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Maximus Decimus Meridius
Played by: Russell Crowe

A Roman general who Commodus betrayed for refusing to serve him. Commodus also had his family killed, and he ended up sold as a slave. Then Proximo bought him, had him train as a gladiator, and his exploits in the arenas of North Africa brought him to Rome.

  • Animal Motifs: Horses are frequently associated with him throughout the film.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He is originally a General of the Roman army.
  • Awesome Mc Coolname: With actual justification due to the Roman system of cognomina, or titles/official nicknames. His given name is Decimus (at one point his family name is given as Aelius), Maximus was a common cognomen used by many other Real Life renowned Roman commanders, and Meridius probably refers either to past conquests in the South or his Spanish heritage (technically the names are in the wrong order, and should be Decimus Aelius Maximus Meridius). In English, he would possibly be Decimus Aelius the Great, Conqueror of the South.
  • Badass Boast: Has several, he is a Roman general after all. The most famous one is: "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the north, general of the Felix Legions. Loyal servant to the true Emperor, Marcus Aurelius. Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next."
  • Badass in Charge: He used to be a General and is the de-facto leader of the other gladiators.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Grows one after losing his family.
  • Call to Agriculture: All Maximus wanted was to go home and harvest his crops before he was dragged into Roman politics.
  • Cincinnatus: Marcus Aurelius has him picked as his successor for this reason.
    Marcus Aurelius: Will you accept this great honor?
    Maximus: With all my heart, no.
    Marcus Aurelius: Oh, Maximus. That is why it must be you.
  • Combat Pragmatist: He is a soldier, so his combat training is centered around killing his enemies quickly and efficiently. But this isn't as entertaining, so Proximo convinces him to start putting on a better show.
  • Crusading Widower: His wife and kid were both Stuffed in the Fridge by Commodus' men.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: He is constantly clad in black armor/fighting gears throughout the film. Since he's essentially being cast as a "heel" in most of his battles, the people in charge of the tournaments are obviously trying to invoke an in-universe Dark Is Evil.
  • Dashing Hispanic: Since he hails from the Roman province of Hispania and is referred to as "The Spaniard" at the start of his gladiatorial career. Even though he doesn't look the part, he is certainly motivated by revenge in true Inigo Montoya's fashion.
  • Determinator: When it comes to getting his revenge, Maximus will not back down.


Lucius Aurelius Commodus
Played by: Joaquin Phoenix

The insane new emperor of the Roman Empire after he killed his father.

  • Adaptational Dye Job: The historical Commodus was blond, here he is portrayed with black hair like the previous screen portrayal in The Fall of the Roman Empire.
  • Agent Peacock: Always dresses to impress and has a fighting style based more on grace and agility than brute strength.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: The real Commodus did partake gladiatorial fights, and got killed by a gladiator, but not in the Coliseum.
  • Ambition Is Evil: His sheer ambition is enough to lead him to do very terrible things.
  • And Your Little Dog, Too!: He has Maximus' wife and son murdered in retaliation to him being chosen as his father's successor, and threatens Lucius when he realizes Lucilla betrayed him.
  • Arch-Enemy: To Maximus after he had his family murdered.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: He's the Emperor of Rome and although not as good as Maximus, he's pretty nifty with a sword.
  • Big Bad: He is the main antagonist of the story.
  • Berserk Button: Loses his temper when Lucius says he wants to be a gladiator like Maximus and calls him "the savior of Rome."
  • Brother–Sister Incest: One sided in his part.
  • The Caligula: Commodus' mood-swings and murderous behaviour make him appear to be very unstable. To say nothing of his crush on his sister.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Towards the beginning, Maximus watches him train in sword-fighting.
  • Dark Is Evil: Much of his wardrobe is black, except in his showdown with Maximus, when he wears white armor.
  • Determinator: Surprisingly. He has his mind utterly set on killing Maximus & establishing a legacy and nothing will get in his way.
  • Dirty Coward: He stabs Maximus prior to their showdown so that he can be at an advantage. He still loses.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: This is the main factor why he keeps getting more evil as the movie goes on.
  • The Emperor: Obviously.
  • Evil Former Friend: Downplayed. He greets Maximus as an old friend, reminisces about their past a little, and jovially acts as the general's guide to Rome's power players; his overtures are one-sided and Maximus, while never rude, is deferential and a little distant. By the time Commodus' Face–Heel Turn is complete, their friendship is forgotten, if it ever really existed at all.
  • Evil Uncle: He acts like a straight Cool Uncle to Lucius at first. But when the kid reveals he worships Maximus instead, he threatened his sister that he'll harm Lucius.
  • Evil Virtues: He admits to his father that he lacks conventional virtues, but has some of his own such as:
    • Ambition, which in his words "drives him to excel" - by usurping his father.
    • Resourcefulness, by quickly getting rid of his political rivals with efficiency.
    • Courage, though not conventionally. Under the right circumstances, he displays bravery but is otherwise an Dirty Coward.
    • Devotion to his family, which is depicted as an unhealthy obsession to his sister whom he forces to be his concubine.
  • Fatal Flaw: Envy. He deeply resents his loved ones' affection for Maximus and spends the entire movie seething over the general-turned-slave's ability to win the approval and respect that Commodus craves, from both his family and the people of Rome.
  • Faux Affably Evil: While he can be nice and polite at times, he quickly reveals himself to be a bloodthirsty monster.
  • Hate Sink: He is a depraved scumbag with no redeemable qualities.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: The real Commodus was no saint, but his onscreen counterpart is utterly detestable.
  • Incest-ant Admirer: Lusts for his sister and forces her to be his Sex Slave when he loses it. She doesn't feel the same way.
  • Idiot Ball: Maximus would most likely have accepted a call to be a Praetorian Guard had Commodus just turned around and offered him the position (or if he refused, would have gone back to his farm). Maximus did not desire the throne and was no genuine threat to Commodus' reign until Commodus hit the Berserk Button by murdering Maximus' family.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: He craved the paternal love and approval that his father only gave to Maximus, and the sex and intimacy that his sister only gave to Maximus.
    Commodus: "I would butcher the whole world if only you would love me!"
  • Light Is Not Good: He is constantly clad in white outfits throughout the film. Obviously, this also counts as White Shirt of Death. Since Commodus is attempting to seem like a pure, beloved hero to all of Rome, dressing in white is his attempt to invoke Light Is Good.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: While he's a cowardly sociopath, he does put down the gladiator rebellion, arrests all of his political critics and kills Maximus.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: The older hero is Maximus.
  • Self-Made Orphan: He kills Marcus Aurelius after being informed he won't succeed him.
  • Somebody Doesn't Love Raymond: He's very sensitive about being admired and adored by others.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Zig-Zagged. At first, Commodus is loathed by everyone in Rome, but he gains their favor through the gladiator games, but once Maximus arrives, he loses them again.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Has one during his final battle with Maximus. Even though he's rigged the fight in his favor Maximus is still beating him. After the Praetorians turn on him and leave him to fend for himself, he reveals his dagger and goes after Maximus even though his plan was to humiliate Maximus in a fair fight. He's so desperate he resorts to blatant cheating.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: All he wanted was his father's love and respect. When he didn't get those, things went From Bad to Worse.
  • We Used to Be Friends: He and Maximus were basically blood-brothers. Emphasis on were.
  • Would You Like to Hear How They Died?: Delivers a nasty one to Maximus when he narrates his wife and son's murder in vivid details.


Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla
Played by: Connie Nielsen

Marcus Aurelius' daughter and Commodus' sister whom he lusts. She is also young Lucius' mother and a former love interest to Maximus.

  • Brother–Sister Incest: One sided in Commodus' part. He ultimately forced her to be his Sex Slave. Fortunately, Maximus killed him soon after.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Lucilla was much less noble than her onscreen counterpart, trying to usurp Commodus himself before being executed.
  • Old Flame: To Maximus.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: As noted above she predeceased Commodus (by several years in fact).
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: She had feelings for Maximus years ago, feelings that had not vanished completely. When they meet again, tension is built around them though it ended up in nothing. The original script had a sexual scene between them but it was written out because it didn't fit well in Maximus' vengeance.
  • Widow Woman:Her husband's been dead for years before the story began.


Antonius Proximo
Played by: Oliver Reed

A slave owner and gladiator trainer. He was a former gladiator too that was freed by Marcus Aurelius.


Played by: Djimon Hounsou

A Numidian slave and gladiator. He becomes Maximus' closest friend.

  • Black Best Friend: Becomes one to Maximus.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Maximus and Hagen but mostly with Maximus as they share a background of being a father and husband and being sold as slaves.


Played by: Derek Jacobi

An honest Roman senator , unlike the rest of his comrades.

  • Only Sane Man: Of all the Roman senators portrayed in the film, he is the only one that is not corrupted by ambition and power.
  • Non-Action Guy: Justified since he is an elder and unfit to fight.


Played by: Tomas Arana

A Roman legatus that was Maximus' second-in-command during the Germanic Wars.

  • Bodyguard Betrayal: Of the Betrayal by Inaction variation, as his refusal to assist Commodus during his final battle seals his fate.
  • The Dragon: He is Commodus' action man after his coronation.
  • Fantastic Racism: He is openly contemptuous of the Germanic tribesmen fought in the opening, sneering that they should have learned by now continuing to fight Rome is pointless.
  • The Lancer: To Maximus towards the beginning.
  • My Master, Right or Wrong: He aids Commodus because he occupies the throne.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: A scene cut from the theatrical version shows Commodus forcing him to execute several of his own innocent soldiers, which goes a long way toward explaining that decision.
  • Number Two: He used to be Maximus' second-in-command when he was a general.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: After Commodus becomes Emperor.
  • Praetorian Guard: He leads it.
  • The Fettered: He values honor above loyalty. When Commodus is disarmed in the final battle against Marcus, he cries out to Quintus for a sword. Quintus refuses. When Commodus calls out to the men nearby to throw him a sword, they almost do, until Quintus orders them to sheathe their swords, forcing the emperor to continue the honorable battle unaided.


Played by: Ralf Moeller

A Germanic slave and gladiator. He bonds well with both Maximus and Juba.

  • The Big Guy: He towers both Maximus and Juba.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: With Maximus and Juba. Even when Maximus told him that he fought the Germanic tribes, Hagen does not judge him from his past actions and remained close allies.
  • Sacrificial Lion: He dies during Maximus' escape attempt.


Lucius Verus

Played by: Spencer Treat Clark

Lucilla's young son and Commodus' nephew. He greatly admires Maximus when he arrives at the Coliseum.

  • Children Are Innocent: An energetic kid that has Maximus as his idol and imitates his fighting style. He also wants to be a great Emperor.
  • Morality Pet: He seems to be the only character Commodus shows genuine affection towards.



Played by: David Hemmings

The main announcer of the Coliseum.

  • Large Ham: As the Coliseum's announcer and the silly looking red haired wig, he has to be grandiose when introducing spectacular battle recreations.



Played by: Tommy Flanagan

Maximus' main servant.




Played by: David Schofield

A Roman senator that collaborates with Commodus.

  • Corrupt Politician: He aids a tyrant and madman to consolidate his power in detriment of the Roman Senate.
  • Karma Houdini: He disappears late in the story and we don't see him receive any punishment for his scheming and corruption.
  • The Evil Genius: He's the one who advises Commodus on how to deal with his enemies, using the example of a sea snake that lets its enemies nibble from it to lure them into confidence before striking.

    Tigris of Gaul 

Tigris of Gaul

Played by: Sven-Ole Thorsen

An undefeated gladiator from Gaul.

    Marcus Aurelius 

Marcus Aurelius

Played by: Richard Harris

The former Emperor of Rome. He was Commodus and Lucilla's father, and a parental figure to Maximus. He wanted to restore Rome to a simple Republic instead of a growing Empire which costed him his life.

  • The Good King: An aging Emperor that years of battle taught him that a big Empire was nothing worth for and seeked to bring back the nation to the people.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Marcus Aurelius had no compunctions about Commodus succeeding him as Emperor, having named his son as Caesarnote  as early as 166 CE, 14 years before his death, and made him co-emperor in 177 CE, three years before his death. This probably means he wasn't planning to restore the Republic either.


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