The height of the power of Roman Empire was at vast. Over one quarter of the world’s population lived and died the rule of the Caesars. Emperor Marcus Aurelius was in twelve-years of campaign against the Barbarian Tribe in Germania that was drawing to an end. His final wish before he dies is that to have a stronghold stands in the way of Roman Victory and the promise of peace throughout the empire. The film begins at the Roman battle for Germania, then a backwards land of barbarians.
General Maximus Decimus Meridus leads the Roman Army to a decisive victory against the Germanic Tribes at Vindobona. The long war got ended on the Roman frontier and he earned the esteem of the elderly Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He has a male heir named Commodus. The dying emperor wished to grant temporary leadership to Maximus hoping to return the power to the Roman Senate. He saw Maximus’ abilities to lead and serve as an Emperor in Rome because Maximus is a principled man and he can command the loyalty of the army.
Marcus wants him to end the corruption and to save Rome from partition. Marcus wants Rome to be a Republic again. Analyzing the Roman Society can undergo into these different kinds of perspectives, namely, Functionalist, Conflict, and Symbolic Interaction Perspective. First up is the Functionalist Theory. A Functionalist Theory explains phenomena through functions. It has two elements which are the view from the society as a system of interrelated parts that are interdependent and the general values among society members.
So how can we relate Functionalist Theory to the Society? There is only one word for that – Change. Change plays a big role to Functionalist Theory. Society is seen as integrated whole. A change in one part of a society leads to change in other parts as well. Society may change over time, but functionalist believe that it will return to stable state. In the movie Gladiator, the people there are asked to become gladiators. They fight for their lives inside the arena. Many gladiators get wounded or die. That serves as an entertainment to the higher class.
The gladiators are there for the glory of the Empire. The manifestation of this is that they don’t have rights. They can’t help it but to follow the rules of their ruler. It all comes to one label which is – slavery. The latent is that they are powerless. They have to follow the rules of their emperor because he is in the top. He is the highest among them. Which means that the gladiators and the other slaves are the peasants who they need to work for their emperor and to earn a living. And lastly, the dysfunction to this is that they are being abused.
They are being asked to fight inside the arena. It’s a matter of life and death situation. The Conflict Perspective here is that the society is composed of distinct groups with opposing interests. The power and inequality are found systematically in the society. In the movie, there is an inequality between the slaves and the higher class. The slaves are forced to work for them and to become gladiators and fight their lives in the arena. The power is that the Emperor can dictate. They give command to the military, the government, and the people simultaneously.
There should be a social balance to the Roman Empire. And last perspective is the Symbolic-Interactionism Perspective. This uses symbols to analyze the society well. An interaction between individuals is negotiated through shared symbols, gestures, and nonverbal communications. The symbolic-interactionism in the movie is that through clothing. The higher class can wear beautiful clothing while the slaves cannot. In all, there is still a question between the powers of the Emperor to the Senate. There is a large scale of happenings to the Roman Empire.
The function of the gladiators within that society is to put forth a microcosm of the struggle. There is dictatorship and criticism among them. A Republic is a form of government in which the country is considered as a “public mater”, not the private concern or property of rulers, and where offices and states are subsequently directed or indirectly elected or appointed rather than inherited. The proposed solution to this class disparity is to give the power of government to the senate, which is elected by the working class, not to the Emperor.