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Julius Caesar's rise to power, from his military success to his decision to return home and seize power from his old ally Pompey.


Nick Green


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Episode credited cast:
Sean Pertwee ... Julius Caesar
Alex Ferns ... Mark Antony
John Shrapnel ... Pompey
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Simon Dutton ... Titus Labienus
Karl Johnson ... Marcellus
Mark Noble ... Crastinus
Biliana Petrinska ... Cornelia (as Biliana Petrinsky)
Crispin Redman Crispin Redman ... Cato
Douglas Reith ... Metellus


In 52 BC, at the town Alesia in Gaul, Caesar conquers an army of 250.000 Gauls with a troupe of only 40.000 men. After 8 years of war all of Gaul is now in Roman hands. Because of this Caesar should disband his army, but instead he marches towards Rome to conquer the city. According to him Rome is ruled by corrupt aristocrats, who just enrich themselves. In Rome the senators Cato and Marcellus persuade the retired general Pompey to lead the defense of the Republic. But Pompey has only 2 legions at his disposal, compared to the 11 legions of Caesar. His strategy is to leave Rome and to lure Caesar into a trap in Greece. When Caesar and his army enter into Rome on 17 January 49 BC, the city is abandoned. For one year Caesar has to fight Pompey's Hispanic legion in the west, before he can go off to fight Pompey in the east. Caesar's plan is to surprise Pompey in Dyracchium in May 48 BC, but for the very first time he loses the battle. When he meets Pompey again, in Pharsalus in August 48... Written by Maths Jesperson {maths.jesperson1@comhem.se}

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Drama | History







Release Date:

28 September 2006 (UK) See more »

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Soldiers shown hacking and slashing with their swords, but the Roman gladius was a stabbing sword, as evidenced by its sharp point. See more »

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User Reviews

Caesr Was Not a Gay Dilettante
5 April 2011 | by ArchStanton1862See all my reviews

It's not surprising that this episode should be unimpressive given that the HBO series Rome came out at around the same time and covered the same character with more time, a better budget, better sets, and better actors. Still, it didn't have to be this bad. This is basically a hatchet job on Caesar. That's not necessarily a bad thing since HBO did much the same thing. But there were two important differences. First, they made Caesar believably cold-blooded. You can see the man thinking his secret thoughts and plotting, yet when he's in front of his troops his persona is much different. Second, they at least made him interesting. This Caesar is a dandy with seemingly no understanding of other people. In fact, his introduction has him in his tent having his body hair pulled out and his face pampered while his soldiers are outside dying. Needless to say the real Caesar would never have done this, and more importantly it seems unbelievable that anyone would follow a man who let them die because his massage session wasn't finished. This is a terrible performance for one of the greatest generals the world has ever seen (something that they keep saying during narration, but fail to demonstrate). I don't blame the actor so much as the script. He's playing it pretty much as written. Caesar is gay and loves close, physical contact with his commanders. Caesar is pouty and accuses Mark Antony of being about to betray him for no reason. Caesar is reserved and doesn't come out of his tent except to decimate his soldiers and take credit. How else can he play it but as an effeminate, pampered dilettante? The other characters aren't much better. In fact, they're pretty forgettable. The only one that really stuck out was Marcellus and that was only because he was the same guy who played Cato in HBO's Rome. This is made extra weird because most of his scenes are WITH Cato. Frankly, he makes a better Cato than Marcellus. It seems unbelievable to have him as a money-loving luxurious Senator when you've seen him as a ascetic opinionated statesman. I prefer to think of that as a compliment to his performance as Cato rather than an insult of his performance in this. Everyone's motivations are simplified, which is to be expected in a docudrama, but this is done to the point of absurdity. Caesar never states anything like a reason why he should be allowed back into Rome, when even Rome made clear that he had damn good reasons to fear being prosecuted. From the very beginning he tells everyone he meets that he's going to take over the Republic when he returns. That the Republic has many failings is alluded to, but they never expand on exactly what Caesar was going to do that would fix them. The senators convincing Pompey that he must fight has a similar lack of subtlety. It's all about money. Caesar must be defeated immediately, not because he's a deadly threat to Republican ideals or because they fear Pompey's growing power, but because it's costing the senators money to stay on campaign. In every action there is a clear right and wrong side, and you know what it is the second you see it. The narration makes things even worse because the characters often state things that were just said by the narrator. Overall, a complete failure.

They list Mary Beard (a very respected Classicist) as the adviser in this episode. I can only assume that they ignored most of her advice because it's not evident on film. In fact, all of these episodes have famous scholars listed as advisers. I can only assume that they got them for publicity and that they weren't very heavily involved. Even the accurate ones don't betray much evidence of academic involvement. Of course, she did say something on her blog about going to watch them film it on location. An opportunity to go around Roman sets and see people dressed in period costumes might well be worth letting them tack your name onto a show like this. I think I'd have done the same, especially for the chance to fool around with some of the excellent props.

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