Much of the audience attended such brutal events for the single purpose of witnessing the bravery of a gladiator in the face of death. Ridley Scott was convinced to do the movie after producers showed him a copy of Jean Leon Gerome’s 1872 painting Pollice Verso, which depicted a gladiator awaiting a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down from the coliseum crowd.“That image spoke to me of the Roman Empire in all its glory and wickedness,” said Scott. The material on this site may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, cached or otherwise used, except with the prior written permission of Condé Nast. At first, it seems that he is going to give a thumbs up. Maximus takes the axe, and is about to kill Titus, but then tosses the axe aside. I don't remember the source for this, but a big one is that the movie Gladiator had either a thumbs up spare someone or a thumbs down kill someone and the historians left that film due to it's ridiculous level of historical inaccuracy. Death was a fairly common occurrence at a gladiatorial game, but that doesn't mean it was inevitable. The "pressed thumb." This is one of the strangest fun facts from the movie. WIRED is where tomorrow is realized. Gladiators Mercè Barrull. From the 1600s until the early 1900s, that’s the primary dichotomy of thumbs: bent up (death) or down (life). A thumbs up likely meant to kill the gladiator off. However, in ancient Rome, the thumbs down actually signified mercy whereas a thumbs up signified a fight to the death. The Thumbs Down Wasn't What You Think. Wired may earn a portion of sales from products that are purchased through our site as part of our Affiliate Partnerships with retailers. There’s a scene where Maximus is in the arena, having fought another man but not yet killed him. A short article about the ways in which Gladiator is also about Fascism. Commodus : If you're very good, tomorrow night I'll tell you the story of emperor Claudius who was betrayed by those closest to him, by his own blood. The gladiator component of Roman games (ludi) appears to have started at the start of the Punic Wars as part of a funeral celebration for an ex-consul. The subtitle of this PlayStation 2 action game, published by Koei, is a reminder of the real lives of Roman gladiators -- far from glamour and adventure, a gladiator's brief existence was one of slavery. Linking back to Roman times, whereby Christians were regularly brutalised in the Colosseum. The painting depicts a gladiator awaiting the thumbs up, thumbs down signal from the coliseum crowd. In a scene that arguably solidified Russell Crowe’s status as a leading man in Hollywood, the general-turned-gladiator removes his helmet and declares, "My name is Maximus Decimus Meridius, commander of the Armies of the North, General of the Felix Legions, loyal servant to the true emperor, Marcus Aurelius. LAWRENCE-- Everybody knows how a crowd in ancient Rome told one gladiator to kill another -- by the thumbs-down gesture.. She has been featured by NPR and National Geographic for her ancient history expertise. THUMBS DOWN. The Famous Tiger Scene Was A Little Too Close For Comfort For Russell Crowe One of the well-remembered scenes in Gladiator is the fight in the … Consider an abstract piece of gladiators marching together and hang it in your home office for inspiration. If you enjoy history or you have a house with a Roman theme, gladiator artwork is an excellent addition. Scholars suggest the thumb pointed upward, but there is some debate; it meant death to the loser. 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