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Maximus: A Roman with Augustan Values

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Introduction

Maximus: A Roman with Augustan Values The film Gladiator, directed by Ridley Scott, stars Russell Crowe portraying General Maximus Decimus Meridius. Maximus is a Roman general who is loved by the people and is the favorite of Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Before being betrayed and murdered by his son, Commodus, the Emperor chooses Maximus as his successor. Upon hearing this, Commodus seeks vengeance and orders the execution of Maximus and his family. Maximus escapes his execution but does not return in time to save his family; he returns home finding his family murdered. Because of exhaustion, Maximus collapses and is captured and enslaved. Maximus is trained by Proximo and rises through the ranks of the gladiatorial arena to avenge the murders of his family and his Emperor. Throughout the film, Maximus exemplifies Augustan Values; these values lead Maximus to vow "vengeance in this life or the next" (Gladiator) of the murders of his family and his Emperor. To Romans, the paterfamilias was the male of head of the family or tribe. In the Gladiator, Maximus is the "paterfamilias" and carries out the responsibilities as the patriarch, even after the deaths of his wife and son. Gladiator opens with Maximus walking through a field of wheat. He is not carrying anything; the only visible is his wedding ring, which is worn on his left hand. The showing of his left hand is significant because it is the hand where he wears his wedding ring. ...read more.

Middle

Maximus wants to remain loyal to the "true" Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. He will not remain loyal to a traitor of the Roman Empire. He is willing to risk his own life to remain true to his country and his emperor. Commodus secretly stabs Maximus while he was tied as a prisoner; however, before his death, Maximus is able to defeat and kill Commodus in a battle in the Coliseum. As Maximus is dying, his last wish is to return Rome to a democracy. Even during his own death, Maximus puts the love of his country before his own needs. He wants to restore Rome to its former glory. Throughout Gladiator, Maximus possesses gravitas. To Romans, gravitas was a sense of the importance of the matter at hand, responsibility, and earnestness. Maximus knew he had responsibilities as a soldier, and as a father and husband. As a military leader, Maximus shows gravitas. In the beginning of the film, Maximus leads his legions victory against Germanic tribes. Throughout the battle, Maximus fights alongside his men. Maximus does not see himself higher up on the hierarchy than his men; he sees himself equal. Like a good leader, he wants to fight alongside his men, and does not want to direct from the back. In addition, Maximus is conscientious during battle. Maximus holds back when he sees that he is about to kill his own man. Unlike most soldiers, Maximus stops and ceases his attack. ...read more.

Conclusion

And your wife... moaned like a whore when they ravaged her again and again... and again" (Gladiator). Stoically, Maximus says, "The time for honoring yourself will soon be at an end" (Gladiator). Maximus says this to appear unaffected by Commodus' taunting. He does not want Commodus to see him as weak. If Commodus does, he will use it against Maximus, and will be able to defeat him. In Augustan Rome, ancestor worship and worshiping the gods of the Republic was typical of its citizens. In the film, Maximus asks his deceased ancestors for guidance. He also asks them to care for his family. He asks, "Blessed mother, come to me with the Gods' desire for my future. Blessed father, watch over my wife and son with a ready sword. Whisper to them that I live only to hold them again, for all else is dust and air" (Gladiator). Maximus also tells his ancestors he honors them and he tries to live with the dignity they have taught them. At the end of Gladiator, Commodus challenges Maximus to a duel in front of an audience in the Coliseum. Before their dual, Commodus stabs Maximus, but stabs him so the wound is concealed. However, Maximus seeks his vengeance before he dies. He stabs Commodus' neck and he collapses to his death. As Maximus begins to die, he sees his wife and son in the afterlife. To viewers of the film, they realize Maximus avenges the deaths of his family and his emperor. Without Maximus' possession of Augustan values, he would have not been able to avenge the murders of his family and the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. ...read more.

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