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Comparison between the characters in the Gladiator and Aeneid

Discuss about the Report for Various Historical Events for Historical Movies.

There was a lot of research conducted before making the famous epic – movie – The Gladiator where the fiction in the movie has been inspired by various historical events. The historical events and the culture of Rome were also depicted in the story. Lot was similar to the famous Aeneid, a Latin epic poem written by Virgil. This poem was about a legendary, Aeneas who was a Trojan who travelled to Italy and has become the ancestor of the Romans.

The Hero, Aeneas was well – known as a Greco – Roman legend and a character in Iliad. The Poem was all about the victory of Aeneas over the Latins. There has been a lot of similarity based on which the movie - The Gladiator was made.

Maximus is similar to Aeneas and is an example of virtus as Aeneas has headed to Italy to make it his second home and Maximus was found to face the struggle and wage a war with the Emperor Commodus, in order to win and cite himself as a Hero in his enemy’s eyes. The moves which Maximus and Aeneas have taken were found to be heroic as they have led an army in an honest way and they were courageous to face their Opponents and wage a war against them.

In the flim Gladiator, Maximus was a General who was involved in the military campaign of the film and he had revolutionary intentions and was also a great inspiration. Maximus appears to be a collage of great historical characters who have won in the history. He was dedicated to his work with great intentions and virtue.

In the movie, Maximus comes to Rome with a great position as a Gladiator and with the plan etched by Lucilla – sister of the Emperor, Commodus plans a sketch to kill her brother (Lendon 2005).

In the poem Aeneid, in order to support Aeneas, there were lines like

Aen.(20.345-46) where he says that

“He is destined to survive.

Yes, so the generation of Dardanusshall not perish..

Dardanus, dearest to Zeus of all the sons

That mortal women brought to birth for Father (20.349 – 53)

Maximus is pious towards Rome and to the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius and to all his former comrades. He was known to be a great soldier in Rome and many people including the daughter of the Emperor have praised him.

Symbols and importance of Virtus in the epic movie

Similarly, in the poem Aeneid, Aeneas was also depicted as a brave character and it was written that he would always cheer his despondents and his crew to praise them of their courage and will power to wage the war.

Aen. (1.239 – 44)

“ A joy of it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this.

Through so many hard straits, so many twists and turns

our course holds firm for Latium. There Fate holds out a homeland, calm, at peace. There the gods decree the kingdom of Troy will rise again. Bear up. Save your strength for better times to come.”

The character of virtus has been noticed in these roles in the history and the film where victorious General, Maximus has been known for ages as the strong protector and keeper of Rome. Maximus lives with an undying thought that he has to survive and fulfil the desire of his Emperor to protect Rome (Neelin nd).

Commodus an example of femina as he was more bizzare in his character and life which were depicting the characteristics of a female who would have be less courageous and would want help in order to protect the kingdom and himself from having a competitor wage a war against him. The father of Commodus was an honest and a great man where Commodus was totally completely different to him. Commodus, as per his times was also known to be a megalomaniac and he resulted in renaming most of his kingdom after his Titles “Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus, Augustus, Herculeus, Romanus, Exsuperatorius, Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, and Pius” (Suetonius 2004).

Commodus lived in his palace in the midst of baths and banquets with almost hundreds of concubines who would come together for their chosen beauty sessions and bath rituals.

Commodius by the virtue of his nature was not a true Gladiator, however he deliberately declared himself as one where he could manage to defeat his opponents with a lot of comfort and nevertheless would do nothing to them apart from wounding them. He would display his skills as a hunter and showcasing was very much that of a feminine character and he was also known in the film to have caused a lot of issues to his sister, Lucilla, where he would always worry her that he would wound her son (Farney 2007).

Playing such tricks with a woman in spite of safe guarding her and her son, where in the real life case, she happens to be his sister is a straight portrayal of his feminine character.

Portrayal of Commodus as a feminine character


In the poem Aeneid, Juno bribes the God of Winds, Aeolus, to let him give a big storm which can cause immense issue to Aeneas and cause him to a great suffering (Aen. 1.239 – 44). Deriving happiness out of causing issue and worry to someone is a portrayal of a person who is inhibited by his own fears and wants to harm the other person for the fear of losing a kingdom and a war (Luke 2009).

Aen. (1.239 – 44)

“ A joy it will be one day, perhaps, to remember even this.

Through so many hard straits, so many twists and turns

our course holds firm for Latium. There Fate holds out

a homeland, calm, at peace. There the Gods decree

the kingdom of Troy will rise again. Bear up.

Save your strength for better times to come.”

On the day of his death, Commodus wanted to kill the consul – elect and he wanted to swear as a consul himself. He was continuously being dressed as a Gladiator by wearing different lion skins. At this stage, his fate was sealed. Playing a deceiver has costed Commodus his own life (Lendon 2005).

The cinematic Roman epic, The Gladiator celebrates and emphasizes on the importance of manliness as a virtus with a series of incidents which have taken place in the film. In history, there were many women who were a part of the famous wars and have taken an active role in devising plans and plots against the so called villains in their times. Most of the times, in the movies these feminist roles were swapped for the male roles.

For example, in the movie, the Gladiator, Lucilla is a well - known character and most of the actions of Commodus revolve around her and her son. This has been the way in which the movies were taken where the main female plots of the main epic were being portrayed as male characters in the movies. Lucilla’s character in the movie is the main center character where the plot is around her and her son and the movie is completely shown as if it is of Maximus.

If the character is portrayed by the original person like the female character of Lucilla here, Lucilla would take an active part in the Government she would be involved in making the policies by contributing equally and arguing if needed with Commodus. She would have also been the centre of the conspiracy in the movie against Commodus than being a facilitator for the plot which she makes in the movie with Maximus and Gracchus. She would have also been in a position to fight with Commodus in the plot.

Depiction of Lucilla as a male role character

The movie has portrayed Lucilla to be a weak character however if she could have stood for herself and would have murdered Commodus, the movie would have taken a new turn where the female character would have been stronger than of Maximus.

This is close to the term virtus which was significantly used by the Romans where they have used it to conquer the Mediterranean (Stewart 2012).   Eventually, the term virtus has changed its essence and has been termed for the most successful people and methodologies which were used in order to explain something than being focussed on the personal and the ethical character of a person (Frontinus 2004).  

The term virtus in the Roman Military was used for explaining the Roman combat ideas and methods which were used to illustrate the strength and the mental courage of a person in the army. It is also used to describe the men, women and sometimes it is also related to the objects in the battle field. Most of the militaries have always expected their men in the battle field to exhibit virtus as a virtue to combat their enemies (Schrader 2016).  This has been the usual practice in the Roman Social Hierarchy and this has been the similar idea which was portrayed in the movie, The Gladiator which is similar to the poem, Aeneid.

References

Farney, G. (2007). Ethnic Identity and Aristocratic Competition in Republican Rome (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press). 225.

Frontinus, S (2004).  In Campbell, Brian, edit., Greek and Roman Military Writers (New York: Routledge). 1.3.3, 118.

Luke, M (2009). Ancient Rome – Vergil – The Aeneid. Retrieved on Sep 26th 2016. https://www.ancient-literature.com/rome_vergil_aeneid.html

Lendon,  J.E (2005). Soldiers & Ghosts: A History of Battle in Classical Antiquity (New York: Vail-Ballou Press). 174.

Lintott, A (2005).  Imperium Romanum: Politics and Administration (New York: Routledge). 45.

Luke, M (2009). Ancient Rome – Vergil – The Aeneid. Retrieved on Sep 26th 2016. https://www.ancient-literature.com/rome_vergil_aeneid.html

McCall,J (2002). The Cavalry of the Roman Republic (New York: Routledge). 83.

Neelin, D (nd). Gladiator – The Real Story. Retrieved on Sep 26th 2016. https://www.exovedate.com/the_real_gladiator.html

Schrader, K (2016). Virtus in the Roman World : Generality, Specificity and Fluidity. The Gettysburg Historical Journal. Vol 15. Article 6.

Stewart, R (2012).  Plautus and Roman Slavery (London: Blackwell Publishing, 2012), 26.

Fagles, R (2006). Virgil The Aeneid. Penguin Group.

Suetonius (2004). The Twelve Caesars, in Campbell, Brian, edit., Greek and Roman Military Writers (New York: Routledge). 25.4, 80.

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