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an historical evaluation of Season 1
 
   
 
Plot Summary: Episode VIIII
Utica


The ninth episode of the first season of “Rome” opens with Cato and Scipio appearing bloodied and beaten after the Battle of Thapsus. Scipio tries to get Cato, who is sitting on the ground, to leave in a hurry. After some resistance from Cato, they decide to go to Utica. The tow arrive in Utica and walk into a dark and dingy house. They eat dinner there and over the course of the meal Scipio tries to get Cato to join him in drinking. Cato suggests that Scipio go make peace with Caesar. Cato then takes the knife he had earlier asked for under the pretense of cutting stale bread, pretends to be going to the bathroom, and commits suicide. The next scene is of Cato’s funeral pyre. Soldiers and Scipio stand around for a bit until Scipio has his aide Aquinas kill him there.

The scene abruptly changes to a comedic play in Rome which people like Servilia, Attia, and Caesar himself are attending. It is the day which Caesar has returned from abroad and mimics the deaths of Cato and Scipio. The lead actor then has a political rally in favor of Caesar.

Vorenus and Pullo then return to Vorenus’ home. They find that in their absence, Niobe has made the family a considerable amount of money with the butcher shop. Pullo’s slave girl is now able to speak with him in Latin. He gives her a bracelet which he got during his service in Egypt. The scene then changes to the Newsreader in the Forum announcing the Parentalia festival details.

The next few scenes are smaller snippets of time. The first is of Octavian arriving back home from his studies. He first appears with Timon and slaves next to an aqueduct. The next is Brutus and Servilia arguing in their home about attending Caesar’s dinner. Brutus feels that after having received clemency from Caesar, he is obligated to go. Servilia, having been spurned from the Caesar does not wish to go. Servilia implies that he should have killed himself like Cato and Scipio. She denies that he opposition to Caesar is anything but political.

The next scene is of Caesar’s dinner party. Atia acts as his hostess. Caesar then talks of the necessity of having a triumph. Servilia arrives and Atia is wearing a mourning shawl. The guests then start talking about Caesar’s plans for his triumph and the republic. Atia talks about seeing a baker being borne in a litter and says she was quite offended by this, Caesar, after assuring her that he will have it looked into, asks Octavian what he would do to restore the republic. Octavian makes suggestions and after hearing these, Caesar makes Octavian pontiff. Octavian tries to turn the offer down in favor of writing poetry. Servilia uses this opportunity to jab at Caesar. Atia will not let Octavian turn the position down.

Next, the episode shifts again to Vorenus’ life. He is seen describing the Battle of Thapsus to his children. Niobe convinces him that he needs to do something with his days, so he and Pullo go off to work at the butcher shop. Vorenus then intervenes when two thugs of Erastes, who has become quite important in Vorenus’ absense, try to rough up a shop-keep for payment. Vorenus then ends up in a fight of his own with the thugs. Niobe and Vorenus argue about this fight and she is quite scared. The man Vorenus saved comes to his home to thank him.

Servilia and Octavia appear weaving and talking about the dinner and Caesar. Servilia changes the topic to Octavian and Caesar. Octavia mentions that her mother thinks Caesar has taken Octavian as a lover as the cook saw them in the closet, but that her brother denies this claiming that the closest noises were from Caesar’s terrible affliction. The piques Servilia’s interest and Servilia insists that Octavia to find out what it is and which god had cursed him. This may be Servilia’s weapon from the gods. Octavia and Octavian then appear in the courtyard. Octavian is studying pontiff literature until his sister interrupts him. He reads her a Catullus poem. Octavia then challenges her brother to tell her a terrible secret. He tells her only of the time that he and Pullo killed Niobe’s lover.

Pullo’s girl appears cleaning him with oil as he is naked in the courtyard crowded with women and children who do not appear to notice his nudity. Erastes comes to Vorenus’ house and publicly announces that on the next market day Vorenus must apologize in the Forum, kneel down and kiss his feet or he will kill both Vorenus himself and rape and kill his family, as well as threatening to burn his home. . Vorenus does not back down, ordering Erastes to leave.

This plot line is then interrupted by Servilia and Octavia again talking of Caesar’s condition. Octavia tells Servilia the secret which Octavian told her, that Octavian killed the lover of Niobe. Servilia then suggests that Octavia seduce her brother to get the information. After some resistance, Octavia finally agrees when Servilia reveals that Atia had her husband Glabius killed.

The story then returns to Vorenus and Erastes. Erastes and his gang menacingly enter the Forum. Niobe is shown sending off her children to the country with her sister, but herself refusing to go. Erastes wait angrily in the Forum and soon departs when he realizes vorenus is not coming. The scene shifts to Vorenus’ house where he and Pullo prepare their arsenal. Erastes men March toward the house. There is all of a sudden much yelling. They think Erastes has arrived, but it is in fact Caesar. Erastes does eventually arrive but he must turn around as soldiers are blocking the entrance to Vorenus’ home. Caesar accepts Vorenus’ hospitality and asks Vorenus to stand for magistrate of the Lower Aventine on his slate. Vorenus at first respectfully declines because he does not agree with Caesar’s politics. Caesar assures him that he is no tyrant, his dictatorship is legal and temporary. Caesar pleads his case so that Vorenus eventually accepts. The courtyard is suddenly crowded as they announce Vorenus’ candidacy.

The scene then shifts to Octavia and her brother in his bedroom. Octavia sends away the slave who was fanning her brother and does as Servilia suggested. Octavia seduces her brother. After they sleep together, he dispassionately sets out the logic for why she seduced him and she begins to cry and regret her decision. Atia’s maid Merula sees them in bed together. Octavia asks her brother not to tell their mother what has happened.

The scene is interrupted by Niobe proudly dressing Vorenus as a candidatus. Pullo tells Vorenus he looks like laundry and seems to have a poor reaction to the idea of Vorenus as a candidatus. Quickly, though, it returns to Atia’s house where she has found out about her children’s incest and beats them, chasing them around the peristyle. When Atia asks how they could do this to her, Octavia says she knows Atia killed her husband because Servilia caught one of Timon’s men. Again Atia denies it to be so, that Octavia has debased herself for a stupid lie.

The scene is then of Pullo drinking by himself in the insula’s empty courtyard late at night. He loudly calls for Eirene who appears and joins him in a drink. His conversation turns confessional: his mother was a slave and his father is unknown, but he angrily imagines him a coward. His rage turns to tenderness and he begins making love to her.

The final scene takes place in a sculptor’s quarter. Timon, Atia’s helper, is observed waiting with other men. They see Servilia’s litter and watch while she is attacked on a crowded street in broad daylight. A band of men waiting in ambush drag her from her toppled litter, having injured or killed those bearing it. Merula cuts her hair off as two men strip her naked. All those surrounding her seem horrified, yet none rush to her assistance.

 

 
Dramatis Personae
Lucius Vorenus
Vorenus, a major character in this episode, has just returned home from war. His wife, Niobe, has had some success with a butcher shop so he goes to work there after some time resting at home. There, he intervenes in when two thugs attempt to get payment from a third man. It turns out that he has intervened in the business of a man named Erastes, who seems to run some sort of a gang in Rome. After refusing to apologize to Erastes, Vorenus expects to see him to fight but instead Caesar comes to his home and asks Vorenus to run for magistrate on his ticket. Vorenus tries to deny the nomination based upon differing political standpoints but eventually accepts.
Titus Pullo
Pullo is a supporting character to Vorenus. Their friendship originated in their army service. Pullo who has no real home in Rome and thus stays with Vorenus’ family. Pullo is in love with his slave Eirene, who bathes him in one scene and to whom he makes love in another. Pullo also accompanies Vorenus in everything his activities, including his butcher shop and helping him to fortify his home against Erastes.
Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar is the main character of the series. In this episode, Caesar returns to Rome from Africa. He then has a dinner party hosted by Atia in which he appoints Octavian pontiff. Later in the episode, Caesar appears at the home of Vorenus and asks Vorenus to run for magistrate on his ticket. Though it does not appear directly in this episode, it is vital to know that in a previous episode Caesar suffered from what seemed to be a seizure.
Pompey Magnus
Content 4
atia
Atia has a supporting role in this episode and is more often the author of events than actually present during them. Atia is the mother of Octavia and Octavian. She hosts a dinner for Caesar. Later in the episode, Atia attempts to beat her children after she learns of their incest. She also appears to have sent out the order for Servilia to be attacked, as her servant Timon is present when it occurs.
marc antony
Content 6
brutus
Brutus has a relatively minor role in this episode. His only scene is one in which he argues with his mother preceding the dinner given by Caesar.
Servilia
has a large role in this episode. She is first shown at a comedic play in Rome upon the return of Caesar. Throughout the episode, Servilia continually strives for the political destruction of Caesar. First, she argues with her son Brutus surrounding a dinner which Caesar is giving and even wears a mourning shawl to the dinner itself. Then, once Octavia mentions Caesar’s “strange affliction,” Servilia stops at nothing to try to get Octavian to reveal the secret, even convincing Octavia to seduce her brother. As in many episodes, Servilia is also the lover of Octavia. At the end of this episode, she is also attacked and stripped naked in the street.
Octavian
Octavian comes home from school in Greece and is involved in several major events in this episode. He is then asked to be pontiff by Caesar. He tries to deny the position but his mother will not let him. Octavian then, in a conversation with his sister in which she is attempting to learn of Caesar’s affliction, admits to having killed the brother-in-law of Niobe for sleeping with her in the absence of Vorenus. Finally, Octavian knowingly allows himself to be seduced by his sister in yet another attempt to learn of Caesar’s affliction.
Posca
Content 10
Octavia
Content 11
Niobe
Niobe is the wife of Vorenus and like Pullo is a supporting character to Vorenus. In his absence, she was able to gain a great deal of money through the butcher shop. When Erastes is coming to attack their home and family, she refuses to leave with her sister and children, instead choosing to stay with her husband and die if necessary.
Cato
Cato is a major character in many episodes but is only in a small part of this one. In this episode, Cato first appears after having participated in the Battle of Thapsus and seems to have given up much hope. He goes with Scipio to Utica and then commits suicide with a knife given to him by one of his soldiers.
Scipio
Similarly to Cato, Scipio plays a major role in the historical events but is only present in a few scenes of this episode. Scipio appears in the first scene of this episode after the Battle of Thapsus. He then convinces Cato to go to Utica. After Cato commits suicide, Scipio and a few soldiers are shown standing at Cato’s funeral pyre. Scipio asks his aide Aquinas to kill him, which is accomplished by slitting his throat.
Cicero
Content 15
merula
Merula is a very minor character but she is very important in this episode. She is the maid of Atia who sees Octavia and Octavian in bed together. Presumably, as Atia knows of it later in the episode, Merula tells Atia of her children’s incest.
Newsreader
Content 17
Erastes
Erastes, though a minor character in the series, has a major role in the story of Vorenus in this episode. Erastes is the leader of a gang of thugs who threatens Vorenus and his family after Vorenus intervenes to protect a man whom his thugs are coming after. When Vorenus does not meet him in the Forum to apologize, Erastes comes to Vorenus’ home, only to find that Caesar is there and his guards are blocking the door.
Eirene
Eirene is a minor character and is the slave of Titus Pullo. In this episode she has learned to speak Latin, bathes Pullo, and makes love to him after he has an outburst of anger.
Castor
Content 20
Aquinas
Aquinas is also a very minor character in this episode and is the aide of Scipio. The only scene he is present in is when he assists in Scipio’s death.
crucified man
Content 22
Cornelia
Content 23
Durio
Content 24
Head Priest
Content 25
Julia
Content 26
Lyco
Content 27
Prisoner
Content 28
Rubio
Content 29
Sextus
Content 30
Slave Trader
Content 31
Strabo
Content 32
Vercingetorix
Content 33
Timon
Timon is a minor character, but he is involved in several major events. He is an employee of Atia who is also sleeping with her. In this episode, he is first pictured accompanying Octavian home from school abroad. Then, he is present when Servilia is attacked, apparently acting at the request of Atia.
Eleni
Content 35
Milo
Content 36