Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016) s02e05 Episode Script

The Ides of March

Do not talk about what you're about to see.
Understand? Yes.
May I? Just do what you need to do.
Was this the first time? No.
I've been having them for years.
Though they are becoming more frequent.
How have you been sleeping? Fine.
Though I have been having headaches.
I see.
Drink tea with fennel and juniper.
It will help the headaches.
And what about the fits? Hopefully they will lessen over time.
Hopefully? I'm afraid there's not much I can do.
This illness is of the gods.
And this just started now? He's been having them for years.
- You knew? - No.
Will this kill him? I don't know no one does.
I suppose it doesn't matter.
Either way he's finished.
How's that? The Senate will tear him apart.
How will they know? You're not going to tell them.
Why wouldn't I? Because right now he's vulnerable.
You should be looking for ways to take advantage.
Julius Caesar has appointed himself dictator of Rome, giving him authority to pass any law he sees fit.
But in the midst of achieving this unprecedented power, he faces a mysterious illness that has no apparent cure.
The ancient sources described him as having a kind of falling sickness, what we might describe as epilepsy.
All of which, I suspect, showed the kind of ongoing stresses involved in the job that he was doing.
Despite his health problems, Caesar focuses on making a stronger, more unified Rome.
Since returning from Egypt, he's fed a starving population and restored order to the Senate.
Now, with the city under control, Caesar wants to fix a Republic that he believes is broken.
For decades, Caesar has watched an inefficient Senate grow increasingly powerful.
But he knows the future of Rome's success lies with the people.
A consistent problem in the Roman state had been the issue of the Roman economy.
You had a number of poor Romans who filled the city of Rome looking for work, and being unable to find jobs.
So Caesar sought to reform this.
To get the Roman citizens back to work, Caesar begins a massive construction program.
Building temples, libraries, and a new harbor, providing jobs for thousands of Romans.
Caesar was a paradox as a politician.
On the one hand, his priority was always Caesar.
He wanted to advance himself.
But on the other hand, instead of always supporting the side of wealth and power, he would try to extend more benefits to ordinary people.
While his construction projects help the people, his most innovative and long-lasting reform is the introduction of a new calendar.
When Caesar returns to Rome, he finds that the calendar is off by at least 40 days.
The Roman government had become so corrupt, so inept, that they had literally lost track of the days, the months, the seasons.
Caesar bases the new calendar on a solar year, putting the entire Republic on a universal timetable, one that is still used today.
While Caesar's reforms are popular with the people, he's acting on his own.
Without the support of the Senate.
Over the past hundred years, Rome has experienced a time of unprecedented growth.
We've expanded our borders north into Gaul, east into Macedonia, and west into Hispania.
Growth is good.
It fuels the economy.
It makes us stronger, more powerful.
But in order to preserve that power, we must consolidate it.
Beginning by granting full citizenship to those living in the conquered provinces of Gaul.
If we neglect them and continue to treat them as prisoners of war, there will be another rebellion.
If we acknowledge the Gauls as Roman citizens, they will behave as Roman citizens.
This is the cost of maintaining the peace.
There will be no debate.
This legislation takes effect immediately.
Caesar wants to acquire all the power that he can, but he's also trying to create a bigger, more impressive system of Roman government that is fit for purpose when it comes to ruling what is now a global empire stretching across the whole Mediterranean world.
And now Caesar can push through his own legislative agenda, do whatever he wants, without having to worry about getting the Senate's support.
He's stripped us of all authority.
We have no power whatsoever.
It's only temporary.
I wouldn't be so sure.
As soon as he's accomplished his political goals, he will step down.
Once you have power, it's very hard to let it go.
While Brutus disagrees with Caesar's methods, he works closely with him, helping Caesar write legislation.
And Caesar begins considering Brutus as a possible heir.
Caesar was concerned with his legacy, because he did not have a male son of his own.
He was just taking thought for the future success of his name.
We need a census.
- A proper census of the city.
- We've had surveys done in the past.
But they weren't done properly.
Brutus had long been considered by Caesar something of a surrogate son.
He wanted Brutus to recognize that there was something maybe greater that they could do together.
For Brutus, everything is about to change, with the arrival of a foreign ally with news that will shock the Republic.
Cleopatra, within a year of after Caesar leaves Egypt, follows him to Rome.
Most Romans knew Caesar's reputation as a bit of a playboy.
Most Romans also understood that commanders and leaders abroad tended to have flings.
What was unusual was that person going to Rome, particularly if they had the reputation of somebody like Cleopatra.
This was not only a foreigner but a queen in her own right.
She was so far outside the mold of how Romans saw their women, it must have been a bit of a shock to them.
So how was your journey? Long.
But I hope worthwhile.
What is this? His name is Cesarion.
Your son.
One of the most shocking features of Caesar's return for Rome was the arrival in Rome of Cleopatra with a son.
For the de facto head of the Roman state to have a romantic relationship and then a child with the queen of an autonomous Mediterranean power, that sent shockwaves reverberating around the world.
She has him wrapped around her finger.
- He barely said a word.
- He didn't have to.
It was obvious.
- We don't know if it's even his child.
- You think that makes any difference? Now he has a son.
- To the Queen of Egypt.
- It doesn't change anything.
- It changes everything.
- For Rome or for you? Excuse me? - I just meant - This isn't about me.
Or Rome.
This is about you.
Whether or not you realize it, you've just been replaced.
As long as Cleopatra's in power and their son is alive, you don't matter.
Let's not overreact.
Whatever position of power you think you've secured for yourself, it's temporary.
So what do you want me to do? Make friends with the Senate, you'll need them.
Is that all? For now.
And keep your eyes open.
People in your position of power don't last very long.
It's hard to imagine that Servilia didn't see Cleopatra as a rival, especially when Cleopatra came to Rome.
Servilia's chief loyalty was to her son, Brutus.
After all, he was her son and he did represent the future of her house in a way that Caesar never could.
He has your eyes.
One day, he'll be the King of Egypt.
And maybe Rome.
Rome won't accept a king.
It did once.
That was a long time ago.
Then it could again.
I think that Cleopatra plants the seed of monarchy and all it can be in Caesar's head.
Does Caesar come away from Cleopatra thinking, "I want to be a king"? Perhaps not quite in such bald terms, but I think he comes away convinced that there's really no future for Rome without him being the man who runs it in one form or another.
By 45 B.
C.
, Julius Caesar has conquered over 200,000 miles of territory, pulled Rome out of chaos, and named himself dictator for the next ten years.
But with the arrival of a son, Caesar begins thinking about a dynasty.
The conclusion that Caesar reached is that Roman politics should be dominated by just one family, by his family.
He's feeling his way toward some kind of monarchy.
To secure his legacy, Caesar begins a citywide project celebrating his image which he puts on display alongside Roman gods.
Ivory towers are built in his honor, including the Basilica Julia, which still exists today.
Caesar was an arrogant man.
He had broken all the rules, so he felt that he was entitled to make all the rules.
It's hard to avoid the conclusion that power had gone to his head.
His birthday is declared a public holiday, and he begins wearing a purple robe, a garment once reserved for Roman kings.
I think everyone saw some form of autocracy, but how severe it would be was anyone's guess.
Whether Caesar viewed himself as a king or something else, I think he really did want to be a god.
Caesar believes leading Rome is his destiny, so he looks to solidify his power.
Permanently.
Julius Caesar has faithfully served the Republic of Rome.
Through his dedication and sacrifice, he has ushered in an unprecedented era of peace and prosperity.
He's conquered foreign enemies, expanded our borders and eased the burden of our less fortunate citizens.
His astounding achievements deserve honors of equal merit.
It is with that in mind, that I hereby name Julius Caesar Dictator in perpetuity.
On me! Cover it up! Julia has passed.
Stay back.
The man has himself proclaimed as dictator for life and then collapses in a convulsive fit.
I don't know where to begin.
He's going to step down.
Isn't that what you told us? I can't see that happening.
- Did you know he was sick? - Of course not.
I think you did.
Perhaps that's how you finagled your position? I earned my place.
What else aren't you telling us? Are you questioning my loyalty to the Republic? Don't ever question my loyalty.
Then we can count on you to do whatever's necessary if and when the time comes? War is coming.
It's time you picked a side.
Emotionally, Brutus was conflicted.
On the one hand, Caesar was a great man.
Brutus had known him since he was a boy.
On the other hand, Caesar was the dictator for life, the man who posed a threat to the Roman Republic and everything that Brutus held dear.
Despite their personal history, Brutus is forced by his colleagues to make a choice, while Caesar looks to distract the Senate from his illness with plans of a shocking new conquest.
Knowing his sickness could make him seem weak to the Senate, Caesar decides to temporarily leave Rome.
I think Caesar was frustrated by being in Rome, dealing with the minutia of Roman politics, jousting with Senators, having to negotiate with people he no longer considered his equals.
On the battlefield, everything was simpler and cleaner.
So Caesar declares he'll invade Parthia, the same empire that defeated Crassus.
Caesar decided to invade Parthia to keep the Roman people on side.
It may have been a ploy to distract the people, but it also shows that he's something of a conquest junkie.
He's addicted to the thrill that comes from conquest and the power and money that it generates for him.
A victory in Parthia would bring Caesar not only riches, it would make him even more popular with the Roman people.
Caesar's career followed a course where when he's out on campaign conquering new territory for Rome, defeating Rome's enemies, he's very popular, everything is great.
Once he has to actually come back and govern, things get stickier, things get harder.
If we come up through the north, we can cross the mountains.
The only other option is the desert route, but we don't want to do that.
- Well, Crassus went through the desert.
- Crassus died in the desert.
All the armies in the world can't save you from dying of thirst.
Do not underestimate the risk.
He was arrogant.
He listened to the wrong people.
That's what killed him.
You called for me.
Ah, you're here.
 It's all right.
I want you to call a meeting with the Senate.
I'm announcing a new campaign.
We're going to conquer Parthia.
Parthia? That's a bold choice.
I'll arrange a meeting immediately.
Tomorrow will be fine.
Now, where were we? For Brutus, an invasion of Parthia shows that Caesar values power over the welfare of the Republic.
I think Brutus saw as much as anyone that Caesar was a threat to the long-established constitutional order of the Roman Republic.
Brutus was a philosopher, and he saw that Caesar threatened Roman ideals.
Brutus also felt that as the descendant of the founder of the Roman Republic, he had a particular responsibility to defend the Republic against someone who was opposing it.
- Thank you for meeting with me.
- Your message was cryptic.
Let him speak.
Caesar is calling an emergency meeting of the Senate.
He's going to announce his plans to invade Parthia.
He thinks another conquest will serve as a distraction.
He's not serious.
Are you really that surprised? We don't have the funds to finance There are far bigger implications than finances.
The last thing we need is another war.
Then talk to him.
It's too late for that.
He's already made up his mind.
- There's no talking him out of it.
- Then perhaps we should let him go.
When he's gone, we can take back control of the Senate.
We can't risk him returning more powerful than he already is.
Well, that's assuming he's successful.
If he fails, he'll bring the Republic down with him.
How are we supposed to stop him? I thought you were prepared to do whatever's necessary? Inside Rome, there's a real fear that's beginning to set in that what Caesar's gonna do is make himself king of Rome.
The idea that there would be a king of Rome was anathema to Roman political psychology.
Inside the Senate, this is really the moment when they say, "We have to get rid of Caesar.
" Three days before Caesar is scheduled to leave for Parthia, an emergency Senate meeting is called.
Caesar's planned war with Parthia frightened his political opponents, because they knew that once he left Rome, and took his position as a general, he would be defended by a bodyguard.
In Rome, Caesar had no formal bodyguard.
So he would be virtually untouchable once he was a general in the field.
To guarantee there are no intruders, the Senate hire guards to stand watch outside the theater.
I think most of the reason why Brutus decided to conspire against Caesar was political.
He could never tolerate a situation where the Republic had been defeated by an individual man who had taken powers to himself in perpetuity.
May I have a word regarding my brother? He's in exile.
- After the session - Please! Let me through.
- Please.
I'm not above begging.
- You can bring it up with the magistrates.
I haven't seen him in a decade.
Then a few more hours won't matter.
Please! Get off me.
Get him off me! - And what's your name? - Brutus.
On the 14th of March, 44 B.
C.
, Julius Caesar is stabbed 23 times by a faction of senators, led by Brutus.
Caesar knew that he had enemies.
Caesar knew that some of those enemies would kill him if they had the opportunity to.
I don't think that Caesar thought that they had the balls to do it.
The assassination of Julius Caesar shocks Rome.
Slaves carry his body through the streets as the city mourns.
Brutus and his conspirators try to restore order, but things quickly spiral out of control.
The death of Caesar created a huge political vacuum at the top of the processes and men immediately started to fight for how to achieve clarity in the system going forward.
In the months that follow, Brutus and Mark Antony become bitter rivals fighting for power on the battlefield.
Brutus is defeated and as he's being captured, takes his own life.
Mark Antony's allies will soon conspire against him, and he flees to Egypt, where he marries Cleopatra.
After war breaks out between Egypt and Rome, Antony and Cleopatra die in a double suicide.
Caesar's child, Caesarion, rules Egypt for two weeks, before he's killed at age seventeen.
By assassinating Caesar, the Roman senators believed they were saving the Republic.
But the opposite occurs.
And after years of violence and upheaval the only way to restore peace is through the leadership of one man.
His name is Octavian, the nephew of Julius Caesar.
And on the 16th of January 27 B.
C.
, he becomes Rome's first emperor, ruling for the next 40 years.
Caesar, in the end, destroyed the Republic.
The example that he set, the wheels that he set in motion.
After Caesar, nothing could be the way that it was.
Just 20 years after Caesar's death, Rome is an empire with over 50 million people living within its borders, roughly twenty percent of the world's population.
No man helped shape that transformation more than Julius Caesar.
Caesar has been one of the most influential figures in the history of Western civilization.
His assassination directly tied to the end of the Republic and the start of this imperial autocratic rule.
So he's been hugely influential in that sense.
Caesar certainly stands as one of the great men of history today.
He did take steps to curb corruption, to eliminate debt, to make life a bit better for the poorer citizens and they loved him for it.
So, part of his legacy is bound up with that reputation.
Caesar's legacy goes beyond the borders of Rome.
Foreign leaders, including Russian Tsars and German Kaisers use translations of his name, and the month of July is named in his honor.
Caesar's legacy is enormous.
He's one of the two or three most famous human beings that has ever lived.
Every subsequent leader for the last 2,000 years, anybody who's politically ambitious, militarily ambitious, knows about Julius Caesar, and whether consciously or not, is comparing themselves to Julius Caesar.
He looms enormous in the political and military history of the Western world and the whole world.
And of course he stands at one of the most famous political transitions in human history, which is when the Roman Republic becomes the Roman Empire.
And who's at the very center of that? It's Julius Caesar.