Gladiator: Just How Bad an Emperor was Commodus? | An Historian Goes to the Movies
Question: Was Commodus and Lucilla half brother and sister? Wondering because of Commodus' attraction for Lucilla. Was incest normal at that time?. Issue, Aurelia Lucilla, Lucilla Plautia, Lucius Verus, Aurellius Pompeianus. House · Nerva–Antonine Dynasty. Father, Marcus Aurelius. Mother, Faustina the Younger. Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla or Lucilla (March 7, or –) was the second daughter Commodus ordered Lucilla's execution after a failed assassination and coup. I feel Commodus didn't really love his sister the way he thought he did. . while his father took to trouble of enlisting Lucilla to help him after he learns that he I think it's shown up very well in his sick relationship with Lucus.Gladiator (2000): "Am I not Merciful" Scene
The anonymous Historia Augusta is filled with fabricated documents and large portions of it have been dismissed as fiction. Despite these problems, the surviving evidence does point to Commodus being a pretty crappy ruler.
He was a good-looking man, assuming the portrait busts are accurate. The Historia Augusta claims that he suffered from a large hernia in his groin that was visible through his loose robes and was the subject of many humorous poems. It also offers numerous salacious stories about his debauched behavior, but these were standard things to include in stories of Bad Emperors, so they may be fictitious.
Instead, he gets a rather fey neckerchief. Joaquin Phoenix as Commodus Dio says that he was quite lazy, and more than happy to turn over the governance of the Empire to an unpopular and supposedly immoral Greek named Saoterus. But here we have to be careful. The Roman senate no longer ruled the Empire, but they were traditionally the class that supplied the high officials. Since she disliked her husband and her brother, she hatched a plot with a different senator, Quadratus, who was probably a grand-nephew of Marcus Aurelius.
Connie Nielsen as Lucilla Quadratus arranged for another senator, Quintianus, to stab Commodus to death as he was passing through a tunnel into an amphitheater. But, rather foolishly, when Quintianus confronted Commodus and brandished a dagger, he made the mistake of going on at some length about how the Senate wanted the emperor dead.
So it turns out that Syndrome from the Incredibles was right; monologuing is a bad idea. From this point on, the emperor relied on personal favorites whom he felt he could trust more than the senators, which must have alienated the senators even more.
Like many previous emperors, Commodus relied heavily on congiaria, massive gifts of food, wine, oil, and money to the general population. He also loved gladiatorial games, going so far as to participate in them personally, and he enjoyed killing captive animals as a show of his personal prowess.
Dio and other senators were witness to a number of these. Dio also particularly records an incident in which Commodus personally beheaded an ostrich and waved its head around; according to Dio, the senators were laughing so hard at the ridiculous scene that Dio had to improvise a cover for their laughter, because otherwise Commodus would have executed them all.
Upon researching the life of Commodus, I was surprised to discover that his life and rule were actually more interesting than the movie had painted them to be.
Everything The Movie Gladiator Got Completely Wrong About History
He managed to actually behave more outrageously than he did in the movie. You are free to disagree, of course, but portraying a more realistic Commodus on screen would have made for even more drama. However, in Rome, it was still treated as more of a cult than anything else. The state religion of Rome was bound to the gods and goddesses we all know from mythology, and Christianity was subversive to the state because it was so emotional and personalized.
Praying for the state was required of citizens. Romans believed that they had succeeded and done so well in all their endeavors because the gods were appeased by their prayers and sacrifices. This belief actually led to a stagnation of Roman religion, in which each family was instructed to pray every day and in the exact same way. In your household you would have a set number of lines to say, and if you flubbed them then you could be partially responsible for a loss in battle.
Because religion had become so monotonous, many people did their routine and moved on. You can imagine that having a personal connection with religion would seem really strange to them.
Maximus is almost certainly Christian in order to create a connection with the audience. My guess is that a man so deeply steeped in the Roman army for so many years, Maximus would buy into the state religion as well. What else would help him win so many battles? Dear Jupiter, Give me the strength to win this battle. Now, this could just be my ignorance, but I have at least looked at a map. The movie starts in Germania, and according to history, Marcus Aurelius was fighting around the Danube River when he died on campaign.
It was Iberia or Hispania, as well as collection of other names that would refer to tribes. So, after the failed assassination attempt in Germania, Maximus manages to take two horses and hoof it home in a matter of days — as it appears to us. That seems a bit farfetched. After discovering the bodies of his family, Maximus collapses with grief. He is almost immediately found by a roving band of traders who take him to Zucchabar.
For anyone playing at home, Zucchabar is located in North Africa also, it is incorrectly called a Roman province. It was part of a province, Mauretania Caesariensis.
That means these traders would have had to cross water at some point, and all we get are shots of sand dunes and camels. Not only that, but Zucchabar is located in western North Africa, which means a long journey and more sea time to get to Rome.
The dark red part is Mauretania Caesariensis. Everything else is the Roman Empire. The announcer lets audience know that the Carthaginians are the barbarians.
Fair enough, they would have said that. So why do the gladiators posing as the Roman army come riding out in tricked out chariots, wearing gold armor, and at least one leopard print cape? If I had never seen the movie and somebody turned on this scene for me, I would have assumed the guys in the chariots were from Carthage. A quick note about chariots: Roman chariots would not have been so large and decorated and fitted with blades. The platform was smaller and lightweight so that the horses could pull it without getting tangled up or slowing down.
Maybe it battle they would take a little more time to beef the chariots up, but for a bunch of gladiators in the arena?
Gladiator: Just How Bad an Emperor was Commodus?
Oh, you mean the Flavian Amphitheater. The name we use today game about hundreds of years later. Roman naming systems When Maximus reveals himself to Commodus he makes a big scene of it: Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. Your praenomen, or first name, was your given name — such as Lucius, Publius, etc. Your nomen, or second name, was your family name — Cornelius, Julius.
Your cognomen, or third name, was the nickname people gave you to distinguish you from relatives with similar names, especially because there were a set number of available first names. Take Gaius Julius Caesar yes, that Caesar. His first name, Gaius, is like Eric or Sally. His second, Julius, is his family name, as he was part of the Julian tribes. Or maybe Publius Cornelius Scipio Africanus.
His given name is Publius. His family name is Cornelius. Applying all of this to the movie, we get Maximus Decimus Meridius. That still leaves us without a family name. From what I can tell after reading movie trivia, you get to hear the name Aelius Maximus at one point. If we take Aelius to be his family name then his name should look like this: Decimus Aelius Meridius Maximus.
It would depend on which his family gave him and which is army buddies gave me. What did Commodus look like? The face of royalty, ladies and gents. However, when you start looking into the life and times of Commodus, the movie diverges much more radically. I think that if they had tried to stay closer to history as we know, the story might have even been better. Marcus Aurelius was on campaign in Germania when he died. He did die in CE.
Marcus called for his son to join him on campaign when Commodus was about 13, gave him the honor of full manhood at this time, and had pulled enough strings to make him consul by the time he was Commodus was obviously being groomed to take over when his father died. He did not have to scheme and plan and worry about succession. Furthermore, he was in battle or in camp with his father for years, not joining him at direct request and traveling in luxury.
In fact, Commodus was the first Roman emperor who was raised in royalty and succeeded his father. All emperors before Marcus Aurelius had appointed men for other reasons than relation by blood. I should clarify here — thanks to a commentator! Conversely, Vespasian had two sons become emperor, but they were both born and raised by the time their father earned the title.
Furthermore, Marcus Aurelius died when Commodus was only Not only he did he have the promise of all the power and position, but he was still young. Why would he kill his father when he could still spend his time without as much responsibility?
Also, he was young and inexperienced when he took over, and according to Cassius Dio his lack of guile and lack of great intelligence meant that his older advisers could manipulate him. What if the movie had started with Commodus as a good looking younger man with a great deal of potential? The first sign of trouble could be his pulling away from battle and returning to Rome.
This way, he gains the support of the army, is thoughtful, but maybe also a coward for retreating from battle. Could he at least TRY to look like less of a douche? Maximus could still be a solider — not a general though, he should fly under the radar — who gets forced into slavery for some reason. Perhaps he fights for the other side and gets captured by soldiers. A prisoner of war being sold into slavery would not be unusual. He could now have a great deal of resentment against Rome and want to get back to his family.
In truth, particularly in the early days of the Republic, you only had a chance of being in the senate if you were part of the aristocratic patrician class. The senate was comprised of elected magistrates. Once you became a magistrate, you were in the senate for life.