Study Guide

Gladiator Death

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Death is all over Gladiator. It's not only Maximus' job as a gladiator to kill guys in the arena…but it was also his job as a general in the army to vanquish Rome's enemies.

And, while it isn't Commodus' job to kill his enemies, he does so nonetheless. He ruthlessly kills whomever he pleases.

More important than all the death we see in the film, however, are the reflections various characters offer about death, from Proximo's remark that mortals are but "shadows and dust," to Maximus' rousing speech at the beginning that states "what we do in life, echoes in eternity."

Questions About Death

  1. Is Maximus afraid of death? Is Commodus?
  2. Is there too much death in this film? Not enough? Just the right amount?
  3. How do you feel about Commodus' death? Does he die in a way befitting his character? What about Maximus?
  4. Whose death in this film is the hardest to bear? Why?

Chew on This

Death will take our bodies, but if we've lived well, we will never really die. We will be remembered.

Living with a concrete understanding of our own deaths is how great things are accomplished.

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