sevilia road  
an historical evaluation of Season 1
 
   
 

 

ANALYSIS: Episode 10
Triumph


The theme of loyalty, and the lack of it, continuously plays a part in the drama of Episode 10 “Triumph.” This episode begins with most of the characters having a grasp on their own situations. However, over the course of the episode some characters have resolution, while many become overwhelmed with conflict. It is at the point of season 1 where there needed to be created tension, which this episode definitely provides. Most of this tension comes from the bonds of political allegiance, friendship, and family. This theme of loyalty was manipulated in a way to create great drama that was probably not as evident in the real events of 46 BC.

The first scene, where Brutus and Cicero must propose that Caesar be made imperator, relies heavily on the idea of political loyalty. Now that Caesar has mercifully forgiven them for siding with the rest of the senate and Pompey, Brutus and Cicero must in return prove that they are truly loyal to him. For the Romans, political relations were very closely related to personal friend relations. People had a duty in politics to their friends. As Lily Rose Taylor states in her Party Politics in the Age of Caesar, Roman politics depended on friendships. Taylor writes, “Romans understood the need of organization in politics, but the organization was personal” (Taylor 39). People did not just owe a duty to their party members, but these party members were also their friends, family’s friends, and sometimes family themselves. These political ties were made of much stronger bonds than political ties of today. Brutus and Cicero are bound by the fact that they are coming back to Caesar after fleeing from Rome. Because of this, tension brews from their rejection of Caesar and now their return. Cicero is compelled to propose to the Senate that Caesar be given the status of Imperator with absolute power over Rome for the next 10 years. Although it is true that Cicero was the first in the Senate to propose this, it is not certain that this type of loyalty-tension would have been as strong historically. The added tension that accompanies this proposal might not have necessarily been as strong of an influence on Cicero to propose this movement. However, this idea of loyalty was definitely a part of the Roman politics of the time. The writers of Rome utilize this idea of loyalty throughout the episode to create new areas for tension and conflict.

Social loyalty also plays a role in this episode as well. In the second scene, although not prominent figures in this episode, Atia goes to visit Servilia. Atia does this, not because she likes Servilia, but because she feels obligated to do so. Atia feel a social loyalty to visit Servilia. Servilia had previously been attacked in the street while in her litter, so Atia felt that she should visit her. However, this visit seems to be long overdue. It is proper for Atia to visit Servilia concerning her attack and the seating of the Triumph. Out of civility, Atia asks Servilia to sit with her during the Triumph, however Servilia refuses. Atia is not disturbed by this, in fact, it seems like she expected it. None of the characters involved in this scene believe that Atia is there on the premise of her and Servilia remaining friends. The slaves’ disapproving looks show that they do not believe Atia’s words of condolence at all. Nor do they, or Servilia, believe that Atia truly wants her there at the Triumph. This whole scene comes about because Atia feels responsible to uphold the appearance of friendship.

The idea of familial loyalty arises in the case of Brutus and his position with Caesar. Throughout the episode, Servilia is trying to convince Brutus to lead people against Caesar. Although Servilia’s reasons for taking out Caesar are fictitious, the idea that Brutus was to lead the revolution against tyranny was a real historical idea. Brutus’ ancestor was the person who drove out the last tyrant of Rome. Servilia and others believe that it is Brutus’s duty to do the same. Quintus Pompey and Crassus also believe that it is Brutus’ duty to his family and to the Roman people to take Caesar out of Rome. In episode 10, Servilia makes it clear that she will never look down upon Brutus, but she does say that he is letting Rome down. Servilia chastises him because he has a duty to remain loyal to his bloodlines. Servilia believes that shame has been brought onto their name because Brutus has not stepped up to fulfill his act of loyalty to his family. Although there is no historical evidence for the breakup between Servilia and Caesar, it is from this fictitious event that gives Servilia the motive to destroy Caesar. Servilia puts more pressure on Brutus to fight against Caesar because of this. Historically, the idea that Brutus was to bring Caesar’s tyranny to an end did exist. In this way, the writers of Rome were able to use this historical pressure on Brutus to increase the tension between him, Caesar and Servilia.

This anger at Caesar and the ideas of Quintus Pompey led Servilia to write the letter against Caesar in Brutus’ name. Although this is completely fictitious, it does demonstrate the idea of loyalty as well. Servilia feels that she has to do something to bring down Caesar. She is doing it because she has been hurt by him in his previous rejection of her. Quintus Pompey wants her to do so because his father was killed and run out of Rome indirectly by Caesar. As a result, he no longer can be a high ranking person in society. He also feels that he owes it to his father to remove the tyrant which he had tried to defeat. Brutus believes that this is happening because he must remain loyal to his familial history. However, this letter which calls the “sons of the Republic” to stand against Caesar creates conflict between Caesar and Brutus. Although Caesar later states that he knew Brutus could never turn his back on him, he does later try to get Brutus to have a high position in another province. Caesar also uses his mercy persona and states that he has forgiven Brutus when he did not side with him. He told Brutus that even then he had never doubted their friendship. Throughout this episode Brutus is torn between his loyalty to his family and the Republic and his loyalty to Caesar. Cicero wishes that they could just forget it all and move to the country. However, Brutus knows that there is no escaping these decisions.

In a similar way, Octavia was convinced by her brother to come back to Rome. Octavian convinces Octavia to come home because of family and social responsibility. Octavia has a duty to her family to demonstrate her loyalty. However, by fleeing to the Temple of the Great Mother she socially rejects them and dishonors their name. Although Octavian eventually threatens her to come back, he truly misses her. Octavia is convinced of her brother’s and her mother’s loyalty to her. Because of this, Octavia decides to come back to them freely.

With the other group of characters there also lies a tension which is drawn from the idea of loyalty. Pullo and Vorenus have become very good friends over the course of season 1. Pullo asks Vorenus if he will vouch that he is a full Roman citizen at the slave market so that he can free Eirene. Vorenus accepts. This act represents the bond of friendship and loyalty that they share. They had steadily been building this relationship from the first episode, which now seems to be one of the truest friendships on the show. However, at the end of Episode 10, Pullo breaks this bond because of his love for Eirene. Vorenus seems very happy for him when Pullo states that he wishes to make Eirene his wife and move to the country. He is growing up and will no longer be frequenting the brothels and the taverns. Vorenus is proud of him. However, when Pullo finds out that Eirene was to be married to one of Vorenus’ slaves, he completely loses control of his new-found self. His character instantly reverts back to its soldier nature. He kills Vorenus’ slave in the apartment building court yard, and has a result breaks the bond between them. Vorenus comes out furious; Pullo has disgraced his home by killing in front of it. He has disrespected Vorenus’ family by killing in front of his children and wife. Pullo has disgraced the living area of a new magistrate. Vorenus tells him that he is no longer welcome in his house again. Pullo and Vorenus both exchange nasty words and in doing so further the break between them. Their loyalty to each other is completely destroyed because of the one event. The idea of loyalty that once existed between them is ruined once Pullo commits this crime.

Although the tensions that run rampant though Episode 10 are not all historical, they are still able to convey aspects of Roman society. Brutus was pressured to thwart Caesar as a tyrant, which was actually accurate. Familial loyalty was very important to Romans, as was loyalty to their friends. In this episode, Octavia and Brutus both owe something to their families. This comes as a result to the Roman idea of family loyalty. Likewise, Brutus owes loyalty to Caesar and Pullo to Vorenus because of their friendships. The idea of friendship was both a political and a personal relationship. Cicero and Brutus owed Caesar loyalty because they wanted to be accepted back into politics. They owed him the proposal which they gave to the senate because of their status as friends. Pullo and Vorenus, out of their personal friendship, also felt loyalty to each other. However, this was broken when Pullo killed the slave. All of the drama that works itself out in this episode relate to the theme of loyalty. Through this idea, the writers were able to create a dramatic interpretation of the events of 46 BC Rome. Loyalty was important to many aspects of Roman society. Although all of the events in “Triumph” were not accurate, they did depict the Roman society in a convincing way.