If there was ever an era that was perfect to be made into a pay-cable TV series, it's ancient Rome. Courtly intrigue, coupled with the excesses that the Romans indulged in -- glorious conquest, opulent wealth, killing for entertainment, sex as a distraction from boredom -- form the perfect recipe for mass entertainment. Why else do you think Gladiator won an Academy Award? The HBO series Rome tried to capture that glory, and succeeded; unfortunately, it was too expensive to last more than two seasons. Starz is following a different route, however -- they're emulating the film 300, which re-created ancient Greece on a budget by using computers and green screens. There are sets in Spartacus, of course, but they're far from the massive exteriors of Rome, and most of their characters (like the Spartans in 300), require very little costuming. I don't know what budgetary category "washboard abs" falls under (catering?), but it ain't costumes.