Historical Inaccuracies: Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’

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Trivial Diversions

Historical Inaccuracies: Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’

Historical Inaccuracies: Ridley Scott’s ‘Gladiator’

Ridley Scott faced some backlash at his recent epic, Exodus: Gods and Kings, for not diversifying the cast as well as he should have. This isn’t the first time Scott has tackled historical storytelling and it’s not the first time he’s gotten facts a little muddled.

  • In the film, Commodus (portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix) only rules for a brief period of time. In reality, he ruled for 13 years.
  • Commodus was a teenager when he took over as Emperor and had a wife, whom he later divorced and had executed for adultery.
  • Marcus Aurelius and Commodus worked together to rule Rome before Aurelius died. In the film, a sinister plot is formed by Commodus to murder Marcus Aurelius for the throne. That is entirely untrue.
  • Gladiator battles were actually very well organized. Most battles we performed in duels and there were referee’s who implemented and enforced rules.
  • Commodus was not killed in the arena by Maximus. After 13 years of rule, his wrestling partner strangled him in the bath tub.
  • Maximus (portrayed by Russell Crowe) is entirely fictional.

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Related topics gladiator, Historical inaccuracies
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