Rome: A History of the Eternal City

Divine Gamble

Series 1 - Episode 2 Divine Gamble



Simon Sebag Montefiore strides into basilicas, descends into catacombs and finds hidey-holes in monastic retreats to discover minute, easily missed details that shed light on the blossoming of Christianity in Rome. And, he points out clearly, there was nothing inevitable about the religion’s eventual supremacy over paganism in the ancient city.

He shows us (more or less) the spot where Peter, the disciple and leader of the Christian mission to Rome, was crucified upside down. His martyrdom gave Rome a new founding story and a mission for his successors, the popes.

Montefiore turns the back-stabbing, megalomania and piety of emperors and popes into an eye-popping history masterclass.


Historian Simon Sebag Montefiore reveals how Rome cast aside its pantheon of pagan gods, and Emperor Constantine took a huge leap of faith by promoting Christianity as the religion of the empire. He charts the rocky course of Rome's rise to become the capital of Western Christendom, and its impact on the lives of its citizens, elites and high priests.

Cast & Crew

Presenter Simon Sebag Montefiore
Director Anna Cox
Executive Producer Mike Smith
Producer Rob Cowling