Is Maximus truly torn between patriotism and nationalism?

In his earlier post, Jonathan states that:

"[w]hen Maximus speaks of "the glory of the Empire," he is expressing a nationalist sentiment, which is nothing more than a collectivist justifcation for war and conquest. The Germanic tribes are just the last in the long list of people to be conquered for Rome to ascend to her rightful place in the world. Nationalism regards individuals, whether they be the ones being conquered or the ones being used to do the conquering, as a secondary afterthought. It relinquishes the things that make individuals unique for the greater collective, namely the state. Individuals are merely regarded as tools toward the larger societal evolution - the glory of Rome. Nationalism is a threat to liberty, both to the citizens of the nation and to citizens of other nations."

I do not see the difference between patriotism and nationalism as being a matter of black or white, or of a strict dichotomy necessarily between love of civil society and love of state. Someone motivated by patriotism to defend his country and someone motivated by nationalism to defend his 'country' have for practical purposes identical final outcomes- they defend their country. They only differ in the why. Indeed, for each motive there is a continuum of action, and each motive has many outcomes in common. A nationalist is motivated by love of the state, but a nationalist will fight to defend his home and family, as a patriot will. Similarly, a patriot is motivated out of love for home and hearth, but will also fight to protect the civil society in which he or she lives, which can mean, sometimes necessarily, sometimes not, fighting to preserve, protect, or even (temporarily) advancing the goals of the state. The difference between the two is not when the fighting is going on, but what paths they choose before and after conflict, that define what they believe. So how do we know that Maximus was a patriot and not a nationalist? Some historical background may be necessary to fully understand and answer this point. At the time of Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Empire was beset on all sides by external aggressors and wracked by a series of plagues which seriously sapped the strength and vitality of Roman society. The Parthian war (161-166) was a war between two world powers, requiring the full might of the Empire to repel the invasion. Marcus and his brother (who was co-emperor) spent five years holding, then rolling back the Parthian invaders, finally ending the war in Rome's favor with a friendly 'regime change' in Armenia (a buffer state between the two powers).

Soon thereafter, plague ravaged the Empire (historians suspect smallpox), devestating the provinces in terms of population, trade, and commerce. Perhaps sensing the Roman weakness, the Marcomanni (a semi-civilized barbarian kingdom north of the Danube, encompassing the area of modern-day Hungary to Bohemia) along with the Quadi crossed the border in 169 and invaded Italy, intent on rapine, pillage, and eventual conquest.

Marcus and his brother had to rapidly mobilize troops (since the bulk of the Empire's armies were then deployed in the east, maintaining the uneasy peace), via conscription of slaves among other things, and went forth to repel another invasion. In time, the Marcomanni were joined by other Germanic tribes (such as the Sarmatians) and Rome faced a legitimate threat to its continued existence. Despite this, and despite a rebellion by one of his eastern generals in 175 (which required Marcus to travel from modern-day Austria to Syria in an era before cars or planes!), Marcus was able to defeat the german tribes, one by one, until he finally defeated the last of the large, semi-organized forces arrayed against the Empire. He unfortunately died before he could complete the conquest, and so, like George Bush I, Commodus declined to finish off a defeated foe (and solve a future problem once and for all) and instead signed a 'peace treaty' with the mostly-defeated Germans, allowing them to keep strategic territory and ultimately dooming Rome to eventual destruction at the hands of their successors 2 centuries later.

With that history serving as the backdrop to the opening scenes of Gladiator (which fictionalized the final battle with the remaining Germans), we see that Marcus's fight was for the preservation of Rome, instead of conquering the Germans for nationalistic "glory" reasons. The war in the north was a response to an invasion; Marcus (and Maximus as well) was fighting necessarily to preserve Roman civil society and the civilization it encompassed. While indeed there were nationalistic elements, the endeavor was not inconsistent with a patriotic response. And though it is true that the Empire could not be considered a liberal state or society (the days of the Republic were long gone), in this case Marcus Aurelius and the Empire fought a defensive (almost libertarian) war, not one of aggression or state aggrandizement. The reserves of the Empire had to be mobilized not to aggressively conquer other collectives, but in defense of Roman civil society. As it is implied in the movie, a considerable number of the troops likely answered the call willingly, to help defend their land and way of life.

So when Jonathan says that Maximus was under the throes of a nationalistic belief (even for a brief moment, or only in part), I believe that he is mistaken. When Maximus says that he fought for the "glory of Rome", the glory of which he speaks is not a collective ideal but Maximus' belief in the abstract concept of Rome being the light of civilization to the nations. Maximus is expressing his love not of the state per se, but of Roman civil society- a patriotic act. Earlier we've established during his talk to the senators and the Emperor, Marcus Aurelius, that he is motivated by a love of family, by a devotion to the traditions of his ancestors, and by the desire to protect and perpetuate his land and lineage. He loves his life and what liberty he enjoys as a patrician; he enjoys living in a peaceful, civil society, where he engages in productive commerce with the extended order of the Empire of the 2nd century. He is willing to fight and die for those beliefs; his individual belief. That his ends are not collective (or for the power of Rome, a much different 'glory') are proven both by his continued concern for and reference to his individual troops ("5,000 of my men are out there in the freezing mud. 3,000 of them are bloodied and cleaved. 2,000 will never leave this place. I will not believe they fought and died for nothing.") and by his lack of ambition for state power; when he could have easily requested an army or provincial command of his own, to either enjoy the prerogatives and luxury of state power or employ the considerable physical force of the state to enlarge its territory, he instead chose to return home, to live in peace.

Is this the response of someone struggling between patriotism and nationalism?

A patriot can act IN the service of the state without necessarily being motivated to act FOR the state, or for collective goals.

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Well, I was discussing this

Well, I was discussing this with Brian, so I'll go ahead and put something here. In the earlier post, when you just have the focus on the battle, you would assume that Maximus is pure nationalism. Until after the battle, you don't know his convictions, you don't know his feelings, you just know that he is a good tactician, fighter and commander. From the fight scene only, I would assume that he is a lifer in the military, and in the Roman period, this would definately be a nationalist.

It's not until after the battle that we find out that he is a farmer, and he would like nothing more than to go back to that farm. We also see Marcus wanting Maximus to be the interum Caeser until the Senate can take over power, but Maximus does not want this at all. These aren't the actions of a nationalist.

Of course, the rest of the movie is just a helluva lot of vengance until the very end, when everything is said and done, he does give the power to the Senate. While this might seem nationalistic, I think he unwittingly put himself in a position that he did not want to be in (in power) when he a> got Rome behind him because of his gladiatory skills (is gladiatory even a word?) and b> killed the Caeser, leaving a giant power vacuum that he got sucked into.

I don't know. Don't mind me, I'm babbling.