Gladiator: Fact or Fiction
The story of Gladiator takes place in Ancient Rome and contains intense action, great acting, and fantastic storytelling. Although most of this action drama is mostly fictitious, some certain events and characters appear in the history books.
The movie starts out with an opening battle between the well-equipped Roman army and a Germanic tribe defending their lands. Russell Crowe is the main character in the movie and he plays a roman general named Maximus. Maximus is a good hearted warrior with valor and honor that is constantly displayed in the epic. He is loved by the roman people and the Emperor Marcus Aurelius
. The Roman army led by General Maximus defeats the ragged Germans in the opening scene. After a successful march through Germany, Maximus has a meeting with the emperor. The emperor tells the general that Maximus will rule Rome after Emperor Aurelius's death instead of Aurelius' son Commodus. Maximus being a humble gracious man is shocked that a common general could rule Rome. Commodus kills his father in anger and believes he has been betrayed by his father. He then orders the death of Maximus and his family in his rage.
Although this storyline is very entertaining it isn't very factual. There were emperor's named Marcus Aurelius and Commodus but as for the general Maximus, no such character exists. Aurelius, during his reign from 161-180 a.d., conquered many regions and countries. Under his vision, the Roman army defeated the Parthians and also defeated the Barbarians in the Marcomannic Wars. The Emperor Aurelius was not murdered by his son and serves as co-emperor for the last three years of his life with Commodus. Many scholars believe that Aurelius was one of the greatest emperor's of Roman history. He often showed compassion and other great traits of a leader. His son, however, did not share his leadership abilities. Commodus ruled from 180-192 a.d. Aurelius had many peace treaties
in the latter part of his rule that his son violated and continued to increase Roman territory. Commodus has been rumored to have been insane and maybe that's why he loved the Gladiator
games so much. The gladiator games were when men dressed in warrior outfits fought each other until one died. There were also games in which wild animals were placed with men. Commodus was so obsessed with these games that he even participated with these gladiators. He would be fully armored and the other man would have wooden weapons making it impossible for the other man to win.
The movie continues with a failed attempt to assassinate Maximus. Maximus kills the execution squad and flees to save his family. He finds his family has been killed and hung there swaying in the breeze. He gives up hope for life and lays by his decease family until he is taken as a slave for the business man Proximo. He was traded as a slave and was trained to be a gladiator. No one knew of his real identity and was just known as the Spaniard due to everyone thinking he was a Spanish army deserter. He fought valiantly and again the people of Rome loved him. This time however he won their affecting because of killing his fellow man and not of increasing the real estate of Rome. He even became loved by the nephew of Commodus, Lucius, and this angered the emperor. Lucius was the son of the daughter of Aurelius, Lucilla. Throughout the course of the movie there is a sexual tension between the Emperor's sister and Maximus.
The movie continues with a failed attempt to break Maximus out of his slave hood. The emperor had many enemies in the senate and even his sister had tried to dethrone him. In the presence of a chained Maximus she tells him, "Today I saw a slave become more powerful than the Emperor of Rome." This tells of the mob rule that Rome had. The most powerful man in Rome had to be popular as well as a great leader. The love Maximus again earned enraged Commodus and pushed him more over the edge of insanity. Commodus decides to fight Maximus in the Colosseum. They meet in the slave quarters and Commodus stabs Maximus. Maximus wounded is still able to kill the emperor but after the fight Maximus also dies.
Many scholars believe that Commodus was really killed in his sleep by a wrestler/gladiator named Narcissus. Narcissus had been working for Commodus as a trainer for his love of being a gladiator. Narcissus was employed by several high ranking Roman senators to strangle the emperor in his sleep. Commodus was hated in the Roman government as well as by many roman people. He named several roman landmarks after himself and even made a new calendar based on his likeness. He even renamed the senate the Commodian Fortunate Senate and the army was known as the Commodian army. Although his father was very great man and emperor, Commodus displayed many insane and maniacal traits which proved he was an ineffective ruler.
Even though they held these gladiator games, Rome was much more than grown men fighting each other in memories of real battles. The early Roman army conquered several nations and tribes throughout the European continent. Their conquests stretched from Modern day Turkey in the Middle East to the coastal regions of Spain. The culture and languages of ancient Rome have stretched much farther and are apparent even in the United States. The languages of Spanish, French, and Italian have all been derived from Rome. Also, the whole country of Italy as well as nations all around Europe has adapted many Roman traditions and pastimes. Several landmarks still etch the mind of people that haven't even set foot in Europe. The Colosseum, where the gladiator games were held, the aqueducts, where they transported water for drinking, and of course the Pantheon, a great roman temple. The gladiator games only scratched the surface of the culture of Rome. The movie Gladiator was very entertaining and showed some great aspects of Roman life and sport.