Mary Beard is no stranger to Podularity. In fact, she may have appeared on it more times than any other author. This however is her Podularity video debut.
Last autumn, after recording an audio interview with Mary about her book-of-the-blog, It’s a Don’s Life, I asked her to take part in my “Three Questions for” series of short films. The format is as simple as the name suggests – three questions, no tricks or traps, but no forewarning either.
So click below to find out where Mary thinks the Elgin marbles belong, why she chose the Romans over the Greeks, and which book she thinks everyone should have to read before they leave school – it’s not, it turns out, a Latin one…
This week marks the second anniversary of Podularity, so I’m delighted to be welcoming back an old friend of the programme, Cambridge professor of classics, Mary Beard.
Mary appeared in programme 15 to talk about her book on the Roman triumph and more recently in programme 28, to talk about Pompeii.
This time, we’re in conversation about the book of her blog, A Don’s Life, which is out in paperback from Profile Books on 5 November.
Although – as she explains in the interview – it can be a burden to be constantly described as “wickedly subversive”, that’s just what she often succeeds in being in her posts.
Her subjects range from what Romans wore under their togas to whether Prince Harry should have gone to Afghanistan. To hear how Mary took to the blogosphere – and the blogosphere took to her – click on the link above.
And if you listen to the end, you’ll find out how high she rates the chances of her appearing on Twitter any time soon…
“The Huns are a blank canvas. That’s what makes them so interesting. We know only one word of Hunnic, the word strava, the Hunnic word for funeral. We have no Hunnic poetry, we have no Hunnic literature.”
My guest on this edition of Podularity is Cambridge classicist, Christopher Kelly. His book on Attila the Hun and the part he played in the downfall of the Roman empire has just come out in paperback.
In the interview, we talk about the difficulty of writing about someone whose civilization is only preserved in the annals of his enemies, in which the Huns were portrayed as “the scourge of God”.
Kelly sets that against the opinion of one Roman commentator who came to know Attila and was impressed by the civilization of his court and the Hun leader’s command of Latin.
And we tackle the key question – to what extent did the Huns bring about the fall of the Roman empire?
The end result may not be a “Hun’s eye view” – that may well be impossible to recapture – but it does at least demonstrate that Rome was not the only vantage point from which to view the world. As Kelly says in the interview, the Roman empire wrought far more destruction on the continent of Europe than the Huns ever did…