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Roman Emperor Commodus ruled throughout the first few decades of the first millennium. He was recognized as an emperor who envisioned a significant turning point in Roman history. His name was Lucius Aurelius Commodus. After battling with his father, the emperor Marcus Aurelius, during the “Marcomannic Wars,” Commodus was named a co-ruler at the age of 16. He later succeeded his father as emperor, becoming the first Roman prince in almost a century to have the opportunity to take over from his biological father. While Commodus’ reign was not characterized by bloody battles like those of his forebears, it was nevertheless filled with scandals and plots. Commodus had a “God complex” because he was seen as the ideal tyrant in the midst of all this chaos. His reign is also recognized as the conclusion of the Roman Empire’s roughly 84-year-long period of calm. Like many other Roman emperors before and after him, Commodus was murdered by the former commander of the Roman army. Many times, the “Year of the Five Emperors,” which shook the Roman Empire to its very core, is attributed to his manner of rule and the conspiracies formed during his reign.

Early Childhood & Life

Marcus Aurelius, the former Roman emperor, gave birth to Lucius Aurelius Commodus in Lanuvium, close to Rome, in 161 AD. Marcus’s first cousin, Anna Galeria Faustina Minor, was his mother.

Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, Commodus’ older twin brother, was also a twin. When Titus passed away in 165, Commodus became Emperor Marcus’s oldest son and the presumptive heir to the throne. Titus was one of 12 siblings who were all his father’s natural-born offspring.

Only six of Marcus Aurelius’ 13 children were alive when the emperor passed away. Commodus was the lone son out of these six kids.

Commodus received the title “Caesar” in 166 AD, a title only given to members of the royal family. Being the sole surviving son of the emperor, he was also given access to Galen, his father’s physician, to ensure his health.
He received tutoring from several teachers in his early years to help him strengthen his intellectual ability. Onesicrates, Titus Aius Sanctus, and Antistius Capella were a few of these instructors.

In 172 AD, during the “Marcomannic Wars,” he served for the first time in the military when stationed at Carnuntum, Marcus Aurelius’s administrative center. In front of the Roman army that same year, he was given the victory title “Germanicus.”

At the age of 14, Commodus was officially ushered into public life when he was admitted to the “College of Pontiffs” in 175 AD. He continued to receive honorific titles after being named the Roman Empire’s consul in 177 AD and Marcus Aurelius’ co-ruler later that year.

Commodus wed Bruttia Crispina between ascending to the position of consul and sharing control of the Roman Empire.

The Commodus Emperor’s Reign

When Marcus Aurelius passed away in 180 AD, he left Commodus, his lone son, in charge of the Roman Empire.
In 180 AD, Commodus established peace with the Danubian tribes to start his reign. He was welcomed with great hoopla when he arrived in Rome since his efforts to keep the peace were seen as a success. Commodus always came across as indifferent in the specifics of the administration, in contrast to earlier emperors who retained a major influence on the administration of the empire. Instead, he chose a number of his trusted advisers, including Saoterus, to lead the empire on his behalf.

His sloppiness as a ruler resulted in a string of catastrophes, the first of which started in 182 AD.

Conspiracies, Murder, and Assassination Plots in 182 AD

The first attempt to overthrow Commodus’ power came in the year 182 AD. One of Commodus’ sisters, Lucilla, made an effort to kill the emperor by using two claimed lovers: Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus and Appius Claudius Quintianus.

The emperor’s bodyguards prevented the attempted assassination, hence it was unsuccessful. Both the defendants were ultimately put to death, and Lucilla was sent to Capri, where she was later murdered. It had been said that Lucilla’s jealousy of Queen Crispina was the driving force behind the conspiracy.

The murder of Saoterus was another notable event of the year. Commodus was deeply grieved by this development because he had grown to like Saoterus. Two praetorian prefects, Tarrutenius Paternus and Sextus Tigidius Perennis were thought to have planned his murder. The earlier was also a part of the aforementioned Commodus assassination scheme. Later, Perennis stabbed Paternus in the back by accusing him of killing Saoterus.
Soon after, Paternus was put to death while Perennis took over the government’s operations and Cleander was named the new chamberlain. It was eventually discovered that Cleander had driven the deciding blow for Saoterus.

Rumblings in Britain, Perennis’s demise, and Dacia

Greece’s Dacia became involved in a conflict in 183 AD. This expedition was exceptional because it featured two eminent military leaders, Clodius Albinus and Pescennius Niger, who would later vie for the Roman Empire’s succession.

Rome was quite concerned about the Roman army in Britain since it was on the verge of mutinying. To put down the brigand rebellion, Perennis sent the British army to Italy. In front of Commodus, a division of Roman soldiers from Britain denounced Perennis. They asserted that Perennis intended to depose Emperor Commodus and install his own son as emperor. Commodus was shocked by this information and promptly ordered Perennis’ wife and sons to be killed along with him.

The Success and Failure of Cleander

Cleander was the primary beneficiary of Perennis’s passing. It appears that Cleander put up the detachment of Roman soldiers from Britain that made Perennis’ execution possible.

With Perennis no longer in charge, Cleander was left in charge of all government and public affairs. With this authority, he sold official positions to the highest bidder.

Rome’s constant corruption left a foul smell that permeated all of Europe. In several parts of the empire, rebellions were arising. Cleander continued to bolster his finances while sitting in Rome. At his absolute zenith of power, Cleander rose to become the ‘Praetorian Guard’s’ supreme commander.

A grain scarcity in 190 AD ultimately brought Cleander down. During horse racing at the “Circus Maximus,” a mob protested Cleander. Cleander gave the “Praetorian Guard” orders to subdue the mob in response to the protesters’ anger. Pertinax, the city prefect of Rome at the time, stopped him.

Cleander fled to Commodus in fear of being protected from the enraged mob while the mob pursued him. However, the emperor decided to heed the advice of Marcia, his mistress, who pleaded with Commodus to have Cleander and his son put to death. As a result of the king’s request, Cleander and his son died horrific deaths.

The Complex of God

Commodus became increasingly active in running the day-to-day affairs of Rome after Cleander’s passing.
Commodus quickly gained a reputation among the Senate and the general people as a megalomaniac. Rome’s name was altered to “Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana” by him. He didn’t stop there, though.

He gave his name to the Senate, the fleets, the palaces, and even the citizens of the empire. Many historians still view his descent into the “God complex” as the catalyst for the decline of the Roman Empire. Along with adopting new identities, he also erected numerous statues of himself across the city.

When Commodus Died?

Commodus’s death on December 31, 182 AD, was not unexpected given his behavior. Perfect Laetus and Eclectus conceptualized the assassination. They tainted Commodus’ food supply. The emperor, however, threw up the poison, so the scheme was unsuccessful. They sent Narcissus, Commodus’s companion in combat, to strangle him in a further attempt to assassinate Commodus. Narcissus killed Emperor Commodus by strangling him in his bath this time.

Immediately after Commodus passed away, the Senate revoked all of his renaming decrees and labeled him a public enemy. The military commander of the Roman army, Pertinax, replaced Commodus, although he was only able to hold onto the throne for a short while. Later, this turbulent period became known as the “Year of the Five Emperors.”

Bigger Works of Commodus

Commodus devalued the Roman Empire’s coinage as soon as he assumed the throne.
Additionally, he decreased the weight of the denarius to a point where it was the largest decrease in weight in Roman history.
During his rule, silver’s purity decreased from 79% to 76%. According to his commands, the purity was further decreased to 74% in 186 AD.

Achievements of Commodus

The biggest accomplishment of Commodus was keeping the empire largely tranquil. Major conflicts were avoided during his rule.
Taking over from his father, Commodus signed a peace pact with the Danubian tribes.

Personal Legacy and Life

According to many historians, Commodus’ rule marked a turning point in Roman history. Commodus was not a harsh or sadistic individual. However, his lack of willingness to dominate combined with his irrational need to feed his ego hurt his ability to rule.

He continued to be well-liked by the populace in part because he planned numerous festivities for their entertainment. The Senate was highly taxed as well, which made the populace pleased.

Blood and mayhem have blanketed Commodus’ legacy. The terrible “Year of the Five Emperors,” which started soon after his death, devastated the Roman Empire. His reign is frequently seen by historians as marking the start of the Roman Empire’s decline.

Estimated net worth

The estimated net worth of Commodus is unknown.

Fact

Marcus Aurelius, Commodus’ father, was adopted by Antoninus Pius, his grandpa.