Pompeii and 3 Netflix movies and shows about the Roman Empire

Barbarians season 2 on Netflix, streaming October 21, 2022.
Barbarians season 2 on Netflix, streaming October 21, 2022. /
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Apparently, everyone is thinking about the Roman Empire these days. Well, maybe not everyone, but a recent TikTok trend revealed a surprising number of people are thinking about the Roman Empire on a daily basis. The idea is incredible to me. The only thing I think about every day is Outer Banks, but to each their own. If you’d like to know more about the Roman Empire, we picked four Netflix movies and shows for you to watch.

Let’s get the list of Netflix movies and shows about the Roman Empire started with Pompeii starring Kit Harington.

Pompeii

Pompeii is one of the hottest movies on Netflix to kick off the month of October 2023. The film was just added to Netflix when the month began. It’s always funny to see which movies from a decade or so ago randomly rise the rankings of the Netflix Top 10. Pompeii is one of those movies right now. As of Oct. 3, Pompeii is No. 5 on the Netflix Top 10 in the United States.

Released in 2014, Pompeii is set just days before Mount Vesuvius erupts and destroys Pompeii. It follows Milo (Kit Harington), a gladiator who is in a relationship with Cassia (Emily Browning). Together, Milo and Cassia try to escape Pompeii. Will they make it out alive?

If you’re a big fan of Kit Harington, this is absolutely the movie for you. Pompeii, overall, is not that good of a movie, in my opinion, but it does have a great cast.

  • Release Year: 2014
  • Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson
  • Cast: Kit Harington, Carrie-Anne Moss, Emily Browning, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jessica Lucas, Jared Harris, and Kiefer Sutherland 

Watch Pompeii on Netflix

Gladiator

I don’t know if I have this right, but I’m pretty sure the rankings of stories about the Roman Empire goes like this: No. 2 Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare and No. 1 Ridley Scott’s Gladiator. It’s an incredible achievement in filmmaking, and I’m also pretty sure everyone who is obsessed with the Roman Empire is also obsessed with this movie.

In Gladiator, Russell Crowe stars as Maximus, a Roman General whose life is flip-turned upside down when Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix) kills his father, Emperor Marcus Aurelius (Richard Harris), and sentences Maximus to a life in slavery. Maximus becomes a gladiator and swears revenge on Commodus.

Gladiator won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2001, and there’s a Gladiator sequel in the works right now. We’re not sure how long Gladiator will be on Netflix, so you better watch now!

  • Release Year: 2000
  • Directed by Ridley Scott 
  • Cast: Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Oliver Reed, Derek Jacobi, Djimon Hounsou, and Richard Harris

Watch Gladiator on Netflix 

Barbarians season 2 - Netflix movies
Barbarians episode 6 / Credit: Katalin Vermes (Netflix) /

Barbarians

Of all the picks on this list, Barbarians is my personal favorite! It might not be as good as Gladiator, but it’s definitely better than Pompeii and The Eagle. Barbarians is a German Netflix original series. It tells the story of several Germanic tribes who rose up against the Roman Empire’s expansion into their territory. It’s a great series if you’re a fan of The Last Kingdom, Vikings: Valhalla, and other series like that.

There are two seasons of Barbarians to stream on Netflix right now. If you need a new show to watch about the Roman Empire, this is definitely the show for you. As of October 2023, Barbarians has not been renewed for season 3, but it could happen in the future.

Please do not confuse this show with the movie, Barbarian. That is a very different film. While good, Barbarian is definitely not about the Roman Empire and definitely not what you’re looking for.

  • Seasons: 2 
  • Created by Andreas Heckmann, Arne Nolting, and Jan Martin Scharf
  • Starring Laurence Rupp, Jeanne Goursaud, and David Schütter

Watch Barbarians on Netflix

The Eagle

The Eagle is our fourth and final pick on the list of Netflix movies and shows to watch if you like the Roman Empire. It premiered in theaters in 2011. It’s based on The Eagle of the Ninth
by Rosemary Sutcliff.

The Eagle tells the story of Marcus Aquila (Channing Tatum), a Roman soldier who goes on a mission to recover The Eagle of the Ninth, which has been lost. His goal is to bring honor to his family.

If you like war movies, The Eagle is probably the pick for you. While there are battles in the other three movies and shows, The Eagle is much more war-centric than the others.

  • Release Year: 2011
  • Directed by Kevin Macdonald
  • Cast: Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell, Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong

Watch The Eagle on Netflix 

There’s also a documentary/drama series, Roman Empire, on Netflix right now. It’s also about the, you guessed it, Roman Empire. There are three seasons. We didn’t include it on the list because it’s part docuseries, which is different from Gladiator, The Eagle, Barbarians, and Pompeii.

Next. 4 best Korean shows on Netflix to watch (and 2 to skip). dark