Pater Et Filius


A reader sees an analogy to the tortured relationship between Bush father and son I describe in this column:

With all the talk of the Bush family drama, I’m reminded of the exchange between Commodus and Marcus Aurelius in the movie Gladiator:

Commodus: You wrote to me once, listing the four chief virtues. Wisdom, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance. As I read the list, I knew I had none of them. But I have other virtues, father. Ambition, that can be a virtue when it drives us to excel. Resourcefulness. Courage. Perhaps not on the battlefield, but there are many forms of courage. Devotion, to my family, to you. But none of my virtues were on your list. Even then, it was as if you didn't want me for your son.

Marcus Aurelius: Oh, Commodus, you go too far.

Commodus: I searched the faces of the gods for ways to please you, to make you proud. One kind word, one full hug while you pressed me to your chest and held me tight, would've been like the sun on my heart for a thousand years. What is in me that you hate so much?

Marcus Aurelius: Shh, Commodus.

Commodus: All I've ever wanted was to live up to you. Caesar. Father.

After that, in the movie, Commodus kills Marcus Aurelius. In real life, mercifully, W just calls up James Baker.