Augustus, Vorenus and Pullo

– Historical characters in the television series ‚Rome‘

Lucius Vorenus
In the television series ‚Rome‘ Lucius Vorenus is depicted as a moral, disciplined and by definition very ‚Roman‘ centurio (however, sometimes quite pessimistic) …

We all know the successful series ‘Rome’, aired by HBO (same producer as Games of Thrones!) for two seasons in 2005 to 2006. You might have heard about it from a friend, a relative or even your history teacher. There is a respectable reason for its huge success. So, should you have not seen it yet, keep reading for the next few weeks and I will convince you to make Rome the star of your next movie marathon.

Titus Pullo
… whereas Titus Pullo has a rather more laid-back attitude! (both @Imgur)

The first season has a special focus on the rise of the general Gaius Iulius Caesar (commonly known as Caesar, 100 – 44 BC), whereas the second season tells about the life and power struggle of his nephew Gaius Octavius (63 BC – AD 14). You may know him better as the Roman emperor Augustus. The historical narration of the television series is framed by parallel storylines of the two protagonists, Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo. Both men, though very much not alike, fight together as legionnaires in the legio XIII Gemina, headed by Caesar, but eventually become friends and even brothers. The selection of the main characters here are quite fitting as they give the spectator an inside view into the life of the plebeian (ordinary Roman citizens, as opposed to the rich aristocratic patricians).

Although Vorenus and Pullio at first seem to be merely fictional characters, looking further into ancient literary sources, you do find historic evidence for their existence. In Caesar’s reports about the Gallic Wars from 58 to 50 BC, he mentions particularly two men who bravely fought the revolt of Ambriox and freed the legion from the Gallic siege.

“In that legion there were very brave men, centurions, who were approaching the first ranks, T. Pullo, and L. Vorenus. These used to have everlasting disputes between them (over) who should be preferred, and in every year they used to contend for promotion with the greatest rivalries.” (De Bello Gallico 5,44)

Their bravery and special honour are shown during the two seasons of the television series ‘Rome’ as the protagonists get increasingly involved with political matters. While Lucius Vorenus is firstly in close acquaintance with Caesar and later Mark Anthony (aka Marcus Antonius), Titus Pullo involves a close trust to the young Octavian and later ruler Augustus.

Though both characters are not mentioned further in Caesar’s reports, it is remarkable that the makers of ‘Rome’ have decided to pick two seemingly unimportant, and yet historical characters to pepper throughout the plot.

This little detail got my attention whilst watching the series and convinced me to look further for more authentic details in the show.

Edited by Anaïs Mutumba

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