Synopsis by Hal Erickson
No dull, dry, pedantic tract this, the British drama series Rome covered the progression of Rome from Republic to Empire in a vivid, vibrant, spectacular and often sordid and profane fashion, succeeding brilliantly in putting a human face on ancient history--in many cases, all too human. This up close and personal look into the intrigues of the last half of the 1st century BCE was seen alternately from the perspective of the famous and infamous power brokers of the ruling and military class, and through the eyes of two humble foot-soldiers in Caesar's army, Lucius Vorenus (Kevin McKidd) and Titus Pullo (Ray Stevenson). Vorenus was a respectable family man who hated war and could not wait to return home to his wife Niobe (Indira Varma) and their children, and to start a small business that would provide him a modicum of security for life. Conversely, Pullo was an unabashed hedonist who loved the blood and stench of battle, and whose mission in life was to loot, pillage, ravage women and guzzle as much wine as possible. Ironically, Vorenus encountered virtually nothing but tragedy and failure, while Gallo thrived and prospered--and, through a combination of street smarts and dumb luck, always managed to avoid being executed for his many misdeeds, invariably emerging from his latest scrape drenched in glory and prestige. (Contrary to popular belief, both Vorenus and Pullo actually existed, and were mentioned in Caesar's "Commentaries"--though undoubtedly a great deal of dramatic license was taken with their personalities). While for many viewers Pullo was the series' most fascinating character, he was given a run for his money by the scheming, duplicitous Atia (Polly Walker), the niece of Julius Caesar (Ciaran Hinds). Using every wile at her disposal to increase her political power and wealth, Atia was not only a skilled bedroom diplomat, but was also eager and willing to misuse and exploit her children Octavia (Kerry Condon) and Octavian (Max Pirkis) for her own gain. Deceptively callow and sickly-looking, the young Octavian became the series' strongest and most ruthless player during its second season, ultimately morphing into what one historian has described as "The Michael Corleone of Rome." Though the dialogue and acting were as "modern" as possible under the circumstances, the producers of Rome strove for historical realism in every aspect of production. The standing sets representing the city, the Forum et. al. were the world's largest, covering five acres of Rome's Cinecitta studios. And the costumes, props, weaponry etc. were authentic right down to the smallest sandal and coin--to say nothing of the obscene Latin graffiti scrawled on the rotting walls of the Eternal City. Created by John Milius, William MacDonald and Bruno Heller, Rome premiered August 28, 2005 on the American HBO cable service, and November 2, 2005 on the U.K.'s BBC.
Roman-Empire, ancient-history, betrayal, corruption, family-dynamics, political-upheaval, soldier, dictator, manipulation, politics, seduction, murder, power, war, Senate, slavery