People - Ancient Rome: Commodus
Born Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus, he was Roman Emperor ruling from 180 to 192.
Commŏdus in Harpers Dictionary of Classical Antiquities
Commŏdus, L. Aurelius Antonīnus
The son and successor of M. Aurelius Antoninus, who ascended the imperial throne A.D. 180. The reign of
this prince is a scene of guilt and misery, which the historian is glad to dismiss with brevity. He
appears, indeed, to have inherited all the vices of his mother, Faustina; and his father, in selecting
him for his successor, allowed the feelings of the parent to triumph over the wisdom of the magistrate.
He had accompanied his father on the expedition against the Marcomanni and the Quadi, but no sooner was
Aurelius dead than his son became anxious to proceed to Rome, and soon concluded a hasty and disgraceful
peace with the barbarians whom his father had been on the point of completely subjugating when he was
cut off by disease. Notwithstanding the care which Aurelius had bestowed on his education, Commodus was
ignorant to an extreme degree, having neither abilities nor inclination for profiting by the paternal
example and instruction. On his return to Rome he speedily showed the bias of his natural disposition,
giving himself up to unrestrained indulgence in the grossest vices. That he might do so without
impediment, he intrusted all power to Perennis, praefect of the Praetorian Guard, a man of stern and
cruel temper, who was at last slain by the soldiers for his severity.
A conspiracy against the life of Commodus having failed, it was followed by a long succession of
judicial murders to gratify the vengeance of the cowardly and vindictive tyrant. He was next threatened
by a new danger: disaffection had spread over the legions; and an attempt of Maternus, a private
soldier, who headed a band of deserters and projected the assassination of Commodus during the
celebration of the festival of Cybelé, was so ably conceived that it must have been successful but for
the treachery of an accomplice. But neither duty nor danger could draw Commodus from the sports of
gladiators or the pleasures of debauchery. Cleander, a Phrygian slave, soon succeeded to the place and
influence of Perennis, and for three years the Empire groaned beneath his cruelty and rapacity. At
length a new insurrection burst forth, which nothing could allay, the praetorian cavalry being defeated
in the streets by the populace, until the unworthy favourite was, by the emperor's command, delivered to
the insurgents. In the meantime, Commodus was indulging his base tastes and appetites, not only by gross
sensuality, but by attempting to rival the gladiators. Being a very skilful archer and of great personal
strength, he delighted in killing wild beasts in the amphitheatre, and thus pretending to rival the
prowess of Hercules. In the gladiatorial contests, he publicly engaged so often that he was the
conqueror in 735 combats. Though luxurious in his dress, frequently resorting to the baths eight times
in the day, scattering gold dust in his hair, and, from the fear of admitting the approach of a razor in
the hand of another, singeing off his beard, he was especially proud of exhibitions of personal
strength, and frequently, in the garb of a priest, butchered victims with his own hands. Among the
flatteries of the obsequious Senate none pleased him more than the vote which styled him the “Hercules
of Rome,” not even that which decreed to him the titles of Pius and Felix, or which offered to abolish
the name of the Eternal City and substitute for it the title Colonia Commodiana. After thirteen years of
unmitigated oppression, his favourite, Marcia, ultimately became the instrument by which the Roman world
was delivered from its odious master. She discovered, from some private notes of Commodus, that herself,
Laetus the praetorian praefect, and Eclectus the chamberlain, were on the list devoted to death. A
conspiracy was immediately formed, Marcia administered poison to the emperor, and, lest the measure
should not prove effectual, the deed was completed by suffocation, in A.D. 192. The life of Commodus has
come down to us, written by Lampridius, in the Historia Augusta.
Commodus in Roman Biography
Com'mo-dus, [Fr. Commode, ko'mod',] (Lucius
/Ei.ius Aurelius,) a Roman emperor, born in 161 A.D.,
was the son 0/ Marcus Aurelius and Faustina. He succeeded
his father in 180, and found the empire prosperous.
Though he had been carefully educated, he soon
exhibited a character which inspires unmixed detestation.
He resigned the direction of the government to his
favourites Perennis and others, and indulged his cruel
temper and evil passions without restraint. He ordered
his wife Crispina to be put to death, and took a concubine
named Marcia. His subjects were required to offer
homage to him as Hercules. Many senators and others
were doomed to death by his cruelty. His officers Laetus
and F.clectus having conspired with Marcia against
him, he was poisoned and strangled in 192 A.D., and Pertinax
then became emperor.
See Tillfmont, "Histoire des Empereurs :" Dion Cassiu.%
History of Rome :" Lampridius, "Commodus."
http://books.google.com/books? id=GPXRKSUyj14C&printsec=frontcover&dq=pronouncing+dictionary+of+biograph y+and+mythology&hl=en&ei=ueCoTLOH
Commodus in Wikipedia
Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus (31 August 161 – 31
December 192) was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also
ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177
until his father's death in 180. His name changed throughout
his reign; see Changes of name for earlier and later forms.
His accession as emperor was the first time a son had
succeeded his father since Titus succeeded Vespasian in 79.
Commodus was the first emperor "born to the purple"; i.e.,
born during his father's reign.
Early life and rise to power (161–180)
Early life -
Commodus was born as Lucius Aurelius Commodus in Lanuvium,
near Rome, the son of the reigning emperor, Marcus Aurelius
and first cousin Faustina the Younger. He had an elder twin
brother, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, who died in 165.
On 12 October 166, Commodus was made Caesar together with
his younger brother, Marcus Annius Verus; the latter died in
169, having failed to recover from an operation, which left
Commodus as Marcus Aurelius's sole surviving son. He was
looked after by his father's physician, Galen, in order to
keep him healthy and alive. Galen treated many of Commodus's
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