Maximus and OdysseusWhile watching the film Gladiator with my girlfriend I realized the striking similarities that heroes share. However, I always wonder who is more of a hero. The definition or hero is a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, especially one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life. So let us compare the two heroes as the dictionary defines them. In the end I hope to be able to define who is a greater hero.
Maximus was a great warrior in the Roman legion under Emperor Marcus Aurelius. His first courageous feat occurs when he defeats the last of the Barbarians of Germaina. Leading his army along a 12 year campaign he brought it to an end.
Next he risks his life as he defies the new Emperor Commodus, knowing that this could mean death. Commodus was the only son of Marcus Aurelius. However Commodus killed his father and took the place of Caesar.
During his second courageous act, his wife and only son are murdered and he is to be executed. This changing his journey home as I will discuss as we move on. Furthering his acts of heroism he manages to save the lives of many slaves by battling in the arena, saving a senator from execution, and avenging his wife and son by slaying the emperor. His acts of nobility occur when he saves the senator and fulfils the wishes of the dead Marcus Aurelius.
He gives Rome back to the senate and returns the power back to the people.Maximus continuing acts of selfless heroism and putting his life at stake for those who betrayed him make him great. His first act of selflessness occurred when he agreed to help out Commodus sister, who knowingly let his child, wife, and almost himself be slain. He forgives her and agrees to meet with her senator to help give Rome back.
His second act of selflessness occurred when he battled in the arena taking on 5 enemies while the other slaves stayed in the back of the entryway. Going to his journey home, he no longer needed to reach the olive fields with stones that warm in the sun as his child plays, and his wife helps with the harvest. His journey has changed to get his vengeance and in the end die so he can reunite with his family. I bring this up because dieing is a change as is the change Odysseus goes through by essentially becoming no one, a regular Joe so to say. This is what I believe ties the two warriors together. The fact the Odysseus goes from a warrior to nobody and the Maximus grows from a slave to the Gladiator. Although they are opposite ends of the spectrum, they both must go from one extreme to the other to get to the end of their story.
Starting with Odysseus courageous efforts he first defeats the Trojans at the battle of Troy with the wooden horse. Much like Maximus his story begins with him winning a great war that has gone on for years. Odysseus must use his intellect more so than his brute strength, such as when he escapes the Cyclops. Unlike Maximus Odysseus makes the mistake right off the bat of revealing his name to the Cyclops when he is leaving, thus he cannot return home yet because he hasnt become a nobody yet. The reoccurring theme between the two that I see is that the must reach a certain state before the end of their story can take place.
Odysseus has to become a plain man not a war hero, and Maximus must win the crowd over and they need to know who is so he cannot be slain in the dungeons. In his last great show of strength Odysseus strings a bow and kills the suitors that were trying to steal his wife from him while he was gone.Odysseus finally reaches his home in the end and yes becomes that nobody that we so often mention. His journey home was filled with trials much like Maximus was.
Odysseus suffered the wrath of the gods, cannibals, giants and even had to wrestle Poseidon. Maximus had to fight in the coliseum against outrageous odds, battling with live tigers nipping at his heels, and ultimately in the end he was mortally wounded before his last battle. Now in defining whoa greater hero was I looked at the reasons they had for their journey. Odysseus just wanted to reach home after a long battle. Odysseus had a son and wife waiting at his house as well. Odysseus had gone through a great battle just as Maximus, and he endured trials just as Maximus. Maximus at first wanted to get home, but then his quest was more for revenge, and closely followed by seeing his wife and son again.
Maximus endured trials, battles, but the thing I believe that makes Maximus more of hero than Odysseus was that he never had relations with anyone other than his wife, and in the end only needed to kill what was absolutely necessary to kill. He showed mercy letting his one on one opponent live. Odysseus killed many suitors and only let one live because he believed he wasnt truly out to get his wife, but more so to the fact that he could sing the tale of the events later when it was all done. Revenge is much simpler than other factors. I believe at first Odysseus was out for glory at first, I think that is the real reason he was in the war.
Maximus stated from day one that he only wished to return home so he could be with his family. I think the inner qualities of Maximus make him more of a hero. However, not taking anything away from Odysseus, I believe that many people in his case would have taken the chance to kill all the men that tried to get with their wives if they were away. I believe it took lots of courage to wrestle with Poseidon, leave islands with beautiful women, and his use of intelligence to beat the Cyclops was great. In the end I believe the only real thing that makes Maximus a better character and hero is that he killed for reasons better than Odysseus. Mainly in the end, when Odysseus kills the suitors, I believe I would have probably done the same thing, but that doesnt make it right.
Maximus saved a nation and did what was right. These are the reasons that Maximus has the edge on Odysseus. Words/ Pages : 1,101 / 24