Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire episode 1 – This programme focuses on Julius Caesar, charming, savage, power-crazed, opportunistic and brilliant, he overthrew a 500-year-old Republic and began the age of the emperors. What Caesar achieved, overthrowing a 500-year-old Republic and seizing power, is perhaps the single greatest turning point in the history of Rome. Dramatic reconstructions and computer graphics tell the story of ancient Rome.
Turning points in ancient Roman history and some of the Empire’s greatest stories are brought to life in this drama documentary series. This dramatized documentary series tells the story of the rise and fall of Ancient Rome concentrating on six key turning points.
Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire episode 1
Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey in a civil war, and subsequently became dictator of Rome from 49 BC until his assassination in 44 BC. He played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.
In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus and Pompey formed the First Triumvirate, a political alliance that dominated Roman politics for several years. Their attempts to amass power as Populares were opposed by the Optimates within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero. Caesar rose to become one of the most powerful politicians in the Roman Republic through a string of military victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC, which greatly extended Roman territory.
During this time he both invaded Britain and built a bridge across the Rhine river. These achievements and the support of his veteran army threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC. With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome. In 49 BC, Caesar openly defied the Senate’s authority by crossing the Rubicon and marching towards Rome at the head of an army. This began Caesar’s civil war, which he won, leaving him in a position of near unchallenged power and influence in 45 BC.
After assuming control of government, Caesar began a program of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar. He gave citizenship to many residents of far regions of the Roman Republic. He initiated land reform and support for veterans. He centralized the bureaucracy of the Republic and was eventually proclaimed “dictator for life” (dictator perpetuo). His populist and authoritarian reforms angered the elites, who began to conspire against him. On the Ides of March (15 March) 44 BC, Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Brutus and Cassius, who stabbed him to death. A new series of civil wars broke out and the constitutional government of the Republic was never fully restored. Caesar’s great-nephew and adopted heir Octavian, later known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the last civil war of the Roman Republic. Octavian set about solidifying his power, and the era of the Roman Empire began.