‘Roman Empire’ Could Cover These Little-Known Historical Scandals If It Comes Back To Netflix
by Genevieve Van Voorhis
Craig Wright / Netflix

If you were the kind of kid who couldn't wait for the days when you watched documentaries in elementary school, well then, you'd better add Netflix's Roman Empire to the top of your list. Season 1, which was called Roman Empire: Reign of Blood premiered on November 2016, so fans of the show have been waiting quite some time to a follow up of the misadventures of Emperor Commodus, set to the dulcet tones of Sean Bean's narration. Now, Season 2, Roman Empire: Master of Rome, is finally coming out on July 27. But will Roman Empire return for a Season 3?

As of the time of publication Netflix has not announced whether they're ordering Roman Empire Season 3, but they haven't said they're canceling it, either. Since Netflix isn't on as strict a schedule as regular TV networks, the announcement could really come at any time. Most likely, the news will come after Season 2 hits the air, once the producers have had time to factor in viewership and critical reception of the new installment of the series.

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood was set from around 175 AD, just before Marcus Aurelius' death, until Commodus' own death in 192 AD. Rather than continue forward in history, Master of Rome jumps back in time to recount the life and dictatorship of Julius Caesar, who ruled Rome from 49 BC to 44 BC. Since it doesn't look like the makers of Roman Empire are too concerned with going in chronological order, that leaves about 1,500 years of material to choose from for Roman Empire Season 3. What period should Netflix aim to cover next? The last thing anyone needs is yet another adaptation of the Trojan War. Below are some suggestions of Roman historical figures and one land mark that could use some extra time in the spotlight.


A Reign of Blood Prequel On Marcus Aurelius

Screengrab via Netflix

If the story of Commodus left you hungry for the tale of an emperor who made better decisions, then the story of his father, Marcus Aurelius, will definitely satisfy that craving for better judgment. In addition to ruling Rome in a period of great prosperity, Marcus Aurelius is also famous for his philosophy of stoicism and his written work Meditations.

He's featured heavily in the 1964 film The Fall of the Roman Empire, which, much like Reign of Blood, idealizes his own role as emperor in comparison to Commodus' leadership, according to the description on TVTropes.org. A Season 3 focusing solely on Marcus Aurelius could serve to give a more well-rounded picture of a capable yet complicated ruler.


Livia Drusilla, the wife of Emperor Augustus

When it comes to stories of ancient Rome, female characters (besides Helen of Troy and Cleopatra, neither of whom were actually Roman) are in short supply, and rarely do they get to be the main focus of the action. If anyone deserves to get her own time in the spotlight, it's Livia Drusilla, the wife of Emperor Augustus, who ruled alongside and advised her husband for 51 years.

Livia Drusilla features heavily in HBO's Rome as the cold and calculating bride of Octavian (later Augustus). She also appears as an even crueler version of herself in the 1976 BBC TV series, I, Claudius, frequently poisoning any rivals to her path to power. She's hardly the first Roman woman that historical fiction has cast in an unfavorable light, so it's about time she got recognized as the determined, nuanced, and powerful public figure she was.


The Vestal Virgins

The women that kept the flames burning in the Temple of Vesta held a place of honor in Roman society, but their position was hardly an enviable one. Often forced into their roles before puberty, the priestesses were required to remain chaste for 30 years, per the BBC.

The ABC historical series Empire (not to be confused with the Fox series) features one example of a Vestal Virgin, Camane (played by Emily Blunt). While Camane wasn't a real person, Roman Empire could instead focus on the story of actual historical figures like Postumia, one Vestal Virgin who was suspected of breaking her vow of chastity and buried alive. The murder of Vestal Virgins was often the direct result of chaos in Rome, and the need for someone to serve as a scapegoat.


Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus

This little-known reluctant Roman hero deserves a heck of a lot more press than he gets. Cincinnatus was a Roman statesman/farmer that was given full dictatorship of Rome in order to rescue one of its armies that had been surrounded by enemies, according to Britannica. After successfully averting the crisis, Cincinnatus immediately gave up the powers that had been bequeathed to him and quietly went back to his farm.

Cincinnatus hasn't been featured in many well-known on-screen portrayals, but Arnold Schwarzenegger did tell the New York Times that he considers it to be one of his dream roles. "One of my favorite characters in history is Cincinnatus, and I’ve read everything I can find about him," Schwarzenegger revealed. "I would love to play him in a film about ancient Rome. He was given the keys to the kingdom — pure, absolute power! — and he did the job and then went back to his farm. He didn’t get drunk on the power."


The Hadrian Wall

Built between 122 and 128 AD, Hadrian's Wall marked the uppermost frontier of the Roman Empire, separating England from the Scots to the North. In fact, George R.R. Martin admitted that it was partly Hadrian's Wall that inspired Game of Thrones.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Martin explained how he got inspired while visiting the wall on a trip to England. "I stood up there and I tried to imagine what it was like to be a Roman legionary, standing on this wall, looking at these distant hills," he said. "It was a very profound feeling. For the Romans at that time, this was the end of civilization; it was the end of the world. We know that there were Scots beyond the hills, but they didn’t know that." Why not chronicle the factual stories surrounding its construction, sans white walkers?

The choice for Roman Empire to cover Julius Caesar in Season 2 is a little bewildering, since part of what made Season 1 so interesting is the fact that Commodus is relatively little-known (in comparison to figures like Augustus or Marc Antony). If Roman Empire does return for a Season 3, here's hoping that they make use of the breadth of Roman history available to them and choose to tell the story that hasn't already been told ad nauseam.