Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 07 July 2022

Turning Gold into Lead: Sexual Pathology and the De-mythologizing of Augustus in HBO’s Rome (2005–2007)

Turning Gold into Lead: Sexual Pathology and the De-mythologizing of Augustus in HBO’s Rome (2005–2007)

(p.191) 10 Turning Gold into Lead: Sexual Pathology and the De-mythologizing of Augustus in HBO’s Rome (2005–2007)
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition

Thomas J. West III

Edinburgh University Press

In the first of two chapters connecting the management of sexuality to the fortunes of Augustus, his dynasty, and the empire it governs, West focuses on HBO’s Rome (2005-7), a prestige cable series produced during the current golden age of television. He considers how Rome’s portrayal of Octavian’s psychosexual development, as he matures into Augustus, de-mythologizes the moral linchpin of Rome’s post-war “restoration” and thus interrogates this dominant icon of the “golden age of Rome.” The series juxtaposes Octavian to his viciously sexual mother Atia and his variably timid and rebellious sister Octavia, and also regards him as the protégé of two of the Republic’s leading men, Julius Caesar and Marc Antony. Yet even while establishing Augustus as the figure credited with containing the destructive, disruptive sexuality of his family and founding Rome’s new golden age, the series goes to great pains to look beneath the Augustan mask of male control and reveal a darker strain of barely tamed sexual desires, symbolized by his privately sadomasochistic relationship with his wife Livia. Beyond feeding viewers’ prurient appetites, the series acknowledges sexuality as a historical force in tandem with “civilizing” rationality; it can be repressed, but never eliminated.

Keywords:   Rome, Octavian/Augustus, golden age of Rome, golden age of television, post-war restoration, civil war, sexuality as historical force, prestige cable series, Atia, Marc Antony

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.