"They were Pagan people who worshipped many different gods where weakness was seen as despicable, and to be strong and violent and to win were the things that were important. On one hand, incredibly sophisticated, civilised and literate; on the other, they were completely brutal and wouldn't think twice about doing the most appalling things to each other. Believe me, I can look at the episode, and go, 'Yep, that's me.'" On the day I meet him in a photographic studio in Islington, he is doing a cover shoot for a gay magazine.
All this violence leaves little time for sex, but Mark Antony still finds time to ravish his German kitchen maid because his lover is getting ready for Caesar's funeral and is not in the mood." The Guardian's Nancy Banks Smith declared: "From the opening titles, to the last shot of Vorenus, drenched in blood, swinging the head of the man who [he thought] raped and killed his children, Rome keeps you open-mouthed." Among London's chattering classes - who are nevertheless glued to the screen - the relentless diet of gore has become something of a moral dilemma: whether to allow their children to witness such slaughter in the name of education.
After all, the blood-letting is one of the few historically authentic elements of Rome. "There are some scenes I've shown him," says Purefoy, 42, "but I keep my hand over the pause button. There will come a time when he will watch the DVDs and then he'll go: 'What you do? Rome was mentioned at its launch in the same breath as I, Claudius, but it has developed into an enjoyable version of East Enders-in-togas, more concerned with its orgies of sensationalism than historical veracity.
James Purefoy's 10-year-old son, Jojo, hasn't seen much of his dad's work in Rome.
"I don't think he wants to see his dad do that," Purefoy says.
Thus, the Speaker has just had to own up to accepting freebie seats in the Royal Box at Wimbledon (suitably elevated, I trust, to afford him a view) to the value of £7,510.