How Accurate Is: Rome, S1E2 (TV Show, HBO, 2005-7)

Mark Antony
Mark Antony

Hello everyone! Today’s post will be another post on Rome, this time Rome Season 1 Episode 2. There will be less to say about the episode this time, but as always there were certainly some inconsistencies present. I will add before I begin that, once again, the show has the potential to be enjoyable; however, it wastes that potential.

For more, continue past the link.

The principal plot of this episode revolves around the backstory of Caesar’s invasion of Italy. The episode opens with Caesar getting Antony elected Tribune (which was historical), so that his faction can have a veto in the Senate.[1] It should be noted that historically, the consul at this point was a man named Lentulus; for the sake of (perhaps) clarity, however, the show has kept Pompey as the sole consul.[2] Once Antony is safely installed in Rome (where he has an affair with Atia, the mother of Octavian; as mentioned in the previous post, even if this was true it has not made it into the historical record for obvious reasons), he enters a meeting with the Senate. He proposes that Caesar give up Gaul and most of his legions in exchange for the governance of Illyricum so that he can be safe from prosecution. Historically, this is almost true; however, the show seems to give the benefit of the doubt to Caesar, in that historically he demanded Cisalpine Gaul, Illyricum, and two full legions, quite a bit more than is demanded here.[3] Regardless, the Senate refuses the offer; historically, Lentulus was the driving force behind this refusal but in the show it is a combination of Cato and Pompey.[4]

With this offer refused, one of the Senators (Scipio, which was historical) tables a motion to declare Caesar an enemy of the state if he does not lay down his arms.[5] This is where the show principally departs from history. In the show, Antony tries to veto the motion (with the assent of Pompey, who did not want to attack Caesar openly and thus be seen striking the first blow), but the veto fails due to chaos in the Senate and an (accidental) attack on Antony as he enters the Forum the next day. Historically, Antony proposed a compromise whereby both Pompey and Caesar would lay down their arms, which Pompey was willing to accept until Lentulus (once again the villain) had Antony expelled.[6] The result in both cases, however, was the same; Antony fled Rome and Caesar invaded Italy.

This episode scores higher on historical accuracy than its predecessor largely because there was so little historical content; the majority of the episode was devoted to interpersonal relationships between its characters, particularly the fictional ones. The historical aspects that are present are partly accurate, but some key players are missing (such as Lentulus) and, as ever, the order of events is somewhat muddied. I hope you all enjoyed this post, and have a wonderful day.

References:

1 University of Chicago. “Plutarch, The Parallel Lives: The Life of Antony.” Last modified November 2013.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Antony*.html

2 University of Chicago. “Plutarch, The Parallel Lives: The Life of Julius Caesar.” Last modified October 2013.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Caesar*.html

3 University of Chicago. “Plutarch, The Parallel Lives: The Life of Julius Caesar.” Last modified October 2013.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Caesar*.html

4 University of Chicago. “Plutarch, The Parallel Lives: The Life of Julius Caesar.” Last modified October 2013.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Caesar*.html

5 University of Chicago. “Plutarch, The Parallel Lives: The Life of Julius Caesar.” Last modified October 2013.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Caesar*.html

6 University of Chicago. “Plutarch, The Parallel Lives: The Life of Julius Caesar.” Last modified October 2013.

http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Caesar*.html

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