Some new hype -- especially from the UK -- of the forthcoming Rome series offers a somewhat different perspective than the Sopranos-oriented stuff we have been getting from the U.S. media. The Times, e.g., dwells on the abundance of nudity and mentions, inter alia:

The lead writer of the series, Bruno Heller, is British as is the director of the first three episodes, Michael Apted.

“It was a merciless existence [in ancient Rome], dog-eat-dog, with a very small elite, and masses of poverty,” said Heller who is also an executive producer. “We see the same problems today — crime, unemployment, disease and pressure to preserve your place in a precarious society.

“Human nature never changes and the great thing about the Romans, from a dramatic perspective, is that they’re a people with the fetters taken completely off. They had no prosaic God telling them right from wrong and how to behave. It was a strictly personal morality, and whether or not an action is wrong would depend on whether people more powerful than you would approve. You were allowed to murder your neighbour or covet his wife if it didn’t piss off the wrong person.

Mercy was a weakness, cruelty a virtue, and all that mattered was personal honour, loyalty to yourself and your family.”

The series is likely to draw comparisons with the much derided 1979 film Caligula, in which the respected American author Gore Vidal took up an offer from Bob Guccione, owner of Penthouse magazine, to write a script that depicted the decadence and debauchery of the Romans.

The Telegraph similarly provides coverage more 'graphic' than its American counterparts:

[...] Some of Britain's finest actors, including Lindsay Duncan, who plays Servilia, Polly Walker, as Atia, James Purefoy as Marc Antony, Ciaran Hinds as Julius Caesar and David Bamber as Cicero have starring roles.

Much of the sexual intrigue surrounds the scheming of Walker's character.

Within nine minutes of the first episode opening she is shown topless astride one of her lovers with slaves in attendance.

Seconds later she is shown addressing her son Octavian while fully nude. The relationship between mother and son is particularly fraught.

Atia continually lambasts her son, who is 11 when we first see him, for being too effeminate. She orders him to eats goats' testicles. "Eat them while they are warm, they will put oak in your penis," she tells him. In another scene, she taunts him about his virginity and asks: "Have you penetrated anyone yet?"

She later orders him to be taken to his brothel where he is given his choice of male and female lovers.

Brothels would appear to be a favourite location for the programme. In episode two, there are shots of couples copulating in one of Rome's most notorious dens of vice.

Some of the language would appear to be as colourful as the scenes. One character vows to "piss on Caesar" while others talk about "kissing arse".

Violence is also endemic in the drama, which shows slaves and prisoners being branded, crucified and tortured while hanging upside down from a ceiling.

A naked Marc Antony orders two topless women to fight each other with swords. When one is injured he comes to a rescue by licking blood off her chest. Earlier, a Hindu merchant has his arm broken while he is being pinned to the floor by a Roman boot.

To compare, the New York Times only mentions such things in passing, but check this out:

Sex and violence in "Rome" are predictably explicit and unsuitable for children. (Suffice it to say that back then, men not only worshipped goats, they borrowed their mating habits.) The depiction of Roman religious practices is more interesting - a confused pastiche of piety and superstition that ranges from monks in red robes singing pre-Christian chants to disgusting animal sacrifices.

To secure Octavius's safe return from a dangerous mission, for example, Atia takes a bovine shower: she sits in a tub while, from a loft above her head, priests slit the throat of a live bull, letting the still warm blood pour down all over her face and bared chest. (It works better than Calgon: Octavius lives, and Atia's skin looks radiant)

Clearly the reviewer has no concept of Roman religion ...