Marcus Aurelius’s quote, “What we do now echoes in eternity,” reflects his Stoic philosophy, which he wrote about in his Meditations. Stoicism is a school of thought that teaches us to live according to reason and virtue and accept whatever happens to us as part of the divine plan. Marcus Aurelius believed that we have control over our own thoughts and actions but not over external events or other people’s opinions. He also believed that we should act with justice, kindness and self-discipline and avoid being swayed by emotions or desires.
Maximus’s quote, “What we do in life echoes in eternity,” is inspired by Marcus Aurelius’s quote but also reflects his own personal situation and motivation in the movie Gladiator. Maximus is a loyal general who serves under Marcus Aurelius but is betrayed by his son Commodus who murders his father and orders Maximus’s execution. Maximus escapes death and becomes a gladiator who fights for his freedom and revenge. He also learns that his wife and son have been killed by Commodus’s orders. Maximus’s quote shows that he believes that his actions in life will have an impact on his afterlife, where he hopes to reunite with his family. He also believes that he has a duty to honor Marcus Aurelius’s legacy and restore the Roman Republic. At the movie’s end, he dies but asks for political reforms, such as freeing the other gladiators and reinstating senator Gracchus. Through this, once again, his actions do echo into the future of the Roman Republic. He is also shown to have a vision of reuniting with his deceased loved ones.
Both quotes express a similar idea: that our lives matter beyond physical existence and that we should act with courage and integrity regardless of our circumstances. They also inspire us to think about how our choices affect ourselves and others, both now and in the future. Gladiator remains one of my favorite movies of all time, and Meditations is a quintessential work of Stoicism to which I aspire.
Additional resources you might find interesting:
Meditations Book Summary by Marcus Aurelius – Shortform. https://www.shortform.com/summary/meditations-summary-marcus-aurelius
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Plot Summary | LitCharts. https://www.litcharts.com/lit/meditations/summary
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Summary – 13 Lessons to live by. https://www.mindbydesign.io/meditations-by-marcus-aurelius-summary/
Marcus Aurelius – The Meditations | Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marcus-Aurelius-Roman-emperor/The-Meditations
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius: Book Summary and Review – Four Minute Books. https://fourminutebooks.com/meditations-summary/