Gladiator October 22, 1998 Script Draft: Page #2


INT. MAXIMUS' TENT - NIGHT

Maximus kneels before a small altar in his tent. He faces six small figures that represent his dead ancestors.

MAXIMUS
Ancestors, true bloodline, I ask you
for your guidance. Bring me your
solace and your wisdom. Blessed
Mother, come to me in my dreams with
the Gods' desire for my future.
Blessed Father, watch over my wife
and my son with a ready sword. Keep
them safe until my return. Whisper
to them in their sleep that I live
only to hold them again and all else
is dust and air. Ancestors, true
bloodline, I honor you and will try
to live with the dignity you have
taught me.

He looks at his "ancestors" for a moment and then blows out the candles around them.

INT. MARCUS' TENT - NIGHT

Commodus' eyes are red with weeping. He sits, head down, at the foot of Marcus' bed and speaks to his father.

COMMODUS
(quietly)
I search the faces of the Gods for
ways to please you... to make you
proud... and I can never do it. One
kind word -- one full hug where you
pressed me to your chest and held me
tight -- would have been like the
sun on my heart for a thousand
years... What is it in me you hate
so much? My eyes are your eyes. My
hands are your hands. All I have
ever wanted was to live up to you.
Caesar. Father.

He stands. We see that he is holding the scroll denoting Marcus' intention to nominate Maximus as Emperor to the Senate. Commodus cannot control his tears.

COMMODUS
Why does Maximus deserve what I
could never have? -- Why do you love
his eyes over mine? -- I would
butcher the whole world -- if you
would only love me...

Commodus weeps.

INT. MAXIMUS' TENT - NIGHT

Quintus is waking Maximus --

QUINTUS
General -- Maximus --

MAXIMUS
Quintus -- ?

QUINTUS
The Emperor needs you. It's urgent.

Maximus leaps up and throws on a cloak, strides out with Quintus...

EXT. TENT CITY - NIGHT

Dead of night. Maximus and Quintus stride quickly through the sleeping camp toward Marcus' tent.

MAXIMUS
What is it? Is he ill?

QUINTUS
I don't know...

They continue on toward Marcus' tent.

INT. MARCUS' TENT - NIGHT

Maximus and Quintus stride into the tent -- Maximus slams to a halt. Stunned.

Commodus stands before him. Lucilla stands in a corner of the tent, head down.

And Marcus Aurelius dead, lying on his bed.

Maximus stares at Marcus.

COMMODUS
Lament with me, brother, our great
father is dead. I want --

Maximus, not even hearing, steps past him to Marcus.

He stands for a moment and then slowly kneels before Marcus and gently kisses the old man's forehead. A ritual farewell.

A moment of silent mourning and then Maximus stands. He turns very, very slowly to Commodus.

COMMODUS
General, the Gods' have taken the
great man and left me alone. My
first desire as Emperor is that you
take my hand in friendship. I need
you at my side, Maximus, at this
moment above all others. Stand with
me.

Maximus glares at him:

MAXIMUS
How did he die?

Commodus does not respond.

MAXIMUS
How did he die?

COMMODUS
The surgeons say it was his breath
that gave out.

Maximus glances to Lucilla, she avoids his eyes.

COMMODUS
Take my hand, Maximus. I only offer
it once.

A beat.

Maximus turns back to Marcus.

MAXIMUS
How will the world speak your name
now, old man?

Without a glance to Commodus, he stalks out.

A silent beat. Then Commodus nods to Quintus. Quintus goes.

Lucilla looks at Commodus for a long moment, her face an enigmatic tornado of complex emotions.

Then:

LUCILLA
Hail, Caesar.

INT. MAXIMUS' TENT - NIGHT

Maximus is kneeling before his ancestors, head down, his fists clenched, praying.

Quintus and four Praetorian ASSASSINS suddenly burst in -- the assassins move immediately to bind Maximus -- swords at his throat --

MAXIMUS
What -- ?!

QUINTUS
(ashamed)
Please don't fight, Maximus --

MAXIMUS
Quintus --

Quintus goes to Maximus' armor, which hangs nearby, and slowly removes his seal of office.

QUINTUS
I'm sorry, General, Caesar has
spoken.

They pull Maximus out --

EXT. MAXIMUS' TENT - TENT CITY - NIGHT

Five horses are waiting.

MAXIMUS
Quintus, what -- ?

QUINTUS
(anguish)
I have no choice --

They are almost run over by a stern cohort of twenty Praetorians who gallop past. Maximus knows immediately what this means.

MAXIMUS
(suddenly)
My family?!

A beat.

MAXIMUS
What about my family, Quintus?

QUINTUS
(quietly)
They will greet you in the
afterlife.

Maximus lunges at him -- the Praetorians subdue him -- slamming him with a sword hilt -- knocking him unconscious.

QUINTUS
(quietly, to assassins)
Take him as far as the sunrise and
then kill him.

EXT. FOREST ROAD - DAWN

The four Praetorian assassins lead Maximus along a road. He sits slumped in his saddle, drained.

ASSASSIN #1
All right, this is far enough.

The three other assassins climb from their horses. Assassin #2 pushes Maximus from his horse. He falls to the ground hard.

ASSASSIN #1
You two take him down there where no
one will find him.

ASSASSIN #3
Come on, General...

Assassin #3 and Assassin #4 drag Maximus down a densely forested hill along the road. Maximus' hands are still bound in front of him. He seems totally lacking in any resistance.

EXT. FOREST - BELOW THE ROAD - DAWN

Maximus eyes the two assassins as they troop down the hill away from the road, he notes their sparkling armor. The armor of men who have never seen real battle.

MAXIMUS
Have you ever done this before?

ASSASSIN #3
What?

MAXIMUS
Killed a man with a sword?

ASSASSIN #3
Not like this, exactly... this is
good, you can stop.

They stop. They are far down the hill, out of sight of the road.

MAXIMUS
It can be very messy -- you could
get blood all over your armor. You
don't want to hack me up now. You
want one clean stroke.

ASSASSIN #3
Would you kneel, General?

Maximus kneels, his whole body secretly coiling. Assassin #3 stands over him as:

MAXIMUS
One good stroke -- you do know
where, don't you?

ASSASSIN #4
Be quiet.

MAXIMUS
If you miss the spot there'll be
blood everywhere. Quite a spray.

ASSASSINS #3
All right, where?

MAXIMUS
Here -- you don't want to hit the
vein on the neck --

Maximus points his bound hands at a spot on the back of his neck.

MAXIMUS
Put the point of your sword here...
you want one, good blow right at
this spot --

Assassin #3 dutifully puts the point of his sword on the spot on Maximus' neck.

A grave mistake.

Maximus instantly grabs the blade of the sword with his hands and yanks it from Assassin #3 -- EXPLODING up -- his hands are bleeding but he tosses the sword into the air and catches it -- swings the sword with brutal efficiency -- decapitating both assassins --

EXT. FOREST ROAD - DAWN

On the road above, the other two Assassins are on their orses, waiting.

They hear a quick yelp from below. And then nothing.

Assassin #1 nods for Assassin #2 to check on the execution. Assassin #2 canters off the road and down the hill...

EXT. FOREST - BELOW THE ROAD - DAWN

Assassin #2 canters down the hillside.

He senses movement behind him -- spins around, drawing his sword -- too late --

Maximus throws a sword -- it flashes through the air -- and into Assassin #2.

EXT. FOREST ROAD - DAWN

Assassin #1 waits on his horse. He hears the commotion below -- spins his horse around just as Maximus bursts to the road. He stands with a sword.

Assassin #1 spurs his horse and gallops toward Maximus at full speed -- Maximus crouches and prepares --

Assassin #1 and Maximus swirl together for an instant -- both slashing brutally --

Assassin #1 continues to gallop past Maximus. He stops. He looks down. A wound in his stomach. He falls off his horse. Dead.

Maximus has also been wounded -- a deep gash on his side. He fights the pain as he moves toward the horses...

EXT. FOREST ROAD - DAY

Maximus is galloping through the forest at lightning speed, leading four horses behind him. The gash in his side bleeding.

EXT. TENT CITY - DAY

A gloomy day. Emperor Commodus stands before the assembled Felix Regiment.

The soldiers are already uneasy. They note Quintus standing by Commodus, wearing Maximus' seal of office. Where is Maximus?

COMMODUS
Even as the Gods curse this dark day
with clouds, so too does the sun
begin to shine forth on a promised
tomorrow. Even as we mourn the
passing of our father, so too do we
celebrate the coming of a bright,
new age for Rome. At my side,
brothers, you shall pull fresh
glories from the heavens. At my
side, brothers, you shall know the
adoration of the Gods. Doubly-dark
is this day because my friend, your
noble commander Maximus Meridas, has
been called to Rome to deal with
urgent matters of state...

Titus glances quickly to Gallus, whose hand is bandaged from surgery. They know this cannot be true.

COMMODUS
Until his promised return I
appointed Quintus Domitian to serve
in his stead. I salute you,
Legionnaires!

QUINTUS
(raising his sword)
Hail, Caesar!

The Felix Regiment responds, many unsure.

FELIX REGIMENT
Hail, Caesar!

Commodus strides off and the Felix Regiment slowly disbands, muttering to one another in confusion.

Titus and Gallus go to Quintus.

TITUS
Quintus, what is -- ?

QUINTUS
(firmly)
Don't speak of it. Never speak of
it.

He stalks off. Titus and Gallus, concerned, watch him follow after Commodus.

INT. MAXIMUS' TENT - DAY

Lucilla stands in Maximus' tent. She looks around. She gently touches his Lorica Segmentata. Her fingertips move along the contours of his armor. She tries to retain her neutral demeanor.

She notes his "ancestors" on the small alter.

EXT. HILLSIDE - NIGHT

Maximus continues to gallop, he is on a different horse. He leads only two horses now.

EXT. VINEYARD - DAY

Maximus' home in Spain is beautiful beyond measure.

We see verdant farmlands and vineyards and a spacious house nestled amid gently rolling hills.

Maximus' eight-year-old SON is in a paddock playing with his pony. He stops, sees something. Over a hill, he can just glimpse a battle flag, approaching.

He screams with joy and runs toward the flag as he calls:

MAXIMUS' SON
MOTHER! MOTHER! FATHER'S HOME!

Maximus' WIFE emerges from the house, drying her hands on a cloth and smiles.

Maximus' Son races toward the flag. He can just see the soldiers beginning to appear over the hill. Not a Roman Legion at all. Twenty Praetorians canter over the hill.

Maximus' Son stops, confused.

EXT. OLIVE GROVE - DAY

Maximus is galloping up a hill, leading only one horse now. The horse he is on is exhausted, spent, foam coats its neck. It can't make it.

The horse collapses and Maximus falls. He immediately leaps onto the remaining horse and continues riding up the hill.

EXT. HILLS AROUND VINEYARD - SUNSET

Maximus is racing over the countryside, galloping in a frenzy. His wound is bleeding profusely, coating the side of his horse.

He rears the horse to a stop for a moment. Over a hill he can see thick black smoke rising. He spurs the horse and gallops over the hill...

EXT. VINEYARD - SUNSET

And his worst nightmares are realized.

His home and his vineyards have been destroyed. The earth has been scorched and his house is still smoldering. He rides up to the house and practically falls off the horse.

He pulls himself up and walks past the smoldering debris of his house, fearing what he knows he will find.

He sees the bodies of servants scattered about in the ruins. He sees a Praetorian battle flag.

He continues on, his wound bleeding more with every tortured step. He finally stops. He stares up.

His wife and his son have been crucified and burnt. They are nothing more than grotesquely twisted, charred shapes.

Maximus instantly collapses to his knees -- he howls out his torment in a heartrending keen of despair as he coats his face in the ashes of his dead world. He sinks into unconsciousness, praying for death.

EXT. VINEYARD - DAY

An unusual jingling sound is heard. Maximus appears to be dead, his gaping wound beginning to fester.

The source of the jingling becomes clear when we see the feet of Bedouin brigands, with delicate anklets, shuffling around him. A hand touches his sandals. Rich sandals. Another touches his tunic. Good cloth.

Suddenly Maximus groans. The hands stop. He's alive. A bit of quick language in an unknown tongue.

Then the hands grab Maximus and drag him away.

EXT. SLAVE WAGON TRAIN - DAY

Maximus' eyes slowly open --

Inches away from his face -- a lion roars --

Maximus lurches back.

He looks around to realize he is in a filthy slave wagon. Three other wagons slowly move over the desert landscape. Exotic animals are caged in pens or led alongside the wagons: lions, panthers, zebras, a giraffe. A dozen slaves are chained together alongside sacks of spices and other cargo. Bedouin slave traders jabber in a surreal babel of foreign tongues.

And someone is looking at him. JUBA, a striking African, is gazing at him impassively as he chews something. Juba is also chained.

MAXIMUS
(weakly)
Am I in Hades?

JUBA
Yes.

Juba spits what he has been chewing into his hands and moves to Maximus.

JUBA
For your wound...

Maximus stares at him.

JUBA
(nods)
For your wound.

Maximus looks down -- the bloody wound at his side.

Juba carefully places his poultice over the wound -- Maximus hisses in pain -- Juba massages the poultice into the wound gently as:

JUBA
If you die in the wagons they feed
you to the lions... The lions are
worth more than we are. I think we
are worth more than the zebras
though. So they don't feed us to
them.

Maximus stares at him. Juba looks down at him with the barest hint of a smile.

JUBA
I'm not sure about the giraffe.

EXT. SLAVE MARKET - DAY

The heat of Morocco is unlike anything Maximus has ever known. Shimmering heat waves undulate over the sand.

The provincial market is bustling like the proverbial anthill. Slave traders and dealers and merchants move around, all talking very quickly and very emphatically.

Maximus, Juba and a number of other slaves are on display, poked and prodded and fondled. Their BEDOUIN SLAVE TRADER sings out their praises to any passers.

The crowd parts almost magically for the dramatic arrival of PROXIMO. Proximo is a large man of immense appetites. He has the ferocious appearance of a true pirate. Two slaves follow behind him and impotently swat at flies with switches.

SLAVE TRADER
Proximo, my old friend, see what I
have for you today -- !

Proximo SLAMS a fist into the Slave Trader's face. The Slave Trader sails back.

PROXIMO
Those giraffes you sold me won't
mate! All they do is run around not
mating! YOU SOLD ME EUNUCH
GIRAFFES!!

The Slave Trader pulls himself up, hugely obsequious.

SLAVE TRADER
I will make it up to you, Master.
It's bargain day for you! Look,
look, look -- I have two lions and a
panther -- hear how they roar for
you! "Bring me home, Proximo!"

Proximo examines the animals.

PROXIMO
How much for the lot?

SLAVE TRADER
For you -- 8,000 sesterces.

PROXIMO
For me -- 6,000 sesterces and I want
to see their balls first. And you
throw in those two slaves.

SLAVE TRADER
(moves to Maximus)
What about this one? Look at the
arms!

Proximo moves to Maximus. The Slave Trader forces open Maximus' mouth.

PROXIMO
Good teeth --

Proximo notes the many old battle scars on Maximus' body.

PROXIMO
Where did you get those scars?

Maximus doesn't respond.

PROXIMO
Are you a soldier?

Maximus doesn't respond.

PROXIMO
Do you speak? --
(he roars back to a slave)
KEEP THOSE DAMN FLIES OFF ME!
(back to Maximus)
He's dying.

SLAVE TRADER
1,000 sesterces.

PROXIMO
My ass...
(moves to Juba)
You throw in this one and we'll make
it 7,000 sesterces for the whole
lot.

SLAVE TRADER
I have to eat, Master! He's my
finest, I couldn't let him go as
part of the lot for less than 9,000
total...
(back to Maximus)
I tell you this one is prime. He's
a Spaniard and killed fourteen of my
men before he could be subdued!

Proximo looks at Maximus, notes the many battle scars again. The scars, and something he senses in Maximus' eyes, is enough for Proximo to consider it.

PROXIMO
(to trader)
All right, let's see.

The Slave Trader and his colleagues grab Maximus and bustle him across the market, unlocking his chains. Maximus has no idea what's going on.

In the center of the market place, a veritable GIANT of a man sits on a small stool, a wooden sword in his hand. He is hunched over and chained to the ground by a ten foot chain shackled to his ankle. A think metal helmet is riveted around his entire head, only long turfs of hair emerging. His dim eyes stare listlessly through a slot in the helmet.

The Slave Trader puts a wooden sword in Maximus' hand and shoves him toward the Giant. The Giant stands. He towers over Maximus.

The Giant suddenly swings his sword -- he moves with remarkable quickness -- Maximus makes no attempt to block the blow -- it sends him flying to the ground.

Maximus pulls himself up.

The Giant moves in and hits him again -- Maximus recoils -- the Giant hits him again -- Maximus falls.

Maximus pulls himself up.

The Giant moves in again -- he slams him a few more times -- Maximus makes no attempt to protect himself -- he falls.

Maximus pulls himself up.

The Giant is about to attack again --

PROXIMO
(to Slave Trader)
That's enough.

SLAVE TRADER
STOP! STOP!

His colleagues race into the ring and haul the Giant away from Maximus. The Giant quietly sits back on his stool.

Proximo studies Maximus for a moment and then glances to the Slave Trader.

PROXIMO
I'll give you 500 sesterces.

SLAVE TRADER
No -- no -- 1,000!

PROXIMO
(laughs)
Come, don't quibble with your old
friend. I'll take the lions, the
panther, the Numidian and this one
for 7,000. And I'll buy you the
best whore in the town for two
nights. She's an enormous mountain
of flesh who craves a stern hand.

SLAVE TRADER
How could I say no to my old friend
Proximo?

EXT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - DAY

Maximus and Juba are crammed into a wagon with about ten other slaves, including a very scared and reedy SCRIBE. Other wagons are filled with exotic animals, including several lions.

The wagons move through a crowded casbah and are taken through an imposing set of gates to...

EXT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - COMPOUND - DAY

An open compound in Proximo's school. On one side of the compound is a series of cages filled with wild animals of every description -- including Proximo's two hapless giraffes.

Proximo's house slaves begin unloading the newly purchased exotic animals into cages as Maximus and the new slaves are unloaded. Heavily armed guards supervise everything.

But Proximo's slaves are having a bit of a problem with one of the new lions -- it growls and resists them.

Without the slightest hesitation, Proximo thunders to the lion and grabs it by the mane -- manhandling it into a cage.

PROXIMO
COME ON, YOU FILTHY BEAST!

He kicks the lion in the rear as he shoves it into the cage.

Proximo's provincial school resembles nothing so much as a seedy prison. The fading grandeur of the decaying battlements and the sweeping North African architecture only slightly mitigate the brutal feel of the place.

And if Maximus had any doubts as to Proximo's profession -- all doubts are washed away when he sees the compound.

Twenty GLADIATORS are working out in the compound -- hacking at practice dummies and sparring. The many heavily armed guards oversee everything. The gladiators stop working out as they see the new slaves enter. They eye their potential new opponents warily.

One huge, glowering gladiator -- VIBIUS -- watches with particular interest. His eye is quickly drawn to the most obvious athlete: Juba.

The new slaves are herded to the middle of the compound and house slaves immediately begin throwing buckets of water on them, cleaning them.

Meanwhile, Proximo shrugs off his cloak. A slave brings him wine as he give his "welcoming speech" to the new slaves:

PROXIMO
Slaves. I am Proximo, trainer of
gladiators. You live and die at my
pleasure. Fight well and you will
live. Fight poorly and you will
die. It is better to live.

Slaves now toss thick handfuls of powdered lime on the new slaves -- they cough and clench their eyes shut, the lime coats and stings their wet bodies.

PROXIMO
Here you will be trained in the art
of combat. Here you will be given
the tools to survive. Please my
patrons in the arena and all the
gifts of the world will be showered
upon you. Imagine riches beyond
your paltry dreams of riches!
Imagine fame beyond your rude
understanding of the word! All this
can belong to the select few who
prove their worth in the arena.

Slaves throw more water on the new slaves -- washing off the lime.

PROXIMO
If... on the other hand... you
disappoint me... you will be
dismembered and fed to my jackals
limb by limb.

He gazes evenly at his new acquisitions.

PROXIMO
And my jackals are always hungry.

He strides off and the guards shove the new gladiators toward their cells.

INT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - MAXIMUS' CELL - NIGHT

Maximus and Juba share a small, filthy cell. The cell door faces the open compound. Across the compound they can see the much more comfortable cells of the "star" gladiators such as Vibius.

They both sit on the floor, leaning against the wall. Juba is eating a bowl of food with a wooden spoon. Maximus' bowl and spoon are at his side, he has not touched them.

JUBA
Have you killed a man before?

Maximus does not respond.

JUBA
You should eat. You'll need your
strength tomorrow.

Maximus does not respond.

JUBA
I've never killed a man. But I
think you have.

Maximus does not respond.

JUBA
I almost killed once. The Romans
destroyed my village. I was with a
hunting party and when we
returned... I would have killed
every Roman in the world.

A long beat.

JUBA
If you don't eat you will die.

Maximus does not respond.

A beat.

JUBA
In the village I come from there was
a man once. He went fishing one day
and his boat was attacked by
crocodiles. One of them ate his
leg. He pulled himself to the shore
and a lion attacked him. It ate one
of his arms. He dragged himself
through the desert on the way home
and a scorpion stung his eye. So he
only had one eye. When he reached
the village I sat with him. I said,
"You have lost a leg, an arm and one
eye. You must have a mighty will to
live." He said, "No, Lord, it's
just better than the alternative."

Maximus finally looks at him.

JUBA
Life is a gift from our fathers to
us. Who are you to give it up for
lack of lifting a spoon?

Maximus does not respond.

EXT. PROXIMO'S SCHOOL - COMPOUND - NIGHT

Maximus and Juba are being observed. Proximo stands in the shadows of the compound and watches intently.

EXT. SLAVE WAGON - PROVINCIAL STREETS - DAY

Blood appears to be flowing across an oxen's back. But the blood is too rich, too red.

The oxen are pulling an open slave wagon through the crowded streets of the town. Hanging above the street is dyed wool drying in the sun. Vermilion and crimson dyes drip down and splash across the oxen -- and splash across the gladiators.

Maximus, Juba, the formidable Vibius are chained in the back of the wagon. Also the frightened Scribe.

Proximo and a few of his guards drive the wagon. Proximo has an umbrella over him, colored with years of dripping dyes.

They pass a banner honoring Vibius, the star of Proximo's stable.

Meanwhile, the terrified Scribe is almost weeping, chattering nervously to Vibius, chained next to him:

SCRIBE
I know nothing of armaments and
warfare! I'm a scribe -- I write
down words! I can write down seven
languages --

VIBIUS
Be still.

SCRIBE
I don't -- how do you hold the
sword?! I've never held a sword!

VIBIUS
You point the sharp end at your
opponent and you shove it in his
guts.

SCRIBE
I can't -- I --

He suddenly vomits.

VIBIUS
(calling to Proximo)
Proximo! You insult me with this
carrion! Chain him to someone else!

PROXIMO
(calling back)
Don't worry, noble Vibius, he won't
be bothering you for long.

The Scribe begins to weep.

The crowds in the street jeer at the passing gladiators. Occasionally throwing trash at them. A pack of children run alongside the wagon, chanting:

CHILDREN
Dead guts! Dead guts! Dead guts!

Maximus watches the children for a moment and then another sight draws his attention. Over some buildings he can see vultures circling in the distance.

EXT. PROVINCIAL ARENA - DUGOUT - DAY

In the cramped holding area of the arena, a dugout beneath the stands, Maximus and the other gladiators are waiting.

Proximo walks before them, giving a final "pep talk." He gazes at them evenly, his eyes going from face to face.

PROXIMO
Some of you say you can't fight, you
won't fight... They all say that...
But one day you will pick up a sword
and thrust it into another man. And
the crowd will cheer you and love
you. And you will love them for it.
On that day... you will be a
gladiator.

He stops at Maximus.

PROXIMO
In this life, we all die. All we
can choose is how we die. And how
we are remembered. Be remembered
proudly.

Drums are heard from the arena. Proximo nods to a waiting blacksmith.

The blacksmith begins slamming shackles on the gladiator's wrists -- chaining them together in teams of two by a chain about four feet long.

The blacksmith is about to chain Maximus to the Scribe.

PROXIMO
No...
(he points to Juba)
... give the Spaniard to him. Give
the Scribe to Vibius.

Proximo nods to Vibius, who, for reasons we shall soon see, makes no protest to being chained to the whimpering Scribe.

Proximo watches the blacksmith shackle Maximus and Juba together and then strides off.

JUBA
(to Maximus)
Are we going to fight each other?

EXT. PROVINCIAL ARENA - DAY

Proximo sits in a box with several other GLADIATOR TRAINERS. They drink wine and eat constantly. A perpetual chatter of wagers and odds and side bets.

The arena is only sparsely attended this day.

PROXIMO
Make it 600 sesterces for each
decapitation.

TRAINER #1
How many strokes?

PROXIMO
Two.

TRAINER #1
For the great Vibius, one stroke.

PROXIMO
Done. 400 sesterces for two
strokes.

In the arena:

Proximo's chained teams enter the arena, five teams. Maximus and Juba are chained together. Some of the small crowd cheers for Vibius. He acknowledges the cheers. He is chained to the weeping Scribe.

In the box:

Trainer #1 laughs.

TRAINER #1
(re: Vibius)
Who's he with?

PROXIMO
A Greek Scribe.

TRAINER #1
I'll raise the wager.

PROXIMO
(smiles)
Give me odds, friend.

In the arena:

From the opposite end of the arena a dozen armored, very scary Andabatae thunder into the arena. Some of the crowd cheers.

The Andabatae immediately race for the chained teams and the battle is on.

Vibius spins into action -- dragging the weeping Scribe after him as he circles opponents and fights -- the Scribe is almost instantly killed -- Vibius immediately hacks through the Scribe's wrist and frees himself, as Proximo surely intended. Vibius is now free to fight alone, swinging the chain as an additional weapon.

Juba's eyes dart everywhere as he tries to move with Maximus -- Maximus neither helps nor hinders -- allowing Juba to pull him along --

Proximo, now that his star Vibius is safe, watched Maximus and Juba closely.

Juba fights well, with a strange elegance, his body flowing like liquid -- but he is inexperienced. He strikes a few blows and then tries to move away -- finally he is in trouble -- cornered -- a huge Andabata is slicing at him -- it is a desperate battle -- Juba is losing -- his sword is slammed away -- the Andabata raises his sword for the kill --

And Maximus strikes.

With a sudden roar he EXPLODES into action -- he swings past Juba and blocks the blow meant for Juba -- then he slashes the Andabata -- killing him -- he pulls Juba after him as he fights --

It is a dazzling display of Maximus' skill -- he moves through the Andabatae at amazing speed -- spinning around Juba and protecting him -- slashing ruthlessly -- pulling Juba after him and commanding the battle -- Juba recovers a sword and they fight together.

In the box:

Proximo watches, smiles. A gladiator is born.