Answers on a postcard. Sunday, 14 February Rome: I've nothing against nudity in its place, but this is a rther pathetic attempt to be sexy and daring on the TV people's part. Then we're introduced to our two heroes, Boring Soldier and Dodgey Soldier. I don't feel that shoving in someone 'ordinary' will help me to enjoy the story, it just gets in the way of the good bit. Er, thanks for that, that won't give me nightmares at all. There's no reason to risk pregnancy before the wedding, especially when the wedding isn't yet finalised and won't be. I really do enjoy Rome - it's beautifully filmed and the actors are all wonderful. Octavia shows that she is her mother's daughter after all when she says she wants Pompey dead for dishonouring her.
Octavian then gives the Soldiers a lecture in modern politics, insisting that Caesar doesn't actually care about the loss of the eagle, and it is useful to him, because Pompey will think this is a real weakness, when in fact it means no such thing. Although he is a bit put off by his mother's nudity, but then, who wouldn't be? It's not, as it wants to be, this generation's I, Claudius - it's not nearly faithful enough to the sources for that. Er, thanks for that, that won't give me nightmares at all. But it depends on context and on how its done - Brother Cadfael, for example, is a very 'ordinary' character, but I'm happy to follow him. In this respect she is a little like Messalina, but unlike Messalina, the sex itself is rarely the ultimate aim for Atia, just as it usually wasn't for Agrippinilla. We cut from this delightful scene to hear Dodgey Soldier telling Boring Soldier all about how he likes to rape British women. David Bamber is brilliant - just enough of Mr Collins' self-importance, with just enough talent in public speaking to pull it off. We're treated to her death scene, covered in blood, as Pompey weeps over her. And to get the information she wants - that Octavian will be safe - she could just go to an oracle. Conversation between Caesar and Brutus - oooh! I first watched sereis 1 of Rome with my then-housemate, also an historian, during the year we lived together in Bristol. Atia undergoing the taurobolium Following this exciting bath, she tells Octavia that she must divorce her husband, to whom she is happily married, and marry Pompey. Cato insists that Pompey must betray Caesar but Pompey has ideological issues. In memory of this blissful time, I shall refer to Ordinary Hero no. I confess, I'm not very familiar with Caesar's Gallic Wars, so I'm not sure if there's any historical basis in all of this. I'm in two minds about this. The other problem is that it needs to follow the 'season' format of American television, so plots are invented to drag certain characters across stories, the Soldiers end up witnessing every important event in Roman history, interesting characters are kept on after they should have died - perhaps the 'season' format isn't the problem, perhaps the writers would have done all that anyway, but it feels like the story is being stretched in all sorts of ways that don't really fit it, to try to fit a super-imposed structure. Inspired by the graffitti found at Pompeii, they're lively, vibrant, colourful - love the Medusa's head with snakes coming out at the audience - and a perfect introduction to the tone of the series. Since we were both historians, and both possessed of a somewhat snarky, sarcastic sense of humour, we thoroughly enjoyed pulling it apart together at every opportunity. Boring Soldier is occasionally interested though - he received a special dispensation to get married and has a wife, Niobe, whom he has not seen for well over seven years. The Livia of Rome is a different story, but we'll get to her much, much later. It's not that I'm against the concept entirely, but I don't think it's done especially well here. Pretty much everything Atia says or does throughout the whole series, on the other hand, is pure fiction, and nymphomaniac fiction at that. The mime is just another excuse to show a bare bottom - look how delinquent and sex-filled Rome is! On the other hand, it shows us a tragic scene of a potentially affectionate relationship though politically motivated and there's something to be said for refusing to shy away from the horrors of childbirth, though the blood wasn't actually strictly necessary. I'm always a bit wary when people say they want 'ordinary' characters though, partly because in a terribly old-fashioned, snobby and out of date way, I tend to think the emperors and so on are more interesting.
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