Roman Empire and Marcus Aurelius

9 September 2016

Tragedy hits when least expected, and this is the moment when you see what type of person you are. In the Gladiator, a production made in 2000 and directed by Ridley Scott stars Russell Crowe, as Maximus. Maximus a general for the Roman army and is very close to the emperor Marcus Aurelius. Marcus Aurelius wants Maximus to succeed but Maximus refuses. Marcus Aurelius’ son Commodus finds out that he was not chosen as successor and ends up murdering his father and seizes his throne.

Then Maximus is sent to be killed but survives and becomes a slave. Then as a slave, he becomes a gladiator and he rises through the ranks of gladiator to avenge his murdered family and the murder of his emperor. Maximus fits the definition of a tragic hero in my opinion, because his own flaw causes his downfall; his actions result in an increase of self-awareness and self-knowledge, and the audience feels pity and fear for Maximus. Maximus has many good qualities but he has one flaw that causes his downfall.

Roman Empire and Marcus Aurelius Essay Example

Maximus’ good qualities are that he is a leader, strong, a skilled tactician, knowledgeable, motivating, loyal, trustworthy. He is also persistent, a good speaker, a good fighter, merciful, and honorable. He is a good leader because he has led the Roman army through many battles and fighting alongside of his soldiers, which makes them look up to him. He also is a skilled tactician because he is a general and has been through many battles and has designed strategies for them. He is very loyal, especially because he would never do something against the Roman state and Marcus Aurelius.

He would do whatever is in the best interest for the Roman state. Also, he is very trustworthy, that is why Marcus Aurelius wanted him to be his successor when he died. Next, Maximus is persistent, he is persistent because he says that Mendez 2 he will avenge his family and his emperor and he does this. He starts from the bottom and gets to the top and does what he said. Maximus is also merciful because when he is in the arena he defeats the undefeated gladiator Tigris but does not end up killing him. Even though Maximus has all these very good qualities, he ends up losing everything.

The flaw that he has is that he has too much pride (hubris) at the very wrong moment. He knew what happened with Marcus Aurelius. He knew that Commodus had killed his own father Marcus Aurelius. So when Commodus offers Maximus to join him and rule Rome with him, Maximus has too much pride and says no because of his knowledge of the situation. This is what causes his downfall because there is always the possibility of his saying yes and then doing something about Commodus later. Furthermore, Maximus’ actions result in an increase of self-awareness and self-knowledge.

At the beginning of Maximus being a slave all he wants is revenge. This means killing Commodus. All he is thinking about is how he is going to be able to avenge his family and emperor. He then becomes a gladiator and is fearless because he has nothing to lose, so he is a very good fighter and eventually he gets to the Colosseum. Here Maximus uses very good strategy to win the fight. He easily gains the affection of the public and they already love him. He keeps on fighting and winning over the public while opposing the emperor.

Then one day, Maximus and Commodus are about to fight in the arena but before the fight, Commodus comes to see Maximus and gives him a death wound that will take time to kill him. Next, they go out into the arena to fight and in the end Maximus kills Commodus. Maximus kills Commodus but he is dying because of the wound that Commodus had given to him before the fight. By killing Commodus, Maximus becomes Cesar but at this point in time Maximus realizes that he had to restore the balance of Rome and give the people their freedom.

Right before he dies, he gives his final orders as a Cesar and gives power to the senate. Until the very end, right before he dies is when he gains self-awareness and self-knowledge through his actions of what his duty to Rome was and that he had to give freedom to the people and restore the balance of Rome. Mendez 3 Finally, the audience feels pity or/and fear for Maximus which makes him fit one more requirement for him being a tragic hero. One scene where the audience feels pity for Maximus is when Maximus is in Spain, not to far from his home; at the same time it shows Roman soldiers coming to his home.

His wife and child are in Spain and his son believes it is his father coming and he runs up to the Roman soldiers but the horse ends up crushing the son. Then it shows Maximus following quickly but his house has smoke coming from it and then it shows his wife and son crucified and burned. This causes a lot of pity form the audience because we see Maximus’s reaction this terrible scene. One scene where the audience feels fear for Maximus is when he is fighting against the undefeated gladiator, Tigris. Tigris comes nto the arena better armed and looking twice as big as Maximus. Then they began fighting and it looks like Tigris is dominating. Then a tiger is released and it almost eats Maximus. Then all of a sudden, a tiger is accidentally let off the chain and jumps on top of Maximus. Luckily Maximus puts his sword through the tiger. Later, Tigris is about to kill Maximus but Maximus gets a weapon and injures Tigris very badly, and can now kill him but in the end decides not to. These two scenes show great examples of how the audience feels pity and fear for Maximus.

All in all, Maximus is a tragic hero because he fits the requirements of a flaw causing his downfall, his actions resulting in an increase of self-awareness and self-knowledge, and the audience feeling pity or/and fear for Maximus. In a way Odysseus, who is a tragic hero, is very similar to Maximus. They are both warriors and leaders. Odysseus’ downfall is being arrogant and telling his name to a cyclops, whereas Maximus’ is his pride and they both have incidents arousing pity that involve family.

So overall, Odysseus is a tragic hero and Maximus is very similar to Odysseus and the things that happened to Odysseus, in a sense, which also can prove that Maximus is a tragic hero. To conclude, Maximus faces a lot of hardships because of a flaw that he had and ends up realizing something that was told to him. Because of these universal human flaws, his story arouses a lot of pity and fear from the audience.

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