Titus Pullo (Rome character)
|Portrayed by||Ray Stevenson|
||This article consists almost entirely of a plot summary. It should be expanded to provide more balanced coverage that includes real-world context. (February 2015)|
|This article does not cite any references or sources. (August 2009)|
Titus Pullo is a fictional character from the HBO/BBC original television series Rome, played by Ray Stevenson. He is depicted as a hedonistic, devil-may-care soldier who discovers hidden ideals and integrity within himself. The basis for this character is the historical Roman soldier of the same name, who is briefly mentioned in Julius Caesar's books De Bello Gallico and Commentarii de Bello Civili.
Titus Pullo's mother was a slave who died when he was young, and he never knew his father, though he assumes his father was an Ubian. The legion is the only family Pullo has really known; his friend Lucius Vorenus, with his strict discipline and uncompromising moral code, comes to represent something like an older brother to him, if not quite a father. Later on down the line, their roles are reversed when Vorenus becomes listless with grief then irrational with anger, and Pullo must take on the more responsible role in order to care for and protect his closest friend.
He represents on one side the darker forces of the plebeian and barbarian masses that are helping to tear the Republic apart, but also the life spirit and general goodness that is helping to forge its future. Prone to fits of violent anger, Pullo also on multiple occasions shows emotional depth and a desire to atone for his past sins. The only strong identification he has is that of a soldier. Without that, he initially struggles to fit into Roman society, before eventually finding his place. Pullo's affable manner, even when confronting adversaries, remains a constant source of levity. Pullo is also portrayed as a man who is beneficiary of astounding and repeated strokes of good fortune. Caesar actually declares more than once that he believes powerful gods favor Pullo and by association, Lucius Vorenus. Although he can be at times very blunt and clearly very barbaric, he portrays nonetheless the good friend and good man.
Pullo is a large and strong man - much taller than Vorenus, who describes him as "a giant." He is a fierce fighter - on one occasion biting the tongue out of an opponent's mouth - and enjoys fighting, breaking ranks to engage Gallic tribesmen in single combat during the pilot episode.
We first see Titus Pullo breaking ranks at the Siege of Alesia to fight the attacking Gauls single-handedly. His superior officer, Lucius Vorenus, restrains him and calls him a "drunken fool," whereupon Pullo punches Vorenus very hard in the face. As punishment for his brash action, he is hit with a shield and then is scourged and imprisoned (sentenced to die in the arena).
One day later, Vorenus appears at his jail cell and frees Pullo so that he can accompany him on the mission to retrieve the stolen eagle of the Legio XIII Gemina (a.k.a. the 13th Legion). Vorenus' reasoning is that since the pair will probably not find the eagle, he would choose a man who was already disgraced and would not suffer the dishonor of returning without it. Through a twist of fate, Pullo and Vorenus do end up retrieving the eagle, as well as rescuing Caesar's nephew Octavian from the Gauls.
When Caesar's political relations with Pompey the Great go sour, he sends Mark Antony with the 13th Legion to Rome, where Antony, as Tribune of the Plebs, must make an important veto in the Senate in order to avoid civil war between the two generals (Caesar and Pompey). Vorenus and Pullo return Octavian to his mother and go their separate ways, Vorenus to reunite with his wife and Pullo going off to "fuck every whore in the city." While partying, he kills a man who cheated in a game of dice. A bar fight breaks out, during which the dead man's good friend escapes and Pullo is seriously injured. In the morning, Pullo comes crashing into Vorenus's house, discovered by his wife Niobe. After recovering, he and Vorenus (with the rest of the 13th) are escorting Antony to the Senate when Pullo is attacked by the dead man's friend. Pullo kills his attacker and a battle between the Caesarian 13th and the Pompeian crowd ensues, preventing Antony from entering the Senate. Vorenus is wounded during the fight, and Pullo carries him away.
Antony and the 13th race up north to Caesar's camp. Caesar decides to take his army and march across the Rubicon River to Rome. Pullo and Vorenus lead a scouting party that rides ahead of Caesar's army and finds Rome abandoned by Pompey (who, it turns out, fled south with most of the Senate). During this scouting mission, Pullo and company come across a wagon which is being guarded by several Pompeian soldiers disguised as civilians. When Vorenus notices the men are not who they claim to be, they engage the men and pursue them into a nearby forest, leaving a slave girl and the wagon she is tied to despite Pullo's reluctance. Later, Pullo returns to free the girl and discovers that the wagon was actually carrying Rome's treasury gold, stolen from Pompey's man only a few hours earlier. Although he takes the gold for himself at first, he eventually is persuaded by Vorenus to turn it in to Caesar. Thankfully, Caesar pardons him for the theft, allows him to keep the slave girl, and gives him a small reward him for returning it. Caesar continues to occupy Rome, and is withheld there by Servilia of the Junii, his lover and the mother of Marcus Junius Brutus.
During this hiatus from fighting, Pullo grows suspicious of Niobe, who he sees talking in hushed tones with her sister's husband, Evander. He senses that Niobe's marriage with Vorenus is falling apart and comforts his friend. While in the employment of the Julii, Pullo asks Octavian his advice about the matter, wondering if he should say something to Vorenus about his suspicions. Octavian tells him that without proof, his suspicions cannot be justified, so the two abduct Evander and torture him until he reveals the truth: that after Vorenus had been mistakenly reported dead, Evander and Niobe became lovers and he fathered a son with her, who Niobe told Vorenus was his grandson (supposedly fathered by his daughter's boyfriend, Crito). Evander asks to die, and Pullo runs him through.
Finally, Caesar leaves to pursue Pompey, and he does so all the way to Greece, leaving the 13th behind in Rome to keep the peace. Caesar does terribly in the campaign, and soon finds himself badly outnumbered. He calls upon the 13th to fight with him. Unfortunately, most of the legionaries are drowned when their ships are sunk by a storm in the Adriatic. Pullo and Vorenus survive only by finding a deserted island. They eventually escape by tying dead comrades together and making a raft, but they arrive in Greece after the Battle of Pharsalus, where Caesar wins and Pompey winds up on the run with his family. By coincidence, Pompey's children find Pullo and Vorenus washed up on a beach, and Pompey's men nurse them back to health. The pair sees Pompey, beaten and broken, and Pullo sees an opportunity: "Caesar's gonna drown us in gold!" Vorenus, on the other hand, pities the old general, and allows Pompey to go to Egypt unhindered. Pompey later arrives in Alexandria, only to be assassinated.
The two return to Caesar's camp, who is enraged that they allowed Pompey to go free, but pardons them because of their luck. Caesar explains to Antony, "Those men have powerful gods on their side." Pullo accompanies Caesar to Egypt, where he and Vorenus are ordered to find Cleopatra, held captive by her snivelling baby brother Ptolemy, and bring her to Caesar in Alexandria. They rescue the princess, who believes that unless she has a child with Caesar, her kingdom will not survive. Finding herself "between the flood" one night while travelling with the two Romans, she enlists the help of Pullo in impregnating her, which he does all too enthusiastically. Upon arriving in Alexandria, Cleopatra seduces Caesar while Vorenus and Pullo fight off the armies of Ptolemy. Nine months later, Cleopatra gives birth to a son.
Upon his return to Rome after the Battle of Thapsus, Pullo falls in love with a slave girl, Eirene, whom he rescued from Pompeian soldiers earlier in the series. He frees her and plans to marry her, only to discover that she already has a fiance. Enraged, he kills Eirene's unfortunate young lover in front of Vorenus' children, leading to a painful argument between Pullo and Vorenus. Vorenus kicks Pullo out of the house and calls him a "drunken fool" again.
Pullo retreats to the tavern, where gangster Erastes Fulmen offers him work as a hitman. Pullo is a reckless killer and is soon arrested for the murder of one of Caesar's political opponents. He is condemned to death in the arena. Although Caesar wants to free Pullo, he distances himself from the whole affair. Vorenus, although stating "Pullo is dead to me", is given strict orders not to make any attempts to rescue his friend.
Pullo is brought to the arena to face death as a gladiator. At first, he refuses to fight any of the gladiators set against him, but one begins to taunt him, calling the 13th Legion "a bunch of bloody mollies" and telling them to "all line up and suck my cock." Provoked by the insult to his former legion, Pullo violently butchers the gladiator and the ten others sent against him, screaming "Thirteenth!" to the crowd. However, being exhausted and heavily wounded from the lengthy fight, he is finally disarmed by a huge gladiator with one eye and a skull-shaped mace. A watching Vorenus, agonised at the sight of his brother dying and moved by Pullo's calls to the Legion, jumps into the arena, shouting "Thirteenth!" and fights and kills the one-eyed gladiator, ramming his own mace through his shoulder and into his heart. The crowd goes wild by such a display of brotherhood and the two become famous heroes.
Pullo returns to Vorenus' house, where Eirene still works and understandably hates him for what he did. Pullo takes her into the country to ask forgiveness at a holy shrine. The last shot of the first season shows Eirene reaching out to hold Pullo's hand.
At the beginning of the second season, Pullo asks Eirene to marry him while on the same country trip. She says yes. Pullo is ecstatic. "You won't regret it!" He says. They sit to eat, only to hear from a messenger that Caesar has been murdered by the Senate. Pullo and Eirene steal the messenger's horse and race back to Rome, where they find Vorenus, covered in blood, standing over the body of Niobe. Vorenus, despondent and borderline psychotic with grief, explains that he discovered Niobe's secret and came home from his duties with Caesar to kill her, as was the custom, but she "did it herself," letting herself slip from a second story balcony onto cobblestones below. He then cursed his children in anger and ran into the lawless streets. He later returned to find the children gone.
Pullo and Vorenus search around the house and find a slave who reveals that Erastes Fulmen, who had become Vorenus' enemy over the course of the first season, came and kidnapped the children. Pullo and Vorenus go to the Aventine Collegium, massacre the gangsters there, and interrogate Fulmen, who tells them that he raped, killed, and threw the children into the Tiber. Vorenus cuts off his head.
A month later, Vorenus and Pullo have grown mourning beards, and Pullo runs the house with Eirene while Vorenus lies upstairs in bed, refusing to move. Mark Antony arrives at Vorenus' house, demands that he get out of bed, and orders that he take Fulmen's place at the Collegium to restore law and order to the Aventine.
Vorenus impresses his fellow crime bosses by, in a rage, destroying a statue of Concord, declaring, "I am a son of Hades! I fuck Concord in her arse!" He and Pullo run the Collegium until Vorenus' grief gets the better of his good judgement. He provokes gang wars deliberately and becomes paranoid, throwing wild accusations at even Pullo, including that his friend had an affair with Niobe. Pullo is understandably hurt and retorts in anger, "Yeah, I fucked her, me and every man of the hill!" This leads to a fistfight and Pullo takes Eirene and leaves the Aventine.
Three months later, Pullo and Eirene return to Rome to find the Aventine in shambles and Vorenus gone north with Mark Antony when Pullo's old friend Octavian provoked him into battle. Meanwhile, this friction among the Caesarians gives Brutus and Cassius, the killers of Caesar who fled east to raise an army after the assassination, the opportunity to "mop up" Antony and Octavian. While in Rome, Pullo discovers that Vorenus' children are alive – and, leaving Eirene in the care of Mascius, goes north to tell him, finding him retreating with Antony's defeated army. Vorenus and Pullo find the children in slavery and rescue them.
When Antony and Octavian unite to face their common enemy (Brutus and Cassius), Pullo and Vorenus receive a list of prominent senators who they believe have sympathies with the two assassins. Pullo kills Marcus Tullius Cicero himself. The normally cowardly senator shows great courage facing death. The two men have a strangely civil and amiable conversation before Cicero allows Pullo to kill him. Pullo remarks "he's not a bad fellow, that Cicero" to Vorenus afterwards.
Soon after, Eirene reveals to Pullo that she is pregnant. But to complicate things, Vorenus' slave Gaia is in love with Pullo, and poisons Eirene, who delivers a dead baby and dies. Antony and Octavian defeat Brutus and Cassius at the Battle of Philippi. Vorenus discovers that his children in fact hate him for causing the death of Niobe and cursing them. Vorenus capitalises on the fact that Mark Antony is going to Egypt and sails with him, leaving the Aventine in Pullo's hands.
A few years later, Pullo and Gaia are lovers, and the people of Rome starve because Antony delays grain shipments from Egypt. When war between Octavian and Antony looms, Octavian asks Pullo to accompany him on his campaign. The night before he is to leave with Octavian, Gaia is mortally wounded by an escaped prisoner and reveals to Pullo, on her deathbed, that she killed Eirene. An enraged Pullo strangles her last breaths from her and dumps her body unceremoniously in the river.
Octavian, with Pullo's help, wins the Battle of Actium and chases Antony to Egypt, where he, Cleopatra, and Vorenus, are held up in the palace at Alexandria. While Octavian besieges Alexandria, Antony and Cleopatra kill themselves while Vorenus escapes with Caesarion, who everyone believes to be Caesar's son by Cleopatra but who is in fact Pullo's son. Pullo is assigned by Octavian to kill Caesarion on the grounds that "there cannot be two sons of Caesar." Instead, Pullo meets up with Vorenus in the Egyptian desert. The two plan to secretly escape Egypt with the boy and go back to Rome. They come across a platoon of Octavian's soldiers and do battle with them. Vorenus is wounded and tells Pullo to take him back to Italy.
They return to Rome, and Pullo announces to Vorenus' children that their father won't last very long. They reconcile with their dying father as Octavian holds a triumph in his own honour. Shortly afterward, Pullo arrives at Octavian's villa to tell him that Caesarion and Vorenus are dead. Rewarded for apparently killing Caesarion, Pullo leaves to the street, where he tells Caesarion that "he bought it." Caesarion goes on a tirade about reclaiming his rightful empire and redeeming his father's name. As they walk off down a market street Pullo says "Listen, about your father..."