Harry Sidebottom: The Mad Emperor (218)

We have our fair share of bizarre rulers in the twenty-first century, but the subject of today’s episode makes Putin, Trump and Kim Jong Il seem rather tame. According to the Oxford academic and bestselling novelist Harry Sidebottom, our guide this week, the Roman Emperor Heliogabalus was the maddest and baddest of them all. Heliogabalus turned Rome upside down as he rampaged over political and religious tradition during his lust-fuelled, four-year reign, contributing to the instability and chaos of the later third century AD. In this special end of year episode, we get into the spirit of Heliogabalus by allowing Harry Sidebottom to trample on our own tradition of choosing just one year in history to travel back to. Today we visit three separate years, 218, 220 and 222 so we can hear the full extraordinary story he tells in his new book on the maddest emperor of them all. The characters and stories that feature in this episode of Travels Through Time form part of Sidebottom’s latest book. The Mad Emperor: Heliogabalus and the Decadence of Rome is out now. Show notes Scene One: 1 May 218. Heliogabalus’ grandmother sneaks him out of Emesa (modern day Homs) in Syria to start the revolt that will elevate him to the position of Emperor of Rome. Scene Two: Midsummer’s Day 220. Heliogabalus holds a huge parade in Rome to demonstrate his new religion. Scene Three: March 222. Heliogabalus is murdered on the orders of his grandmother. Memento: Heliogabalus’ horn. People/Social Presenter: Violet Moller Guest: Harry Sidebottom Production: Maria Nolan Podcast partner: Ace Cultural Tours Theme music: ‘Love Token’ from the album ‘This Is Us’ By Slava and Leonard Grigoryan Follow us on Twitter: @tttpodcast_ Or on Facebook See where 218 fits on our Timeline

Om Podcasten

In each episode we ask a leading historian, novelist or public figure the tantalising question, "If you could travel back through time, which year would you visit?" Once they have made their choice, then they guide us through that year in three telling scenes. We have visited Pompeii in 79AD, Jerusalem in 1187, the Tower of London in 1483, Colonial America in 1776, 10 Downing Street in 1940 and the Moon in 1969. Chosen as one of the Evening Standard's Best History Podcasts of 2020. Presented weekly by Sunday Times bestselling writer Peter Moore, award-winning historian Violet Moller and Artemis Irvine.