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Ancient Rome The Rise and Fall of an Empire

Premier :: 2006-09-21

on BBC

Genre :: Documentary

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This dramatised documentary series tells the story of the rise and fall of Ancient Rome through the six key turning points. Factually accurate and based on extensive historical research, it reveals how the greed, lust and ambition of men like Caesar, Nero and Constantine shaped the Roman Empire. It describes how Rome destroyed Carthage, was conquered by Caesar, how it suppressed the Jewish revolt, and converted to Christianity. CGI is mixed with compelling drama and spectacular live-action battles to tell the definitive television story of how the Empire was formed, how it achieved maximum power, and why it eventually failed.

Latest Episode

Series 1 - Episode 6 - Fall of Rome
Aired - 26 October 2006

Episode summary:

Under emperor Honorius Rome was still the nominal, eponymous capital, but his seat of government was the palace in Ravenna, an Adriatic port closer to the borders under constant threat as irresistible attacks from the east by nomadic peoples like the Huns caused a chain-reaction of westward migrations, forcing people like the Goths (who lived by the Black Sea) to invade the Roman imperial territory. Stilicho had allowed them to live there, but after his disgrace and execution on the instigation of Olympius, the new imperial chief councilor, all 'barbarians' were slaughtered or fled to such remote regions as the mountainous central European province of Noricum, where the Goths await the final assignation of land they were promised; when king Alaric realizes that is no longer Honorius' intent, he decides not to attack his naturally sheltered residence in Ravenna, but to lay siege to Rome itself, no longer properly defended as the imperial army is overstretched by rebellion in Gaul and invasions by other barbarians, especially across the Rhine. The idea was first to extract the treasures of Rome and then the promised land, a rich peace, but the gold and silver brought by a senatorial delegation are less then hoped and Honorius never assigns the land. Olympius makes a failed attempt to bring reinforcements once Alaric had retreated, but his army is slaughtered, causing Honorius to disgrace him in favor of Iovius. Alaric tries to make Honorius concede by 'strongly suggesting' the senate to declare its own 'hero' Attalus the new emperor of Rome, but Jovius soon gets him discredited with the Romans by cutting the food supply to the city from its main source, North Africa. After a peace negotiation is ruined by Sestus, a Gothic former rival of Alaric who became a Roman general but fell out of favor, who on his own attacks Alarics delegation, the king survives but can no longer resist the urge of his own people for action, so he has potential coup leader Berig executed and finally seizes and plunders the Eternal City, then leaves south. Four months later Alaric dies and is succeeded by his brother Athaulf, who marries the Roman Galla Placidia, but from then on Rome is unable to control events and heading for its end by the armed hand of more barbarian invaders.

Watch Episodes Online - Episode Guide

+ Series 1

+ Episode - 6 Fall of Rome Aired - 26 October 2006
+ Episode - 5 Constantine Aired - 19 October 2006
+ Episode - 4 Revolution Aired - 12 October 2006
+ Episode - 3 Rebellion Aired - 05 October 2006
+ Episode - 2 Nero Aired - 28 September 2006
+ Episode - 1 Caesar Aired - 21 September 2006

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