Department of ClassicsUniversity of Cincinnati
Department of Classics

UC Classics podcasting Pompeii.

A once vibrant city forever frozen in time by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in AD 79, Pompeii provides an evocative glimpse into life and death in the ancient Roman world. To explore what Pompeii can tell us and understand why it has captured our imagination for nearly 2,000 years, scholars in the Department of Classics at the University of Cincinnati have produced a series of podcasts about the ancient city. Delving into Roman food, medicine, burial, gladiators, and taking a closer look at ancient accounts of the city’s destruction, and the remains of the inhabitants who lost their lives, these podcasts breathe exciting new life into the remains of Pompeii.

Each podcast, between 6 and 12 minutes long, is perfect for the curious listener, or can be used to enliven and supplement high school Latin and history classes or college courses on Roman archaeology and history. Coinciding with the opening of the exhibit “A Day in Pompeii” at the Cincinnati Museum Center on March 2, 2012, these entertaining and informative recordings are a fun way to prepare for a museum visit or to learn more about Pompeii after seeing the show.

Join UC professors Holt Parker, Peter van Minnen, and some of the department’s distinguished graduate students as they discuss aspects of ancient Pompeii and travel back in time to visit the doctor’s office, the dining room, and the arena!

Subscribe to the podcast from here.

Topics include the following:

The Tombs of Pompeii

UC Classics graduate student Allison Emmerson shares her expertise on Pompeii’s tombs. She explains ways in which monuments commemorating individuals, their families, their slaves, and former slaves can offer insights into how people lived and what they valued. While these tombs are an important part of the site for studying the dead, they also played a prominent role in the living city, serving as places to stop and sit, write graffiti, and even deposit trash.

Roman Medicine

Journey back in time to meet noted Roman medical writer Aulus Cornelius Celsus and naturalist Pliny the Elder as they debate the merits of Greek and Roman medicine! In this episode, listeners can learn about bone-saws, cataract operations, enemas, strange recipes for poultices, and the merits of a good bleeding, all done without the benefit of anesthesia!

Pliny’s Letters and the Eruption of Vesuvius

While scientists today closely monitor the world’s active volcanoes, in AD 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted, there was little warning and panic took precedence over scientific observation. Fortunately, one famous Roman politician and writer, Pliny the Younger, was on the scene and in a series of famous letters made many important observations about the eruption and its impact on the residents of the Bay of Naples. Join UC Classics graduate student Mitchell Brown for an in-depth glimpse at these fascinating contemporary accounts of the destruction of Pompeii.

Human Remains at Pompeii

No trip to Pompeii is complete without a glimpse of the stunning casts of the site’s ancient residents who were trapped by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius. Ever since Pompeii’s rediscovery in the 1740s, the bodies of the volcano’s victims have captivated visitors to the site. UC Classics graduate student Sarah Lima delves into the study of human remains at Pompeii, and shares how they have played a prominent role in the development of modern archaeology and shaped the popular imagination of the site’s last days.

Food Part 1 of 2 (Dining at Home)

In this episode of the long-lost Roman cooking show, “The Splendid Triclinium,” join host Flavia Poma as she talks Roman cuisine with UC Classics graduate student Kristina Neumann. In Part 1 they examine the eating habits of the rich and famous, discuss the Roman diet, and take a closer look at Roman pots, pans, flatware, and dishes. They say “you are what you eat,” and from Pompeii we can learn a lot about what ancient Romans ate!

Food Part 2 of 2 (Dining out and Grocery Shopping)

In our second episode of “The Splendid Triclinium,” our host and guest move from the dining room to the fish market and fast-food restaurant! While many of the large houses of Pompeii’s wealthiest citizens had spectacular dining rooms, most of the city’s inhabitants had humble cooking facilities at home and relied on restaurants and carry-out menus. Discover where Romans did their grocery shopping, and learn about recipes for dormice (yes, mice!) and, for the less adventurous, deep-fried honey cakes.


Go live to the arena of Pompeii in early AD 79 to meet burgeoning gladiatorial superstar, Severus, fresh off a major victory! Our intrepid reporter interviews the new champ, learns about his training, his finishing moves, and asks why it’s so tricky to fight against a lefty! Severus talks corruption, riots, the politics of the games, and gives his thoughts on the construction of the new Colosseum in Rome. Learn why the Romans loved gladiatorial combat so much from someone with firsthand experience!

Commerce and Business

Without the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, Pompeii would not be what it is today, but without a prosperous local economy, there would have been no site at all. UC Classics professor Peter van Minnen looks to archaeology and ancient texts to answer the tough questions about how people in Pompeii made their living. Learn about ancient farming, shipping, and slavery, and discover how the very volcano which destroyed the city also gave rise to a booming local wine industry!