Thursday, October 25, 2007

Rome, the HBO series.

I have just finished watching the first episode of Rome, the HBO series. I picked it up at the library, on the advice of some Hellenic Recon friends on the Nekoroi list. I'm glad I did. Wow.

From a strictly artistic viewpoint, the filmography is incredible. The sets are large and lavish, the costumes rich and historically correct, and the language (despite being in a typical British accent, because, after all, don't all Romans throughout television history have British accents? *grin*) seems quite accurate. The history is right, too. They cover the stolen Eagle, and the beginning of the end of the Republic. They have some fantastic actors, although I don't know any of them all that well. You can really believe they are living in those days.

The reason this series was suggested to me, was to see the way they worshipped. The Recons I know all think that this series truly captures the essence of how Greeks and Romans worshipped the Gods. I can see now why they would say that. There are several scenes that stand out, religiously, but none moreso than the one where a woman wishes to know if her son will be safe in Gaul, and she goes to a temple. She is put into a white robe, very plain, and made to kneel beneath a slatted stand. In the space above, a large black bull is taken in, wearing a chaplet. The woman prays, and the priest oversees things and speaks the words, and the butcher-priest does his job, drenching the woman in the bull's blood. Then the augerie is taken, and the woman's son is declared safe. She stands there, covered in steaming blood... very impressive.

In another scene, two soldiers are walking, and engage in a battle. They win, and the one stops, kneels, and kisses the pommel of his sword. He holds it aloft, and says, "Mars, pay you attention. Mars, pay you attention! These bloody, dead bodies, I give you you, oh Lord!" And then he's done. Typical Roman functionality.

I am looking forward to seeing the rest of this series. I am knowledgeable enough about the history of that period to "know what's going to happen," but that doesn't stop it being interesting watching it unfold. Every director has his own take on it, and touches on different moments between the big ones. It is the display of daily life that most interests me, I admit.

I found it interesting that unaccompanied women were not seen in a single scene, in "civilized" cities. Most women who were out, had slaves, and were completely (though beautifully!) veiled. More than one was accompanied by a free man, or several, perhaps men-at-arms or some such. Those might show their face, but still wore a covering over their hair. At a scene during a lewd play, a woman is presented to a high ranking man, and she declares she must leave because "a lewd woman" was on the stage (a half naked woman being persued by a "Roman Centurion" wearing a LARGE black phallus). Yet the women were not treated as inferior, so much as treasures to be cared for. The women we've seen so far are women of power, higher up in the food chain than the average slave girl or peon, but still, they speak openly around males in private. But not in public, and not in the Senate. Still... I did not get the feeling (in this rendition, at least) that women were lower class citizens, despite the fact that men might hold certain power over them.

And now, I am off to bed. Tomorrow will be a long day: one Coming of Age, a Saging, and a Croning, all while celebrating Samhain. Whew!
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