Betrayal and Power in Shakespeare’s play “Caesar” and the Historical Epic “Gladiator”

Shakespeare’s play “Caesar” and the film “Gladiator” directed by Ridley Scott have much in common. Both works of art describe events, which took place in ancient Greece and Rome. In addition, they both deal with the questions of power, betrayal, true friendship and relations between authority figures and average people. In his “Caesar” Shakespeare describes circumstances of Caesar’s death. The leaders of Roman society kill Caesar being afraid that he will usurp state power and become monarch, neglecting the traditions of newly born democracy. Caesar’s closest friend Brute takes part in a plot in order to remove him from power. The coalition against Caesar succeeds and Caesar stops fighting when he sees his best friend Brute among murders. Despite Brute’s betrayal even his opponents treat him with respect because he acted not because of his personal ambitions but for the good of the entire state. His actions can not be regarded as mere evil because he acted out of desire to help the citizens of Rome. In his play Shakespeare shows that during ancient times authority figures determined histories of their countries and people. He makes an accent on these powerful characters and shows that very transition from unlimited power of emperors to democracy. This transition is hard and even most powerful leaders of the country commit mistakes.
“Gladiator” directed by Ridley Scott is a historical film. It tells a story of General Maximus, who is assigned as an Emperor by Marcus Aurelius. Commodus, Aurelius’s son, betrays the will of his father and deprives Maximus of all his privileges, kills his family and sells Maximus as a slave. It takes years for Maximus to come back to his native land as a gladiator and revenge for his own ruined life and his family. True friends help him and we can see how these people help him to overcome terrible tragedy. Commodus does not follow his father’s will and does not take into account considerations of common good. He cares only about his own ambitions and finally looses everything.

Works Cited

The Official Gladiator Site,
Retireved August 27, 2007.
Shakespeare, W. Julius Caesar, Washington Square Press;
Washington Square Press New Folger’s Ed edition, 1992)

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