John Kidd, III
In the movie Gladiator, David Franzoni uses stoicism to show the moral philosophy of the Romans, and how this philosophy affected the people and how they govern themselves. Stoicism asks the basic question, “What is the good life?” as well as saying there are things you can control, and thing that you can not. In Gladiator, Maximus is constantly in these situations, and finds out that his control over emotion is only controllable to a certain point. Commodus realizes that not everything is controllable, but he is convinced that he can control it anyway. Maximus is seeking “the good life,” but is being tested the whole time by outside forces that he can’t control. He is able to control his emotions to an extent, but is even forced to give in when his family is murdered in his home farm. He says later on in the movie that, “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius”…”Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next.” This excerpt from the movie is very important in showing how Franzoni inserts stoicism into the movie, because Maximus has finally gained control over his emotions, but also shows that he isn’t as stoical as Epictetus taught. When he returns home to his farm to find his family crucified, his emotion takes over, and he moves from the world of pleasure to the deepest recesses of the world of pain. Although this does conflict with the whole idea of stoicism, Maximus is able to restore his composure and stoicism and achieve ataraxia later on in the movie, as stated in the quote. By resembling a stoic, Maximus follows the teachings of Epictetus. Epictetus says, “Do not seek to have everything that happens happen as you wish, but wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen, and your life will be serene”(191). Maximus does this because he accepts that his son and wife were killed, not because he wished them dead, but...
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