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“What we do in life echoes in eternity.” – Maximus, “Gladiator”
This quote from the movie Gladiator, spoken by the character Maximus, suggests that the actions we take in our lives have a lasting impact that extends beyond our time on earth. It implies that our actions have not only a temporal but an eternal significance, and that they will continue to be felt and remembered long after we are gone, our deed even continuing to have an effect after we are forgotten. This quote is significant in that it highlights the idea of legacy and the impact of one’s actions on the future.
The character of Maximus, portrayed by Russel Crowe, is a powerful example of this idea. As a general in the Roman army, his actions have a significant impact on the empire and its people. He must choose between his duty to the emperor and his loyalty to his country, and his choice will have an eternal impact on the future.
The film “Gladiator” is an epic-historical drama by Ridley Scott in 2000. It garnered 119 award nominations and won 48 prizes in 36 ceremonies including the BAFTA Awards, the Golden Globe Rewards, and the 73rd Academy Awards. The huge success of the movie influenced the sale of the books “Cicero: The Life and Times of Rome’s Greatest Politician” and Marcus Aurelius “Meditations”. It also started the revival of historical epic genre films.
One of many quotable lines in the movie, this line was spoken by Maximus as he addressed his warriors before a fierce battle. However this line is applicable to all fields of life, not just the battlefield. It’s an exhortation to live true to our highest ideals and bring our very best to whatever we do.
In the movie, the lead character, Maximus Declimus Meridius, was appointed as Legate of the Emperor’s Legion by Emperor Marcus Aurelius, making him the youngest general appointed in Roman history. The elderly emperor was killed by his embittered, jealous son Commodus after revealing his decision of appointing Maximus as his successor. Suspecting Commodus of the crime, Maximus refused to swear allegiance to him. Commodus ordered him executed but he successfully escaped and returned home only to find his wife and his son hung and his property destroyed. He was captured by thieves that night and was sold to the old gladiator Proximo. The rest of his life was then dedicated to seeking vengeance for the death of his family, while struggling to stay alive in the arena. Finally he appears in front of Commodus in the Circus Maximus – although under his warrior’s mask, his true identity is not known until the final showdown.
Actor Russell Crowe won his first Academy Award for Best Actor in his portrayal of Maximus. Empire magazine put Maximus 35th place in their 100 Greatest Movie Characters, and the American Film Institute included him in their list of 100 greatest screen characters. Commodus was also superbly played. But Maximus is only a fictional character speculated to be a composite of actual historical figures. Regardless, he continues to be one of the most memorable and soulfully played characters in a movie. Crowe has appeared in a number of other critically acclaimed films, including A Beautiful Mind.