Gladiator Movie Essay Essay, Research Paper
The Gladiator, which was released into movie theatres during the summer of 2000, shows a graphic description of how gladiators fought to the death in coliseums. The story is basically about Maximus, a well-respected general who is stripped of his rank when the evil Commodus takes over the Roman Empire in 180 AD. Maximus finds himself fighting for his life in the vicious gladiator arenas, where he uses his fame to spark unrest among the oppressed Roman citizens. Eventually, Commodus succumbs to the challenge, and the two faces off for a battle that will send one man to his death.
The Gladiator shows the realistic ways of how gladiators were brought to fight in the arena, working up the ladder to fame and hopefully release. They were treated like slaves and got money for killing, even a friend in some cases. Usually the ones that are about to die” in the Roman coliseum were condemned prisoners, professional gladiators, Christians, or animals. The spectacle of the “games” was often bloody, a tradition started in Rome by its earlier conquerors, the Etruscans. But not until the reign of Commodus (180-192 AD) did Roman citizens witness wholesale slaughter by a Caesar himself, dressed as a gladiator and acting like a madman.
There is some truth to the story behind The Gladiator. Commodus was only 18 years old when his father, Marcus Aurelius, died on the battlefield. His father made time to fight on the battlefield and also to do government work. On the other hand, his son Commodus was more interested in make-believe battles in the arena more than anything else.
Rome’s arena, the Coliseum (”Il Coliseo”), was named for a colossal statue of Nero that once stood nearby (at the Domus Aurea). Holding fewer spectators (50,000) than the nearby Circus Maximus (which accommodated more than 200,000 people), the Coliseum had 80 arched entrances on the ground floor. Originally made of wood, it was rebuilt of stone, brick, and marble. Its diameter was 620 feet (190 meters). Under the floor were a series of labyrinth passageways. To distract citizens from the daily grind, and to protect their own base of power, the Emperor and other wealthy families hosted (and advertised) games. In the Coliseum – away from the wild animals that were often brought into the arena – Rome’s citizens were safely seated, separated by class distinctions. Sometimes they watched men fight other men. These gladiators, as they were called, were Rome’s equivalent of movie stars – except that gladiators were members of the lowest class. Sometimes gladiators fought wild animals instead of each other. Sometimes animals killed other animals. The arena floor was always covered with sand, to absorb all the blood.
Near the end of his disastrous rule, the Emperor Commodus was in the arena, a “gladiator,” dressed as Hercules Venator (Hercules, the Hunter). This will be the last time that Commodus made fun of anyone. Commodus promised everyone that he would destroy all the wild animals barehanded and fight the youngest of men. From the safety of a protected, raised enclosure, Commodus carried out his promise. He slaughtered so many animals that 1600 years would pass before some of the species he killed were once again seen in Europe.
Maximus didn t kill off Commodus, as the movie suggests. He thought of a scheme that would have killed off the newly elected Roman Consuls. On the other hand, Laetus devised a plan to kill the emperor-gladiator. Narcissus, a young athlete that Commodus wrestled, strangled the Emperor while he was taking a bath. When news of his death spread throughout the city, Roman Senators could hardly contain their joy at the Emperor’s demise. Laetus saved Commodus from being mutilated and dragged through the streets of Rome with a hook. He gave him a private burial.
All in all, The Gladiator was pretty much accurate about the coliseum fights and the gory stories within them. It was also accurate about majority of the life of Commodus. Where it falls short is with the inaccurate death of Commodus.