Reader Request Review: Rome (2005-2007)


A friend of mine recently got me started on watching Rome (2005-2007) — plus readers have been clamoring for another review — and I have a few thoughts about the costuming (I know, you’re all shocked).

First of all, abandon all conceived notions of historical accuracy as far as the costumes are concerned. There’s a lot of liberty taken with the designs, but the costuming is just so pretty to look at that it hardly matters if 99% of the clothing is made up entirely of saris.

Rome (2005-2007) Rome (2005-2007)

Secondly, Indira Varma is freaking gorgeous as Niobe. How do human beings get to be that pretty like it’s no big deal?

Rome (2005-2007) Rome (2005-2007)

Third, the hairstyles on the women are amaze-balls. All over the place, historically, but gorgeous.

Rome (2005-2007) Rome (2005-07)

Even Lindsey Marshall as Cleopatra sans wig is rocking the pixie cut like you wouldn’t believe.
2005-7 Rome Lyndsey Marshal

Fourth, there’s My Boyfriend Tobias Menzies being all tortured and conflicted as Brutus.

Fifth, let’s go back to Cleopatra for a second … Mad wig game, yo.

2005-7 Rome Lyndsey Marshal

And winged eyeliner that’s so on fleek it’s painful.

2005-7 Rome Lyndsey Marshal

Sixth, there’s Marc Antony being, well, Marc Antony.


And Mr. Collins as Cicero!

All said and done, I’m enjoying this series without having to think too hard about any of it. Which, given the week we’ve all just had, is something that cannot be taken for granted.


Are you content to let Rome, the series, rest on pretty like we are?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

17 Responses

  1. SaucyMarla

    Can I just say that first pic of Polly Walker as Atia is Hot!, as well as a bit “on the nose”, LOL!

  2. florenceandtheai

    I watched Rome after catching up on Outlander. Whew. Tobias is awfully pretty, and darn can he act!

  3. Jacqui Gauld

    One of my favourite box sets. Gorgeous looking cast (both sexes), humour, violence, sex, what more can you ask for? My personal favourite is Ray Stevenson as Titus Pullo, even beats James Purefoy into second place. Not to mention Tobias, Ciaran Hinds and Kevin McKidd. Might just have to watch it all over again!

  4. Sharon in Scotland

    I tracked down and saved the curse that Servilia utters outside Atia’s house, just before she kills herself. I’m waiting for the perfect situation to use it

  5. Barb D

    Despite the historical inaccuracies and compressed timelines, I do love this series. Pretty, pretty, eye candy.

    • SarahV

      I presume you refer to the scene with the chanting, ululating handmaids in the background? That scene…. was… wow. Just wow.

  6. Kelly

    Thank you for the review!! I love love love this show. One of the extras on the DVDs is about the costumes–the women are just sighing with delight at getting to wear such beautiful, comfortable outfits.
    Yes, please, Ray Stevenson! The reason I got started on Black Sails! (speaking of costume randomness brought to a new level)!

    • Elisavet

      you do know as a ptolemy, she was probably more macedonian/greek than anything, right? and if you look at images of kleopatra on coins and busts, the actress isn’t too far off

    • Faye

      Actually Kleopatra VII was probably pure Macedonian Greek. Her dynasty, the Ptolemies, had ruled Egypt for a little less than 300 years and were descended from Alexander the Great’s general, Ptolemy I Soter. We know almost all of Kleopatra VII’s lineage and of those individuals all of them were either Macedonian Greek or Sogdian – the Ptolemies intermarried with the Seleukids, the descendants of another of Alexander’s generals who ruled over Mesopotamia, Persia and much of Syria, and the Seleukids actually did intermarry with some local princesses… meaning that when the Ptolemies married with the Seleukids they gained a little bit of Sogdian heritage. At any rate, Kleopatra VII was 2/512ths Sogdian.

      Now, the only people who we don’t know in Kleopatra VII’s family tree are her mother, and her father’s mother. It’s because of the questionmarks over these two ladies that some people say Kleopatra VII might have been mixed heritage – the mystery ladies could have been native Egyptians, or even Nubians from further south who at some point had travelled up to and lived in Egypt. And yes, because we know literally nothing about these two ladies, it is possible. But it is not probable. Possible =/= likely. So why is it not likely that the mother and/or grandmother of Kleopatra VII was Egyptian or Nubian? Three reasons. First, under Ptolemaic rule in Egypt, the Greek immigrants serving this foreign dynasty were the first class citizens – the native Egyptians were treated as second class. Second, the Ptolemaic dynasty had a very long history of marrying other descendants of Alexander’s generals – to forge alliances across the Hellenistic-ruled kingdoms that his empire splintered in to after his death – and indeed each other. Incest was frequent in the Ptolemaic dynasty, all to keep power in the hands of their own family. There are no less than 8 different incestuous unions just to produce Kleopatra VII! Third reason, none of the contemporary writers – even those who were enemies of the Ptolemies and had every reason to crow about scandal – mention anything unusual about Kleopatra VII’s mother or grandmother. That suggests that there was nothing remarkable to say about either lady, and that she was yet another member of the family. Kleopatra VII’s grandmother was probably Kleopatra IV, her grandfather’s sister, and her mother was probably Kleopatra V, her father’s first cousin.

      Could Kleopatra VII still have been mixed heritage? Yes. However there is no evidence for it, and the odds are against it based on the historical and geo-political circumstances. At present time – until or unless we can discover new evidence – the likelihood is that Kleopatra VII was mainly Macedonian Greek with a small Sogdian component. Believe me Ptolemaic scholars including myself would just love for new evidence to shed light on this question.

  7. Rori

    Rome is basically everything what I wanted in a historical drama shows: entertaining, humorous, historically authentic, great cast and characters, etc. It’s a shame that it was cancelled. :(

  8. SarahV

    Polly Walker’s Atia was a raunchy, conniving, calculating and fabulous delight. The real historical Atia (that’s Atia Balba Caesonia to you plebians) was a respected, solemn Roman matron, but this version was so much more fun. She was like a Roman Alexis Carrington, who gets to shag James Purefoy and have her slaves crucified.

  9. Faye

    Definitely one of my favourite series, despite the historical inaccuracies. Atia has to be my most adored characters, not because she’s likable – for most of the show she’s quite abominable – but at the end you can just see it in her eyes, she’s asking herself: “Was it worth it? Maybe not – but I’m bloody well going to hang on to whatever victory I’ve got out of all of this and be damned if anyone takes it away from me.” I just loved the twist that bitchy Atia gets a huge dose of reality and emerges as a stronger woman, while Servilia, who was definitely the better woman to begin with, is consumed by bitterness. Different reactions in the face of adversity.

  10. Sian

    I loved this show. I wish we could have more, as Octavius was a great character at the end. I’m so gutted it never came back.