Rome wasn’t built in a day. Who hasn’t heard or even spoken that old adage at one point or another in their life? It’s true; Rome wasn’t built in a day. As a matter of fact, it took Rome ages to become the city and the world power that it was in the ancient world. Now, a new box set from History Channel is taking viewers deeper into the history of Rome than before. Ancient Rome Anthology is comprised of six discs each in their own slipcase encased in a larger box. Each disc takes viewers on a journey into specific aspects of Rome that made it one of the most important cities in the world then and even today.
The first pair of the discs in the Ancient Rome Anthology features some of the most important battles in the history of the Roman Empire. They are taken from History Channel’s special, Decisive Battles. The first of those decisive battles was the slave revolt led by Spartacus. Unlike in so many of History Channel’s specials, this one actually opted for something other than live actors to re-enact the scenes being discussed. Rather, it uses video game style animation to outline how the various battles happened. This is an excellent method, despite what some might want to believe. It makes for an excellent visual aid, especially when used in the classroom. In an age when video games dominate young minds, this will easily get the attention of younger audiences. In the process, maybe that initial interest will even lead to a growing interest since the topic being discussed is major battles.
From the major battles, the Ancient Rome Anthology moves into a discussion of the most important leaders in Rome’s history. Of those most important were Julius Caesar and the infamous Constantine. Both men are featured in the third disc of the set along with the equally infamous Caligula. All three rulers are featured as part of History Channel’s special, Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire. This special is more in line with History Channel’s other specials in that the lives of the three featured rulers are portrayed by actual live actors. Yet again, this is a good tool in that for older audiences, it can hold the attention of older audiences. The actors help to illustrate what is being discussed in each ruler’s segment. Even more interesting that even in standard definition presentation, the visuals come across in stark clarity. This is especially the case with the set’s next presentation.
After going through three of Rome’s most influential (and infamous) rulers, audiences are taken through the engineering feats that helped to make Rome such an incredible city. Along with the city’s engineering feats, the feature continues its discussion on Rome’s rulers in connection. It discusses how Julius Caesar, Claudius, and others influenced the great structures of Rome. One of the most important of those was the aqueducts, which were crafted by Claudius. Yet again, the visual aids in this segment play a bigger role than some would think in its success. In discussing the aqueducts, History Channel uses a mix of computer graphics and blueprint style visuals to illustrate how the aqueducts were built. Even Nero himself is featured in this portion of the set. He is featured for his construction of his lavish estate on the backs and money of the Romans. As impressive as the estate would have been, it was the execution of its construction that leads to his inclusion in this segment. The final product was astoundingly beautiful. But by contrast, his own view of himself is what led to its construction, and eventually his downfall. That in itself makes for quite the discussion. The discussion of Rome’s engineering greatness doesn’t end with Nero. It goes into far more depth for those who are truly interested in everything that put Rome so far ahead of its time.
The fifth disc of the Ancient Rome Anthology finishes out what had been started with the set’s fourth disc. It explains how Rome’s roads were built, along with some of its greatest monuments. This is how much there is to discuss in terms of Rome’s architectural greatness. The entire set is closed out with what is best described as a bonus disc in its sixth disc. The set’s final disc offers bonus segments featuring the long hidden catacombs of Rome, and a pair of other features of one of the world’s greatest cities. There is so much here and in the rest of the set that it more than makes a perfect gift idea for any history buff or for teacher looking for the perfect teaching tool, regardless of whether it is used in public school or college. It is a wonderful tool for either level. And it is available now. It can be ordered online now at History Channel’s online store, http://shop.history.com.
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