There are many other historical facts that appear to have influenced the Maximus character. One of these is the fact that Commodus is infamous for fighting crippled opponents, amputees, and wounded soldiers in the arena. He was a bully of a-man who loved to brutalize others while ensuring he was safe and able to win every time. This resonates with his willingness to stab Maximus before their final fight.
Even so, historically, Commodus wasn’t actually killed fighting in the arena. Instead, he’s strangled to death by his wrestling partner, Narcissus, who is urged by plotting senators to assassinate him. Once again, this echoes the story of Commodus’ old friend, Maximus, killing him in an athletic competition in the film.
Maximus’ Stoic nature is also reflective of historical fact. He is a loyal follower of Marcus Aurelius, who himself famously practiced Stoicism and was the author of the still-popular book “Meditations.” Of course, Stoics didn’t tend to believe in an afterlife, so that part had to be fudged a bit, but the connection still stands.
Finally, there’s the already-alluded-to element of Lucilla (Connie Nielsen). In Scott’s film, Commodus’ sister is portrayed as an accurate but stereotypical iteration of the female influence on Roman politics. At different times in her life, the historical sister of Commodus was a daughter, wife, and sister to an emperor. She also actually conspired with senators to kill her brother and failed, at which point Commodus executed her. She married one of her father’s generals and had a son named Lucius Verus, all of which were integrated into Maximus’ backstory in the movie. While Maximus may not be real, there is no doubt that Scott and company did their homework when creating the character.