This is the Heroic man my son is named after
Maximus Decimus Meridius
Was born in the province of Baetica in Hispania in AD 152. He was the son of Meridius, the governor of the province, and of Lucretia, the daughter of the Roman Senator Bodaus.
He was sent to school at the age of eight to Hispalis, and studied under the tutelage of Fulvus, the stoic philospher. He joined the army at 17 as a Standard Bearer.
He fought in campaigns against the Celts in Britannia and against the Parthians in Cappadocia. Honored for his bravery under the fire of battle, he moved up through the ranks as optio, centurion, and then as primus pilus of the First Cohort under General Lucius Veras.
Marcus Aurelius, a friend of Maximus's father and father-in-law, appointed him Legate of the Emperor's Legion in AD 176. He was the youngest general so appointed in Roman history.
He led the army against the Veture in Gaul and the Marcomanni in Germania. He was away for four years until the final victory against the barbarians near the river Danube.
Earlier, in AD 171, while visiting the villa of Sergius Manus, a wealthy landowner in the Spanish province of Gemina, he fell in love with Sergius's daughter Cecilia.
Maximus and Cecilia married, and had a son named Decimus after his grandfather. They settled on a working farm in the hills of Fulginia, several day's ride from Rome. The farm sat on a hillside, and giant poplars lined its entry road.
Though he was able to spend little time with his family, he loved them deeply. Letters that he wrote to his son and wife survived him, and were carefully preserved by his followers after his death.
After Marcus Aurelius's death in the camp at Vindobona, Maximus was arrested by the guards of the new emperor Commodus (rumored to have smothered his own father). Suspecting Commodus, the general had refused to give allegiance to the new emperor. As he was about to be executed, Maximus overwhelmed his guards and escaped.
In retaliation for this, Commodus had the general's family and retainers brutally murdered.
Maximus returned home after much travail and found his loved ones crucified. He fainted from sorrow and his wounds, and was captured by marauding thieves while asleep.
He was sold to the old gladiator Proximo, and trained at his school, taking the name of "The Spaniard."
Vowing revenge against Commodus, he fought in many battles in stadiums all over the Roman world -- his fame gaining all the while -- finally coming to the Coliseum in Rome in AD 187.
He died in the Coliseum in AD 192 at age 40, after defeating and killing Commodus in a battle in the arena. (He had been secretly stabbed by Commodus beforehand while still tied as a prisoner.) The Roman mob cheered his victory and hailed him as a hero. His dying wish to return Rome to a democracy was honored.
A few years after his death, however, the Roman world fell into ruin, and was destroyed at the hands of the same barbarians he had defeated years before.