The screenplay, which was discovered by fans about a year ago but has just now hit the mainstream for some reason, was commissioned by “Gladiator” star Russell Crowe and Scott.

Apparently Crowe and Scott thought Cave would be able to solve the biggest obstacle to a sequel – the main character, Maximus, was dead and assumed to be happily cavorting with his wife and son in the great beyond.

Scott reportedly began filming “Gladiator” without the benefit of, well, a script (which probably accounts for its loopy structure). Somehow, Cave’s screenplay for the sequel gives the original an aura of carefully crafted film-making.

The plot, which picks up a day after Maximus’ death at the hands of the craven Emperor Commodus, involves the afterlife (which isn’t all it’s cracked up to be apparently), Roman gods (who are tools), immortality, a flooded Coliseum (complete with ships and alligators), early Christianity, the Crusades, World War II, Vietnam and the modern-day Pentagon. Got all that?

Here’s part of a synopsis of the screenplay from the blog Gone Elsewhere describing a scene involving Maximus’ encounter with those douche-y gods after losing track of his wife and son in the afterlife:

The two make their way to a massive, ruined temple near the encampment. Maximus enters and finds the Roman Gods (Jupiter, Apollo, Pluto, Neptune, Mars, Mercury and Bacchus) who mock his predicament. Still they offer a deal: their brother, Hephaestos, has run off to the desert filled with bad ideas. He is gathering apostates/fanatics and slowly amassing a power greater than their own. As a result, they’ve aged … grown weak and diseased. They want Maximus to seek out Hephaestos and kill him. In exchange, they will reunite him with his family. Maximus bolts out of the temple without saying a word.

Can you blame him? Killing a god is a tall order. Apparently though, Maximus was lucky enough to catch all of those old Ray Harryhausen flicks like “Clash of the Titans,” so he was wise to that one.

Gone Elsewhere also helpfully included a few snippets of dialogue, which, as you might expect from Cave, is pretty over the top.

Here’s part of a scene where Commodus’ nephew Lucius warns against the dangers of Christianity after ripping a fish necklace from a leader of the movement.

Lucius: You are students are you not? Scholars? Learned young men? Then, answer me this: Does Rome stand deep-fixed and deathless as in the time of the great Caesars? No. I think not. Does she prowl the world, hungry and fearless and all-power? Again … I think not. Do the Gods sit mighty and well-pleased in the Heavens and bestow on her, her just rewards? No and again, no … I think not. Rome weeps and this little fish swims in her tears. A fish…a little fish…hidden around an old man’s neck. The earthquakes that have ripped this mighty empire asunder…charge this little fish. The infernal plagues and disease? The hellish pestilence that ravages our land? Charge this little fish… The diabolical rage of the Gods? I say again… CHARGE THIS FISH. And charge the one that wears it! The man here spits in the eyes of the gods themselves! He is the enemy of us all!

Lucius is obviously not up on his mythology here, because the Roman gods had a hand in more than their fair share of natural disasters.

You have to admit, the whole thing is just so terrible it actually circles back around to near brilliance. And would you believe Scott seriously considered making this film?

“We tried [to go with Cave’s script]” the director told video gaming lifestyle Web site “Russell didn’t want to let it go, obviously, because it worked very well. When I say ‘worked very well,’ I don’t refer to success. I mean, as a piece it works very well. Storytelling, [it] works brilliantly. I think [Cave] enjoyed doing it, and I think it was one of those things that he thought, ‘Well, maybe there’s a sequel where we can adjust the fantasy and bring [Maximus] back from the dead.”

And maybe he was just pulling everyone’s chain.

Besides, who knows? Now that the script has found its way into the mainstream, it might just get made. After all, somebody thought “The Chronicles of Riddick” was a good idea.

Read Gone Elsewhere’s complete synopsis of Nick Cave’s screenplay for “Gladiator 2” here.