Gladiator: The Notion of Democracy and Theatrics in the Film

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“Somehow perversely, you become like the bloodthirsty mobs watching the massacres, almost getting up in the theater to chant 'Maximus! MAXIMUS!!' along with the Romans.” -Kevin N. Laforest. The previous quote from Rotten tomatoes reflects my thoughts on the film Gladiator. Marcus is Caesar, who is also the father of Commodus. Commodus should be the next to take the throne but due to lack of character, Marcus decides to give the position to Maximus. That decision does not sit well with Commodus, he retaliates by killing Marcus, Maximus’s family, and attempting to kill Maximus. Maximus still exsist but is now taken into slavery, where he trained by Proxima as Gladiator.

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“Patria Potesta is the power of the father over his family in ancient Rome. (Calder and Powells,129).” In the film, Emperor Marcus said to Commodus, “You will not be emperor (Gladiator).” This example displays Marcus’s authority over Commodus. Once Commodus became emperor he asked his sister Lucilla to be his companion and threatened her son Lucius’s life if she refused to do so. This example shows how Commodus exerts authority over Lucilla and Lucius.

Although Gladiator gives us a great outlook of ancient Rome times, of course, it is not 100% accurate. For example, At the beginning of the movie, We witnessed Commodus strangle Marcus, precipitating his death. “Marcus Aurelius actually died of plague at Vindobona and was not murdered by his son Commodus. Gladiator convinces us to believe that Commodus was the cause of Marcus demise, that is not the true story behind his death. ”While Commodus was indeed killed by a professional fighter, it was by a wrestler named Narcissus, not a gladiator...His death did not occur in the Colosseum; he was strangled while bathing (Ward.)” As perceived in the movie, Commodus was killed by Maximus in a battle at the Colosseum however, that is not in accordance with reality.

“Democracy is a system of government in which the majority of voters decide issues and policy (Calder and Powells, 99).” The notion of democracy did not prevail at the end of Gladiator. At the end of the Gladiator, Commodus challenges Maximus to a face-off. Maximus wins that fight along with the title of the emperor by killing Commodus. Shortly after the fight, Maximus slowly dies off and announces that he wants the wishes of Marcus Aurelius to be granted. With that being said, the restoration of power was back to where it was intended to be, Rome became a republic again. Democracy was not present, the Gladiator was the decision-maker in the end.

My favorite quote from this movie was said by Maximus, “Brothers, what we do in life echoes in eternity (Gladiator).“ I believe that you can control your destiny, but not you fate. The truth in the words of this quote is what caught my attention, I admire this quote. Personally, I thought the Gladiator was an excellent movie. Although that was not my first thought of the movie. The plot, the acting and everything overall totally change my outlook on this film. It was very entertaining, I loved the thrilling scenes within Gladiator.  

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