Mind The Historical Gap

Naomi Alderman’s main problem with historical fiction, both in books and film, is the failure “to imagine how minds were different in different eras.” An example:

[Y]ou get horrors like the moment in Gladiator (which is in general a very good, very Roman-feeling movie) where Commodus berates Marcus Aurelius for not having loved him as a boy. What nonsense. No Roman man would have asked for this from his father, nor would a Roman father have apologized for it. A Roman man might have been justly condemned for not teaching his son the manly virtues, but love…? Irrelevant. One has to understand that people really did think differently in the past.