The protagonist Maximus, played by Russell Crowe, is a general of the Roman army. While in Germania, the emperor's son, Commodus commits patricide. After failing to pledge allegiance to the new emperor, Maximus is outcast and sent out to be executed. Following a failed execution attempt, he becomes of a slave. Maximus' family is murdered.After becoming a slave, he fights in gladiatorial matches in the distant outreaches of the Roman Empire. His skill in battle eventually leads him back to Rome, where he re-encounters his nemesis, the emperor. Bloody battles are set up where Maximus and other gladiators are outnumbered. However, despite the overwhelming odds, Maximus wins his matches. The emperor, now furious in his failure to kill the fallen general, decides to fight Maximus in the Coliseum. Commodus fixes the match by stabbing Maximus before the fight. Nonetheless, Maximus' skill in battle is too much for Commodus.