Season 1 Episode 1

The Stolen Eagle

Aired Sunday 9:00 PM Aug 28, 2005 on HBO
out of 10
User Rating
477 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Eager to return to Rome after eight long years of war, Gaius Julius Caesar ends his campaign with a resounding triumph in Gaul - and news of a shattering personal loss at home. In Rome, Caesar's old friend Pompey is counselled by the Senate, who worry about Caesar's growing popularity. Two soldiers are enlisted to find the army's stolen gold standard. Atia is careful to play both sides of an escalating power struggle.moreless

Who was the Episode MVP ?

No results found.
No results found.
No results found.
  • The Stolen Eagle

    The Stolen Eagle was a perfect episode and beginning of a vivid and richly detailed series about our favorite Ancient Romans. Though the stories may not be 10% accurate, the series depictions of the characters involved were perfect and most enjoyable. The drama, intrigue and action were entertaining and engaging keeping me posted at the edge of my seat wanting to see what happens next! There was a lot of fate happening in the beginning, and the writers did a great job of introducing everyone and the plots they play. I must say I'm hooked already and look forward to watching more episodes!!!!!!!!!moreless
  • Power, Blood, Sex & War. Welcome to Rome

    We begin our story here in the brand new series of ‘Rome’ in late 52BC at a major turning point in roman history. “The Stolen Eagle” in particular is our introduction to this change of direction and serves as a very formidable episode in doing so. We are given a brief narrative of back story to the history of the show’s subject matter of ancient Rome straight off the bat, which provides some necessary details into what the situation is in relation what is going to happen and is told well, without cluttering things too much with facts and figures. Following this, the episode truly begins and the city of Rome opens its gates to us in all its fantastic glory.

    And indeed, throughout the entire episode we will see many things that look simply amazing and so authentic that you could swear you were looking into the past. If there’s one thing that can be said about the shows production from episode one, it’s that it certainly does give our eyes a historical treat. However that is not all the “The Stolen Eagle” has to offer. What we are given in the next hour is a showcase of incredible talent. From acting, to costume design, direction to writing and casting to photography, if episode one is anything to go by when thinking of the technical quality of Rome, then the next 11 episodes should be 11 hours well spent.

    What is most interesting in the episode is the amount of insight and character development that takes place in the hour. We are shown into the lives of around 8 characters, each with their own situations, feelings and backgrounds, but of course, all are part of the same boiling pot. At the beginning of the episode each character is as far apart as they can be from each other -which does hinder the immediate opening of the episode and causes quite a slow start to the series- but nonetheless, as we reach the final minutes, all cards are on the table, faces are –metaphorically speaking- nose to nose, and the conflict it seems is about to begin. Although no real conflict is displayed in The Stolen Eagle, the dramatisation of the constant build up of pressure serves as a worthy substitute, offering some great character moments which themselves introduce each rather well.

    The only quip I had with the episode was the slight lack in plot that seems to affect most dramatised historical pilots. That’s not saying that there isn’t any, nor is it saying that what is they’re rubbish because that simply is not the case. There is a nice amount of things going on here, and the characters themselves are some of the most interesting to come out of a series opener in a long time, but I did feel The Stolen Eagle could have opened a little stronger on the story side, as it did trudge along at certain points.

    As a series opener on all other accounts however, The Stolen Eagle does its job and it does it well. The build up is subtle but thumping away throughout until the attention grabbing climax at the end of the episode. It’s an episode that makes you want to watch the next episode, and even the whole season if it’s going to be as good. Now that certainly is a job well done, and not just that, it’s a fantastic spectacle to watched even for the hour even if you give no further regard to the upcoming episodes. Get ready though, as things as they seem, are just getting started.moreless
  • *** Spoiler-free *** Top notch visuals and acting ; twisted story and characters ; captivating historical period and irresistible entertainment

    Back when its first season was airing Rome was praised for its high-end and polished production. But this episode also proved the show had more to offer than impressive sets and well designed costumes. So beside a believable Ancient Rome the story was also quite interesting and intriguing. The Stolen Eagle arc was just an excuse to introduce us to the numerous and charismatic characters. However it was far from anecdotic as the events developed connections and gave birth to new relationships. Of course it focused on the two male protagonists but the other characters also had an important role to play. It was fascinating to see what some of them were capable of doing to meet their own agenda, even manipulating their loved ones and betraying supposed great friends. In some way they reminded me of the show The Tudors but I found the acting more convincing and their stories far less superficial.

    The battle at the beginning was intense and brutal but too short and less bloody than in films like Braveheart. However I didn't mind its graphic violence level as it was more about covering the fundamental differences between the protagonists. One acted more like a happy drunken berserker, the other was more rational and responsible. In fact the contrast between them was also palpable in other elements. For example the dialogs weren't all black and white as they offered a second lecture to the careful viewers. One minute some character was defending the Republic, the next it was setting traps against it. In one scene it was also brilliant to use a young boy to lecture two veteran soldiers about what was really going on. So it wasn't just about the physical strength, it was also a lot about the mind, education and strategy. An other scene I really enjoyed was the one where the Eagle was actually stolen. It was dark, dynamic, unexpected and nearly mystic. In fact it wasn't the only one and a few others should surprise you as well. After all the astonishing opening credits revealed the Ancient Rome was a lot about rituals and myths. Let's also not forget the gorgeous women, gladiatorous men and other homages to Dionysus.moreless
  • Great Start

    As the wars in Gaul finally come to an end, Caesar is faced with both triumph and tribulation. On the heels of his victory comes news of his daughter's death. Awarded with the adulation of the people, he also garners the enmity of powerful opponents and former friends. In Rome, Pompey the Great must balance honor and politics as he is urged to betray an ancient rival and recent friend. Atia of the Julii tries to steer her family on the dangerous path between the growing divisions of power, and in the Gallic countryside, two unlikely allies must reclaim that which Caesar has lost. This was a great start to the series and it looks and sous real accurate, I enjoyed the first episode.moreless
  • Good start.

    I don't know much about Roman history other than the obvious: Caesar + Ides of March = Bad kinda thing, but I did like this episode. I don't know if it is historically accurate in any sort of way, but I did enjoy seeing Polly Walker (of Patriot Games sorta semi fame) beginning her role as a viper Barbara Stanwyck Double Indemnity sorta of a woman. That's the kinda woman who everyone lives to hate. Nothing like starting a show with a nice fight scene and a flogging to get things rolling. I would have to say that I don't think this was the best pilot episode I have ever seen, but it was good enough to make me want more.moreless
Robert Purvis

Robert Purvis


Guest Star

John Boswell

John Boswell

Curial Magistrate

Guest Star

Allan Caister-Pearce

Allan Caister-Pearce

Head Priest

Guest Star

Lydia Biondi

Lydia Biondi


Recurring Role

Ian McNeice

Ian McNeice


Recurring Role

Manfredi Aliquo

Manfredi Aliquo


Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (12)

    • The story of Julius Caesar's conquest into Rome is detailed in De Bello Gallico, one of the most prized and important texts in Latin.

    • Titus Pullo was written as a poor horseman, since most Romans were quite bad riders. However, according to Bruno Heller (on the DVD commentary), Ray Stevenson turned out to be the best rider of the cast, so they dropped the idea of Pullo being a bad horseman.

    • Octavia of the Julii: Some historical liberties

      The character of Octavia of the Julii is based on the historical person of Octavia Thurina Minor: ( 69 - 11 BC.). As such, it's clear that the show's writers have taken some artistic liberties with her.

      Octavia Thurina Minor was not the scared young woman, depending on her mother, and divorced from a "nobody" for political maneuvering, depicted here.

      She is thought of as one of the most prominent women in Roman history - although many of the historically significant events and roles that she played take place in the future of the current show.

      She was known for her loyalty, nobility and humanity, and for maintaining traditional Roman feminine virtues.

      At the time that Rome occurs, Octavia would have been married to Gaius Claudius Marcellus, to whom she would be married until his death in 40 B.C. - after the death of Julius Caesar, or all through the first season on the series, at least.

      Octavia and her husband also had three children, although the years of their births are 44,43, and 42 B.C.E. - so the eldest would not be born until the same year as the assassination of Julius Caesar. If the show was true to history, Octavia's eldest child might be born in the last episode of the season.

      Octavia would go on to be wife of Mark Anthony and mother of his children as well. - travelling with him over much of the Empire. She was noted for advising and mediating between Anthony and Octavian/Augustus.

      She was one of the first Roman women to have coins minted in her image.

      During her life, Augustus built two monuments for his public works program in her honor:: The Colonnades of Octavia and the Paragon of Virtue.

      She died a rather sad death, retreating into mourning and isolation at the death of her son Marcus Claudius Marcellus.

      Her brother Augustus gave her the highest posthumous honors; he built the Gate of Octavia in her memory, declared her as a goddess and built temples for her.

    • Vorenus and Pullo: More than fictional characters

      It is interesting to note that Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo are not inventions of the show's creators.

      They are explicitly mentioned in the De Bello Gallico, Caesar's history of his Gallic wars. In fact, the scene in this episode with Titus Pullo charging into the line of the Gauls, and being rescued by Vorenus is clearly inspired by - but not identical to - the anecdote of Vorenus and Pullo described in Book 5, Chapter 44 of De Bello Gallico.

    • Vercingetorix:

      Early in the episode we see Vercingetorix subdued, required to kiss an eagle. Vercingetorix was leader of a recently beaten tribe of gauls.
      Vercingetorix was the inspiration behind "Asterix the Gaul".

    • Goof: In the 8th minute of the 1st episode after Julia had died you can actually see her swollow.

    • There's a missing Roman!

      The show implies that there are two contenders for power in Rome, Pompey and Caesar - when in fact there should be three.

      At the time Caesar was wrapping up his Gallic wars, Pompey and Marcus Licinius Crassus were Consuls together, and not, as it's implied, Caesar and Pompey.

      Crassus, Pompey, and Caesar had more-or-less total control of Rome between the three of them, prior to the events of the first episode - a period known as the First Triumvirate.

      A short time after the death of Julia (Pompey's wife and Caesar's daughter) - an event that occurs within the time frame of the series - Crassus decided he wanted military glory to compare with Caesar's and Pompey's. He decided to campaign against the Parthian Empire - and proceeded to get himself killed, losing 30,000 troops in the process, and having the standards of all his Legions captured (something that this episode deems very important). This was one of the worst Roman military disasters to date.

      There is no mention of Crassus, or the war with the Parthian Empire within the series, even though they are part of the historical background, and are events that are occurring (historically) along with the events depicted in the series.

      However, as Crassus is only "alive" for the first episode, it seems clear that he just go 'written out' to make things simpler.

      It might be noted that the loss of 30,000 Roman soldiers sometime in the first couple of episodes might also explain why Pompey is having such a hard time 'scraping up' Legions to meet Caesar with later.

    • The Tribunes of the Legion

      Anthony tell Vorenus that "the Tribunes" have noted him for his intelligence. The rank of Tribuni Angusticlavii was similar to the modern rank of Lieutenant Colonel, and were officers who had often commanded one or two Cohorts of about 480 men, comprised of 6 "centuries" each lead by a Centurion - Voresnus' rank.

      Not only had Vorenus caught the eye of his superior officer, but had distinguished himself to all the Tribunes - standing out amongst the 60 or so Centurions of the Legion. He must be a superlative officer.

    • Sacrificing to Magna Mater

      Atia sacrifices - or has sacrificed - a white bull (a very great traditional Roman sacrifice) to "Great Mother" to ensure Octavian's safety in Gaul. This is presumably "Magna Mater" - the Roman goddess of Nature? This would seem to fit, as the rites of Magna Mater were said to include, " drumming, clashing of shields and spears, dancing, singing, shouts, all at night." - which seems to fit the scene.

    • Ironic Foreshadowing

      Brutus' speculation that the Senate would be more interesting if they just resorted to swords and daggers ("in the German style") is ironic, considering that Brutus will eventually be one of the conspiritors that will stab Caeser to death in the Senate.

    • The discipline of the Legions

      The brutal discipline of the Legions is alluded to by Pullo's public flogging, and death sentence. It seems unlikely that he would really have been imprisoned to be shipped back to Rome for execution - the Legions were usually much more brutal than that. Falling asleep on sentry duty, for example, was punishable by being publicly beaten to death with clubs by the rest of your squad. However - had Pullo been summarily and historically accurately dealt with, he wouldn't be around for the rest of the series, and that would be a shame!

    • The Roman Legion - The first modern army

      What we see of the life of the Legions seems to be quite accurate as far as we know. We see the contrast between the "personal bravery and glory" of the "barbarians" and the disciplined, impersonal, efficient, killing machine that was the Roman Legion - even to the point where we see the timed 'trade off' of the the front line troops. This allowed the 'front line troops' of the legion time to rest, refresh, take care of their equipment, and return to the fight to slaughter more enemies of Rome. When Pullo breaks rank in berserk form and goes hacking into the barbarian lines, he's not being brave - he's putting the other soldiers in his line at risk. Even so, we see the Legion adopt a standard 'advance and recover' formation to reach and recover Pullo. It doesn't go well.

  • QUOTES (9)

    • Vorenus (to Pullo): When was the last time you were with a woman who wasn't crying or wanting payment?

    • Octavian: I am Gaius Octavian of the Julii. Great newphew of Julius Caesar.
      Pullo: Gaius who?
      Octavian: I am a Roman citizen of noble birth, and I order you to cut these ropes.
      Pullo: Say "please".
      Octavian: (pause) Please.

    • Servilia: How is Caesar?
      Brutus: Who?
      Servilia: Don't be cruel. Is he well? Did he ask of me?
      Brutus: (ponders) Did he? I can't recall. I think not. He did write you a letter though.
      Servilia: Oh you beast.

    • Marc Antony: Lucius Vorenus. You have a brain. Or so the tribune's say...

    • Marc Antony: Brutus, me old cock. What on earth are you doing here?
      Brutus: (displeased) Marc Antony, how nice.

    • Octavian: Caesar has taken the love of the common people from Pompey, and that was his most prized possession. A battle is inevitable.

    • Pullo: I have simpler tastes. I like to kill my enemy, take their gold and enjoy their women. That's it. Why tie yourself to one? Where's the flavor? Where's the joy?

    • Pullo: I won't even stand next to this short-assed shit [Vorenus], leave alone serve under him. I'll stay here [locked-up], thanks very much.

    • Atia: Andros... Bring him back safe or I will use the eyes of your children for beads.

  • NOTES (5)

    • Awards:

      Joseph Bennett, Domenico Sica, Carlo Serafin, Dominic Hyman andDaniela Giovannoni won the 2006 Excellence in Production Design Award for "Television - Single Camera Television Series" for this episode.

      Michael Apted, Stan Wlodkowski, Sergio Ercolessi, Julie A. Bloom, Tommy Gormley, Barbara M. Ravis and Kiersten Pilar Miller won the 2006 DGA Award for "Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Dramatic Series' - Night" for this episode.

      Barrie Hemsley, James Madigan, Duncan Kinnaird and Joe Pavlo won the 2006 VES Award for "Outstanding Visual Effects in a Broadcast Series" for this episode.

      Barrie Hemsley, James Madigan, Joe Pavlo, Duncan Kinnaird, Daniel Pettipher, Michele Sciolette, Charles Darby, Clare Herbert and Anna Panton won the 2006 Emmy Award for "Outstanding Special Visual Effects for a Series" for this episode.

    • Rome was a collaborative effort between HBO and the BBC.

    • Rome is the first English-language series to be filmed entirely in a non-English speaking country.

    • The Italian set of Rome took up five acres.

    • HBO spent a reported $100 million on the Rome miniseries.


    • The Roman Eagle was a military symbol of the Roman era. It stood for the values of the Republic. Losing an eagle in battle was considered one of the greatest shames a general could endure.