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stealing from

Stealing from Saturn

"Stealing from Saturn" is the fourth episode of the first season of the television series Rome.

Plot summary

  • At the opening episode, the viewer is introduced with a torture scene of a man strung upside down from a tree as another man on the ground steps up and flays another strip of flesh from the man's torso, sending the man into a fresh round of screams. Then it cuts to a shot of the Senate generals, i.e. Pompey, Brutus, Cicero, Cato and Scipio in their tent discussing the current situation. Caesar has marched on Rome and taken control of the city without any form of resistance being met. The Senate and their army have withdrawn to the south from the city in order to muster their army, in the hopes of eventually retaking the city when all is ready. But when Pompey's son finally enters the tent bearing bad news, the entire game changes. The man Quintus and his man Volpe have been torturing has finally told them that after killing Pompey's man Durio and attempting to steal the gold taken from the Temple Of Saturn treasury, the entire party had met up with Caesar's scouts consisting of two Romans (Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo) and twenty Ubian cavalry and after an armed conflict, most of the party were killed while the rest ran. Quintus is convinced the Romans have taken the gold and Pompey sends him to Rome to find out for sure.

Historical/Cultural background

  • Lucius Vorenus holds a feast, commemorated to Janus, who was the Roman god of gates, doors, doorways, beginnings, and endings. Since Vorenus is ending one career, and beginning a new one, Janus is an appropriate God to placate.
  • While negotiating her fee and kibitzing with Vorenus, the woman providing for the feast recounts the bloody events the "last time" Roman soldiers entered the city. She is referring to the events surrounding the career of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, specifically his Dictatorship of Rome, where Sulla assumed absolute power and proceeded to liquidate thousands of political enemies – or simply those who had wealth or property that he or his allies coveted. These events would have occurred within living memory of many senators, which might explain their determination to not let another man have such power again. Posca's idea about needing to kill a few rich men to appropriate their money has been used before in Rome.
  • The reward Caesar gives Pullo for retrieving the gold is 100 gold pieces. The aureus was valued at 100 sestercii, so the sum is equal to what Mark Antony offered Vorenus for reenlisting, 10,000 sestercii ($250,000).
  • Caesar and Posca discuss the various bribes Caesar will give out to the various government officials. The relative value of Roman coins is discussed in How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic, but roughly speaking, 4,000 sestertii = 1,000 denarii = USD $100,000. Caesar and Posca are talking about bribes of 50,000. Whether this amount is in sestertii or denarii is not clear. In either case, they are discussing bribes of anywhere from USD $1.25 to $5 million. This amount may sound like a lot, but Caesar allegedly bribed the consul in 50 BC, Lucius Paullus with 36,000,000 sestertii ($900 Million USD) and tribune Gaius Scribonius Curio with 10,000,000 sestertii (250 million USD).
  • Mark Antony offers Lucius Vorenus 10,000 sestertii - or 2,500 denarii - as a signing bonus to return to the 13th Legion (Legio XIII Gemina). 2,500 denarii would be roughly equal to USD $250,000.
  • The Golden looking statue of Jupiter seen in the temple as Caesar comes to ask the priests for auguries looks like a reproduction of the chryselephantine statue of Zeus by Phidias, that used to sit in the temple at Olympia
  • We see Caesar having an epileptic seizure. It is attested that he suffered from that condition, and true that in ancient Rome epilepsy was regarded as a sign of the divine disfavor of Apollo.

Inaccuracies and errors

  • At the feast, Octavia recites some verses from Virgil's Aeneid (6.126-129), a poem which would be written some 25 or 30 years later.

Character notes

Plot notes

  • The title refers to the fact that the temple of Saturn in the Forum Romanum contained the public treasury (aerarium) during the Roman Republic (and the royal treasury before that). The gold which Caesar recovers at the end of this episode – which he will use to consolidate his power within the city – is the temple/treasury gold "liberated" by Pompey's men and recovered by Pullo in the previous episode.

Episode characters

See also: Character appearances in Rome

Main cast

Guest stars

References

External links

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