Gladiator: Fact or Fiction

Topics: Marcus Aurelius, Roman Empire, Commodus Pages: 2 (741 words) Published: March 18, 2009
The fictional story of Gladiator is simplicity itself. General Maximus (Russell Crowe) fights in the wilds of Germania with the dying Emperor Marcus Aurelius, is promised the throne with the mission of returning Rome to “The Republic.” Before he can finalize his anguished deliberations, Commodus (Joaquin Phoenix), Marcus' son, sends his father out and claims the throne. Maximus is sentenced to death as a possible opponent, and is taken to the Black Forest for a messy death. His wife and child are similarly condemned. Maximus escapes, badly wounded, rushes home to save his family but gets there too late. Exhausted and distraught, he is picked up by slaves passing through the land. Sold in the provinces as a gladiator, his training and attitude towards death is attractive to people and they follow his lead. Meanwhile, back in Rome, Commodus tries to win over the fickle mob with stupendous games in the Colliseum. Lasting 180 days, the games draw wild animals and gladiators from all over Rome. With Maximus in Rome, he sees his chance for revenge. This simple outline shows a couple of excellent points. The film is a combination of all the great themes of Rome. Rome's empire was won by its army - the discipline and training made the Roman army the most powerful weapon in the ancient world. The clash between Maximus' army and the German barbarians in the opening scene is a perfect replica of real events. Emperor’s Augustus, the first true Emperor, took the name only to secure power long enough to set up a republic. Every Emperor after him took the title Augustus as a sign of loyalty. That's irony so strong our American cousins will surely chuckle. Marcus Aurelius was a strong defender of “The Republic.” The first imperialists, the Romans wanted to bring decency and civilization to a cruel and barbarous world. Just like their descendents of the colonial age, this illusion was a rare reality, and the natives that were “civilized” were not always appreciative. The dream...
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