Two thousand years ago, one civilisation held the entire Western world in its grasp. From Northern Europe to Africa and the Middle East. It imposed laws, ideas and a single language. Rome was the super power of the ancient world. Indeed later super powers never stopped learning the lessons of her spectacular rise and fall. Rome truly was a colossal empire. During the rise of the Roman Empire, it was not always easy to separate virtue from vice, or hero from villain. Indeed, all too often, they were one and the same.
Rise of the Roman Empire
Two thousand years ago, one civilization held the entire Western world in its grasp. From Northern Europe to Africa and the Middle East. It imposed laws, ideas and a single language. Rome was the super power of the ancient world. Indeed later super powers never stopped learning the lessons of her spectacular rise and fall. Rome truly was a colossal empire. During the rise of the Roman Empire, it was not always easy to separate virtue from vice, or hero from villain. Indeed, all too often, they were one and the same. Rome was still an adolescent discovering who it wanted to be, and its dream of greatness was a prelude to a nightmare. It was not for another 100 years that the state would mature and commit to one enduring view of itself. It would be the army, more than any other force that was destined to shape Rome's lasting identity.
Legions of Conquest
In her early years Rome was a Democratic Republic, its military an army of Roman citizens. For centuries, it was the proud duty of every landowning Roman to serve in the name of the Eternal City, indeed this was the first army that was literally built as part of the fabric of the state. Even though these citizen soldiers were not professional fighting men, they were the best trained forces the world had ever seen. These Roman soldiers had begun as defenders of their city, they became the most successful warriors in history. They conquered city after city, nation after nation, Rome was the greatest empire the world had ever known. In their brutal grasp, they held a huge expanse together for more than 1,000 years. "Legions Of Conquest" is a saga of proud men and almost unending triumph. It's the story of the conquest of the Roman Empire.
Seduction of Power
Rome seemed to own the world. Her empire stretched from Scotland to the Sahara. Her army controlled three continents. Fifty million people lived under her laws. Rome's Empire was the greatest political prize the world had ever seen. "Seduction of Power" is the story of those who would do anything to win it. The same political system that had created the magnificent monuments of the Roman Empire, the Pantheon, the Coliseum, the Forum and provided "bread and circuses" for all, would prove a breeding ground fo self-interest, assassination and civil wars. The same highly-disciplined Legions that had conquered an area of more than two million square miles would desolve into warring factions, be turned against Rome's own citizenry and in the end, prove unable to maintain the expanse of its conquests.
Grasp of an Empire
Rome conquered with the brute force of her military machine, sweeping entire peoples into her empire. With the wars over, the treaties signed, the bodies buried, whether you were a Gaul or a Carthaginian, whether you were from the East or the West, life as you had known it would never be the same again. At its height, the Roman Empire ruled 50 million people as a single civilisation. The Roman Empire was the largest and the most enduring of its kind. The trade it facilitated, the roads it built, the breathtaking infrastructure, both architectural and phychological, are all part of Rome's colossal legacy. In this fascinating programme; "Grasp of an Empire", the veiwer will experience the exporting of the Roman world through the glory years of conquest into the stability of the longest peace the world had ever known; The Pax Romana.
Cult of Order
Rome fashioned a cultural template that resonates today in Western art, architecture, medicine and urban planning. As the Roman Empire grew, this pagan model blended with a host of beliefs reflecting the multi-cultural world it encompassed. From this mix emerged Christianity, by its very nature at odds with the deeply rooted values of Roman Culture. Romans thought they had united the world. But after centuries of conquest and glory, resentment festered within. Repression and chaos replaced tolerance and order; and the gap between the wealthy and the poor had become unimaginably wide. Indeed ninety-five percent of the population struggled beneath the povety line. Cults of dessent emerged that threatened to devide the empire forever. "Cult of Order" aims to track the corruption of the values that made Rome 'great'; as exellence gave way to excess.
The Fall of the Roman Empire
Rome's glory had shone for a thousand years. The Roman Empire had united all lands from Spain to Syrhia, created more prosperity, more stability and more peace than the Western world had ever seen. Nothing lasts forever. In the 3rd Century AD, civil war engulfed the empire. Chaos and corruption undermined it from within and from every direction Rome's enemies gathered for the kill. By the end of the 4th century, the Roman Empire was nothing more than a fragile military machine that was no match for the invading barbarians. The inevitable occurred in 410 AD when Rome, the historic heart of the Empire, was sacked. As the Vandals stormed the city they were shocked at what they found. Gone were the crowds of the Golden Age. An eerie silence greeted the warriors as they wandered the same streets that their ancestors had walked down in chains 150 years earlier. The inhabitants of Rome, with their empire crumbling, had been chased away, the glory that had been Rome was of another day.
Letters from the Roman Front
In the Scottish Highlands of 84 AD, the impressive, armour-clad armies of Imperial Rome lay waste to thousands of Caledonian warriors of Northern Britain. Back at the Roman camp, drunken soldiers celebrate victory. Others write home to relatives with ink on wooden shavings, which are transported via an elaborate delivery system on horseback, much like the pioneer-era 'Pony Express' in the United States. These "letters" document greetings, loneliness, and even requests for mundane goods that soldiers needed sent to them from home such as socks and underwear. This is the amazing story of one of the most remarkable archeological finds of the Roman Empire. While excavating the site of an Ancient Roman battleground a team of archeologists astonishingly discover letters from the past. Preserved Roman letters that offer an incredible insight into the strongest empire the world had ever known.
If you thought you knew the ancient world, think again. Terry Jones brings the everyday details of the ancient Romans, bizarre, hilarious, or shocking, to life in this entertaining and informative programme. Rome was famed for the decadence of its ruling class, however, what about the ordinary citizens of these ancient cultures? How did they lead their day to day lives in an age when the average life expectancy was little more than forty? Did they believe in the Pagan Gods? What were their sex lives like? What did they do for entertainment? Indeed most Roman citizens didn't live in marble villas with mosaic floors and central heating, it's just that the buildings of the rich are all that remain. How ordinary Romans lived is, for the most part, unrecorded. Theirs is the hidden history of Rome. This programme is packed full of surprising and entertaining little-known facts that throw new light on our understanding of the Romans.