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The Real Gladiator (Hardback)

The True Story of Maximus Decimus Meridius

Ancient History Military Biographies Rome P&S History Biographies Military

By Tony Sullivan
Imprint: Pen & Sword History
Pages: 208
Illustrations: 32 black and white illustrations
ISBN: 9781399017572
Published: 6th May 2022

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“Are you not entertained?” shouts Russell Crowe, playing the part of General Maximus Decimus Meridius in the Oscar winning 2000 film Gladiator. The crowd, having witnessed Maximus defeating several gladiators, cheer in response. Film goers too were indeed entertained with the film grossing nearly half a billion dollars. This book covers the historical events that film was based on. From the Germanic wars on the northern frontier to the gladiatorial arena in Rome. From the philosopher emperor, Marcus Aurelius to the palace intrigues during the reign of his son. We will discover how Commodus really died and which of the characters actually fought in the arena.

Readers will meet two generals, Pompeianus and Maximianus, who most resemble our hero General Maximus. Also Lucilla, the sister of Commodus, who in reality married her General, but detested him. The book also focuses on warfare, weapons and contemporary battles. It will compare the battle and fight scenes in the film with reality from contemporary sources and modern tests and reenactments.

The reader will discover that fact is not only stranger than fiction, it is often more entertaining. The real history was certainly as much, if not more, treacherous, bloodthirsty, murderous and dramatic than anything the film industry has created. Anyone who answered “yes!” to the question posed by Russell Crowe’s character in the film, will indeed be entertained by this book.

Tony Sullivan tells the amazing and fascinating story of the true-life gladiator Maximus Decimus Meridius - absolutely riveting.

Books Monthly

If you count the Oscar-winning film "Gladiator" amongst your favourites, like I do, or if you ever wondered what the true story as well as the true history behind it are, then this book is perfect for you.

In this short and very readable book, author Tony Sullivan answers all your questions about Rome and its long history as well as tells you the real life story of the man Russell Crowe incarnated on the big screen: Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the armies of the North, general of the Felix legions, loyal servant of the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius; father to a murdered son, husband of a murdered wife, and . . . a fictional creation?

Without spoilering it for you, the answer is both yes and no. The plot of the film is fictional, but the man on whom it's based was real. Or rather men, because it was more than one. To find out, you'll have to read this book, and I can promise you it's an enlightening read. In just seven chapters, Sullivan will give you a history lesson told in a style with fans of the film and people not very familiar with Roman history in mind, that's easy to grasp and doesn't bog you down with endless names and recitations of facts. It's clear and fluid.

NetGalley, Alya Gonz

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About Tony Sullivan

Tony Sullivan lives in South East London with his wife and three children. He started his writing career after thirty one years in the London Fire Brigade. His first book, King Arthur, Man or Myth was published in 2020. This latest book concerning the battles of King Arthur follows one investigating the historical reality behind the 2000 film, Gladiator, and another concerning the life of the Roman soldier Lucius Artorius Castus.

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