sevilia road  
an historical evaluation of Season 1
 
   
 

ANALYSIS: Episode 12
The Kalends of February


Episode Twelve, “The Kalends of February” is arguable one of the most historical episodes in the series because it contains the assassination of Caesar. Apart from a few historically weak scenes, this episode has very strong historical evidence. Even in the scenes that provided little evidence of being historically accurate the authenticity is quite high. The claim that the series has about striving for authenticity and not necessarily accuracy certainly holds true.

The episode begins with a scene depicting Atia and Octavia in the forum watching a mime of the gladiatorial fight that had taken place involving Vorenus and Pullo. While this certainly is not an accurate scene, due to the fact that the gladiatorial fight never took place, it is authentic. There is historical evidence for the mime, which is a sort of play that depicts real life events.

Most of the scenes involving Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo were certainly authentic with very limited accuracy. One of the first scenes in the episode showed Pullo at the military hospital in Avernum. There is historical evidence that states the reason for hospitals in the countryside. The reason for this was actually to promote healing. Since Rome was so smoggy, it was thought that the sick and injured would heal faster in the fresh country air. Another scene with fair authenticity involves the discussion of a husband for Vorena the Elder. The intention of marriage in Rome was to live together and form a lasting bond. This is contrasted with Vorena’s wish to marry for love. Her patents’ dismissal of this notion strengthens the Romans’ position on marriage. One other, more somber scene with good authenticity is the scene where Vorenus confronts Niobe about her son. Adultery was a crime that was punishable by execution. According to the Oxford Classical Dictionary, the immediate killing of the adulterer or adulteress was permitted by law. At first, it seems as though Vorenus is actually going to kill Niobe, but she beats him to it and jumps off of the balcony.

One instance where this episode could have included more historical information is in Caesar’s journey through the Forum to the senate house. In a number of the primary sources examined, a man tried to give him a “petition” in the Forum that explained the whole plot and urged Caesar to read it. Caesar refused and said that he would read it later. There is also an instance where someone actually went to Caesar’s house to warn him about the assassination, but he was already on his way to the senate house. It is disappointing that these important and dynamic scenes were left out of the episode.

The most famous and troubling scenes in the entire episode are the ones involving the assassination of Caesar. Certain scenes are extremely historically accurate, whereas others leave much to be desired. One of the most historically accurate scenes in this series is the scene that initiates the assassination. In almost every source examined (Plutarch, Suetonius, Cassius Dio, and Appian), it is Casca who delivers the first blow to Caesar. In the episode, Casca is indeed the first senator to attack. Another scene with good historical accuracy was the one depicting Antony being detained outside the senate house. That event was present in a vast number of the sources examined. One of the less historical scenes was the one that depicted Brutus and Caesar painfully staring at each other and ending with Brutus finally stabbing him. What the episode does not depict is Caesar’s last words: “you too, my son?” It is very disappointing that Caesar’s immortal words were not included in the scene. It was sort of a letdown when Caesar said nothing, but after being stabbed so many times it is not unreasonable that he would be unable to speak. The intensity of the scene with Brutus and Caesar staring intently at each other provided a wonderful contrast to the moment that Brutus actually stabs Caesar. Still, it would have been nice if this line was included in the scene. It is for this reason that this scene receives two eagles. It is not outside the realm of possibility, but it is unlikely that it happened. This was certainly the most intense part of the episode.

Overall, this episode does a good job with historical accuracy. Even in the scenes where there is questionable accuracy, the authenticity is rather good. It is not an easy task to recreate such a famous and notorious moment in history. While this series is not perfect, it does a very good job of capturing the emotions inherent in these historical events.