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Headscratchers / Gladiator

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  • So... how are the people of Rome going to take the death of Commodus? Sure the main characters and the movie audience might know how much of a monster he is but from what see he very much a Villain with Good Publicity to the average Roman. To all appearances Commodus was killed by a pre-planned coup by Maximus, Lucilla (who 'reveals' herself to be Maximus's lover by rushing to his side when Maximus is dying), Quintus and possibly Gracchus. Sure they might say they are following the wishes of Marcus Aurelius but he is inconveniently dead.
    • Given that the new rulers are also in command of the entire army (plus Commodus having apparently never been particularly popular with his commanders), it probably doesn't matter what the people think because thinking against the killing would likely lead to becoming equally dead. Alternately, they wouldn't care as long as the new ruler didn't suck at his job. They didn't elect Commodus, so they probably wouldn't be that ticked off at his death.
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    • Actually, the common people's opinion of Commodus seems to not be that good. Sure, they love the bread and circuses, but when Maximus rises in defiance, they side with him rather than Commodus, as a few scenes show (their cheering forced Commodus to spare Maximus in his first Colosseum fight, people called him "Maximus the Merciful" for sparing a gladiator that Commodus would have had killed, and the play with Maximus defying and defeating Commodus all being evidence of that). In fact, the only reason Commodus didn't have Maximus killed outside of the arena was because of how popular he was.
    • "To all appearances Commodus was killed by a pre-planned coup" - how would it appear this way? Wouldn't it appear that Commodus got too cocky by deciding to fight in the arena and that it was that decision that got him killed?
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    • Historically? The people of Rome actually take even more power away from the Senate, into the hands of the next Emperor although that new Emperor only lives for another three months before their Praetorian guard, who were actually loyal during the reign of Emperor Commodus, had them killed. The same thing happened to another four Emperor's in the same year after Commodus died. So it turns out, killing Commodus was a terrible thing for Rome.
  • Where does Maximus live exactly? In the opening of the movie, he is with his army in Germanina( Western Germany). He gets away from his would-be killers, steals a horse, and rides ...home. Home however, is implied to be Hispania(Spain). At the time he leaves, he has a horse, part of his uniform, a sword, and presumably, no money or food. Yet he rides across part of SW Germany, all of Southern Gaul(France),maybe?, crosses the Pyrenees mountain range?, then home to (somewhere) in Spain. Just in time to find his murdered family still hanging in his yard. This all happens very quickly(in movie terms), yet he is just behind the team sent to murder his family. I dont know how long it would take to ride a horse from Germany to Spain, even if using the excellent Roman road system, but I think it would take some time, especially if he is a fugitive.It gets more confusing, after the events at his estate, he seems to not have bothered to obtain any supplies or gear, clothing, anything really, and next we see, he is in North Africa and is a ragged looking prisoner at that. Not all that far from Spain, but still across the mediterranean sea. If anything one could likely have made an entire movie *just* about his ride from Germania to Spain alone for all the time and effort it must have taken.
    • He lives in Spain. The director's commentary actually mentions this particular scene. To quote the commentary, they originally planned to show more of the trip, but the realization that it, indeed, was worthy of a movie in and of itself, lead to them simply "trusting in movie magic" to get him home. Also, even if Maximus left sooner, he probably had to travel through the backwoods and off the main roads where he might have been seen, given he was (to his own knowledge)a fugitive. The soldiers didn't have that problem. This troper is more surprised he seems to have arrived only a few hours at most after the soldiers left.
      • It's not that farfetched if you assume that the team sent to kill Maximus's family didn't come from the army Maximus had had with him (believable if you assume he was popular enough that Commodus didn't feel confident ordering them to kill their commander's family). Maximus could have ridden (mostly) straight home even as a fugitive because the news couldn't travel any faster than him, while Commodus would have to first find men loyal enough to carry out the executions before actually sending them on their way.
      • The time period was 180 AD during the Second Marcomannic War. The army was at Vindobona (modern day Vienna, Austria) when Maximus was condemned. Maximus' home was in Turgalium (near modern day Trujillo, Spain), a distance of somewhat over 1650 miles. Pushing his pair of horses hard, this journey would have taken him about three weeks.
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    • Even weirder, he just collapses in his home. Some guys, presumably slave traders, decide to go in a burned upper class Roman villa and just enslave a guy they find there, apparently on a whim and without knowing who he is (if they did, they could have turned him to Commodus for a million times greater reward than they could have from selling him as a slave). Yeah, that's not how enslavement happened in Ancient Rome.
      • It was likely that the slave caravan was simply traveling through the area, saw the smoke from the burned estate and went there to loot what they could. They took Maximus because, despite his injuries, he was clearly in good shape and good health and as a former member of the Roman military, knew how to fight. Given his look at the time (in torn up poor clothing and half starved from his desperate journey), they had no reason to suspect that he was the master of the estate.
  • Why were slavers apparently based in Algeria (or at least passing through there, as they travel back to Zuccabar) randomly walking around in Spain near Maximus' villa anyway? And I know slavers aren't the most ethical types, but considering that the slave trade was legal, I'm guessing there must have been rules and laws. You couldn't just slap some rope round anyone you found on the road and call them a new slave, surely? How did they get him all the way back to Africa without someone getting suspicious of this legionary slave they suddenly acquired?
    • This troper doesn't consider any of that stuff too farfetched. The Spanish and North African provinces (Lusitania and Mauretania Caesariensis, respectively) where this all took place, were part of the Roman Empire's hinterlands - outer provinces that Rome itself didn't pay much attention to. Rome would send a governor and a few officials, and otherwise hire locals to do a lot of the grunt work like tax collection and law enforcement. And because keeping the peace was easier this way, Rome would usually allow local customs to continue unabated. A group of slave traders seems quite likely to spend some time in Spain looking for prospective slaves, because it would reduce the chances of someone in Africa going "hey, that's my lost brother in that arena down there." Grabbing a local unconscious guy, dragging him a few hundred miles away, and selling him in the markets - that may not have been strictly legal under Roman law, but neither was it likely to have been frowned upon very much by people in the outer provinces, who had profits to make.
    • The movie does seem to try to explain this with the slavers seeing his legion tattoo and concluding that, since his legion isn't posted anywhere near where they are, that he's a deserter. While still not strictly legal, since he's still a Roman, in their eyes he's a man marked for death anyways so who would care how he dies?
  • After Maximus reveals himself to still be alive in the arena, Commodus confides to Lucilla that he can't believe that his own men lied to him by telling him that Maximus was killed and that if they did that, it means that they don't respect him. Who told him this, however? The soldiers whom he assigned to execute Maximus were all killed by Maximus himself, so none of the men he sent to perform the task returned to lie to him...
    • Most likely Quintus. If he told the truth, then he would be next in line for execution. So he lied to please Commodus and protect himself. And that lie worked right until Maximus appeared in the arena which was utterly unexpected and frankly, highly improbable.