I started watching HBO’s Rome this week, I don’t do much besides consume media in the summer it would seem, eh. I picked it primarily because I really like learning about the classics, the language and its effects on English, but also because I always like to be watching a good television program – no matter what else is happening in my life. I insist on this habit because good TV is just about the most enthralling form of entertainment in my view, while also being the comfiest. You can do it drunk or high, stupid or smart, and really there’s no preconceptions about TV, but rather your genre of choice.
So, TV unifies us in what we can access, what we can talk about and think about. Everyone in North America knows to some extent a litany of good shows they can discuss which enables a discourse among people over some trifling property they in no way affect or change but still love and become impassioned all the same. A TV show is really a means of representing the worries of the world, either in terms of what we wish to change or what we wish to escape.
But enough about boring communications theory and let’s get back to Rome.
The show details Julius Caeser as he ascends to immortality. No man has achieved quite such renown in the West except for probably Jesus. I just think that’s a cool ass feat for someone, I’m really interested in legacy and what people leave behind them as opposed to what they intend – who knows what was really going on, history is messy as fuck and only dicks like me care to write it, I can’t imagine that does not affect the way information was recorded before cameras and the like.
Another thing this show delves into is the lives of two roman soldiers who are plebs, or commoners in other words. It’s really quite neat to see what the supposed struggles were that face these people because they do not seem all that different from what we care for now. In the show, they are preoccupied with creating a family, adultery, making sure there’s enough food for each person and things of necessity which have not changed in the passed two thousand years if you think about it. But obviously, only rich people can have quirks.
The more interesting part of the show though is the morality behind it all. Morality in the sense of the why people behave the way they do. Christianity and Roman Paganism both stress very similar maxims of not harming other unjustly and living a fair balanced life, ideas which are much older than even the Roman Republic.
These people are obsessed with the same sex, war, drinking and fine food that we are today but their approach to it is just less evolved. They are more cautious but for fear of Gods and not disease or death. They drink to excess like us, but they could only drink wine whereas now it’s up to you.
I guess what made me interested in this show beyond my interests lying in a similar field as the subject matter, is the idea that people don’t really change that much at all. It’s like we have developed better ways of doing the same thing and not new things to do with our time. We still explore but now we use spaceships, we still fight wars but now we do it from behind computer screens thousands of kilometres away. We are still obsessed with sex, but now that’s ok and not an abundance of venal desire. It’s just interesting to see a record of your behaviour over a long time and see it not change.
I think most people would point out that personal freedom has changed dramatically since then, which is a great thing. But, the newly emancipated do the same things as everyone else, but now it’s their own decision – the importance of which cannot be understated.
Perhaps we are all just living in a deterministic technocracy being used by some third party to develop an advanced weaponry that only a people stupid enough to test it on one another could come up with. Or maybe people are just slaves to their biological imperatives after all. Qui sais?