In the movie, many things portrayed are the same as what really happened in Roman history. Some things though, are a little different in the actual history of Rome than in the movie. Scenes were changed in the movie too, to make the plot more interesting.
Maximus was the general of Rome and a really good general at that. He lead Rome to many victories. He was so great and loyal that in the movie, Marcus Aurelius actually asked him to succeed him in the throne. When Commodus heard this from his father, he killed him and sentenced Maximus to death. When Maximus escaped, he was picked up by a group of men and sold as a slave to become a gladiator. As a gladiator, he fought many different types of gladiators. Quicker ones had nets with tridents and slower ones had curved swords with shields. There were some gladiators that even had chariots. In the actual history of Rome, there really were different types of gladiators. The gladiators with the net and trident were called the retarius. The gladiator with the curved sword and shield were called the samnite. There’s a scene in the movie where it’s a one on one battle between Maximus and a champion gladiator. Maximus is barely armed and protected. The other man has two swords, a mask for protection, and heavy armor. This shows how each type of gladiator was to fight a different kind of gladiator so the match would be even and fair.
In the movie, Commodus is very sneaky and vengeful. He uses murder in his politics also. He killed his father, tried to kill Maximus and even wanted to get rid of the senate in order for him to become a “true emperor.” He thinks the senate is unneeded and believes himself to be more of a people’s person then the actual senators. In history, there was much murder in the government also. The Gracchis were murdered as well as Caesar. Commodus tries to assassinate and kill Maximus since Maximus is supposed to be the successor to the throne after Marcus Aurelius. In Roman History, the Romans never developed a formal policy of succession. Although many emperors named their successors, the Roman army often refused to accept the new emperors and assassinated them. This is what Commodus tried to do with Maximus in order for himself to become emperor and rule.
Gracchus wants the citizens of Rome to be happy in the movie and makes sure the emperor hears the problems and needs of the people when he councils with him. He even suggests possible solutions to the problems. He seems to be a people’s person very much and knows how some of the senators can be crooked. In Roman history, there were actually two Gracchis who were actually both murdered because they were disliked by crooked senators who used violence to get ahead. The real Gracchis wanted to help the citizens out also. They even used public funds to purchase grain to be sold to the poor at low prices so they can afford it. They also improved the political status of the equites (business and land owning people.)
Lucillia, sister of Commodus, has a son named Lucius. Her son was named after his father who died in 169 A.D. His name was Lucius Veras. In the movie, she is portrayed as a widow, but, in real history, she remarries to Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus Quintianus of Antioch. In the movie, she joins the plot for the good of the Roman people but she really participated in this plot because she lusted after power. She also supports her brother in the movie but was actually involved in a plot with her cousin to assassinate Commodus and raise her husband up as emperor. The plan was figured out and she was banished to the island of Capri. In the movie, it shows her as out- living her brother but she is actually executed at the island because he changed his mind.