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Characters: Rome
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    Voreni Household 

Lucius Vorenus

One of the two protagonists. We first meet him as a centurion of the 13th Legion in Gaul who has not seen home nor his family for 8 years and wishes nothing but going back to them. Vorenus is an impeccably honest and most honorable man that values tradition, law and loyalty to the Roman Republic above all... something that will bring him innumerable problems. Played by Kevin McKidd.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parent: To his daughters and to Niobe's son occasionally, though he flip-flops. This is due to the nasty temper mentioned below.
  • Badass Boast: "I AM THE SON OF HADES, I FUCK CONCORD ON HER ARSE!"
  • Bash Brothers: With Titus Pullo.
  • Battle Cry: "Thirteenth!!!"
  • Beard of Sorrow: After Niobe and Caesar's death, as well as the supposed death of his children.
  • Berserk Button: People who are disloyal, as the Greek mercenary who suggested betraying Pompey found out.
  • Break the Haughty: His principles crumble when confronted by real problems the higher up he goes in the social ladder.
  • Celibate Hero - Devoted to his wife.
  • Colonel Badass: As a centurio primus pilus, a "First Spear Centurion", his status and responsibilities approximate (though not completely, see Drill Sergeant Nasty below) roughly to that of a Lieutenant Colonel in a modern army
  • Cosmic Plaything: See his character quote above.
  • Creepy Souvenir: He carries a Germanic warrior's penis as a lucky charm. He also keeps Erastes Fulmen's head after decapitating him.
  • Cultured Warrior: He often cites examples from Roman history during his Honor Before Reason rants, sometimes talks about other cultures (eg. the Egyptian gods) as if he's read up about them and the reason he was sent on the mission to find Caesar's stolen eagle in the first place was because his superior officer thought he was clever. His Badass qualifications are impeccable.
    • As he is on operations inside foreign countries, his position as centurio primus pilus and later Prefect would mean, learning about enemy culture and traditions was part of his job.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Many, but most notably in one situation where Lucius Vorenus decides that the most ethical thing to do is kill a little boy. It's heartbreaking to see how torn he is between "doing the right thing" and killing his wife's bastard, and listening to his instinct to not kill a child.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: One in the pilot, mellows in later episodes. As a centurio primus pilus the overall discipline of the legion would be one of his (many) responsibilities.
  • Fiery Redhead: He has a nasty temper.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Pullio, and strangely enough with Marc Antony by the end of the series. Although Vorenus doesn't approve of Antony's hedonistic ways, he eventually realises they share the same self-destructive urges.
  • Heroic BSOD: Once the Unstoppable Rage has worn off, Vorenus has one of these after believing his whole family is dead
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Pullo.
  • Honor Before Reason: Much of his sense of honor is Deliberate Values Dissonance, however.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: As much of a screwup he is as a father, he does love his children, and does have some of his own personal morals.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Because of his sense of loyalty.
  • Not So Above It All: Though rather than be above the silliness he started off above the corruption. Vorenus eventually goes from being a honorable soldier to the Godfather of Rome's criminal underworld.
  • Odd Couple: With Pullo.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: It's amazingly funny to compare that to the dirtbags he serves, who would screw Anything That Moves.
  • Papa Wolf: Will go to any lengths to get his children back in season two.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: With Niobe. After a rocky start, they grow to love each other... or at least he does.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Vorenus seems to frown even when he smiles.
  • Pet the Dog: His treatment of Caesarion.
  • Professional Killer: Erastes Fulmen hires him to be this, but Vorenus has trouble accepting it and quits. This is the origin of their conflict.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Is the blue to Titus's red in Season 1, but the roles appear to be reversed in Season 2.
  • Returning War Vet: To his sorrow he realizes he only has talent with violence.
  • 10-Minute Retirement - How many times has this man failed to stay away from politics?
  • Undying Loyalty: To the point of being lampshaded:
    Octavian: That man turns loyalty into a vice.
  • Unstoppable Rage: More than once. But the stand-out example is when he slaughters Erastes Fulmen's entire gang.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Vorenus has an unfortunate amount of these. Lampshaded by one of his interactions with Da Chief Marc Anthony. Vorenus himself had this reaction when Pullo killed one of his slaves just because them slave was in a relationship with the girl Pullo loves.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Sort of. He still believes in the Republic, while everybody else sees it as rotten to the core.
  • You, Get Me Coffee: The first time they are in Egypt, Vorenus has to remind Pullo to go form with the other soldiers. They are friends, but he still outranks him.

Titus Pullo

"Here I come, girls! I'm gonna drink all the wine, smoke all the smoke, and fuck every whore in the city!"

The other protagonist. Pullo is an impulsive, boisterous and wholly irreverent legionary in the 13th Legion serving under Vorenus, who he befriends nonetheless after going on a mission with him. The two then return to Vorenus' house in Rome as Heterosexual Life-Partners. Played by Ray Stevenson.

Tropes:

Niobe of the Voreni

"I don't want people dying in my house!"

Vorenus' wife through an Arranged Marriage and mother of two daughters, both named Vorena. At the start of the series she has been in charge of the Voreni household for eight years while her husband was at war in Gaul. She also has a son from her brother in-law who she tries to pass as her eldest daughter's when Vorenus returns home. Played by Indira Varma.

Tropes:

  • Irony: Guess who ended going against that quote?
  • Stuffed into the Fridge: Technically voluntary, although she would have probably been targeted by Erastes Fulmen if she had survived anyway. Her death sets Vorenus' plotline for Season 2.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Believing Vorenus to be dead she slept with her sister's husband.

Eirene

"I'm plegant! Whatever you call it!"

A Germanic slave that Vorenus and Pullo rescue from a band of Pompeian soldiers early in Season 1. Pullo is instantly infatuated with her, and after a while he has her freed and marries her. Played by Chiara Mastalli.

Tropes:

  • Betty: To Gaia's Veronica.
  • Cute Mute: At first.
  • Distressed Damsel: How she is introduced.
  • Kill the Cutie: Courtesy of Gaia.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Because of HBO's decision to cancel the show in the second season, the writing team had to compact the story lines planned for the second, third and fourth seasons into one in order to give the story some closure. This lead to Eirene remaining pregnant during historical events that happened in the span of two whole years.

The Voreni Children

Vorena the Elder, Vorena the Younger and Lucius. All of them named after Lucius Vorenus.

Tropes:

  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Vorena the Elder.
  • Defiled Forever: Vorenus refuses to find a husband for elder Vorena, as he believes that anyone who would accept a former prostitute would not be worthy of her.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Niobe's death, followed almost immediately by Erastes Fulmen taking and selling them as slaves.
  • Family Theme Naming: As was custom at the time both of Vorenus' daughters were named for him (Vorena the Elder and Vorena the Younger). Baby Lucius has his grandfather's (actually stepfather's) first name and presumably cognomen as well.
  • Like Father, Like Son: When elder Vorena refuses to forgive her father, she tells Pullo that it was her father who taught her to be so hard and uncompromising. Pullo can only agree.
  • Made a Slave: By Erastes Fulmen.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Because of HBO's screwing the second season. Otherwise the younger Voreni would have been recast at least once per season to account for the time passed.
  • One Steve Limit: The Vorenas.
  • The Quiet Ones: Only Vorena the Elder, played by British actress Coral Amiga had real lines. The younger children were played by Italian actors that didn't know English.
  • Sex Slave: Vorena the Elder in season two.
  • Stepford Smiler: She pretends to love her father, but eventually the facade cracks.
  • Taking the Veil: Vorena the Elder towards the end of the series.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: None of them forgive Vorenus for killing their mother, though it's implied they reconcile at the end.

Lyde

"Your husband is a damn fool! You hear me?! He is a fool!"

Niobe's younger sister and barren wife to Greek fishmonger Evander. Played by Esther Hall.

Tropes:

Evander Pulchio

Lyde's husband, a Greek fish dealer. Pullo and Octavian kill him secretly to protect the Voreni honor. Played by Enzo Cilenti.

Tropes:

    Julii Household 

Gaius Julius Caesar

"Our men must win or die. Pompey's men have... other options."

The famous Roman general and stateman turned dictator. Played by Ciarán Hinds.

Tropes:

  • Big Bad and Big Good: To the senate, he's the former. To a large part of the Roman Army and to the people of Rome he's the latter.
  • Blood on the Debate Floor: His famous death.
  • Chessmaster: Subverted as he lets his empathy get in the way.
  • Culture Clash: The Egyptians present him with the head of Pompey thinking they are going to gain his favor. Caesar is enraged instead.
  • Dark Secret: Caesar has epilepsy and is terrified that anyone might find about it. This is because according to Roman tradition epilepsy was a result of having been cursed by the Gods, and the people would refuse to being led by a man subject to it.
  • Easily Forgiven: Caesar can be ruthless but manages to fit this trope fairly well. He spares Vorenus and Pullo on one occasion (possibly more, but I can't remember) and his response to Brutus and Cicero trying to surrender is to hug them, apologise to Brutus while kissing his cheek, beg them to tell him that Pompey, an even bigger enemy, is still alive, and then, drag them off to have food since it must have been awhile since they had a decent meal. More than one character points out that forgiving people is Caesar's shtick, doing double duty as a way to be seen as a Reasonable Authority Figure and to make people beholden to him.
    • According to the DVD Commentary this was also a way of humiliating his enemies, given Roman values (if he'd clapped Brutus and Cicero in chains, it would have shown them as Worthy Opponents).
  • Establishing Character Moment: He privately mourns the death of his daughter, then says "Pompey will need a new wife". It shows hi politically mindedness and his tendency to use people as his pawns.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Might not have said the words, but his eyes told it anyway.
  • Fatal Flaw
  • Father to His Men: Truth in Television. Caesar took great care of his soldiers and knew many of them by name. They followed him out of love, not duty.

Gaius Octavian

"It's not the killing. It is the waving about of swords I find tedious. I dare say I can kill people readily enough, as long as they're not fighting back."

One of the main protagonists. A brilliant yet antisocial young man who through years of manipulation, becomes Rome's first emperor. Played by Max Pirkis in his teenage years and by Simon Woods as a young adult.

Tropes:

  • Time-Shifted Actor: Max Pirkis played Octavian as a child but was too young to portray him as a man in his twenties so in season two he is replaced by Simon Woods.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: By the time he returns to Rome, he appears to have transitioned into an unsympathetic villain.
  • True Companions: With Maecenas and Agrippa.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Though perhaps here better called 'Underestimating Magnificent Bastardry'. In particular, the entire second season consists of people dismissing Octavian as a threat because of his 'youth and inexperience' only to find themselves outmaneuvered, marginalized, and quite often killed off.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Has an almost frightening insight to political strategies.

Marc Antony

"I shall be a good politician. Even if it kills me. Or if it kills anyone else, for that matter."

Julius Caesar's right hand man and a talented soldier and politician in his own right, though he is hampered by his many flaws. In the aftermath of Caesar's death, he is one of the most powerful men in Rome, putting him in direct conflict with Octavian, Caesar's heir. Played by James Purefoy.

Tropes:

  • Anything That Moves: As he puts it, "I'm not getting out of bed until I've fucked someone". Especially given, as a condition of marriage, Atia demands that Antony get rid of all the house slaves — male or female — that he's bedded.
  • Badass: His intellectual Curb-Stomp Battle of the Council after the death of Caesar prove him this.
  • Badass Boast: Mark Antony buggers boys like Octavian for his morning snack, meaningfully understates his masterful speech as "I got a bit carried away" and "has an angry mob that will roast and eat your 'men of quality' in the ashes of the Senate House!"
  • Beard of Sorrow: Mark Antony grows a beard after Octavian crushes his rebellion. By a historical account, this actually happened.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With both Atia and Cleopatra.
  • Berserk Button: Too many to count. Telling him that "A woman's role always suited you best" is probably the one to avoid.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Famously commits suicide rather than be killed by Octavian.
  • Blood Knight: Lampshaded by Caesar in his first scene, when Brutus asks why he keeps such a vulgar man around. "He likes to fight."
  • Bread And Circus: Trying to invoke a 0% Approval Rate, he cuts off grain shipments from Egypt to Rome for pragmatic reasons, knowing the common people will blame Octavian for the lack of food.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Happens occasionally.
  • Country Matters: Wholeheartedly embraces this trope, to the point that "Juno's cunt!" is his catchphrase.
  • Da Chief: To Vorenus.
  • Dead Guy on Display: Along with Cleopatra during the series finale.
  • Democracy Is Bad: Antony plays the elections card when negotiating the aftermath of Caesar's assassination. The conspirators are horrified as they would have to validate their taken for granted powers. They reach a compromise and no democracy is needed.
  • Dissonant Serenity: During the Battle of Philippi, Octavian is peering into the dust kicked up by two virtually identical Roman armies slogging it out hand-to-hand.
    Octavian: What's going on?
    Antony: (casually munching on some bread) Noooo idea.
  • The Dragon: To Caesar.
  • Dying as Yourself: In Roman attire and by a proper Roman sword.
  • Enemy Mine: Teams up with Octavian against the senatorial forces.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Strolling into Caesar's tent covered in blood, bantering with Brutus, and then, when given a mission to accomplish on a strict budget, unabashedly stealing half the money anyway. One of his first outdoors activities has him fornicating a peasant while his guards watch and his cohorts wait.
  • Evil Versus Evil: His conflict against Octavian.
  • Genre Savvy: Learns from Caesar's mistakes, avoids any kind of clemency and engages in The Purge. Unfortunately, he consistently underestimates Octavian.
  • I Banged Your Mom
    Octavian: I see you're still the same crude, arrogant lech you always were. (strides out)
    Antony: That's right, just the same. AND STILL FUCKING YOUR MOTHER!!
  • Implied Death Threat: A Running Gag with the character.
  • It Has Been an Honor: In a bittersweet touch, Antony is surprised when Vorenus says goodbye to him with those parting words.
    Antony Has it?
  • Male Frontal Nudity: A season one episode has Vorenus being summoned to speak to him while he (Antony) is being cleaned with oil, buck naked.
  • Manipulative Bastard: While he usually prefers a blunt approach, he outmaneuvers everyone during the eulogies of Caesar and gets to control Rome in the aftermath.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Playful example with Caesar. Atia tries to turn Antony into The Starscream but it backfires for her when Antony realizes out loud "what a wicked old harpy you (Atia) really are".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Twice; one in the Roman Senate and another in Egypt. He doesn't stop until the offender is dead.
  • Not So Different: From Vorenus of all people, in Egypt they talk about their byronesque/doomed shared nature
    Vorenus: You're no coward, but you do have a strong disease in your soul. It will eat away at you until you die [...] I recognize the symptoms, I have the same sickness.
  • The Purge: After he makes peace with Octavian, Mark Antony hands him a loooooong list of Roman citizens he wants slaughtered. The next day he comes up with more names, as he's got so many enemies it takes a while to remember them all.
  • Really Gets Around: To the point where Atia demands that when they marry he will get rid of all slaves (male and female) he has bedded.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to Octavian's Blue. Which is funny considering when they reluctantly choose to have an alliance (what is to be the Second Triumvirate), Octavian wears the standard red-and-gold Roman armor while Mark Antony wears custom blue-and-white armor.
  • Rousing Speech: Subverted for Antony's speech after Caesar's funeral (the one that became known as Shakespeare's famed, although entirely fictional, "Friends, Romans, countrymen" speech). We see the results of his speech, and even have several characters describe what happened, but none of the actual speech is shown or heard.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Or beat his brains out with the scroll he was reading from.
  • Sleazy Politician: Makes no secret of it either.
  • Slouch of Villainy: He's visibly bored and laid-back when he's presiding senatorial sessions.

Atia of the Julii

"I know who you are. I can see you. You are swearing now that some day... some day you will destroy me... Remember, far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go and look for them now."

Caesar's niece and mother to Octavian and Octavia, plus long-time lover of Mark Antony. Atia is an extremely ambitious and Evil Matriarch supreme that stops almost at nothing to get what she wants. She's the real power force in the Julian household... at least, until Octavian grows enough to overrule her. Played by Polly Walker.

Tropes:

  • Abusive Parent: Especially to Octavia, at first.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Atia firmly believes this to be true. Which is why she arranges for Octavian to visit a brothel, so that he can become a real man.
  • Badass Boast: Besides the quote, there is also "By the five Furies, if I was not a gentle woman, I would have you flayed, and hung from a bracket at the door!"
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: With Marc Antony.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Firm believer in this.
  • Blood Bath: In the first episode Atia takes a shower in the blood pouring down from a slaughtered bull during a ritual to ensure the safe travelling of her son to Gaul.
  • Break the Haughty: By the end of the series her son is the most powerful man in the known world and will remain that to the day he dies, in part because of her constant scheming and her upbringing of him. Yet the love of her life has abandoned her and then committed suicide, and Bitch in Sheep's Clothing Livia has surpassed her in influence over and respect from Octavian. Plus, Octavian himself now seems to take a sadistic pleasure in making his mother quietly suffer, and will no doubt ensure she lives by the standards of a proper Roman matron (i.e. his rules) from now on.
  • Chessmaster: She likes to think she's this but since her plans fail at least half the time and she seems to act on whim a lot she's more of a Smug Snake.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: These don't manage (nor aim) to make Atia sympathetic to the viewer, but they do make her an unexpectedly funny character. Examples include nonchalantly discussing about how the family should commit mass suicide, being overjoyed when thinking that her son and uncle have an incestuous affair or threatening to have her son's books burned off if he doesn't go to a brothel and loses his virginity.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Gods, I don't like that Plebeian friend of my daughter. Let's have her entire family murdered, her house sacked and the poor girl gang raped.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Parading around naked in front of her son.
  • Evil Is Petty: Don't feed your slaves as much, they look gross.
  • Evil Matriarch: Atia is the epitome of this trope.
  • Fortune Save Us From The Queen: One has to conclude she'd be this, if Mark Antony had gone with her plan of marrying her and proclaiming himself king.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: Wears several of them.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Atia is portrayed as seductive, manipulative and evil. There's absolutely no historical evidence for this; Tacitus actually describes her as a pious, devoted mother and an ideal Roman matron.
  • Lady Macbeth: Mostly to Mark Antony, but a rather inefective one.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Hands down one of the best.
  • Momentof Awesome:In the final episode of the second season when she puts her son's wife Livia in her place.
  • My Beloved Smother: Towards both her children but fails to be this to Octavian once he's grown up.
  • Obviously Evil: As nice as Polly Walker can be to the eyes, she plain looks evil when dressed as a Roman patrician woman.
  • Pet the Dog: She appears to be more sympathetic towards Octavia in the latter half of Season 2, during her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: A rare villainous example, but she does deliver one to Livia. Though by this time, Atia's status as a villain has decayed.
  • The Rival: To Servilia, Livia, Calpurnia (arguable Unknown Rival in this case) and even Cleopatra herself. In short, Atia doesn't like any other woman that dares to seem capable of gaining prominence in the Julian household.
  • Woman Scorned: She takes offense on Cleopatra for stealing Antony and pites Octavian against them (even more).
  • You Just Told Me: By Atia to expose Octavia's relationship to Agrippa.

Octavia of the Julii

"Please, Castor, let mother [die after me]! I won't deny her one last pleasure. It would be undaughterly."

Octavian's older sister and Woobie supreme of the series. Being the only woman of marrying age in the family makes her the perfect Unwitting Pawn of Atia and later Octavian to gain political influence. Played by Kerry Condon.

Tropes:

  • A Date with Rosie Palms: There's a scene where she masturbates in bed when she becomes attracted to Servilia. She tries "praying the gay away" the next morning
  • Arranged Marriage: Set up with Pompey and actually gone through with Antony
  • Bi the Way: With Servilia in season one.
  • Buttmonkey: of the Julii
  • Bratty Teenage Daughter: Atia hilariously sees her as this.
    Octavia: Mother I would rather it were not you who killed me. If you have no objections.
    Atia: Why ever not? You can't still be angry with me!
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Servilia encourages her to do this in order to get Octavian to reveal secrets about Caesar. She does sleep with him but he sees right through the ruse.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Runs in the family.
  • Family Theme Naming: As was custom at the time. She and her brother Octavian had a father named Octavian. In season two her daughter's name is Antonia (though it's unclear if Antony is the father, or if Agrippa is).
  • Functional Addict: Smokes drugs (possibly hashish or opium) during one low point.
  • Happily Married: To Glabius. Atia of course has them divorced and ultimately Glabius killed.
  • Heroic BSOD: More than once.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: Her baby either belongs to Marc Antony or Agrippa.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Agrippa
  • Token Good Team Mate: Though she becomes darker and more cynical as the show goes on.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Octavia turns out to be indirectly responsible for the deaths of Julius Caesar and Niobe. Seduced by Servilia, Octavia asks Octavian to tell her some secret that she can pass to Servilia and the Pompeiian camp (they, of course, expecting it to be about Caesar) but all Octavian tells her is Vorenus' wife's affair. Servilia initially dismisses this piece of information but it becomes useful when Vorenus becomes Caesar's glorified bodyguard, and is used to drive him away from Caesar so Brutus and co. can kill him, unleashing the whole second round of war and political assassinations. Meanwhile, Vorenus confronts Niobe and she kills herself out of honor. It only gets worse. With Caesar dead, Vorenus is also vulnerable and Erastes Fulmen goes to his house to kill him. However, since Vorenus is out to bury his wife, he only finds his children and sister-in-law there, and he enslaves them to get back at Vorenus.

Livia Drusilla

"Oh, I don't mind really, but it is really I who should go first. If you consult the priests, I'll think you'll find the wife takes precedence."

Octavian's wife, a smart, no-nonsense young patrician girl who has no fear of challenging Atia. Played by Alice Henley.

Tropes:

  • Evil Counterpart: To Octavia. To her family (and especially her mother), Octavia is little more than a tool that can be used to forge political alliances and gain more power. Livia also marries for power, like Octavia, but it's her who decides to do so, and her mother does not control her in the least. Once married, Octavia is submissive and lets her husband decide what to do with her, while Livia soon reins Octavian in.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: Oh yes. Octavian warns her before their marriage that he will beat her for sexual pleasure. Turns out he gets even more turned on by her beating him.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Neither she nor Octavian are very nice, but they seem like a very good match.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: She receives a brief but powerful one from Atia in the final scene, and you tell it hit the mark. Livia is NOT going to enjoy having Atia for a Mother-In-Law. (Then again, if you believe the historical accounts about Livia - or have read/watched I, Claudius - it's possible that Atia is not going to survive having Livia as a daughter-in-law!) Even if Livia wasn't as bad as her enemies say, she was definitely the most important woman in the real Octavian's life and spent a lot of time whispering suggestions in his ear—which would sting for Atia, who clearly would want to be the matriarch of her son's rule.
  • The Rival: Takes Servilia's place as Atia's. It's a pity the series was cancelled early.

Calpurnia

Caesar's wife. Played by Haydn Gwynne.

Tropes:

  • Arranged Marriage: Perfectly normal for a Roman woman, particularly a noblewoman, but not great when your husband has a libido you could hold up a house with.
  • Honor Before Reason: Will not leave Rome until Caeser's will has been read even as people could very well be looking to kill her.
  • My Significance Sense Is Tingling: She senses danger as the Ides drew near.

Posca

"The Roman people are not crying out for clean elections. They are crying out for jobs. They are crying out for clean water, for food, for stability and peace."

An old, wise and educated Greek slave owned by Caesar, who he tutored when he was young. Nowadays he acts as his personal manservant, counsilor and confident. He is free to speak his mind, which includes a lot of snark. Played by Nicholas Woodeson.

Tropes:

Marcus Agrippa

"I would go with you to Hades... to Britain even, if I thought we had the right."

A young, humble Roman general of rural origins and old friend to Octavian. He loves Octavia, but his loyalty to her brother will never let him pursue her. Played by Allen Leech.

Tropes:

  • Anguished Declaration of Love
    Agrippa: I know you are kind, and full-hearted, and beautiful, and I would tear down the sky for you if you asked me to.
  • Foil: Agrippa and Brutus are forgiven for a past betrayal but Agrippa refuses to betray Octavian a second time, unlike Brutus did with Caesar.

Gaius Maecenas

Another friend of Octavian and third in the Power Trio of young men that give birth to the Roman Empire. In contrast to Agrippa, Maecenas is a politician from a wealthy urban family who has a talent for rethoric and his own personal goals beyond those of Octavian. Played by Alex Wyndham.

Tropes:

  • Anything That Moves: He was bisexual in real life and is implied to be fitting this trope very well in the series, though we never actually see him in bed with anyone.
  • Bishōnen: Fits the trope to a T.
  • Non-Action Guy: While Agrippa leads Octavian's armies in the field, Maecenas fights Octavian's battles on a different scene. Basically he runs the whole PR machine.

Castor

Head slave of the Julii Household. Played by Manfredi Aliquo.

Tropes:

  • Suddenly Sexuality: He is suddenly revealed to be homosexual and likes young boys. This is a plot point in the series.
  • Undying Loyalty
    Atia: And then you must kill yourself. Your survival would be most unsavory.
    Castor: I would not dream of living, domina.

Merula

An old female slave to the Julii, working mostly as a handmaiden to Atia. Played by Lydia Biondi.

Tropes:

Glabius

The first husband of Octavia. Played by Roberto Purvis.

Tropes:

    Junii Household 

Marcus Junius Brutus

"Only tyrants need worry about tyrant killers."

A quiet and awkward young Patrician torn between doing what he believes it's right and what others expect of him - particularly his mother Servilia and his Parental Substitute, Julius Caesar. Played by Tobias Menzies.

Tropes:

  • The Alcoholic: Hits the jar in the second season.
  • Anti-Villain: If he can be even considered a villain at all.
  • Beard of Sorrow: After he kills Caesar.
  • Compelling Voice: When he wanted to be, he was one hell of an orator. Must have learned from Cicero.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Starts off ignorant and uninterested in politics but when pushed too far he proves himself to be handy with a knife and capable of leading an army into battle.
  • Culture Clash: While trying to recruit men for a campaign against Octavian he uses the fact that he was the man that gave the last stab that killed Caesar as a Badass Boast in order to impress some Anatolian princes and make them agree to provide his army. They are disgusted instead, finding that killing an already injured man that can't defend himself is cowardly and shameful.
  • Deadpan Snarker: One of his trademarks.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: He was the perpetrator of this trope towards Caesar.
  • Face Death with Dignity: Also a Dying Moment of Awesome and an Ironic Echo to how Caesar died.
  • Family Business: Reluctantly enters politics, which has been the playfield of the Junii for the last 500 years.
  • Foil - Brutus loves Caesar but hates his politics. Verinus has no personal affection for Caesar (and Caesar sees him as a pawn) but comes to understand that his dirty way of doing things is necessary to keep Rome running.
  • Generation Xerox: His ancestor established the Roman republic after killing Rome's tyrannical king. For this reason his mother and the other conspirators are pressuring him to turn against Caesar, in order to present his death as the overthrow of a tyrant. Brutus resists for a while but Caesar too is nervous about his past and tries to have him sent elsewhere — it proves the final straw.
  • Gods, What have I done?: After killing Caesar.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Cassius.
  • Honor Before Reason: Forcibly rejects the idea of poisoning Caesar.
  • Ignored Epiphany: Sort of. In late season one he feels betrayed by Caesar and gives in to his mother, going along with the plot to kill the dictator. He goes through with it, but then Antony comes in and they share a look where Brutus' guilt is written all over his face. He then cries out in agony over what he's done. However he seems to get over it rather fast, and stays allied to Cassius to the very end.
  • Ironic Echo: "You too, Mother?" when Servilia suggests he should join Pompey's side. In the same scene he explains to his mother that Caesar may take Rome but eventually some ambitious man would kill him...
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Hilariously became much more popular with the fanbase after he took a naked swim in season two.

Servilia of the Junii

"Gods of the Junii, with this offering I ask you to summon Tyche, Megaera and Nemesis, so that they witness this curse. By the spirits of my ancestors, I curse Gaius Julius Caesar. Let his penis wither. Let his bones crack. Let him see his legions drown in their own blood. Gods of the inferno, I offer to you his limbs, his head, his mouth, his breath, his speech, his hands, his liver, his heart, his stomach. Gods of the inferno, let me see him suffer deeply, and I will rejoice and sacrifice to you."

Brutus' mother and long time mistress to Julius Caesar. Servilia is a bitter and evil woman, but her dangerousness always falls one level short of her main rival's, Atia of the Julii. Played by Lindsay Duncan.

Tropes:

  • Taking You with Me: Her final curse against Atia involves killing herself.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Certainly though she was pulling one, as she killed herself as a sacrifice to curse Atia. And Atia's fortunes do take a nosedive after that...

Cato the Younger

"Ah, so in fact this is not a humiliating defeat at all, but a rare species of victory!"

A stubborn, staunch traditionalist senator and defender of the Republic, and as a result declared enemy of Caesar. Also half-brother to Servilia and uncle to Brutus. Played by Karl Johnson.

Tropes:

  • Heroic BSOD: After losing the Battle of Thapsus.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Stands out among the Senate by wearing always a simple black toga. The only time he averts this is when putting on armour.

Gaius Cassius Longinus

"Thus ever for tyrants!"

Another fellow senator and close friend of Brutus. He masterminds Caesar's assassination. Played by Guy Henry.

Tropes:

  • Fatal Family Photo: Or "Fatal Promise of a Birthday Cake for Next Year".
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Brutus. In real life, part of their alliance was cemented on the fact that Cassius was married to Brutus' sister, but this is not mentioned in the show.
  • Poisonous Friend: Turns Brutus against Caesar.
  • Rich Bitch: Believes the Senate should be restricted to wealthy Romans.

Eleni

A slave property of Servilia. Played by Suzanne Bertish.

Tropes:

     Pompeii Household 

Gnaeus Pompey Magnus

"It seemed impossible to lose. That is always a bad sign."

Once a mighty conqueror and hero of the Republic, Pompey is a jaded Consul of Rome living mostly of past glories by the time the show starts. When Caesar tries to seize power he sides with the Senate against him. Played by Kenneth Cranham.

Tropes:

  • Arranged Marriage: His marriage to Julia, daughter of Caesar, is specifically pointed as the only thing that makes the two get along. Her Death by Childbirth sets the show in motion. Later, an attempt to solve their conflict by making him marry Octavia falls through.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Gets his head on a plate offered to Caesar by the Egyptians, who wish to congratiate with him. He is supremely pissed.
  • Dirty Old Man: The marriage was cancelled, but he made use of his "rights" with Octavia anyway.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: He gets offed by a once soldier of his, now working as a mercenary for the Egyptians.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: His entire campaign against Caesar consists of retiring and defeat.
  • Glory Days: Clings to his.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: He is jealous of Caesar for "stealing the love of the people" from him.
  • Heroic BSOD: After losing the Battle of Pharsalus.
  • King Incognito: After losing the Battle of Pharsalus, he escapes disguised as a Greek trader.
  • The Magnificent: The last part of his name means "the Great."
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Is actually a great general in his own right but can't hold a candle to Caeser. This bothers him a lot.
  • Retired Badass: More or less. He hasn't retired everything but he's no longer leading armies at the start. That changes.
  • You Should Know This Already: Nah, he doesn't manage to defeat Caesar.

Quintus Valerius Pompey

"Kill him too, what does it matter?"

Pompey's son and a military leader in the Senate faction. Played by Rick Warden.

Tropes:

  • Composite Character: He is loosely based on Pompey's two historical sons, Gnaeus Pompey the Younger and Sextus Pompey.
  • The Dragon: To his father.

    The Roman Underworld 

Erastes Fulmen

"I took your children in payment for your many slights to me. I fucked them. Then I killed them. And then I threw them in the river."

A ruthless businessman who controls Rome's most powerful criminal gang, the Aventine, under a pretense of legality. Played by Lorcan Cranitch.

Tropes:

  • Face Death with Dignity: Even after seeing how Vorenus and Pullo have massacred all his men, Erastes doesn't lose control to his fear.
  • Hidden Depths: He absolutely hated how Brutus and Antony turned Caesar's funeral into a circus.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Knowing that he is going to die anyway, Erastes falsely tells Vorenus that he has raped and killed his family, and then desecrated their bodies dumping them in the Tiber, just to spite him.

Gaia

"I told you I'm not a whore."

A former brothel supervisor tasked with keeping the customers on line, who is hired by Vorenus after he takes over Erastes Fulmen's gang. While technically a slave, Gaia is a tough and vindicative woman that stops at nothing to get what she wants. Played by Zuleikha Robinson.

Tropes:

Mascius

"The truth? The truth is I have known you as a brother. The truth is that I saved your life at Gergovia. Took an arrow for it. The arrow's still in there, the truth is I'd do it again brother. The truth is that I've been nothing but a good soldier to you and a good fucking friend. Do what you have to do Pullo. I'll see you in Hades."

A former legionary of the Thirteenth. After returning from Gaul, Vorenus gets him and his other comrades lands in Germania but Mascius loses his concession playing dice. He then returns to Rome and joins the Aventine gang after hearing that Vorenus has taken over it. Played by Michael Nardone.

Tropes:

  • And Zoidberg: Vorenus makes him third-in-command beneath Pullo, much to his annoyance as Mascius used to outrank him.
    "Oh I get it, third fucking man and all that!"
  • Bash Brothers: Read the quote.
  • Old Friend: To Pullo and Vorenus.
  • Rock Bottom: Becoming an underworld enforcer is an improvement for him, after losing his land to his gambling.
    Vorenu: This isn't the army, brother. We here, we're pimps, knifemen, thieves. You sure you're sunk so low?
    Mascius: I walked here from Capua. I slept in ditches. And when I get here, they say a black-hearted villain has taken over the Aventine college. He's in league with the gods below, they say. And his name is Lucius Vorenus. Well I thought to myself, "Mascius, old boy, your luck has changed.".
  • Undying Loyalty: To Vorenus and Pullo.

Memmio

Captain of the Caelians gang and uneasy ally to Vorenus. Played by Daniel Cerqueira.

Tropes:

  • Humiliation Conga: Pullo bites off his tongue and keeps him in a cage as a message for others.

    Other Romans 

Marcus Tullius Cicero

"When confronted by a hungry wolf, it is unwise to goad the beast, as Cato would have us do. But it is equally unwise to imagine the snarling animal a friend and offer your hand, as Pompey does."

The renowned Roman politician, intellectual and master orator, leader of the moderate faction in the Senate. Cicero distrusts Caesar's and later Mark Antony's actions but lacks the spine to take direct action against them. Played by David Bamber.

Tropes:

  • Only Sane Man: It certainly seemed that way.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: One of the great masters of this trope. The one that he gave Mark Antony was an epic Take That and quite possibly one of his biggest moments.
  • Shoo the Dog: To his slaves, the day of his own murder, so they won't be hurt.
  • Worthy Opponent: With Caesar. They tended to be on different sides of a debate - especially during the civil war - but they shared a respect for each other. Cicero was genuinely surprised by the assassination of Caesar.

Metellus Scipio

A prominent general in the senate faction and member of the famous Scipio family. Played by Paul Jesson.

Tropes:

Jocasta

"I've been dishonoured!"

A young Plebeian woman, daughter of a rich merchant and close friend of Octavia. Played by Camilla Rutherford.

Tropes:

Lepidus

A Roman General sent by the Senate to defeat Antony, only to have his entire army defect to him on the spot. He then switches sides too and ends up as Antony's second in command. He later becomes the least powerful of the Triumvirate formed with Antony and Octavian, but gets Africa for his troubles... for a while. Played by Ronan Vibert.

Tropes:

The Newsreader

"This month's public bread is provided by the Capitoline Brotherhood of Millers. The Brotherhood uses only the finest flour: true Roman bread for true Romans."

A public servant that cries news and advertisements at the Forum in front of the Roman Senate. Played by Ian McNeice.

Tropes:

  • Book Ends: He appears in both the pilot and the last episode making the same announcement, offering a reward for a missing slave, "runaway or stolen". It's used to show that despite the vast historical changes happened in the span of the series, the life of the average citizen remains the same.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: Does this mainly to make the news seem slightly more interesting.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: His job consists on screaming whatever propaganda the government of the time hands to him, and it changes as wildly and quickly as the composition of that government does. He never questions it.

     Egyptians 

Queen Cleopatra VII

"You have a rotten soul."

The infamous last Hellenistic monarch of Egypt, a beautiful and ambitious woman that is well aware of her powers of seduction. Played by Lyndsey Marshal.

Tropes:

  • The Baby Trap: Her child is actually fathered by Pullo, having decided to hedge her bets by seducing another Roman before meeting Caesar, to ensure she'll have a child.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Does this with Antony's body when she sees through Octavian's lies.
  • Driven to Suicide: Once she realizes she can't control Octavian the way she could Antony and Caesar.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: She is incensed when Vorenus refuses to sleep with her.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: Literally seconds away from dying from the snake's bite, she manages to stand up, stare down Octavian, and tell him off.
  • Functional Addict: To opium.
  • Genre Savvy: She reads Magnificent Bastard Octavian like an open book and realizes that his promises to forgive her are bull, even after the death of Mark Antony.
  • Irony: Before her death, she claims that Octavian has a "rotten soul," presumably for planning to kill her adolescent son. Cleopatra's not the nicest person herself, having quite similarly secured her own throne by trampling the body of another child, her own brother.
  • Lady Macbeth: To Antony.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Spends most of her time in see-through dresses and other skimpy outfits. Also appears naked a few times.
  • Nubile Savage: In the Romans' eyes.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Is able to beat Atia of all people at this game.

King Ptolemy XIII

"Vassal? Vassal? I am no vassal! I am King!"

The naïve child king of Egypt, younger brother and husband to Cleopatra. Played by Scott Chisholm.

Tropes:

  • Oh, Crap: When Cleopatra shows up in the palace in "Caesarion".
  • Puppet King: And in complete denial about it.

Caesarion

Prince of Egypt, son of Cleopatra and (allegedly) Caesar. Played by Nicolo Brecci and Max Baldry.

Tropes:

  • A God Am I: Rasied to believe this.
  • Appeal To Vanity: While fleeing Octavian, a Roman soldier makes him reveal himself by asking for his blessing in Egyptian. Consider that at no point did the Roman guards hide their identity.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Caesarion was Titus Pullo's son and successfully escaped Octavian to live as a plebeian in Rome.
  • Historical In-Joke: The show not so much implies but is clear that he is actually the son of Titus Pullo.
  • Parental Substitute: Vorenus becomes a substitute father to him until he's brought together with his real father, Pullo.

Charmian

"Majesty commands you will enter her."

A trusted slave in the service of Cleopatra. Played by Kathryn Hunter.

Tropes:

Pothinus

"A simple extortion. If we don't pay him, they will put Cleopatra on the throne."

The Egyptian Prime Minister and regent to King Ptolemy. He goads the young monarch against his older sister-wife, Cleopatra. Played by Tony Guilfoyle.

Tropes:

  • Culture Clash: He kills Pompey and presents his head to Caesar thinking that it will gain his trust. Caesar is enraged instead.
  • Dirty Coward: When the consequences come looming, he blames others for his own mistakes.

Theodotus of Chíos

"Forget Rome! Rome is doomed. The people tear off their flesh like mad dogs. In ten years the city will be a forgotten ruin."

Ptolemy XIII's Greek rhetoric tutor. Played by David de Keyser.

Tropes:

  • Death by Adaptation: Type II. In Real Life he escaped the war in Egypt and was murdered later in Asia Minor by Brutus. In the show, he is executed along with Pothinus.

Achillas

"I could raise the whole city with a word."

The commander of the Egyptian army loyal to Ptolemy XIII. Played by Grant Masters.

Tropes:

  • Appeal To Vanity: He is reluctant to attack Caesar and gain Rome's wrath as a result. Theodotus makes him act by questioning his popularity.
  • Doomed by Canon: His fate is unrevealed and the war against Caesar happens off-screen, but you know he won't prevail.note 
  • Genre Savvy: He is unwilling to wage war against Caesar.
  • The Quiet One: In comparison to the more verbose Pothinus and Theodotus.
  • Real Men Wear Whigs and Face Paint

Lucius Septimius

"Working for the gyppos, sir. It's not the legions, but one must earn's one's salt."

A Roman veteran serving as mercenary in the Egyptian Army. Played by David Kennedy.

Tropes:

     Jews 

Tevye a.k.a. Timon

A largely secularized Jewish horse trader (at least when he is among non believers) who has lived for decades in Rome and often serves as a mercenary for Atia, be it as a hitman or a bodyguard. He also expresses a strong lust for her, preferring to be paid in sex rather than money. Played by Lee Boardman.

Tropes:

  • Accidental Murder: Accidently kills Levi during a knife struggle with him, in an effort to stop him from assassinating Herod.
  • Bodyguard Betrayal: He finally breaks and attacks Atia when she tells him to mutilate Servilia.
  • Bodyguard Crush: On Atia.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Infidelity aside, he is devoted to his family, none of whom knows what he does for a living.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Standing up to Atia when she orders him to cut Servilia's face after abducting and torturing her.
    • His brother's attempt to rekindle him with religion ends with planning a zealot Suicide Attack on Herod during a visit to Rome. Timon backs down in the last moment because he realizes that it will accomplish nothing.
  • Heel-Faith Turn: Played with. He abandons his role as Atia's hitman in favor of reconnecting with his religion, but he ends up becoming a zealot. Eventually played straight when he decided to not assassin king Herod.
  • Nice Hat: The only recurring character to almost always wear one.
  • Put on a Bus: Took the family back to the Holy Land.
  • Raised Jewish
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!:
    • Glabius attempts to buy Timon when Atia sends him to kill the other. Timon refuses.
    • Shows again, but the other way around, when he has enough of Atia's shit.
    • In a more shallow note, Timon obviously values more Atia's tail than her gold.
  • Two-Faced: His personality is a 180º turn when he serves Atia to when he is with his family.

Levi

Timon's brother, a zealot that moves to Rome in the second season after getting in trouble in Judea. He is actually in a suicide mission to kill King Herod during a visit to the city. Played by Nigel Lindsay.

Tropes:

  • Aborted Arc: It's obvious that Levi was meant to stay around for a whole season and that his death would have some influence on Timon's later development, given that the show was expected to explore Judea in a fifth season and that Timon is last season travelling there.
  • The Fundamentalist: As a member of the Zealots, which makes him a declared enemy of King Herod because he is a Roman imposed puppet.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Tries to get his brother to rediscover his Judaism by joining him in killing Herod. Timon has doubts, they struggle, and Levi ends stabbed by the knife he planned to use to kill his enemy.
  • Old Friend: Introduced in the second season after not being named in the first. Then again, Timon was not exactly a main character in the first season.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: He comes to Rome to live with his brother because his opposition to Herod threatened his survival in Judea. Subverted: It's a cover to assasinate Herod who has also come to Rome to meet his Roman overlords.

Herod

Yes that Herod, the client-King of Judea. Played by René Zagger.

Tropes:


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