“Are you not entertained?!”
Who hasn’t heard this famous line said by Maximus, played by Russel Crowe in the movie Gladiator?
Here’s a random fact for today. In that movie, the emperor Marcus Aurelius is displayed as a good man, meek and mild-mannered, full of wisdom, love, and genuine concern for the well-being of the people. His successor and son Commodus, however, is displayed as a vile, despicable, murderous, narcissistic psychopath.
While Commodus was surely no angel in real life (none of the Caesars were), the portrayal of him and his father is very different from what they really were. According to church history, it turns out that Marcus Aurelius was a very cruel enemy and persecutor of Christians. On the other hand, Christians actually experienced a bit of relief and fared much better under the rule of his son Commodus.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book A Concise History of the Baptists by G. H. Orchard:
“…when Marcus Aurelius Antonius ascended the throne, he issued his cruel measures, and Polycarp, with many in Asia and France, were called to martyrdom. In 180, Commudus became head of the government, and the condition of Christians became tolerable…”
“While Irenaeus held this situation, the churches experienced a severe persecution, under the emperor Marcus Aurelius, of which Irenaeus gave some particulars to the churches of Asia. He asserts, that the heathens were very bitter against the followers of the Redeemer. The vilest calumnies were propagated against them, consequently they were prohibited appearing in any house except their own; they were forbidden to appear in the baths, in the markets, or in any public places. The first attack came from the populace by means of shouts, blows, dragging their bodies, plundering their goods, with all the indignities and indecencies that might be expected from a fierce and outrageous multitude. Many were hurried to the magistrates; others were led to martyrdom.”
Like I tell my kids all the time… don’t believe everything you see in the movies. Always be very skeptical of anything on TV, especially anything put out by Hollywood. The entertainment industry is the last place to go if you’re looking for truth and a proper perspective on things.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 “Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”