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spittle

Mistakes In Hbo's Rome

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Scene setter.

 

Antony sends the dwarf to summon Vorenus and offers him a promotion and 'a ten thousand denarii signing bonus'. Vorenus declines and says he intends to start a business.

"What business do you plan on starting" says Antony

"Importing from Gaul" answers Vorenus.

Antony- "Importing what?"

Vorenus- "Slaves, truffles, wine...That sort of thing"

"Your going to be a grocer!" Guffaws Antony.

 

My attention was caught by the 'importing wine' FROM Gaul to Rome (in 50BC).

Around this time the Gauls were exchanging one slave for a single amphora of Roman wine.

 

So wouldn't importing wine from Gaul be like smuggling heroin INTO Afghanistan in our time?

Edited by spittle

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I think it's supposed to be a joke!!

 

Truffles and wine are particularly associated with modern France - hence importing them.

 

And in any case, did the Romans know of the equivalent of a "grocer"?

 

You are almost certainly right, FACTUALLY, but miss the point in terms of the script.

 

ROME is not meant to be absolutely factually accurate, either in look or reference, IMHO.

 

The Subura scenes echo the look of the Indian bazaars or Middle Eastern souks (suqs) of our day. The ALLUSION is probably quite effective, but in absolute terms no doubt wrong.

 

The Egyptian scenes look nothing like Ptolemaic Alexandria or the Hellenistic court of the Ptolemies. But the commenatries on the dvd make clear that the producers did not WANT to re-produce the look of other films (most notably the Liz Taylor Cleopatra, I suspect) - so they invented something.

 

If one went through all the episodes with a notepad, I'm sure one could come up with a hundred anachronisms of the sort you mention. But all would, I am sure, be deliberate, not the result of negligence.

 

Phil

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I don't know, Phil. I'm a little sceptical about your view on this. The Vorenus dialogue about Antony being worse than 'The Gracchi, Marius or Cincinnatis' was another line that made no sense.

 

I'd agree that wine and truffle's are very much the stereotype of modern France but that does nothing to lessen my view of these being, essentially, mistakes in the context they are presented.

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I don't know, Phil. I'm a little sceptical about your view on this. The Vorenus dialogue about Antony being worse than 'The Gracchi, Marius or Cincinnatis' was another line that made no sense.

 

I'd agree that wine and truffle's are very much the stereotype of modern France but that does nothing to lessen my view of these being, essentially, mistakes in the context they are presented.

 

Spittle - I don't say there are NO mistakes in the series. You may be right about the quote, or not, I'll come to that. I just say that the example you gave first strikes me as deliberate anachronism for the reasons i gave.

 

From a scriptwriters' view, what would be wrong in comparing Antony to the Gracchi - socially disruptive, potentially revolutionary and tribunes of the people as Antony becomes; or Marius - a general (as is Antony) who moved to tyranny and bloodshed.

 

True, I don't see the relevance of Cincinnatus, although he did serve as "dictator".

 

So a writer could be trying to say, "Antony is (to me) worse than tribunes who threatened revolution, and a potential tyrant without breeding!"

 

Extreme, but hardly inaccurate or unbelievable, surely? Or have i missed something?

 

As I say, there may be mistakes and this might be one, but I think there are other explanations.

 

Phil

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Atia to Antony: ''Let's get married.''

 

Indeed? Antony was married at this time to Fulvia. If she faced incantations from Brutus' mother, she would have faced Fulvia bearing a sword and something like ''you messin' with my husband, tryin' to steal him, uh?''

 

The writers were wise not to open this can of worms. Having Fulvia in there would have thrown the whole balance off big time.

 

Of course, I've only seen up to ep. 6. But if Fulvia isnt in there by now, I can't see her in there at all.

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Wasn't the Curia being repaired as a result of fire damage (as a result of Clodius' 'fiery' funeral procession) during the period that the program deals with?

 

Caesar was in fact murdered in the Theatre of Pompey.

 

This may have already been mentioned; I have not read the entirety of this forum topic.

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Quite right, WotWotius.

 

In fact the curia was not only being repaired it was being repositioned and rebulit. Caesar replaced the old Curia Hostilia with the new Curia Julia, on its present position.

 

The whole of that end of the Forum Romanum was being re-thought with the Rostra and Comitium also being moved. part of this related to the construction of Caesar's new Foum Julii behind the curia.

 

But would one have wanted a set wholly surrounded by scaffoldig and masses of dialogue explaining where the Senate was meeting? In fact the senate met in various places - on the Capitol (where, as I recall, Shakespeare has Caesar murdered); the Temple of Concord, Temple of Ops etc. I think it is probably a convention of drama that the senate is considered to meet in one place.

 

I don't think the arrangement of seating was accurate either, but the actual arrangement, three rows of steps facing each other with the Senators sitting on stools is probably not so interesting in visual terms (though Fall of the Roman Empire - 60s epic - did it accurately).

 

On Fulvia - I think Atia in part may be meant to be her "type". There is a comment in the commentaries on dvd, I think, that Atia is based on Clodia. But with her and Servilia in the cast, another "strong" woman would be a little too much.

 

I don't see why they could not introduce her in Series 2, but I don't expect to see her. I think all the manoeuvering around Mutina will be heavily cut or simplified. Octavia is depicted as more feisty and colourful than her real-self is usually portrayed in the history books, so maybe she will assume part of the Fulvia role too??

 

Phil

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In fact the senate met in various places - on the Capitol (where, as I recall, Shakespeare has Caesar murdered); the Temple of Concord, Temple of Ops etc. I think it is probably a convention of drama that the senate is considered to meet in one place.

 

Didn't Plutarch say that after his fateful attack in the 'senate', Caesar proceeded to collapse at the foot of Pompey's statue? Though this event, rather than being historically accurate, was most probably stated more for dramatic effect; even so, it would have been nice to seen Pompey have the last laugh in HBO's Rome.

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Octavia is depicted as more feisty and colourful than her real-self is usually portrayed in the history books, so maybe she will assume part of the Fulvia role too??

 

Phil

 

Interesting idea. And I agree, intro'in Fulvia would have knocked everything off.

 

I do not find Octavia too far from character so far, but remember, i'm only up to ep. 6 and who knows how she really was in history. Austere, dedicated, but nothing saying she wasnt into a bit of hanky panky with an older woman from time to time. Antony was a load to handle and she gave him 2 daughters, she wasnt idle under the sheets.

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I think it's supposed to be a joke!! Truffles and wine are particularly associated with modern France - hence importing them.

Indeed a joke but I wouldn't discount it as completely inaccurate... Technically, Gallia Narbonensis of the time (at least) would have had plenty of old vinyards thanks to the Massalian Greeks. Many centuries old and quite well spoken of... <_<

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So, around the time of 50BC, Rome did not have a complete monopoly on the wine trade and vineyards existed further west than Italy?

 

Truffles are mentioned on more than the one occasion we have discussed. In ep5 Erastes Fulman hires Vorenus to try and force a Hindu merchant to pay for '50 trufffle pigs'.

Were truffles already a luxury food item by this time or have the programme makers used a modern idea to help a story flow?

 

Phil. When I mention the '..worse than the Gracchi, Marius or Cincinnatus [Antony]' mistake I only regarded the Cincinnatus part as mistaken. I fully understand the relevance of the Gracchi and Marius in the context of Vorenus' outburst. Just not the inclusion of Cincinnatus.

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So, around the time of 50BC, Rome did not have a complete monopoly on the wine trade?

Not entirely no

 

and vineyards existed further west than Italy?
Certainly, anywhere that hosted populations of Phoenicians and/or Greeks before Roman occupation would have had an established wine making industry.

 

For one here is Strabo speaking of Turdetania in southern Spain:

 

Large quantities of grain and wine are exported from Turdetania, besides much oil, which is of the first quality; also wax, honey, pitch, large quantities of the kermes- berry, and vermilion not inferior to that of Sinope...

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We also know of Baeterrae from Massilia in Narbonensis (part of Gaul for such practical purposes as was suggested in the show).

 

Pliny says this in HR 14.8"

Massilia, which lies between the Pyrenees and the Alps, produces two varieties of wine, one of which is richer and thicker than the other, and is used for seasoning other wines, being generally known as "succosum." The reputation of the wine of Beterr

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Octavia is depicted as more feisty and colourful than her real-self is usually portrayed in the history books, so maybe she will assume part of the Fulvia role too??

 

Phil

 

Interesting idea. And I agree, intro'in Fulvia would have knocked everything off.

 

I do not find Octavia too far from character so far, but remember, i'm only up to ep. 6 and who knows how she really was in history. Austere, dedicated, but nothing saying she wasnt into a bit of hanky panky with an older woman from time to time. Antony was a load to handle and she gave him 2 daughters, she wasnt idle under the sheets.

 

Citizens! Fulvia has been in the Series. I cannot remember off the top of my head just which episode it was, but there was the scene where Antony was being fed grapes or some such by a slut in a diaphanous robe. He called her Fulvia.

 

I agree with Frankq that Octavia is not too far from her historical self - but the whole mythical Glabius storyline and her leaping into bed with Servilia is just gratuitious nonsense. If I've said it once..... she should be married to Gaius Claudius Marcellus during the action of Series 1, and by the end of it she would have had at least her elder Marcella and been pregnant with the younger. And in series 2.....I wonder where Marcellus is going to come from....

 

As for Atia - she is simply grotesque, and I can't wait for 43BC!

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Also, Octavia is seen feeding species of parrot that will mot be known to Europeans for 1500 years and 1800 years.

 

I know its less dramatic than lesbianism and murdered husbands but I keep parrots so I noticed this mistake instantly.

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