Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (2006)
Director: Tim Dunn, Nick Green, Andrew Grieve, Nick Murphy, Arif Nurmohamed, Christopher Spencer.
Starring: Lyall B. Watson (Petronius), Hugh Dixon (Seneca), Sean Pertwee (Julius Caesar), Michael Sheen (Emperor "Nero" Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), Ed Stoppard ( Josephus), David Threlfall (Constantine the Great), Pip Torrens ( Olympius), John Blakey ( General Gnaeus), Jonathan Coy (Florius), Alex Ferns ( Mark Antony).
TV series in six episodes.
a docu-drama starts with the foundation of the Roman Empire and goes to its collapse
Spoiler Warning: below is a summary of the entire film.
Episode I. Caesar.
Alesisa, Gaul, 52 BC. "After eight years of war, Caesar's campaign in Gaul was reaching its climax. His army had finally cornered the enemy at the town of Alesia. Victory was in sight. But all that was about to change."
The Gauls have gotten thousands of reinforcements. In fact, there may be as many as 100,000 or more. Caesar says: "I think we can deal with this, gentlemen."
General Titus Labienus tells Caesar's army to "stand to". The 40,000 man army is surrounded. They faced nearly a quarter of a million Gauls.
The Gauls attack the Romans and push them back. Gaius Crastinus, a veteran centurion, is in the thick of the battle. When all seems lost, Caesar makes an appearance. He shouts to his troops: "Who will fight for me?"
General Mark Antony is also fighting hard against the Gauls. Now Caesar calls for his cavalry, which appears at the backs of the Gauls. The Gauls start running away from the battlefield.
At night, Caesar speaks to his troops, shouting: "For the first time, all of Gaul is conquered." He then talks about his next goal: to restore Rome to its people.
The ruling class in Rome were afraid that Caesar would return to Rome with his army. Senator Marcus Cato declares to his fellow senators that Caesar's actions are illegal and that he must be prosecuted. Another critic of Caesar is Senator Marcus Marcellus leader of the Senate.
Cato and Marcellus decide to persuade Gnaeus Pompey, politician and retired general, to join their cause. Pompey had conquered most of the eastern Mediterranean, but now he has not fought for nine years.
Caesar's Headquarters, Northern Italy. Caesar speaks of how Rome has not changed with the times. What Rome needs is strong leadership.
Pompey tells Cato and Marcellus that Caesar will disband the army before he reaches the border, because the man is loyal to Rome. Cato says the Republic has lasted for 500 years, but Caesar wants to sweep all that away. Pompey loses his patience and tells the two men to get out of his house. He says they are asking him to start a civil war.
Cato sends out a number of messages. One went to Labienus with a nice offer to him. One went to Caesar, telling him to leave his army at the border.
Caesar's camp, Ravenna, Northern Italy. [Ravenna is the capital city of the Province of Ravenna in the Emilia-Romagna region bordering on the eastern coast of Italy.] Caesar asks who would oppose him if he went to war? Labienus says Pompey. Caesar says he's to old and if he did go to war, he would be defeated.
50 BC. Pompey agrees to lead the republican forces against Caesar.
Mark Antony reports to Caesar that Labienus has gone over to the republican forces. Caesar comments that Labienus' loss is Antony's gain: "You are now my sole deputy."
The River Rubicon, 200 miles north of Rome. [The river is a shallow one in northeastern Italy just south of Ravenna, about 80 kilometers long, running east from the Apennine Mountains to the Adriatic Sea.]
January 10th, 49 BC. Caesar settled his army for the winter on the Rubicon, then he crosses with his army the northern border at the Rubicon, a place where returning generals were supposed to disband their armies. He goes through Rimini and then Ancona on Rome's eastern coast, and southwest to Arezzo in the middle of Rome. Panic sweeps through Rome and people flee the city.
Pompey tells Labienus to assemble the troops on the Field of Mars. Cato is upset that Pompey won't stop Caesar from entering Rome. Pompey says he can't defeat Caesar now because the man has 11 legions, while Pompey only has two. He can, however, defeat Caesar, but only when Pompey's forces are strong.
January 17, 49 BC. The city of Rome is abandoned.
March, 49 BC. Caesar's forces come into Rome. The place is deserted and Caesar is furious, because now it means a longer campaign in which many more people will die.
Caesar decides to take over the only place of value in Rome: the emergency funds building. Lucius Metellus, Tribune of the People, does not want Caesar to take the emergency funds. Caesar threatens Metellus with death and Metellus moves out of his way.
Pompey flees east to Greece where he has allies. Caesar heads to Spain to wipe out Pompey's supporters there. It takes Caesar more than a year to defeat them. And his troops are exhausted. Anthony reports unrest in the Ninth Legion. All 4,000 have mutinied. Caesar tells Anthony to decimate the Legion. [Piacenza, in the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy between Bologna, gateway to eastern Italy, and Milan. Decimation means killing one in ten using a big wooden mallet.]
Now Caesar plans to surprise Pompey in Dyracchium in modern day Albania.
May, 48 BC. Pompey's camp. Caesar, at the battle of Dyracchium, tries to do what he did to the Gauls, but this time he had a much smaller army. Caesar loses. He retreats inland to regroup.
Pompey's headquarters at Dyrrachium. Pompey figures that the lack of supplies will wear out Caesar's army, but Cato and Marcellus demand that Pompey strike now against Caesar.
Caesar is going to try to force Pompey to fight at Pharsalus. [Pharsalus (now Farsala) is a city in southern Thessaly, in the southern part of Larissa regional unit, in Greece.]
Pharsalus, Greece. August, 48 BC. Caesar decides to pretend that his forces are retreating.
Marcellus starts insulting Pompey saying that maybe he's lost his abilities. Maybe he just loves to be leading an army again and acting important, as he did before Caesar overshadowed him. So Pompey gives in and says he will fight Caesar's army. Caesar has only 22,000 infantry to Pompey's 45,000. Caesar has only 1,000 cavalry to Pompey's 6,000 cavalry.
Caesar waits for Pompey to move first and, thereby, give away his plans. Labienus moves the cavalry opposite Caesar's right flank. The plan is to get the cavalry behind Caesar's forces. Caesar sees the move and then moves part of his forces behind the Roman cavalry on his right flank. He then creates a diversion by sending his weakened central ranks against Pompey. After waiting awhile, Pompey releases his cavalry. Labienus attacks, but now Caesar gives the order for the infantry with their long spears hidden behind the cavalry to attack. The long spears give Caesar's infantry the advantage over the short swords of Labienus' cavalry. Labienus orders a retreat. Pompey's infantry now begins a full scale rout.
Caesar's infantry chases after the fleeing men killing one after another of the enemy infantry. Gaius Crastinus becomes a little too roused up by the massacre of the enemy infantry, and gets cut down from behind by the sword of a enemy cavalryman.
Pompey rides over to Marcellus and tells him: "You wanted a quick victory, you got one. Why did I listen to you?" Pompey flees to Egypt to raise another army, but in Egypt, he is murdered by the Egyptians. Labienus was killed in the final battle of the larger conflict -- the battle of Munda..
A year after Pharsalus, Cato takes his own life. Caesar pardons Marcellus, but later the senator was mysteriously murdered.
Caesar makes himself dictator for life, making himself Rome's first emperor.
March, 44 BC. Assassins kill Caesar after four years of his rule.
Augustus, 27 BC -14 AD.
Tiberius, 14 - 37.
Caligula, 37 - 41.
Claudius, 41- 54.
Nero, 54 - 68.
Episode II. Nero.
64 AD. "For a hundred years. the same family dynasty has ruled the empire. Now it's the turn of the famously eccentric Nero." Nero would often go among the regular people. One day he insults a man and when the mean talks back to him, Nero has his companion, Ofonius Tigellinus, head of Rome's security force, break a piece of pottery over his head. With the Emperor is his second wife, Poppaea Sabina. (He killed his first wife.) The incident starts a brawl. Nero gets knocked down. A man shouts out not to hit the Emperor!
"Nero had never been a normal emperor, but this was nothing to what lay ahead. This is the story of what happened when the most powerful man on earth lost his mind, and brought the empire to the brink of destruction."
Antium. July 64. [Located south of Rome on the coast.] Nero is staying at his country estate. He sees the sky lit up. There is a fire in Rome that has been burning all day. Nero says: "We're going back to Rome, now!"
Imperial Palace, Rome. Arriving in Rome, a man named Rufus explains that they lost control of the fire for the streets are too narrow to get to the fire. The fire is moving mainly west. The Emperor gives the order to open the gates so people can get onto the open spaces therein on the palace grounds.
The fire burned for six days. Nero did all he could to fight the fire and save lives. "Yet, it was his actions after the flames had died that would prove decisive, both to his reign and to the future of the empire." Only 4 of Rome's 14 districts survived. Thousands of people have died and a half million people are homeless.
The Emperor is very shaken and his wife tells him to hold himself together. He asks Seneca what should he do? Seneca answers: "Rule as the gods rule, and you could become one yourself."
Emperor's Villa, Antium. The Emperor tells his wife that he wants to transform Rome from a concentration on war to a concentration on art and beauty. Poppaea says that if Nero could transform Rome, he could become immortal. Nero really likes that idea.
Nero shows a group of Roman senators a huge model of the new Rome that will be built fast. "A Rome worthy of Rome." All of it will be built in marble and stone so it won't be burned down. And everywhere in the city will be beauty and art. The feeling in the room is that Rome is saved.
And so, Nero begins the largest building program in history. Marble and stone were brought to Rome from throughout the Empire. The building process went easier because of the Roman invention of concrete. Nero became the greatest art patron in Roman history.
Umbria, September, 64. [Umbria is in central Italy and is crossed by the River Tiber. Towns include Perugia and Assisi.] Nero wants to commission a bronze statue of himself 120 feet high. Seneca tells him that, along with his other art projects, the Emperor doesn't have enough money. They can't possibly pay for all this. This infuriates Nero, and he throws down an object that breaks, shouting: "We must pay for it!" He tells Seneca: "You told me to rule like a god! That's what I'm doing." He stomps off.
To get the needed money, Nero entertains the idea of robbing the temples of Rome.
Autumn, 64. Nero is stealing what belonged to the gods, as well as Rome's crown jewels. These actions are opposed vehemently by Seneca. Nero also begins a collision course with the Roman Senate. Factions begin to form in the Senate.
Seneca tells the Emperor that he wants to resign. Nero says he won't allow it. So Seneca tells him that he will have to spend more time in the country for his poor health. He then tells then Emperor that the robbery of the temples was sacrilege. And we all, Emperors included, need the protection of the gods. Nero becomes furious and says that he doesn't need protection from the gods, the gods need protection from him. He tells Seneca to get out.
March, 65. At the gladiator games, several senators talk about removing Nero. Nero and Poppaea are cheered as they make their public appearance. The three senators come up with an idea. Why can't the senate just vote to declare that Nero is an enemy of the state? But how can they know they will have enough votes in the senate for this? They say they must talk to Cluvius.
Cluvius says that the moderate senators won't back such a vote. After all, Nero is a direct descendant from Augustus.
So, now the more radical senators think about choosing someone to replace Nero who is of a royal blood line -- someone the senate would support. They also consider the option of killing Nero.
Seneca's Estates, April, 65. A senator suggest to Seneca that Senator Piso would be the best man to replace him. Seneca says that he will not support a plot to kill Nero, who is a man that he still loves.
Now even the temple money is running out on Nero, but the Emperor still insists that the building program continue.
Senator Scaevinus's Villa. April 18, 65. The conspiring senators say they will kill Nero at the races tomorrow. A slave named Milichus hears some of this conversation. Scavinus tells him to go get his master's Temple of Safety dagger. Clean it and really sharpen it, so the master can have it with him at the races tomorrow. But Milichus decides to tell on his master.
Palace Compound, April 19, 65. Scaevinus is brought before the Emperor. The Emperor wants to know what did Scaevinus mean: "You asked for a dagger to be sharpened in preparation for your visit to tomorrow's games, so you could ... do it." Nero asks straight out: "Are you planning to kill me?" Scaevinus says that his slave misunderstood him. He only asked that then dagger be polished. Natalis asked to see him wear the knife at the dinner. The slave speaks up, saying for the Emperor to ask Natalis directly about what he said about the knife.
Rufus is called in to see the Emperor. Natalis is already there. Tigellinus says that Natalis was just about to tell them about the dagger belonging to Scaevinus. Natalis says he doesn't know anything about a dagger. Tigellinus grabs a handful of salt from the nearby table and forces into the right eye of Natalis, who screams in pain. Natlis says that it was Gallus and Pollio and Acilia. Now it's Rufus's time to talk. Rufus rushes over and hits Natalis a couple of times. Now Scaevinus screams that Rufus is a traitor and is with with them. Rufus calls for help from Flavus. Tigellinus kills Rufus and when Flavus runs into the room, Tigellinus sticks the knife into his throat. Nero asks for the name of another conspirator and Natilis says the name Piso. Natilis starts naming name after name to save himself.
"The wave of assassination that Nero unleashed was unlike anything Rome had ever seen. In one move, all political opposition was wiped out."
The last name Natalis gives Nero is Seneca. Seneca is given a dagger to commit suicide. He kills himself.
Summer, 65. Now Nero announces the biggest arts festival in Roman history. And at the top of the bill will be the poetry performance by Nero himself. He wears black face for the performance, but puts a white mask over his face.
The narrator comments: "It's hard to imagine a modern equivalent, but the outrage felt by aristocratic Romans to an emperor performing, is similar to what would be felt today if Queen Elizabeth II became a pole dancer."
Of course, they select the Emperor as the best performer. Poppaea tells him it was a great performance and even when he dropped the scepter, he was so quick to pick it up from the stage. This last remark freezes Nero in place. He tells his wife that she said that he had made a fool of himself. Now he snaps, slapping her down to the floor and kicking her repeatedly. The people in the room are absolutely shocked by the Emperor's reaction.
Later Nero cries and screams over what he has done. His wife is dead.
The narrator says: "Poppaea's death coincided with a worsening of the financial crisis. . . . Nero's dream was floundering."
Nero has Poppaea's corpse covered in thick, white make-up and put on the throne. He complains to the senators that nothing is finished. And no one had better dare say that there's no more money! He acts like a mad man. "The building does not stop."
Nero leaves Rome on a tour of debauchery. On the tour, he tells Tigellinus to make the nobles and other rich men deed their estates and all their monies over to him when they die. And Tigellinus is given the extra job of making sure the wealthy die.
Tigellinus gives the wealthy the choice of killing themselves and leaving their money to the emperor, or having themselves and their entire family wiped out.
The Emperor orders his men to make a pretty male that he has taken a fancy to into a woman through castration. The order is carried out. The wealthy are forced to kill themselves.
A letter goes out to all the senators calling for rebellion.
Greece, December 67. Tigellinus tells Nero that the governors of Gaul and Spain are rebelling against him. Nero doesn't take it seriously. Tigellinus tells him that these rebels are not barbarians, but Roman aristocrats. And Nero needs to be in Rome.
As Nero makes his way back to Rome, Africa and Germania join the rebellion.
March, 68. Nero arrives back in Rome. He is welcomed back warmly, but the Emperor has squeezed the wealth out of the Empire. In fact, the Empire is collapsing.
Nero addresses the Senate. He is full of bravado saying that in three days he will go to Gaul and stop his enemies. He will crush his enemies, not with the sword, but with art. "I intend to sing to them." And now he says he must get back home to start working on his song. He leaves the Senate.
Nero's army is hundreds of prostitutes who will perform for the enemy, alongside the Emperor.
Cluvius meets with Tigellinus. He tells the aide that Nero has lost his mind. Therefore, the Senate will declare Nero an official enemy of the state. Cluvius tells Tigellinus that he can either be a friend to the next Emperor, or an enemy.
The vote is taken and Nero named an enemy of the state. He is sentenced to death.
June 9, 68. Nero finds out and escapes from Rome, but now it's everyone's responsibility to see that the Emperor is killed or to make sure he kills himself. And Nero has nowhere to hide.
He realizes that it's the end for him. He says: "Whatever they think of me, the world is losing a great artist." He forces the knife up through his neck and into his mouth.
"What followed was a bloody civil war, a war that Tigellinus would not survive. Rome had finally come to realize that choosing its rulers solely from a narrow group of aristocrats was no way to run an empire The man who finally won the throne, owed his position to merit, rather than birth."
Episode III. Rebellion.
"In AD 66, the biggest rebellion ever against the power of Rome broke out in the remote province of Judaea. The fear was it could destabilize the whole empire. To stamp this out, Rome turned to the outcast General Vespasian and his son Titus."
"The rebellion began because of the Roman Governor of Judaea, in what's now modern day Israel. The Jews hated him for his corruption, embezzlement and extortionate taxes."
The Jewish tax collectors are staging a protest against the Roman Governor. The Governor decides he's not even going to listen to what is making the tax collectors so mad. He says if they can't collect enough taxes, then the collectors themselves will pay the insufficient amount of taxes.
The Governor sends his troops into the holiest shrine in the Jewish world, the Temple of Jerusalem. The Romans take the treasures from the Temple. So the populace start throwing rocks and stones at the Roman troops. The Romans are driven out of Judaea. "The rebellion was now unstoppable."
November, 66. After a delay of six months, 30,000 Roman troops are sent to put down the revolt.
Beth Horon, 10 miles outside Jerusalem. [It was an ancient biblical town strategically located on the Gibeon to Aijalon road, guarding the "ascent of Beth-Horon".]
The Jewish forces attack the Roman forces while going through a pass. "The massacre of Beth Horon was the Roman army's worst defeat by a rebelling province."
Greece, one month later. Titus Flavius, a young officer in the Roman army, comes to see his father, the veteran General Vespasian, who had been dismissed from Nero's court for falling asleep during one of Nero's interminable poetry readings. He has some bad news for his father for the Jews have killed around 6,000 Roman soldiers of the 12th Legion. And Nero wants the father to take command in Judaea and put down the revolt.
The Temple of Jerusalem, autumn, 66. Having driven the Romans out, the Jews celebrate that they now have their own Jewish state. Their leader is Hanan Ben Hanan. He announces the formation of a Jewish army.
Vespasian's headquarters, Greece. Vespasian's plan seems to be one of scorched earth and killing Jewish civilians. He sends Titus to Alexandria, Egypt to bring back the 15th Legion. Vettulenus and Trajan will have the 5th and 10th Legions and will go with Vespasian. He tells Ptolemais, that they will rendezvous in southern Syria. They then will attack Galilee in the north and send hell into Judaea.
Hanan tells Josephus that he wants him to head north to Galilee. Hanan knows that they cannot defeat the Roman army. His strategy is to inflict enough losses that Rome will negotiate and a better deal can be worked out for the Jewish people.
Galilee, 75 miles north of Jerusalem. Winter, 66. Josephus arrives in Galilee. Meanwhile, Vespasian descends south from Antioch towards Ptolemais, and Titus heads north to Jerusalem. A quarter of the entire Roman army is now converging on Galilee.
Vespasian's headquarters, Ptolemais. And now hell descends on Galilee. Tens of thousands of Jews were killed or tortured and many more were sold into slavery.
Jotapata, Lower Galilee. May, 67. Many refugees flee to the walls of Jotapata to seek the protection of Josephus.
Titus reaches the camp at Ptolemais. His father says that Placidus tried to take Jotapata, but he had too few men. So, says Vespasian, it's their turn to take Jotapata.
Vespasian learns through a captive that Josephus is in Jotapata. So Vespasian will send Placidus to surround Jotapata.
The arrival of Placidus and his troops is a big surprise to the forces at Jotapata. The leaders had just been thinking that a Roman siege might last for about 50 days. The attack begins, but for three weeks every attack is repulsed. Vespasian comments that they must try something different. They start hurling stones at the walls. Vespasian receives an arrow into the side of his right foot.
47 days pass by and the Romans are low on water and other supplies. Vespasian tells his son to finish the job quickly. Titus tells him he will. They send a man climbing up a wall during the night. The guard on duty is sleeping. The guard is killed. Other soldiers climb up the wall. Then they open the gate. The Roman soldiers pour into the fortress.
Josephus and some of his men hide in a well in a crevice in the side walls. The Romans force a woman to tell them where Josephus is hiding. A Roman friend of Josephus calls down to Josephus saying they know he is down there. Josephus talks to his friend and then tells the others that they can surrender honorably to the Romans. The men prefer to commit suicide. One man at a time kills another man by the slitting of the throat. Josephus and his friend Yaakov are the last two men standing. Josephus convinces Yaakov to surrender to the Romans. Yaakov finally agrees.
Vespasian tells Josephus that they are sending him to the Emperor. Josephus asks why does Vespasian sent him to the Emperor, when Vespasian himself soon will be the Emperor. Vespasian says that's traitorous, but Titus asks Josephus why did he say that? The answer is: "Rome needs a strong leader. General Vespasian is the strongest of the strong." Titus now tells his father that Josephus could be very useful to them. If they treat him with clemency, the other Jewish forces might be more willing to give themselves up. And, who knows, Josephus was right in his prediction that the siege would last 47 days and he may just be right about father becoming the next Emperor.
From Tarichaeae on the shores of the Sea of Galilee the Romans take the town of Tiberius and then Mount Tabor. It takes them around two years to get to Jerusalem.
A rebel leader from Galilee, Yohanan of Gischala, becomes a new Jewish leader. Hanan believes that the new leader will cause them a lot of problems. The followers of the new leader are fanatics, whereas Hanan still believes in negotiating with Vespasian.
There is a confrontation between the old and the new leader. Hanan tells his staff that they must send a deputation to the Romans now. But it's already too late. The fanatics have gotten out of the Temple and Hanan is killed. This leads to a civil war among the different rebel factions. The war went on for two years. Meanwhile, Emperor Nero is overthrown and thrown into civil war. Three Roman generals fight to seize power. After a year of chaos, the Roman armies in the east turn to Vespasian to restore order.
July 69. The troops make Vespasian the new Roman Emperor. And now Vespasian says he needs a quick victory over Jerusalem. He tells Titus to find a way to bring Jerusalem down quickly.
Titus speaks with Josephus in his cell. It sounds as though Titus wants to make Josephus the Governor over Jerusalem. He wants Josephus to take the place that Hanan had while he was alive. And Titus agrees that there will be no more corrupt governors, that the sanctity of Jewish holy places be honored and that Jerusalem have some amount of freedom under Roman rule.
April, 70. Titus and Josephus march on Jerusalem. Josephus tries to get Jerusalem to surrender, but the radical Yohanan refuses even to talk about terms of surrender. So then the attack on Jerusalem, with its three walls around the city, begins. It takes fifteen days for the Romans to open up the first wall. The second wall takes eight days. The third wall, however, proves too massive for the Romans. It is 15 feet tall and15 feet deep.
So the Romans built towers overtopping the walls and now they can fire down on the Jewish defenders. Meanwhile, the Jewish defenders dig a tunnel right under the main tower, held up by timber underneath the structure. Now Yohanan sets the timber on fire. The ground gives way as the timbers fall and the tower falls down.
"In just three days, Titus' troops built a wall four and a half miles long, with 13 forts, right around the city. It is one of the most remarkable feats of Roman military engineering. Jerusalem was now completely cut off."
After three months, the people start to starve. Josephus tries one more time to get the Jewish defenders to surrender. It's no use.
Then, the Jewish tunnel collapses and there is a breach in the massive wall. This allows the Romans to pour into the city. They take the city but stop at the Temple. Titus decides to save the Temple. But they must clear out the last of the fanatics from the Temple. The assault begins. During the assault, someone throws a flaming torch into the Temple structure itself. The Temple burns down inside.
"Hundreds of thousands of Jews were killed or sold into slavery. The Temple would never rise again."
Yohanan now tries to surrender, but it's too late. Yohanan is put in prison for life.
The other leaders of the revolt were enslaved or executed by crucifixion.
Titus succeeds his father as Roman Emperor. They establish a new dynasty of Emperors, the first with no grand aristocratic connections.
Josephus lived in Rome where he wrote an account of the Jewish Revolt.
The treasures taken from Jerusalem helped pay for the Roman Coliseum.
Titus dies of a fever in AD 81.
Domitian, reigns from 81 to 96. At his death it's the end of the Flavian dynasty (Vespasian, Titus, Domitian).
Episode IV. Revolution.
Rome, 2160 years ago. In the days of the Roman Republic.
The corpse of a statesman and general is displayed sitting on the throne. His name was Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus. Young Tiberius is there at the ceremony. Young Tiberius Gracchus believed in his father's belief in the Republic. "But in just 20 years, he will die defending his father's ideals. Murdered by the aristocrats standing behind him. His crime, starting a revolution so powerful, it changed Rome forever, setting it on the path to its greatest triumphs and worst excesses."
146 BC. Carthage, North Africa. Rome prepares for its final assault on its arch rival, Carthage. Their leader is General Scipio Aemilianus. At present, he is giving his officers their battle instructions. Laelius will attack along the front. The General stops to tell Tiberius to come over to the table. He introduces Tiberius to the officers as his brother-in-law. He tells Tiberius that whoever scales the wall first will win the golden crown.
In the morning Tiberius leads his men to the wall and Tiberius is the first to make it up the wall. Once over the wall, it is a bitter street-to-street fight. "To break the deadlock, Aemilianus ordered the city to be burned. . . . After six days of brutal fighting, the Carthaginians surrendered." Tiberius is crowned with the golden crown by Aemilianus. The city is razed to the ground and its inhabitants sold into slavery. For the next 600 years, Rome would rule.
Rome -- six months later. Tiberius notices while the rich are prospering, Rome was filled with poverty-stricken people.
Tiberius' mother wonders why the poor keep flocking into the city. She can't stand the stench of the city. She and Tiberius are on their way to a party. At the party Nasica welcomes Cornelia and Tiberius. Cornelia complains about the conditions of the city of Rome and Nasica says he blames it all on Aemilianus. When the general destroyed Carthage, he wiped away the one thing that kept the plebeians in their place: the fear of Carthage. A man named Pulcher comments that they should create another enemy that keeps the people in fear. For without Carthage there's nothing " . . . to stop some in their relentless pursuit of wealth and power." Nasica doesn't like the second comment by Pulcher and calls him "a sanctimonious old bore." Tiberius, however, is fascinated by the comment and asks Pulcher to more fully explain the comment. Pulcher says Rome must take care of its people or the Republic will fall apart.
Tiberius walks around the dirty city thinking about the growing gap between rich and poor that threatens its very foundations. His mother notices the change coming over her son, and she tells him not to listen anymore to that Pulcher, whose ideas on social justice will only bring Tiberius enemies. To please his mother, Tilberius goes with the army to help crush a rebellion in Spain.
Along the road to Spain, Tiberius sees a woman and her small son in distress. Soldiers are pushing over her wagon over and off the road, breaking the wagon and smashing many of her possessions. Tiberius asks what's going on and the woman says she lost her husband who fought for Rome and they have taken their farm from her. And now they have destroyed most of what she owns. So Tiberius tells the offending soldiers to fix the wagon and give some food to the woman and her son.
Now Tiberius stops to visit with Octavius. On this visit he finds out that Octavius confiscated the distressed woman's land. Octavius says where else was he to build his vineyard? The fact that Octavius has no care whatsoever of what happens to the woman upsets Tiberius. He cuts his visit to Octavius short and heads back out on the road to Spain.
Proceeding onward, Tiberius sees that thousand of farmers have lost their lands. Slaves, many of them from Carthage, have been brought in to replace the former landowners.
Northern Spain, three months later. Tiberius fights the same tribe, the Numantines, his father fought 40 years earlier. There is a big difference. Tiberius loses battle after battle. The campaign was a disaster. The leader of the campaign, Consul Mancinus, tries to lead his 20,000 troops to safety. Facing annihilation, Mancinus has to sue for peace. The barbarians, however, will only negotiate with Tiberius. At first thought, Mancinus refuses to let Tiberius negotiate, but he quickly realizes he has to let Tiberius try to save them.
The tribe will only speak to Tiberius because they had fought his father and his father gave them peace. Tiberius says they will have to let the Roman soldiers go back home. In return, Rome will offer them equality and peace.
Tiberius returns to Rome a hero, and especially so to the families of the soldiers he had saved. The first thing Tiberius and Mancinus have to do is appear before the Senate. Nasica really rakes the two officers over the coals. Apparently, it would have been better if the Roman soldiers had died on the battlefield. And the proposed treaty is a nightmare. Some of the senators say that they should strip the soldiers and the officers naked and make them march back to Spain in chains to the Numantines. Another senator, Aemilianus, says only Mancinus should have to face the Numantines. This idea seems acceptable to most of the senators.
And Tiberius' mother is even a worse critic of her son. She says he has embarrassed her and the family in front of the whole Senate. He must apologize to Aemilianus and perhaps he will help Tiberius restore his reputation.
Tiberius goes to see Aemilianus, but not to apologize. Rather he asks Aemilianus why didn't he support him before the Senate. Aemilianus says that Tiberius made a fool of himself before the Senate. The two men go their separate ways.
Tiberius walks among the people and again is greeted like a hero. Tiberius keeps on walking. A man named Matho suddenly jumps Tiberius with his vicious knife to the nobleman's throat. He says: "You see how easy it is to get to you?" He then apologizes for the little demonstration, but he thought it the only way to make Tiberius realize that he needs a bodyguard.
Senator Pulcher now comes to see Tiberius and asks him to run for political office. Stand for Tribune of the People. He says the soldiers he saved and their families will support Tiberius. And if they don't find someone who can curb the excesses of Senators like Nasica, Rome will have civil war.
Tiberius does run for the office, but nine others are also running for the ten offices of Tribune of the People, and most of these people were merely pawns of the Senate.
Tiberius tells his supporters that he can get back their land and farms.
The nobles, goaded on by Nasica, want to stop Tiberius and his plans to help the poor. They talk to Octavius about becoming one of the Tribunes. Then Octavius can oppose the work of Tiberius.
Pulcher talks to Tiberius. He says he wants to seal their alliance with a marriage. He suggests that Tiberius marry his daughter Claudia. Tiberius and Claudia marry.
The Forum, 133 BC. Tiberius gets elected Tribune and gets another hero's welcome. Tiberius breaks with convention by not consulting the Senate first before he presented his radical laws for approval of the people. He comes up onto the platform and congratulates Octavius on his becoming a Tribune. Octavius remains silent.
Tiberius gets up to speak first. He says that "they" (the aristocrats) expect the people to fight for them and the homeland, but most of the people do not have any land to call home. He is proposing laws that will take back the land from those who have too much. The land will then be given back to the people who need it most. "Citizens, let us vote!" Any one tribune can stop the vote and that vote comes from Octavius. The people are mad at this and the master of ceremonies says they will take the vote tomorrow.
Tiberius tells Octavius that if he vetoes his vote again, there will be chaos and riots among the people. It's no use.
They all meet again and Octavius shouts: "Veto" So now the question is can they open the law courts? This time Tiberius gets up and shouts: "Veto!" Can they open the treasury? Tiberius shouts: "Veto!" So nothing gets approved, since Tiberius keeps vetoing the vote. People start throwing garbage at the other Tribunes and at the Senators, who have to retreat to safety.
"No one had ever used the mob in this way before. Tiberius had brought the hub of this huge empire to a standstill."
Pulcher is upset at the mess that has been created. Tiberius asks if he can vote off Octavius as a tribune on grounds that he is an enemy of the people. Pulcher says Tiberius has to be careful because if the people are given too much power, Rome will turn to anarchy. Tiberius tells Pulcher to give that speech to Octavius.
At home, mother asks her son: "What are you doing to poor Octavius?" Tiberius says Octavius had brought that down on himself. But Mom is worried that the new laws will destroy the aristocracy and their own family. Tiberius says he's the people's hero. Mom wanted to be known as the son of the great Tiberius Gracchus, and Tiberius tells her, that now she will be known as the mother of Tiberius Grachus. He leaves.
Tiberius wins the vote to depose Octavius, and the land reform quickly becomes law. Nasica wants to spread the rumor that what Tiberius really wants to become the King of Rome and he is misusing the power of the people to become a dictator.
Octavius preaches to the people that Tiberius is keeping the lands meant for the peasants to himself. All kinds of nobles are spreading all kinds of rumors.
Tiberius's time as Tribune runs out. The Senate now plans to try Tiberius for treason and demand his execution. Tiberius is burned in effigy.
Claudia has mud slung onto her face and pretty white dress. She says this is her husband's fault for wanting to become King. Matho quits as his bodyguard. Factions form of supporters of and opponents of Tiberius. They fight each other in the streets.
Their family door is broken down. Pulcher comes to check on his daughter and son-in-law. The place hass been torn to shreds, but daughter and husband are okay. Pulcher tells Tiberius that the Senate wants to try him for crimes against the Republic. They want the death sentence. Tiberius says he will get the people to protect him. Pulcher yells at him that he's pulling Rome apart.
Tiberius tells his mother that what he has done, he has done for her.
Election Day -- summer 133 BC. In the Senate the belief is that the election is illegal (since a Tribune can only serve for one term) and that Tiberius is trying to start a revolution. Nasica says that Tiberius is going to declare himself King of Rome before the people. So now is the time for the Senate to act. The call goes out to kill Tiberius. They pour out of the Senate and with clubs beat Tiberius to death.
"There was no funeral for Tiberius Gracchus, no grand orations, his body dumped in the River Tiber. Nasica was forced to flee Rome and died in exile. Aemilianus was recalled from Spain to restore order, but was murdered by Tiberius's supporters. Cornelia achieved her greatest wish. She became known as the mother of Tiberius Gracchus, and revered as the ideal of Roman motherhood."
"But Tiberius had changed Rome forever. His murder unleashed the power of the mob. It would take 100 years to pull Roman society back together, and a new type of leader, the Emperor."
Episode V. Constantine.
"At the beginning of the 4th century AD, the Roman Empire faced one of the biggest crises in its history. It was now so huge that it had been carved up between four emperors, two in the west and two in the east. Like rats in a sack, they scrabbled for power. . . . One man would try to unite the empire. Constantine would change the face of the empire and leave the greatest legacy of any of Rome's emperors. A new world religion. Christianity."
Autumn, 312 AD. Constantine's army is just 40 miles north of Rome. Constantine is one of the two emperors in the west. And now he prepares for battle with his rival, Maxentius. Constantine tells his staff that Maxentius has left the area. "Tomorrow we march on Rome!"
In Constantine's camp are some Christians who want Constantine to become a Christian too. Lactantius is their leader.
Emperor Maxentius held the city of Rome. He was a tyrant. He is told by a reader of the sacrificed goat's entrails that the enemy of Rome will be defeated.
Lactantius comes to tell Constantine that he cannot march on Rome, unless he puts his faith in the one true God. Constantine makes Lactantius leave the tent. Constantine's female companion Fausta, the sister of Maxentius, tells him that she does not like Lactantius, who is a Christian, and Christians are dirty, weak and poor. "It's a slave's religion. Everything they do is secret." And they don't like sex. The couple kiss.
27th October, AD 312. A messenger tells Constantine that Maxentius has brought up troops from Sicily and Carthage in the tens of thousands. Just then a meteor streaks across the sky and lands in a ball of fire on the earth. Lactantius speaks up saying that this is a signal from God! The Christian says it's a sign that God has chosen Constantine. He draws a sign on the ground and tells Constantine to have it painted on the shields of his army. This will bring Constantine victory in battle.
Emperor Maxentius's Palace, Rome. Maxentius tells his staff that the Milvian bridge crosses the Tiber river. And they will catch Constantine in a trap as he crosses the Tiber. They will fix the bridge to collapse when a key pin is removed from its crucial place. Constantine will die and his troops will never reach Rome.
When Constantine gets up in the morning, no one has painted his shield with the Christian symbol. Constantine now orders the men to paint the symbol on their shields. The soldiers were too afraid that the god Jupiter might strike them dead.
28th October, AD 312. Constantine marches his army down close to the Milvian bridge. Maxentius brings up his 75,000 soldiers and masses them on the Roman side of the River Tiber. Part of the Roman infantry crosses over the bridge to the other side of the river. Constantine's arches launch a wave of arrows into the Roman ranks. Quite a few Romans are killed. Now Constantine's infantry attacks the Romans. After a bit of fighting, Maxentius has the retreat blown.
Constantine won't send his infantry after the retreating Romans. Maxentius gets really angry, get off his horse, pulls out his sword and shouts for Constantine to come down and face him. The problem is that so many Roman infantry crossed the bridge, and so many have to return by the same bridge. The fast run of the Roman infantry causes the bridge to sway and the pin falls out. Now the middle of the bridge collapses stranding a number of infantrymen on the Constantine side of the bridge. A lot of the infantry fall into the river and drown.
"The battle of Milvian Bridge was both bloody and decisive. Maxentius's tyranny was at an end." Maxentius's body is found in the mud. His head is cut-off and placed atop a pike. "Now Constantine had control not just of Rome, but of the whole western empire."
Rome. 29th October, AD 312. Constantine enters Rome with a Christian symbol. The conquering hero reaches the Senate, goes in and changes his clothes. He comes out as the next Roman Emperor. He shouts out: "Rome, I return to you your glory!"
At night Constantine comes to see Lactantius and thanks him for his help in winning the battle. Lactantius says that he must thank God, not Lactantius, for the victory.
"With the western empire now secure, Constantine's challenge was to bring peace to the eastern empire. This was being fought over by Emperor Daia and his rival, Emperor Licinius. Constantine chose to ally himself with Licinius. In January 313 AD, Constantine married off his sister, Constantia, to Licinius in Milan. Unlike her brother, she was by now a Christian."
Constantine's Palace in Milan. Constantine and his people meet with Licinius and his people. Licinius likes the idea of there only being two Roman empires. But then Constantine asks that a decree of toleration for the religious beliefs of both Christians and non-Christians, be published . An uproar occurs until Constantine tells everyone but Licinius to leave the room.
Licinius wants to know what Constantine is up to? Can Constantine promise him that the Christian god will not be put above the non-Christian gods? Constantine says this isn't about religion. He favors which ever religion agrees with their plans.
The Edict of Milan becomes a landmark in Christian history. For the first time, the new religion was tolerated across the empire.
Licinius defeats Daia after four months of fighting. He now controls the eastern empire.
The problem is that Constantine is not happy. He says the two empires are not equals -- just rivals. And Constantine has growing doubts about his alliance with Licinius. He comes to rely more and more on Christianity.
Christian district, Rome. Lactantius tells Constantine that Christianity has now reached Armenia, Britain, Spain and even throughout the east. He adds: "Worship God, and this world will be yours."
Rome, 25th July, AD 315. "What Constantine did next put him on a collision course with the forces of Roman tradition. It began when the people dedicated a triumphal arch in his honor." Constantine make a lot of people angry when he says that there will be one God, along with one empire and one emperor. And, instead of killing a cow in honor of the Roman gods, Constantine refuses, saying: "Your rituals are meaningless; your gods are dead." His pro-Christian bias now comes out in force. He diverts money intended for pagan temples to new Christian churches.
Constantine's Roman adviser Bassianus tells the emperor that the Senators are mad because of the emperor's insults directed at the pagan gods. Constantine tells Bassianus thanks for his honesty and then sends him away.
Nicomedia, Eastern Roman Empire. Emperor Licinius's Palace. Bassianus comes to speak to the Emperor. Licianus accuses the man of being a spy for Constantine. He knocks Bassianus on the floor during a fight with wooden swords. Bassianus says he comes not from Constantine, but from the Roman Senate.
Both men now get rub-downs. Bassianus says the Roman Senate is almost powerless. Many Senators have become Christians. That's the only way to the top. "The Christian bishops don't pay taxes and they dine at his [Constantine's] table." Bassianus and Licinius both agree that the spread of Christianity undermines the stability in the eastern empire. Bassianus says that Constantine is doing this deliberately. But they could get at Constantine because, by favoring Christians, he's breaking the terms of the Treaty of Milan. Licinius now tells Bassianus: "Go back to the Senate, Bassianus. Tell them you've my blessing, and the western empire's yours in exchange for Constantine's head." The Queen overheard this conversation and is very upset.
Temple of Jupiter, Rome. Bassianus kills a guard. He then goes into see Constantine to kill him. But as Bassianus and his men come in, they are all grabbed by Roman guards. A guard now kills Bassianus. Constantine shouts at the dying traitor: "I trusted you! From now on, I will trust no one!" He adds in a calmer voice: "We are at war . . . a holy war."
"The conflict between Constantine and Licinius was long and drawn out. . . . A first war in 316 AD proved indecisive. . . . An uneasy peace lasted for seven years."
Licinius attacks Christian communities and slaughters their bishops. A second war begins.
Licinius's camp. 18th September, AD 324. "The decisive battle took place at Chrysopolis, in modern day Turkey."
During the battle, Constantine used his secret weapon. He raised the Christian banner and the banner struck terror into Licinius's army The eastern troops feared the magical powers of the banner. Licinius himself flees the battlefield on horseback.
Licinius's Palace, Nicomedia. Licinius comes back in defeat.
The Queen goes to her brother Constantine to ask him to spare her husband. She begs him. Constantine asks her how dare she defy her emperor?
Licinius has to bow down before Constantine and agree to accept Constantine as the one true Emperor. Constantine lets him go with his sister and their child to somewhere they can live in peace.
Licinius retires to a villa in Greece with Constantia and their son, Licinianus.
The Council of Nicaea. 19th June, AD 325. Eight months after Chrysopolis, Constantine forged ahead with his vision of a Christian empire by convening many bishops and having them write out the meaning of Christianity.
Licianius is strangled to death by assassins in his own villa. Fausta was found mysteriously suffocated in a steam bath. (Some believe this was done at the order of Constantine.) Constantia lived out her days in Constantine's court. Her son was also murdered. Constantine lived another 12 years.
Episode VI. The Fall of Rome.
Outside Rome, August 24th, AD 410. Rome was under siege by a vast army of barbarian Goths. The Goth general was Athaulf of the Visigoths. [The Goths were an East Germanic people, two of whose branches, the Visigoths and the Ostrogoths, played an important role in the fall of the Roman Empire.] There were 40,000 Visigoths poised before the gates of Rome. Alaric was the King of the Goths.
Rome was defenseless. Alaric delays the start of the attack. He says: "When we take Rome, it will not be a victory. We will have failed our people. I will have failed."
Two years earlier. An act of betrayal is what brought Rome to the brink of disaster. Rome was under attack from the Huns and the Vandals. A smaller tribe, the Goths, had been forced from their lands near the Black Sea. The Goths fled southwestward until they crossed the Danube River and entered into the Roman Empire.
Noricum Province, Central Europe. [Noricum was the name for a Celtic kingdom, or federation of twelve tribes, including most of modern Austria and part of Slovenia that became a province of the Roman Empire.] Summer AD 408. The Goths were wanderers now. Their leaders were Alaric and his brother-in-law Athaulf. Alaric had the word of the Emperor Honorius (ruled 393 to 423) that he would grant them land within the Roman empire.
Athaulf is skeptical about the trustworthiness of Honorius. Alaric says he trusts Stilicho, who is the man that holds the real power in Rome.
August AD 408. General Flavius Stilicho is the Emperor's chief adviser. The deal made with the Goths was that Goth military might would serve the Roman empire in return for land. But now, Stilicho had a falling out with the Emperor and had to take refuge in a church.
An assassination squad tricks Stilicho into coming out of the church, where he is immediately executed on orders of the Emperor. The charge was that Stilicho had conspired with the Goths against the empire.
The Imperial Capital, Ravenna, northern Italy (near the eastern coast of Italy, north of Rome and a little southeast of Bologna). Honorius says to his adviser Olympius that he feels terrible about ordering the execution of Stilicho, who was like a father to him. Olympius reassures the Emperor that he did the right thing. And now they must deal with the barbarian tribes that Stilicho let into the empire.
Alaric's Camp, Noricum. Alaric learns that Stilicho has been killed by orders from the Emperor. "And our deal's dead with him." Alaric says that the land deal is with the Emperor, not Stilicho. Athaulf says the Emperor will not honor the deal now.
In Rome Olympius orders the deaths of any barbarian who even might have supported Stilicho. Olympius sounds like a real bigot, hating everyone who might be a barbarian.
Noricum, six weeks later. The barbarian survivors of the killings fled. This included thousands of barbarian soldiers who had fought for Rome. They all sought out the help of Alaric.
Alaric now decides to march on Rome. He says they will threaten to take Rome and hold the city as a hostage.
The Goth army sweeps southwest to Cocordia and Cremona, then southeast to Ariminum and Picenum and finally southwest to Rome. Three months after leaving their camp in Noricum, the Goths arrive outside the walls of Rome. The Goths surround Rome, blocking all access roads.
Rome, two months later. Now Rome suffers the miseries of siege. The Emperor's younger sister, Galla Placidia, is one of those trapped in the city. There is now left only ten days of food. Galla tells people that her brother won't let Rome starve.
In Ravenna, the Emperor learns that Alaric is demanding four provinces from the empire: Noricum, Dalmatia and the two Venetias. The Emperor wants to negotiate with Alaric, but Olympius absolutely insists that there be no negotiating with the barbarians. Olympius overpowers the young Emperor with his insisting that he is the only one who really knows how to deal with the barbarians. The Emperor says they will reject Alaric's demands.
Alaric's camp, outside Rome. Alaric says it makes no sense to sack Rome. They want the land, not a ruined city. The Emperor must be made to believe their threat to sack Rome. The Empire is still too strong and will come after the Goths if they sack Rome.
There are a million people in Rome and they turn to the Senate for leadership. One senator, Attalus, tells Senator Festus that the Senate must negotiate directly with Alaric themselves.
The two senators go to speak with Alaric. Festus does the talking but he is so foolish that he says Rome itself can attack the barbarians and chase them out of the empire. Alaric sees through this fake bravado. So Attalus asks Alaric what he wants. Alaric says he wants all the city's gold and silver.
Alaric gets his gold and silver. One week later a convoy of wagons brings the gold and silver to Alaric. It's 5,000 pounds of gold and 30,000 pounds of silver. Alaric tells the two senators that he doesn't believe him that this is all the gold and silver in Rome, but he is going to let food flow into the city for three days. In the three days the Senators must convince the Emperor to keep his promise and give land within the empire to the Goths. He tells the Senators, if they can do this, then they will have saved their city of Rome.
Attalus goes to Ravenna with a new proposal from Alaric. In Ravenna, the court learns that Alaric is only asking for one province now: Noricum. Olympius keeps insisting on giving the barbarians nothing. This time the Emperor doesn't take Olympius's advice and he says he wants to save Rome by giving up Noricum.
Rome AD 409. Attalus returns to a hero's welcome. Everyone, including the Goths, believed there would soon be a peace treaty. Alaric says his forces will withdraw to Tuscia.
But the evil Olympius tells the Emperor that now that Alaric has drawn back from Rome, they must pour more Roman troops into the city of defend it. The Emperor is too weak or feeble-minded to see through Olympius's plan.
In secret, 6,000 Roman soldiers are moved toward Rome. Alaric learns of this and tells his people that the Emperor is sending troops to Rome. Athaulf says that his troops will head the Roman troops off. And they will kill every Roman soldier in the unit.
In the resulting massacre, only 100 Roman soldiers survived. The furious Emperor now throws Olympius out of Ravenna.
Rome, October, AD 409. Alaric comes to the Roman Senate. He tells the Senate to go it alone, without the Emperor. Elect a new leader amongst themselves -- a new emperor who Alaric can negotiate with. Then Alaric tells the Senate that he suggests they choose Attalus as their new emperor.
They choose Attalus. The first order that Attalus gives is to put the sister of the Ravenna Emperor under villa arrest (house arrest).
Honorius now knows that Attalus has allied himself with the Goths. His main adviser now, Jovius, urges him to go ahead and starve Rome and the people will turn against Attalus. The Emperor agrees and so, the main supplies of wheat from North Africa going to Rome are now cut-off. As starvation begins again, the people do turn against Attalus. The city starts to crumble into anarchy.
The pressure gets intense against Alaric. The people are talking of making Berig their new leader. So Berig is executed by strangulation.
Alaric now kicks Attalus out of office. He sends word to Honorius that they will discuss new terms for a settlement. And if they don't come to an arrangement, the Goths will sack the city.
Honorius agrees to meet with Alaric.
The road to Ravenna. Summer, AD 410. But a rebel Roman general, Sarus, whose family was killed by the Goths, ambushes the convoy to Ravenna. The rebel general attacks Alaric, but Alaric wounds him twice and Sarus retreats, followed by his men.
August 24th, AD 410. "And so it was, nearly two years after their arrival at the gates of Rome, Alaric's barbarian army finally fell upon the city."
The gates were opened to the Goths by some of Rome's own citizens. Citizens are cut down by the Goths in the streets and everywhere else. Honorius's sister is taken as a hostage.
Three days later. Rome has been sacked. The Goths prepare to leave.
Honorius cries over the sack of Rome. His advisor says the Emperor was betrayed by Sarus, who ambushed Alaric. And, now Sarus has disappeared.
"Honorius remained Emperor for another 13 years. He died childless and vilified for his role in Rome's decline. Alaric died just four months after the sack of Rome. He went to his death tormented by his failure to find a safe haven for his people. Athaulf succeeded Alaric and four years later, he married Galla Placidia."
After 8 years of wandering, Alaric's successors finally achieved his dream. They settled in western France. The Kingdom of the Visigoths.
In 476 AD, the last Roman emperor in the west was deposed. In the east, the Empire continued in a different form with its capital at Constantinople.
The last emperor of the Byzantine Empire (330 AD to 1453) was Andreas Palaiologos, who died in 1502. Andreas was a claimant in exile.
This is a good film about the Roman Empire. And you learn new things not covered by other movies about the Roman Empire. There are six stories about the Roman Empire, all of them good. I would suggest that the viewer start with Episode 4 first. This episode is about the start of the decline of the Roman republic. You learn about the young Tiberius Gracchus who tries to stop the build-up of greater and greater inequality among Romans. The divisions arising from this revolt leads to the rise of Julius Caesar as the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Parts of the Caesar story here are not covered elsewhere, such as Caesar's build-up to the crossing of the Rubicon and his push towards Rome, are covered in Episode 1. Well worth a look. Episode 2 covers the story of Nero. They usually just cover the burning of Rome, but this episode concentrates more on the build-up of Rome under Nero after the great fire, followed by Nero's descent into madness. Episode 3 deals with the Jewish rebellion in the Holy Land, another story not covered elsewhere and another good tale. Episode 5 also covers new ground, this one dealing with the Emperor Constantine. The eastern Roman Empire is brought into the story, and the eastern Empire is not usually covered in the movies. And, finally, Episode 6 deals with the sack of Rome by the Visigoths in 1410, a story that I have not seen covered in such glorious detail as here.
All the stories are good and all the stories are new or have new parts uncovered elsewhere. Highly recommended.
Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.
Return To Main Page
Return to Home Page (Vernon Johns Society)