18 Reasons Why Commodus Was Rome's Known Depraved Emperor
18 Reasons Why Commodus Was Rome’s Known Depraved Emperor

18 Reasons Why Commodus Was Rome’s Known Depraved Emperor

D.G. Hewitt - December 21, 2018

18 Reasons Why Commodus Was Rome’s Known Depraved Emperor
The Emperor’s own wrestling partner killed him while his mistress looked on. Wikipedia.

2. When Commodus announced plans for special Plebeian Games to celebrate his rebuilding of Rome, even his mistress agreed the Emperor had to die

At the end of 192, Commodus held the Plebeian Games. He himself took part, of course. By morning he fought and killed hundreds of animals, and in the afternoon he played at being a gladiator. The Emperor then announced his intention to hold a special day of games on 1 January 193, to represent the rebirth of the city under him. His mistress Marcia felt this was a step too far, so too did his chamberlain, a man called Electus. Most importantly of all, the head of the Praetorian Guard also concurred and joined in the conspiracy to kill Commodus.

At first, Marcia simply pleaded with Commodus to cancel his plans for the special games. He became enraged and threatened to have her killed. She struck first, however. She put poison in the cup of wine he always took before his bath. While he vomited this up, the conspirators still had a backup plan. When he made it to the bathroom, the Emperor’s own fitness coach, a wrestler called Narcissus, strangled him to death. So yes, Commodus died in his own bathroom, covered in vomit being strangled by a naked man.

18 Reasons Why Commodus Was Rome’s Known Depraved Emperor
To this day, our image of Commodus is a mix of fiction and reality. YouTube.

1. In death, he was initially hated and erased from history, but before long, Commodus was being remembered as a god

With Commodus dead, the Senate got busy erasing him from history. The changes Commodus made to the name of Rome, its institutions and its calendar were reversed. What’s more, mentions of his name, for example where it was inscribed on temples, were erased and any statues of Commodus were destroyed or thrown in the Tiber. And above all, Commodus was declared an ‘enemy of Rome’ by the Senate. His fall from power and prominence was as decisive and brutal as it was swift.

But they couldn’t keep Commodus down for long, even in death. After Pertinax was assassinated and murdered by his own bodyguards for attempting to reform the Roman Army, he was followed by Julianus. And after his brief 63-day reign, Septimius Severus came to power. He was keen to gain favor with the still-important family of Marcus Aurelius, so he had the memory of Commodus resurrected. Moreover, he had Commodus, one of the most inept, corrupt and sadistic rulers of all of Rome, deified. Thereafter, Commodus would be remembered not as a man with many flaws but as a god.

 

Where did we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“10 Insane Facts About Emperor Commodus Left out of “Gladiator””. Listverse.

“The Real Commodus Was an Even More Over-The-Top Emperor Than Gladiator’s Version”. Ranker.

“Historia Augusta: The Life of Marcus Aurelius.” The University of Chicago. Part 1.

“Historia Augusta: The Life of Marcus Aurelius.” The University of Chicago. Part 2.

“Historia Augusta: The Life of Commodus.” The University of Chicago.

“Did Faustina the Younger Sleep Around?” Jasper Burns, JasperBurns.com

“The 8 bloodiest Roman emperors in history.” History Extra, May 2018.

“A Marble Bust of The Roman Emperor Commodus”. Christies.

“The Wackiest Roman Emperors.” Walks of Italy.

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