History, Facts and Information about Commodus
The content of this article provides interesting history, facts and information about the Emperor Commodus and the all-powerful Caesars who ruled the empire of Ancient Rome. The word "Caesar" was originally the name of the famous aristocratic patrician family of ancient Rome and became synonymous with the Roman Emperors. Refer to the comprehensive List of Roman Emperors for the names of the most famous Romans, their dynasties and the historic eras of all the Roman Emperors and usurpers. Read about the life of Commodus the emperor who was described as:
"More savage than Domitian, more foul than Nero".
Short Biography about the life of Commodus
Short Biography profile and facts about one of the most famous Romans of all, in the life of Commodus, Emperor of Rome and provinces of the Roman Empire.
Name commonly known as: Commodus
Latin Roman Name: Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus
Reigned as Roman Emperor / Caesar: 177 – 17 March 180 (with Marcus Aurelius) and 18 March 180 - 31 December 192 (sole ruler)
Dynasty / Historical Period: Antonine
Place and Date of Birth: Commodus was born 31 August 161 at Lanuvium
Name of previous Emperor: His predecessor or the Emperor before Commodus was Marcus Aurelius (alone)
Succeeded as Emperor of Rome - circumstances of rule: Commodus was the son of Marcus Aurelius
Family connections / Genealogy of Commodus
Place and Date of Death: Commodus died 31 December 192 (age 31) in Rome
Name of next Emperor: The successor to Commodus was Pertinax
Interesting facts about the life of Commodus
Obtain a fast overview of the times of the Roman Emperor Commodus from the following facts and information about his life. Why was Commodus famous? Accomplishments, achievements and important events. The depraved Emperor Commodus succeeded his virtuous father at the age of twenty. He had been educated with great care, but was wholly given up to coarse sensuality.
The Conspiracy of Lucilla against Commodus
The Romans, however, still hoped that he might be worthy of his father, and received him, upon his accession, with loud expressions of joy. From his earliest years he was base and dishonourable, cruel and lewd and was completely debauched. For a short time Commodus concealed his true disposition. Lucilla was Commodus' elder sister, the wife of Lucius Verus, and after his death, of Claudius Pompeianus. And Lucilla knew that Commodus would be a cruel tyrant and formed a conspiracy against him in A.D. 182. Commodus escaped with difficulty from the hand of the assassin and his sister was sent into exile to Capri. Commodus then had Lucilla murdered. From this moment Commodus threw off all disguise, and indulged his natural vices without restraint.
Commodus the Gladiator
Commodus put to death the most illustrious men of the time, encouraged informers and false accusations and filled Rome with absolute terror. In the midst of these cruelties Commodus often sang, danced, or played the buffoon in public. Commodus actually fought as a gladiator in the circus. He procured chariot-horses for his own use and drove chariots in the garb of a professional charioteer and lived with gladiators. Commodus engaged in gladiatorial combats and accepted the names usually given to gladiators with as much pleasure as if he had been granted triumphal decorations. Commodus regularly took part in the games and spectacles and ordered his fights to be inscribed in the public records and announced in the city-gazette. Such was his prowess in the slaying of wild beasts, that he once pierced an elephant with a pole, pierced a gazelle's horn with a spear and killed mighty beasts with a single blow. It is said that he engaged in gladiatorial bouts 735 times. Commodus then ordered the people to worship him as a second Hercules on the ground that he had killed wild beasts in the amphitheatre. He allowed statues of himself to be erected with the accoutrements of Hercules and sacrifices were performed to him as to a god.
Commodus and his Reign of Terror
His depraved lifestyle continued and he had over 300 concubines. These women were taken form the nobility and also the plebs. He enraged Romans by sitting in the theatre or amphitheatre dressed in a woman's garments. Commodus enjoyed inflicting pain and cruelty. He ridiculed a fat man cutting open the middle of his belly, so that his intestines gushed forth. Other men he dubbed one-eyed or one-footed, after he himself had plucked out one of their eyes or cut off one of their feet. There was no one willing to restrain him and Commodus did as he pleased.
Commodus and the Empire
In A.D. 184 his lieutenant Marcellus defeated the Caledonians, after they had passed the long wall of Hadrian, and had ravaged the northern part of Britain. In A.D. 191 an invasion of the Frisians was repelled. Commodus, however, paid no attention to the affairs of the empire. In A.D. 189 Italy suffered from a pestilence and famine, when the people of Rome rose against the emperor's Prefect, Cleander, and tore him to pieces.
The Death of Commodus
Commodus continued his murders, and was at last assassinated by the directions of his mistress, Marcia, whose death he was plotting. Marcia was helped in the killing of Commodus by Quintus Aemilius Laetus, prefect of the guard. First they gave him poison; and when this proved ineffective they had him strangled by the athlete with whom he was accustomed to exercise. Commodus died on December 31st, A.D. 192. The Senate ordered his memory to be held infamous, and his body to be dragged by iron hooks through the streets, and then to be thrown into the Tiber. However, his successor Pertinax insisted that the body of Commodus should be placed in the mausoleum of Hadrian. He was, after all, the son of Marcus Aurelius.
The Nervan and Antonine dynasty consisted of the "Five Good Emperors" (Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and Marcus Aurelius) together with Lucius Verus, who ruled jointly with Marcus Aurelius, and Commodus the son of Marcus Aurelius.
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Map of the Roman Empire c395AD illustrating the power of the Emperor