Follow TV Tropes


YMMV / Rome

Go To

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Caesar another demagogue, ambitious Sleazy Politician who in the end only seeks personal gain or is indeed a lesser evil clashing with an entrenched and way more corrupt aristocracy? Are his lenient, benevolent ways — self-serving as they might be — ultimately good for the people?
    • The show presents one for Brutus. Instead of a righteous crusader who kills Caesar out of a sense of duty, he's a Momma's Boy with an Oedipus Complex who gets duped into killing Caesar (his surrogate father, and his mom's lover, and possibly his biological father) because of a petty family feud that he wants nothing to do with.
  • Advertisement:
  • Anvilicious: The Laser-Guided Karmic Death by Irony of Brutus, stabbed by several soldiers of Caesar's old legion in the same time, as he stands in the middle of them, like Caesar. Aeschylus' anvil needed to be dropped : "By the sword you did your work, and by the sword you die".
  • Awesome Music: "Triumph", played during the triumphal marches of Julius Caesar and Octavian, will make you want to become a conqueror yourself.
  • Foe Yay: Antony flirts with almost everyone, including the people he threatens. With Brutus, in particular, he often seems to veer into pigtail pulling territory. If only the show had included the historical account of him wrapping Brutus's dead body in his purple mantle...
  • Genius Bonus: Many, many, many. While there's plenty of historical inaccuracies, there's just as many where a student of Rome (or just a well informed viewer) can get an extra kick.
    • Case in point, Caesar's demand that the Egyptians pay back "Seventeen thousand thousand drachma" is a bit more impressive if you know he's demanding the equivalent of $650 million, in cash.
    • Advertisement:
    • Atia's reference to sending Servilia a well-endowed slave and "six barrels of ice." Six barrels of ice, in Roman times, would have been worth a small fortune: Atia is sending Servilia the same things Atia herself prizes, sex and money (money being, in some ways, the same as power).
    • References to slaves "buying their freedom." Roman slaves were required by law to be paid a small stipend-nothing like a wage, let alone a living wage as we would think of it, but a supply of money nonetheless. Some, especially skilled tradesmen, managed to save enough to buy themselves, making them freed men.
    • All politicians and old Roman gentes mentioned fits in the context. For example, in Greece, when Pompey and his senators are discussing how they will share power, since Caesar will soon be crushed, they talk about Lucius Manlius Torquatus, Marcus Terrentius Varro, Titus Labienus and Lucius Scribonius Libo. All four of them were real supporters of Pompey, that all went to Greece with him, some having defected from Caesar's side.
    • Advertisement:
    • Vorenus is outraged that Caesar has marched into Italy with his army, but boasts that his father "rode with Sulla". Just a generation earlier, Sulla himself did the same as Caesar by turning his army against the city of Rome and seizing power (far more brutally than Caesar).
    • Pullo dumping Gaia's body into a river after killing her. Romans believed that a person couldn't enter the afterlife without a proper burial, and would be condemned to wander eternally without rest. Pullo, in a sense, was damning Gaia to eternity without rest as vengeance for killing Eirene and their unborn child.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Can't Allen Leech go through one TV show stint without falling in love with a noblewoman? It never works out.
    • In 1998, James Purefoy and Kevin McKidd starred together in a gay romantic comedy titled Bedrooms and Hallways. Which makes it hilarious to see Vorenus being summoned to speak with Antony while he (Antony) is being cleaned with oil, buck naked, with everything on display.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Mark Antony does plenty of vile things (such as starving the entire Roman population to make a point) but he's strangely sympathetic and his downfall and death seem genuinely tragic.
    • Vorenus also fits. Over the course of Season 2, he goes through a traumatic wringer and he lashes out at everyone around him, but it's hard not to feel bad for the guy.
    • Servilia, if only because all the crap Atia puts her through. Otherwise she would be just plain Jerkass.
    • Pullo, by all accounts, is not a nice guy. One can't help but feel sorry for him though when Gaia kills his wife and unborn child simply because she wanted to sleep with him.
    • Atia is overjoyed because she thinks she's going to marry Marc Antony, only to discover that a backroom deal has been made to marry him off to her daughter. Talk about being tossed over for a younger woman.
  • Love to Hate: Pudenda Voluntariosa Atia. A conniving harpy, but she is so casually petulant and whimsical that it's hard to stay mad at her. On top of that, Polly Walker's delivery is so good that her unapologetic villainy is hilarious most of the time.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Gaius Julius Caesar conquers the entire land of Gaul, while masterfully manipulating the Roman senate into declaring him a criminal to give him an excuse to march on Rome, scattering the Senate and seizing ultimate power while acting humble to continue winning the love of the populace. Caesar continues a series of masterful political maneuvers to entrench himself while maintaining the loyalty of his soldiers and closest allies, even rewarding a veteran for defying his explicit orders when the man's actions win favor with the crowd, securing himself a trusted bodyguard in the process. In almost every moment, Caesar continues to show how he is the true master of Rome and is seen as almost divine even before his assassination.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "He was a CONSUL OF ROME!"
    • "True Roman bread for true Romans."
    • Something more cheerful.
  • Squick: Many examples. The worst one would be the incest between Octavia and her little brother Octavian. Not to mention what Titus Pullo does to gang leader Memmio near the end of the series.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • The fact that Vorenus and Pullo owe loyalty to two different masters (Antony and Octavian respectively) appears to be leading up to an epic battle where they'll be forced to fight each other. This never happens.
    • Antony's funeral speech (the famous "Friends, Romans, countrymen..." speech). This was a speech so powerful that it completely turned the masses against the conspirators and set the stage for Antony and Lepidus, and later Octavian as well, to set up shop. To say that this speech changed the course of human history is not an exaggeration. How is it portrayed in Rome? We see its aftermath, with the mob burning Caesar's furniture, and a number of nameless drunk characters talk about it vaguely in a bar in a scene right with Telling, but no Showing. According to the directors, it was cut for budget constraints, and because it would have been difficult to create as a set.
  • The Woobie:
    • Subverted with Lucius Vorenus but played straight with his children.
    • Poor, helpless Octavia. She is pimped by her own mother to a repulsive old man and driven by her dominating lesbian lover into having sex with her brother. This continues in Season Two, where said brother is master of the family and now pimping her to Mark Antony instead. Downplayed in that none of the crap happen to her breaks her, exactly, just turns her more and more cynical and resigned.
    • Niobe, if she hadn’t slept with her sister’s husband, would probably have full audience-sympathy. She thought she was a widow, and she tried to move on with her life. Because of a mistake someone else made, she risked death due to an honor before reason patriarchal society. In the end, she willingly gives her life, hoping against hope that would be enough to spare her children.
    • It's hard not to feel a little sorry for Pompey as his army is defeated and his forces disintegrate around him, especially when you see him doing everything he can to keep his family's spirits up as hope for finding some refuge dwindles. By the time Vorenus and Pullo encounter and capture him, he is a completely broken man.
    • Eirene. Nearly everything that happens to her in the series is pretty awful. To start with, she was kidnapped and enslaved from her homeland. Then she has her beloved killed by Pullo after he frees her from slavery, since he intended to marry her. She contemplates murdering Pullo when he's incapacitated, but she decides to forgive him and the two get married in the second season. It seems like the two are happy for a while and Eirene becomes pregnant with Pullo's child, but then in comes Gaia. After Gaia disrespects Eirene in public, she asks Pullo to beat Gaia for being an unruly slave, but they end up having rough sex. Now that Gaia knows that Pullo wants her, she poisons Eirene with an abortifacient, who dies from blood loss with her unborn child.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: