sevilia road  
an historical evaluation of Season 1
 
   
 

ANALYSIS: Episode 4
Stealing From Saturn


While making the television series Rome, the historical consultant admitted that the show was aiming to be authentic, rather than accurate and in the fourth episode, Stealing from Saturn, the creators did just that. There was only one scene in this episode that was truly accurate. The majority of the episode was either made up completely for dramatic purposes or utilized some historical information and embellished on the actual events, placing people in other parts of Europe, having women bicker to add excitement to the plots, or adding events to make the episode flow better. Overall, however, this episode fits in with the series’ season and make the events seem to flow chronologically in the world of HBO’s history of Rome, not the actual history that occurred.

Ignoring the fact that Rome relied very rarely on the history’s timeline in regards to events, Rome did a wonderful job on being culturally correct. There were four areas in this episode that stayed culturally true from the Roman times: meals, dress or cosmetics, religion, and political bribery. In each area, the research was obviously carefully done. The convivium, or dinner party, was realistically portrayed in Atia’s house. The many times that the women, mainly Servilia and Atia, were dressed, the type of clothing worn and cosmetics used from the ancient time period are pretty accurate. Slaves were often employed to dress their domina, or mistress. Mark Antony’s scene, where he is getting cleaned with oil and a strigil, is accurately depicted. Any time where a god or mythical creature was invoked or sworn upon, the person used them in the right context. Jupiter, Janus, Orcus, and the Furies were all named in this episode. The last area was political bribery, where Caesar, and at one point Mark Antony, uses money to achieve their ends. This was not uncommon in the Roman times and was seen as a perfectly good way to get what they wanted. The creators of Rome were able to make this episode especially Roman because of their research in these critical areas.

Two major themes in this episode are religion as a source of help and the desire to regain what happened in the past. Both Caesar and Vorenus, two of the most important characters in the series, rely on a god for aid in their conquests. Caesar invokes Jupiter to help him take over Rome and Vorenus prays to Janus for success in his new beginning in business. Throughout the episode, the two men try to facilitate the ends they want to achieve by means that would ensure their goals. Caesar does this with money and Vorenus with actual prayer. The other prevalent theme in Stealing from Saturn is the desire to return to the past. Servilia so desperately wants to rekindle her relationship with Caesar after eight years and attempts to make this happen through her physical features and help of her friends and ignoring her enemies. Mark Antony wants Vorenus to return to the army, even though Vorenus protests, because he knows how much of assistance Vorenus would be to the Roman legions.

There are many themes that last throughout most of the series too. One is Octavian’s want to retain his boyhood, while his mother, on the other hand, wants him to graduate into manhood quickly. In the fourth episode, she wants him to eat goat testicles because they have some sort of masculine-inducing quality. In other episodes, Atia wants him to learn how to fight and have sex, eagerly waiting for Octavian to grow up and become a powerful Roman. Caesar’s favor is another lasting theme, with some elements in this episode. Atia and Servilia both attempt to garner his attention because they see that having Caesar on their side enables them to dominate whatever they want.

Going back to the factor about missing historical events, Rome must have left out crucial players in the events of the Roman Civil War, most notably the consuls Lucius Cornelius Lentulus and Gaius Claudius Marcellus, because the additional two major characters would add confusion or Caesar and Pompey were enough for the two powerful factions. The addition of Vorenus and Pullo, along with their respective friends and family, makes the storyline of the episode and series as a whole flow better. The writers are able to have more freedom with what happens with them, as opposed to the historical figures, where they could take only a few liberties with their actions. Having two virtually unknown characters outside of the historical Roman sphere allows the show to add in what they think is necessary, usually for drama, or to omit superfluous characters and just lump multiple people into one.

While there are not sources for every single scene in Rome, there is definitely a lot of historical basis that enables the writers of the show to have a pretty solid foundation. Yet, of course, not all sources have survived from the ancient times and they were able to fill in parts or add events that caught the viewer’s attention. Despite the little amount of historical background for Stealing from Saturn, the episode as a whole is consistent with its places in the series and in history. It also looks historically authentic with the settings, visuals, events, and topics of conversation, with little variation. .