Gladiator April 4, 1998 Script Draft: Page #4


INT. IMPERIAL PALACE - PALATINE HILL - EVENING

Lucilla watches as Commodus heaves statuary, paintings, even furniture into a heap on the central room floor; slaves scurry to pick it up.

LUCILLA
Those are priceless sculptures.

COMMODUS
I want every single thing that
belonged to my father out of this
house! If it's worth something then
sell it!

Falco enters with Tribuus. Commodus rages at him.

COMMODUS
It's disgusting! Animals! I had to
come here under armed guard. Slaves
-- get this junk out of my sight.

LUCILLA
Commodus is heaving out every thing
that belonged to our father. Except
that he can't heave out his ghost.

Commodus hits her hard across the face. She staggers back against the edge of a fountain.

COMMODUS
Shut up! This is no joke! I am no
joke! You understand me!

Only her anger keeps back her tears.

LUCILLA
Yes... brother.

For a moment everyone is overwhelmed -- and Falco steps between them. Lucilla sits, washes the corner of her mouth from the fountain.

FALCO
Gracchus and Gaius are inciting the
crowd by holding you up for
comparison. You must kill that
ghost that's haunting you.

Commodus turns and comes nearly nose-to-nose with a statue of Marcus Aurelius. He grabs a slave.

COMMODUS
I told you to get that bust out of
my sight!

The hapless slave hugs the statue but no way will it budge.

SLAVE
Caesar -- it outweighs me!

TRIBUUS
Guards -- help us here.

COMMODUS
Throw it down into the streets!
Down into the Forum. If it's my
father they want then give him to
them!

FALCO
Yes. You know, that's not a bad
idea.

COMMODUS
Maybe it'll crush Gaius.

FALCO
I'm serious.

COMMODUS
So am I.

FALCO
We can crush Gaius another way.
What if you do throw something to
the people they really want? Make
them a gift of food.

COMMODUS
Give away food?

FALCO
Sacks of grain, even bread. I own
the grain licenses for the military,
I can arrange to divert a shipment
bound for the army of the Danube.

COMMODUS
Take grain away from the army?

FALCO
Make a gift to the people. It's
your money anyway so it's only fair.

Lucilla seems very interested.

LUCILLA
And make a huge deal out of it... If
you want the people to truly
remember the gesture, that is at
least until the first of Janus, it
must be an event, an occasion of
celebration.

FALCO
She's right about that. It's going
to be damned expensive so better get
your money's worth.

COMMODUS
How about in the forum. Right in
front of the Senate.

LUCILLA
If I may be so bold...

COMMODUS
For the gods, spit it out!

LUCILLA
Why not do it in the Colosseum?

Hard to tell exactly what Commodus thinks of this.

LUCILLA
When Julius Caesar overthrew the
Republic he held massive games at
Circus Maximus to divert the people.
By the time they came home from all
their fun... they were living in a
dictatorship.

That gets him interested. Tribuus and the guards begin to wrestle the statue of Marcus Aurelius out of the hall.

INT. NARCISSUS' CELL - DAY LATER - DAWN

The door bangs back and Narcissus wakes. Adonis enters with two guards. Narcissus gets up from the floor where he's been sleeping on a blanket.

ADONIS
General...

Other cells can be heard clanking aside, men cursing and laughing. Far off ROOSTERS CROW. Adonis steps out and Proximo pokes his head in.

PROXIMO
Like an animal. I give you one of
the best cells -- look at you, on
the ground. And the crowd -- you
win and they hate you because you
never ask them for permission to
kill your opponent! You could win
the wooden sword if the crowd loves
you enough! The wooden sword! It's
freedom -- you listening to me?
Gladiator has the chance of winning
it... technically.

Narcissus just shoves past.

PROXIMO
This isn't a war, you know! Have
some fun with it!

EXT. SCHOOL COURTYARD - DAWN

Narcissus pauses to watch the other gladiators herded together from the pitiful cells, some naked pulling on ragged togas. In the yard steaming cauldrons of food are prepared by slaves.

Dragged from his cell a new, young gladiator -- VEDNAS -- weeps and screams that he doesn't want to die.

Bad Teeth crawls out of his cell like a bear, punches Vednas in the mouth to shut him up and moves on before the guards can get to him.

Already dressed, Crassus kneels before a crude stone alter, praying to his God.

INT. GLADIATOR WAGON - MORNING

Silence from the gladiators as the wagon squeaks and thumps through Rome. The Gang-Kids race alongside, shouting. Bad Teeth reaches under his rough toga and comes up with a small jug of wine. He hands it to Narcissus.

BAD TEETH
This is my God.

Narcissus eyeballs the jug, then takes it and turns away from the rest to drink. The others swap looks. Gathering his courage, Vednas crawls near.

VEDNAS
They say, you are a general...

Narcissus looks him over a moment, says nothing. But Vednas pours forth in desperation.

VEDNAS
I don't belong here! I'm Vednas the
scribe! I can read and write
Etruscan, Greek; I can read the
pictures of the great Pharaohs and
the tongue of Cyrus the Younger! I
once translated the whole Epic of
Gilgamesh from Babylonian into Greek
for the library of Ephesus! My
ancestors were scribes at the Great
Library of Alexandria!

BAD TEETH
I'll bet he can scream in ten
languages!

Howls from the others. Narcissus remains unmoved.

VEDNAS
I never bothered anyone. I had a
corner, out on the verge where the
insula and the domus meet. Anyone
with good taste came to me to write
their letters. Love letters were my
specialty! General, I can compose
like no other man!

BAD TEETH
Yeah, but pretty soon you'll be
decomposing!

More laughs... Vednas gets desperate.

VEDNAS
Please! I was condemned for over
charging for a document! They need
bodies for the arena! I did
nothing! Help me!

Narcissus has another sip of wine.

NARCISSUS
You want to live?
(pause)
Kill.

INT. COLOSSEUM ARENA - DAY/MONTAGE:

Narcissus circles a 'THRACIAN' GLADIATOR: small round shields with a curved scythe-like sword. The Thracian whips the sword overhead in a circle with enormous agility... Narcissus watches and then circles in the opposite direction. In a flash he races at the Thracian...

NEW ANGLE

That scythe-sword spinning off into the ether.

THE THRACIAN...

Dead in the sand as Narcissus walks away paying no attention to the cheering crowd and getting some BOOS as a result.

COLOSSEUM ARENA - ANOTHER DAY

On a 'COLOSSUS OF RHODES' design on a shield showing an image of the legendary copper giant.

A RHODIAN faces Narcissus. He wears a shiny lorica segmentata designed from copper, armed with a splay-edged sword. Narcissus approaches him, this time carrying his small shield. The Rhodian slashes at him and Narcissus deflects the blow with his shield. As the crowd HOWLS they crash together...

THE COPPER SHIELD...

sticking on the edge in the sand, the giant -- feet up... beside the body of the Rhodian. Narcissus again strides away, victorious.

COLOSSEUM ARENA - ANOTHER DAY

A MYRMIDON gladiator in black leather... 'Antenna' poke from his leather helmet, and a symbol of an ant of his shield -- rears backward as Narcissus fells him with a powerful blow...

COLOSSEUM ARENA - ANOTHER DAY

A MIRMILLONES -- a gladiator with scale-like armor and a fish-shield -- tumbles dead in the sand...

AND THE CROWD...

Cheering, stamping their feet.

AND NARCISSUS

Once again striding off the sand. But this time he stops, turns and looks back at the crowd.

HIS POV

The uninhibited proletariat in the upper seats howl. Their area is littered with trash and a few women even NURSE BABIES.

THE FRONT SEATS

Some slaves of the upper-class 'fans' smack long WOODEN HANDS(2) together overhead as their MASTERS recline in luxurious padded seats. Others -- equally wealthy -- leap up cheering and one even grabs the 'souvenir hands' away from his slave and whacks them together himself.

AND NARCISSUS...

Taking this all in, his eyes shift to:

THE IMPERIAL BOX

Empty... the relief marble Wolf of Rome glares in the burning sun.

INT. ARENA - ANOTHER DAY

Narcissus, armed with just his sword, faces a LAQUEARIUS, a 'lasso man'. Shirtless, but wearing leather fringed pants he whirls a rope overhead like Hopalong-fucking-Cassidy. Narcissus circles.

NARCISSUS
Surrender, or I'll kill you!

VOICE
Go ahead and kill him!

Laughter... but as Narcissus circles he stumbles.

PROXIMO

watches from the 'trenches'. He turns to Adonis.

PROXIMO
He's drunk... he's going to die this
time.

ARENA

The Laquearius almost magically spins his rope so the loop straightens and he snaps Narcissus' cheek with it like a whip. The crowd loves it. Narcissus grabs his cheek, puzzled by what's happening.

For a second he seems to clear his head, but now the crowd is into the thrill of the hunt. When the Laquearius turns to close the distance -- in a flash that whirling rope is back defining the limit of Narcissus' approach. Humiliated and just not thinking straight he makes a sudden rush -- and Laquearius lassos him...

Narcissus tries to pull his arms loose but the Laquearius yanks the noose so tight Narcissus' arms are frozen with his sword against his body.

Now the Laquearius plays to the crowd -- he yanks Narcissus to his knees and dances around him, winding himself closer as the rope twists around Narcissus. Then he kneels behind Narcissus, pulls his head back by his hair and puts the knife against his throat... he look up to the crowd.

THE MOB...

Shouting, stamping, all plunging their thumbs down against their chests.

PROXIMO

turns away. He sits on Narcissus' rock beside Dala. He just can't watch.

LAQUEARIUS

smiles for the fans -- but Narcissus sees that exposed wrist and sinks his teeth into the man's artery -- Laquearius rips his arm loose and blood spews like a broken garden hose.

Laquearius grabs his wrist and drops his sword -- Narcissus kicks him, flips him and pins him with his knees. He gets hold of the sword, jams the blade under the ropes and slices himself free. In a flash he turns the sword and drives it into the Laquearius' chest.

He stands, catches his breath -- the crowd cheers. Narcissus turns face smeared with blood, watches them yell and gesture at him. He looks like an ANIMAL...

INT. 'TRENCHES'

The gladiators silently watch Narcissus as he comes in from the arena and crosses to a stone cistern to splash cold water on his face and hair. Proximo gingerly approaches. The CHEERS now include more calls for "Narcissus." Proximo snaps his fingers -- a slave brings Narcissus wine.

PROXIMO
That was one of the most impressive
feats I've ever seen. You hear them
calling your name?
(Narcissus drinks)
You scorn them. But, they admire
you. When Emperor Trajan had his
victory over five thousand
gladiators fought to the death --
out there. So, they know a good
fight. As a soldier you must have
fought very well for Rome.

INT. GLADIATOR WAGON - LATE AFTERNOON

Silence, all the gladiators focused on Narcissus who couches in the corner, face on his folded arms as if he were asleep. As usual the kids chase the wagon, taunting. Suddenly Bad Teeth shoots his hand through the bars and snags the little Blonde Kid by the throat. The kid gags, dragging as his friends try to pull him loose.

Bad Teeth just grins his grin and hangs on -- strangling. Out of nowhere Narcissus grabs Bad Teeth's arm -- they look each other in the eye and Bad Teeth drops the kid in the dirt.

BAD TEETH
Narcissus The Good!

INT. GLADIATOR AREA - THE 'TRENCHES'...

As Narcissus, Bad Teeth, Vednas, Adonis, Crassus, Dala and others enter, Proximo follows in the wake of an Arena Slave who's handing out bread and wine. A few VOICES call Narcissus by name...

PROXIMO
You hear, General? Some people
remember you. You're a surly
bastard and still they like you.

An ARENA SLAVE hands Crassus a long spear and he enters the arena -- CHEERS of the mob welcome him.

Narcissus turns toward a horrendous clank of CHAINS: two arena SLAVES race in opposite directions down a long hall yanking chains that lift a cage to ground level.

ARENA

Crassus faces a scenery facade that's shaped like a STONE CAVE. A TIGER rushes from the cave.

NARCISSUS

sits on a stone block beside the other gladiators.

DALA
Bad luck! A tiger. Someone
important must be betting against
Crassus...

A LIGHT FEMALE VOICE calls Narcissus' name. The sound is so strange that at first Narcissus doesn't respond. Then he sees the FOUR WHORES at a barred window. The Cute Whore wearing a wig with spring-like curled hair waves Narcissus over. Fascinated, he crosses to the bars.

CUTE WHORE
Narcissus The Good! Can you afford
me today?

Narcissus turns away toward a SHOUT from the arena.

ARENA

Within twenty feet the tiger crouches to spring. Crassus SHAKES HIS LONG HAIR and the TINY BELLS FLASH AND TINKLE. Baffled by the glinting bells, the tiger stands out of his crouch.

NARCISSUS

turns back to the Whore. She smiles.

CUTE WHORE
Pay the guard something. They'll
let me in and we can do it here.

Narcissus seems confused and maybe he would except:

NARCISSUS
I... have no money.

ANOTHER WHORE
She's in love with you! She'll do
you for free!

The Whores break into laughter. Then the Cute Whore gestures Narcissus to the bars like she wanted to whisper and when he gets close she kisses his cheek -- they break off laughing again and suddenly GUARDS outside shoo them away... Proximo puts a hand on Narcissus' shoulder.

PROXIMO
The Emperor is here. He's come here
himself to distribute bread to the
people!

It takes Narcissus a second, then he slowly rises and looks through the bars.

EXT. IMPERIAL BOX

Six Praetorian Guard flank the Imperial seat. The crowd shouts as the tiger CHARGES -- Crassus DROPS and the SUN CRASHES INTO THE TIGER'S EYES...

Crassus angles the spear to catch the blinded tiger straight in the chest. He flips the impaled cat onto its back and LEANS on the spear. The tiger tears out with a paw and SINKS ITS CLAWS INTO CRASSUS' SHOULDER, pulling him down.

DALA
Watch out for the back claws!

Crassus is pulled down as the tiger's thrashing rear legs tearing into Crassus' gut. Crassus falls on the cat with his huge hands around its throat. Face-to-face, their foreheads touching -- the tiger, fangs bared, Crassus grimacing -- they die.

IN THE BEST SEATS

A bleak looking PROCONSUL hands a fistful of GOLD to a self-important MERCHANT who makes a big show of winning his bet.

ALL THE GLADIATORS

stand, watching. Bad Teeth is the first to sit. Proximo waves a pair of slaves out.

PROXIMO
Shit! Get his body! Damn! Damn
them all!

Then, with a RUMBLING FANFARE of DRUMS and staccato horns Commodus makes a grand entrance. Lucilla, Tribuus and Falco are at the forefront of an entourage which includes all manner of wealthy hangers-on.

JERSES (O.S.)
After an absence of nearly an entire
generation...

JERSES

stands on Commodus' left side.

JERSES
... great Caesar, Emperor of all
Rome has returned to our beloved
Colosseum!

Commodus stands receiving the unbelievable howls and cheers of the crowd. Even he is amazed by the reception and stands grinning and waving. Commodus finally turns, nods to Jerses and sits. More drum and horn effects and then silence.

JERSES
In his boundless wisdom, and with
the generosity of the gods, Caesar
Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus
Augustus...

GLADIATORS

By now all watch the display. With every second Narcissus' interest grows. Crassus body is brought in and the others crowd around. Even Proximo steps up to put a hand on him.

JERSES (O.S.)
... in keeping his sworn trust to
Rome's Citizens...

ARENA

Jerses reaching an apoplexy of passion.

JERSES
... will distribute as much grain or
bread as each man, woman or child
present here may carry!

The crowd goes wild. Commodus rises and the crowd begins a football-like chant of CAESAR-CAESAR-CAESAR... He holds up his arms welcoming the adulation. Commodus is almost physically effected by the cheers the power and psychological rush is so tremendous.

NARCISSUS...

turns away from the sight. Arena Slaves move through the ranks, two flank Narcissus and one hands him a sword. Proximo pats him on the shoulder and moves down the ranks.

PROXIMO
You're next. All of you, Caesar is
here. Perform well and who knows?
Someone might get the wooden sword!

BAD TEETH
At least you'll make some big bets
on us with Caesar here.

Snorts of disdain from other gladiators.

IMPERIAL BOX

Falco leans over and plops down five gold coins.

FALCO
Caesar, let me sponsor your first
wager in the arena.

COMMODUS
I wouldn't know who to bet on.

NARCISSUS (O.S.)
Great Caesar! We who are about to
die, salute you!

The sound of Narcissus' voice hits Commodus like a blow. Stunned he and Falco rise and gawk down into the arena -- Commodus locks eyes with Narcissus.

Narcissus stares at Commodus... then turns as the people cheer and give cat-calls. Narcissus faces a gladiator approaching from the opposite side. He's a THRACIAN GLADIATOR; he holds up his round shield and curved sword to the crowd.

COMMODUS --

just gawks at Narcissus.

COMMODUS
Why isn't he dead? Damn you, you
promised me he would be dead!

TRIBUUS
Caesar, I did my best. The
Colosseum isn't under my control...

Sudden panic from Jerses who realizes the ball's in his court.

JERSES
Truthfully, Caesar, the crowd
doesn't care for him. He wins,
but...

COMMODUS
Wins? What in hell are you talking
about? That man is my enemy!
Lucilla, you knew he was here! You
did this to humiliate me!

LUCILLA
Don't be ridiculous. Come on; he's
just a gladiator. Will you sit
down? Everyone's watching.

NARCISSUS & SOME CROWD
Surrender, or I'll kill you!

This does not help Jerses' case.

LUCILLA
The crowd does seem to know him...

JERSES
But just a handful in the cheap
seats.

NARCISSUS

watches the Thracian very closely. Obviously the man is not going to surrender. They circle as the crowd shouts -- the sound of the full fifty thousand people is deafening. For a second Narcissus stops paying attention, and he looks up toward the Imperial Box. The Thracian charges and Narcissus just has time to block his sword and shove him aside.

Now Narcissus gets furious and bangs away at the Thracian.

JERSES
He's making a mistake. He'll lose
now, he can't match the Thracian's
strength. He's one of the best from
School of Lykas.

COMMODUS
And Narcissus...?

JERSES
School of Proximo! If anyone's
responsible for his life it's
Proximo, he saved him.

Just as those words leave Jerses' mouth Narcissus shoves his sword right through the Thracian's shield with a tremendous blow that kills him.

AND COMMODUS

He just turns away.

COMMODUS
As soon as he goes, distribute the
grain. Jerses?

JERSES
Yes. I can hold the rest of the
fights until the food is given out,
that's why everyone came anyway.
Honestly, he's not really that
popular, Caesar.

A MUG on Commodus' table suddenly SHATTERS. He looks at it like "what the hell?" The crowd HOWLS.

BELOW

Narcissus picks up ROCKS and throws them up at the imperial box. Adonis tries to drag him off as Dala clutches the swords.

The audience goes completely NUTS -- some spectators in the cheap seats actually keel over from spasms of laughter.

Praetorian Guard immediately move in front of Commodus and the crowd BOOS them. At the same time more and more call Narcissus name. Dala and Adonis grab Narcissus and pull him off the sand as the crowd continues to go nuts.

COMMODUS
Kill him! Tribuus -- execute that
bastard.

LUCILLA
You can't do that! You came here to
turn the crowd around not make them
hate you.

Commodus stands and pushes aside the Praetorian Guard so the crowd can see him. He smiles, making the best of it. The Good Seats applaud his effort.

COMMODUS
Tribuus... tomorrow.

LUCILLA
You're coming back?

COMMODUS
I have to come back. If I don't
come back the people will think I'm
a coward. Tribuus, tomorrow he dies
-- I want his blood on the sand. Do
you understand?

TRIBUUS
Yes, Caesar?

COMMODUS
Jerses -- tomorrow...

THE TRENCHES

As the other gladiators hold Narcissus back -- his eyes are wild, months of hate crashing to the surface. He pulls loose and sits.

JERSES (O.S.)
On this next day, Emperor Commodus
will give out double this same
amount of grain and loaves of fresh
bread from the Imperial ovens!

COMMODUS STANDS

and the crowd goes wild... he smiles and nods grimly. Looks like today he's had the last word.

INT. GLADIATOR WAGON - LATE AFTERNOON

Narcissus breathing hard as if he were still resonating from a rush of renewal. Proximo sits opposite with a guard, absolutely gleeful -- wrapping his hands together and all but muttering "O-boy, o-boy, o-boy!"

PROXIMO
Throwing rocks at the Emperor! I
can't tell you how much I love that!
Oh, Gods, thank you!
(to Adonis)
When we get back -- wine for our
hero. The best red from Moselle!
Not that piss from Crete! Wine
that's not the color of blood is no
wine!

Kids race alongside the wagon shouting his name -- people they pass wave and shout for Narcissus. Now PEOPLE mob the wagon, and it slows. Narcissus still seems to be recovering, it's as if his mind were ascending from hell back to the daylight.

Proximo edges closer so no one else will hear.

PROXIMO
At the end of the day I was
approached by the Golden Pompeii
Olive Oil company. Small, but
profitable. They asked if you would
endorse their oil. We could get
some very nice posters. Make some
very big money...

NARCISSUS
What would the poster say:
"Narcissus would kill for a taste of
Golden Pompeii Olive Oil?"

PROXIMO
Think about it! Just think about
it!

DALA
Look at that! That's new!

Narcissus looks out through the bars as they pass a square and a large STATUE OF COMMODUS.

PROXIMO
The big push is on, for the month of
Janus approaches!

EXT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - NEAR DUSK

As Armed Slaves unload the gladiators, two separate Narcissus and bring him to Proximo.

PROXIMO
We're going some place tonight.
Don't even think about trying to
escape you'll be heavily guarded.
We're going to a party where Adonis
will beat the brains out of some
fool. Your presence has been
requested.

INT. DOMUS - PRIVATE GYMNASIUM - NIGHT

A palatial private residence in Rome. Judging from the heavily embroidered togas this is a high-end crowd: 'equites publicani'.

Narcissus sits on a chair, wrists cuffed, flanked by armed slaves, watching as Adonis squares off with a tall, lean EGYPTIAN. They both wear leather gloves studded with spikes. The Egyptian nails Adonis who totters bloody from the blow -- and the CROWD moves in blocking the view.

A SERVANT sets three dishes on tripod stands for guests to wander past and help themselves.

The FIRST is a pile of FISH HEADS -- remarkable for their ENORMOUS GAPING EYES. The SECOND is a spiral of multi-colored BIRD EGGS. A YOUNG MAN cracks an egg, hold it up and a whole BIRD EMBRYO drops into his mouth. He clamps down on it with a CRUNCH.

Narcissus sees TWO ATTRACTIVE GIRLS watching him from across the room. They whisper, giggle, and approach. Then they pause by the three dishes. The girls are suddenly right in front of Narcissus.

GIRL #1
You're Narcissus, aren't you? The
gladiator? My sister has something
she wants to give you...

Girl #2 kneels, parts his legs so she can get very close and opens her mouth. In the cup of her tongue is a huge FISH EYE. Apparently she wants him to suck it off. Narcissus might actually be tempted, but...

NARCISSUS
I've eaten, but thank you...

Girl #2 makes a show of swallowing the eye. She climbs off her knees, kisses Narcissus, then arm in arm she and her sister leave.

Narcissus' eyes are drawn to the third bowl and it seems to contain BRIGHTLY COLORED CHIPS. But they MOVE... they're LIVING BUTTERFLIES dusted with a sparkling colored coating of diluted honey. Helpless in the bowl, their wings fold and unfold.

Proximo arrives with six very wealthy-looking MEN in tow. While slaves bring up chairs Proximo casually scoops up a handful of butterflies and pops them into his mouth like Fritos.

Chairs are brought up for each and they all sit directly opposite Narcissus and study him as if he were some piece of art.

PROXIMO
Gentlemen, Narcissus The Good!

Hmm... they continue to study him. Then a GREY HAIRED MAN sorts himself out of the guests and approaches. It's Gracchus.

GRACCHUS
Who are you? Narcissus The Good? I
have heard of Narcissus Meridas.
That's who I hear you are.

NARCISSUS
You're hearing about somebody else.

GRACCHUS
How did you get condemned to the
arena without a trial?

NARCISSUS
When the Senate and the Emperor
agree miracles can happen.

GRACCHUS
Would you support the Senate if they
would give you a trial? You'd have
to give me your word.

NARCISSUS
I need to give you my word when
yours is worth nothing?

GRACCHUS
You're a citizen and a soldier. Not
a gladiator.

NARCISSUS
You don't know how wrong you are.

INT. COLOSSEUM - NEXT DAY

Narcissus waits with the other gladiators. Proximo approaches Narcissus. An Arena Slave hands Narcissus a sword and shield.

PROXIMO
Jerses is pitting you against one of
Lykas' Dimachaeri -- Saturnus...

BAD TEETH
A two-sword; light armor, Saturnus
is one of Lykas' best, very fast.
The Emperor is behind this. First
Crassus, now you're dead.

CENTER ARENA

As soon as Narcissus steps out the crowd goes wild.

Dozens of people call his name. Saturnus holds two swords, one short and the other long with an X-shaped head. For a moment the audience goes quiet as the two face off. Narcissus YELLS:

NARCISSUS
Surrender or I'll kill you.

The crowd loves it -- some cheer. Saturnus flips his short sword into a stabbing position, holds out his long sword. Narcissus charges whaling at him with his shield.

Taken completely off-guard Saturnus dodges -- and TRIPS. Narcissus is on him -- crushing down on his head with his shield. Saturnus flails wildly -- cuts Narcissus on the right with the long sword. Narcissus yanks the short sword out of the man's hand and kills him with it. The crowd GASPS.

Narcissus reels to his feet, drops his shield and grips his wound which spews blood. Then he sees 'PLUTO' approaching with his death hammer.

THE GLADIATORS

rush to the doorway, shout his name, urging him on.

NARCISSUS

Staggers, keeps moving as Pluto dogs his steps waiting for Narcissus to fall. He gets within twenty feet of the doorway... suddenly looks like he's going to fall -- there's a GASP from the crowd.

AND COMMODUS --

On the edge of his seat.

NARCISSUS

Gives Pluto the hard stare... and DROPS -- but all the Proximo gladiators rush out and he falls into Bad Teeth's arms. The crowd ROARS.

COMMODUS
Give out the food -- quickly!

INT. GLADIATOR WAGON - AFTERNOON

Narcissus barely wakes. Adonis works desperately to stop the wound as Proximo squats nearby crazy with anxiety. The GANG KIDS jog along side the wagon, deathly quiet as they watch. The Blonde Kid reaches in through the bars with a small mug of water.

BLOND KID
Don't die Narcissus! It's
Narcissus! Narcissus The Good!

Narcissus agonizingly reaches up and clasps it -- for a second the boy holds on, then lets it go. Now the Cute Whore appears frantically blowing him kisses as if they could somehow save him. Now more and more hands reach in through the bars as citizens hear his name and crowd around.

PROXIMO
Don't die, general! One third! One
third! After today everyone will
know your name!

INT. SENATE - MORNING

Gracchus stands before the body of Senators.

GRACCHUS
No trial! No defense! Narcissus
Meridas, general of the VIIth Felix
Gemini legions! How could this
happen?

Senate breaks into muttering and some yell for Falco to speak -- very reluctantly he does.

FALCO
I was one who agreed with the
Emperor to do this thing along with
Senator Gaius!

Shouts of outrage.

FALCO
And with good reason: we were
trying to avoid civil war!

VOICE
But he deserved a full trial! Sit
down, Falco! Gaius! Gaius!

GAIUS
Narcissus Meridas deserves a full
trial! Yes! Let the Senate become
the champion of the people!

VOICES
Yes! Yes!

GAIUS
And then let the Senate crush their
hopes, further humiliate Narcissus
by sending him back to the arena,
and let us by all means make the
Emperor look good while we do it!

FALCO
The truth of it is that he defied a
direct order of his Emperor and the
acting Senate!

GRACCHUS
It was a disgraceful order!

More shouts as Senators stand at will.

GAIUS
Narcissus is guilty as charged and
this body would have to lie long to
find otherwise!

VOICE
Sit down you traitor!

GAIUS
I will not sit down! I will not sit
down!

The Senate disintegrates into squabbling.