The general who became a slave. The slave who became a gladiator. The gladiator who defied an emperor. Striking story! But now, the people want to know how the story ends. Only a famous death will do. And what could be more glorious than to challenge the Emperor himself in the great arena?
Patterns in surnames: There are many ways a surname could have evolved over centuries. One possibility is migration. A Roman name may have traveled to France and hence to England where it was later Anglicized. Case in point - the surname Lawrence went from Laurentius (Roman) to Laurent (French) to Lawrence (English) and then to Lowry (Scottish). There is also natural etymological evolution. For example, a Middle English spelling may have evolved to a modern English spelling (e.g. Stiward to Stewart). Where did your character's Surname come from?