The 8 Best Roman Empire Documentaries

Tom Curley

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Artwork showing a Roman history documentary playing in a Roman living room

From the glory and power of the Roman Empire to its eventual decline and fall, the story of ancient Rome continues to captivate us today.

Fortunately, there are plenty of documentaries out there that explore this fascinating era in history.

Here are eight documentaries that offer insight into the rise and fall of one of the world’s most influential civilizations.

Meet the Romans, with Mary Beard (2012)

Meet the Romans” is a documentary by renowned classicist Mary Beard. In this series, Beard takes viewers on a journey through ancient Rome, exploring the lives and experiences of ordinary people who lived in the city nearly two thousand years ago.

The series covers a broad range of topics, including the role of women, the experiences of slaves, and the intricacies of Roman politics.

Beard also explores the city’s impressive infrastructure, such as its aqueducts and public buildings, and discusses its religious practices and festivals.

Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire (2006)

Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire” is a six-part BBC documentary series that covers the entire history of the Roman Empire, from its earliest days as a small city-state to its ultimate collapse.

Each episode focuses on a critical period or event in Roman history, such as the Punic Wars, the reign of Julius Caesar, and the rise of Christianity.

Through expert commentary and stunning visual recreations, viewers are transported back in time to witness the triumphs and tragedies of ancient Rome.

The series explores the political intrigue, military conquests, and cultural achievements that made Rome a dominant force in the Mediterranean world and the factors that contributed to its eventual decline and fall.

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By examining the rise and fall of the Roman Empire, the series provides insight into the complexities of human history and the enduring legacy of one of the world’s greatest civilizations.

Engineering an Empire: Rome (2005)

Engineering an Empire: Rome” is a fascinating episode of the History Channel series that delves into ancient Rome’s incredible technological and architectural achievements.

The documentary highlights how the Romans built some of the most impressive structures in history, such as aqueducts, roads, bridges, and monumental buildings, that have endured for thousands of years.

Through stunning visual reenactments and expert commentary, viewers get a glimpse into the innovative engineering techniques used by the ancient Romans to construct these marvels of civilization.

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood (2016)

Roman Empire: Reign of Blood” is a Netflix original documentary series that chronicles the life and times of Commodus, the Roman Emperor who ruled from 180 to 192 AD. The series follows the rise of Commodus to the throne, his reign, and his eventual downfall.

The series combines historical drama and documentary-style narration with expert commentary and interviews with historians providing context and analysis.

Commodus is portrayed as a brutal and corrupt ruler who brought the Roman Empire to the brink of collapse. Through a series of power struggles, betrayals, and violent acts, Commodus consolidates his rule and becomes increasingly paranoid and erratic.

It also highlights the cultural and societal changes that were taking place in the Roman Empire during this time, including the rise of Christianity and the decline of traditional Roman values.

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The production values of “Roman Empire: Reign of Blood” are impressive, with lavish sets, costumes, and special effects bringing ancient Rome to life on the screen.

The show also features a talented cast of actors, including Sean Bean as the narrator and Aaron Jakubenko as Commodus, who bring the characters to life with convincing performances.

Megapolis: Rome (2020)

Megapolis Rome” is a documentary that immerses viewers in the wonders of ancient Rome. Through the lens of architecture, the film uncovers the secrets of Rome’s iconic buildings and reveals the remarkable skill of its builders.

The documentary highlights the exceptional materials used in constructing the city, including volcanic ash, which enabled the Romans to create buildings that have endured for centuries.

Beyond the physical structures, “Megapolis Rome” also explores ancient Rome’s cultural and social legacy. The documentary provides an in-depth look at the city’s evolution throughout history, from its humble origins as a small village to its status as the center of an empire stretched across the globe.

Rome: Empire Without Limit, hosted by Mary Beard (2016)

The documentary series “The History of the Roman Empire Without Limit” by Mary Beard takes viewers on a journey through the rise and fall of this great civilization.

With her vast knowledge and expertise, Mary Beard delves into the complexities of the Roman Empire’s history. The series explores the factors that led to the empire’s formation and its eventual expansion to become one of the greatest empires in world history.

Through captivating storytelling and insightful analysis, viewers deeply understand the empire’s social, cultural, and political systems.

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The documentary also examines the challenges of the Roman Empire and the reasons for its collapse. Mary Beard takes viewers through the turbulent times of the empire’s decline, exploring the impact of political and economic instability, military conflicts, and cultural shifts.

The Tyrannical Emperors That Defined Ancient Rome, Tony Robinson’s Romans (2003)

Tony Robinson‘s documentary “The Tyrannical Emperors That Defined Ancient Rome” explores the lives and reigns of some of Rome’s most notorious emperors.

The documentary sheds light on the authoritarian rulers who brought Rome to its knees through expert commentary and dramatic reenactments.

The documentary focuses on the reigns of Julius Caesar, Caligula, Nero, and Commodus. The series examines the impact of their rule on the empire’s culture, economy, and political systems.

Tony Robinson’s engaging and informative presentation style brings these historical figures to life, offering viewers a glimpse into the personalities and motivations of these controversial rulers.

He also highlights the legacy of their reigns and how their actions influenced history.

Vespasian: From Mule Breeder To Roman Emperor (2017)

The documentary “Vespasian: From Mule Breeder to Roman Emperor” tells the story of one of Rome’s most successful emperors. Vespasian’s rise to power is a remarkable story of determination, political savvy, and military prowess.

There’s much to learn about the Roman Empire, and these eight documentaries glimpse this fascinating era.

For those hungry for more knowledge on ancient Rome, check out our other articles, such as The best podcasts about Rome.

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Tom Curley
I'm Tom Curley, owner and operator of History Hogs, where my passion for ancient history drives everything we do. From Rome to Byzantium, I dive deep into the stories and details that shaped our past.
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