Rome or Reme?

For those keeping track, the baby is now six days late. Both the baby and I are still doing fine, but I am getting a little anxious. I’m also starting to get a little bored since I don’t want to start any new projects just in case I’m, you know, interrupted by going into labour. In the past week, though, I’ve finished cross stitching two bibs (picture after the break), read all 800 pages of the entire Chronicles of Narnia, and watched both seasons of HBO’s series Rome.

Rome was pretty good, even though it was far from accurate. I really appreciated how they didn’t make the city itself the beautiful marble megalopolis that most of us picture when thinking of Rome. The city wasn’t clad in marble, as it were, until after the series took place. (Octavian used the captured Egyptian treasure to start the transformation.) The city was dirty, the people rude and rough, and life clearly hard for anyone not a patrician. The depiction of Egypt, at least in the first season, was a bit disappointing. I’m not sure where the idea for the ratty wigs and face paint came from. In the second season, Egypt was a little better. However, Alexandra was more a Greek city than an Egyptian one, but that’s me being nit-picky and not appreciating that Rome is about the drama and not about the “copyright-free history of Rome”, as quanta has reminded me.

I am very surprised by some of the changes made for the sake of drama, though. For example, in Rome, Caesar’s freedman, Posca (a fictional character), steals Marc Antony’s will from Egypt and takes it to Octavian Caesar in Rome. In actuality, Marc Antony had left his will with the Vestal Virgins, as was the custom. Octavian (or someone in his employ) broke into their home/temple and stoled the will. Much more interesting and dramatic in my opinion. What about Marc Anthony’s wife Fulvia, who is thought to have tried to start a civil war in his name? And as for Cleopatra and Marc Antony’s deaths, more than a little artistic license was taken there. Surprisingly, Cleopatra still used a snake.

I wonder, though, about how genuine it is to set a story in a well recorded historical time, and present it as a fictionalized re-telling of events, and then change so many things. Sure, it is TV and it is all about the drama and the ratings. But how many people are now going to think that Octavia was an adulteress, when in fact she was held to be a paragon of Roman virtue; or that Marc Antony had an affair with with Octavian’s mother when nothing of the sort happened. Maybe in the next series about Rome, the creators will assume that Remus defeated Romulus, and call the show Reme.

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