Just like in the movie, Commodus was the only emperor to fight as a gladiator -- and he didn't fight fair.
In the year 2000, masses lined up to cheer on Russell Crowe's Maximus in the Ridley Scott film, "Gladiator." More than 1,900 years earlier, they lined up for the real thing. It was a scene far bloodier and more brutal than any of the battles presented in the Oscar-winning film. We uncover the real story of "Gladiator," a tale of blood, death, obsession and violence. Demonstrations and new experiments reveal how these men really fought and died, and examine the emperor Commodus, a man who obsessed over gladiators while his empire crumbled around him.
Now, you can watch Smithsonian Channel's incredible documentaries and shows anytime you want by purchasing from any of these distributors:
Access even more free Smithsonian Channel full episodes and documentaries online through participating TV providers.
Find out if your television provider carries Smithsonian Channel.
Don't panic! It's simple to upgrade to the latest version of one of these browsers:
Don't panic! To get the best possible experience on smithsonianchannel.com we recommend you upgrade your operating system.
For the best possible site experience, please use Chrome for Android.
Add username "SmithsonianChan" on Snapchat for fun and fascinating facts. We'll be sharing spontaneous photos and videos as inspiration strikes.