No Place Like Rome: Our Love of Romans in Modern Entertainment

Few, if any, ancient civilizations continue to have as overt an impact on modern life as the Romans. While the Romans have done plenty for us with their ideas and inventions, as detailed in the classic Monty Python sketch, there also remains a high Roman presence in the stories told by our modern entertainment industry. It may not quite be ‘all roads lead to Rome’, but contemporary directors, writers, and developers are frequently drawn to tales from the Roman Empire.

The world of entertainment can take us to plenty of incredible times and places, whether through games set in fantastical locations or movies that take us to magical lands. However, the ancient Roman civilization still has a hold on audiences thousands of years after its existence.

The Military 

Ancient Rome was the great military power of its time, as evidenced by the vastness of the Roman Empire. This has made the Romans prominent in computer games based on military strategy. While their appearance alongside a host of classic civilizations in the Age of Empires series isn’t remarkable, it is notable how the Romans inspired their own strategy game in the shape of Rome: Total War.

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In the series, players are tasked with emulating the famous military campaigns of Ancient Rome. Rome: Total War provided the technology for the BBC TV series Time Commanders, where players sought to outmaneuver a computer-controlled opponent on the battlefield. People aren’t just willing to play Roman strategy games, they’re willing to watch other people play them. The 21st century has also brought us plenty of cinematic portrayals of the military side of Roman life, including the 2011 drama The Eagle which starred Channing Tatum as a Roman centurion. 

The Caesars

Shakespeare’s play Julius Caesar showed that even in the 16th century there was a real desire to hear the lives of Caesars as told by the entertainment industry. Over centuries, the names and the appearances of Caesars have become instantly recognizable. For example, the Caesar’s Empire online slot at Casino Midas capitalizes on this, as its theme and symbols make it clear that this is a slot based on winning Caesar’s favor. Reviewers have praised the enormous selection of slots at casino midas, but Caesar’s Empire strong historical focus helps it to stand out.

The stories of Caesar have clearly stood out to Martin Scorsese, with the legendary director having a keen interest in Ancient Rome. Scorsese has been linked with a project based on the Caesars in recent years, with the director acclaimed for his gangster work finding parallels between the complexities of mob bosses and Roman leaders. The idea of legacy will have been something that will have concerned Caesars during their rule. Well, the legacy of Caesars is much more than just a salad.

The Culture

Ridley Scott’s 2000 epic movie Gladiator is one of the definitive takes on Roman life. While the film begins with a visceral reconstruction of Roman military life, its focus shifts to the lifestyle, the politics, and, yes, the gladiators. The brutal entertainment of the gladiators is thankfully a thing of the past, although the Colosseum stands in Rome as a reminder of the Roman love for games (and architecture).

More elements of Roman culture are explored at length in Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy, which began with the 2006 novel Imperium. Politics play a central role, with Julius Caesar scheming in the background, but readers gain a rich understanding of life in Roman times for the average person. Insight into Roman culture can also be found in the 2005 TV series Rome, which in part looked at life in Ancient Rome through the eyes of two common men.

Given that they’ve lasted this long, there’s no reason to assume that Romans will disappear from our entertainment industry anytime soon. While Julius Caesar came, saw, and conquered in his lifetime, he wouldn’t have anticipated that people would turn to the Romans for entertainment many hundreds of years later.

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