The Depiction of Roman Culture in the Gladiator (2000) Film Essay

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  6
Wordcount:  1402 Words
Date:  2022-09-15

In history, there are a couple of examples of the greatest and important aspects of past cultures or empires. The current progression of creativity and innovation is ever growing based on natural creativity within human capabilities. However, artistic influences, as well as progress, are some of the specific examples of how the previous culture significantly influence the modern lifestyle in paying attribute to a certain prominent period of artistic invention. In light of this, it is a well-known fact that the Romans practiced a great deal of their ways of life, of which a substantial percentage of their culture was original Roman inventions, and part of it has significantly influenced the daily life of the contemporary world. Rome was initially established in 753 BC by Romulus, and in numerous distinct aspects, Roman contributions to the modern society started during this time. The Roman culture continued to be a significant influence in the people's way of life throughout the entire period of the Roman Empire and still have a great impact to the modern artistic or mass entertainment including music concerts, theatres, and cinemas. Historically, the Roman government realized that the increasing number of unprivileged and unemployed individuals was a significant threat to their power and as an urgent and practical solution; they decided to develop mass entertainment as a way to keep their citizens occupied. The Colosseum could hold a capacity of 45,000 audiences, who were thrilled in fighting gladiators, the executions of Christians involving lions and the theatrical battles between men and wild animals. The Circus Maximus, on the other hand, could hold a maximum of 250,000 citizens, and this was the only scene of plenty of chariot competitions. Chiefly, this essay aims at explaining critically why modern artists have chosen to depict the Roman culture in their work by examining some of the Roman aspects that the film Gladiator (2000) employs to create its version of Rome.

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The ancient Rome and the Roman Empire have had a tremendous influence on the modern work of art and literature. For instance, the film "Gladiator 2000" is a great example of the most influential contributions to the contemporary world. Gladiator is an epic historical drama film that was created in 2000 by director Ridley Scott. The primary aim of the film was to correctly portray the Roman culture as compared to any other previous films. To accomplish this, Scott the film director went further to hiring several historians to help him ensure his authenticity. Most people have considered the movie as the best of all films as a result of its accurate portrayal of the violence and people that existed in the late second century AD. Typically, in making the film "Gladiator" several deviations were derived from historical facts to make it more interesting, to enhance its narrative continuity while other was for safety or practical purposes. The movie is however accurately developed in depicting the Roman culture in most parts of its scenes including the gladiatorial games in the Roman Empire, the role of gladiators and the different aspects of the Roman society like beliefs and religions. In the film, various characters like Marcus, Commodus, and Lucilla are all based on real-life characters in Roman history.

The "Gladiator 2000" film is an exciting work of art from its historical context since it picks up almost exactly from where the Roman epic left off. In ancient Rome, the gladiators were taught under the control of their managers, tested and marked for sales. The chief objective of the gladiators was not to engage in wars but rather to fight against themselves and animals mainly for public entertainment. Therefore, the depiction of the status of Gladiators within the Roman society and their responsibility for bloody yearning and vehement enjoyment throughout the film substantially represents an aspect of Roman material culture that makes the film to be a version of the ancient Rome culture. In the movie, Maximus is displayed as an excellent general of Rome, leading Rome to numerous victories. He was so trustworthy and reliable such that in the show, Marcus Aurelius chose him as his successor in the throne, a fact that made his devastated son Commodus to kill him and sentence Maximus to death. After managing to escape, Maximus was sold as a slave by a group of men to become a gladiator. He was involved in many distinct forms of gladiators whereby the faster gladiators held nets with tridents; others had chariots while the slower ones had swords with armors. Notably, in Rome history, there were many different types of gladiators. Those with nets and trident were referred to as the retarius while the ones that had a curved sword and a shield were known as the Samnite. For example, in the film, there is a scene where Maximus engages into one on one fight with a champion gladiator where he is hardly protected or armed while his contestant has a sword and a mask of a heavy shield. This, therefore, shows the different types of gladiators and how they fought in the history of Rome.

Throughout the movie, the gladiatorial fights and games are portrayed as the most prominent parts of the Roman culture that often took place at an architectural building known as Colosseum. However, the gladiators accessed the Colosseum via an underground tunnel from where they were able to reach the arena through a number of gates preserved primarily for them. The gladiators would uniformly march in groups towards the Colosseum through a pair of gates. Additionally, the ancient Roman people are known to watch people fight to the death as well as scenes of violence as a way of entertainment, and this is historically accurate in the film when the spectators at the Colosseum are seen cheering and chanting loudly when their favorite Maximus is battling. In the movie and also as a substantial aspect of Roman history, it is stated that the Colosseum could only hold a capacity of 50,000 audiences, but it is believed to have accommodated approximately 73,000 people during the gladiatorial fights. The Colosseum however as presented in the movie was referred to as the Flavian Amphitheatre during the Roman Empire.

Throughout the movie, Roman architecture is mostly represented as white. It is believed that most historical excavations and archaeological sites from the Roman time often looked white mainly because over the ages, the original color had progressively vanished leaving many buildings and structures white. Another aspect used in the film to enhance its version of Rome is the gladiators' tattoos. For instance, Maximus is displayed with an S.P.Q.R tattoo on his shoulder, which was a requirement by the law for the Roman soldiers to have a symbol on their hands to ease their recognition if they deserted. Likewise in the Roman Empire and by law, the gladiators were tattooed on the arms, legs and the face until when Emperor Constantine barred tattooing on the front in 325 AD. Also, the stirrups shown in the film can be used on various Roman cavalry although they were invented in Asia during the time of the Roman Empire but were not adopted by the Romans. They are however used in the film for safety reasons where a Roman saddle is hard to ride. Similarly, the gladiatorial combatants in Roman did not forcibly battle to the death as portrayed in the film and just like the modern skilled athletes; gladiators were a valuable asset to disrespect their lives.


Concisely, the film effectively represents the subtleties as well as the traditions of Rome. This, in particular, makes the film more exciting and historically accurate. Just as with most historical dramas, the film is more about historical narrative and entertainment. For instance, the film depicts distinct types of gladiators that were also important and played a prominent role in the history of ancient Rome. More specifically, the costuming, buildings, personal effects, and furniture depicted in this modern historical cinematic are a clear representation of the Roman culture in the contemporary artistic works.


National "Traces of Ancient Rome in the Modern World" (Accessed October 14, 2018)

Potter, David S. "Entertainers in the Roman Empire." Life, death, and entertainment in the Roman Empire (2010): 256-325.

Scott, Ridley, Walter Parkes, Sharon Black, Diana Landau, and David Franzoni. Gladiator: The Making of the Ridley Scott Epic. Newmarket Press, 2000.Ward, Allen. "The movie "Gladiator" in historical perspective." New Engl. Classical Newslett (2001).

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