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Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Politica ...
serving jointly with his father
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a vari ...

Marcus Aurelius
from 176 until his father's death in 180, and solely until 192. His reign is commonly thought of as marking the end of a golden period of peace in the history of the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
, known as the
Pax Romana The ''Pax Romana'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
. Commodus accompanied his father during the
Marcomannic Wars The Marcomannic Wars (: ''bellum Germanicum et Sarmaticum'', "German and Sarmatian War") were a series of wars lasting from about 166 AD until 180. These wars pitted the against, principally, the and and the ; there were related conflicts w ...
in 172, and on a tour of the Eastern provinces in 176. He was made the youngest
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman ...
in Roman history in 177 and had been elevated to co-''
augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...
'' with his father; he was further given the title ''
imperator The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with" ...

imperator
'' in 176. During his solo reign, the Roman Empire enjoyed reduced military conflict compared with the reign of Marcus Aurelius. Intrigues and conspiracies abounded, leading Commodus to revert to an increasingly dictatorial style of leadership, culminating in his creating a deific
personality cult Personality is defined as the characteristic sets of behaviors, cognitions, and emotional patterns that evolve from biological and environmental factors. While there is no generally agreed upon definition of personality, most theories focus on mot ...
, with his performing as a
gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some glad ...

gladiator
in the
Colosseum The Colosseum ( ; it, Colosseo ) is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, just east of the Roman Forum. It is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheatre in the world tod ...

Colosseum
. Throughout his reign, Commodus entrusted the management of affairs to his palace chamberlain and Praetorian prefects, named
SaoterusSaoterus ( gr, Σαώτερος ὁ Νικομηδεύς; died 182) was a Bithynia Bithynia (; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Bibli ...
, Perennis and Cleander. Commodus's assassination in 192, by a wrestler in the bath, marked the end of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty. He was succeeded by
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of ...

Pertinax
, the first emperor in the tumultuous
Year of the Five Emperors The Year of the Five Emperors was 193 AD, in which five men claimed the title of Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different ...

Year of the Five Emperors
.


Early life and rise to power (161–180)


Early life

Commodus was born on 31 August AD161 in
Lanuvium Lanuvium, modern Lanuvio, is an ancient city of Latium vetus, some southeast of Rome, a little southwest of the Via Appia. Situated on an isolated hill projecting south from the main mass of the Alban Hills, Lanuvium commanded an extensive view o ...
, near
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...
.''Historia Augusta – Life of Commodus'' 1 He was the son of the reigning emperor,
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a vari ...

Marcus Aurelius
, and Aurelius's first cousin,
Faustina the Younger Annia Galeria Faustina the Younger (born probably 21 September AD, — 175/176 AD) was a daughter of Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 ...
, the youngest daughter of
Emperor An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin word "imperator" derives from the stem of the verb la, imperare, label=none, meaning 'to order, to command'. It was originally employed as a title roughly equivalent to ''commander'' under the Roma ...
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (; la, Antōnīnus Pius ; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emper ...

Antoninus Pius
, who had died only a few months before. Commodus had an elder twin brother, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, who died in 165. On 12 October 166, Commodus was made
Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar (; 12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman people, Roman general and statesman. A member of the First Triumvirate, Caesar led the Roman armies in the Gallic Wars before defeating his political rival Pompey Caesar's C ...
together with his younger brother,
Marcus Annius Verus Marcus Annius Verus (II) ( 50 – 138 AD) was the grandfather and adoptive father of the Roman Emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperor ...

Marcus Annius Verus
.David L. Vagi ''Coinage and History of the Roman Empire'' Vol. One: History p.248 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 Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 – c. AD 216), often Anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modi ...
,Susan P. Mattern ''The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire'' p. xx who treated many of Commodus' common illnesses. Commodus received extensive tutoring by a multitude of teachers with a focus on intellectual education.Anthony R Birley ''Marcus Aurelius: A Biography'' p.197 Among his teachers, Onesicrates, Antistius Capella, Titus Aius Sanctus, and Pitholaus are mentioned. Commodus is known to have been at
Carnuntum Carnuntum (Carnous, Καρνους, in Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the used in and the from around 1500 BC to 300 BC. It is often roughly divided into the following periods: (), Dark Ages (), the period (), ...

Carnuntum
, the headquarters of Marcus Aurelius during the
Marcomannic Wars The Marcomannic Wars (: ''bellum Germanicum et Sarmaticum'', "German and Sarmatian War") were a series of wars lasting from about 166 AD until 180. These wars pitted the against, principally, the and and the ; there were related conflicts w ...
, in 172. It was presumably there that, on 15 October 172, he was given the
victory title A victory title is an honorific title adopted by a successful military commander to commemorate his defeat of an enemy nation. The practice was first used by Ancient Rome and is still most commonly associated with the Romans, but it was also adopt ...
''
Germanicus Germanicus Julius Caesar (24 May 15 BC – 10 October AD 19) was a popular and prominent Roman general, known for his campaigns in Germania Germania ( , ), also called Magna Germania (English: ''Great Germania''), Germania Libera (English: '' ...
'', in the presence of the
army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch Military branch ...

army
. The title suggests that Commodus was present at his father's victory over the
Marcomanni The Marcomanni were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Soc ...
. On 20 January 175, Commodus entered the
College of Pontiffs The College of Pontiffs ( la, Collegium Pontificum; see ''collegium A (plural ), or college, was any association in ancient Rome with a legal personality. Such associations could be civil or religious. The word literally means "society", f ...
, the starting point of a career in public life. In April 175,
Avidius Cassius Gaius Avidius Cassius ( 130 – July 175 AD) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', ...
, Governor of
Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ٱلسُّورِيَّةُ, al-Jumhūrīyah al-ʻArabīyah as-S ...
, declared himself Emperor following rumours that Marcus Aurelius had died. Having been accepted as Emperor by Syria,
Judea Judea or Judaea ( or ; from he, יהודה, Hebrew language#Modern Hebrew, Standard ''Yəhūda'', Tiberian vocalization, Tiberian ''Yehūḏā''; el, Ἰουδαία, ; la, Iūdaea) is the ancient, historic, Biblical Hebrew, contemporaneous ...
and
Egypt Egypt ( ar, مِصر, Miṣr), officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, is a transcontinental country This is a list of countries located on more than one continent A continent is one of several large landmasses. Generally identi ...

Egypt
, Cassius carried on his rebellion even after it had become obvious that Marcus was still alive. During the preparations for the campaign against Cassius, Commodus assumed his toga virilis on the front on 7 July 175, thus formally entering
adulthood Biologically, an adult is an organism In biology, an organism (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ὀργανισμός, ''organismos'') is any individual contiguous system that embodies the Life#Biology, properties of life. It is a synonym fo ...
. Cassius, however, was killed by one of his
centurion A centurion (; la, centurio , . la, centuriones, label=none; grc-gre, κεντυρίων, kentyríōn, or ) was a position in the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is ...

centurion
s before the campaign against him could begin. Commodus subsequently accompanied his father on a lengthy trip to the Eastern provinces, during which he visited
Antioch Antioch on the Orontes (; grc, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου, ''Antiókheia hē epì Oróntou''; also Syrian Antioch) grc-koi, Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Ὀρόντου; or Ἀντιόχεια ἡ ἐπὶ Δάφνῃ ...
. The Emperor and his son then traveled to
Athens , image_skyline = File:Athens Montage L.png, center, 275px, alt=Athens montage. Clicking on an image in the picture causes the browser to load the appropriate article. rect 15 15 985 460 Acropolis of Athens rect 15 475 48 ...

Athens
, where they were initiated into the
Eleusinian mysteries The Eleusinian Mysteries ( el, Ἐλευσίνια Μυστήρια, Eleusínia Mystḗria) were initiations held every year for the Cult (religious practice), cult of Demeter and Persephone based at the Panhellenic Sanctuary of Eleusis in ancien ...
. They then returned to Rome in the
autumn Autumn, also known as fall in American English American English (AmE, AE, AmEng, USEng, en-US), sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of variety (linguistics), varieties of the English language native to ...

autumn
of 176.


Joint rule with father (176–180)

Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor since
Vespasian Vespasian (; la, Vespasianus ; 17 November AD 9 – 23/24 June 79) was a Roman emperor who reigned from 69 to 79 AD. The fourth and last emperor who reigned in the Year of the Four Emperors, he founded the Flavian dynasty that ruled the Empire ...

Vespasian
to have a legitimate biological son and, though he himself was the fifth in the line of the so-called
Five Good Emperors 5 is a number, numeral, and glyph. 5, five or number 5 may also refer to: * AD 5, the fifth year of the AD era * 5 BC, the fifth year before the AD era Literature * ''5'' (visual novel), a 2008 visual novel by Ram * ''5'' (comics), an awa ...
, each of whom had adopted his successor, it seems to have been his firm intention that Commodus should be his heir. Commodus was the first (and until 337, the only) emperor "
born in the purple Traditionally, born in the purple (sometimes "born to the purple") was a category of members of royal families born during the reign of their parent. This notion was later loosely expanded to include all children born of prominent or high-ranking ...
," meaning during his father's reign. On 27 November 176, Marcus Aurelius granted Commodus the rank of ''
Imperator The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with" ...

Imperator
'' and, in the middle of 177, the title ''
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...
'', giving his son the same status as his own and formally sharing power. On 23 December 176, the two ''imperatores'' celebrated a joint triumph, and Commodus was given power. On 1 January 177, Commodus became
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...

consul
for the first time, which made him, aged 15, the youngest consul in Roman history up to that time. He subsequently married
Bruttia Crispina Bruttia Crispina (164 – 191 AD) was Roman Empress from 178 to 191 as the consort of Roman Emperor Commodus. Her marriage to Commodus did not produce an heir, and her husband was instead succeeded by Pertinax. Family Crispina came from an illus ...
before accompanying his father to the Danubian front once more in 178. Marcus Aurelius died there on 17 March 180, leaving the 18-year-old Commodus sole emperor.


Solo reign (180–192)

Upon his ascension, Commodus devalued the
Roman currency Roman currency for most of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilisation of ancient Rome. Roman history has been influential on the modern world, especially in the ...
. He reduced the weight of the
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
from 96 per
Roman pound The ancient Roman units of measurement were primarily founded on the Hellenic system, which in turn were influenced by the Egyptian system and the Mesopotamian system. The Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Ita ...
to 105 per Roman pound (3.85 grams to 3.35 grams). He also reduced the silver purity from 79 percent to 76 percent – the silver weight dropping from 2.57 grams to 2.34 grams. In 186 he further reduced the purity and silver weight to 74 percent and 2.22 grams respectively, being 108 to the Roman pound. His reduction of the denarius during his rule was the largest since the empire's first devaluation during
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth emperor of Rome. He was Adoption in Ancient Rome, adopted by the Roman emperor Claudius at the age of 13 and s ...

Nero
's reign. Whereas the reign of
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a vari ...

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. In the view of
Dio Cassius Lucius Cassius Dio (; ) or Dio Cassius ( ''Dion Kassios'')), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius Claudius Dio; alleged to have the ' (nickname) Cocceianus was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of the ...

Dio Cassius
, his accession marked the descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust". Despite his notoriety, and considering the importance of his reign, Commodus' years in power are not well chronicled. The principal surviving literary sources are
Herodian Herodian or Herodianus ( el, Ἡρωδιανός) of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ...

Herodian
, Dio Cassius (a contemporary and sometimes first-hand observer,
Senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman Senate (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Lat ...
during Commodus' reign, but his reports for this period survive only as fragments and abbreviations), and the ''
Historia Augusta The ''Historia Augusta'' (English: ''Augustan History'') is a late Roman collection of biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, r ...
'' (untrustworthy for its character as a work of literature rather than history, with elements of fiction embedded within its biographies; in the case of Commodus, it may well be embroidering upon what the author found in reasonably good contemporary sources). Commodus remained with the Danube armies for only a short time before negotiating a peace treaty with the Danubian tribes. He then returned to Rome and celebrated a triumph for the conclusion of the wars on 22 October 180. Unlike the preceding Emperors
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Trajan
,
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
,
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (; la, Antōnīnus Pius ; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emper ...

Antoninus Pius
and Marcus Aurelius, he seems to have had little interest in the business of administration and tended throughout his reign to leave the practical running of the state to a succession of favourites, beginning with
SaoterusSaoterus ( gr, Σαώτερος ὁ Νικομηδεύς; died 182) was a Bithynia Bithynia (; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Bibli ...
, a freedman from
Nicomedia Nicomedia (; el, Νικομήδεια, ''Nikomedeia''; modern İzmit İzmit () is a district and the central district of Kocaeli Province, Kocaeli province, Turkey. It is located at the Gulf of İzmit in the Sea of Marmara, about east of Is ...
who had become his
chamberlain Chamberlain may refer to: Profession *Chamberlain (office), the officer in charge of managing the household of a sovereign or other noble figure People *Chamberlain (surname) **Houston Stewart Chamberlain (1855-1927), German-British philosopher ...
. Dissatisfaction with this state of affairs would lead to a series of conspiracies and attempted coups, which in turn eventually provoked Commodus to take charge of affairs, which he did in an increasingly dictatorial manner. Nevertheless, though the came to hate and fear him, the evidence suggests that he remained popular with the army and the common people for much of his reign, not least because of his lavish shows of largesse (recorded on his coinage) and because he staged and took part in spectacular
gladiator A gladiator ( la, gladiator, "swordsman", from , "sword") was an armed combatant who entertained audiences in the Roman Republic and Roman Empire in violent confrontations with other gladiators, wild animals, and condemned criminals. Some glad ...

gladiator
ial combats. 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 SPQR, an abbreviation for (; en, "The Roman Senate and Roman people, People"; or more freely "The Senate and Roman people, People of Rome"), is an emblematic abbreviated phrase referring to the government of the ancient Roman Republic. It ap ...

Senatus Populusque Romanus
'') is provocatively reversed (''Populus Senatusque...'').


Conspiracies of 182

At the outset of his reign, Commodus, aged 18, inherited many of his father's senior advisers, notably
Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus ( 125 – 193) was a politician and military commander during the 2nd century in the Roman Empire. A general under the Roman Emperor, Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Pompeianus distinguished himself during Rome's wars agains ...
(the second husband of Commodus' eldest sister
Lucilla Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla or Lucilla (7 March 148 or 150 – 182) was the second daughter and third child of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger. She was the wife of her father's co-ruler and adoptive brother ...
), his father-in-law
Gaius Bruttius Praesens Lucius Fulvius Gaius Bruttius Praesens Laberius Maximus (c. 119 – after 180) was a Roman empire, Roman Roman senate, senator who held a number of imperial appointments during the reigns of Roman emperor, emperors Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aureliu ...
, Titus Fundanius Vitrasius Pollio, and Aufidius Victorinus, who was Prefect of the City of Rome. He also had four surviving sisters, all of them with husbands who were potential rivals. Lucilla was over ten years his senior and held the rank of
Augusta Augusta may refer to: Places Australia * Augusta, Western Australia Brasil * Rua Augusta (São Paulo) Canada * Augusta, Ontario * North Augusta, Ontario * Augusta Street (Hamilton, Ontario) France * Augusta Suessionum ("Augusta of the Suessii" ...
as the widow of her first husband,
Lucius Verus Lucius Aurelius Verus (15 December 130 – January/February 169) was Roman emperor from 161 until his death in 169, alongside his adoptive brother Marcus Aurelius. He was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty. Verus' succession together with ...

Lucius Verus
. The first crisis of the reign came in 182, when Lucilla engineered a conspiracy against her brother. Her motive is alleged to have been envy of the
Empress An emperor (from la, imperator The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning ...
Crispina Saint Crispina (died December 5, 304) was a martyr of Africa who suffered during the Diocletian persecution. She was born at Thagara (Thacora, Tagora) (Thagora was a town in the Roman province of Numidia, located in Taoura, Algeria. The Tabula P ...
. Her husband, Pompeianus, was not involved, but two men alleged to have been her lovers,
Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus (138–182) was a Roman senate, Roman Senator and the nephew of the Roman emperor, Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was involved in an unsuccessful plot to assassinate his cousin the Emperor Commodus, which led to his e ...
(the consul of 167, who was also her first cousin) and Appius Claudius Quintianus, attempted to murder Commodus as he entered a theater. They bungled the job and were seized by the emperor's bodyguard. Quadratus and Quintianus were executed. Lucilla was exiled to
Capri Capri ( , ; ; ) is an island An island (or isle) is an isolated piece of habitat that is surrounded by a dramatically different habitat, such as water. Very small islands such as emergent land features on atoll An atoll (), ...

Capri
and later killed. Pompeianus retired from public life. One of the two
praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Repub ...
s,
Publius Tarrutenius Paternus Publius Tarrutenius Paternus was a Roman empire, Roman ''Eques (ancient Rome), eques'' who flourished during the reign of emperor Marcus Aurelius. He achieved several military successes, leading first to his appointment as praetorian prefect and sub ...
, had actually been involved in the conspiracy but his involvement was not discovered until later on, and in the aftermath, he and his colleague,
Sextus Tigidius Perennis Sextus Tigidius Perennis (died 185) served as Praetorian Prefect under the Roman Emperor, Roman emperor Commodus. Perennis exercised an outsized influence over Commodus and was the effective ruler of the Roman Empire. In 185, Perennis was implica ...
, were able to arrange for the murder of Saoterus, the hated chamberlain. Commodus took the loss of Saoterus badly, and Perennis now seized the chance to advance himself by implicating Paternus in a second conspiracy, one apparently led by Publius Salvius Julianus, who was the son of the jurist
Salvius Julianus Lucius Octavius Cornelius Publius Salvius Iulianus Aemilianus (c. 110 – c. 170), generally referred to as Salvius Julianus, or Julian the Jurist, or simply Julianus, was a well known and respected jurist, public official, and politician who serve ...
and was betrothed to Paternus' daughter. Salvius and Paternus were executed along with a number of other prominent consulars and senators.
Didius Julianus Marcus Didius Julianus (; 29 January 133 or 137 – 2 June 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, ...
, the future emperor and a relative of Salvius Julianus, was dismissed from the governorship of
Germania Inferior Germania Inferior ("Lower Germania") was a Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Rom ...
.


Cleander

After the murder of the powerful
SaoterusSaoterus ( gr, Σαώτερος ὁ Νικομηδεύς; died 182) was a Bithynia Bithynia (; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Bibli ...
, Perennis easily took over the reins of government and Commodus found a new chamberlain and favourite in Cleander, a
Phrygia In classical antiquity Classical antiquity (also the classical era, classical period or classical age) is the period of cultural history History (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related ...
n
freedman A freedman or freedwoman is a formerly enslaved person who has been released from slavery Slavery and enslavement are both the state and the condition of being a slave, who is someone forbidden to quit their service for an enslaver, a ...

freedman
who had married one of the emperor's mistresses, Demostratia. Cleander was in fact the person who had murdered Saoterus. After those attempts on his life, Commodus spent much of his time outside Rome, mostly on the family estates at Lanuvium. As he was physically strong, his chief interest was in sport: he took part in
horse racing Horse racing is an equestrian The word equestrian is a reference to Equestrianism, horseback riding, derived from Latin ' and ', "horse". Horseback riding (or Riding in British English) Notable examples of this are: *List of equestrian spo ...

horse racing
,
chariot racing Chariot racing ( grc-gre, ἁρματοδρομία, harmatodromia, la, ludi circenses) was one of the most popular Ancient Greece, ancient Greek, Roman Empire, Roman, and Byzantine sports. Chariot racing was dangerous to both drivers and horses ...
, and combats with beasts and men, mostly in private but also on occasion in public.


Dacia and Britain

Commodus was inaugurated in 183 as consul with Aufidius Victorinus for a colleague and assumed the title ''Pius''. War broke out in
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...

Dacia
: few details are available, but it appears two future contenders for the throne,
Clodius Albinus Decimus Clodius Albinus (c. 150 – 19 February 197) was a Roman general, senator and usurper A usurper is an illegitimate or controversial claimant to power, often but not always in a monarchy A monarchy is a form of government ...

Clodius Albinus
and
Pescennius Niger Gaius Pescennius Niger (c. 135 – 194) was Roman Emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throu ...
, both distinguished themselves in the campaign. Also, in
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
in 184, the governor
Ulpius MarcellusUlpius Marcellus was a Roman consular governor of Britannia Britannia () is the national personification of United Kingdom, Britain as a helmeted female warrior holding a trident and shield. An image first used in classical antiquity, the Latin ...
re-advanced the Roman frontier northward to the , but the
legionaries A recreation of Roman legionaries wearing the '' lorica segmentata'', 1st–3rd century The Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman p ...
revolted against his harsh discipline and acclaimed another legate, Priscus, as emperor.Dio Cassius 73.10.2, Loeb edition translated E. Cary Priscus refused to accept their acclamations, and Perennis had all the legionary
legates A ''legatus'' (Anglicisation, anglicised as legate) was a high-ranking Roman military officer in the Roman Army, equivalent to a modern high-ranking general officer. Initially used to delegate power, the term became formalised under Augustus as ...

legates
in Britain
cashiered Image:Degradation alfred dreyfus.jpg, On January 5, 1895 Captain Alfred Dreyfus was cashiered Cashiering (or degradation ceremony), generally within military forces, is a ritual dismissal of an individual from some position of responsibility for ...
. On 15 October 184 at the Capitoline Games, a Cynic philosopher publicly denounced Perennis before Commodus. His tale was not believed and he was immediately put to death. According to Dio Cassius, Perennis, though ruthless and ambitious, was not personally corrupt and generally administered the state well. However, the following year, a detachment of soldiers from Britain (they had been drafted to
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a peninsula delimited by the Alps The Alps ; german: Alpen ; it, Alpi ; rm, Alps; sl, Alpe ) are the highest ...

Italy
to suppress brigands) also denounced Perennis to the emperor as plotting to make his own son emperor (they had been enabled to do so by Cleander, who was seeking to dispose of his rival), and Commodus gave them permission to execute him as well as his wife and sons. The fall of Perennis brought a new spate of executions: Aufidius Victorinus committed suicide. Ulpius Marcellus was replaced as governor of Britain by
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of ...

Pertinax
; brought to Rome and tried for treason, Marcellus narrowly escaped death.


Cleander's zenith and fall (185–190)

Cleander proceeded to concentrate power in his own hands and to enrich himself by becoming responsible for all public offices: he sold and bestowed entry to the Senate, army commands, governorships and, increasingly, even the suffect consulships to the highest bidder. Unrest around the empire increased, with large numbers of army deserters causing trouble in Gaul and Germania, Germany. Pescennius Niger mopped up the deserters in Gaul in a military campaign, and a revolt in Brittany was put down by two Roman legion, legions brought over from Britain. In 187, one of the leaders of the deserters, Maternus (rebel), Maternus, came from Gaul intending to assassinate Commodus at the Festival of the Great Goddess in March, but he was betrayed and executed. In the same year,
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of ...

Pertinax
unmasked a conspiracy by two enemies of Cleander – Lucius Antistius Burrus, Antistius Burrus (one of Commodus' brothers-in-law) and Gaius Arrius Antoninus, Arrius Antoninus. As a result, Commodus appeared even more rarely in public, preferring to live on his estates. Early in 188, Cleander disposed of the current praetorian prefect, Publius Atilius Aebutianus, Atilius Aebutianus, and took over supreme command of the Praetorian Guard at the new rank of ''a pugione'' ("dagger-bearer"), with two praetorian prefects subordinate to him. Now at the zenith of his power, Cleander continued to sell public offices as his private business. The climax came in the year 190, which had 25 suffect consuls – a record in the 1,000-year history of the Roman consulship—all appointed by Cleander (they included the future Emperor Septimius Severus). In the spring of 190, Rome was afflicted by a food shortage, for which the ''praefectus annonae'' Papirius Dionysius, the official actually in charge of the Grain supply to the city of Rome, grain supply, contrived to lay the blame on Cleander. At the end of June, a mob demonstrated against Cleander during a horse race in the Circus Maximus: he sent the Praetorian Guard to put down the disturbances, but Pertinax, who was now City Prefect of Rome, dispatched the ''Vigiles Urbani'' to oppose them. 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. At the urging of his mistress Marcia (mistress of Commodus), Marcia, Commodus had Cleander beheaded and his son killed. Other victims at this time were the praetorian prefect Julius Julianus, Commodus' cousin Annia Fundania Faustina, and his brother-in-law Mamertinus. Papirius Dionysius was executed, too. The emperor now changed his name to Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus. At 29, he took over more of the reins of power, though he continued to rule through a cabal consisting of Marcia, his new chamberlain Eclectus, and the new praetorian prefect Quintus Aemilius Laetus.


Megalomania (190–192)

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. Innumerable statues around the empire were set up portraying him in the guise of Hercules, reinforcing the image of him as a demigod, a physical giant, a protector, and a warrior who fought against men and beasts (see "Commodus and Hercules" and "Commodus the Gladiator" below). Moreover, as Hercules, he could claim to be the son of Jupiter (mythology), Jupiter, the supreme god of the Roman Pantheon (gods), pantheon. These tendencies now increased to wiktionary:megalomania, megalomaniacal proportions. Far from celebrating his descent from Marcus Aurelius, the actual source of his power, he stressed his own personal uniqueness as the bringer of a new order, seeking to re-cast the empire in his own image. 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 Peace, Rome, Temple of Pax, the Temple of Vesta, and parts of the imperial palace were destroyed. Perhaps seeing this as an opportunity, early in 192 Commodus, declaring himself the new Romulus, ritually re-founded Rome, renaming the city ''Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana''. All the months of the year were renamed to correspond exactly with his (now twelve) names: ''Lucius'', ''Aelius'', ''Aurelius'', ''Commodus'', ''Augustus'', ''Herculeus'', ''Romanus'', ''Exsuperatorius'', ''Amazonius'', ''Invictus'', ''Felix'', and ''Pius''. The legions were renamed ''Commodianae'', the fleet which imported grain from Africa (Roman province), Africa was termed ''Alexandria Commodiana Togata'', the Senate was entitled the Commodian Fortunate Senate, his palace and the Roman people themselves were all given the name ''Commodianus'', and the day on which these reforms were decreed was to be called ''Dies Commodianus''. Thus, he presented himself as the fountainhead of the Empire, Roman life, and religion. He also had the head of the Colossus of Nero adjacent to the
Colosseum The Colosseum ( ; it, Colosseo ) is an oval amphitheatre in the centre of the city of Rome, Italy, just east of the Roman Forum. It is the largest ancient amphitheatre ever built, and is still the largest standing amphitheatre in the world tod ...

Colosseum
replaced with his own portrait, gave it a club, 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".


Assassination (192)

In November 192, Commodus held Plebeian Games, in which he shot hundreds of animals with arrows and javelins every morning, and fought as a gladiator every afternoon, winning all the fights. In December, he announced his intention to inaugurate the year 193 as both consul and gladiator on 1 January. When Marcia found a list of people Commodus intended to have executed, she discovered that she, the prefect Laetus and Eclectus were on it. The three of them plotted to assassinate the emperor. On 31 December, Marcia poisoned Commodus' food, but he vomited up the poison, so the conspirators sent his wrestling partner Narcissus (wrestler), Narcissus to strangle him in his bath. 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. Statues of Commodus were demolished. His body was buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian. Commodus' death marked the end of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty. Commodus was succeeded by
Pertinax Publius Helvius Pertinax (; 1 August 126 – 28 March 193) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of ...

Pertinax
, whose reign was short-lived; he would become the first claimant to be usurped during the
Year of the Five Emperors The Year of the Five Emperors was 193 AD, in which five men claimed the title of Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different ...

Year of the Five Emperors
. In 195, the emperor Septimius Severus, trying to gain favour with the family of Marcus Aurelius, rehabilitated Commodus' memory and had the Senate Apotheosis, deify him.


Character and physical prowess


Character and motivations

Cassius Dio, a first-hand witness, describes him as "not naturally wicked but, on the contrary, as guileless as any man that ever lived. His great simplicity, however, together with his cowardice, made him the slave of his companions, and it was through them that he at first, out of ignorance, missed the better life and then was led on into lustful and cruel habits, which soon became second nature." His recorded actions do tend to show a rejection of his father's policies, his father's advisers, and especially his father's austere lifestyle, and an alienation from the surviving members of his family. It seems likely that he was brought up in an atmosphere of Stoicism, Stoic asceticism, which he rejected entirely upon his accession to sole rule. After repeated attempts on Commodus's life, Roman citizenship, Roman citizens were often killed for making him angry. One such notable event was the attempted extermination of the house of the Quinctilii. Condianus and Maximus were executed on the pretext that, while they were not implicated in any plots, their wealth and talent would make them unhappy with the current state of affairs. 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.


Changes of name

His original name was Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus. On his father's death in 180, Commodus changed this to Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Commodus, before changing back to his birth name in 191. Later that year he adopted as his full style Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus Herculeus Romanus Exsuperatorius Amazonius Invictus Felix Pius (the order of some of these titles varies in the sources). "Exsuperatorius" (the supreme) was a title given to Jupiter, and "Amazonius" identified him again with Hercules. An inscribed altar from Dura-Europos on the Euphrates shows that Commodus's titles and the renaming of the months were disseminated to the furthest reaches of the Empire; moreover, that even auxiliary military units received the title Commodiana, and that Commodus claimed two additional titles: ''Pacator Orbis'' (pacifier of the world) and ''Dominus Noster'' (Our Lord). The latter eventually would be used as a conventional title by Roman emperors, starting about a century later, but Commodus seems to have been the first to assume it.


Commodus and Hercules

Disdaining the more philosophic inclinations of his father, Commodus was extremely proud of his physical prowess. The historian Herodian, a contemporary, described Commodus as an extremely handsome man. As mentioned above, he ordered many statues to be made showing him dressed as Hercules with a lion's hide and a club. He thought of himself as the reincarnation of Hercules, frequently emulating the legendary hero's feats by appearing in the arena to fight a variety of wild animals. He was left-handed and very proud of the fact. Cassius Dio and the writers of the ''Historia Augusta, Augustan History'' say that Commodus was a skilled archer, who could shoot the heads off ostriches in full gallop, and kill a panther as it attacked a victim in the arena.


Commodus the gladiator

Commodus also had a passion for gladiatorial combat, which he took so far as to take to the arena himself, dressed as a secutor. The Romans found Commodus's gladiatorial combats to be scandalous and disgraceful. According to
Herodian Herodian or Herodianus ( el, Ἡρωδιανός) of Syria Syria ( ar, سُورِيَا or ar, سُورِيَة, ''Sūriyā''), officially the Syrian Arab Republic ( ar, ٱلْجُمْهُورِيَّةُ ٱلْعَرَبِيَّةُ ...

Herodian
, spectators of Commodus thought it unbecoming of an emperor to take up arms in the amphitheater for sport when he could be campaigning against barbarians among other opponents of Rome. The consensus was that it was below his office to participate as a gladiator. Popular rumors spread alleging he was actually the son, not of Marcus Aurelius, but of a gladiator whom his mother Faustina had taken as a lover at the coastal resort of Caieta. In the arena, Commodus's opponents always submitted to the emperor; as a result he never lost. Commodus never killed his gladiatorial adversaries, instead accepting their surrenders. His victories were often welcomed by his bested opponents, as bearing scars dealt by the hand of an Emperor was considered a mark of fortitude. Citizens of Rome missing their feet through accident or illness were taken to the arena, where they were tethered together for Commodus to club to death while pretending they were giants. Privately, it was also his custom to kill his opponents during practice matches. For each appearance in the arena, he charged the city of Rome a million sestertius, sesterces, straining the Roman economy. Commodus was also known for fighting exotic animals in the arena, often to the horror and disgust of the Roman people. According to Cassius Dio, Commodus once killed 100 lions in a single day. Later, he decapitated a running ostrich with a specially designed dart and afterwards carried his sword and the bleeding head of the dead bird over to the Senators' seating area and motioned as though they were next.Lane Fox, Robin ''The Classical World: An Epic History from Homer to Hadrian'' Basic Books. 2006 p. 446 "brandishing a sword in one hand and bloodied neck...He gesticulated at the Senate." Dio notes that the targeted senators actually found this more ridiculous than frightening, and chewed on Laurus nobilis, laurel leaves to conceal their laughter. On other occasions, Commodus killed three elephants on the floor of the arena by himself, and a giraffe. File:The Emperor Commodus Leaving the Arena at the Head of the Gladiators by American muralist Edwin Howland Blashfield (1848-1936) 01 (cropped).jpg, ''The Emperor Commodus Leaving the Arena at the Head of the Gladiators'' (detail) by Edwin Howland Blashfield (1848–1936), Hermitage Museum and Gardens, Norfolk, Virginia.


In popular culture

* An evil and highly narcissist portrayal of Commodus was played by Canadian actor Christopher Plummer in the classic epic film ''The Fall of the Roman Empire (film), The Fall of the Roman Empire'' (1964), directed by Anthony Mann. This film depicts all of this emperor's reign, from the death of
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a vari ...

Marcus Aurelius
until his killing while fighting against the fictional hero, Livius. * In the Best Picture winner ''Gladiator (2000 film), Gladiator'', a fictionalized Commodus serves as the main antagonist of the film. He is played by Joaquin Phoenix, who received a Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor, Best Supporting Actor nomination at the 73rd Academy Awards. * A character in the 2013 video game ''Ryse: Son of Rome'' is named Commodus and is one of the main antagonists of the game. The son of Emperor
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth emperor of Rome. He was Adoption in Ancient Rome, adopted by the Roman emperor Claudius at the age of 13 and s ...

Nero
, he shares several traits with the historic Commodus. * Commodus is a minor antagonist in the 2005 video game ''Colosseum: Road to Freedom''. The player can fight Commodus in the game, who dresses as the god Hercules. The game takes liberties with the events surrounding his death, with the player being the one who actually kills him rather than the wrestler Narcissus. * Commodus appears in the ''Horrible Histories (2009 TV series)'' song Evil Emperors, alongside Caligula, Elagabalus and
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth emperor of Rome. He was Adoption in Ancient Rome, adopted by the Roman emperor Claudius at the age of 13 and s ...

Nero
, a parody of Bad (Michael Jackson song) * The 2017 docu-drama mini-series ''Roman Empire: Reign of Blood'' retells his story. In this version, Narcissus kills Commodus after learning that the Emperor's arena opponents had been armed only with edgeless swords. Though he strangles Commodus, it is after initially challenging him to a duel and does not occur in his bath but while he is preparing for it. Aaron Jakubenko portrays Commodus in the series. *Commodus appears as one of the antagonists in the popular young adult fiction novel series The Trials of Apollo, ''The Trials of Apollo''. He is revealed as having become a minor god after his death and has survived into modern times, along with two other Roman emperors Caligula and
Nero Nero ( ; full name: Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December AD 37 – 9 June AD 68) was the fifth emperor of Rome. He was Adoption in Ancient Rome, adopted by the Roman emperor Claudius at the age of 13 and s ...

Nero
. He was murdered by the god Apollo, who was his lover but disguised himself as Narcissus to kill him and end his tyranny. In modern times, he tries to get revenge on Apollo, who has been cast out of Olympus by Zeus as a mortal until he rights his wrongs. Commudus is eventually killed in the fourth book of the series.


See also

* List of Roman emperors


References


Sources

* *


Further reading

* Geoff W Adams, ''The Emperor Commodus : gladiator, Hercules or a tyrant?''. Boca Raton: BrownWalker Press, [2013]. * G. Alföldy, "Der Friedesschluss des Kaisers Commodus mit den Germanen," ''Historia'', 20 (1971), pp. 84–109. * P. A. Brunt, "The Fall of Perennis: Dio-Xiphilinus 79.9.2," ''Classical Quarterly'', 23 (1973), pp. 172–77 * J. Gagé, "La mystique imperiale et l'épreuve des jeux. Commode-Hercule et l'anthropologie hercaléenne," ''ANRW'' 2.17.2 (1981), 663–83 * * Olivier Hekster, ''Commodus: An Emperor at the Crossroads: Dutch monographs on ancient history and archaeology, 23''. Brill, 2002. * L. L. Howe, ''The Praetorian Prefect from Commodus to Diocletian (A.D. 180–305)''. Chicago, 1942 * M.P. Speidel, "Commodus the God-Emperor and the Army," ''Journal of Roman Studies'', 83 (1993), pp. 109–14. * Jerry Toner, ''The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino: Understanding the Roman Games''. Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.


External links


Historia Augusta: Life of Commodus



Herodian's Roman History
{{Authority control Commodus, 161 births 192 deaths 2nd-century murdered monarchs 2nd-century Roman emperors Aelii Assassinated heads of state Aurelii Burials at the Castel Sant'Angelo Deaths by strangulation Deified Roman emperors Eponymous archons Imperial Roman consuls Nerva–Antonine dynasty People from Lanuvio Roman emperors murdered by the Praetorian Guard Roman emperors to suffer posthumous denigration or damnatio memoriae Sons of Roman emperors Twin people of ancient Rome Roman pharaohs