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Rome Fodder

Rome: 2-10C De Patre Vostro - About Your Father - Capsule Review

2- 10C “De Patre Vostro (About Your Father)” - Capsule Review

Previously: We see Titus Pullo and Cleopatra in flagrante / Caesarion presented to the troops / Pullo rationing grain / Atia’s abortive journey to Egypt / Gaia’s employment interview / Cleopatra & Antony / Atia spurned / Antony and Cleopatra lovers / The Town Crier Dude denouncing Antony / Antony’s will being read

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Opening scene.

A boat. Mark Antony and Lucius Vorenus are escaping the loss of the battle of Actium. We see burning ships on the horizon. Vorenus has a dead rower cast over the side, and offers a disconsolate Antony a drink of water. Antony philosophizes that “Defeat is not as terrible as I expected. The sun still shines, water still tastes good.”

The Forum square. The town crier dude announced the glorious victory of Octavian Caesar’s naval forces over Antony’s, and Octavian’s advance on Alexandria.

Livia’s quarters. Livia lectures a group of ladies on the victory, while Octavia snivels.

Octavian’s camp near Alexandria. Octavian listens as a messenger presents Antony and Cleopatra’s terms for surrendering themselves. Octavian sends back that no terms are acceptable except unconditional surrender without conditions. Octavian asks Pullo if he thinks Vorenus will open the palace to them in return for a guarantee of some sort. Pullo says they don’t know Vorenus if they think so, but proposes a message for Vorenus: “Tell him his children are well and ask how my son is.”

Antony and Cleopatra’s palace in Alexandria. Faced with defeat, what better time for an orgy? Bodies writhe all over the throne room. Are those cymbals I hear? An emissary presents Octavian’s answer. It’s “No.” Antony and Cleopatra discuss their options. Cleopatra proposes ‘going south.’ Antony says “And hide under bushes?” Antony raises the option of suicide. Look at us, Antony says, “Surrounded by whores, hermaphrodites, and lickspittles.” He gives the emissary a counter-proposal. “I challenge your master to single combat. Let us fight it out as our ancestors did.” He orders Vorenus to bring weapons for practice.

Octavian’s camp. Octavian asks the emissary for the conditions in the palace. The emissary says Antony is drunk, but Cleopatra is sober and attentive, Lucius Vorenus still loyal to Antony.

The palace. Lucius Vorenus and Antony spar with sword and shield. As they do, the emissary gives a servant a private message for Cleopatra. On the fighting front, Vorenus gives the clumsy Antony a shove with his shield, and an onlooker laughs. Big mistake. Is laughing-guy a whore, hermaphrodite, or lickspittle? Hard to tell. Antony takes offense and orders the laughing-guy be given weapons to show how he can do better. The man apologizes profusely and begs to Cleopatra for assistance, but Antony is relentless, and Vorenus hands the man a sword and shield. Antony toys with him for a while but, hysterically defending himself the man gets in a lucky cut and the whole court goes “ooh”. Now Antony’s blood is up, and he relentlessly pursues the hapless no-longer-laughing-guy, eventually running him through with his sword, to the applause of the audience.

Octavian’s emissary relays his terms: he refuses Antony’s challenge and insists on the same terms. Otherwise the siege and burning of the palace begins tomorrow.

Cleopatra’s private quarters. The secret message is delivered. Octavian swears to spare Cleopatra and her children’s life if she surrenders separately. Cleopatra discusses these terms with Charmian her slave and closest adviser. Antony enters. Cleopatra tells him “these past years have been the happiest of my life.” Now, “look at us, Apollo and Isis, it’s pathetic.” (Last week I thought it was Isis and Osiris? A change in self-referential theology?) Antony proposes that they mutually suicide now, but Cleopatra says she wants to wait for the day and sunshine. Antony says “Shall we go back to our guests?” Cleopatra desires to stay in her quarters.

Throne room. Antony returns and drinks and reminisces about old times in the army with Vorenus. Antony asks if Vorenus believes in an afterlife. Vorenus replies, “Of course.” Antony says that some philosophers don’t. Vorenus asks “Which philosophers?” Greeks. “Greeks always talk of paradoxes,” Vorenus opines, “F*** ‘em.” The two philosophers drink until they pass out.

Throne room, the next day. Antony and Vorenus are now alone in the room, sleeping it off. Charmian enters and awakens Antony with a note from Cleopatra. “Dearest Love, forgive me for leaving you this way. See you on the other side. Please come quickly.” Antony cries in anguish, as Charmian explains “Queens die alone – it is the custom. With her last breath, she called your name.” Antony sends her away.

Antony prepares to commit suicide with a knife, then throws it away . “No this won’t do, I must use a proper Roman sword.” Vorenus offers his, and the two exchange a last few words. “Good place to die.” Antony says. “Good as any, I suppose.” “Don’t die here, with me,” Antony tells Vorenus, “Get out while you can.” “It’s been an honor serving with you.” Vorenus says. “Tell the people I died well, I died Roman,” Antony says, and runs himself onto the sword held by Vorenus. He gasps and dies in Vorenus‘s arms. Vorenus lovingly cleans the body of all the Egyptian makeup, dresses Antony in his Roman military uniform, and places him on the throne.

Cleopatra, very much alive, enters the throne room and kisses Antony’s face. She orders Charmian to “bring the children.” Vorenus stares at her and Cleopatra orders him to “Stop looking at me,” but he snarls that he takes no orders from her. She asks him if, now that Antony is dead, Octavian will keep his promises to her. Mostly, Vorenus says, but he will kill Caesarion. Cleopatra asks “Is Octavian a good man?” Vorenus (sounding remarkably like me) responds “Define good.”

Cleopatra shows the children the body of their father and stepfather. She tells Caesarion to “put on your traveling clothes, you’re going with Vorenus.”

The street of Alexandria. Vorenus and Caesarion make their way through the crowds from the palace, dressed in commoner’s clothes.

The palace. Octavian and his entourage enter. Cleopatra sits on her throne in regal splendor, next to the body of Mark Antony. She and Octavian engage in a polite tete a tete in which he assures her of her safety, but firmly ‘invites’ her to accompany him back to Rome, with the children, and brooks no delay, “we sail tomorrow.” Despite the veneer of politeness, both parties understand exactly what’s being discussed. Cleopatra will be paraded in chains in Octavian’s triumph. Octavian departs.

The palace halls. Cleopatra stumbles and shrieks in despair. She returns to the throne room and asks forgiveness of Antony’s body, still sitting upright in it’s martial splendor. “Sorry, my love. That boy is a monster. He just wants to parade me in shame.” And lastly, to Charmian, “Bring the old woman.”

Octavian’s camp. Octavian, Maecenas, Agrippa, and Pullo discuss the events of the day. “What if Cleopatra decides to follow Antony?” one asks, “Why should she, she betrayed Antony to save herself and her children?”

The palace. Cleopatra discusses the pros and cons of various poisons with ‘the old woman’. (Who doesn’t look all that old, to me, but then maybe that’s just an indication of how old I’m getting.) Cleopatra finally decides – “the snake then”. The woman produces a snake which Cleopatra cuddles and contemplates for a while remarking that it’s a different color than “cousin Seth’s”. “They vary,” the old woman tells her. “Where’s the best spot?” “Wrist or breast, but no matter.” Cleopatra claps the snake to her breast and the fatal bite is made. At first Cleopatra thinks that nothing is happening, but the woman has promised her ‘death within forty breaths’ and we see it begin to come. The woman promises that the initial pain will cease before the end.

Soldiers rush into the palace and at first we think this is after news of Cleopatra’s suicide has gotten out, but then we see Cleopatra is still breathing and the Romans must have decided to cover their bets. Octavian, Maecenas, and Pullo are there to see Cleopatra die. Octavian’s first command “Find the children.”

Nighttime, a camp in the desert wilderness. Caesarion speaks of what he will do when he recovers his kingdom. Vorenus advises him to forget it and get some sleep. Caesarion jumps at several nighttime noises. One turns out to be a real threat. Titus Pullo walks into the firelight. “How’s it going?” he asks Vorenus. “Not so bad, you?” Vorenus responds, and the two old friends embrace. They sit and talk around the campfire. Caesarion asks for news of his mother. Pullo tells him she killed herself “The best way to go, honorable.” Caesarion cries. Pullo and Vorenus decide their best bet is to head south, all other directions are closed by Octavian’s troops. Vorenus asks for news of his children. Vorena the elder is now in the temple of Urbana with Lyde, Lucius is apprenticed to a stonemason, but wants to be a soldier. “I hope you discouraged him,” Vorenus tells Pullo. Vorena the younger now runs the Aventine tavern, and can freeze troublemakers with a ‘look like Medusa’. “Gaia?” Didn’t work out so well, long story.” Pullo somberly replies.

Rome. Octavian talks with Atia and tells her Antony is dead. Atia thanks him for telling her privately, and says “Now you can be king.” “Not king, merely first citizen,” Octavian replies. He asks Octavia to watch over Antony’s children by Cleopatra. Octavia asks him if he’s gotten rid of the other one? ‘Soon,’ Octavian tells her.

A road in Egypt. Pullo and Vorenus, dressed as civilians, drive a wagon with Caesarion in the back. Pullo regales them with stories. Memmio’s tongue? “Tasted like chicken.” “Eww” says Caesarion, and me. The wagon comes to a roadblock manned by Roman soldiers. Pullo and Vorenus claim to be Roman grain merchants headed for Memphis, the boy their slave. The soldier in charge of the roadblock appears to be buying the story, but as they start to leave, he asks, in Egyptian, for Caesarion’s blessing. Caesarion, also in Egyptian, grants it, and the fight is on. Pullo and Vorenus win, against superior number of soldiers, but after the fight is over Vorenus collapses, wounded. Pullo says he’s seen worse, but Vorenus is not fooled and demands to be taken back to Rome to die.

One month later, Rome. Octavia watches as the children play, and asks Atia if she’s chosen a dress for the triumph tomorrow. “It’s as much yours as his,” she says. Atia is depressed, and says she may not go.

The forum. The Town Crier Dude announces Octavian’s upcoming triumph to celebrate his victory over the Egyptians.

The streets. Pullo enters Rome driving a cart with Vorenus in the back.

The temple of Urbana. Pullo enters and announces “Children, I’ve brought your father home to die.”

Later. A room, somewhere. Pullo is talking to Lyde. He says Vorenus should have died weeks ago but stubbornly stayed alive to see his children in Rome. Vorenus awaken, and seeing only Lyde, says “Where are the children. They don’t want to see me?” Lyde tells him to rest. Trumpets sound in the street and Vorenus asks “What’s that?? Just Octavian’s triumph starting, Pullo tells him. “Thanks. I thought I was dying.” Vorenus says. Vorena the elder quietly enters the room and kisses Vorenus, calling softly “Father.” We see Vorena the younger and Lucius enter and stand nearby, and a contented look comes on Vorenus’s face.

A dressing room. Livia greets the ladies gathered there and decries Atia’s snubbing the ceremony. Just before the assembled women can precede to the balcony where they will watch the triumph, Atia appears and heads straight for the balcony exit. Livia tells her ‘the priest’ says ‘the wife’ should take precedence over ‘the mother’. Atia declares Livia a “vicious little trollop” and goes first, anyway.

Outside. The women look on as the triumph proceeds. Octavian rides a chariot, a slave holding a crown just over his head. Soldiers march. The crowd cheers. Trophies of conquest are paraded. Octavia eyes Agrippa, seated nearby. Atia eyes Octavian, then shifts her gaze to – who?

Octavian’s private quarters. Octavian sits contemplating a game, alone. Pullo enters and Octavian greets him, then asks the result of Pullo’s mission to find Caesarion. Pullo says he found him, killed him (“slit his throat”), and tried to bring his head to Octavian, but “it went bad, didn’t look like anybody”. Also, Lucius Vorenus is dead. Octavian says he must reward Pullo. “Reward? Hadn’t thought of that. Wouldn’t say ‘no’.”

The streets of Rome. Pullo tells Lyde “he bought it” and takes Caesarion with him. As they walk down the street, Pullo’s hand on Caesarion’s shoulder, Caesarion begins to talk about his father. “Listen,” Pullo says, “about your father…”.

And our viewpoint pulls back, and “Rome” is done…

Ave, atque, vale.

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Next Week: Alas, nothing of Rome but reruns.

- Cecil

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Full review available now, HERE.

Previous Capsule: Rome: 2-9C “Deus Impeditio Esuritori Nullus”
(No God Can Stop a Hungry Man) - Capsule Review

Next Capsule: Sadly, there will be no more, herewith ends “Rome”

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Posted by Cecil on March 23, 2007 5:41 PM
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