Mother Knows Best? Evaluating the Roles of Stoic Parents in Gladiator (2000)

Krysta Larson


My paper uses the 2000 Ridley Scott film Gladiator as a vehicle for exploring Stoicism, specifically the ways that Stoic parents ought to behave in different situations. The film includes a portrayal of the historic emperor and Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius and uses Stoic themes. I explore the ways in which two of the main characters, the general Maximus and Marcus Aurelius’ daughter Lucilla, demonstrate Stoic values through their parenting. Through an analysis of the works of Stoic philosophers Epictetus and Marcus Aurelius, I examine these characters’ decisions and ultimately conclude that Maximus upholds Stoic values better than Lucilla. Through my paper I hope to invite a unique perspective on parenting that differs greatly from the modern, Christian-centered tradition and to give readers a clearer understanding of Stoicism. 

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