Which virtues do we regard as leading ones?
Wisdom, justice, fortitude, temperance?
Ambition, resourcefulness, courage, devotion?
Or something completely different?
(Commodus in „Gladiator“)
In the movie „Gladiator“, death is present, this is the story of men who partly don’t live through the next battle or fight in the arena – and who are mainly conscious about it.
For us death may be not so present, but it stays a part of life.
And our priorities, our decisions decide about how we stick in memory.
During the course of the movie Proximo talks with Maximus about the best strategy in the arena:
Learn from me. I wasn’t the best because I killed quickly. I was the best because the crowd loved me.
Win the crowd, and you’ll win your freedom.
Here Maximus has to decide: Does he want to simply kill his opponent to leave the arena as victor? Or does he want more?
I will win the crowd.
I will give them something they’ve never seen before.
His decision is made: Something that they haven’t seen before, something unique he wants to give to the crowd.
He has decided to give something before he makes his last exit, and that that what he wants to give should be something special, something what the crowd hasn’t seen before.
In doing so he is clear in his mind that every fight in the arena could cost his life, could mean his dead.
But he has a target: He wants to win the appreciation of the crowd to challenge the emperor a duel to rebuild his honour and the honour of Rome.
To reach that target he presents a unique show to the crowd: He fascinates, he moves, he provokes emotions – and the crowd bears him, the crowd celebrates him, the crowd stimulates him to peak performances, so much that he can challenge the imperator and wins the fight despite of unfair preconditions. He rebuilds the honour, rebuilds law and order before he dies in the arena and is honoured as a hero.
With his decision Maximus turned from one who lost everything to one who won everything what was important to him. He stayed what he has been, a hurt, broken, humbled man, but through his decision to fight in a special way in the arena, to give with his skills something never before seen to the crowd in the arena, he won a new target, the way to it and the people in his surrounding. He was a fallen one who picked up courage.
At the end of the movie, as his friend Juba buries the family figures of Maximus at the place in the arena where he died, he says:
I will see you again. But not yet. Not yet.
We will see again our dead friends, heroes, relatives, but not yet. Not yet.
Now we are here and have to decide how to win our crowd.