John Kidd, IIIStoical Men Block 6 In the movie Gladiator, David Franzoni uses stoicism to show the moral philosophy of the Romans, and how this philosophy affected the people and how they govern themselves. Stoicism asks the basic question, “What is the good life? ” as well as saying there are things you can control, and thing that you can not. In Gladiator, Maximus is constantly in these situations, and finds out that his control over emotion is only controllable to a certain point. Commodus realizes that not everything is controllable, but he is convinced that he can control it anyway.
Maximus is seeking “the good life,” but is being tested the whole time by outside forces that he can’t control. He is able to control his emotions to an extent, but is even forced to give in when his family is murdered in his home farm. He says later on in the movie that, “My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius”…”Father to a murdered son, husband to a murdered wife. And I will have my vengeance, in this life or the next. ” This excerpt from the movie is very important in showing how Franzoni inserts stoicism into the movie, because Maximus has finally gained control over his emotions, but also shows that he isn’t as stoical as Epictetus taught.
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When he returns home to his farm to find his family crucified, his emotion takes over, and he moves from the world of pleasure to the deepest recesses of the world of pain. Although this does conflict with the whole idea of stoicism, Maximus is able to restore his composure and stoicism and achieve ataraxia later on in the movie, as stated in the quote. By resembling a stoic, Maximus follows the teachings of Epictetus. Epictetus says, “Do not seek to have everything that happens happen as you wish, but wish for everything to happen as it actually does happen, and your life will be serene”(191).
Maximus does this because he accepts that his son and wife were killed, not because he wished them dead, but because what happen happened and he wasn’t in control of it. He loses his grip on his emotion because the events that take place are hard for anyone to go through without losing control of their feelings. Maximus seems like a stoic, but he vows to kill Commodus. This shows that he is not really a stoic because he seeks revenge on the person that caused his family’s death, and conflicts with the idea that stoics accept what happens.
Although stoicism shows up in Gladiator, there are events that take place that lead the viewer to believe stoicism only shows up to a degree. In the movie, Maximus is the main example of stoicism, but there are many other. Commodus is opposite of these people because he is able to kill his own father without feeling much remorse, as well as thinking he can control everything in his sight. He shows that he is not a supreme realist and that he thinks he owns the world. This is not following the ideas of stoicism because a stoic is one that controls what they can, and simply knows what they can’t control.
If a stoic’s main focus is “summun bonum,” or happiness, Commodus is not a true stoic because he is either sad or angry most of the movie. Specifically, when Commodus is told that he is not the one his father chose to be emperor, he becomes enraged and sad at the same time. He loses control over something that he could easily control, and kills his own father, Marcus Aurelius. Commodus realizes there are things that he can not control in his life, and even though he acknowledges this, he still tries to control what is out of his power.
Commodus is more of a supreme un-realist because he never takes what is given to him and rather tries to change it to his own benefit to the disadvantage of others. For example, Commodus kills his own father so that he will assume the role of the leader instead of Maximus, and shows that he would rather kill his own father in order to have things work out to his advantage. Stoicism has many appearances in the movie Gladiator, and only some of the characters demonstrate their stoicism throughout the whole movie.
Maximus is one of the only people that is able to control his emotions physically, but when it comes to stoicism, he lacks in the area of accepting what happened. Commodus, on the other hand, is determined to control everything he can’t and will use or kill anyone or anything in his way, even if it is his own father. Commodus demonstrates almost the opposite of stoicism and proves to be one of the least stoical characters. Bibliography Franzoni, David, John Logan, and William Nicholson, prod. Gladiator. Ridley Scott. 2000. DVD. DreamWorks, Universal Studios.