Tales of the Enemies of Rome | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 18, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, May 18, 2017

TV SERIES REVIEW

Tales of the Enemies of Rome

History channel's “Barbarians Rising” is a 4-episode documentary drama that aired in History Channel, compiling many of the major conflicts and revolts against ancient Rome, committed by the people who Rome deemed as “barbarians”. The series looks at Rome through the eyes of the oppressed barbarians and doing so pivots from the usual narrative of depicting the civilisation of Rome that is filled with politics and culture to showing the accounts of the clashes and casualties of empire expansion.

The show's timeline spans from the ancient Roman Republic with the Second Punic War to the demise of the western part of Imperial Rome in the 5th century. The show includes a total of eight Barbarian leaders starting with the great Carthaginian general Hannibal (who is not a definitive barbarian) to historic characters like Spartacus, Boudica and more.

The show switches between historical commentary complete with narration by Michael Ealy, expert comments from historians and scholars and a classic dynamic map of the Mediterranean, and the dramatised version with the leaders as protagonists. The map was a pleasant addition to the whole commentary as it helped to understand the events in question geographically and also visualise the massive expanse of the Roman Empire.

In terms of story, there have been accusations of inaccuracy due to an emphasis on dramatisation. If you're very familiar with any of the events or leaders, then the lack of details could cause annoyance. For instance, I was a little disappointed when Hannibal's victories in Rome did not get as much attention as I had hoped. It is, of course, not possible to fit in every single event but even a montage would have been preferable to just hearing about them. But other than that, and especially with the characters I haven't heard of before, the story was consistent, entertaining and suspenseful. So to the general audience, inconsistencies in details will not hinder the overall experience at all.

The cast did a great job as well. From the visionary and driven leaders to the vengeful barbarians, arrogant Roman generals and even the unsuspecting Roman soldiers stepping into guerrilla traps, every character helped convey the struggles and build the Roman world.

The show is no study material, as I've explained already. But it works as a great medium to learn about the side effects of building an all-powerful empire and maintaining that power, understand the struggles of the victims, and comprehend how arrogance and pride can be the doom of a near invincible realm. 

Isn't that how history ought to be appreciated?  

Fatiul Huq Sujoy is a tired soul (mostly because of his frail body) who's patiently waiting for Hagrid to appear and tell him, “Ye're a saiyan, lord commander.” Suggest him places to travel and food-ventures to take at fb.com/SyedSujoy.

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