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Series / Roman Empire

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Roman Empire is a series made by Netflix. Each season puts the spotlight on a different, famous individual from Roman History.So far, Emperor Commodus, Julius Caesar, and Emperor Caligula have all been the focus of a season.It's presented as somewhat between a documentary as part is narrated and part is acted out by actors.

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    General Tropes 

The series provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Emperors were often deified after their deaths.
  • Anyone Can Die: Lots of people die. The seasons all end with the murder of the protagonist.
  • Appeal to Force: The Roman way.
  • Appeal to Tradition: All protagonists get in conflict with older more traditional men from the senate.
  • Artistic License History: The writers have shown their work in some ways, but sometimes rumors are presented as facts, instead of as likely gossip.
  • Doomed by Canon: A lot of the characters die by being murdered.

    Commodus: Reign of Blood 

Reign of Blood provides examples of:

  • A God Am I: Even renaming Rome after himself.
  • Band of Brothers: Gladiators. It's very important to Narcissus.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Marcus Aurelius spent years of his life at the border with Germania, leading the fight against them.
  • The Big Guy: Narcissus
  • The Caligula: While the actual Caligula is the focus of a later season, Commodus also falls under this trope.
  • Decadent Court
  • Defiant to the End: Lucilla
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Commodus easily forgives his mother for her shady dealings in Egypt and mourns her death.
  • Evil Chancellor: Cleander uses Lucilla's plot to murder his friend. Once he becomes powerful, he messes with the grain supply, Roman citizens grow weak and fall victim to the plague. This is not necessarily all Truth in Television.
  • The Evil Prince: Unlike in the movie Gladiator, where Commodus was portrayed as evil from the get-go, he is seen struggling with the death of his mother and the weight of responsibility that will come upon him once his father dies.
  • Gladiator Games: Not only did Commodus organize them, but he was also actually fighting in them.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: It's what starts the downfall of Cleander. The narrator talks about how important this was to Roman politics.
  • Not So Stoic: Lucilla looks on stoically most of the time until she expresses her hatred of Commodus.
  • Odd Friendship: Commodus the emperor and Narcissus the gladiator while the latter teaches him how to fight as a gladiator. This goes out the window when Narcissus discovers Commodus has been fixing the games.
  • Permission to Speak Freely: Senator Dio invokes this before giving Commodus his opinion on whether or not to go to war.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Narcissus to Commodus in the end.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Marcus Aurelius spent years at the front instead of in Rome, while many Emperors stayed in Rome as their generals led the troops.
    • Averted most of the time by Commodus, who lets people like Cleander make the decisions while drinking and spending time with his mistress.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Although Commodus is in prime of youth and did undergo some military training from his father beforehand, Commodus quickly realizes during training with Narcissus that one cannot just become a gladiator in a couple weeks.
  • War Is Hell: And thus Commodus breaks off his father's war against the Germans. This makes him popular with the people, with the troops and senate not so much.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Saoterus and Cleander.

    Julius Caesar: Master of Rome 
  • Antagonist in Mourning: When Pompey gets killed in Egypt.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: Caesar used this trope to become head of the reformist faction and get the people behind him. Even though he was an aristocrat himself.
  • Barbarian Tribe: Julius Caesar gained his fame and power by overpowering the Gauls.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Caesar is not pleased to have this done with Pompey's head.
  • Driven to Suicide: It is mentioned this happens to Cleopatra and Mark Antony.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Crassus ended Spartacus' rebellion, only for Pompey to have stolen the credit for it. This left Crassus and Pompey at each other's throat until Caesar offers an alliance between the three of them.
  • Easily Forgiven: Caesar is known for this, but only for his fellow Romans.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: Ironically, he doesn't actually say that here.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Caesar wasn't entirely a nobody as he was from a patrician family, but they had little political influence before he came around. He turned into one of the biggest nightmares for the Gauls, republicans, and traditionalists.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: From the perspective of the traditionalists this was the case. However, the major conquests of the previous century or so had made Rome's old system quite unwieldy, especially with soldiers who were loyal to generals before they were loyal to the senate or republic. In addition, slave work had replaced a lot of the Roman workforce, which caused resentment amongst the people. The republic also provided opportunities mostly to the upper classes, which is why someone like Caesar got so much popular support.
  • Government in Exile: Most senators flee Rome when Caesar crosses the Rubicon.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: It is quite possible that Servilia pushed Brutus to kill Caesar, but there is not enough known about that.
  • Nothing Personal: Pompey to Caesar when both he and Crassus decide to stop supporting Caesar as Consul due to him making too many enemies in senate. To Pompey's credit, however, he does help Caesar attain governorship.
  • Odd Couple: Roman generals are not supposed to take up with foreign queens and then have them hang around in Rome. In this series, Cleopatra bringing her son to Rome is also what turns Servilia against Caesar, as she sees the boy as a threat to Brutus.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Many of Caesar's battles are not shown. This probably both due to budget and time constraints.
  • Point of No Return: When Caesar crosses the Rubicon.
  • Pretext for War: Caesar's wars in Gaul look very suspicious to the senate as they believe he doesn't have enough of this trope.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: A point is made of how Cleopatra was very learned and devoted to Egypt.
    • This does not apply to Caesar as he is not royal, despite the rumors that he wanted to become king.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Caesar actually received the title of tyrant for ten years and then for life. This was a function belonging to the Roman Republic in times of crisis but was never meant to last as long. It is this that makes a lot of people nervous, including political rivals and those who genuinely fear for the Republic. It is one of the main reasons for the murder plot against Caesar.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Caesar and Pompey. Also, Caesar and Brutus in the end.
  • Woman Scorned: Much like another earlier production on the life of Caesar, Servilla appears to have been driven towards influencing Brutus towards Caesar's assassination due to his connection with Cleopatra. While Brutus implies as much, she instead argues that Brutus's position as Caesar's closest ally (and possible successor) is likely to be usurped by any son he might have.

    Caligula: The Mad Emperor 
  • A God Am I: Even though emperors were often deified after their deaths, Caligula takes this further.
  • Big, Screwed-Up Family: The Julio-Claudio dynasty. Have fun looking up their family tree.
  • The Caligula: It is about the Trope Namer after all.
  • Defiant to the End: His mother, Agrippina.
  • Dirty Old Man: Tiberius, ew.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Caligula had coins made to honor his mother, once he became emperor.
  • Gladiator Games: Caligula stages them at the start of the reign. Since they hadn't happened for a long time, this makes him very popular.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: Used against Caligula once the populace turns on him because of his incestuous relationships.
  • Happily Married: Judging by the attacks she made on Tiberius after the death of Germanicus, Agrippina loved her husband very much.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves:Caligula sees right through Agrippine's lies that she had no part in his assassination attempt, so he exiles her along with their younger sister and brother-in-law.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Averted hard with Tiberius, who spent years in Capri living a debauched lifestyle.
  • The Starscream: There is no conclusive evidence to suggest that Claudius orchestrated Caligula's assassination, in order to seize power for himself, but the show implies that's what he did in order to prevent the Empire from being turned back into a Republic by the Senate.
  • Truth in Television: Is it? Did Caligula really sleep with all or one of his sisters? There is no conclusive evidence, though it is enacted in this series as if he did.
  • Universally Beloved Leader:
    • Germanicus. Even now he is known as the greatest emperor that never was. This extended to his family as well, who were also very popular.
    • Caligula at the beginning of his reign. This changes once he sleeps with his sisters.