10 Films With Glaring Historical Inaccuracies

8. Gladiator

300 Leonides
Universal Pictures

Artistic license is fine, but Gladiator completely rewrites history. Here, Russell Crowe stars as a Roman general who, having been betrayed by the new Emperor Commodus, is forced to fight as a gladiator in the arena. Eventually, Crowe makes his way to the Colosseum, and kills Commodus in single combat.

Suffice to say, the plot is completely fictional, but many of the characters are real. Emperor Marcus Aurelius, the father of Commodus, wasn't killed by his son, with whom he had actually jointly ruled for several years. Instead, Marcus Aurelius died of disease (most likely chickenpox), leaving the Roman Empire to Commodus, and harboured no desires to return to the days of the Roman Republic.

There is little documentation of Commodus' rule, although it is correctly shown in the film that he had little interest in managerial affairs, and he enjoyed fighting fixed battles as a gladiator, often battling against poorly-equipped opponents with little skill. However, Commodus' real death came about at the hands of his mistress.

After she discovered her name was on a list of people to be executed she, along with the others on the list, plotted the assassination of Commodus. After a failed attempt to poison the Emperor, his wrestling partner was paid to strangle him in a bath.

But it didn't all end badly for Commodus. In 195, the reigning Emperor had the Roman Senate deify Commodus in an attempt to gain favour with his descendants.

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They don't let me write here anymore. I think they were put off by my handlebar moustache.