Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Meredith Safran

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474440844

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2019

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474440844.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 01 July 2022

Dreaming of Rome with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000)

Dreaming of Rome with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000)

(p.259) 14 Dreaming of Rome with Ridley Scott’s Gladiator (2000)
Screening the Golden Ages of the Classical Tradition

Matthew Taylor

Edinburgh University Press

The last of three chapters that address Rome’s complicated legacy as an imperial state tackles Gladiator, the film credited with the post-2000 resurgence of films set in classical antiquity. Taylor analyzes how the film’s imperial-era characters engage in a nostalgic figuration of the Roman Republic as a golden age, in the fight to define Rome once the tyrannical Commodus succeeds his father, the “good emperor” Marcus Aurelius. This fraught representation of Roman history accrues an unexpected complexity and ambivalence as the film attempts to “speak America through Rome,” including through the film’s interpretation of its protagonist Maximus as a Cincinnatus-figure in contrast with Commodus as a Nero-figure. Gladiator’s multifaceted engagement with the fetishized Roman past also seeks to seduce the audience through its hyperreal presentation of the imperial city through heavily advertised use of computer-generated imagery (CGI). Taylor regards with ambivalence the hopes, both in Hollywood and among Classicists, that the critical and commercial success of Gladiator would augur a new “golden age” for epics set in classical antiquity. This mise en abyme of nostalgic longing, both within and inspired by Gladiator,exemplifies the golden-age myth, wherein only fantasy can provide fulfilment.

Keywords:   Gladiator, Roman Republic, Roman Empire, nostalgia, Cincinnatus, Nero, Marcus Aurelius, computer-generated imagery (CGI), golden age, hyperreality

Edinburgh Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs, and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us.