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September 3, 2015

Rome: Caesarian

by Ryan j Budke, posted Oct 18th 2005 10:39AM

rome"It's only hubris if I fail," Caesar says after Mark Antony accuses him of hubris, and decides to stay behind in Egypt and play Cleopatra and her brother/husband Ptolemy 13th. For me, this quote pretty much sums up all of Rome's "leaders" to this point. Everyone sees themselves in the right, even though they know they are wrong. Rome's true downfall was their cockiness. On with the show.

We start from last week with Caesar arriving in Egypt. He demands Pompey, but when he is brought just the head of his friend, he's furious. The boy king Ptolemy sees no wrong in what's been done until Caesar puts him in his place. The only thing that scares the current regime in Egypt is Ptolemy's exiled sister Cleopatra. Caesar offers to find her, to help "mediate" a truce between them. Alone later, Ptolemy and his advisors decide to have Cleopatra killed and send their men to do it. At the same time, Caesar sends out Lucius and Titus to rescue Cleopatra.

Ptolemy's men arrive a little earlier and prepare to kill Cleopatra, but Lucius and Titus arrive in time to stop them and they turn and head for Egypt. Cleopatra worries and tells her advisor that she must seduce Caesar to her side, otherwise she fears she will be killed. She wishes that Caesar was there now because she feels that she would certainly bear him a child. Her advisor concocts a plan and originally recruits Lucius before turning to Titus, who "has a nice romp" with Cleopatra. They arrive in Egypt, and Cleopatra immediately starts the seduction of Caesar.

Wooed to her ways, Caesar dispatches her brother's advisors, placing their heads on the gate outside of, what I'm guessing, is the Roman embassy. The Egyptians do not take well to this and start rallying against the roman troops "invading" their country. This situation seems very current and familiar.... The show ends with Caesar presenting his (really?) and Cleopatra's child to a cheering crowd.

I love how Caesar is expecting to put a "puppet queen" in place down in Egypt and his plan on playing Cleopatra, yet she is the one that is using him, playing his emotions and desire for a son. I think the actress playing Cleopatra did a good job, and she is certainly pretty enough, but I always expect anyone with the name "Cleopatra" to be an absolute knockout. I think the actress that plays Lucius' Niobe would have been a better choice. Ah well. Let me know what you think.

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Patrick Wynne

Just to pick a nit... It's CaesariOn, as in the name of Caesar and Cleopatra's son, not CaesariAn, as in the section.

October 18 2005 at 5:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I thought this episode was very interesting and I agree with you on Cleopatra. Perhaps Niobe might have been a better choice. However, I do think the current choice wasn't too shabby either and there were a couple of scenes where she showed her Cleopatra like insight into the 'grander' things like battle strategy, etc. when she advises Caesar to take control of the river ports. I think the best scenes were with Caesar and the presentation of Pompey's head as a 'gift' to Caesar by Theodotus, a scheme clearly engineered by the other eunuch, Pothinus. Ciaran turns in a fine performance in this episode and I particularly liked the part where he pronounces 'Shame on the house of Ptolemy' and later, 'He was a consul of Rome!' Short lines but very well delivered, with the proper sense of outrage that Caesar must have felt, as Pompey was dear to him in a way, despite being enemies by circumstance. It was their giant egos which got in their way, as neither was ready for a compromise. Both of them wanted to be the 'first man in Rome', the most coveted title (although unofficial), which was different from their formal titles of 'dictator' or 'consul'. Regarding your comment on the collapse of Rome, the Republic or what was left of it, was already up for grabs by powerful generals (if not Caesar, then Pompey or Antony) and it was inevitable that the collapse would come soon after Caesar's assassination in 44 BC during the famous Ides of March. As someone already pointed out, the Emperors ruled for several centuries after that and later, the East Empire survived as the Byzantine empire. However, it was a different Rome then, quite unlike the one being covered by the series "Rome". I have a detailed review of "Rome" on my site, for those who may be interested.

October 18 2005 at 5:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Am I the only one in the blogosphere who thought this Cleopatra was gorgeous? Sexy as hell and not bad to look at, you know. Considering Cleopatra should be a Macedonian with a huge nose, no one yet has got her "accurately", I suppose. I'm glad they didn't this time around. Jeremy: Was there much to celebrate about Western Rome after Marcus Aurelius died? I mean, after him Odoacer was a bright spot. Of course, you might consider Charlemagne, Otto I, or Frederick I as not too bad Emperors.

October 18 2005 at 4:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
The Jeremy

Uhm, *Rome* persevered for a good four hundred plus years after the cockiness of Julius Caesar. If you count the Byzantium as the continued Roman Empire, then *Rome* lasted for even longer. So no, the cockiness of Caesar & Friends did not lead to the destruction of that great civilization.

October 18 2005 at 3:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This was a thoroughly enjoyable episode. The power of Rome never was displayed directly on camera throughout the episode--in fact, Caesar only kept half a legion in Egypt and dispatched the rest to Rome. But the respect and fear the Egyptians had for Rome was displayed in Ptolemy's advisors as they kow-towed to Caesar and tried to apologize for the boy-king's impudence. We saw the after-effects of Rome's power (such as Ptolemy's advisors' heads being placed on stakes), but never the actual exercise of power itself. Even at the end, we learn of Ptolemy's defeat and death not through any epic battle scenes, but the death face of Ptolemy as his body floats serenly in the water. As for Cleopatra: contemporaries spoke of her beauty, but more of her raw sexuality. The actress who plays Cleopatra displays this perfectly. Even Lucius almost succumbed to her feminine charms. The previews at the end of the episode appear very intriguing. I'm glad they're re-introducing Octavian back into the story arc. The interplay between him and Pullo is one of the most interesting parts of the show. Can't wait to see the next episode!

October 18 2005 at 2:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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