An Owl in a Thornbush
Season One
Number 3
Date Aired September 11, 2005
Writer Bruno Heller
Director Michael Apted
Previous How Titus Pullo Brought Down the Republic
Next Stealing from Saturn
Time frame Jan. 10 – Feb. 30, 49 BC

With Caesar quickly advancing toward Rome, Pompey begins ordering a retreat and forces his citizens to pick sides. Timon is forced to do Atia's dirty work and Vorenus cannot understand why no one is resisting while on a scouting mission.


At the opening, Caesar, at the head of his still advancing army, is sending Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo, along with the Ubian cavalry for reinforcement, ahead to Rome on a scouting mission for Pompey's defenses with the strict mandate to advance only until resistance is met and, if civilians are met along the way, they are to give Caesar's proclamation to them and to instruct them to return to Rome and have it read in the forum. Marc Antony tells Vorenus that if no resistance is met and they encounter no civilians, he is to take the proclamation and nail it to the door of the Senate house. Caesar is curious as to why Vorenus is so morose and asks Antony. Antony reveals that Vorenus is a strict Catonian and believes what Caesar is doing is a "terrible sacrilege" to which Caesar responds that he is only seeking his legitimate right.


Vorenus and Pullo approach Rome.

Meanwhile in Rome, a man enters Vorenus' home as Niobe is preparing food and walks straight to the baby's crib, telling Niobe that he just wants to see his son. Niobe tells him to leave but as he makes to do so, he turns back to face Niobe to try to persuade her to love him again. She resists for a moment but slowly starts to give in, but just as the two are about to exchange a kiss, Vorena the Elder enters the door and interrupts them. Niobe quickly makes the man leave. Vorena believes that if Niobe were to tell Vorenus the truth about the baby and that she thought he was dead, Vorenus would forgive her and everything would be fine, but Niobe knows full well better. She knows that if Vorenus were to learn the truth, he would then have the legal and moral right and obligation to kill her and all his children.

As the scouting mission camps for the night, Vorenus asks Pullo for advice on how to get Niobe to love him again since he's been away at war in Gaul for eight years and knows virtually nothing about women. Pullo, being the self declared consummate authority on women, jumps at the chance to tell Vorenus everything he knows.

Back in Rome, Pompey, Cicero, Cato and Scipio all discuss options as they receive word of Caesar's advancement only being thirty miles from the city. Though they have four legions in Rome,

Pompey and others discuss their next move.

they are either untrained conscripts (a unit of which is wiped out by Vorenus's scouts) or are veterans of the Gallic Wars whose loyalty can't be counted upon. They decide a tactical retreat to Corfinium is the best plan of action so that they can rally their legions and retake the city when all is ready.

As Atia is holding a dinner with Servilia and Brutus in a show of unity, Pompeian supporters outside the house begin to cause a small riot and beat on the doors with a small battering ram while shouting insults through the open atrium ceiling.

Meanwhile, Pompey and his family are making final preparations for their retreat from the city, during which Cornelia reminds Pompey of the treasury gold, who in turn tells his man Durio that he and a small detachment of men must go to the Capitoline vaults, which are only to be touched in cases of extreme peril, and get as much of the gold as they can. The task complete, the detachment begins to make their way from the city, but when Durio

Durio is slain and the gold is stolen.

tells the driver that he's going the wrong way from the Appian gate, the man tells him they're not going to the Appian gate and proceeds to stab Durio and throw him from the ox cart. Later, as the soldiers with the stolen gold are making their way from the city, we are introduced to Eirene. She is walking down the road as the soldiers are passing and before she knows it, she's whisked up onto the back of a horse by a legionary, very unceremoniously, and inevitably becomes a slave.

Brutus and Servilia discuss their predicament. Brutus knows that if he stays in the city because of his friendship with Caesar, he effectively declares for Caesar and rebellion. If he leaves with the Senate, he declares for them and the preservation of the Republic. Ultimately, he decides to go with Pompey and the Senate because of his family's history with the politics of Rome (his ancestors drove out the last Etruscan king). Servilia, on the other hand, is of a different mind. She wants to stay in Rome to be there when Caesar returns in order to rekindle their romance.

Back on the road to Rome, Vorenus and Pullo, still unable to figure out why they're meeting no resistance, cross

Vorenus confronts the thieves.

paths with the soldiers and the stolen treasury gold, along with Eirene being led along tied to the wagon by her bound wrists. The soldiers explain that the lack of resistance is because Pompey and the Senate have left the city, thereby permitting Vorenus and the scouting party to proceed without caution. When Vorenus questions the lead man about the cart, he's told that it's just a grain wagon. But when Vorenus points out that they're all wearing soldiers' sandals and that soldiers would have no business guarding a grain wagon, a fight ensues and all the men but the driver, who has taken refuge in the woods, are driven off and killed while Eirene remains tied to the wagon.

Atia holds court.

While Atia holds court for plebians seeking the support of the Julii, Vorenus, Pullo and the scouting party finally enter Rome and make their way to the Forum, where Vorenus nails Caesar's proclamation to the Senate door. He then heads to his home telling Pullo that he's done what was asked of him and he will sin no more. Pullo, on the other hand, still intrigued with Eirene, goes back to find the wagon. When he locates it, he finds Eirene lying on the ground with her wrists still bound to the wagon. Upon discovering she is still alive, he unties her and sets her up in the wagon before he checks to see what exactly is in it. He opens one box, takes one look and shuts it quickly, breathing heavily. He looks in the next box with the

Pullo rescues Eirene.

same reaction. Then he pulls back the covering to see exactly how many boxes are in the wagon and gasps at, what he thinks is, his newfound wealth. As he's surmising the situation, he hears the trumpets of Caesar's army approaching and quickly makes a getaway before they arrive.



Brutus: Mother, you are blinded by untapped lust. I'll get you a good big Cyrenian at the market and have done with it!

[Caesar has sent Vorenus ahead to scout with a squadron of cavalry]
Caesar: Can we trust him?
Mark Antony: Who?
Caesar: Lucius Vorenus.
Mark Antony: Vorenus? Deep Thirteenth, him. He'd follow the eagle up Pluto's arse!

[Pullo instructs Vorenus on the fine points of wooing.]
Pullo: Now, your best method of pleasing a woman is the warm, beating heart of an enemy. Oh, women say they don't like it, but they do! Makes them wet as October!

[discussing how to please Lucius's wife.]
Pullo: Also: very important. When you couple with her there's this spot just above her cunny. It's like a button. Now, attend to that button and she will open up like a flower.
Vorenus: [outraged] How do you know this about her?!
Pullo: [momentarily gobsmacked] All women have them! Ask anyone!

[On finding Rome unprotected by Pompeian troops:]
Vorenus: [aghast] This can only mean that the Republic has fallen.
Pullo: And yet, the sky is still above us and the earth still below. Strange.
Vorenus: How could Mars allow such a thing to happen?
Pullo: Maybe he was out having a crap and missed it!


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