Senator Gracchus is the leading member of the Senate who believes in a strong Roman Republic and is alarmed at the new Emperor Commodus' efforts to intimidate the Senate. As Commodus wins the populus over with his endless games at the Coliseum, Gracchus searches for a way to weaken or remove Commodus from power. When Maximus defies Commodus and has won the people over, Gracchus sees his opportunity.
With the help of Commodus' sister, Lucilla, Gracchus enlists Maximus in a conspiracy to free Maximus so he could lead his men into Rome and remove Commodus from power. Commodus is able to uncover the conspiracy, arrest Gracchus and capture Maximus before he reaches his troops. Gracchus is freed when Maximus kills Commodus in the Coliseum.
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