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The Fall of Rome 

How the greatest empire gained a useless emperor, how the barbarians destroyed the foundations of city... How Rome fell, because of one fatal mistake.





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Episode credited cast:
... Olympius
... Athaulf
Mark Lockyer ... Alaric
Rest of cast listed alphabetically:
... Honorius
Natasha Barrero ... Galla Placidia
Colin Heber-Percy ... Stiticho
... Jovius (as Phillip Jackson)
Karl Jenkinson ... Sarus
... Attalus
Ian Lindsay ... Festus
Paul Mooney ... Emissary
Sabina Netherclift ... Goth woman
Lyall B. Watson ... Petronius
Andrew Westfield ... Berig


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 ... Written by KGF Vissers

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Drama | History




Release Date:

26 October 2006 (UK)  »

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User Reviews

Noble Barbarians vs. Arrogant Romans. Never Seen that Before...
5 April 2011 | by See all my reviews

This episode is literally about the fall of Rome. Not the fall of the empire mind you. That continued on for another 60 years in the west and thousand in the east. This is the sack of Rome by the Goth Alaric. A major event in Roman history which I'm quite sure has never been filmed before. This is really what the series should be doing, exploring the bits of Roman history that no one else covers. The best episodes are the ones that aren't retreading the tired old emperors and generals.

I'm not sure why, but after three episodes they bring the freeze-frame introductions again. Maybe the same crew was involved. They make Alaric out to be far too nice. Somehow having nice-guy Romans is politically incorrect, but nice-guy barbarians are just fine. The situation has been simplified almost beyond recognition. The real Alaric was an amoral general who was out for himself. The men surrounding him were all soldiers. He was not king of all the Goths, he was king of one group of Goths. A very successful king, but king of a sub-group nonetheless. They weren't simple farmers and families out looking for land. Certainly he wanted land to live on, but they were warriors and they were expected to fight in exchange for it. And Alaric and Stilicho weren't all chummy like they're shown here. Stilicho led several campaigns against Alaric in an effort to drive him off Roman lands. When he did offer him land it wasn't a benign gesture. It was an exchange for military service. Alaric would serve Stilicho and Stilicho would pay them by settling them on land. Also, the uprising against the barbarians wasn't just some mindless, bigoted gesture against foreigners (although it was stupid), it was a reaction about the number of barbarians being used in the army. Currently about 1/3 of the Western army was barbarian, a dangerous situation when Rome needed to use its army to defend itself against those very people. At any rate, they capture his reluctance to sack Rome and his failed negotiations with Honorius just right. Basically, all the facts are right, they've just got the context wrong.

It's still a fairly entertaining episode. And it is always nice to see the barbarian invasions on screen. The only other time I've seen that is in Attila. It just seems like it could have done more.

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