Intrigue, Insanity, and the Reign of Commodus
Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus, the son of the Emperor Marcus Because of the bad relationship between the Senate and Commodus as well as a. Commodus, whose full name was Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus . it was his other sisters, not Lucilla, that he reputedly had sexual relations with. Commodus born Lucius Aurelius Commodus and died Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus, was Roman emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from to his .
He is most likely an inspiration as well. Maximus also reminds one of the emperor Diocletian. Remember that in the film, Marcus Aurelius names Maximus as his heir. Diocletian, who ruled Rome from to CE, was born in the lower classes, like Maximus.
Finally he was named heir, and thus became emperor. Commodus, in reality, was not murdered in the arena by Maximus. He was however murdered by a wrestler. So the character Maximus, while fictitious, is not that far-fetched.
Why did Marcus Aurelius allow Commodus to succeed him? – How to Think Like a Roman Emperor
He appears to be collage of other, real, historical figures. As for his personality, he was definitely a stoic, as evidenced by his sense of obligation to the state, and concern for duty and virtue. This makes sense, given his admiration for Marcus Aurelius, who was a stoic philosopher. One difficulty is, even though many Romans and not just Christians believed in an afterlife, stoics usually did not. So this is problematic with regards to his character in the film. The ideology which he represents is however, somewhat authentic.
Senator Gracchus appears to be based upon Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus. During the Republic, these two brothers, were, one after the other, plebeian tribunes not senators. They were champions of the common people, and paid the cost with their lives. Tiberius Gracchus was elected tribune of the people in BCE, and fought for reforms of benefit to the plebeians.
He was murdered by opponents. His brother Gaius was elected tribune of the people in BCE, and attempted the continuation of popular reforms.
He was also murdered. It is problematic that in the film Gracchus was a senator, in the sense that it was the senatorial class which opposed Gauis and Tiberius, and even participated in their murder. The political infrastructure of ancient Rome evolved over time, and was actually more complex than portrayed in the film. Other important political entities, along with the Senate, were the Plebeian Tribunate, as well as the Comitia Centuriata.
These, along with two Consuls who would rule jointly, are the basic Republican institutions so cherished by Romans, and which emperors would claim to restore. Commodus really did have a sister Lucilla, and she hated her brother.
Intrigue, Insanity, and the Reign of Commodus
Lucilla was at one time married to Lucius Verus, as her son tells Maximus in the film. What is not said is that Verus was co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius. Lucilla conspired against Commodus, and attempted to have him assassinated in CE. Commodus banished Lucilla to the island of Capreae as punishment, and ordered her execution shortly after.
So, unlike the film portrayal, Commodus actually outlived Lucilla. Incidentally, it was his other sisters, not Lucilla, that he reputedly had sexual relations with. Some criticism by film reviewers has been levied towards Scott for having a female gladiator. However, the ancient sources are clear; they did in fact exist. Petronius, in The Satyricon, wrote of female charioteers.
Dio Cassius explained how some women performed as venatores, that is gladiators who fought wild beasts. 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? 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.
There was only one position for magistrates that dealt directly with the people, and even then they dealt with the Council of Plebs. This council consisted of roman citizens who were male.
If you were a woman or not a citizen, then you had no voice in politics.
Senators largely looked after their own interests, and as the Republic continued they got more corrupt and self-centered. Emperors brought them peace? Bring on the Emperors! But the speech Proximo gives early in the film about buying slaves to profit from their deaths?
Anyone who owned or sponsored gladiators had to put in time to train them, to feed them, to give them medical attention. If they died in the first battle, you lost out on the profit you could gain from seeing them fight time and again.
Not to mention, that these early fights outside of Rome would have been less bloody in history. By this time, gladiator fights that ended in death were largely banned outside of Rome, and sometimes the contestants would fight with wooden weapons to prevent death.
The movie could give Maximus the chance to prove himself by winning fights, as this nobody from another army. Commodus could still call for more gladiators from outside Rome. The historical Commodus was obsessed with games, particularly gladiator fights. When he first became emperor he would participate in practice fights in privacy, but as the years wore on he began to insert himself into the arena.
This had mixed results. His ability has an archer in killing animals impressed the Roman people, they ate it up. When he actually fought in the arena against men? That would be far more dubious. Only slaves were debased enough to be forced into entertainment, and someone of the aristocracy fighting in such a manner would have been humiliating to some degree. They could slowly show him growing more unstable. The turning point of horror in the film could center around Commodus entering the arena as Hercules something else he actually did.
In one historical account, Commodus had men in Rome without feet, or otherwise handicapped, chained together and made them costumes to turn them into the monstrous giants of mythology. He then clubbed them to death as Hercules saving the people. The historical Commodus was approximately x more horrifying than the movie version leering at his sister. I thought he might have good reasons for killing his father, but NOW I know that he's a creep.
In truth, about two years after Commodus became emperor, Lucilla devised a plot to assassinate him. This is what the senate has sent you! Not to mention, that the senate had nothing to do with the plot to kill Commodus. You could say that this attempt made Commodus even worse than Lucilla already thought he was. Oh, he also exiled his sister and had her killed. Can you imagine this woman being set up as a key player in the movie only to have her killed partway through?
It would certainly help turn the audience against Commodus, probably even more than they were when he asked her to spend the night with him. Seriously, get rid of the incest, put in the failed assassination.