Casting Through Ancient Greece

Mark Selleck

A podcast about the history of ancient Greece for people new to and familiar with Ancient Greek history.The Casting Through Ancient Greece podcast will focus on telling the story of Ancient Greece starting from the pre history through Archaic Greece, Classical Greece and up to the Hellenistic period. Featured throughout the podcast series will be Major events such as the Greek and Persian wars, The Peloponnesian war and Alexander the Greats war against Persia. www.castingthroughancientgreece.com for more resources and creditsSupport the series at www.patreon.com/castingthroughancientgreecefacebook: casting through ancient greeceTwitter: @casting_greece read less

Our Editor's Take

The Casting Through Ancient Greece podcast guides listeners through the country's incredible history. Host Mark Selleck is an Australian history enthusiast who created the podcast in 2020. A friend had suggested he spend time learning about ancient Greece. Selleck says he was initially skeptical but then spent a year reading about the country. After the year ended, he wanted to learn more about Greece. This was the first time this happened with his historical research.

The show's episodes discuss events from thousands of years ago. They get into the Bronze Age and the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations. Later podcast episodes also discuss the Archaic Age. Of course, the show also talks about Classical Greece and the rise of Sparta and Athens.

Selleck's curiosity and writing skills make this a compelling podcast. He also knows how to tie in the subject with pop culture. For example, he talks about the 300 movies and the history that inspired them. And in several episodes, he interviews podcasters who do shows about ancient Rome and Egypt. This helps to give listeners more of a taste of what else was going on in the world back then.

When Selleck started the podcast, he thought he would only have time to do one episode a month. After all, he also has a full-time job and a family with young children. But he's been able to create new Casting Through Ancient Greece episodes every two weeks. Both casual and intense history lovers may learn a lot from this fascinating podcast.

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Episodes

Teaser: Defence at Artemisium
May 2 2024
Teaser: Defence at Artemisium
This is a teaser of the bonus episode, "Defence at Artemisium" found over on Patreon.Welcome back, we delve deep into the annals of history to uncover the stories that shaped our world. Today, we're setting sail to the ancient waters of Artemisium, where a pivotal moment in Greek history unfolded.Picture this: It's 480 BCE, and the Persian Empire, led by the indomitable Xerxes, is sweeping across the Aegean Sea with an armada of unprecedented size. But standing in their path are the courageous Greeks, determined to defend their homeland against overwhelming odds.As the Persian juggernaut advances, the Greeks, under the strategic guidance of Themistocles, must make a critical decision: where to make their stand. And so, they choose Artemisium, a narrow strait off the coast of Euboea.But why Artemisium? What factors led the Greeks to select this seemingly precarious location to confront the mighty Persian fleet? Was it merely a strategic necessity, or were there deeper reasons at play?Join me as we unravel the mysteries of Artemisium, exploring the geography, the tactics, and the sheer determination of the Greek defenders. Together, we'll uncover the untold stories behind one of history's most remarkable battles, and gain new insights into the timeless art of war.So hoist the sails, sharpen your spears, and prepare to journey back in time to the windswept shores of Artemisium. Our odyssey begins now.If you would like to hear more and support the series click on the Patreon link at the bottom of the page or you can head to my website to discover other ways to support the series, HereSupport the Show.
84: In Search of Victory
Apr 19 2024
84: In Search of Victory
Step back in time with me, Mark Selleck, as we trace the footsteps of Athenian generals post-Pericles, navigating the perilous landscape of public dissent and audacious military campaigns. The death of Pericles marked a significant pivot in Athenian strategy, and we'll peel back the layers of this tumultuous era, scrutinizing the aggressive maneuvers that propelled the city-state into the contentious Sicilian expedition. On the Spartan side, delve into the mysteries shrouding King Plistoanax's comeback and the alleged bribery scandal involving the Oracle of Delphi—an episode that further complicates the rich tapestry of Ancient Greek politics.Feel the ground shake beneath your feet as we recount how natural disasters left indelible marks on Greek military decisions. The Spartans' superstitious interpretations of earthquakes fuelled a reimagining of their war tactics, prompting them to establish Heraclea. We'll examine how this strategic pivot eventually lost its lustre due to a combination of diplomatic hostility and internal mismanagement, revealing a side of Spartan governance seldom seen in their laconic annals.The episode culminates with a gripping recount of the Athenian military blunders and unexpected victories. Demosthenes' disastrous Aetolian campaign serves as a stark reminder of the volatility of ancient warfare. Yet, amidst catastrophe, the crafty general redeems himself with a masterful victory in Ambracia. The resulting stalemate in the region underscores the broader lesson of our episode: that the tides of war in Ancient Greece were as unpredictable as they were ruthless. Join us for an enthralling exploration of this era's strategic intricacies and shifting alliances. Support the Show.
83: Athens Sails West
Mar 22 2024
83: Athens Sails West
Embark on a voyage through the tempestuous waters of ancient Sicilian politics, where our narrative charts the ascendancy of Syracuse amidst a maelstrom of democracies emerging from tyrannical ruins. Unearth the seismic shifts in Athenian foreign policy that set a fleet towards Sicily's shores, seeking to weave a web of influence that could ensnare the Peloponnesian war machine.Witness the Athenian fleet, under the command of Laches and Charoeades, as it threads through the Mediterranean, capturing cities and igniting the fuse of local uprisings with the promise of freedom from Syracuse's grip. The labyrinthine complexities of war and diplomacy play out across the Sicilian stage, where each move is a calculated risk in the pursuit of dominance. The Athenian quest for Sicilian allegiance unfolds with a narrative vigour, painting a vivid portrait of ancient warfare and the ever-present shadow of defeat.Succumb to the enthralling tale of Athens' audacious Sicilian expedition, from the strategic insight behind their push into the western world to the unforeseen ramifications of their actions. The episode intricately weaves together the triumphs and tribulations of Athenian commanders, the resilience of cities, and the undercurrents of political change that ripple through time. Join us for a compelling recount of an era where the fates of empires hung by a thread, and the echoes of ancient strategies still resonate in the annals of history. Support the Show.
Episode Update: March 2024
Mar 4 2024
Episode Update: March 2024
As we gather today to mark a remarkable journey through the annals of Greek history, I am filled with gratitude and excitement. Together, we've traversed 83 episodes, spanning the rich tapestry of Greece from its nascent days to the dramatic onset of the Peloponnesian War. Looking ahead, I'm thrilled to contemplate the untold stories that may unfold beyond Alexander the Great's demise. It's a testament to your engagement and curiosity that we're even considering this expansion of our historical horizon. Moreover, I want to share a heartfelt thank you for your steadfast support—without which this podcast couldn't thrive. The evolution of our release schedule to a monthly episode is a move to safeguard the caliber of our storytelling, balancing the growing demands on my time with my commitment to providing you with the best possible listening experience.Turning our gaze to the revamped Patreon offerings, we've sculpted new tiers with the aim of making our content even more rewarding and accessible. As we forge into the year ahead, anticipate a fresh rhythm of episodes—each one meticulously crafted for mid-month release, while our dedicated patrons can look forward to exclusive early-month content. I invite both our seasoned supporters and newcomers to explore the refreshed Patreon landscape, where a deeper dive into Greek history awaits. Your enthusiasm has been the bedrock of this podcast, and I'm eager to continue this shared passion for the stories that have shaped our world, as we embark on the next chapter of our historical quest.Support the Show.
82: Sicily Revisited
Feb 16 2024
82: Sicily Revisited
Prepare to be transported to a Sicily that's both ancient and alive, where democracy's roots intertwine with the whispers of tyrants. On our historical odyssey, we'll traverse the landscapes of power, betrayal, and the unending quest for dominion. I promise an expedition into the heart of Sicilian intrigue, from the liberation of Syracuse to the theatrics of Hieron's tyranny, and the eventual emergence of revolutions that would forever alter the island's destiny.Our narrative begins in the aftermath of the Greco-Persian Wars, charting a course through Sicily's golden age of peace to the tumultuous tides of 427 BCE.  We won't shy away from the stark contrasts of rule, examining the cunning manoeuvres of Hieron as he clings to power, the bloody outcomes of political machinations, and the indelible marks left by tyrants on the fabric of their cities.Finally, wisdom takes centre stage as we scrutinize the counsel of Simonides to Hieron, juxtaposing the downfalls of despots with the democratic reawakening of Syracuse. The intricate dance of Sicilian politics continues with revolts and power shifts, where the spectre of tyranny lingers, and the ambitions of leaders like Ducetius spark conflict and change. Join us for a profound look at ancient strategies and the timeless struggle for power, as we piece together the lessons history has etched into the stones of Sicily, setting the chessboard for the Sicilian expedition that awaits over a decade later.  Support the Show.
Greek Philosophy with Jack Visnjic
Dec 1 2023
Greek Philosophy with Jack Visnjic
Are you ready to travel back in time and unravel the mysteries of ancient Greek philosophy with me, Mark Selleck, and our distinguished guest, Jack Visnjic, or as you might know him, Lantern Jack, is renowned for his profound knowledge in this philosophical domain. With a PhD in Ancient Philosophy from Princeton University, Jack brings an understanding that transcends time, illuminating the rich world of ancient Greek thinkers.Our journey will transport you to the birthplace of philosophy, navigating through the socio-political intricacies of that era that birthed philosophical thought. We'll explore the groundbreaking ideas of pre-Socratic philosophers, before venturing into the epic intellectual realms of Socrates and Plato. Plato's revolutionary Theory of Forms and his famed allegory of the cave, which continue to evoke intrigue, will also take center stage. Our philosophical odyssey doesn't end there. The influence of the legendary Aristotle, his unique philosophical framework, and his invaluable contributions to science and logic will also be brought to light.As we move forward in time, we'll examine the evolution of Greek philosophy, including the emergence of Stoicism, Epicureanism, and skepticism during the Hellenistic period. We'll delve deep into metaphysical concepts and the impact of this philosophy on modern ethical thinking. So, strap in for an enlightening journey through time and thought. Remember to stay connected and subscribe for more insightful episodes. Support the Show.
79: Victories of Phormio
Nov 17 2023
79: Victories of Phormio
In our return to the tumultuous third year of the war, the Chalcidice comes back into focus once more with renewed operations. The siege of Potidaea may have found resolution in the previous year, but with lingering hostility in the Chalcidice, Athens is forced to act. A fresh operation aims to secure Athens' base in Potidaea, a move designed to solidify their influence in the region. Little did they know, this venture would soon become an early lesson in the challenges of facing effective light troops.Simultaneously, back on the Greek mainland, the stage is set for a gripping saga. Minor Peloponnesian allies successfully sway Sparta into launching a campaign at the mouth of the Corinthian Gulf. Embarking with only a portion of the Peloponnesian fleet, the Spartans face a cautious journey past the Athenian base of Naupactus. The amphibious operation, once arriving at its location encounters setbacks, grappling with issues of ill-discipline, divided forces, and the defenders' ingenious use of terrain, leading to a failed mission.At Naupactus, the keen-eyed Athenian general, Phormio, observes the initial fleet sail by. However, when the remainder attempts to slip past, he springs into action. Despite being outnumbered, Phormio's superior tactics and intimate knowledge of the area secure a resounding victory. Nevertheless, the Spartans, undeterred after their land defeat, regroup for another naval engagement, placing the Athenians in a dire numerical predicament.This time around, the odds are stacked against Phormio. After losing half his fleet, fortune smiles upon him, allowing his naval command prowess to shine. Athenian losses are miraculously recovered, and the Peloponnesian forces find themselves in a hasty retreat. Yet, Sparta, yearning for a triumph to bring home, decides on a bold move—an attempt to assault Athens' home port, the Piraeus.However, the gods seem to favour Athens. Bad weather and a touch of commander hesitancy conspire against the Spartan ambitions, leaving them without the favourable news they sought for the year. Join us as we navigate the treacherous waters of ancient conflict and witness the highs and lows of naval warfare in this gripping chapter of the Peloponnesian War. Support the Show.
Interview:  Prof. Paul Cartledge - Sparta, A Remarkable Polis
Nov 3 2023
Interview: Prof. Paul Cartledge - Sparta, A Remarkable Polis
Join us as we take you on an exploration of the fascinating world of the ancient Spartans. With Professor Paul Cartledge, a leading historian on the Spartans, as our guide, we will demystify the intriguing tales, values, and societal structure of this resilient warrior society. We'll wade through the Spartan mirage, unveiling the unique education system, political structure, and unrivalled military prowess that have shaped our understanding of this ancient civilization.We're not stopping at the surface; we whisk you into the depth of the Spartan world and the wider Greek realm. We'll probe into the Spartan lifestyle, the Greek ideal of freedom, participation, agency, and involvement. Can you imagine a society where women commanded respect and power unlike their contemporaries? Well, get ready, we'll be discussing the unique status of Spartan women, their education, physical strength, and property rights. What if we told you that Sparta's influence extends far beyond the ancient world, even to our modern-day society? Brace yourself for our exploration of the legacy of Sparta, its influence and misappropriation throughout history. We'll dissect the portrayal of the Battle of Thermopylae in the movie 300, contrast views of Sparta in the French Revolution, and examine how the Spartan mirage is perpetuated in North America. Immerse yourself in this captivating journey as we unravel the enigma that is Spartan society, their enduring values, and their lasting legacy. Support the Show.
78: Potidaea, Plataea & Tragedy
Oct 20 2023
78: Potidaea, Plataea & Tragedy
Embark on a riveting exploration of ancient Greece as we delve into the tumultuous events surrounding Pericles, a towering political figure who shaped the destiny of the city-state for nearly four decades. Follow the gripping narrative of Athens' struggle during the siege of Potidaea, where Pericles' efforts faced unexpected challenges, leading to intricate negotiations, strained resources, and even accusations from critics. Inside the city walls, witness the grim realities that unfolded, including the harrowing conditions that drove defenders to resort to cannibalism.As the historical drama unfolds into the third year of the war, the focus shifts to Plataea, where Spartan king Archidamus spearheads a strategic campaign. Explore the motivations behind this unprecedented move, involving negotiations, Athenian support, and Plataea's resistance against Spartan attempts. The siege evolves into a complex blend of tactical moves, ultimately transitioning into a prolonged blockade, setting the stage for the dramatic events that would unfold in the fourth year of the war.Venture into the intricacies of Pericles' political legacy, as his influence is tested by the challenges of the second year, marked by the devastating plague that befell Athens. Witness the political ramifications, including Pericles' temporary removal from power, his emotional struggles, and the poignant moment where he seeks an exception to a citizenship law he had once championed. Despite securing his family legacy, the narrative takes a sombre turn as Pericles succumbs to the same plague that gripped Athens, marking the end of an era and the life of one of the most influential political figures in ancient Greece. Join us on this enthralling journey to uncover the untold stories, complex alliances, and enduring legacies that shaped the course of history in classical Greece. Support the Show.
Interview: On Wine-Dark Seas with Tad Crawford
Oct 6 2023
Interview: On Wine-Dark Seas with Tad Crawford
Tad Crawford's WebsiteBuy On Wine-Dark SeasExplore the literary world of Tad Crawford, acclaimed author of "A Floating Life: A Novel," "The Secret Life of Money," and numerous nonfiction books. With a National Endowment for the Arts award to his name, Crawford is also the founder and publisher of Allworth Press, residing in vibrant New York City.Today, our focus turns to Crawford's latest fictional masterpiece, "On Wine-Dark Seas," set against the backdrop of the epic cycle, including the iconic poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey. Uncover Crawford's unique interpretation of the post-Odysseus era in Ithaca, a central theme in this narrative.In this interview, we delve into Tad Crawford's creative journey, exploring the genesis of ideas and themes that form the heart of "On Wine-Dark Seas." Learn how Crawford skilfully integrates mythology into his work, immersing readers in a captivating tapestry of ancient Greece, gods, and human drama.The conversation extends to the rich tapestries of the Iliad, the Odyssey, and the broader epic cycle. Discover how Crawford seamlessly weaves these timeless themes into a modern narrative, making "On Wine-Dark Seas" accessible even to those unfamiliar with classic literature. For aficionados of the classics, the novel offers a poetic rhythm that resonates with the essence of these timeless tales.Join us as we navigate the creative mind of Tad Crawford, providing insights into his literary approach, the allure of mythology, and the seamless fusion of classical and modern storytelling in "On Wine-Dark Seas."Support the Show.
77: Athens Carries On
Sep 22 2023
77: Athens Carries On
Step back in time once again to the second year of the Peloponnesian War and immerse yourself in the heart of ancient Athens, a city grappling with a devastating plague. But in this intriguing narrative, our journey takes a unique twist, leading us northward to the Chalcidice, where Athens has dispatched additional forces to besiege Potidaea. Along this expedition, we'll uncover the intricate tapestry of diplomacy in Thrace and Macedon.During this period, diplomatic endeavours were abundant, and it's worth noting that Sparta was actively engaged in these manoeuvres as well. Their strategic approach was two-fold: disrupting the situation in the north and forging alliances with external powers. Towards the end of summer, Sparta initiated a diplomatic mission targeting Thrace and the Persian Empire.As we return to Athens, our focus shifts towards the city itself and its magnetic leader, Pericles. Amidst the devastating plague, Pericles found himself in a precarious political position, navigating the intricate landscape of Athenian politics. We'll explore Pericles' strategies in addressing the mounting discontent towards his policies, especially as Athens faced adversity on multiple fronts.As the second year of the war's campaign season drew to a close, both Sparta and Athens were engaged in activities across Greece. Athens, now under the influence of the war party, responded to Peloponnesian threats with a more assertive stance. These actions marked a departure from the moderate policies that had guided the initial two years of the conflict under Pericles' leadership.Support the Show.
76: The Plague of Athens
Sep 8 2023
76: The Plague of Athens
In the second year of the Peloponnesian War, the stage was set for a continuation of the struggle between Sparta and Athens. Archidamus, the Spartan commander, spearheaded an invasion of Attica with renewed fervour, while Athens harnessed its maritime might to direct a potent fleet towards a more expansive target on the Peloponnesian shores. Yet, amidst the echoes of warfare, an unforeseen and insidious adversary emerged – the plague.Originating from the Mediterranean's depths, the plague infiltrated Athens, exploiting its cosmopolitan trade networks. The city's bustling trade connections became both a source of prosperity and a conduit for disaster. However, the plague's devastation was exacerbated by the city's burgeoning population, driven to unprecedented numbers by the demands of the war. This surging populace led to congested streets and squalid living conditions, creating an ideal breeding ground.The toll was profound and unrelenting. Families were shattered, lives extinguished, and a pall of despair enveloped the Athenian skyline. In an era accustomed to tales of valour and intellectual brilliance, this unseen assailant showcased the fragility of human existence. It was a stern reminder of the limits of human resilience against the inexorable forces of nature.Within this cauldron of conflict and contagion, the second year of the war transcended its militaristic boundaries. It was a juncture where the will of cities clashed with nature's indiscriminate wrath. The plague, an unexpected interloper, reshaped Athens' narrative. As the war's tempest raged on, Athens wrestled not just with rival armies, but also with an unrelenting force that rose above the clashing of swords – an enduring testament to the intricate interplay between human agency and the capriciousness of fate.Support the Show.
Interview: Pericles & Aspasia with Yvonne Korshak
Aug 25 2023
Interview: Pericles & Aspasia with Yvonne Korshak
In this fascinating interview, I have the privilege of sitting down with Prof. Yvonne Korshak, a distinguished historian and accomplished writer, to delve into the captivating world of her latest masterpiece, “Pericles and Aspasia.” This remarkable work of Historical fiction shines a brilliant light on the period preceding the Peloponnesian War in Athens. Instead of merely employing historical events as a distant backdrop, Prof. Korshak skillfully weaves them into the very fabric of her narrative.Through “Pericles and Aspasia,” Yvonne Korshak paints a vivid tapestry of unfolding historical events, interwoven with the intricacies of personal and intimate interactions. It’s a perspective that transcends traditional history books, offering readers a glimpse into the emotional depth and human experience of that era. By meticulously piecing together clues from historical records, Prof. Korshak masterfully constructs a narrative that feels authentic and relatable.Our conversation spans a wide spectrum of topics, ranging from the creative process behind crafting this book, to the intriguing interplay between history and fiction. We explore myriad historical elements and timeless themes, enriching our understanding of both the past and the power of storytelling.For those seeking an immersive journey into the heart of ancient Athens, “Pericles and Aspasia” stands as an eloquent testament to Prof. Yvonne Korshak’s dedication to historical accuracy and her unparalleled storytelling prowess.Prof. Yvonne Korshak's WebsitePurchase Pericles and Aspasia:AmazonBarnes & NobleSupport the Show.
75: Pericles' Funeral Oration
Aug 11 2023
75: Pericles' Funeral Oration
The end of the first campaigning season of the Peloponnesian war had now drawn to a close. Sparta had invaded Attica with their offensive strategy, while Athens resisted with the defensive policy employed by Pericles. Athens had also launched naval operations which would harass the Peloponnese and secure Athens defensive position even further. However, no resolution to the war would be reached as the year came to a close and the conflict would drag on.In Athens it was tradition during times of war that funeral processions were held to honour the fallen. This would allow the citizens to grieve for their loss as a collective, while it would also be a chance to install pride and honour into the Athenians. This tradition would prove to be very important, as it would help maintain morale during times of continued war.To mark the end of the funeral procession an important Athenian figure would deliver a speech to the people. This time around it would be Pericles, and Thucydides would record the entire speech that he would give. In Thucydides account Pericles funeral oration would also mark the end point of the first year before continuing events into the second year of the war.Pericles funeral oration would prove to be a speech that would inspire and shape political speeches all the way to our times, with It proving to be an example in oratory, literary and rhetoric skill. It was designed to install pride and honour to the Athenian people, celebrating the achievements of their city. It would show to those left behind that the fallen had not died in vain but had sacrificed themselves for a greater good. While in the end it would convince the Athenians that continuing the struggle was worth the continued hardships. Support the Show.