On his father's death in 180, Commodus changed this to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Commodus, before changing back to his birth name in 191.. At the advice of his mistress, Marcia, Commodus had Cleander (and his son) beheaded. Marcus is reported to have wept at the news of his friend’s death. Now at the zenith of his power, Cleander continued to sell public offices as his private business. Born the son of a freed slave, Pertinax became an officer in the army. Cleander fled to Commodus, who was at Laurentum in the house of the Quinctilii, for protection, but the mob followed him calling for his head. Having no living brothers, as his twin died at the age of four, he was brought up to be Emperor. Portrait bust of Commodus, 180-85 AD, via the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles. Engraving showing Commodus killing a leopard in the arena, attributed to Adriaen Collaert, 1594-98, via Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. Commodus received extensive tutoring by a multitude of teachers with a focus on intellectual education. Whereas the reign of Marcus Aurelius had been marked by almost continuous warfare, Commodus' rule was comparatively peaceful in the military sense, but was also characterised by political strife and the increasingly arbitrary and capricious behaviour of the emperor himself. Cleander made concerted efforts to concentrate power in his own hands, overseeing the sale of public offices and military commands to the highest bidder. Several of the series of painting Nine Discourses on Commodus, (One, Five and Nine are shown here, left to right) by Cy Twombly, 1963, via Guggenheim Bilbao. Perennis took over the reins of government and Commodus found a new chamberlain and favourite in Cleander, a Phrygian freedman who had married one of the emperor's mistresses, Demostratia. On 23 December 176, the two imperatores celebrated a joint triumph, and Commodus was given tribunician power. Commodian Fortunate Senate. His titles quickly came to reflect Marcus’ commitment to ensuring the succession of his son; by 176 Commodus was recognized as Imperator, and by 177 as Augustus, confirming that rule of the empire was not shared between father and son. Unrest around the empire increased, with large numbers of army deserters causing trouble in Gaul and Germany. It had 29 days. He who slew the senate, let him be dragged with the hook… Let the murderer be dragged in the dust! He was the first emperor to be ‘born in the purple’, that is, during the reign of his father. The historians who described his reign paint vivid portraits of a man who embodied a plethora of vices; this was a man who was cruel and capricious, slovenly and sensual. His reasons for seeking peace appear to have been less than noble, however… The historians are unanimous that the emperor quickly lost interest in continuing his father’s campaign, encouraged by the group of favorites and sycophants that gathered around the new emperor and encouraged him to return to the comforts of Rome. Commodus's death marked the end of the Nervan-Antonian dynasty. Gibbon, Edward. Pertinax thus became emperor on January 1st, but he was murdered by a group of soldiers the following March, after less than three months in power. In opposition to the Senate, in his pronouncements and iconography, Commodus had always stressed his unique status as a source of god-like power, liberality, and physical prowess. – Historia Augusta Bd. However, there were frequent intrigues, encouraging Commodus to adopt an increasingly autocratic and cultish manner that grew into megalomania. Now, whether on our screens in the guise of a bloodthirsty gladiator, or in museums in the hubristic form of Hercules, Commodus remains seemingly fixed as an embodiment of imperial vices. Upon his death, the Senate declared him a public enemy (a de facto damnatio memoriae) and restored the original name of the city of Rome and its institutions. Landscape from Rome, Villa dei Quintili near Via Appia by Harald Jerichau, 1870 via the Nivaagaard Collection, Nivå. He also reduced the silver purity from 79 percent to 76 percent – the silver weight dropping from 2.57 grams to 2.34 grams. During 191, the city of Rome was extensively damaged by a fire that raged for several days, during which many public buildings including the Temple of Pax, the Temple of Vesta, and parts of the imperial palace were destroyed. In 183 AD Commodus officially changed the name of the Roman Empire to the Commodian Empire and renamed all the months of the year in his honour:- January - Madtime; February - Barking; March - Fairies The legions? Silver Denarius featuring obverse portrait of Marcus Aurelius and reverse portrait of young Commodus, 175 AD, via Museu de Prehistòria de València . Other victims at this time were the praetorian prefect Julius Julianus, Commodus' cousin Annia Fundania Faustina, and his brother-in-law Mamertinus. Servius Cornelius Scipio Salvidienus Orfitus, opponents always submitted to the emperor, "De Imperatoribus Romanis: An Online Encyclopedia of Roman Rulers and Their Families", Dictionary of Greek and Roman Biography and Mythology, Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary, "Tulane University "Roman Currency of the Principate, "History Behind The Game – Ryse: Son of Rome", "Box Set Binge: Roman Empire: Reign of Blood, The Path and Deutschland 83", "Imperial Elements in the Formula of the Roman Emperors during the First Two and a Half Centuries of the Empire", Servius Cornelius Scipio Salvidienus Orfitus, Lucius Fulvius Rusticus Gaius Bruttius Praesens, Tiberius Claudius Marcus Appius Atilius Bradua Regillus Atticus, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Commodus&oldid=995501279, Roman emperors murdered by the Praetorian Guard, Roman emperors to suffer posthumous denigration or damnatio memoriae, Articles with dead external links from October 2016, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles with unsourced statements from September 2020, Wikipedia articles needing clarification from January 2018, Wikipedia articles with CANTIC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SNAC-ID identifiers, Wikipedia articles with SUDOC identifiers, Wikipedia articles with WORLDCATID identifiers, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, 10. Kieren is a UK based contributing writer currently studying for a PhD in Classics and Ancient History, investigating the representation and authority of the Severan emperors. Upon his ascension, Commodus devalued the Roman currency. – E. Mer-ten, Bäder und Badegepflogenheiten in der Darstel-lung der Historia Augusta (Antiquitas. Statues of Commodus were demolished. Silver Denarius of Commodus with reverse scene of the emperor addressing his troops, 184-85 AD, via the British Museum, London. The future emperor was born not in Rome, but in Lanuvium, much like Antoninus Pius, another exalted imperial predecessor against whom history would judge him. The historian Herodian, a contemporary, described Commodus as an extremely handsome man. He was left-handed and very proud of the fact. On 15 October 184 at the Capitoline Games, a Cynic philosopher publicly denounced Perennis before Commodus. Lucius Aurelius Commodus, born 161 A.D., was appointed co-emperor by his father Marcus Aurelius in 177 A.D. when he was just 16 years old. Pompeianus retired from public life. This kind of raucous behavior was something he had allegedly had precedent for, so no-one was alerted that the emperor may be in danger…, Relief from an honorary monument to Marcus Aurelius, showing the emperor in triumphal procession with a space to the left possibly depicting the erasure of Commodus following the damnatio memoriae enacted against him, 176-80, via Musei Capitolini, Rome. Commodus, in his own time, was accused of being a megalomaniac.  Dio notes that the targeted senators actually found this more ridiculous than frightening, and chewed on laurel leaves to conceal their laughter. Commodus subsequently accompanied his father on a lengthy trip to the Eastern provinces, during which he visited Antioch. He was assassinated by strangulation in his bath on December 31st in the year 192. Commodus was murdered on New Year’s Eve of 192.  Another event—as recorded by the historian Aelius Lampridius—took place at the Roman baths at Terme Taurine, where the emperor had an attendant thrown into an oven after he found his bathwater to be lukewarm. Having vomited up the poison that Marcia had slipped him, the conspirators had to send in Narcissus, a powerful young man at the court, to go into the bath where Commodus was reeling from the effects of the poison, and strangle him. Upon his ascension, Commodus devalued the Roman currency. He also had the head of the Colossus of Nero adjacent to the Colosseum replaced with his own portrait, gave it a club, and placed a bronze lion at its feet to make it look like Hercules Romanus, and added an inscription boasting of being "the only left-handed fighter to conquer twelve times one thousand men".. The sources present some of the most vivid accounts of the emotions that came rushing out as part of these material assaults on memory, known today as damnatio memoriae. One of the ways he paid for his donatives (imperial handouts) and mass entertainments was to tax the senatorial order, and on many inscriptions, the traditional order of the two nominal powers of the state, the Senate and People (Senatus Populusque Romanus) is provocatively reversed (Populus Senatusque...). Commodus was named Caesar at the age of 5, and co-Augustus at the age of 17, spending most of his early life accompanying his father … This is what the Senate sends you!” whilst brandishing a dagger). The attempts to restore stability would lead to a protracted series of civil wars lasting 4 years. The stench of the smoke convinced the future-emperor that the crime of a not-hot-enough bath had been suitably avenged…, Portrait bust of Marcus Aurelius, 161-80 AD, via The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore. 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