Most helpful critical review
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Good for a general appraisal of Roman times
on 9 May 2009
This DVD boxset is, I feel, worth the money. It starts with the creation of the Roman republic, goes on through various themes and topics and ends with an explanation of the Goth sackings of Rome in 410. It seems to be a joint UK/USA production, so expect comments and explanations from both American and British scholars.
It is educational, although does slightly gloss over some important bits of Roman history. It's not comprehensive (forgivable because you'd need longer than 300 minutes to do this), but good if you only had a passing knowledge of ancient Rome.
It frequently compares the ideals of Rome to the ideals of the Founding Fathers of the U.S.
It does go through the main periods of Roman history, from its foundation as a province of the Etruscans, why Rome split from the Etruscans, its early days as a Republic, events leading up to it becoming an empire, days of empire and fall of empire. If you have an average (i.e. deficient) knowledge of Rome, it will educate you.
They didn't spend much money on filming scene recreations (unlike the excellent DVD - also available on Amazon - of "Ancient Rome - The Rise and Fall of an Empire", which was filmed with original footage), and tended to use old black-and-white footage from Hollywood blockbusters to illustrate points and historic events. But you got the idea, all the same.
Even with my limited knowledge of Roman history, I noticed some factual errors (they described Octavian as Caesar's son-in-law, when really he was his great-nephew, although Octavian later claimed Caesar as his adoptive "father").
Overall, though, worth the money if you do not know much about the Roman republic/empire and want a potted history. It is watchable, and for the money, I would recommend it.