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

Rome (2005-2007) is a semi-historical drama series co-produced by HBO and the BBC. It follows the lives of Real Life politicians, socialites, and soldiers in Ancient Rome starting with Caesar's conquest of Gaul and progressing through the power struggles and ascension of Augustus as the first Roman emperor. It focuses on the adventures of two (semi-fictional)note  soldiers, Centurion Lucius Vorenus and Legionary Titus Pullo, who witness, and sometimes influence, the major events of the era. Features one of the most notable Evil Matriarch characters in contemporary TV history, Atia of the Julii.

One of its most innovative ideas was to focus on the lives of ordinary fictional Romans, rather than just historical figures like Julius Caesar or Augustus. This had been explored before in literature and in sitcoms, but Rome was the first television drama to do so. It was a great concept. The show had a tremendous ensemble cast, incredible production values and was both epic in scope and paid meticulous, loving attention to detail. It ended after its second series due to insufficient ratings to justify its massive expense. HBO executives later regretted the decision as DVD sales turned out to be very good.

For the capital of Italy, see Rome.

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  • Aborted Arc: Timon's subplot peters out after only a few episodes before he's Put on a Bus. It's been suggested that, had the series gone on longer, the final season would have dealt with the rise of the Messiah in Judea. Had this actually happened, he probably would have had a much bigger role.
  • Absurdism: The glory of ancient Rome is stripped away to show its ridiculousness.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Very briefly, but memorably with Pullo's "It's a sphucking sphinx!" line.
  • Affably Evil: Mark Antony, so very much.
  • Ancient Rome: Of course. The series is about the final period of The Roman Republic from Julius Caesar's ascension to power after crossing the Rubicon to his eventual assassination in the Senate.
  • And Starring: Ciarán Hinds as Caesar.
    • James Purefoy as Mark Antony takes this spot in Season 2.
  • And Then What?:
    • Antony (advised by Octavian) uses this brilliantly to force a truce with Caesar's killers.
    Antony: Surely you've thought this through? If Caesar was, as you insist, a tyrant, then all his acts and appointments are nullified. I am no longer consul, you're no longer praetor, you're no longer proconsul. Elections will have to be held. (beat) Messy things, elections...
    • After Antony is defeated in battle Posca urges him to come to terms, which Antony angrily rejects, saying they'll retreat to the mountains instead. When Posca asks this trope, Antony cheerfully says he'll work out the rest later.
  • Animated Credits Opening: A special case, the credits feature animated graffiti and paintings over the walls of the city.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: "HE WAS A CONSUL OF ROME!" Caesar when presented with Pompey's head.
  • Anyone Can Die: And many do. By the end of the series, Caesar, Pompey, Mark Antony, Cleopatra, Cicero, Cato, Brutus, Cassius, Servilia, Vercingetorix, Metellus Scipio and Ptolemy VIII are all dead, and that's just the historical characters. It's Truth in Television, as all of the above really did die during the series' timeframe. Roman politics were often violent and grubby, and invariably fatal for the losers in power struggles.
  • Anything That Moves: Mark "I'm not rising from this bed until I've fucked someone" Antony. Especially given, as a condition of marriage, Atia demands that Antony get rid of all the slaves-male or female-that he's bedded. There's also a scene where Antony stops the Roman army so he can have rough non-consensual sex with a random Roman shepherdess.
  • Appeal to Force: The characters aggressively use their personal armies to forcefully install themselves as rulers and subvert the constitutional order. Around the times of the series, using an army inside Italy for political purposes was a novelty (Sulla started the precedent only years before, which was viewed as great sacrilege, as mentioned by Vorenus and Antony). Enforced over Caesar, as his enemies would make him face trial if he returned to Rome as a normal citizen.
  • Appeal to Tradition: Lucius Vorenus (a commoner) brings this up when he's a guest at the Julii household and Atia (an aristocrat) asks him what he thinks of the institutional problems of the Roman Republic. He skirts the issue of reform with an appeal to the longevity of the republic.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking
    Newsreader: No prostitutes, actors, or unclean tradesmen may attend!
  • Artistic License: Though Rome generally manages to keep its historical inaccuracies to a minimum, the Senate set is, rather noticeably, much smaller than the real deal (as in, a tiny fraction of the place's actual size). As high as the show's production values are, exact-size recreation of the real building would have cost a small fortune. Also, the real-life Senate chambers were not semicircular (like the modern U.S. Congress), but lengthwise, with tiers of Senate seats facing each other (more like the British Parliament).
  • Apathetic Citizens: Due to the extreme corruption and brutality in Rome many citizens are indifferent to the violence that goes on around them. This is best seen after Servilia escapes Atias villa after being brutally tortured and gangraped by her men. Despite the fact her clothes are soaked in blood and she's looking pleadingly at any of the crowd outside of the villa to help her she gets, at most, some mildly unsettled looks before shes forced to run back to her home unaided through the crowded streets.
  • Artistic License – History: See its own article.
  • Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Erastes Fulman heads to Vorenus' house with his henchmen, intending to kill Vorenus, only to find the Caesar's personal guard standing outside. He quickly changes his mind and leaves.
  • Badass Boast:
    • Vorenus proudly remarks that his family fought in Zama and Magnesia and his father rode with Sulla.note 
    • Simply, "I'm Titus Pullo, right!"
    • Mark Antony buggers boys like Octavian for his morning snack.
    • "I got a bit carried away". Antony "consoling" Brutus, who has to hastily retreat from Rome after Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral raises a very angry mob against the conspirators.
    • "I am a son of HADES! I fuck Concord in her ASS!"
    • A relatively rare female example in Atia's last dialogue "You're swearing now that someday you'll destroy me. Remember, far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go and look for them now.".
    • "Flavio's not coming." Don't even know which one of your goons was Flavio, but he ain't coming.
  • Barbarian Tribe:
    • The series starts with Caesar in Gaul crushing the remaining Arvernian forces of Vercingetorix, who is vanquished and thrown into a dungeon. He reappears during Caesar's triumph to be displayed and publicly executed. Another tribe plays a role in the first episode, the Blue Spaniards, agents of Pompey.
    • Some relatively refined members of Celtic tribes are later appointed senators by Caesar. Traditional Roman senators are appalled by that, and it helps lead to Caesar's assassination.
  • Battle Discretion Shot: Done to save money. The battle of Pharsalus, where Caesar defeated Pompey, is shown only as a couple of horsemen clanging at each other, followed by one of Pompey's standards falling into the dust.
    • And then there's Thapsus, which is only acknowledged by a "Just after the battle of Thapsus" opening vignette, a handful of neat corpses and a dying elephant while Cato waxes philophical at Scipio (no, not 'that' Scipio).
  • Beard of Sorrow: This was a custom in Ancient Rome.
    • Mark Antony grows a beard after Octavian crushes his rebellion. By a historical account, this actually happened.
    • Vorenus and Pullo after the death of Niobe.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: After discovering his wife's infidelity, and realizing his children conspired to keep the secret from him, Vorenus curses them all to damnation. This is Serious Business for a Roman so Vorenus is aghast when he returns to his house and finds them missing. Pullo assures him he can just lift the curse when his children return. They don't.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Vorenus and Pullo. One episode is even called "How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic."
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Pullo and Gaia.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't insult the Thirteenth Legion, just don't. Or cheat at dice, or be a Smug Snake (you might get your tongue bitten out), or have affairs with a certain lovely slave girl and, and, and... Pullo is basically a nice chap and possibly the most sane character of the series, but he definitely also has a temper on him and a ruthless streak as wide as the Via Appia.
    • By the same token, try not to be the person reading a speech of Cicero's where he calls Mark Antony "Rome's Helen of Troy" and says that it fits him, because "a woman's role always suited you best" if the person in question is in earshot.
    • Also not a good idea to suggest to Vorenus that he do anything dishonourable for his own profit. The look on Pullo's face as he watches some poor Mook suggest they team up to sell out Pompey pricelessly says it all. Vorenus calmly tells the mook that he has until Vorenus finishes speaking to run away and then coldly stabs him through the throat when the warning is not heeded.
  • Best Served Cold: Gaia gets her revenge on Eirene for sending Pullo to beat her after an argument by poisoning her with abortifacients to terminate her pregnancy, which also end up killing her.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed:
    • A lot of characters take this option after losing out in the various power struggles. Truth in Television.
    • Inverted by Cato. He probably would have been spared by Caesar (who already pardoned Cicero, Brutus etc) but decides it is better to die than live thanks to Caesar's mercy.
  • Big Bad and Big Good: Julius Caesar. To the senate, he is the former. To large parts of the Roman army and people he is the latter.
  • Big Damn Heroes
    • Pullo saves Cleopatra from assassins.
    • Caesar arrives at the Vorenus house to offer Lucius a position as magistrate, just when the latter thought he and his family will be killed by a crime lord.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: Atia sends Servilia a gift of a slave with a wang that would make Doctor Manhattan blush. That had to have been a hell of a casting call.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Lots of Latin graffiti, some of which (ATIA FELLAT OMNES comes to mind) are self-explanatory even if you don't know Latin.
    • When Cato points out that Antony should not be wearing his soldier's uniform within the city of Rome, Antony nonchalantly remarks "Quae bruta figura" ("what an idiot").
  • Bio Pic: The first season chronicles the rise and fall of Caesar, as well as the childhood of Octavian, whose growth into Emperor Augustus is the arc of the second season.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Octavian manages to fight his way out of his mother's shadow and become emperor, but with the implication that he may turn out to be just as depraved as Antony was. Meanwhile, Pullo manages to save Caesarion (who is really his biological son) from Octavius, and goes off to raise him as his own. As for Vorenus, he makes peace with his children for their mother's death. Word of God says he survives..
  • Black-and-Grey Morality And the gray is really, REALLY dark. This makes hard to clearly define many a character as Anti-Villain or Anti-Hero.
  • Black Vikings: The show presents Cleopatra's escort as made up mostly of Black actors. Probably because unlike Cleopatra herself (who was Greek) the rest were supposed to be native Egyptians. However though this is a complex and contentious matter the exact race of the Egyptians but most historians consider they were mostly not Black in the modern sense of the word.note 
    • Also possibly meant to be a special unit from a specific location, like the Varangian Guard of the Byzantine Emperor, which was made up of actual Vikings, or the Janissaries of the Ottoman Sultan, who were mostly Balkan Christian slave-warriors.
  • Blah, Blah, Blah: A minor character recalls Brutus' eulogy for Caesar in these terms.
    "Blah, blah, blah. The law this and the Republic that."
  • Blatant Lies:
    • The Guild of Millers' slogan "True Roman bread for true Romans". Roman bread is made from Egyptian wheat.
    • The prostitute who takes Octavian's virginity smoothly states that he was "like a bull" in the bedroom.
  • Blood Bath: Atia takes a shower in the blood pouring down from a slaughtered bull in the first episode (probably inspired by an actual religious ceremony that was popular in ancient Rome, albeit a couple of centuries later).
  • Blood on the Debate Floor:
    • A full on fight breaks out in the Senate when Pompey's supporters pass a motion that calls on Caesar to return and surrender or be labeled a traitor and condemned to death. Caesar's supporters don't take this well, as might be expected. Two janitors are seen cleaning blood from the floor afterwards. A second fights ensues (just outside the Senate House and not triggered by political reasons) before Antony attempts to enter the Senate to try to veto the motion again, as the previous session was resumed due to a technicality. The fights prevent Mark Antony from vetoing the motion, which was what Pompey wanted in the first place and make a perfect Casus Belli for the Civil War, as People's Tribunes are inviolable. The motion was supposed to show Caesar he was alone, nothing more and was not expected nor wanted to be approved. Although the die-hard optimates do in fact want to destroy Caesar bluntly, so it is not a total blunder to everyone.
    • Caesar's assassination is the climax of Season 1.
    • Cicero sends a message to be read in the Senate in his absence, which turns out to be a scathing attack on Antony. All the Senators begin to leave in a hurry and Antony demands that the clerk read out the whole thing and then bludgeons the poor bastard to death with the scroll.
    • Earlier on, Antony pretends to be appalled by this trope, but in his usual insincere but lovable fashion he is only using stealth puns and oblique insults.
      Antony: You boys play too rough for me. Knives in the Senate House? I didn't know you had it in you.
  • Blood-Splattered Warrior: Exploited. Immediately after being assaulted by Pompey's men, Antony rushes back to Gaul with him and his white toga stained with the blood of his enemies. Caesar, clearly pleased his gambit to provoke Pompey worked beyond expectation, told Antony to not clean himself of it ("like Leonidas at Thermopylae")—so the threat to his life can be vividly illustrated (exaggerated even) to Caesar's legions and rile them up against Pompey and the Senate.
  • Bread and Circuses: Withholding shipments of grain is coldly used as a political leverage, because shortages of bread (generously provided by the state) would make the ruler of Rome tumble thanks to internal unrest.
  • Break the Cutie:
    • Subverted with Lucius Vorenus. He is a dour straight man prone to flying off the handle at the slightest hint of dishonesty. He eventually snaps.
    • Octavia breaks, but eventually snaps back into a less stressed version of herself.
    • Jocasta is raped and "socially ruined" due to Atia's machinations because she is a bad low-birth influence to Octavia and her father is being purged for being very rich. She's then forced to marry Posca, but adapts to the situation quite well.
  • Bribe Backfire:
    • Ptolemy's advisors attempt to curry favour with Caesar by killing Pompey and presenting him with his head, apparently unaware of Caesar's policy of pardoning his Roman enemies. It only enrages him.
    • A downplayed example occurs with Cicero's assassination. Cicero tentatively floats the possibility that he might be able to pay Pullo generously to spare him, but Pullo (politely) refuses by replying that it wouldn't be worth it, as Cicero is far too famous and important for his (lack of) death to go unnoticed, and his employers would kill him for disobeying their orders before he could enjoy it. It's also pretty clear that Cicero doesn't seriously expect the ploy to work, but clearly figures he might as well try.
  • Broken Pedestal: Brutus regards Caesar as a father figure and starts with "Well Done, Son" Guy traits. He is gradually manipulated by his mother Servilia and finally breaks with Caesar when Brutus is appointed governor of a far-away province by a wary Caesar. Mutual suspicions arise and as Brutus puts it "Only tyrants need fear tyrant killers."
  • Brother–Sister Incest:
    • Octavian and Octavia.
    • Cleopatra calls her brother her husband. This one was very common, Egyptian royals would often marry their siblings in order to keep the blood line pure.
  • Butt-Monkey: Lepidus, who is remembered primarily as the least important member of the Second Triumvirate, is treated as such on the show. His own army abandons him for Mark Antony, he's generally kept out of the loop and when he starts talking people usually just ignore him.note 
  • Call That a Formation?:
    • Averted; Caesar's legions are shown forming a testudo (turtle, wall of shields) and rotating their troops in a disciplined way. Legionary Titus Pullo leaves the formation and is punished for that.
    • Played with later at the battle of Philippi; both sides start in organized formations but the battle later degenerates into a massive confused brawl. It can be seen later that Octavian and Antony's forces have the clear upper hand when significant numbers have reformed into tight formation to advance toward the command position of Brutus and Cassius.
  • Camping a Crapper: Vorenus started a gang war by having his men rape a guy in the toilet.
  • Catchphrase: Antony's "By Juno's cunt!"
  • Cessation of Existence: Discussed between Mark Antony and Lucius Vorenus as the former prepares himself for his own suicide after his historic defeat against Caesar Augustus. They get drunk and start waxing philosophical about the prospects of life after death, or whether this life is really all there is and they'll just vanish after death.
  • The Chains of Commanding: After a slave brings Pompey the message that Caesar's army is advancing, he's faced with a decision: should he fight or flee? Pompey then gives a monologue saying how envious he is of the slave, who has all his decisions made for him.
  • Character Development:
    • Pullo gets saner in season 2; being a civilian and a family man like his friend Lucius brings him wisdom and stability for a while. Vorenus goes in the opposite direction due to his personal disgraces, but eventually he gets his act together.
    • Lampshaded in the next to last episode of the series.
      Atia: You've become mean, you know? Mean and surly.
      Octavia: "You've become girlish and sentimental.
    • Timon astonishingly in season 2 grows out of being a sex-obsessed mercenary to become a proud Jew, who has a Face Realization, going from a soulless brute to a Jewish Zealot to a full-out Heel–Face Turn.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The truth about Vorenus' grandson is later used by Caesar's would-be murderers to get Vorenus out of the picture.
  • Chess Master:
    • Julius Caesar is a first class political manipulator, and while it may seem that he lets empathy and compassion get in the way due to repeatedly showing mercy to enemies, the show makes it very clear that his mercy is a political tactic meant to appeal to the masses and get powerful opponents in his debt rather than stemming from actual compassion. One need only see his absolute fury when Vorenus shows mercy and lets Pompey go after the Battle of Pharsalus.
    • Octavian manipulates everyone like a ruthless genius.
    • Atia 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.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Pullo with Eirene.
  • Cincinnatus: Antony states during the aftermath of Caesar's death that he will follow trope namer's example and retire once his mandate expires.
    Antony: I will serve out my term as consul and then return to the provinces, plow my fields and fuck my slaves like old Cincinnatus.
  • Civil War: Perpetual but not very emphasized beyond a clash of characters. This Rome rules most of the known world and has a martial culture without external threats so it is a natural avocation.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: "I'm Titus Fucking Pullo, Cunt!" among many, many others.
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Atia and Mark Antony. Though not with each other.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture:
    • Octavian and Pullo interrogate a man regarding Vorenus' grandson. Pullo hesitates and admits he doesn't know what to do, since in the army "they have specialists." Octavian suggests they start by cutting off the man's thumbs.
      Octavian: We need to hear the truth. If you persist in lying to us, we'll torture you. You'll die only after many hours of agony and horror. You give us honesty now, and you'll go swiftly, painlessly.
      Pullo: Juno's cunt, you're salty! And I was worried about bringing you!
    • In the first episode an army torture detachment crucifies Gaullish prisoners for information, though Vorenus orders them taken down when one of them talks readily.
    • After renegade soldiers steal the treasury gold that is needed by Pompey, his son has another specialist torture the information of what happened to it out of the ringleader.
    • In Season Two Servilia is tortured by Atia's men. Torture methods included gang rape and partial flaying.
    • Also in season two, Atia has Timon torture a slave boy who tried to poison her. Truth in Television as a slave's confessions were only legal in court if they were made under torture.
  • Combat by Champion: A surrounded Antony challenges Octavian to this kind of personal resolution, who just laughs at the idea.
  • Combat Breakdown: The Battle of Philippi starts out as a relatively orderly Roman vs Roman battle, with both sides fighting using the "fight for a few minutes, switch" approach, though it quickly degenerates into a chaotic melee.
  • Comically Missing the Point: When Pullo gives sex tips to Vorenus, he tells the latter that Niobe has a "button" just above her vulva which, if he pays attention to it, will give her intense pleasure. Vorenus, who has never heard of the clitoris, is incensed that Pullo knows this supposedly unique feature of Niobe's anatomy and angrily says "How do you know this of her?!" Pullo has to explain to him that all women have one.
  • Composite Character:
    • Augustus actually had two sisters, both named Octavia. His sister in this series is based off of Octavia minor who was also the fourth wife of Mark Antony and raised his children by Cleopatra after the couple committed suicide. Their daughter Antonia counts as well, as they had two daughters, Antonia major and Antonia minor.
    • The show's Atia borrows aspects from the historical figure Fulvia, who doesn't exist in the show. Like the real Atia, the show's version is the mother of Octavian and Octavia Minor, but that's pretty much where the similarities stop. The real Atia was an exceptionally religious and moral woman. The show's version gets her aggressive meddling in Roman politics and her love affair with Mark Antony from Mark Antony's actual wife Fulvia, who was known as a power-player behind the scenes of Roman politics.
  • Conscription: Pompey can only oppose green young recruits against the advancing forces of Caesar in Italy. Pompey's boys are no match for Caesar's seasoned, hardened veterans.
  • Contrived Coincidence: A lot of these happen to Vorenus and Pullo. It's even lampshaded at one point by Caesar, who attributes it to them being under the protection of powerful gods.
  • Cool Chair: Cassius affirms that Caesar's chair at the senate (curule seat) is a throne, but Brutus refutes it pointing out it's just too plain modest and chairlike to qualify...
  • Country Matters: Many, many times. The most memorable is when Mark Antony's slave writes a letter to Caesar, saying "...and the Tribune's behavior was just as offensive as you thought". While the slave writes that, we hear Antony having rough sex with Atia in the background while roaring "JUNO'S CUNT!" (his actual Catchphrase)
  • Corrupt Church:
    • Julius Caesar asks the augurs to study the flights of birds and provide a reading from these omens, to demonstrate to the people that the gods support his actions. The Chief Augur points out that given that Caesar has just marched his troops into the city, the omens in these cases seldom prove favorable. That night Caesar ensures the omens will be in his favour by offering a sizeable bribe to the Chief Augur (though not without an Implied Death Threat from Mark Antony to ensure the bribe is not too expensive).
    • Octavia runs away to a cult, and Octavian goes to fetch her back. When she says the priests will stop her being removed by force, Octavian replies that he's already bought them. Quite cheaply.
  • Corrupt Politician: Inherent in the System, it would be easier to list the honest ones... if such men exist in the show. Legalist catonians allegedly; Vorenus tries to be a straight one during his brief stint in Season I.
  • Cosmic Plaything: Lucius "Fortune pisses on me again" Vorenus. The gods seem to take perverse pleasure in putting him into awful situations and having him escape by the skin of his teeth, only to wind up in another mess, and occasionally happiness is dangled before him, only to be snatched away. In the first series, he even gets offered a position in the senate, no less! But once again, fate and patrician political machinations conspire to tear his life apart at a critical moment. Also In a major chain of events Vorenus sparing Pompey leads to Caesar in Egypt -> Pullo -> Caesarion -> Last episode Vorenus being seriously wounded defending him.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Cleopatra cradles Antony's body and makes it hold her after she sees just how ruthless and cold-blooded Octavian is, realizing that she should have believed Antony's description of Octavian's character and committed suicide along with Antony rather than remain alive to be captured by Octavian.
  • Crapsack World: Ancient Rome's glory is stripped away to reveal the Wretched Hive it really was.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Pullo, who knows very little about history, philosophy or politics and sometimes acts like an outright moron (taking the words "your work here today will grant you immortality" to mean he's never going to die, for instance) but he is one of the most badass characters on the show. The moronic part fades as the show goes on.
  • Culture Clash: Most Romans are very dismissive or worse about anything foreign, as Caesar puts it when the Egyptian chancellor doubts his consular jurisdiction, since it's based on "Roman law." Caesar very casually and mildly replies "Is there some other form of law, you wretched woman?"
  • Cultured Warrior: Lucius Vorenus. He often cites examples from Roman history during his Honour 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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Caesar, Maecenas, Posca, Cicero, sometimes Cato. Antony too, when he is not throwing a tantrum, and others.
    Cato: So in effect, this is not a humiliating defeat at all, but a rare species of victory?

    Cicero: 'Worms' is harsh. Worms cannot run away as speedily as we do.

    Posca: I was not aware irony had military uses.

    Brutus: Oh, Africa. Dear gods, we are fast running out of continents.

    Cassius: Our men at arms have secured the city. We've received representatives from all the best elements. The senate is with us, the knights are with us.
    Brutus: The pontiffs, the urban cohorts, the lictors guild...
    Antony: Oh, the lictors guild, very good. Only rally the bakers and the flute players and you can put on a festival.note 

    Servilia: Do not look so pleased with yourself. You’re a liar and a breaker of oaths, and you’ve roused your rabble, nothing more. A pantomime actor might have done what you did today.
    Antony: Lucky then it was me that did it, eh? Else you would now be on your knees sucking pantomime cock.
    • Even many of the secondary characters are good at this. When one Egyptian leader tries to convince the commander of the Egyptian army to rise against Caesar:
      Pothinus: You would be the hero of Egypt! Your name would live forever!
      Achillas: My mortal flesh would be less fortunate.
  • Dead Guy on Display:
    • Vercingetorix is executed during the triumphal parade of Caesar, who comments that the Gaul looked dead already.
    • In Season 2 Cicero's dead hands are nailed to the Senate door. Antony makes good on an early threat.
    • Mark Antony and Cleopatra during the Season Finale.
  • Deathbed Confession: As Gaia is bleeding to death next to her lover Pullo, she admits to him that she poisoned his wife Eirene resulting in her death and the miscarriage of Pullo's son. She's very understanding and serene when Pullo goes from crying over her to furiously strangling her before she can bleed out upon this revelation.
  • Death by Irony: Brutus' death resembles that of Caesar's, in which Brutus played a major part.
  • Death Faked for You: Cleopatra's son is ordered to be killed, but Titus Pullo just pretends he did it. Because the boy is his son.
  • Death Glare:
  • Decapitation Presentation:
    • Turned into a Running Gag in an episode, where multiple severed heads are displayed on spikes above the door of the Egyptian royal palace because the owners of the heads kept pissing the wrong people off.
    • Vorenus keeps the severed head of Erastes Fulmen during one bad case of Heroic BSoD.
    • The head of the man who abducted Octavian and stole the legion's standard is brought to Caesar, but that's because it has a vital clue — Pompey's name is tattooed on the man's head, showing that his rival is moving against him.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Vorenus is a male example.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Many.
    • Infidelity is considered a matter of life and death. Pullo and Octavian torture and murder a man who had an affair with Vorenus' wife and find him reprehensible. Vorenus even feels honor-bound to kill his unfaithful wife as well as the child of her affair, though he's unusually rigid in his sense of traditional honor.
    • Atia calming discussing with her family which of them will kill who so that they won't be taken alive by their enemies. She even offhandedly tells a slave to kill herself because it "wouldn't be appropriate" for the slave to outlive her masters. Indeed, Servilia's slave kills herself immediately after Servilia commits suicide.
    • Arranged marriage is the norm. Niobe states, "Love doesn't come unbidden. You must work for her. Strange marriage it would be if you loved each other from the start." Atia pimps her own daughter Octavia to Pompey in order to secure a political marriage. Pompey is offered a "taste the merchandise" first. Cue Octavia naked on all fours like an animal. When Atia suggests a marriage between herself and Mark Antony, Octavian brusquely kicks her out of the room, saying that a marriage contract can't be discussed with a woman present. He later states that a purely political marriage would be seen as more legitimate than one driven by romantic desire.
    • Slavery is simply a fact of life and the institution is never called into question. Good and bad characters alike own slaves and casually regard them as property to be bought and sold as they please. Pullo, the son of a slave, and Posca, a former slave, have no compunctions about owning slaves themselves.
    • Pullo beats a slave boy to death in a jealous rage. His excuse? "He angered me." Vorenus is furious ("This boy was my property!"). Pullo promises to make amends ("I'll pay you back."). But Vorenus isn't concerned about the money ("It's the disrespect").
    • Romans have much different standards of modesty. Mark Antony speaks to inferiors while stark naked. Many Romans have sex in the presence of others, even taking beverages from awaiting slaves.
    • Atia chastises her teenage son for not having enough sex. She even forces him to eat sheep testicles to make him more virile, and eventually insists that he visit a brothel so he won't dishonour his family by being a virgin.
    • Sex with boys is treated as a normal thing. Atia is overjoyed when she believes that Octavian has become the lover of Julius Caesar, his powerful great-uncle. Later, Atia tells her slave to find a prostitute if he wants to have sex with a boy rather than find one in the street.
    • A Roman form of punishment is to allow a baboon to rape a woman. One eastern king seems to be aroused by the thought, which is too bizarre even for Romans.
    • Anti-Semitism is tolerated. When Herod visits, citizens are told to keep the mockery of Jews and their solitary god at an "appropriate minimum".
    • The class divide between patricians and plebeians is often brought up. Even wealthy plebeians are looked down upon by patricians, such as when Atia passive-aggressively insults Jocasta by asking Octavia not to stoop any lower down the social ladder for friends.
  • Democracy Is Bad:
    • The Opening Narration states that Rome—a Republic with many democratic traits—cannot govern itself. Magistrates are elected but many of the characters work to avoid what they call rule of the mob, consider elections a mere formality, just a matter of bribes and demagoguery and some are deeply offended when the Senate becomes less restrictive and incorporates pleb citizens and non-roman ones. Nobody really believes in democracy anyway, everything is done behind the scenes by the oligarchy, although the Caesarians are somehow the people's party as they draw a lot of their power from the plebs.
    • Naďve Newcomer and staunch legalist Vorenus is disgusted when he discovers the fraud about Roman democracy but Posca convinces him it's for the best.
      Posca The people are not crying out for clean elections, they're crying out for stability and peace. They're crying out for jobs and food and clean water... You can do great things for your people.
    • Antony plays the elections card when he negotiates the aftermath of Caesar's assassination. "Messy things elections." The conspirators are horrified as they would have to validate their taken-for-granted powers. They reach a compromise and no democracy is needed.
    • By the end of the show the city is ruled by a sole dictator, and the order is achieved (in Real Life an unprecedented era of prosperity ensued, the Pax Augusta aka Pax Romana).
  • Destructo-Nookie: Pullo and Gaia.
  • Determinator: Cleopatra. "I must have him or I will die... So I will have him."
    • Vorenus. Once he's sworn loyalty to someone or something he will maintain that loyalty come hell or high water.
    • Octavian once he decides to take up his adoptive father's legacy.
  • Did Not Think This Through: Brutus and the other conspirators were appointed by Caesar, but presenting him as a tyrant and his murder as a tyrannicide would make all his edicts and appointments null and void, and the conspirators would lose all their power. Brutus is thus unable to justify Caesar's death to the people so they turn against him.
  • Dissonant Serenity: Livia's first introduction comes at a banquet where Octavian exposes Atia's continuing affair with Marc Antony and Octavia's with Aggrippa's, blackmails them all into splitting up, and drives Antony out of Rome. Livia does not bat an eye once, not even when Octavia warns her she's marrying a monster.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Timon to Atia, when Atia tries to force him to murder a captive Servilia, who they've already been torturing for hours.
    "I am NOT a fucking animal!"
  • Don't Explain the Joke: When mollifying Eirene's jealousy over Pullo's friendship with Vorenus, Pullo says that if the two of them were drowning, he'd save Eirene first every time. She's touched, but after a moment, he decides to ruin the moment with a joke, "You're half his size!" She doesn't understand, so he explains, "You're lighter. Easier to rescue!" But she still doesn't get it, so he decides to cut his losses and accept her reconciliation.
  • Driven to Suicide: Many characters, most of them historical examples. Overlaps with Better to Die than Be Killed.
  • Due to the Dead:
    • Vorenus wants to make up with Niobe because he's convinced he'll be dead soon in the coming Civil War, and someone has to perform the proper religious rites in his memory. Pullo offers to do so himself. Vorenus is touched, but points out that Pullo will likely be dead too.
    • Pullo buries Eirene with proper ceremony for her people, even though it's not the Roman way. When Gaia admits on her deathbed to having poisoned Eirene, Pullo smothers Gaia and callously dumps her body in the river, which for Ancient Romans is a way of cursing her to spend eternity in limbo.
    • After helping Mark Antony kill himself, Vorenus cleans the makeup off Antony's face, dresses him in armor and seats him on the throne.
  • The Dung Ages: If you're a pleb.
  • Dying Curse: After the death of her son and the extinction of her political cause (partly due to Atia's machinations), Servilia goes to Atia's house with a knife, chants incessantly until Atia comes out to confront her. Then, with the full attention of everybody around, she indulges in a lengthy curse of Atia, damning her to have nothing but "bitterness and despair" for the rest of her life. To seal the deal, she then stabs herself, with her servant following suit. While Atia achieves the goal she's been aiming for the entire series, she finds it's Lonely at the Top.
    Antony: Now that is an exit!
  • Dying as Yourself: Antony abandons Egyptian style and returns to Roman attire and weapons to commit suicide: "Tell the people I died well, I died Roman."
  • Dying Declaration of Hate: Cleopatra gives one to Octavian as she's literally seconds away from death.
    You have a rotten soul!
  • Easily Forgiven: Caesar can be ruthless but manages to fit this trope fairly well. He spares Vorenus and Pullo several times and his response to Brutus and Cicero trying to surrender is to hug them, apologize 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. Note that this was the modus operandi too of the real life Caesar.
  • The Empire. The ur-example, although we don't actually get there until the very end of the series, in an absolutely spine-chilling moment when the true extent of Octavian's power finally becomes clear.
  • Enemy Mine: Antony and Octavian team up against the senatorial forces.
  • Erotic Asphyxiation: When Octavian selects Livia as his wife, he tells her that he may beat her during sex. It turns out that he enjoys being beaten and strangled just as much.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • When told of his daughter's death, Caesar says "Pompey will need a new wife". It shows how he uses people he loves as pawns.
    • Pullo breaking formation to kick some Gaul ass, then quipping "Already? I was just beginning to enjoy myself!" when his superiors are done whipping him for insubordination.
    • Vorenus' first shown mission; He suggests, under duress, that the best way to find a thief among the conquered tribes would be to crucify members of each clan one by one until they talk. He shows no pleasure at this, even slightly pained by their screams, but still does it. When one gives him the information, he orders all of them to be taken down while lamenting his own situation (pretty rich for a guy at the foot of a currently occupied cross). This sets up the moral overtones of most of the series, and shows how honor-bound Vorenus is.
    • Vorenus eagerly anticipating seeing his wife again, then flying into a rage and calling her a whore when he suspects that she might have been unfaithful.
    • Antony 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. This doubles as a Historical In-Joke: true to his characterization on the show, the real Mark Antony had an extremely wild youth that left him in staggering levels of debt.
    • Atia unabashedly assigning a politically oriented errand to a man the moment the two finish having sex. Then she parades herself naked in front of her son after her bath. Then she forces her daughter to divorce the man she loves on the off chance that Pompey might marry her, then calling her a "torpid little she-cow" when the plan fails.
    • Octavian has been kidnapped, beaten, and generally mistreated when he's discovered by Pullo and Vorenus, who are searching for some stolen infantry standards. While still tied up and on his knees, he immediately explains to them why they were sent on their mission, how Caesar is using it to feint weakness, why Pompey will likely fall for the trap, and exactly what will come next. Then they untie him and he beats one of his (already defeated) captors to death with a stick. Octavian is cold, calculating, a political prodigy, and utterly without mercy.
    • A condensed triple one at the start of the second episode (shown in the middle of the first one in the BBC recut); Rowdy Pullo makes a lewd remark, Vorenus commands him to show decency as he is under Rome's standard. Pullo talks back pointing at General Antony, who is raping a young shepherdress by a tree with his entire personal escort watching and paused, even though they are supposed to be marching towards Rome on the double. Legalist Vorenus replies that Antony is not under the standard.
    • The first Senate session: A radical Cato — the only senator dressed in black — gives a condemnatory and incendiary speech against Caesar (a war hero still in Gaul), while the flexible Cicero suggests a more subtle opposition.
    • Due to Character Development, Vorenus has a new one in Season 2: "I am a son of HADES! I fuck Concord in her ASS!" — Video
    • When Octavian wins his first big battle, the two generals who make it happen die. With them out of the way, Maecenas tells Octavian he can now take sole credit for the victory. This shows him as an unscrupulous character.
    • Octavian tells Livia what he expects of her as his wife, all the squeezing her hand tighter and tighter. She looks alarmed and pained, but when he politely and resolutely tells her he will beat her, not for any misbehaviour on her part but for his own sexual pleasure, she stiffens her spine and agrees, unflinching. Even Octavian can see what kind of woman she is, and he's very pleased.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • The fate of Caesar, without the actual sentence being pronounced. Ciaran Hinds' facial expression, especially his eyes, carries the question "Et tu, Brute?" silently. Very effective.
    • Pompey, in front of his family, gets offed by one of his former soldiers. Pompey thinks he's being greeted by a friend, but the killer has found a new job as a mercenary for the Egyptians.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Subverted with Octavian in the second season. ''Silence.''
  • Even Evil Has Standards
    • Erastes Fulman, the Roman equivalent of a mob boss, flies into a rage when he hears that Mark Antony's speech at Caesar's funeral incited a riot. Amusingly enough, he threatens to 'disjoint' his men if they participate in the uproar.
      "We observe the fucking decencies!"
    • Vorenus cows the meanest gang leaders to submission by smashing a statue of a goddess they all worship, and other blasphemes.
      "I am a son of Hades. I fuck Concord in her ass!"
  • Everyone Has Standards: Timon murders, beats, rapes and tortures on Atia's orders, but having spent hours mercilessly torturing Servilia, finally snaps and walks out when Atia tells him to kill her.
  • Evil Chancellor: Maecenas is this to Octavian. Evil Eunuch Pothinus tries to be this to Ptolemy XIII, along with Theodotus of Chios, only for both of them to fail spectacularly.
  • Evil Matriarch: Atia is the epitome of this trope. Later, Servilia becomes one as well.
  • Exact Words:
    • After Caesar's assassination, Mark Antony surprises everyone by turning up at Brutus' house to discuss a truce. After Brutus steps outside so the conspirators can discuss his proposal, they unanimously urge Brutus to kill him.
      Brutus: He is a guest in my house!
      Servilia: He is not in your house. He is on the street.
      Brutus: You too, mother?
    • At the end of Season 2, Caesarion asks Vorenus about his father, which he thinks is Caesar. Vorenus proceeds to tell him about his father...the real one, Pullo. At first, he manages to pull it and to enjoy it, then a major difference between Pullo and Caesar comes up. Doubles as Comically Missing the Point, since the kid believes it all.
      Vorenus: Well, he was a good man. A good man to have as a friend. You wouldn't want him as an enemy. He had a nasty temper when he was roused. When the battle was hard and men were faltering, that's when you'd want to see your father at your side. Bravest man I've ever known.
      Caesarion: More.
      Vorenus: Fine horseman. Bad gambler, though he'd never admit it. He liked the woman. He liked to eat. He'd eat the whole table if you let him.
      Caesarion: Really ? I have always heard he was very abstemious in his diet.
      Vorenus: Uh, yeah... Well, that would be right. There's others that knew him far better than I did.
    • Vorenus appears to escort Atia and Octavia to their ship without seeing Mark Antony. When Atia refuses to leave, Vorenus says he's been authorised to use whatever force is necessary.
      Atia: You would manhandle the women of the Julii?
      Vorenus: No. (Cleopatra's guards move forward) But these men here they have no such scruples.
  • Face Death with Dignity:
    • Cicero remains calm and polite when Pullo arrives to kill him. He even tells his slave to stop making a fuss. It helps that Pullo himself is perfectly respectful throughout the affair. This is based on fact, as Cicero is said to have told her assassins, "There is nothing proper in what you do, but try to do it properly."
    • When Erastes Fulmen realizes that there's no getting out of this one, he leans back, calmly drinks his last ale and mocks his killers.
    • When he realises that all is lost, Brutus quietly unfastens his armor and goes down marching alone against an entire army.
    • When Gaia is bleeding out, she gives a Deathbed Confession that she killed his wife and unborn son by poisoning. She accepts getting murdered by a furious Pullo as a fair punishment, giving a final "Bye, love" before the strangling begins.
  • Faking the Dead: Cleopatra's servant fatally tricks Antony — who is a political liability by then — into thinking her master / his lover is dead. Vorenus is appalled when he discovers the ruse.
  • Famed in Story: After their exploits in the arena, Pullo and to a lesser extent Vorenus enjoy a celebrity status for a while.
  • Family Relationship Switcheroo: Niobe's illegitimate son is presented as a grandson to fool Vorenus.
  • Femme Fatale: Atia yet again. Gaia and Cleopatra count as well.
  • Fetish: The senatorial leaders in exile resort to an Asian ruler who casually request an interspecies erotica show (baboon meets woman) as the condition for his help. The Romans awkwardly seal the deal and comply. The scene serves as in-universe Values Dissonance, Cassius points out it's not an entertainment but a punishment (used by Romans) and is subtly shocked by the requirement (but complies).
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Vorenus and Pullo, naturally: Bash Brothers and Back-to-Back Badasses.
    • Brutus and Cassius.
    • Pullo and Octavian: their first exploit together results in them sharing a secret that becomes the root of their Intergenerational Friendship.
    • Vorenus and Antony. Early in the show Vorenus deeply dislikes everything that Antony stands for, but he grows to like him as time passes. The two share moments of common soul exploration and when Vorenus reluctantly leaves Antony, he even utters the famous parting words It Has Been an Honor, much to Antony's surprise. Finally Antony asks Vorenus for his sword to kill himself, assisted by Vorenus.
  • Forced Miscarriage: Out of jealousy Gaia gives Pullo's pregnant wife, Eirene tea laced with herbs. The seller had told Gaia that the herbs could safely terminate an early pregnancy, but one farther along, not so much. Indeed, the mother-to-be goes into early labor and she and her unborn child end up dying, just as Gaia intended.
  • For Want of a Nail: Lucius Vorenus orders Titus Pullo to go to Cicero's villa in the countryside. Pullo is on his way out the door when Eirene asks him where he's going (she suspects him—wrongly, at this stage—of carrying on with their slave, Gaia.) Pullo tells her it's just a job he has to do, but when he sees that she's upset at his leaving, he suggests that they all go because "it's lovely country down there." So, Pullo, Eirene, Vorenus, his sister-in-law Lyde and his kids all go for a lovely lunch in the countryside. Meanwhile, at his villa, Cicero knows that death is on the way but he pauses to write an urgent later to Brutus, warning him that Octavian and Antony have joined forces. He gives it to a courier and tells him that the letter must reach Brutus. The courier gallops off. Meanwhile, Lucius, Vorenus' little son by Evander, runs off as he usually does and strays into the country road, where he almost gets knocked down by the courier. The courier swears at them and Vorenus pulls the guy off his horse and is about to beat him up when Lyde stops him. Vorenus lets the courier go and he gallops off... failing to notice that the container with his urgent letter to Brutus is lying on the ground from when he fell off the horse. Vorenus' daughter Vorena the Younger and little Lucius open it and find the letter, which they can't read, and Lucius runs off with it. Later on we see that Lucius is wearing it as a hat. The letter never reaches Brutus, and he and Cassius are surprised at Philippi to learn much too late that they're not just facing Octavian's legions, but Antony's too. They decide to fight anyway, knowing that they're probably doomed. Cassius and Brutus are killed and their armies are routed, and the last opposition to the second triumvirate is destroyed. All because Titus Pullo wanted to cheer up his wife.
  • Foreign Cuss Word: Pullo's favourite exclamations are Gerrae and Cack, Latin words (the last one also exists in English but is not widely used as such).
  • Framing the Guilty Party: Pullo's trial for murder is little more than a Kangaroo Court. But he is actually guilty.
  • Friendly Enemy: Done between arch-enemies and subverted.
    • Atia and Servilia are socially polite and behave as friends in public and sometimes in private, but they both know it's all an act and a display of power and alternated supremacy.
    • Antony enjoys acting like if he and Cicero were friends and Cicero follows suit, but it's just a pantomime, almost sadistic. One rarely misses a chance to hurt the other when the political tide is favourable.
    • This also later on becomes Antony and Octavian. They become political partners when Rome is divided and Antony marries Octavia. After his family betrays him, he banishes Antony to Egypt, threatening to expose him as a cuckold. Later on, they both look for an opportunity to wage war, in which Octavian ultimately wins.
  • Friendship Moment: Vorenus and Pullo have a ton of these, but Brutus and Cassius have one as well.
  • From Camouflage to Criminal: The show plays this a few different ways during its run.
    • In season 1, once Pollo leaves the legion he has little in the way of job prospects and becomes a thug for hire, the most notable case is when he's paid to kill a political enemy of Caesar's. In the same season Vorenus almost falls into this trope by mistake, as Vorenus is under the misconception that Erastes Fulmen is a respected merchant who is offering Vorenus a job as a bodyguard, when in reality Fulmen is an underworld figure trying to turn Vorenus into a debt collector/enforcer. Vorenus doesn't quite get what's going on until Fulmen orders him to break a guy's arm.
    • In the second season however, Vorenus hits this for real when he is more or less sponsored by the nobility to become the head of the underworld so it's under the control of the city's elites. Pullo becomes Vorenus' right hand man, and at least several other comrades from the legion are also in their group.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Though not exactly a nobody (he is a member of one of the oldest noble families in Rome, after all), Octavian starts out as a snotty and precocious youngster, uninvolved in the cut and thrust of Roman politics, and generally treated dismissively by the adults in the room. As the series progresses, it becomes evident that he is as ruthless as he is intelligent, and by the end he is the one who rules Rome.
  • Funny Background Event: When Erastes Fulman hastily changes his mind about attacking Vorenus (after finding the place being guarded by legionaries) a few onlookers can be heard laughing at him.

  • Genius Bruiser: Vorenus is actually very knowledgeable about Roman history. He speaks of Cincinnatus, the Gracchi, Sulla, and Marius, and is also aware that Egypt was a great nation long before Rome.
  • Gladiator Games: Pullo is sentenced to fight and die in the arena. He kills five of the gladiators instead.
  • A God Am I: Caesar claims to be the son of Venus. After his death, Caesar is declared a god by the Senate at Octavian's instigation. The significance isn't lost on Antony:
    Antony: You only had him declared a god so you could call yourself the son of a god.
  • Going Native: Lucius Vorenus is complimented in Egypt by Atia for averting this and staying properly Roman; the other Roman officials including triumvir Mark Antony did not, a thing that is used politically against him, as happened in Real Life.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Pullo is sentenced to die in the arena. However, the murder that got him convicted also gave him a Heroic BSoD so he doesn't want to fight and tells the gladiators to just execute him. As this would not be spectacular enough for the crowd, they first plead with him to fight back just a bit and then try to provoke him. They don't have much success, until they mention his old Legion. Happy to have found something that angers him, they keep insulting the Thirteenth Legion. Then they find out what Pullo is like when DOES want to fight. As do the next few gladiators that are send in.
  • Gorgeous Period Dress: If you're a patrician.
  • Government in Exile: In season 1 the senators who flee from Caesar and act like the legitimate rulers of Rome until the end. Cassius and Brutus in season 2.
  • Graceful Loser: Cicero, affable and calmly collected to the very end.
  • Graffiti of the Resistance: An extremely cynical use of it shows up. The conspiracy against Caesar is looking to recruit Brutus to their cause, but he has resisted any efforts they make. Eventually they begin a graffiti campaign supposedly done by the people pleading for Brutus to end the tyranny of Caesar, much as Brutus' ancestor overthrew the ancient king/tyrant of Rome. Brutus does his best to ignore the graffiti, but it makes Caesar paranoid and wary of Brutus, and he basically asks Brutus to voluntarily exile himself from Rome. That, and the fallout from the rest of their confrontation, drives Brutus to join the conspiracy and seals Caesar's fate.
    Caesar: Be reasonable! You're on every wall with a knife at my throat! It would be foolish to ignore it.
    Brutus: Only tyrants need worry about tyrant killers! And you are no tyrant! Haven't you told me that so many times?
  • Great Way to Go:
    • Servilia's theatrical suicide.
      Antony: Now that is an exit!
    • When Antony decides to commit suicide himself, he notes that Cleopatra's throne room isn't a bad place to make your exit. "Men who knew Alexander once stood here."
  • Guyliner: On Mark Antony, when he's in Egypt.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Erastes Fulmen is always either boisterously Affably Evil or seething with rage. One of his funniest moments is when he rages at a slave who whistles: "For fuck's sake, stop that Teutonic droning! If you have to whistle like someone's bum-boy, at least whistle a Roman song!"
  • Happily Arranged Marriage: Atia arranges for Posca to marry Jocasta, in part to humiliate Jocasta, whom Atia considers a jumped-up merchant's daughter, by marrying her to an ex-slave. But she and Posca legitimately fall in love and become one of the few couples in the series who remain happily married.
  • Happily Married:
    • Posca and Jocasta.
    • Octavia and Glabius before Atia has Glabius murdered
    • Octavian and Livia, in spite of early awkwardness, bond with some rough sex.
  • Happiness in Slavery:
    • Posca enjoys a trusted position as Caesar's slave and there is clearly considerable affection between the two, to the extent that Posca weeps bitterly over Caesar's death and Caesar explicitly freed him in his will.
    • The same goes for Cicero's secretary Tiro, as well. In Real Life, the two men became friends and Cicero freed him.
  • Hard Head: Played with. Pullo is knocked unconscious and falls into a coma when a blow to the head puts a splinter inside his scalp. He undergoes painful surgery and finally makes a full recovery.
  • Hemo Erotic: While Mark Antony is left to keep the peace in Rome while Caesar is away campaigning, he passes the time by having two prostitutes fight each other with swords. When one of them wounds the other, he licks up the blood.
  • Hell Is That Noise: The screams Servilia makes as she's tortured and raped by Atias men are inhuman. Atias slaves are notably portrayed as being extremely disturbed and unsettled at hearing them.
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Once the Unstoppable Rage has worn off, Vorenus has one of these after believing his whole family is dead. Pullo also has one towards the end of Season One when Vorenus rejects him.
    • Pullo has another one after one too many murders as a mob hitman.
    • Pompey after the battle of Pharsalus.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners:
    • Vorenus and Pullo, bordering on Ho Yay, which is lampshaded in-universe.
    • Brutus and Cassius in season two.
  • Historical Character's Fictional Relative: It is very strongly implied that Ptolemy XV (Caesarion), in real life the son of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra was actually fathered by the fictional Titus Pullo. At the end of the series, Pullo is charged with executing Caesarion on Octavian's orders, but instead he spirits him away and raises his son in Rome.
  • Historical Domain Character: Easily half the major characters: Julius Caesar, Marcus Junius Brutus, Cassius, Mark Antony, Pompey the Great, Cicero, Cato, Octavian, Cleopatra VII, Vercingetorix, Agrippa, Maecenas, Lepidus... Technically even Vorenus and Pullo, though in their case it was simply taking the names of two of Caesar's real centurions mentioned in his book De bello Gallico and creating the characters from whole cloth.
  • Historical Downgrade: Agrippa is portrayed as an amiable but rather naïve, soft-hearted, and weak-willed young man who's never shown on-screen as particularly valuable to Octavian's faction, with the majority of his screentime given to his ahistorical love affair with Octavia instead. In reality, Agrippa was a gifted general who essentially fought Octavian's battles for him, most notably in defeating Antony at Actium, and as an administrator he bears as much credit as Octavian for "finding Rome a city of brick and leaving it a city of marble."note 
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • Pullo's gambling related troubles and antagonisms ensuring the fall of the Republic.
    • Pullo fathering Caesarion.
    • Caesar is killed because Vorenus is not there to protect him.
  • 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.
  • History Repeats: Caesar and Antony's downfall is both brought about when they reject the women they love.
  • Hollywood Costuming: Egypt.
  • Honor Before Reason:
    • The most defining characteristic of Vorenus. To the point that when Cleopatra asks him if his best friend Pullo is a good man, he asks her to define "good".
    • Also Brutus. It does make sense to kill Antony at the same time as Caesar, but Brutus insists that they are tyrant killers, not murderers. Leaving Antony alive does indeed cost Brutus and his allies dearly.
  • Hope Spot: A particularly cruel one for Eirene. Pullo informs her that he's freed her from slavery and even bought her a nice wedding dress. She runs off for to change into the dress, in what must have been the two happiest minutes of her life. When she gets back, she finds the corpse of her lover and intended husband, whom Pullo brutally murdered out of jealousy.
  • Hyper-Competent Sidekick: Agrippa, who wins most of Octavian's battles for him.
  • I Am the Noun: After Pharsalus, Cicero and Brutus head to Caesar's camp to surrender:
    Guard: Halt! In the name of Rome!
    Cicero: Calls himself Rome now, does he? We are Rome, boy.
  • Ignore the Fanservice: When Cleopatra meets with Octavian, she attempts to flirt with him to win him over to her side as she did successfully with both Caesar and Antony and hopefully prevent him from having Caesarion killed as a rival claimant to Caesar's legacy. While Octavian is not really asexual, having a fulfilling sex life with his wife Livia, he simply ignores her overtures. This causes Cleopatra to realize that she truly is out of options and commits to suicide.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: When Posca and Jocasta are attempting to flee from Egypt to escape the depravities of Mark Antony and Cleopatra, Vorenus catches them packing. He plays along with Posca's "go out to watch the ships" ruse even after Jocasta dispensed with it and begged Vorenus not to tell, and hints at fleeing aboard the ship that ferried the ladies of the Julii. Little did he know that he sealed Antony's fate by doing so, as Posca had smuggled out the last will and testament of Antony and Cleopatra, which was delivered to Octavian, providing Octavian with a casus belli against Mark Antony with its contents.
  • Implied Death Threat:
    • Consul Antony and Cicero are verbally fencing. Cicero wants the cards on the table. Antony enjoys himself.
      Cicero: Please go on, make your threats. I don't like to submit to mere implication.
      Antony: There is a question I've always wanted to ask you. Your old friend Crassus, when he was captured by the Parthians, is it true that they poured molten gold down his throat? Because that would really sting.
    • A slight variation early in the show. Antony again.
      Mark Antony: Caesar has many more legions than the Thirteenth.
      Scipio: Yes, on the far side of the Alps.
      Mark Antony: Winter does not last forever. Spring comes. Snows melt.
      Scipio: That is a threat!
      Mark Antony: No, I assure you, that is no threat. Snows always melt.
    • Seems to be a Running Gag with the character. Caesar and Antony are seeking to bribe a priest, offering money as a "gift" for his wife. The priest keeps bumping up the price, saying his wife has expensive tastes.
      Priest: She would dress her slaves in silk if I let her. She eats oysters for breakfast. Daily.
      Antony: (moving close) She should be most careful. People often choke on oysters.
    • Antony makes a senator consul under condition that he pass certain legislation. To make it clear this is An Offer You Can't Refuse, he flirts with the senator's attractive wife and asks her to consider marrying him if her husband should die. Husband and wife then share an alarmed look.
  • Improvised Lockpick: Titus Pullo keeps one of his thugs in a locked cage, feeding him off scraps, in punishment for trying to steal from him. Unfortunately he picks the lock with a piece of bone and nearly kills Pullo.
  • Info Dump: Octavian's informed monologue about the events of the first episode not only filled in the finer political points of the episode to Pullo and Vorenus but the audience as well.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Octavian and Pullo.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: More than once, especially with Pullo and Gaia (they come close to a "Not If They Enjoyed It" Rationalization) and with Octavian and his wife Livia—he flat-out tells her that he will beat her occasionally during their marriage because it gives him sexual pleasure, and she seems to be into it later on.
  • It's All About Me: Atia ignores the word empathy, everything she does gravitates around her self-centered schemes. Subverted in her final scene where she realizes she is Lonely at the Top. (Implied by her face when she looks at Antony's dummy.)
  • It Has Been an Honor:
    • Brutus says those words before sending his men away.
    • Vorenus says it to Antony, who is surprised and touched by the words and replies; "Has it? I hope so."
  • Just Following Orders: A casual and comical mention:
    Vorenus: Pullo, report to Princess Cleopatra and do whatever she tells you.
    *Cue a prolonged bout of vigorous and noisy sex.*
    Pullo: Gods, that was something, let me tell you.
    Vorenus: I don't want to hear about it. If you're wise, you'll never speak of this again.
    Pullo: Why? I was only obeying orders. Bloody good orders, too.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: It may not seem like much Atia calling Octavian a king. However, she's actually thrown him a great insult. The Romans considered their culture established only when they got rid of their monarchy 500 years before the events of this series. This is why he quickly corrects her. Also why they feared Caesar's growing influence as they were afraid of a return of the monarchy.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Lucius Vorenus has instances of this. Despite his wife cheating on him, he allows her son to live and raises him as his own. In Ancient Rome, it was legal for a man to kill his family. The fact he doesn't and even rescues them from slavery shows a lot of character. He is happy for the boy when Pullo mentions how he got an apprenticeship to be a stonemason and discourages his dream to be a soldier as he knows how dangerous it is.
  • Just the First Citizen:
    Atia: Well congratulations, you're good as king now.
    Octavian: No king, merely First Citizen.
    • A Genius Bonus kicks in if you know that the Latin for "First Citizen" is princeps, which is the root word for "Prince."
      • In Ancient Rome, it was actually an insult to be called a king because they believed that Rome truly became great when they abandoned their faulty monarchy centuries before.
  • Karma Houdini: A great deal of Season One involves Vorenus and Pullo being excused for offenses they should be executed for.
    Caesar: I do not like to quarrel with fortune, and clearly she's taken you for a pet.
  • Kent Brockman News: The Forum newsreader remains the same through the series and his news are nothing but pure propaganda for whoever is in charge at the moment. The news are often followed by advertisements read in the same hamming tone.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Pullo beats the slave boy Oedipus to death when he discovers that he and Eirene are lovers and planning to marry.
    • Antony severely beats (and possibly kills) the hapless Senator who reads out Cicero's mocking speech in the latter's absence.
  • Kneel Before Zod:
    • After surrendering, Vercingetorix kneels before Caesar.
    • Caesar and Octavian (after becoming Caesar) use a soldier as a footstool when climbing onto a horse.
    • Erastes Fulman demands that Vorenus kiss his feet in public or he and his family will be killed.
    • When Vorenus returns from the Gallic War to see his children for the first time in years, they're reluctant to approach this stranger. Niobe urges them to greet their father in the proper manner, which they do by kneeling before him. Later Niobe prostrates herself when Julius Caesar himself turns up at their household.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Julius Caesar doesn't kill Pullo and Vorenus for not arresting Pompey because "They have powerful gods on their side", noting the extreme unlikeliness of their many exploits as the show's leads.
    Caesar: They found my stolen standard, now they survive a wreck that drowned an army and find Pompey Magnus on a beach. They have powerful gods on their side and I will not kill any man with friends of that sort.
  • Large Ham: Many in-universe examples.
    • There's the Forum newsreader, for one. "OUR GLORIOUS FATHER — GAIUS! JULIUS! CAESAR!"
    • Erastes Fulmen also fits, especially when he wants to emphasize something. "DIFFERENT FUCKING RULES!"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Brutus' Death by Irony.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Julius Caesar dies. Antony and Cleopatra hook up, but it doesn't end well.
  • Licensed Game: CDX (UK version) is a point-and-click adventure with full-motion FMV that takes the premise that the lead is a freelance props buyer, after recently working for the BBC on "Rome", has a dagger some very nasty people want. It's surprisingly good.
  • Line in the Sand: Caesar does an excellent version when he plays on the emotions of his 13th Legion to get them to march on Rome.
  • Lonely at the Top: Atia. She ends the series as the mother of the most powerful man in the Roman Empire once Octavian becomes Emperor, but she's both completely in his power and has lost all influence over him and his wife Livia clearly now has his ear. Her cruel personality has completely isolated everyone around her, including her children. The man she loved most spurned her for someone else and has committed suicide, leaving her completely alone in a luxurious but utterly meaningless existence.
  • Longest Pregnancy Ever: Eirene tells Pullo of her pregnancy during historical events that occur around 42 B.C. Judging by other historical events, like the betrothal of Octavian and Livia, she is still pregnant in 39 or 38 B.C. This is reportedly due to the necessary rewriting of the last few scripts.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: The show just ends when Pullo seems to be about to deliver the line to Caesarion.
    Pullo: Listen, about your father...

  • Made of Plasticine: The gladiator sequence. The Rule of Cool excuses it, but it's not that easy to sever someone's head when all you're using is a blunt shield.
  • The Mafia: Erastes Fulmen and later Lucius Vorenus lead the collegia, gangs who are the ancient predecessors of the Italian Mafia.
  • Male Frontal Nudity: Antony, Brutus, Pullo and the "turtle slave".
  • Manipulative Bastard: Atia and later Octavian. The usually blunt Antony slides into one with his rabble-rousing Caesar's eulogy.
  • Marriage Before Romance: Arranged marriage is the norm in Rome, but it still produces some loving couples.
    • Jocasta is horrified to be married to an older man of extremely low station: Posca, a freedman. However, her new husband spoils her with gifts, so she quickly falls in love with him.
    • Vorenus and Niobe were married at a very young age and barely knew each other before he shipped off to a decade of soldiering. Once he returns, they manage to cobble together a relationship.
    • Pompey's arranged marriage is happy while it lasts.
  • Marry for Love: Vorena the Elder wanted this for her love life but Niobe and Vorenus scoffed at the idea, being adamant to simply marry her off to a wealthy old man she could manipulate to shower her with jewels, dresses, and slaves for the sake of protection and status, and feeling she would grow to love her husband over time.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Prayers, curses and even prophetic dreams often come true in this series. Whether or not its origin is divine is never definitively answered.
  • Meaningful Look: Subverted; when Caesar gives Brutus a friendly wave, it throws the conspirators into a panic as they (incorrectly) fear he knows about their plot and is toying with them.
  • Meaningful Name: Doubles with Genius Bonus. Eirene's ill-fated first lover is known as Oedipus. This may seem like an odd choice, given the associations with that name. But slaves were given names based upon their traits. The name Oedipus translates to "club-footed," and Oedipus the slave walks with a limp.
  • Meaningful Rename: To emphasize that he is the lawful heir to his great uncle, Octavian changes his name to Gaius Caesar. and finally to Caesar Augustus. Noted by Cicero, very wary of the implication. Octavian was very fond of these in Real Life, and in fact never went by "Octavian"; it's just what historians decided to call him for the period before he became Augustus, because otherwise the histories would be too confusing.
  • Military Maverick: Pullo, and Vorenus by extension most of the time. One example early in the Civil War has Pullo under strict orders about not attacking Pompeyan forces, disregarding those orders and charging against the easily outmatched green soldiers of Pompey. Caesar benefits greatly by this insubordination as he realizes his enemy is very weak in Italy.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: The Forum newsreader played by Ian McNeice punctuates his Large Ham news bulletins with stylized gestures and poses that were actually used by professional speakers and politicians at the time. At one point Lucius Vorenus tries to use them during his brief attempt at politics, but completely fails to make them seem impressive.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: In the marketplace, we see traders selling exotic birds, among them macaws, which come from South and Central America, and Australian cockatoos. The Americas and Australia were completely unknown to the Romans.
  • Mob War: A major subplot of the second season involves Titus and Lucius taking control of a collegium, a social club little different from a street gang, to keep the peace for Mark Antony. They end up going to war with some other collegia.
  • Mood Dissonance: The killing of Cicero. Pullo has to go to Cicero's villa to do it, but he doesn't want Eirene to be lonely without him, so he suggests everyone goes. Vorenus brings his sister-in-law Lyde and the kids, and everyone has a lovely picnic lunch while Pullo cheerfully rides off to Cicero's place, rather like a handyman who's come to do some work on the house. He is unhurried, respectful and even friendly to Cicero, who knows exactly why he's there; admires his peach tree, and even asks if he can take some, to which Cicero says yes. Cicero's slave runs out with a sword and hysterically threatens to kill Pullo, who calmly advises him to put the sword down and not be silly. Cicero looks around at the world for the last time and then tells Pullo to kill him, and Pullo helpfully suggests "It's best if you kneel." Cicero duly kneels down, Pullo puts the tip of his sword at Cicero's neck, and then says over his shoulder to the weeping slave "You might want to turn away at this point," before killing Cicero in a single stroke. He then rides back to the picnic and cheerfully hands out peaches to everyone, telling Vorenus "He's all right, that Cicero. Not stuck up like some of the others." A little later, in accordance with Antony's orders we see Cicero's hands being nailed to the door of the Senate, implying that Pullo had cut them off and was keeping them in a bag about his person.
  • Mood Whiplash: One minute, Pullo is joyous at having bought Eirene's freedom and plans to marry her. The next he's brutally beating her (hitherto unknown to him) slave fiance to death in a fit of jealousy.
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Frequently adopted by many characters. Pullo and Vorenus leave a trail of dead bodies wherever they go.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: Standard procedure for resolving romantic complications.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: Vorenus is rigidly bound by honor and continues to serve both Caesar and Mark Antony after having serious doubts about the morality of their orders.
  • Mythology Gag: Caesar dies in silence, without ever delivering his famous "You too, my son?" to Brutus. Instead, Brutus gets to ask "You too, mother?" early in Season 2.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Memmio, Cilnius Maecenas, Hannibal Cotta, "TITUS FUCKING PULLO".
  • Neutral No Longer: While Cicero is a senator with deep republican convictions, he is wise enough not to antagonize the Caesarians in public and maintain a moderate status. His position gets untenable when his Arch-Enemy Antony becomes the ruler of Rome and forces him into his side. Cicero instead openly confronts and insults Antony and unleashes Octavian against him.
  • New Era Speech:
    • Caesar and his magistrates produce several after their triumph. Tellingly, when Vorenus delivers one in the Aventine about the end of the Patrician tyranny, a heckler who complains about the end of freedoms is quietly taken away for his dissent.
    • Octavian delivers one after becoming Consul.
  • Nice Guy: Agrippa in the second season. In a cast of characters including Antony, Octavian, Atia, Servilia, and Vorenus, Agrippa's behavior is chivalrous by comparison, especially if it involves Octavia.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero / Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Several instances:
    • A condemnatory but symbolic Senate motion against Caesar, only intended to show Caesar his relative isolation, making him less adventurous, is put forward by Pompey because he knows that Mark Antony, as Tribune of the Plebs, will veto it. However Antony is unable to do so when the session descends into a brawl, so they arrange a second attempt for him to veto the motion. Enter Titus Pullo, who has just killed a man in a gambling dispute. While escorting Antony through the forum, a friend of the man Pullo killed attacks him, which is mistaken for an attempt on Antony's life, a great sacrilege as tribunes were long considered inviolable. Antony and his men flee to Caesar without the motion being vetoed. This gives a now cornered Caesar a Pretext for War against them. Cue the Civil War.
    • The Republicans. During the civil war, Pompey knows that they need only keep Caesar bottled up in Greece and wait, and Caesar's tired, hungry and outnumbered army will eventually melt away. However the other Republicans, principally Cato and Scipio, want a decisive victory over Caesar and goad Pompey into giving battle. They are routed, Pompey, Cato and Scipio all die soon afterwards, and Caesar is left unchallenged ruler of the Roman world.
    • During one scene, Caesar harbors vague suspicion against Brutus and thus appoints him governor of a far-away province, just in case. Brutus realizes he is practically being exiled, which gives him grounds for his own suspicion and makes him embrace the cause of the conspirators against Caesar: "Only tyrants need to worry about tyrant killers!". The support of Brutus is the key-element to the plot, and until that moment Brutus was on-the-fence at best. The aforementioned scene.
    • Vorenus really does love Niobe and his children, but his Honor Before Reason attitude and Hair-Trigger Temper if he thinks his honor is threatened keep getting in the way. This leads to his wife's suicide, and his children despising him to the point they just barely bring themselves to visit him on his deathbed.
    • After the demise of Caesar, Brutus stops further killings ("We are liberators, not murderers") and spares the life of Antony (who already had escaped an attempt on his life). Days later Antony masterfully manipulates the masses during Caesar's funeral and forces the conspirators to leave the city, Antony becomes the successor of Caesar and sole ruler of Rome.
    • The conspirators think that killing Caesar will end his tyranny and restore the Republic, but it merely leads to another civil war which ends with Caesar's heirs Antony and Octavian in power. They turn out to be much more ruthless, amoral, and violent than Caesar ever was.
    • Cicero plays and empowers Octavian against Antony, who is the continuator of Caesar, convinced that Octavian is a mere boy who can be manipulated into furthering the Senate's aims and then discarded. Octavian lets Cicero think this. Eventually Cicero is outmaneuvered by Octavian who, after assuming the Consulship with Cicero's support, marches his army into Rome and the Senate itself, something that even Caesar never dared to do.
    • Setting Pompey free leads Vorenus and Pullo to Egypt. The war is prolonged and Pompey is killed by the locals to impress Caesar, despite the fact that Caesar often spares his Roman enemies. In Egypt Caesarion ensues. Years later, in the final episode Vorenus is probably mortally wounded while defending Caesarion. Word of God says he survives but it's a narrow thing.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Caesar is merciful (by Roman standards) and spares all the leading Republicans who fought against him in the civil war. (Although it should be noted that by historical Roman values, the way he welcomes Brutus and Cicero could have been seen as a dismissive slight against them because he refuses to treat them as though they were ever actually opponents or a threat, but would still have put them in an I Owe You My Life situation). His reward for this is to be brutally murdered by the very men he spared. Octavian and Antony decide not to risk the same fate befalling them.
  • No Guy Wants to Be Chased: Cleopatra plans to seduce Caesar and have a son with him. To hedge her bets she decides to seduce one of the Roman soldiers escorting her to Caesar. Lucius Vorenus however is a traditionally-minded Roman who refuses to sleep with a woman at her command. Cleopatra is outraged, so Vorenus sends in Pullo who has no such scruples. Cleopatra learns from this mistake and adopts a more submissive attitude when meeting Caesar, allowing him to seduce her.
  • No Name Given: The newsreader.
  • No Sympathy: When Octavian is taken to the whorehouse for his first ever boning, he strikes up a conversation with the prostitute. She relates her story of how her father, mother, and brothers were killed and she was sold into slavery, eventually ending up working at a whorehouse in Rome. For a moment Octavian's sympathies appear to be stirred; that is until he starts undoing his belt and telling her to get on her hands and knees.
  • Nostalgia Filter: When Octavian asks Pullo to join his invasion of Egypt, the young emperor says it'll be just like one of their old adventures. Pullo's uncertain smile shows he remembers all too well that they involved torture and murder.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Old: The show's timeline spans 21 years, between Caesar's conquest of Gaul (52BC) and Octavian's defeat of Antony and Cleopatra (31BC), yet most of the characters do not visibly age at all.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up:
    • Vorenus' children are a particularly glaring example. As the real life events depicted took place over several decades, Vorenus' younger daughter, who was about eight when first seen at the start of season one, ought to have been in her twenties by the time the show ended. Instead, she is still played by the same child actress.
    • Averted by Octavian, who starts out as a 13-year-old and is replaced by an older actor in season two. Caesarion is a newborn baby in season one and about ten years old by the end of the next season.
  • Not So Above It All: Lucius Vorenus, though rather than being above the silliness he was above the corruption. Vorenus eventually goes from being a honourable soldier to the Godfather of Rome's criminal underworld.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Between Vorenus and Antony.
    Vorenus: You're no coward. But you do have a strong disease in your soul. A disease that will eat away at you until you die.
    Antony: Really? Hmm... and what is this disease?
    Vorenus: I don't know. I'm not a doctor.
    Antony: No. No, you're not. So how can you be so sure of your diagnosis then?
    Vorenus: I recognize your symptoms. I have the same sickness.
  • Not So Stoic: Prophesied by Mark Antony but averted, Vorenus is the only one who does not fall into debauchery in the Egyptian Palace and stays "true Roman."
    Antony: You won't turn to drink, will you? You stoic types often do when disappointed in life.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: At some point, Caesar, Antony and specially Octavian are underestimated or written off as power-players. The two Julii regularly cultivate this perception, concealing their real strengths and intentions and playing-up their alleged weaknesses.
    • Played with, with Brutus and Servilia, and Cicero and his Senators. It looks as if they will finally harm the heroes, just this once... then they get butt monkeyed once more.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Octavian and Caesar hide in a closet during one of Caesar's epileptic attacks. A servant overhears moaning and the two exiting and assumes sex ensued. Atia discovers it and compliments his son for seducing the most powerful man of Rome and becoming a romantic rival to Servilia, her hatred enemy.
  • Nothing Personal: When sent to kill Cicero, Pullo is perfectly respectful and considerate. Afterwards, he tells Vorenus that he was a pretty cool guy.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity:
    • Octavian tricks Cicero into making him consul, suggesting that he wants the title out of vanity and that, being so young, he would require Cicero's constant guidance. If you watch closely, you can see the moment he pastes a naïve, Upper-Class Twit look on his face.
    • Jocasta says when Cleopatra is acting The Caligula she just pretends to be mad. Given that Jocasta is something of a Talkative Loon at this point, it's clear this doesn't take much acting.
  • Odd Friendship / Odd Couple: Octavia and Servilia. Vorenus and Pullo, as pointed out by Atia.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Lucius Vorenus again; it's amazingly funny compared to the dirtbags he serves, who would screw Anything That Moves. Also Agrippa.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • The tactical brilliance of Caesar is never shown; the conqueror of Gaul wins battle after battle.
    • Antony mentions the fate of Crassus, co-Triumvir of Caesar and Pompey, who died fighting the Parthians shortly before the events of the series, reputedly by having molten gold poured down his throat.
    • Antony's speech after Caesar's funeral singlehandedly turns the Roman people against the conspirators and installs him as the sole ruler of the city. Only indirect references and reactions are shown, as the only options for the writers would be to crib Shakespeare, or try and outdo him.
    • Vorenus and Pullo massacre an entire bar of Erastes Fulmen's men offscreen.
    • Agrippa's decisive defeat of Antony and Cleopatra's fleet at Actium. Only the aftermath is shown.
  • Offstage Villainy: The actions in the allegation that Cato makes against Caesar in the first episode (illegal warfare, theft, bribery, and treason) have already happened when the series start.
    • In this case, exploited by the creators to leave the audience wondering how much of that is true, and how much of it is trumped up by Caesar's enemies.
  • One-Man Army: An Establishing Character Moment for Pullo, during the first scene of the series.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • Technically, Octavian would have been called "Gaius" by his family and close friends in Real Life. He's always referred to as "Octavian" to avoid confusion with his great uncle. Later he invokes his Meaningful Rename.
    • Vorenus' daughters are Vorena (the Elder) and Vorena (the Younger). Justified, as Roman daughters were typically just given the feminine form of their fathers' name. Families would often have several daughters with the same name.note 
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Kevin McKidd as Lucius Vorenus affects a vaguely middle-class English accent, but you can hear his Scottish coming through a lot, especially when he's angry.
  • Orphaned Punchline: Pullo repeats (or explains) the punchline of a joke we never hear for the sake of Eirene. "Bulls can't have three testicles!" Eirene protests, "I hear. Is not funny."
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Pullo is sentenced to death in the arena, but he kills five gladiators, rallying the crowd to his side before collapsing from his wounds. Then Vorenus jumps in and kills the remaining gladiators to rescue him. While healing, Pullo hears that he's become famous, but when he gets into the streets, he discovers to his dismay that everyone remembers Vorenus as the hero, while he's just the guy who got rescued.
  • Out-Gambitted: Frequent, given the GambitPileups going on. Lampshaded by Cicero:
    Cicero: I've been outmaneuvered by a child. To the country then.
  • Passed-Over Inheritance: During the reading of Caesar's will, Atia and Antony are shocked that Octavian gets it all. Antony's reaction also foreshadows the conflict between him and Octavian.
  • Passive Aggressive Combat: Atia and Sevilla make a game of pretending to be friends while exchanging backhanded compliments and intriguing against each other.
  • Perpetual Frowner: Vorenus seems to frown even when he smiles, a Death Glare ensues when he is angered.
  • Place Worse Than Death: For both Brutus and Mark Antony, being sent to govern Macedonia is portrayed as a shorthand for being sent to a godforsaken place in the middle of nowhere where they will no longer be a factor in Roman politics. Neither of them accepts the position.
  • The Plan: Julius Caesar engages in one of these, and so does Octavian.
  • Point of No Return: Caesar reaches this when he crosses the Rubicon, the formal boundary between Italy and his province of Gaul, with his army. Entering Italy under arms was long considered a sacrilege and an act of high treason note 
  • Praetorian Guard: Octavian (Real life Trope Codifier) surrounds himself with one. No doubt influenced by the fate of Caesar.
  • Pretext for War: This is a big deal for the Romans, as it's not good to be seen as the aggressor in a conflict. Hence the various factions try to goad each other into declaring war, or otherwise search for a justification, however flimsy, for attacking the enemy.
  • Product Placement: An in-universe example; the Forum newsreader closes several of his news decrees with the same advertisement. "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." He seems increasingly tired of reading it each time.
  • Professional Killer: Vorenus and Pullo become thug enforcers after they are demobilized and without income. Eventually they are required to actually kill people. Vorenus however draws the line at murder and quits.
  • Properly Paranoid: Upon his return from Gaul, Vorenus spots Niobe holding a baby and accuses her of adultery. He was right, but doesn't learn this until much later.
  • Puppet King: Cleopatra takes to role with gusto. She explicitly refers to herself as Caesar's puppet queen, and doesn't care so long as being one gets her back on the throne. Smart move, considering her brother refused to entertain the notion that a great Ptolemy like himself could ever be beneath anyone, and ended up getting unceremoniously offed by his Roman masters.
  • The Purge:
    • Antony and Octavian are shrewd rulers; they avert Caesar's mistakes regarding clemency and thus purge a great amount of political enemies. They also kill some men who just happen to be very rich while the rulers have great expenses.
    • In the aftermath of Caesar's demise, the conspirators start planning a purge but Brutus successfully argues that they are "tyrant killers, liberators, not murderers" and the planned whackings are halted.
  • Put on a Bus: In Season 2: Timon leaves to live in Jerusalem after he fails to assassinate King Herod.
  • The Queen's Latin: British English stands in for Latin throughout the series. Variations in accent usually indicate class and origin. Upper-class Romans speak pure RP. Working-class characters speak lower-class English accents, such as Cockney. Foreigners and slaves often speak in Italian accents. Specifically Greek characters speak with Greek accents.
  • The Quiet One: Vorenus, as a Foil to Pullo. At one point, he states, "I talk when I need to. There's nothing to say."
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Spectacularly done by Cicero against Antony. Villainous Breakdown ensues.note 
    Reader: These being the words of Marcus Tullius Cicero: When I was a young man, I defended the State. As an old man, I shall not abandon it. I give sincere thanks to Mark Antony, who has generously presented me with the most promising theme imaginable. I address you directly, Antony. Please listen as if you... as if you... please listen, as if you were sober and intelligent, and not a drink-sodden, sex-addled wreck. You are certainly not without accomplishments: it is a rare man who can boast of becoming a bankrupt before even coming of age. You have brought upon us war, pestilence and destruction. You are Rome's Helen of Troy. But then... but then... a woman's role has always suited you best."
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Pullo and Vorenus most of the time. They actually deconstruct the idea as their respective Red and Blue Oni stances eventually drive them further into danger. Pullo's passionate and hedonistic red oni nature nearly gets him killed and disgraced repeatedly, and things only improve for him when he starts to use some reason. Vorenu's rigid and rule abiding blue oni nature causes him great personal loss, destroys his family, and makes him an easy pawn to corrupt officials which he could have avoided if he showed some self-indulgence.
    • Mark Antony and Caesar in season one. Octavian takes up Caesar's blue mantle rather well in the second season.
    • Also Atia and Servilia in a villainous version: passionate, indulgent, vulgar Atia tends to wear reds and purples, while the more calculating, elegant, reserved Servilia tends to wear blues and greens.
    • Octavia and Octavian also have this dynamic: gentle, emotional, romantic Octavia wears pinks, purples and corals, while cold, emotionless Octavian wears a lot of blue and white when he's grown up (not counting his consul's and senator's togas).
  • Remember the Alamo: "THIRTEENTH! THIRTEENTH!"
  • The Remnant: Cato and Scipio leads this after dumping Pompeii. They are defeated very handily.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: After his defeat at Pharsalus, Pompey travels the countryside incognito with just his family and some hired help. When they run into Pullo and Vorenus washed up on the shore, the slavemaster suggests killing Pompey's men so they can deliver him to Caesar for the reward. Pullo and Vorenus kill him instead and take Pompey prisoner themselves (although they later let him go).
  • Right Behind Me:
    • After suffering a defeat by Caesar in Greece, the Senatorial faction argues about what to do next. Cicero and Brutus decide they're tired of running and are going to surrender to Caesar. Brutus then calls Pompey Magnus an old fool just when Pompey walks into the tent. Subverted in that Pompey isn't angry with Brutus and admits that they have reason to question his leadership.
    • Cicero is paying his respects to Brutus and the fellow conspirators in the murder of Julius Caesar, but complains when he finds they've left Mark Antony alive. Cicero then decides he's got urgent business in the country and makes to leave, but not before saluting the "immortal liberators" from the tyrannic Caesar. Cicero then turns and bumps into Mark Antony who's just entered the room. Everyone enjoys his discomfiture.
  • Right Through His Pants: Averted. To say the least. Brutus, Mark Antony and Pullo all have scenes involving full frontal nudity (and Brutus became a lot more popular because of it), while many others are shown naked but not full frontal.
  • Right Through the Wall: In the second episode Octavia overhears her mother Atia having very loud sex with Mark Antony, which she mockingly imitates at a party later. Antony finds it funny and comments in praise: "She has you exact."
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Antony invokes one.
    Antony: And I have an angry mob, that will roast and eat your 'men of quality' in the ashes of the Senate House!
  • Rousing Speech: Many
    • Special mention to Julius Caesar's speech just before he marches on the walled capital Rome with only an armed gang. And wins.
    • 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.
    • Lampshaded when Octavian has to speak to his gathered troops.
    "What speech shall we give them?"
  • Royal Brat: Ptolemy XIII, and in the second season, Caesarion. Nothing makes a Royal Brat bigger than telling him he is a god since birth.
  • Rule of Cool: The producers admitted that they ignored Atia's historical date of death because they wanted to keep the darkly awesome character around.

  • Scary Black Man: Vorenus reluctantly coerces Atia into leaving Egypt by threatening to have her physically removed by a squad of Nubian guards, who he warns her have no scruples about manhandling highborn Roman women.
  • Self-Harm: Octavia is seen cutting herself, and later her sleeves are pulled up to show the injuries.
  • Seppuku: Cato
  • Servile Snarker: Posca to Caesar, Gaia to Pullo & Vorenus.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: Atia arranges for Octavian to lose his virginity, so that he can become a man.
  • Sex Slave:
    • Noting the Slavic accent of the prostitute he's been sent to lose his virginity with, Octavian asks where she is from. She doesn't know, as the Roman army massacred her family and had her brought to Rome while very young as a spoil of war.
    • In Season 2, Vorenus' daugther among other nameless characters in a slave camp.
  • Sexual Karma: Zigzagged; we see Vorenus having sex with Niobe for the first time in eight years — she clearly isn't enjoying it. Then cut to Atia and Antony's enthusiastic coupling. But Pullo gives some pragmatic advice to Vorenus on the matter, and when he reconciles with Niobe the sex is shown to be mutually satisfying.
  • Shameful Strip: Vercingetorix in episode 1.
  • Shout-Out:
    • After the shipwreck of Lucius and Titus's fleet, the two characters devise a means of escape from their desert island which will be very familiar to anyone who's read Watchmen.
    • During the opening titles, one of the animated sequences is of a snake slithering across the screen.
  • Shown Their Work: Very minute details of the Roman world are constantly and unemphatically recreated by the show. The arena set, for instance, is completely realistic. On the DVD commentary, the show runners point out that most gladiator fights were everyday local events and took place in the Forum Romanum, not in large-scale arenas. The not yet built Colosseum would be the exception, the small temporary arena in the Forum that we see in Rome was the norm. It's a case of Reality Is Unrealistic.
    • The opening battle in Gaul is likely one of the most accurate depictions of legion warfare every put to film. The legionaries work in a tight, highly-disciplined formation. The front rank is regularly replaced by fresh men, all coordinated by whistle-blowing centurions. It's simple, mechanical, almost boring, and devastatingly effective against chaotic Gaulish tribesmen. Just as telling, the Military Maverick who goes rogue is not lauded for his bravery: he's brutally flogged and sentenced to death.
  • Smug Snake: Atia.
  • Shoot the Messenger: Or, if you're Mark Antony, beat his brains out with the scroll he was reading from.
  • Shrouded in Myth: The battle of Actium is never seen which leads to much speculation. Octavia and Jocasta even argue about it.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • The conspiracy to kill Caesar runs into a problem when Vorenus, who has become a popular hero, is promoted to senator and so follows Caesar around as his understudy (actually his unknowing bodyguard). Brutus rejects dishonorable yet pragmatic alternatives like poison or attacking Caesar in his sleep, yet Vorenus cannot be attacked without risking public disapproval. Unfortunately having learnt of Niobe's infidelity, they use this information to make Vorenus rush home on the day of the assassination.
    • Pullo presents one to his would-be executioners at his trial in the arena when he sits down and refuses to fight back:
      Gladiator: That's not how it works. You're supposed to resist!
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Atia, who in real life died not long after Caesar.
  • Starcrossed Lovers: Caesar & Servilia. Octavia & Agrippa.
  • The Starscream: Played with.
    • Subverted: Antony has been slow to aid a campaigning Caesar who is under threat from Pompey. Antony seems to be on the fence about leaving Rome and going to aid Caesar. Atia learns of the threat to Caesar and tries to convince Antony to betray Caesar and seize Rome for himself (herself more like it). But instead of goading him into betrayal, it seems to snap Antony out of his indecisiveness. He quickly rebukes Atia and quickly runs to help Caesar.
    • Under orders from Octavian, Pullo makes a half-hearted attempt to flip Vorenus against Antony. It's a foregone conclusion how that turns out.
  • Stealth Insult: Antony uses one every chance he has. Cicero in a lesser way.
  • Suicide by Cop:
    • After all is lost at Philippi, Brutus charges the enemy army all by himself, taking care to take off his armor first.
    • Antony enlists Vorenus' help to commit suicide.
  • Suicide Pact: Antony and Cleopatra, obviously. The show alters the conventional story a bit, though, by having Cleopatra fake her death off-screen, causing Antony to kill himself for real so she could sell him out to Octavian and save herself. But when she realizes that Octavian is a coldhearted badass who can't be persuaded, she kills herself as well.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Pullo, eager to take advantage of his newfound celebrity status in the wake of his botched execution, simply sits down in the middle of the street and expectantly waits for admirers to swarm him. Of course, this doesn't work, as in a world without videos or photographs, only the hundred or so people who attended his execution would know what he actually looked like.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Memmio to Erastes Fulmen, with even both characters being played by actors that look very much like each other. A weird example since Erastes Fulmen's "departure" was a natural part of the script, rather than a last minute addition.
  • Suspicious Spending: After the Roman Senators leave the city to escape Julius Caesar's advancing troops, the treasury is raided but subsequently found by Pullo and Vorenus, two soldiers loyal to Caesar. Pullo considers keeping the gold for themselves and goes on a spending spree around the city, visiting dozens of taverns and giving away money for free. Vorenus points out that anyone with a brain will be wondering where a Centurion with a measly salary managed to come about such a fortune, and tells Pullo to give the money back to Caesar before his men come calling. This ends up saving Pullo's life from possible execution, since Caesar is so happy to have deprived Pompey Magnus of any funds for his war effort that he rewards Pullo instead of punishing him for thievery.
  • Tactical Withdrawal: Pompey says that he only needs to stomp his feet, and legions would spring up all over Italy. The first thing Pompey does when Caesar crosses the Rubicon river with "only an armed gang" is to run away from Rome.
    Cicero: Here we are, refugees in our own land...
    Pompey: We are not refugees. We are maneuvering.
  • Talkative Loon: Octavian's wife Livia, though she's playing the part, and is in fact just as intelligent and politically astute as her husband.
    • Jocasta.
  • Take Our Word for It: Many of the large, famous battles. The battle which forces Pompey to flee to Egypt is basically a hazy shot of a few soldiers fighting. The scene later on where he explains what happened by drawing in the dirt with a stick is actually a much more effective representation.
  • Tempting Fate: Several inUniverse examples:
    • Heavy storm. The army is embarked. Rough sea.
      Pullo: This is cack, this is! I'm wet through!
      Vorenus: We're perfectly safe — a very favorable offering was made to Triton before we left.
      Pullo: Well, if Triton can't keep me drier than this, he can suck my cock!
      Ship's mast breaks
      Vorenus: Pullo, when will you learn to keep your fat mouth shut?!
    • Played seriously when Julius Caesar refuses to execute Vorenus and Pullo for having let Pompey escape, because their incredible luck implies they're protected by powerful gods.
    • Vorenus uses a Blasphemous Boast to frighten the criminal underworld into accepting him as their leader. Pullo warns him the gods doesn't like that sort of thing, but Vorenus thinks he's lost everything anyway. "What more can they do to me?" At the end of the episode, it's revealed his family hasn't been killed, but have been sold as slaves.
  • Thanatos Gambit: When Vorenus confronts Erastes Fulmen to find out his children's whereabouts, Erastes tells him that he raped and murdered them, even though he actually sold them into slavery. Vorenus kills him in a fit of rage, and doesn't find out what really happened to his children until much later. Erastes knew that Vorenus would kill him either way, so he told an extremely provocative lie: saying in a nonchalant tone that he "fucked them, killed them and dumped the bodies in the Tiber". This could have been to prevent Vorenus from being able to rescue his children in a final act of spite or possibly just to provoke Vorenus into killing him quickly in anger instead of something slower and more deliberate..
  • That's an Order!:
    • It has to be pronounced sometimes when the main characters, soldiers, are disinclined towards something. One particularly significative instance when Vorenus is reluctant to give his personal opinion about an insult (You are cowardly scum) to Antony, who has to resort to this phrase and yet they end up sharing a moment of mutual understanding and bonding.
    • This also occurs early on when Pullo is trying to weasel his way into keeping the gold he found, but Vorenus orders him to do the right thing. When Pullo objects, Vorenus shouts, "an ORDER!!!" and Pullo straightens up, immediately acquiescing. It should be noted at this point, Vorenus technically isn't in the army anymore, but it's just so ingrained in each man's character it would be sacrilege to do otherwise.
    • Lampshaded when Octavian wants Pullo to act as an intermediary when waging war on Antony and Cleopatra. Octavian says he doesn't want to order Pullo to go, but Pullo is in fact entirely willing as he has his own agenda.
  • That Was Not a Dream: After Niobe commits suicide and Vorenus curses his own children, he staggers out into the narrow crowded streets which appear to have become a nightmare, with fleeing men and crippled beggars shouting that Caesar is dead. Vorenus grabs a priest and begs to be woken up. The priest agrees to do so then headbutts Vorenus unconscious and robs him.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Unlike Caesar, Antony is particularly cruel to Posca when Posca achieves his freedom, even though he relies on his administrative knowledge to run his portion of the empire. Tiring of Antony's moods, Posca steals his will and shares it with Octavian.
  • 13 Is Unlucky: Averted here, as the Thirteenth is Caesar's most distinguished legion.
  • Those Two Guys: Vorenus and Pullo are treated as such by their superiors.
  • Time Skip: There is a leap forward of several years between episodes 8 and 9 of season 2.
  • Tired of Running: After the disastrous Battle of Pharsalus, Cicero and Brutus abandon the other Optimates to surrender themselves to Caesar instead of fleeing to Egypt (Pompey) or Africa (Cato and Scipio). They fully expect Caesar to kill them, but they say they're simply tired of running. Caesar welcomes them into his camp with open arms, especially Brutus.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Brutus starts the series as an Idle Rich more concerned with his poetry than with politics. He eventually becomes a killer, a reasonable—albeit naïve—leader and an army General.
    • Octavian starts out as a weak and scrawny bookworm. After Caesar's death he raises his own army and becomes an important power broker, graduates to blood-spattered triumvir and ends up as unchallenged master of Rome.
  • To Win Without Fighting: When it becomes apparent that Julius Caesar has crossed the Rubicon with a single legion and started a civil war, the Republican faction in the city discuss how they can stop his advance. Pompey has to concede that an adequate defense cannot be mustered in time to stop him, and they must retreat from the capital. Cato mercilessly chews him out for this.
    Cato: You have lost Rome, without unsheathing your sword. You have lost! ROME!
  • Translation Convention: Latin is rendered as English, though a few Latin words and phrases remain in Latin. For example, many characters great each other with "Salve!" A character's class and origin is often indicated by the accent they speak, with standard Romans speaking The Queen's Latin.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: Naturally, given the timeframe of the series being the period when the Roman Republic died and was replaced by the Roman Empire.
  • Un-Confession: When Vorenus drops his jerkass act, Niobe almost blurts out the truth about her infidelity. Vorenus assures her that it doesn't matter what she's done while he was away; they're going to start afresh. Unfortunately Niobe's crime is far more serious (according to Roman values) than mere infidelity.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Lucius Vorenus and Niobe, according to quite a few characters on the show. Out-universe this doubles as informed unattractiveness for Kevin McKidd's character.
    • At least, informed by modern standards: The Romans had different ideas about male beauty, which didn't really include the rugged look.
    • Posca and Jocasta. Plus he is much older than her.
  • The Unblinking: Octavian has this habit during confrontations when he's older. Exaggerated during his meeting with Cleopatra, where he doesn't blink once.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Erastes Fulmen to Vorenus, repeatedly. Fulmen shows up with his gang of thugs and tries to intimidate Vorenus on a few occasions; when he finally crosses the line, Vorenus and Pullo kill every last one of them without breaking sweat.
  • Undying Loyalty:
    • Many of the body slaves to their masters; some even commit suicide so they'll be Together in Death.
    • Pullo to Vorenus.
    • Vorenus to whomever he's sworn loyalty to.
      Octavian: The man turns loyalty into a vice.
  • The Unfair Sex: Very much averted. There are plenty of ruthless female characters such as Atia, Servilia, Gaia and Cleopatra and even the more sympathetic women like Niobe and Octavia do some highly questionable things
  • Unstoppable Rage: Pullo and Vorenus, more than once. But the stand-out example is when Vorenus slaughters Erastes Fulmen's entire gang.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The series is quite loose on many aspects of history. Some of them are forgivable for the sake of dramatic/artistic license, but others are questionable. It may work better if you think of the series as a sort of "Rome, as seen by Romans." There are all sorts of oddities in their interpretation of other cultures (the wild German cavalrymen, the long-haired Gauls, the dark, effeminate Egyptians) but it is entirely possible to look at these oddities as a dramatization of "Roman Stereotypes."
    • The real Atia, besides being a dull Roman matron, died one year after Caesar and thus shouldn't have been around for the second season. There is no record of a romantic relationship between her and Mark Antony.
    • Likewise, Octavia was praised as a paragon of Roman feminine virtue. Her participation in orgies and numerous extra-marital affairs may be based on Octavian's daughter Julia, whose behavior led to her being exiled in disgrace by her father. There is no historical evidence for her affairs with Agrippa and Servilia, or her incest with Octavian. Agrippa did later become Julia's second husband. Octavia's first husband Marcellus (here renamed "Glabius") was not killed on Atia's orders. For one thing, the real Atia died several years before him.
    • There were actually two battles at Philippi. In the first, Antony defeated Cassius while Brutus overran Octavian's camp. Mistakenly believing that all was lost, Cassius took his own life. The second battle occurred some three weeks later, and after Brutus was defeated, he ordered a slave to kill him. He did not suicidally charge the enemy as portrayed in the series. This scene may have been inspired by Brutus' brother-in-law, Marcus Porcius Catonote , who, according to Plutarch, died in that fashion at Philippi.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Done in-universe
  • Villainous Breakdown: Everyone who's lost a battle. Brutus is the sole exception.
  • Virgin-Shaming: Atia firmly believes in this. Which is why she arranges for Octavian to visit a brothel, so that he can become a real man.
    Atia: You will penetrate somebody today or I shall burn your wretched books at the yard.
  • The Voiceless: A viewer could be forgiven for thinking Vorenus' younger daughter is totally mute. She makes only the slightest of sounds on very rare occasions.
    • Word of God from the DVD commentary is the actress who played her the longest was Italian and refused to learn English lines phonetically. Rather than argue with a little kid, they simply cut out her dialogue and even Lampshaded it later.
      Pullo: She still doesn't say much, but she can give such a look . . .
  • Tyrannicide: The series depicts the assassination of Julius Caesar by Brutus and his allies at the end of the first season. When they later discuss the aftermath with Caesar's surviving ally Mark Antony, the latter points out that justifying Caesar's murder as tyrannicide has created a conundrum for everyone, as all of Caesar's motions, including the appointment of Brutus' and Antony's offices, are legally null and void. The factions agree to forego a new election by declaring Caesar's death accidental.
  • War Is Hell:
    • Octavian asks a prostitute with a Slavic accent where she's from, and is surprised to be told she doesn't know. She explains that's because when she was a child the Roman army carried her off to Rome as a slave, after massacring everyone else in her family.
    • After his defeat in Africa Cato contemplates a dying War Elephant, lying on its side in the desert heat and unable to rise again.
    • Even Pullo looks grim when he comes across the aftermath of the battle at Mutina.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Brutus, whose only goal is the preservation of a sacred Republic started by an ancient kin. He reluctantly joins the plot to kill Caesar when he realizes that Caesar may be a threat to the constitutional order. He insists that only Caesar be killed, as "we are tyrant killers, liberators, not murderers". He thus spares Antony, which backfires as Antony eventually continues the civil war and helps the survivors of Caesar's party defeat Brutus and the other conspirators.
  • We Named the Monkey "Jack": When Vorenus brings home the one little boy who survived the wasting disease that killed the rest of his slaves, the girls coo over him and one of them says, "We'll call him Rubio after my pigeon that died."
  • We Used to Be Friends: Caesar and Pompey were originally friends and allies, who effectively ruled the Republic (along with Crassus) during the First Triumvirate. The series begins just as their alliance is starting to fall apart, as the glory and wealth that Caesar achieves with his conquest of Gaul threatens to eclipse Pompey. Then Julia, Pompey's wife and Caesar's daughter, dies and the Senate seduces Pompey to turn against Caesar. At first, Pompey is reluctant to betray a friend and they share a mutual respect. Eventually, Caesar is deeply affected by Pompey's fate.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Lepidus, the third triumvir, is given Africa to govern when Octavian and Antony divide up Rome's provinces, but isn't heard from again.note 
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
  • What You Are in the Dark: With his army heavily outnumbered by Pompey's in Greece, Caesar sends urgent word to Antony in Rome to join him with his remaining legion. Meanwhile an envoy from Pompey offers Antony a deal: money and a province in return for betraying Caesar. Antony hesitates until Atia also suggests that he leave Caesar to his fate and set himself up as a king in Rome. This snaps him out of it and he promptly decides to go to Caesar's aid.
  • With Due Respect: Posca to Mark Antony when he threatens to forcefully move Calpurnia from Rome:
    Posca: With all respect, sir, but until the will is ratified I am bound to serve the Julii and I must request that you not forcibly remove my mistress. With all respect
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: Octavian.
  • Woman Scorned: A pileup here, as usual.
    • Calpurnia threatens Caesar with divorce if he doesn't end his relation with Servilia. Caesar complies, as he needs her family political influence and money.
    • Servilia sets in motion the plot to assassinate Caesar purely out of spite from being rejected by him.
    • Atia, oh gerrae! Atia. All of the above happens thanks to her machinations. Plus humiliating her is Antony's final mistake, as after that she begs Octavian to destroy him. By the end of the series she is maneuvering against her daughter-in-law; from Atia's point of view the wife of her little boy Octavian / Augustus is just an intolerable usurper to the "First Lady of Rome" dignity.
      Atia: I don't give a fuck what the priests say. I'll not let a vicious little trollop like you walk ahead of me. I go first. [...] I know who you are. I can see you. You're swearing now that someday you'll destroy me. Remember, far better women than you have sworn to do the same. Go and look for them now.
  • Worthy Opponent: Caesar believes this of his enemies in the civil war, and is one to them as well, although they'd never admit it. And as the above Badass Boast shows, Atia acknowledges Servilia was this after her death.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Caesar, Antony and Timon, amongst others.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: In the aftermath of Caesar's death, his heirs Octavian and Mark Antony become enemies over time. When Antony steps all over the Senate and takes his legions north to seize Gaul for himself, Octavian joins forces with the Senate (run by sympathizers of Caesar's murderers) to crush Antony's rebellion. Antony is defeated, but Octavian turns on his allies by using his new position of Consul to take control of the Senate and make Rome his own dictatorship. As Brutus begins marching on Rome, he allies with Antony once again, because it's the only way they can survive. After winning the battle, Octavian and Antony are now joint dictators of Rome. But Octavian then blackmails Antony into leaving Rome and taking up his seat of power in Egypt. Over the years, Antony and Cleopatra provoke him into declaring war, which he does. He wins this war, and ends up as the first Emperor of the Roman Empire.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame:
    • Julius Caesar sends Vorenus to bribe a former army colleague. Honest to a fault but loyal to his superior, Vorenus does so and reports back. Caesar comments that he didn't think the man would sell out so cheaply. "I must send you to handle all of my corruptions." Manipulative Bastard that he is, Caesar quickly sees how uncomfortable this makes Vorunus and says that he was only joking.
    • After Brutus stabs Caesar, Longinus holds up his hand and cries, "Thus ever for tyrants!" Brutus tears his hand free in disgust.
    • Realising that war is coming between Mark Antony and Octavian, Posca flees back to Rome but makes sure to bring Antony's last will and testament with him. Realising the contents of the will contain everything he needs as a Pretext for War, Octavian thanks Posca for his "loyalty". Posca has the grace to look embarrassed.
  • You Just Told Me: Used several times, first by Atia to expose Octavia's relationship to Agrippa, and by an Egyptian guard to expose an undercover Caesarion.
  • You No Take Candle: Eirene only learns Latin during a Time Skip in the first season, so her command of the language remains pretty crude through her time on the show.
  • You Talk Too Much!: Vorenus to Pullo, again and again. Actually, any time they are both part of a meeting with powerful or violent people, Pullo will talk too much, and Vorenus will correct him.


Video Example(s):



Caesar is shocked and horrified at Pompei's death at the hands of the Egyptians.

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Main / AntagonistInMourning

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