Tuesday, February 13, 2007



, on HBO, continues to be an exceptionally interesting dramatic study of the inside personal politics, intrigue and conspiracy behind events we only know from the outside... the gross historical record.

Most of the historical information we know consists of facts and dates. (We'll call that level one.) Better information (call it level two) includes personalities, murders, elections, victories and defeats. Rome goes beyond that (to what I'll call level three) dramatizing the details of personal relationships, the big and small acts, ambitions, intentions and even mistakes that drive the events of level two.

The amount of brutality, hypocrisy, and even evil that is attributed to the leaders of Rome is truly staggering. Yet the portrayal is even-handed, distributing vice (and some virtue) to characters on all sides of every dispute, highlighting the complexity of every confrontation.

My only reservation about the show is that the aura of reality and brutality exuded by the show, though perfectly served by the fine acting, still makes one wonder whether such thuggery should not be portrayed by sounds and language that were accurate to the time, rather than the elegant British of the fine cast.

Season 1 concentrated on the run-up to the assassination of Julius Caesar -- the part of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar that we all remember. Season 2 describes the aftermath, the wars that followed -- the last acts of Shakespeare's play that we often forget.

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