Once he gets to Rome, Maximus' whole life revolves around revenge. Commodus's directly responsible for the brutal death of his wife and son, and Maximus vows to continue fighting in the arena until he can find a way to kill Commodus.
Maximus, however, isn't only the character in Gladiator who's bent on revenge. Commodus isn't only motivated by politics—he's also motivated by (you got it) revenge. He kills his father because his father doesn't make him emperor, and he continues to try to kill Maximus…both because Maximus knows the truth and because Maximus was better loved by Marcus Aurelius.
Questions About Revenge
What does the film say about Maximus' desire for revenge? Is it problematic? Commendable?
Are any other characters besides Maximus and Commodus bent on revenge? Who? What makes you think so?
Is the revenge Maximus exacts on Commodus satisfying? Why or why not?
Chew on This
While we can forgive Maximus for seeking revenge, the fact that he dies in the process suggests that revenge is destructive.
Maximus' sole purpose is to avenge his family's death. Once he completes his task, he dies, which suggests there really is no other reason to be alive.