Roman Games & Gladiator Comparison

Topics: Roman Empire, Domitian, Praetorian Guard Pages: 5 (1327 words) Published: February 2, 2013
Adam Bajjada - Ancient History Essay - Gladiator

Adam Bajjada - Ancient History Essay - Gladiator
Gladiator has been reviewed by some as “...the revival of Roman history”(Mitchell, 2000) and extremely unrealistic by others. However it is the major themes portrayed in Gladiator such as the social, political and economic situations that need to be analysed in further depth with close reference to the written and archaeological evidence.

During Gladiator, Senator Gracchus states that “The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, but the sand of the Colosseum”. Here Gracchus is emphasising the idea that the mob of Rome no longer cares for the struggle of political freedom and democracy that the senate still fights for, but the amount of spectacles the emperor is able to provide. This can be supported by Juvenal who states that: “A body that used to confer commands...and everything eager and anxious for two things only: ‘Bread & Circus.’ ”(Parker,1935).

Both the races and gladiatorial contests were used as a mock political forum by the mob. During the reign of Commodus: “ A riot broke out in the Circus, and the mob forced their way...Once again the Emperor...handed over his favourite to the people...”(Parker,1935). In this source Cleander who was Commodus’ Imperial Secretary is referred to as “his favourite”. Hence this source identifies how instrumental the mob mentality was during the games that even the Emperor had his hand forced in the disposing of his most trusted and important servant.

Another prominent political theme displayed throughout the movie is the corruption within the Senate. Whilst consulting Senator Falco, Commodus states: “Thank you Falco. And for the loyal subjects I hope they weren’t, too expensive”. This concept of buying the senators can be supported historically through Emperor Vespasian whom which replaced the majority of the senators with his own loyal subjects to ensure his own position due to the fact that it was “The Year of Four Emperors”.

The gladiatorial games were lavish and exotic containing wild animals from across the entire Roman Empire. Thus capturing, shipping and supplying these animals on a weekly basis was expensive. It is said that: “The extravagance of Commodus in the games emptied the treasury and, to compensate these losses, Cleander resorted to a policy of selling state offices.”(Parker,1935). This source highlights the economic drain the games inflicted upon the treasury.

Adam Bajjada - Ancient History Essay - Gladiator
Throughout Gladiator there is a slight religious theme in which Maximus is seen praying through the use of lares. Whilst praying Maximus states: “Blessed Father watch over my wife and son with a ready sword”. Due to the Roman legionaries rarely being in the presence of their families they prayed for them through the use of lares. Lares were small idols of household gods or spiritual ancestors that a person would pray through to their families or to mainstream gods/goddesses.

In a religious context games were held during festivals to honour a particular god or goddess. For example the festival of “Romania” was held in the Roman provinces in honour of Rome. The festival often included gladiatorial contests and chariot races.

During Gladiator Commodus’ nephew Lucius responds to Maximus question about the boy viewing the games by saying: “My uncle says it makes me strong.”. In this source Lucius is referring to the gladiatorial contests. This sense of complacency and strength that derives from viewing the games can be supported by Tertullian who states that: “The ancients thought that with this spectacle they rendered a service to the dead, believing that the souls of the dead are appease with human blood”(Stamp, 1993).

Despite there being several misrepresentations, Gladiator accurately depicts several key militaristic elements. During Gladiator Marcus Aurelius informs Maximus that “ have not been corrupted by her...
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