Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016) s03e02 Episode Script

A New Hope

[ominous music playing] I can get the Senate to nullify the will.
They'll claim he was of unsound mind when it was written.
Well, what about Gemellus? He's a problem.
As long as he's alive, he's a threat.
Tiberius knows there won't be two heirs for long.
This is another one of his power games.
You have to move against Gemellus before he moves against you.
[music intensifies] [suspenseful music builds] [Tiberius breathes heavily] [Tiberius groans] [muffled grunts] [theme music playing] [intense music playing] [narrator] For over a decade, the people of Rome have been without an emperor.
After Tiberius went into hiding on Capri, it's the first time in Roman history that an emperor has abandoned his people.
[crowd clamoring] And now, the city of Rome is beginning to unravel.
Tiberius tries to govern by proxy, but of course, that leads to an even kind of messier situation, where you have lots of senators and aristocrats in Rome who don't have the strong leadership of their emperor there.
They don't really know what he wants them to do.
And you have this whole series of treason trials and executions, and exiles, and it's all very, very messy.
[narrator] With Rome on the brink of chaos, the Roman people have no idea that Tiberius' reign is about to come to an end.
After six years secluded on Capri, Caligula has killed the emperor of Rome, and the man who destroyed his family.
Caligula's life was filled with watching his closest family members become exiled and killed for speaking out against this man, Tiberius.
Tiberius was never a popular emperor.
He never really wanted the position.
Caligula, however, absolutely wanted to be in charge, absolutely wanted to be in a position of power.
[narrator] With Tiberius dead, Caligula prepares to take on the role of emperor, but there's still one person in his way.
[Gemellus] If you're going to kill me, just get it over with.
Leave us.
I am not like your grandfather.
I am not going to kill you.
Then what? Are you going to send me into exile? I'm naming you next in line.
As my sole heir.
Why? Tiberius nearly destroyed our family.
This is our chance to make things right.
By adopting Gemellus, Caligula is basically saying, "You know what? This guy could be my competitor, but instead, I'm gonna be his adopted father, I'm gonna take care of him and be his protector.
" In retrospect, Gemellus would always be a threat, but Caligula wasn't going to rock the boat that early on.
He wasn't going to go down the same route as Tiberius.
He was being a good guy.
It was the most sensible thing that he could've done at the time.
[narrator] Macro returns to Rome, using his connections to convince the Senate to throw out Tiberius' will.
Macro managed to persuade one of the consuls, heaven knows how, to render the will null and void.
[Anthony Everitt] Only then was it possible to ignore the co-heir plan.
[narrator] With the Senate decided, Macro has secured Caligula's claim to the throne.
[loud cheering] And the people of Rome get word that a new emperor has been chosen.
[crowd cheering] [intense music playing] When Caligula comes into power, he's inheriting a kind of messy situation.
[Amanda Ruggeri] You have to keep in mind you only had had two emperors before Caligula.
Augustus, who was really the first model for what an emperor could be, and then Tiberius, who kind of showed a lot of people how you might not want to be ruler.
When Tiberius was initially reported as having been deceased, the crowds in Rome cheered and celebrated.
The Roman people just hated the guy.
So the idea that Caligula had killed Tiberius only made him more popular among the Roman people.
Caligula had something going for him.
He was the son of this golden boy, the son of Germanicus, and so he was very popular.
Nobody knew anything about him, but he was seen to be the herald of a new, wonderful age.
A new age was dawning.
[narrator] In March of 37 A.
, the man who left Rome as a prisoner returns as its emperor.
With Macro's help, Caligula has ushered in a new era for Rome, but a holdover from Tiberius' reign of terror could change everything.
[Macro] Tiberius kept detailed records on the senators.
Information he could use as blackmail.
Including how they each voted at the treason trials.
In there, you'll find the hearings of your mother and brothers.
[Macro] I'll leave them with you.
[narrator] Still new to the throne, Caligula has yet to address the Senate, but now he knows who among them sent his mother to her death.
Caligula, like any new Roman emperor, had to get support wherever he could.
But the Senate, that was always a tough one.
Elite opinion really did matter in Rome and could make or break an emperor.
But the Senate encompassed the very people who had persecuted his own family.
[breathing rapidly] [narrator] After leaving for Capri, Tiberius handed over control to the Senate, and for the past ten years, they've run Rome completely ungoverned, wielding enormous power.
But Caligula wants to show the Senate that he's a new kind of emperor, and now he has everything he needs to take revenge for his mother's death.
[music intensifies] [Caligula] These are the detailed records kept by Tiberius on all of you.
[senators murmuring] Tiberius used these records to sway your opinions.
To buy your loyalty.
To manipulate you.
They contain accounts of how you voted at the treason trials.
Including those of my mother and brothers.
But I am not Tiberius.
I will be doing things differently.
No more secrets.
No more extortion.
No more fear.
[indistinct chatter] Caligula decided to let all the exiles, all the people in who had offended the previous emperor.
And so all the evidence, all the miseries, all the complaints, all the injustices of the old reign needed to be swept aside.
[narrator] For Caligula, winning the favor of the Senate is just the first step in securing the support of the Empire.
Now he has to win over the Roman people.
[intense music playing] In the first few months of Caligula's reign, he didn't put a foot wrong.
He realized fairly early on that the first thing he needed to do was to secure the favor with the people.
We've got to remember that Tiberius had been on the throne for over 20 years.
Suddenly you have this young man, who is rewriting all of the rules.
[narrator] He orders a new amphitheater to be built in his honor, and reinstates a Roman tradition that hasn't been seen in over a generation.
Gladiator games.
[crowd cheering] The games that Caligula put on were the first major gladiatorial events that the Romans hadn't seen in almost a generation.
[Aaron Irvin] Tiberius had refused to put on any gladiatorial games.
And so they hadn't had anything like this, outside of their own history books, for a generation.
The size, the scale, the spending.
The Roman people absolutely loved it.
[narrator] As the emperor's popularity grows, Caligula sets in motion another plan.
To revitalize the city of Rome itself.
Caligula did have some serious policies, and one of them was to repair Rome's infrastructure.
Rome was a huge city.
About a million people lived there at the time.
So he spent lots of money on roads.
And he built two new aqueducts to lead water into Rome.
There's a man here to see you.
He says he's your uncle.
[Caligula] Uncle.
[chuckles] You look healthy.
I have been fortunate.
And you have been through so much, and yet you have endured.
If your father were alive, he would be very proud.
If there's anything I can do, any way that I can serve you, please tell me.
My sisters.
I'd like for us to be together again.
[narrator] To keep the royal Empire in the family, Caligula appoints Claudius as his Roman consul.
Claudius was Caligula's father, Germanicus' younger brother.
He had never really gained any prestige during his young life, so when Caligula appointed Claudius as co-consul at the age of 56, Claudius had his first real administrative position in the Empire.
[narrator] Now, if Claudius can track down the emperor's sisters, Caligula could use his power to rebuild the family Tiberius tore apart.
[Caligula] A toast! To my sisters, the three most beautiful women that have ever graced Rome.
[all] Hear, hear! [narrator] When Caligula's mother and brothers were arrested, his sisters, Drusilla, Livilla, and Agrippina were spared.
But while they were close growing up, Caligula hasn't seen them in nearly a decade.
Agrippina, Drusilla, and Livilla, they almost come across as a pop girl band of the Roman world, with one of them the pretty one, one of them the quiet one, one of them the outward-going one.
But they were each powerful in their own way.
They were all ambitious.
[Caligula] Drusilla, married.
You're a lucky man, Lepidus.
Drusilla was Caligula's favorite sister.
She was said to be the most beautiful.
At one point he actually wants her as his heir, which does show us how much he trusted her.
We know very little about Caligula's sister, Livilla.
She might have been more on the shy side.
Livilla we don't hear much about.
She is ultimately overshadowed by her older sister, Agrippina.
Always trying to keep the peace, weren't you? You always kept us in line.
Squeaking orders like a tiny general.
A natural leader.
[Kathryn Tempest] Of Caligula's three sisters, Agrippina was by far the most ambitious.
From her early life, she aimed at the throne and she was avid about getting herself there.
When Caligula reached the throne, he decided that he was going to make his three sisters his closest advisers.
This is something that never ever had been seen before.
To promote them publicly, they're going to be a very large part of his public image.
[suspenseful music playing] [narrator] While Tiberius avoided the spotlight, Caligula demands it.
Eager to impress the Romans, he begins throwing extravagant festivals and decadent parties, earning a reputation as the emperor of the people.
- [man laughs] - Enjoy your evening.
One thing to remember is that Rome itself had not seen an actual living, breathing emperor for 11 years, because Tiberius was on Capri.
So just by physically being in the city, Caligula had enormous popularity.
And, in fact, for seven months, it was a golden age.
Caligula enters Rome to huge acclaim, and he makes it clear that there are gonna be parties, there are gonna be games.
The Romans are gonna enjoy having this guy as emperor.
[Murdoch] When Caligula came to the throne, he was a breath of fresh air.
He's 24, he was massively popular.
This is what the Roman people wanted.
He'd like the support of the people, but what he's also known for is his sexual appetite.
Wine? If you believe all the stories you read about Caligula, he was having sex with anyone he wanted, wherever he wanted, and whenever he wanted it.
Caligula is infamous for his sexual proclivities.
He slept with other men's wives and allegedly turned the palace into a brothel.
We get the stories that Caligula would invite senators and their wives to dinner parties, and then take the wives to his room and have his wicked way with them.
As much as any 24-year-old you give total power to, he will have done all kinds of things.
[bells tolling] [gasps] [narrator] In October, 37 A.
, after seven months of peace and prosperity, Caligula's reign takes a devastating turn.
Without warning, Caligula slips into a coma.
Caligula suffered from what the ancient sources called a "brain fever.
" It's hard to look through the historical looking glass to find out exactly what happened.
Was this entirely psychological or was it medical? Will he recover? It's unlikely.
[intense music playing] Macro must have thought, "Well, look, I want Caligula to survive.
I've put in so much energy and effort into doing all of that, but I think I better put a feeler out to one or two people that might be around him, just in case.
" You're next in line for the throne.
He told you that.
I was there.
The problem is, no one else knows it.
And no one will believe it unless we act now.
The doctor said there's only a chance he will die.
But there is a chance.
We have to be ready.
Rome has to be ready.
[narrator] As Caligula's adopted son, Gemellus is the rightful heir to the throne, but talk of replacing the emperor while he's still alive is considered treason, a crime punishable by death.
[music intensifies] [Gemellus] It is with a heavy heart that I must tell you the emperor has fallen ill.
[senators murmuring] I wish I had more information to give you.
But if anything should happen, I want you to know I am ready to accept the responsibility that's been given to me.
[senators chatter indistinctly] [breathing rapidly] [gasps] [panting] [gasps] [heavy breathing] Find the doctor.
You're all right.
You're all right.
I'm here.
[narrator] Three months after falling ill, Caligula wakes up.
[Claudius] You're all right.
To the imperial palace and the Roman people, it's a relief.
[intense music playing] But for Macro, it could be a death sentence.
- How are you feeling? - Better.
You look it.
There's something I should tell you.
I thought it best you hear it from me.
What is it? While you were ill, the doctors weren't sure you'd recover.
There was concern that others might try to seize power.
Gemellus and I thought it was important, for the sake of your family, to reassure the Senate that the doctors were hopeful the fever would pass.
And that, if anything should happen, Gemellus was prepared to fulfill his duties as next in line.
It was only meant to avoid confusion and prevent anyone taking advantage.
I understand.
[suspenseful music playing] Caligula depended on Macro, and he couldn't endure the thought that Macro might have been unfaithful, even if Macro was simply doing what anybody would do in that particular situation.
[narrator] For the first time, Caligula feels he's been betrayed by one of his own men, and just like his mentor, Tiberius, he begins to grow paranoid.
Caligula, who had spent his entire life in a position of powerlessness, now was supposed to be the most powerful man in the Roman state.
But he had seen firsthand, and had it revealed to him, that Macro could replace him.
What is it? This is difficult news to deliver.
Your illness came on so suddenly.
I decided to have the palace searched for anything that might be suspicious.
[sighs] And? One of my guards found this.
It's poison.
Where? Gemellus' room.
He must have been burying his resentment this whole time.
After all you've done for him.
I'm sorry.
[clears his throat] Thank you.
[narrator] Macro shifts the blame to Gemellus, leaving Caligula suspicious of his only heir.
Gemellus was always going to be a potential next in line for the throne, and he could be manipulated.
But there were some things even Caligula wouldn't do.
And he wouldn't kill a son of the Imperial royal family himself, but Caligula needed to get rid of him.
[Gemellus] Get off me! Let me go! [grunts] [gate closes] [gate lock clangs] What have I done? [yells] What have I done? [yells] What have I done? A lot of things in Caligula's reign seem to change once he falls ill.
His illness tripped something in his brain.
You could say his illness made him suspicious.
You could say his illness made him go crazy.
But you can't kill a descendant of the emperor, according to ancient Roman law.
So Caligula can't overtly have Gemellus killed.
[gate lock clicks] Why am I here? Untie him.
Give him your sword.
What are you doing? Take it.
Tell him I'm innocent.
You've always been jealous of me.
Make him take your sword.
Don't do this to me, please.
[Gemellus] Please! Please! I trusted you like a brother.
[groans] [whimpers] [coughs] Gemellus was forced to commit suicide by the Praetorian Guards.
The moment that Gemellus showed that he might be any sort of threat to Caligula's power, there was no plot, there was no conspiracy.
It was simply, "He is my enemy and he dies now.
" [Adrian Murdoch] When Caligula recovered, there is a different tone to his reign.
There's a nasty edge that creeps in after his illness.
He starts to become much more paranoid about what everybody had done, and what everybody was up to.
And that level of suspicion, that level of paranoia that surrounded him, very much sets the stage for his later career.
[theme music playing]