Four days and nights I was glued to the TV last week. I watched the entire two-season mini-series, “Rome,” and I did it with the same intensity that I devoured “Gone With The Wind.”
You see, ever since I moved to the south of France, I’ve been living in a Roman time warp. You’ve heard me say that many times, especially after visiting the aqueduct at Pont du Gard. Or after seeing the ruins of Roman-style villas in Orange; and the arena in Arles. So much of what is revered today in this part of France was established by Romans when they occupied “Gaul.” Miraculously, in spite of wars, weather, politics, and developers, lots of it still stands — from as long ago as 25BC and before.
Watching the HBO series saved me days of laboring through the historical novels I thought I’d have to read about the Romans. Especially if I wanted to know about the “Caesars,” Julius and Augustus, who left such big footprints in France.
I know you’re thinking a mini-series is hardly the most factual way to learn history. Well, that’s probably true; however, I figure it’s close enough to give me a high-level view of what I wanted to know.
Now, it’s not that I didn’t study ancient history in high school and college. I did. More than that, I took four years of Latin and “translated” the “Aeneid.” Nevertheless, the mini-series had to remind me that Octavius Caesar became known as “Augustus” and that he wasn’t the “true” son of Julius, as if that makes any real difference in history. Also, I was reminded of the importance of “Gods” and “Spirits” during the period when images were carved, engraved and built in their likeness throughout the empire — including “Gaul”, the early name for what was later much of France.
Being armed with a bit of new knowledge, I’m looking forward to delving back into my tours through the south of France and taking notes on more Roman sites. Stay tuned!
For more information on Romans in Gaul check out this article on NYTimes.com
For the mini-series: