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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

I've been rocketing through Season One of Rome. It's Shakespearean in its combination of personal drama and historical moment. As someone who's fond of reading history (and wishes there were more historical screenplays to write), I'm loving how modern the characters feel. It's a mistake to conceive of ancient people as archaic. At the time of Julius Caesar, the Romans were the most modern people in the West. They had discipline, and running water, and sewage systems. They had forceps. They were literate. They were religiously tolerant. They had social mobility, and no color line. They had a more coherent and effective society than anything after them in the region for a thousand years. An educated Roman of the republic could show up at an Upper West Side dinner party and fit in. A medieval couldn't.

And yet, they were different. They worshipped multiple gods. They weren't that uptight about sex. They cared what class you were born into. They considered suicide better than dishonor. The father had absolute ownership of his family and had the right to kill his wife and/or children if they disobeyed him. They ate dormice.

The history geek in me adores that the cavalry have no stirrups, so far as I could tell. Stirrups came later. (Without stirrups the cavalry functioned as fast moving infantry; they could not use lances effectively, and so were not the shock weapon they became later.) It's pretty hard core to get your actors up on horses without stirrups for the sake of historical accuracy.

And yet, they were people. The Romans loved their spouses and children and fought with their parents, cheated and lied and schemed just like people now.

I'm loving how the writers and producers have integrated good historical research into eternal human stories of ambition and lust and love and given us a portrait of another time that feels up to the moment.

This is just superb writing and directing. Excelsior!



You are just the geekiest geek to ever geek a geek.

Glad you're enjoying it. I thought it started slow but got really better, really fast. The endgame is breathtaking. Even if you know how the story ends, seeing it play out is still thrilling.

And I love the herald. And the grafitti.

Now the $64 000 question -- How can you possibly wait another year for Season 2, when all you have to do is get TMN and you can start watching it *next month*???

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:34 PM  

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

By Blogger wcdixon, at 12:49 PM  

Agreed...go TMN.

I actually expected you to bemoan it's 'darkness', Alex - that it was forcing you to venture to deep into the cave...surprise surprise...

By Blogger wcdixon, at 12:56 PM  

Rome is $$$

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 2:16 PM  

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