Check out J. Rufus Fears selling Rome to a bunch of neocons: "Whenever you’re talking about Rome, you must fight against the nonsense of a movie like Gladiator. You must fight against the nonsense of this program called Rome, some degraded spectacle on HBO."
No, none of that decadence or violence or corruption you've heard about! Except here's someone writing at that time:
"XXXI. Sulla now began to make blood flow, and he filled the city with deaths without number or limit; many persons were murdered on grounds of private enmity, who had never had anything to do with Sulla, but he consented to their death to please his adherents. At last a young man, Caius Metellus, had the boldness to ask Sulla in the Senate-house, when there would be an end to these miseries, and how far he would proceed before they could hope to see them stop. "We are not deprecating," he said, "your vengeance against those whom you have determined to put out of the way, but we entreat you to relieve from uncertainty those whom you have determined to spare." Sulla replied, that he had not yet determined whom he would spare. "Tell us then," said Metellus, "whom you intend to punish." Sulla said that he would. Some say that it was not Metellus, but Afidius, one of Sulla's flatterers, who made use of the last expression. Sulla immediately proscribed eighty persons without communicating with any magistrate. As this caused a general murmur, he let one day pass, and then proscribed two hundred and twenty more, and again on the third day as many. In an harangue to the people, he said, with reference to these measures, that he had proscribed all he could think of, and as to those who now escaped his memory, he would proscribe them at some future time. It was part of the proscription that every man who received and protected a proscribed person should be put to death for his humanity; and there was no exception for brothers, children, or parents. The reward for killing a proscribed person was two talents, whether it was a slave who killed his master or a son who killed his father. But what was considered most unjust of all, he affixed infamy on the sons and grandsons of the proscribed and confiscated their property. The proscriptions were not confined to Rome; they extended to every city of Italy: neither temple nor hospitable hearth nor father's house was free from murder, but husbands were butchered in the arms of their wives, and children in the embrace of their mothers. The number of those who were massacred through revenge and hatred was nothing compared with those who were murdered for their property. It occurred even to the assassins to observe that the ruin of such a one was due to his large house, another man owed his death to his orchard, and another again to his warm baths. Quintus Aurelius, a man who never meddled with public affairs, and thought he was no further concerned about all these calamities except so far as he sympathised with the sufferings of others, happened to come to the Forum and there he read the names of the proscribed. Finding his own name among them, he exclaimed, Alas! wretch that I am; 'tis my farm at Alba that is my persecutor. He had not gone far before he was murdered by some one who was in search of him."