With a star-studded cast of classically-trained actors and a sweeping scope across the Mediterranean world, HBO’s Rome harks back to the epic historical films of the 1950s and ‘60s - Ben-Hur, Spartacus, Cleopatra - but uses the TV Drama format to bring the story of the fall of the Republic to a new generation of Roman enthusiasts. Told through the eyes of the soldiers Titus Pullo and Lucius Voreno -- two men who couldn’t be more different -- who also have their own struggles and stories. The attention to detail shown by the creators of Rome is showcased here, as the names of both soldiers have been lifted straight from Julius Caesar’s writings.
Where the show really excels is in its depiction of historical characters. Pompey, Caesar, Brutus- all of these characters have their flaws and virtues, enabling the viewer to root for almost any character. Perhaps the greatest depiction is James Purefoy’s Mark Antony, who absolutely steals the show in this telling of the fall of the Roman Republic. His witty, but crude attitude forms a charming and lovable personality.
Where the show falls short is in the final few episodes, in the build up and inclusion of Actium. Cleopatra, unlike previous depictions of historical characters, is portrayed in a simplistic manner- resorting to the solely ‘sexual’ depiction of her, Cleopatra has been unfairly associated with due to Augustan writings. Similarly these final few episodes feel rushed, however this may be credited due to the series cancellation, and as such the writers had to unexpectedly wrap up the story at the last minute.
Ultimately, HBO’s Rome is to this day the go-to depiction of the fall of the Roman Republic. The complex characters, and phenomenal acting come together to create a compelling narrative that leaves you on the edge of your seat even if you know how it will end.