybody.

There are no pictures of anybody.

They don’t live in a digital age where you have a…

Where Sulla can hold up a picture and then hold up the head and be like, oh yeah, you

got the right guy.

And you start having them just grab random dudes off the street, kill them, chop their

head off, take it in and say, oh, this is…

And then they’re like kind of scanning the list.

Oh, this is this guy, it’s Gaius.

Yeah, Papyrus.

Yeah, he’s…

Yeah, definitely.

This is his head.

And then you would get your bounty.


It’s a little like this black scalp that I’m giving you with black hair.

This is an Apache scalp.

I guarantee it.

You know?


Give me my 250 gold coins.

It’s very twisted.

It’s all very…

It’s all quite sadistic, to be honest.

Something that comes to my mind, and I honestly don’t know the answer in the period we’re

talking about here, but discussing the attempts by what we would call today foreign powers

or foreign entities to influence the politics of a vibrant, let’s call it, on the way to

corrupt republic, I just finished a show we did on Caesar’s conquest of Gaul.

And it’s interesting how the more, shall we call them, civilized or more Romanesque

Gallic tribes were basically trying to influence the politics in Rome during the period you’re

talking about.

Are there outside forces from other states trying to push their agenda or point of view

or the direction they’d like to see Rome move towards?

Were any of the outside entities in the geopolitical world of the Mediterranean at that time trying

to influence Roman politics?


And this had been true for quite some time where, going back even before the beginning

of the book, after Rome defeats Hannibal in the Second Punic War, there was a good 50

or 60 year period where Rome was the most powerful state in the Mediterranean, but hadn’t

quite decided they wanted to annex and rule the Mediterranean directly, where they almost

set themselves up as kind of an arbitrator of last resort for various city states and

kingdoms out there.

So you would have a couple of Greek cities who were in having some border dispute or

having some fishing rights dispute, and they would agree to take their case to Rome.

So Rome became a hub of international embassies and ambassadors and people constantly, envoys

coming and going from really as far away as Syria and Egypt.

And all of them are bringing with them gifts that could only be described as bribes, where

you are definitely going to try to get what you want from the Senate by making sure that

the right senators have received the right gifts.

And that’s something that had really…

This was again something that had opened up and does get to a more corrupt version of

the Senate than had existed before.

In the context of my book, the great example of this in my book is Jugurtha’s conduct in

Numidia, where he is one of the kings of Numidia after his, I guess, adopted father

dies along with his two brothers, but Jugurtha would prefer to be the sole king of Numidia.

And so he starts breaking treaties, he starts killing his brothers, and he wants the Senate

to just go along with what he’s doing down there rather than sending in legions or trying

to stop him.

So he absolutely quite brazenly and quite nakedly is sending envoys to the Roman Senate

laden with gold and laden with gifts and trying to influence the Senate’s conduct.

And he’s quite successful at it.

For most of the first seven or eight years of Jugurtha’s reign, he’s definitely able

to have more or less paid friends in the Senate, direct the Senate away from the notion of

ever sending the legions in to confront Jugurtha.

And it gets quite bad where you do have these senators who are like, my God, this is so


We might actually have to do something about this.

You’re making us all look bad.

They’re sort of chastising their colleagues in the Senate who are accepting all of Jugurtha’s


And that point, the corruption of the Senate by Jugurtha’s money, does become a flashpoint

in Roman politics where, again, if you go back to some of these populare energies that

had started fomenting, that they’re saying, Jugurtha is brazenly flouting Roman authority

and Roman law.

We’re telling him to do things and he’s ignoring us.

He’s killing Italians.

He’s killing Roman citizens.

And yet we continue to do nothing.

Why is that?

And it’s because Jugurtha has bribed his way into the Senate.

And so they actually open up.

They’re actually able to open up a special tribunal that is going to start to investigate

and prosecute those in the Senate who were guilty of being corrupted by Jugurtha.

Which gets me to a question of tipping points and points of no return.

When people like to look for examples from the past to try to analyze our own times,

and you do quite a bit of that in the book, and I love it.

When you look at our situation now and the people who founded this country and who wrote

the documents that form our framework were keen students of the Roman Republic, obviously.

And so they were paying attention to the flaws in their system and how things went wrong

and tried to make changes in their own version, obviously, so that we wouldn’t fall down the

same rat hole.

But when do you think it was irreversible?

In other words, when do you think the death spiral had been reached where you can’t imagine

now where the points of no entry and the ability to compromise had just gone too far?

Is it when the violence first breaks out, or is it after that, or is it before that?

If you had to find a tipping point, when the iceberg struck the Titanic, maybe is a better

way to put it, where is it in your mind?

Well, so I’ll answer that in a sec.

I will say that one of the reasons we know so much about everything I just said about

Jugurtha is because the Roman historian Solis elected to write about the Jugurthine War

and Jugurtha’s corruption of the Senate and the battles that ensued.

And Solis was somebody who was writing…

He was a partisan of Julius Caesar’s.

So he’s writing his books right around the 40s and 30s BC.

So he knows how it all turns out, and he’s writing fairly contemporaneously with events.

And he wrote about the Jugurthine War specifically because he said that was the tipping point.

That was…

And he said that was the first moment that the corruption of the Senate was first challenged

and what led to what became these partisan battles that ultimately destroyed the Senate.

He actually identified the Jugurthine War as that tipping point, which is why he wrote

about it.

Now, could the Senate…

Could the Roman Republic have pulled out of it at that point?

I think so.

The point that I come to is it’s really…

It’s Solis’ conduct at the very…

What becomes the end of the book.

But Solis’ conduct during some of his final showdowns is really what sets the final permanent

blueprint for how you can achieve power by completely disregarding just anything but

brute force.

So Sulla is going to…

He loses a political confrontation.

Sulla loses…

He had command of this Eastern army.

Marius uses the power of the assembly to strip Sulla of his command and send Sulla away,

what Marius thinks he sent Sulla packing for good.

And Sulla really is faced with this choice of, do I accept this defeat?

Do I get stripped of my command?

Do I accept the humiliation that I have just endured at the hands of my rival, Marius?

Or do I go back to my five legions who are loyal to me personally, and do I point them

at Rome and march on Rome to evict Marius from Rome and reclaim what I think is rightfully


Once Sulla did that, and then ultimately he emerges victorious from everything, that is

the point that men like Julius Caesar and men like Pompey, who was an early partisan

of Sulla’s, are going to be looking at later on down the road and saying, well, if nothing

else, I can do that.

This is…

We don’t have any, I don’t think, exact quotes or proof in the historical record that Julius

Caesar was actively thinking about Sulla when he crossed the Rubicon.

But it had to have been on his mind, and the proof was in the pudding for Sulla’s conduct.

If you get a large army, keep them loyal to you.

You can use them to prosecute your own domestic political enemies and emerge victorious and

become a dictator for life.

So I sort of put it there.

I think that Sulla’s decisions in those moments in the early days of the civil wars is really

what made it so that the Republic…

I don’t feel like there was any coming back from that.

Marc Thiessen You had mentioned when Caius Gracchus was

looking at his broad range of reforms, you had talked about, I’m going from memory here,

but you’d said if they had been enacted, it would have foreseen a lot of the changes that

Augustus era Roman reforms had implemented, and obviously a long time ahead of time.

If something like that had gone forward, is that the example of a reform moment that had

come to pass, the inevitable death spiral that happened might have been avoided?

Marc Thiessen I think so.

And it’s because there would not have been quite the energy or the impetus to just crack

the state in half.

You get to a point where if your governing apparatus, whatever it happens to be, if enough

people start to feel like that governing apparatus is not working for them, it’s not doing anything

for me personally, why do I owe it as an institution any kind of loyalty?

My loyalty ought to go to the thing or to the people, or in the Roman case, oftentimes

to the general, who’s going to be guaranteeing me the kind of security that I want in life,

which is I want a plot of land, I want decent wages, I want some place to be able to settle

and retire when I’m done here.

By the time you get to the later Republic, that is providable by warlords, which is…

You could absolutely describe Caesar as a warlord.

Once it starts to become those guys who are delivering on the promises that are being

made rather than the state itself, yeah, there’s…

What is it that they had to be loyal to the Senate and people of Rome abstractly for?

So when you get to these moments when you can make some of these, when you can have

a little bit of foresight and say to yourself, well, is this model working for the entire

citizen population or is it just working for a tiny elite?

Once you start ignoring the rest of the citizens and say, oh, it’s working for a tiny elite,

but that’s fine, they’ll just accept it, you do create a breach of legitimacy and you do

alienate people to the point where they’re no longer loyal to the system at all.

And that’s how you get people just crashing it over and most people practically not even



The private military thing, which used to be illegal in Rome.

Why did the Romans…

Why did the citizenry or the Senate put up with the change that, I mean, if you wanted

to put the major thing that the founding fathers of the United States, of course, tried to

do was to make sure that the citizen leadership controlled the military so that we had that


But they kind of had that separation in Rome once upon a time.

What made, and we’ll make this the last question, but what made the circumstances or public

opinion or senatorial opinion, I was going to say change, but the word might be put up.

Why did they put up with it?

The raising of private armies.


The reason why they put up with it initially was because Rome was facing an emergency military

situation where they were sort of simultaneously around the age of…

Around Marius, right?

Because Marius is sort of the great…

It had been moving in this direction of…

Just to back up in case people don’t know this, previously to serve in the legions,

you had to own a certain amount of property.

You actually had to literally be rich enough to serve in the legions.

And by the middle of the book, in the middle of the storm before the storm, you get Marius

making this fateful request for an exemption from that requirement and just, let me enroll

any warm body who wants to show up and I’ll train them and I’ll teach them how to be soldiers.

That was a fairly momentous change in how the Romans conducted politics and war, and

does have a lot to do with those people who are now going to be loyal more to their general

than to the state, because it’s the general who’s going to be providing them and guaranteeing

them the riches and land that they hope to get out of their service.

So the reason why, I think in that moment, why the Senate says, okay, yeah, you can draft

anybody, is that they had an ongoing war in North Africa.

There was a huge slave rebellion that had consumed Sicily.

And then the Kimberley, this great Germanic horde that had just been sort of wandering

around Europe for like 15 years, would constantly come back around.

And so the Northern border was very insecure.

So I think it was a matter of just like, in this emergency situation, we need to raise

men and we need to raise a lot of men.

So yeah, just go ahead and do it.

And I think from that point on, they just sort of realized that this was a way to keep

up with the manpower needs that their empire now have.

They were no longer just this little city state that was occasionally skirmishing with

the Samnites down around Capua.

This is…

We have garrisons we need to be filling in Spain and North Africa and up in Gaul as they

move into Gaul.

The Macedonian frontier over in Greece, they’re now in charge of Western Turkey.

How are we gonna keep the legions filled?

I think once they made the decision to go over to like, let’s just drop this property

requirement in general, I think it was fairly wildly successful in terms of their ability

to raise the men needed to run their empire.

And then how does that move over to the real danger point, which is people raising personal


And I think a lot of this, like a decent enough analogy, like not exactly, is like a political

party going and looking for a candidate who can self-finance their campaign.

Political parties at the state level, at the national level, always love a candidate who

can walk in and say, oh, by the way, the party doesn’t need to give me any money.

I’ll just do this all out of my own pocket because I’m a hedge fund manager or I am an

owner of a business.

Or like Michael Bloomberg is just like whatever it is that he’s sitting on top of.

The Democratic Party didn’t need to give him any money.

He could just do it all himself.

And the same was really true of later of people like Pompey who could say, hey, I can go raise

my own army.

You don’t even have to worry about it.

You elect me consul, I’ll do all the work for you.

That’s a very immediately attractive proposition for most people, especially out there.

You don’t want to go to war, but you have a candidate who’s like, don’t worry, I’ll get

my guys myself and you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to.

That’s where you start getting these personal legions being raised.

And once those personal legions are being raised, again, now we’re just, the late republic

is just a clash of warlords.

And that is really right now where you look at it and you say, okay, I see some similarities,

but there are some real big differences and we haven’t gotten there yet, right?


Honestly, the military thing, the United States has gone through a bit of a similar process

after Vietnam where we said, we’re no longer going to do this temporary conscription into

an army to go off and fight.

Instead, we’re going to make it all volunteer and all professional, right?

That’s a similarity, but there’s so much about the institutional, what the US Army, the US

Navy institutionally is, does not resemble the personal warlord legions of the late republic.

The paymaster is not your colonel.

The paymaster is really, it’s the United States of America and our checks don’t ever bounce

when they go out there to some private or some sergeant or some major.

So you don’t have them being loyal specifically to just one commander out there.

And then I’ve also heard, I’ve had the good fortune to be friends with lots of veterans,

guys who are in the military now or who have left and are now veterans just to back out

in the civilian world with the rest of us, that there’s enough that goes on with troop

rotations where you’re bouncing between units.

You’re never forming one of these 20 year long bonds where you guys have all been serving

together forever.

So I don’t fear right now the role of the US Army in some kind of warlord style clash.

I don’t see it happening anytime soon.

One of the great firewalls that’s actually working still, right?

I hope so.

Listen, is there anything, Mike, that I didn’t ask you about that you want to make sure we

know about the book or some of the story?

I specifically focused on the things that I was interested in, but there’s a heck of

a lot in this piece.

What else should the listeners know?

Well, I think the one thing that we didn’t touch on that is a pretty major part of the

book that has its similarities to the United States is this issue of the non-Roman Italians.

Well, sure, sure.


Where, just in case you don’t know the back story of this here, I’ll do it real quick,

is that when Rome conquered Italy during the Samnite Wars, which is a couple of hundred

years before my book comes along, the Romans did not annex these people directly into the

Roman state.

They instead signed these treaties with a city.

So a city in Etruria or a city in Umbria would then become merely an ally of Rome.

Whenever the Romans came around to ask for legionaries for the armies, the city had to

provide them.

But other than that, they were mostly left to their own devices.

They could govern themselves.

They weren’t really taxed that heavily.

But what happens is when you get to the period of my book a couple of hundred years later,

these guys had been inside of Roman civilization in every meaningful way for hundreds of years,

and yet they were still…

You couldn’t even call them second-class citizens.

They were not citizens at all, and they’re facing the same problems, the same economic

problems that their Roman cousins are, except they don’t even have the right to vote in

an assembly.

They don’t even have the right to send candidates for office and be like, well, hey, what about


And so they were, on top of everything else, they were facing economic problems and also

didn’t have any kind of political voice at all.

And so that combines with the general problems that are created by the skyrocketing economic

inequality that leads to a Populare-style confrontational style of politics that now

defines the Republic, and that entire force of, again, like energy, I guess you could

call it.

The Italian question is what ultimately triggers the great civil wars of Marius and Sulla,

is the Italians constantly demanding citizenship, the Romans constantly saying, we’re not gonna

give you citizenship, and what it finally takes is a massive, bloody, and destructive

civil war where the Italians are not trying to break away from Roman rule, they’re trying

to force their way into Roman rule.

It’s gonna be a war on behalf of political equality rather than a war premised on political


That’s like the other big thing that’s floating around out there.

But other than that, you just read the book, and I’ll explain it all to you.

As one of my professors said, every educated person in the Western world should know the

story that Mike Duncan catalogs in The Storm Before the Storm, The Beginning of the End

of the Roman Republic.

Mike, thank you for coming on the program.

I wish you the greatest success.

Thank you very much.

Like I said, I think you could not have chosen a better subject, and I agree with you.

It’s shocking that this doesn’t already have 20 books on the bookshelf about this, considering

how awesome…

And it’s hard to initiate enough disclaimers where you tell people, okay, there’s so many

different things, it’s not really like us, but look at all these things that are like



I figure if you’re gonna do it…

Because one of the things that I always push against is that I don’t think that we’re anywhere

near the fall of Rome, which is something that you hear from people like, oh, the Syrian

refugees are just like the Vandals.


Not really.

Wait till we start killing each other over political things, then we’re starting to move

a little bit in that direction.

Well, or I mean, yeah, if we actually have a mass migrating population that has an entire

armed force that can go toe-to-toe with the US Army, then I guess, yeah, we can start

talking about it, but I don’t think we’re anywhere near that.

And I also don’t think we’re anywhere near…

I think your 300 dead senators with Tiberius Gracchus, I think that’s the moment where

the sea change would happen.


I think that that period of the Gracchus is enough that I’m happy to now insert this

idea into people’s heads and say, like, this is the period we need to be paying attention



It’s very important.


It’s not just for interesting…

That’s what my professor was pointing out, that if you’re an American in this system,

this is a story that our founding fathers thought was worth knowing, probably for an

informed citizenry of a modern commercial imperial republic might be a good idea to

buy Mike Duncan’s book.

So that’s the way I’m gonna phrase it.

Dude, if I can do anything for you, I’m here.



I really appreciate it.

That was fun.

My thanks to Mike Duncan.

It was great to finally digitally interact with him.

Go out and pick up The Storm Before the Storm.

We will link to it on our website.

If you pick it up through Amazon, why don’t you do so through our search window at dancarland.com

and that will help us out too.

Sure, the older hardcore history shows can be a bit traumatic with titles like Death

Throws of the Republic, Judgment at Nineveh, and Addicted to Bondage.

We just consider that to be truth in advertising.

No pain, no gain is our motto.

Pick up the entire catalog from dancarland.com.