sevilia road  
an historical evaluation of Season 1
Plot Summary: Episode II
How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic

The second episode of the first season of “Rome” opens with Caesar at his camp at Ravenna discussing troop desertions and loyalties with Posca. Posca warns him that he is in a very precarious position, the men may not follow him to Rome. When Posca asks Caesar what happens to them in January when his proconsulship expires, Caesar snaps back about a slave not understanding the subtleties of troop motivation. Posca questions a receipt for 500,000 and is shocked that it was spent on the Antony for tribune campaign. Posca questions Antony’s suitability for so sacred and dignified an office.the benefit of having Mark Antony in the position of people’s tribune. The purpose of a people’s tribune was to uphold the rights of the plebians and to have veto power over motions proposed by the Senate. Since Caesar will soon have to give up his command and return to the city for trial, he resolves to use Antony and his veto power in the senate.

The scene shifts to Antony in full dress uniform shagging a shepherdess behind a tree. The camera pans out to show that his entire entourage (including Pullo, Vorenus and Octavian) waits and watches this activity. When Pullo gleefully announces his intended debauchery once in Rome, Vorenus scolds him to show some dignity for he is under the standard. When Pullo points to Antony, still at it, as his model, Vorenus replies that Antony is not under the standard. Pullo changes the conversation to Vorenus’ nervousness at seeing his wife again after 8 years. Caesar sends Antony to Rome in the accompaniment of the soldiers Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo who are also assigned to escort the young Gaius Octavian home.

Back at Rome, Antony and company receive a boisterous welcome in the forum. Pompey, Cato and other optimates look on in disgust. Cato says, “No matter. We have all men of substance, let them have the love of the plebs and the proles.” Antony having reached the temple, orders Vorenus to dismiss the escort and take the boy Octavian back to his mother and receive their reward.

At Atia’s, Glabius’ presence in Octavia’s room arouses her mother’s ire. Atia orders Glabius out and when he refuses, calls Castor to set the dogs on him. This sets him running. Octavia pushes her mother around which earns her a slap to her face. In tears, she flings herself on her bed. Atia discusses her parenting with Merula, when Octavian’s arrival is announced. After fussing over Octavian, she notices his escorts Pullo and Vorenus. Octavian introduces the soldiers to his mother as his rescuers and when they refuse his mother’s offer of rewards, asks if they could dine at their home as equals. Octavian explains their special status, Vorenus is now first spear centurion and Caesar has given them honorary horses and they ride with the standard, so it is perfectly acceptable to eat with them. Atia reluctantly agrees. As they procede to dinner, Atia passes off Octavia’s loud wailing as women’s trouble, nothing that a little leeching won’t cure.

Scene shifts to what looks like the Senate house with a togate Antony sitting in the middle of the candle lit floor. The priest of Jupiter Fulgur asks the god to bless and protect M. Antonius newly elected tribune of plebs, champion of the people.

Back at Atia’s peristyle, Pullo making a buffet for himself, piles on the shellfish and helps himself to wine, feasting his eyes on the serving girl. Vorenus gives precise troop numbers and temple of Bellona discount information, while Pullo disparages the priests as crooks. Vorenus is not pleased. When Atia commends Vorenus for doing things the proper old Roman way, Octavian labels him a strict Catonian. Vorenus declares that he believes in the divinity of the republic and if Cato believes the same then he’ll accept the label. Atia questions Vorenus’ strict republicanism, as Cato represents the nobility and Vorenus, being a plebeian should want some change. When Vorenus says that all should remain as it was at the founding of the republic, Octavian shows himself to be quite the popularis by passionately listing the contemporary inequities: the Roman people suffer because slaves have taken all the work, nobles have taken all the land and the streets are full of the homeless and the starving. He discusses Caesar’s situation, that the nobles say that Caesar is a war criminal and that he wishes to march on Rome and make himself king. Vorenus calling it sacrilege, states that no man of honor would follow him. Pullo exclaims that then he is no man of honor, that Caesar should march on the city with elephants and squash Pompey & co., nevermind the law. Vorenus rebukes Pullo saying that he governs his reason no better than he does his wine. Atia apologizes for mixing politics with wine and offers them tench and dormice. When she remarks that Pullo and Vorenus make unlikely friends, Vorenus denies the friendship. Pulling rank on Pullo, he says their goodbyes. Atia has enjoyed their company and hopes they will return and be reliable friends of Octavian. Outside, Pullo and Vorenus part, with Vorenus off to his home behind the street of the cloth dyers. Anticipating Pullo’s path, Vorenus recommends the cleanest brothels in the Suburra near the Venereal temple. They do not agree with the political decisions Pompey and the Senate have made.

The camera follows Lucius Vorenus winding his way through the streets of the Aventine. He arrives at his insula courtyard only to find his wife, Niobe, holding an infant in her arms. His smile fading, Vorenus quickly assumes that his wife has found another lover since he has been gone for eight years and angrily accuses her of being a whore. He chases her up the stairs to their apartment where she informs him that the baby is his grandson and introduces him to his children. Vorenus forcing a smile, tells his daughters that he is very happy to find them healthy and good looking. They are afraid of him, but obey Niobe’s command to greet him properly

The scene shifts quickly to a restless Antony undergoing his Tribune initiation ceremony

Back to casa Vorena, where his womenfolk watch Vorenus eat. He is annoyed by the crying baby. Niobe explains that his pay stopped coming a year ago, the paymaster claimed Vorenus must be dead because they never make mistakes. Vorenus imagines it must have been a bit of a surprise to see him and Niobe snaps the surprise was to be called whore. He apologizes, but tension remains. When Niobe responds that she was financially supported by her sister and brother-in-law, Vorenus, emptying a bag full of money and a severed Suevian phallus, says they’ll need it no more. Niobe is unimpressed until she hears that his slave booty should net them 10,000 denarii.

Meanwhile, Titus Pullo makes his way through the city drinking and enjoying a local prostitute.

Antony’s tribune initiation finally comes to an end. He abruptly exits for a needed drink, with Strabo running after him- there’s still the meeting.

Meanwhile, Cato, Cicero, Scipio, Pompey and other members of the Senate meet at the house of Atia to discuss the political matters at hand. Antony arrives, praising Atia’s beauty, swearing he will die in her arms, only to find her atrium filled with optimates. Surprised, he greets them correcting Cato for calling him general Antony instead of Tribune. Cato then reproaches Antony for wearing his military uniform inside the pomerium. Antony feigning forgetfulness, apologizes for his bruta figura and asks friend Cato for his forgiveness. When Antony asks Atia to have his military cloak burned, Cicero tells him that’s not necessary. “Bene,” chirps Antony, “let’s stop all this blathering and get down to business.” Cato takes exception to the word blathering. Atia, feeling like Helen of Troy, moves the heroic congru to her peristyle where Cicero, Pompey, Cato and Scipio meet with Antony. As Pompey orders young Marcus to speak, the even younger Octavian eavesdrops. Antony says that he has been delegated by Caesar to negotiate a compromise. Caesar, wishing to avoid bloodshed, requests that he be given a single legion and province (Illyria by preference) to provide him with legal immunity once his term has ended. This demand does not sit well with Pompey, who says that they are here to discuss the terms of Caesar’s resignation and that Caesar could have avoided prosecution had he accepted a few years banishment. “Banishment for what?”Antony incredulously asks, to which Cato pronounces, “for fomenting a tyrrany, illegal warfare, theft, murder, and treason.” Antony pointedly asks what should Pompey’s punishment be for betraying a friend, deserting the cause of the people, for allying himself with these so-called noble men. Pompey loses it. Cicero states that Caesar’s term expires in 2 weeks, Antony claims 6 months. Pompey bellows 2 weeks and then complains that Caesar sits alone in Ravenna with one mutinous skeleton of a legion and dares to dictate terms to him. Antony assures him that Caesar has many more legions than the 13th. When Scipio points out that they are on the far side of the Alps, Antony responds that winter does not last forever, spring comes and the snows always melt. To Scipio calling this a threat, Antony asserts “Tis no threat, snows always melt.”  He warns that if Caesar does not get a province, he will take all measures required to protect both his interests and those of the republic. Pompey is grieved and surprised, having hoped for a rational negotiation. The meeting ends at an impasse.

On their way home, Pompey tells Cicero that Caesar is bluffing, wishing to appear extremely confident which proves him to be desperately weak. Pompey sees the negotiations as Caesar’s last ditch attempt to frighten the optimates into making concessions while he still has the semblance of an army, that he is weak, dying. Cicero reminds him of the old proverb, “be wary, does not the dying serpent bite deepest?”

Pullo’s night of debauchery leads him to a gambling den full of Pompeians.

Back at Vorenus’ house, Niobe joylessly performs her wifely duty to the strains of screaming baby.

The scene shifts to a happy Atia and Antony noisily copulating. While their screams and groans reverberate throughout the house disturbing Octavia in her lonely bed, Strabo writes a report to Caesar that Antony was as blithely arrogant and provocative as one could hope for and that Pompey and Cato were deeply offended by Caesar’s position.

Back to the gambling den, where the drunken Pullo has been losing multi denarii at dice.  Pullo’s throws come up short, but when his opponent calls graces over fours and actually throws it, Pullo reaches for the man’s hand where he discovers him palming an additional pair of die. Pullo immediately runs his sword through the cheater’s neck. A bloody melee ensues. Pullo, struck in the head from behind by club, reels and gropes his way out.

At dawn, a priest changes the date on an elaborate public calendar. As Vorenus and Niobe lie in bed, Pullo stumbles in bloodied. Niobe protests people dying in her home, but Vorenus orders her to fetch a doctor who then performs brain surgery on a conscious Pullo in front of a gallery of neighbors and the Vorenus clan. While Pullo recuperates in the master bedroom, the doctor gives instructions to Vorenus who fills his hand with denarii. A white rabbit to Spes is one of the suggestions. Niobe angrily scrubs down the dining table, fighting with a departing Vorenus who orders her never to challenge him,

Feeling poor after paying the doctor’s exorbitant fee, Vorenus makes his way to the slave market past an auction to the holding pens to check on his investment. He is advised by the manager to wait a few weeks for his bona stock to fatten up and they will sell like duck hearts. Vorenus worries about the additional storage expense.

Scene shift to a gladiatorial combat training in a small wooden arena. Pompey delights in the prospects of a newly recruited gladiator, Cicero uncomfortably displays his ignorance of matters of the sand. Pompey asks Cicero for his support and that of his moderate following. Pompey plans to have Scipio, his father-in-law, propose a motion at the next senate hearing for Caesar, whose term of office is over, to be declared a public enemy unless he dismisses his troops, resigns his command and comes to the city for trial. Cicero is very troubled with the ultimatum. which he thinks Caesar could not accept, not without dishonor. He warns that Caesar, once declared hostile, will have nothing to lose and will fight at any cost, “You are declaring war.” But Pompey’s plan is more complex. He explains to Cicero that Scipio will make his motion against Caesar the next morning and that every member of the Senate must stand to support it. If Cicero does not support the motion, others may not support it and Caesar will feel as though he still has friends in the senate. Pompey does, however, want Mark Antony to use his tribunician power to veto the proposal. If Antony fails to veto, Caesar will be declared a public enemy and will have no choice but to march on Rome with his troops. Pompey’s intention is to make Caesar feel that he no longer has connections but does not want him to start a civil war. Cicero, feeling he is in the middle of the conflict between Caesar and Pompey, is hesitant whether to agree to the terms. Voting for a proposal he does not wish to see realized, he considers irreligious. Pompey threatens that if Cicero does not comply, for he has sworn a vow to Jupiter to take his legions and sail to Spain unless he gets full support from the Senate which would leave them to their own defenses. Cicero is left with no choice but to submit to the request.

Back at home, tensions grow between Vorenus and Niobe as he harshly orders her around and speaks no words of affection. Vorenus is disgusted that his daughter has lost her virginity to a boy whose father is a cattle drover and reluctantly gives him her hand in marriage. Pullo, recovering from surgery, overhears their angry exchange.

The day of the senate meeting, as planned Scipio stands and proposes that unless C. Julius Caesar immediately lay down his command, disband his legions and return to the city for trial, this sacred assembly will declare him a public enemy after which it will be every Roman’s duty to do Caesar harm, or kill him if they are able. The Caesarian section erupts with shouting. The optimates immediately stand in unison supporting the motion. Cicero, after hesitating for a time, stands in favor followed by other centrist members. Commotion quickly breaks out in the senate house, the president passes the motion, Cicero yells at Marc Antony to veto the motion, but Antony stands too late. A chaotic brawl ensues and no one hears Antony’s cries of veto. After the session, Pompey is furious but Cicero soon realizes that they did not officially end the session and they make plans for Antony to veto the following day as expected. Pompey orders his men to spread the word that Antony must not be harmed before vetoing the proposal or else there will be a civil war.

Strabo relays the good news to Antony that the senate will reconvene tomorrow, and formally it is the same session so Antony can still veto the motion. Antony, fearing that Pompey will prevent his veto, orders Vorenus to rally all the men together.

Meanwhile at casa Vorena, while Pullo entertains the baby, Niobe prepares his food. When he jokingly asks the goddess to marry him, declining,Niobe reveals her frustrations about her husband to him and complains that after longing for him for eight years, she feels it may have been better if he had been killed. Pullo tries to assure her that Vorenus remained faithful while abroad but she refuses to believe it. Vorenus, who has overheard their conversation is moved, but he and Pullo are called back to protect Antony and he, giving her the last of his money, warns his wife to keep the children inside until it is safe from the political upheaval.

That evening, with Pullo and Vorenus on guard, Mark Antony dines at the gloomy house of Atia. Atia encourages her sullen daughter, Octavia, to talk to him. Atia has earned the hatred of her daughter after forcing her to divorce her husband to marry for a higher status. Octavia asks Antony if the sound of her mother’s irritating coital screaming annoys him. When Atia scolds her, Octavia imitates her noisy orgasm as the tensions between the mother and daughter continue to escalate.

While in the Forum Pompey’s gang leader threatens his club bearing men with crucifixion if any Caesarian blood is spilled, Marc Antony is escorted by a large group of his civvy clad soldiers to the senate house; crowds flock all over the streets to see the outcome. Pompey’s gang leader orders his men to make a lane for the Caesarians. Pullo and Vorenus both take part in the escort and as they near the Senate house, in the crowd a Pompeian from the gambling den glares at Pullo. Wanting to avenge the death of his cheating friend, the man baring a sword leaps out to attack Pullo who defensively slits the man’s throat. The action is thought to have been an attack against Mark Antony and the streets break out in bloody mayhem. Pompey runs from the senate house flustered and crying, “Not Blood, Not Blood!” His attempt is in vain. Realizing that civil war will come upon him, he chides that Cato has what he wanted, that Caesar has no choice now, come the spring Caesar will cross the alps with his legions and march on Rome.

The followers of Caesar swiftly ride to his camp including Antony, Vorenus, and Pullo. As Caesar listens to a troop strength report, a messenger from Antony arrives. Hearing that Antony is but an hour away, Caesar orders an assembly.

Meanwhile in the Forum, the Newsreader proclaims the Senate decree declaring Caesar an enemy of the republic.

Antony and his men bloodied arrive in camp. With light refreshments in the command tent, Caesar tells Antony that after all these years Pompey surprises him. He expected Pompey to be provoked to some aggression against him, but to try to kill a tribune in the Forum, the man has found some hard black iron in his soul!  Antony blames young demented little worm Cato as the instigator. When Antony turns to wash up before the assembly (but not before eating), Caesar stops him, telling him looks just right the way he is- like Leonidas at Thermopylae. Caesar asks Antony for names to mention and having called his troops together, delivers a speech on horseback. He explains to them that Pompey and the Senate have formally declared that C. Julius Caesar is an enemy of Rome, that he is a criminal, and in effect, that all of them are criminals. His troops roar. Rallying them further, he continues that the people’s tribune M. Antony was not allowed to exercise his veto and that the sacrosanct tribune and 50 men of the 13th were assaulted by 1000 head of Pompeian scum. The republic is in the hands of sacrilegious mad men. It is a dark day and he stands at a fork in the road.  He could either comply with the Senate’s demands letting the republic fall to tyranny and chaos, or he could go home with sword in hand and run those maniacs to the Tarpeian rock. His troops thunder their support. He calls upon Pullo as a noble example who drew first blood to protect the people’s tribune and rewards him 500 denarii for his services. As the soldiers see the richly rewarded Pullo willing to fight for Caesar, they quickly and overwhelmingly agree to fight.

The scene shifts. A young boy, fishing in a small muddy stream, watches Caesar’s troops advance to the Rubicon. Pullo and Vorenus, who was injured in the brawl in Rome, ride in a covered wagon. As Caesar leads his army across the river, Vorenus awakens, panicking that he is no rebel or traitor. Pullo tells him they’re in Italy now, that he’s a rebel whether he likes it or not. When Pullo defends Caesar as having no choice since Pompey tried to kill Antony, Vorenus rebukes him, of all people, for making that argument, since Pullo knows who was being attacked. Vorenus, morosely accepts his fate, saying that he knows they are as good as dead, crucified on the Appian Way before week’s end. Pullo calmly reassures him that they will be fine and the party continues its journey into Italy.

The episode ends with the word that Caesar has crossed the Rubicon spreading throughout Rome. The Elder Vorena rushes in to tell her mother, who tells her there will be war. Vorena lifts the crying infant from his crib and carries him to her mother. Niobe is shown with the infant nursing in her lap. It was hers after all.


Dramatis Personae
Lucius Vorenus

Marcus Vorenus is a soldier in Caesar’s thirteenth legion who has just been appointed as first spear centurion. He is mentioned in Caesar’s history but plays a fictional role in the series. Vorenus travels back to Rome to finally reunite with his family after eight years of being away at war. He is a level-headed family man as opposed to his comrade, Pullo. Vorenus has difficulty adjusting back to life at home and has a difficult time showing affection for his wife. Although he has just arrived back to the city, he is quick to rush back to Caesar’s aid when he is declared public enemy. First Spear Centurion of the 13th legion.
Titus Pullo

Titus Pullo is a centurion of Caesar’s army who is mentioned in Caesar’s history but plays a fictional role in the series. He accompanies Octavian back to Rome with Vorenus and is excited to return to the freedom of the city. Pullo has a more wild side and sets his mind to gambling and prostitutes in the city. After receiving a head injury in a gambling fight, Pullo recovers at the house of Vorenus and his relationship with him grows. Pullo’s gambling adversary strikes out at him before Mark Antony gets to the senate to veto the motion against Caesar which causes the entire plan to fall through. When Pullo returns to Caesar’s camp, he is rewarded for his bravery and is the first to pledge his allegiance to Caesar in his decision to go to war.
Julius Caesar

Julius Caesar, currently a successful historical general in Gaul, camps at Ravenna while he decides what his next actions will be. Caesar would like to run as consul, in absentia, but the senate will not allow this. They would like Caesar to lay aside his command and enter the city for trial or else become a public enemy. Caesar would like to negotiate keeping both a legion and province, but this does not sit well with Pompey and Caesar must choose to cross the Rubicon and declare Civil War.
Pompey Magnus

Pompey, a historical character, has just recently been convinced to turn his back on Caesar in the previous episode and now works towards setting him up for failure. Pompey, influenced especially by Cato, demands that Caesar’s term is ending and he must come back for trial or else be declared public enemy. When speaking to Cicero at a small gladiatorial match, Pompey is very persuasive and threatening in order to get his way. He is very fixated on his plan with Mark Antony to veto the motion and becomes greatly troubled at the end of the episode when he realizes that civil war has come upon him.

Atia, Octavian’s historical mother, is a noble woman who is portrayed as quite malicious and self-centered. She enjoys talking politics with Vorenus and Pullo at dinner and is absolutely flattered when the senators come to meet at her home. Atia is not afraid to speak her mind, especially to her children. She is very focused on finding her daughter, Octavia, a well-connected husband and especially shows her wicked side when dealing with this matter.
marc antony

Mark Antony, a historical character, is initiated into the office if Tribune of the Plebs at Rome sponsored by Caesar so that he can represent him in the senate. Antony acts as Caesar’s mouthpiece and negotiates with the senators about Caesar’s situation. As tribune, Antony has the power to veto during senate meetings and once Caesar is declared public enemy, he tries to make this motion but fails due to the outbreak. On the day the meeting is supposed to resume, a man attacks Titus Pullo and thinking he was the target, Antony runs back to Caesar in fear. Antony’s loose morals are also seen in the episode when he has a love affair with Atia and sleeps with a shepherd girl on the way to Rome.
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Octavian, Caesar’s nephew, is escorted home from Gaul in this episode by Vorenus and Pullo. He is a historical character and although he is quite young, he speaks with his mind and convinces his mother to have the two centurions to dinner. Octavian reveals his strong opinions on the political situation in the city and reveals his awareness of what is going on around him.
Posca is a fictional character whose role is Caesar’s personal slave. He only appears in the first episode but reveals a good amount of political information with his advice to Caesar. Posca wants Caesar to think twice about his decisions and seems to take the role as not only a slave but also an advisor.

Atia’s historical daughter Octavia plays a minor role in this episode and wails about the divorce her mother forced her into. Octavia is very much in love with her ex-husband, Glebius, and refuses to marry another man. She and Atia continue to butt heads later in the episode when they dine with Mark Antony.
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Niobe is Vorenus’ fictional wife who has waited for him to return home for eight years. She holds a baby in her arms at his return who she claims to be her daughter’s child. Niobe worries about her relationship with Vorenus throughout the episode and admits that she may have preferred when he was away. In the ending scene, Niobe nurses the baby which reveals that she really did cheat on her husband.

Cato, a historical character, continues to strongly oppose Caesar throughout the episode and speaks his mind on the situation whenever he gets the chance. During the meeting at Atia’s house, Cato snaps at Mark Antony that Caesar is guilty of theft, murder, and treason. He is a strong impetus for the senators to all turn their backs on Caesar.
Scipio, a historical character, is Pompey’s father-in-law who stands in the senate to purpose that Caesar lay down his command and return to the city. He also argues with Antony about Caesar’s winter camps while meeting at the house of Atia.

Cicero, a historical character, struggles in episode two with the decision of whose side to take. He is not keen on betraying his good relationship with Caesar but at the same time, Pompey’s threats to sail to Spain convince him to do this. Cicero is present during all the political conversation between the senators but does not exhibit a strong opinion as many of the other men do.
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Priest of Jupiter Fulgur
This priest is a fictional character whose role is to offer a prayer up for Mark Antony as he enters the office of Tribune. This priest represents a religious profession that the Romans did have historically.
Vorena the Elder
Vorenus’ fourteen year old daughter is a fictional character and is reunited with her father in this episode and is very timid to meet him. She has allegedly had a child with a cattle drover’s son and gets engaged to him after receiving Vorenus’ reluctant permission.
Vorena the Younger
The fictional children of Vorenus meet their father who has been away at war for eight years. They play minor roles in the episode but show how a Roman family may have been like.
Cattle Drover's Son
This boy, a fictional character, wishes to be engaged to Vorenus’ eldest daughter. He claims that his family makes a decent amount of money to support themselves with the cattle and promises to take good care of her.
Pullo's Surgeon
Vorenus hires this fictional doctor to perform a brain surgery on Pullo when he stumbles in injured. The doctor does the procedure right in the insula and then gives Vorenus superstitious suggestions for the healing process.
Pullo's Adversary
This fictional character causes a great deal of trouble in this episode beginning when he cheats in the game of dice he plays with Pullo. The man instigates the fight which yields Pullo a head injury and later attacks him during Antony’s procession. This attack leads to a massive outbreak which prevents the motion declaring Caesar public enemy from being vetoed.
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Head Priest
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Slave Trader
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