Commodus


Commodus
/kom"euh deuhs/, n.
Lucius Aelius Aurelius /ee"lee euhs/, A.D. 161-192, Roman emperor 180-192; son and successor of Marcus Aurelius.

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in full Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus orig. Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus

born Aug. 31, 161, Lanuvium, Latium
died Dec. 31, 192

Roman emperor (AD 177–92).

He ruled with his father, Marcus Aurelius, until the latter's death in 180; recalled from the frontier, Commodus plunged into a life of dissipation in Rome. After his sister tried to have him killed (182), he executed the senators involved and began ruling capriciously. His brutality stirred unrest that ended years of Roman stability and prosperity. He renamed Rome Colonia Commodiana ("Colony of Commodus"). Physically impressive, he claimed he was Hercules and performed as a gladiator. His mistress and advisers had him strangled, ending the Antonine dynasty.

Commodus as Hercules, marble bust; in the Capitoline Museum, Rome.

Anderson
Alinari/Art Resource, New York

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▪ Roman emperor
in full  Caesar Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus Augustus,  original name (until AD 180)  Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus  
born Aug. 31, 161, Lanuvium, Latium [now Lanuvio, Italy]
died Dec. 31, 192
 Roman emperor from 177 to 192 (sole emperor after 180). His brutal misrule precipitated civil strife that ended 84 years of stability and prosperity within the empire.

      In 177 Lucius was made coruler and heir to his father, the emperor Marcus Aurelius (reigned 161–180). Lucius joined Marcus in his campaign against invading German tribes along the Danube, but after the death of Marcus (March 180) he quickly came to terms with the Germans.

      Soon after he became sole ruler, Lucius changed his name to Marcus Aurelius Commodus Antoninus. In 182 Commodus' sister Lucilla conspired with a group of senators to assassinate him. The plot failed, and Commodus retaliated by executing a number of leading senators. Thereafter, his rule became increasingly arbitrary and vicious. In 186 he had his chief minister executed in order to appease the army; three years later he allowed the minister's successor to be killed by a rioting crowd. Political influence then passed to the emperor's mistress and two advisers.

      Meanwhile, Commodus was lapsing into insanity. He gave Rome a new name, Colonia Commodiana (Colony of Commodus), and imagined that he was the god Hercules, entering the arena to fight as a gladiator or to kill lions with bow and arrow. Finally, when Commodus announced that he would assume the consulship on Jan. 1, 193, dressed as a gladiator, the public became incensed. On Dec. 31, 192, his advisers had him strangled by a champion wrestler. A grateful Senate proclaimed as emperor the city prefect, Publius Helvius Pertinax, but the empire quickly slipped into civil war.

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Universalium. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

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