Welcome to Ancient Rome Refocused

“Just finished listening to episode 12 & just wanted to write you a quick note.  The story of Venus was absolutely spellbinding. The music, the story & the narrator were absolutely perfect.”

Gerald Hayes

Welcome to the new and updated blog for the show.  ARR suffered a crash when WordPress did an update so we decided to scale up our site.  I will be reposting many of the wonderful entries that have been added to this site over the years.  Somehow, appropriately these posts will be titled: “Classics.”  So keep an eye out for them.  These entries include comments by you the reader, and numerous guest editorials. 

The podcast and blog have been up and running for over 10 years.  Both are devoted to the free and open discussion of Ancient Rome, Greece and Egypt.  Civilizations tend to bump into each other, and you can’t discuss Rome without thinking about the others.  The ancient world is our subject matter.  

The following are reviews of the show I have found on the internet.  I have done no editing on the comments.  Please take the time to see what others had to say about the show. 


Ancient Rome Refocused is a new history podcast that deserves the highest acclaim. This podcast seems to be about Roman history, but in fact is about much more. This is because it is a podcast both of history narrative, which obviously is concentrated on Rome, and of history musings. On account of the last quality, already, the podcast has been widely compared with Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. I would also like to compare the show with Nate DiMeo’s Memory Palace.

Host and maker of the podcast Rob Cain is off on a magnificent start with his series and even now, three episodes into the feed, we must grant him his own ground and assure that he is making something unique, something very good and in addition to that, I am absolutely sure, the history podcast audience is going to adore. The comparisons with Dan Carlin and Nate DiMeo serve here only as a characterization and not as some example of what Cain is trying to emulate. Cain combines the history musings, like Dan Carlin, with the astonishing narrative qualities of Nate DiMeo. Cain is telling Roman history with a quality of narrative immediacy that equals the impressive standard of DiMeo’s Memory Palace and continues to engage in thoughts about that history in the compelling way of Dan Carlin’s Hardcore History. Thus he establishes an impressive combination of styles that both work extremely well in podcast and he does so with his own voice, his own style that bears only comparison, but not similarity with the mentioned predecessors.

First of all, I’d simply urge you to go and listen without letting me spoil the surprises in particular and the fun in general (feed). Allow me to highlight just these three identifiers for the first three issues. The first makes excellent use of Monty Python’s scene in Life of Brian ‘What have the Romans ever done for us’. The second lays out the basics of the Roman reality by projecting time travel. The third delivers a subtle expose on slavery in Rome (that dwarfs Dan Carlin’s adventure into slavery) which is both history, audio drama, a poignant contemporary critique of low wage labor and prostitution as well as the most balanced analysis of Spartacus’ slave revolt I have encountered ever. With even more lines to current times.

Even if Rob Cain stops now, he has produced a podcast classic. The idea he is about to deliver a fourth, and likely more episodes has me both reel in anticipation and yet also a bit worried: can he keep up with the towering standard he has set off with?


Walk This [Roman] Way
I did make one hypothesis while I was there. Just one. I wish I could share with you more than that. It was something I noticed. As I stood close to the location to the Temple of the Vestal Virgins I could see the collossium. In fact it is in walking distance. It was not that far from the Senate building where the laws were made, and the emperors sat, and I could imagine that when the wind was good, and the conditions right, 50, 000 voices shouting in their blood lust could be heard through the windows.

I wonder what laws were passed based on that sound?

I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the Ancient Rome Refocused podcast. It has the informality and “outside the envelope” thinking that puts one in mind of Hardcore History (I have a feeling that Rob Cain is going to get very tired of that comparison). Now I see that his blog is just as entertaining, informative, and thought provoking. Check it out.

From the Teacher Toys Blog Site:

This is a podcast by an enthusiastic amateur. He has a lot to say about Ancient Rome. Since I’m teaching Roman History for the first time this year, I’m finding this pretty useful stuff.

From the forum myextralife.com, posted by ‘runtspell’

“Another recent find for me is Ancient Rome Refocused. I can’t overstate how much I enjoy this one! Check it out.”

From Reddit History Comments

“Like a lot of people here I listen to the History of Rome podcast, done almost like clockwork weekly, by Mike Duncan. But a relatively new one, if you’re into Roman history is Ancient Rome Refocused which is a lot more thematical, rather than chronological, but we’re lucky to get a new episode every couple of months.”

Comment from Capital Grilling web site:

“If you’re at all interested, Ancient Rome Refocused is also a good, if infrequently updated, podcast too. Instead of the History as a linear story of THOR, ARR tends to take a specific topic and spend an hour exploring it. One episode, for example, focused exclusively on the Roman Triumph.”

Off-hand comment on Ancient Rome Refocused on a Blog entry on the road construction called ’roundabouts.’:

Re: Roundabouts in the USA
by CarpeDiem » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:06 am

I was able to figure out that roundabout thing, and even did a few loops around it (while listening to Ancient Rome Refocused of course!)

Blog entry on the No Press Blog site.:

ancient rome refocused.

i like this one because i’ve just been cherry picking topics i think i’ll like. e.g. ‘the first thriller’ (about theseus and the minotaur). have a browse.

On the Average Gay Joe Web Site:

I had thought that Duncan was the only worthy podcast on ancient Rome out there, until I recently discovered Rob Cain’s Ancient Rome Refocused. While I’ve only listened to the first episode thus far, it appears in some ways to be a mash-up of Duncan’s with another favorite of mine: Bruce Carlson’s My History Can Beat Up Your Politics. By this I mean that Cain, in the first episode at least, talks about the Western fascination with ancient Rome and draws some comparisons between their history and that of modern times. I must say that the 9/11 recordings from NYC emergency personnel were chilling to hear again, especially so close to the 10th anniversary of that day, but linking this to what the destruction of Pompeii must have been like to the ancient Roman psyche was brilliant. This also means to me that Charles Pellegrino’s book Ghosts of Vesuvius, undoubtedly one of the main inspirations behind Cain’s first podcast, merits careful attention in its own right. All in all, a very commendable start to what I’m sure will be a podcast that I’ll enjoy just as much as I do Duncan’s.

Give them both a try if you haven’t already, because if you love history as much as I do you won’t be disappointed.


by CarpeDiem » Wed Jun 01, 2011 2:22 am: On the HISTORY OF ROME web site

I agree that what makes Rome interesting is how many of the ideas that formed the backbone of the U.S. constitution were Roman and and Greek (and even British too). The latest episode of the Ancient Rome Refocused podcast delves into the influence of Cicero, Plutarch, Livy, and Polybius, and how the Founding Fathers’ obsession made its way into the fabric of our government (btw.. Polybius’s ideas of balance of power and government evolution come from Aristotle – thanks to Mike on the tour for pointing this out).

Through battle, triumphs, and high-office, Romans sought immortal fame. Based on this aspiration, they would be thrilled to know that their ideas, or their expression of their ideas learned from Greece, live on in Rome’s protégée: the U.S. and the western world. I like to think of Roman history as a back-in-time continuation of American history. That’s what makes Rome so exciting. Rome represents where we came from and where we may go. We have the gift of past history knowledge, and that gives us the tools to make a better future.

On Textkit » by beerclark » Mon Oct 17, 2011 2:10 am

I wish I could tell you about a good TV or Movie documentary, but I only know what I happen to find on a learning channel when I have time to watch TV.

I will say that for podcasts, I have found 2 that I think are great. They are both by amateurs but I think their passion and their respect for history comes out in the podcasts. They both make mistakes and acknowledge them [and forget pronunciations]. Yet they obviously put in time and effort into their work and I think it shows.

1) The History of Rome: by Michael Duncan – A chronological history of the Roman Republic/Empire. It is based on the rulers [emperors] through the ages with the occasional episode on the culture. There is Mr. Duncan’s sense of humor inserted along with the occasional veiled joke. He also is very clear on his sources, especially on questionable or disputed parts of Roman history.
2) Ancient Rome Refocused: by Rob Cain – This is more giving a perspective of Rome to modern times. Not so much to compare and contrast so much as trying to tie the two together to make the listener understand those times then hitting them with the reality of the ancient times. One episode was specifically about someone going back in time to ancient Rome. Then questioning the listener as to their current morality & hygiene to what it would take to just survive back then.

What’s on your mind?  Let me know. 

If you have any questions about this site, or any suggestions on future blog entries or future podcast subjects email me at rob@ancientromerefocused.org.   I WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.   

I hope you enjoy my observations and flights of the imagination.  I may not always be right, but I will promise you that my intent is to educate while at the same time entertain.  I can promise you that I will always respect the facts. 

Join me for the journey.

Mors est A.P. Style dux

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