Otterman speaks... (2003-2007)
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Otterman speaks...

Cycling, macintosh, natural history and life in Singapore - Archives

List of Categories : travel * museum * cycling * Singapore Naturalist * science * kakis * mangroves * movies * mac and the internet * meow * NUS * life in Singapore * lit * world *

Sat 14 Jan 2006

Colleen McCullough & Rome (2005) the tv series

Category : lit

Watching Rome the HBO/BBC series brought back memories of Colleen McCullough's s Masters of Rome series. I stumbled on to her books when frequenting Library@Orchard in 2000. Shelved by author surnames, the "A" and "B" rows were a little crowded so I began searching the shelves at "C" for something to read.

Colleen McCullough was one of the authors I sampled, and soon I was devouring what turned out to be her Masters of Rome series:

  • First Man in Rome (1991),
  • The Grass Crown (1992),
  • Fortune's Favorites (1994),
  • Caesar's Women (1997),
  • Caesar (1999),
  • The October Horse (2003)

I loved the stories of battle, political intrigue, glimpse of their societies, lifestyle and structure and lapped it all up. But despite their thickness, suddenly it was all over. Happily the sixth book was only published in 2003 so I will get my hands on that. Its been about five years, so I might need to refresh myself with the other titles first!

Mind you, McCullough's books have their problems; you have to contend with her hero-worship of Caesar, who can do no wrong. Still, its fun to immerse into the belief and return to cynical reality later.

The HBO series "Rome" features the same characters in the novel "Caesar" and there is even a brief reference to Sulla who predates these events but whose cruelty was surely not forgotten. Scenes are brought to life in lovely or gruesome detail (e.g the market place) although the nudity in the original series can actually get a little tiring. But its a no-brainer, catch the series on HBO or when it comes out on DVD.

McCullough books did help me understand the significance of events such as Caesar's crossing of the Rubicon, and the workings of the senate and various assemblies of the people. And you get to hear the word plebeian used in its original context :-) And a lovely touch - the alternative perspective provided by Centurion Lucius Vorenus and Legionnaire Titus Pullo.

Apparently the miniseries and the explanations I had been providing Ladybug with was enough to entice her to start hunting for the books in local libraries.

A similar series I enjoyed reading was Robert Graves' I,Claudius & Claudius the God. I read the former in the 80's and was overawed by Rober Graves prowess. I picked up more of his books at the National Library then at Stamford Road and realised I had read his Greek Myths as a child helps when the television isn't working). A 1976 BBC miniseries that many talk about on the net was released on DVD in 2002. Reviewers suggest getting the higher quality UK version based on the BBC master copy and not the US version.

Mary Renault's trilogy about Alexander the Great (see this review) is another classic series. I found "Funeral Games" lying around in the ecology lab in the early 90's (probably D. H. Murphy's copy) and found the rest eventually in second hand bookshops and the like. Sadly unlike Rome, I found Oliver Stone's Alexander (2004) so bad, I rushed home to watch Robert Rosen's Alexander the Great (1952) as an antidote.

Posted at 1:23PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | , .