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November 24, 2014

Rome: The Stolen Eagles

by Ryan j Budke, posted Aug 29th 2005 12:49PM
RomeIn the Rome "Pre-Show" that they had on last night before Rome actually debuted there were two quotes from two of the actors about the show that really resonated with me, especially after watching the firs episode: "There's nothing small about it" and "You'll have to put in a little work at the begining, but in the end, it'll be worth it." And in the immortal words of Bill, "Baby, you ain't kiddin". This show defines epic, everything is sweeping, grand and larger than you can imagine. The first episode was almost too much to take in in one sitting, there is so much going on and they're trying to introduce us to so many characters, grudges and backstory that it perfectly walks the edge of leaving us wanting for more instead of flooding us with too much.

So on with the show. We're introduced right off the bat to the two main characters (these may sound familiar to you if you were awake in high school world history): Magnus Pompey, current leader of the Roman republic, born of lower class, he rose through the senate to become the hero of the nobility, and Julius Caesar, great commanding conquering general of the Roman army, born a nobleman, his time spent with the common soldier and his way of rewarding the general populace with spoils from the war has made him the plebes (you know, us folk) hero. Caesar has been in Britain fighting the Gauls for the past 8 years and his just wrapping up his most recent battle when he receives word that his daughter, Pompey's wife, has just died in child-birth. This is the last true bond between these two old friends and her death will eventually lead to the demise of one of the greatest governments in history.

Back in Rome, the senate is starting to become wary of the general populace's love of Caesar, they fear that he may bring his army back and stage a coup. A senator moves to have Caesar branded an outlaw and removed from his post as general, a movement that splits the senate pretty much between nobility and common representative, before Pompey interrupts and says that before the motion will go any further he will save everyone the trouble and veto it right away. He claims Caesar is a good friend and a patriot of Rome and he will not betray him, but I think Pompey does this because he's cocky enought to think that he can crush Caesar and his revolution at anytime he wants.

I'm going to say it now, Attia is going to steal this show.  She's Caesar's niece played masterfully by Polly Walker, and is the behind the scenes leader of the Caesar family.  She has no reservations about using her own children as pawns in the game of power (in the first episode alone she sends her son (Octavian) into Britain just to deliver a horse to Unca Julius and forces her daughter (Octavia) to divorce her husband and marry Pompeii). But there is also something motherly in the way she does it, she's rough on her kids but only because she wants the best for them.  She wants her son to look good in Caesar's eyes and wants her daughter to be the "1st lady" in Rome. There is a scene where she bathes in the blood of a sacrificial cow as it is being slaughtered above her that i'm sure will be the talk of the town.

On his way to deliver the horse to his great uncle, Octavian and his entourage (ha!) are ambushed by an attack squad of Britain soldiers, but those non-slacker students would know that he's gonna be fine, he's got quite a future ahead of him. In the Roman camp where Octavian was heading, Caesar's ornamental Eagle was stolen by a group of "celtic ninjas".  This eagle has been used by Caesar in a ceremony after every one of his triumphs where the conquered general/king/leader is stripped then they must kiss the eagle.  It's a very symbolic blow (or so we think) and Marc Anthony (not the scary one) is put in charge of finding it. Well, Marc Anthony is good delegator and he puts a centurion in charge of finding it. The centurion, Lucius, grabs a soldier, Titus, whom he threw in the brig ealier in the episode for stepping out of rank in the opening battle. They track down the eagle after many "buddy-cop film" mishaps, and not only do they find Octavian being used as a slave in the clutches of the Gauls but the true thief of the eagle, working with the brits, was Pompey's personal advisor.

The last few minutes of the episode is a whirlwind of revelations and surprises set off by the revelation of the thief. Pompey, rejects Julius' great niece (Octavia) in marriage, thus severing all ties between the two families. Titus and Lucius' status is elevated thanks to their help in retrieving the eagle. And most earth-shaking of all, Julius sends word that he's going to station the army outside of Rome this winter, you know, so they can be closer to home, thus adding fuel to the fire of the Senate's worst fears: The monster they've created is taking over.

I'm hooked, i think the quotes at the top of the page really sum this up for me.  There is so much going on and it is so epic that I think the payoff is going to be entirely worth the journey. I know I've missed and had to skip some things for the sake of space and time, but there is just too much goodness, I can't pack it all in in this review. In short, you must watch this show! The way they keep moving back in time periods, there is a chance that HBO's next great drama may revolve around a cast of cavemen, but if it's half as good as Rome, I'll be glued to my TV every sunday night, just as I plan to be for the next couple of months.

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David said: "Hey, did you fail Jr. High History? The Gauls were in modern France, not Britain." Damn, dude! I'm pretty sure you could have corrected him without being an ass. Why not show a little "moral overtone?"

August 29 2005 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David

Hey, did you fail Jr. High History? The Gauls were in modern France, not Britain. And also, the Golden Eagle wasn't just Caesars standard, it was the representitive of all of Rome's power. It was romes sign that said "Don't mess with us". I did appreciate the accurate battle tactics displayed in the opening moments. And it was also nice to see how they haven't put any of the dogmatic moral overtones of post christian Europe in the show. Often these dramas have a wink-wink nudge-nudge attitude towards sex that didn't exist in Europe before Christianity. Well done show.

August 29 2005 at 1:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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