Thursday, 8 December 2022

Commodus - Tyrant of ancient Rome


Commodus as Hercules
Commodus (161 – 192), born Lucius Aurelius Commodus was Roman Emperor from AD 180 to 192. He ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father's death in 180. Holding a huge club to beat his enemies, Commodus wears a lion skin in a marble portrait bust made in the second century AD, which is one of the treasures of Rome’s Capitoline Museum. The portrait equates the strength of Hercules with the power of the emperor. The son of the respected Marcus Aurelius took control of the Roman empire and embarked on a career of bizarre, erratic behavior and monstrous cruelty.
As well as personally executing his enemies and perceived enemies, he liked to fight in the arena, killing gladiators with his own hands in a spectacle that Romans found shameful.

Commodus AV Aureus. Rome, AD 190-1. Commodus, as Hercules. Est 50,000 GBP. Price: 160k GBP
His accession marked a descent "from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust" – a famous comment which has led many to take Commodus' reign as the beginning of the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Commodus claimed to be the son of Jupiter, the supreme god of the Roman pantheon and viewed himself in megalomaniacal proportions.
In November 192, Commodus held Plebeian Games. He shot animals with arrows and javelins every morning, and fought as a gladiator every afternoon, winning all of his bouts easily as his opponents always submitted. For each appearance in the arena, he charged the city of Rome a million sesterces, a vast sum. (250k denarii) He announced his intention to inaugurate the year 193 as both consul and gladiator. His foes had enough. They poisoned his food but he vomited it up; so the conspirators sent his wrestling partner Narcissus to strangle him. Upon his death, the Senate declared him a public enemy.
An extremely rare aureus of Commodus was sold in 2019. Dating to 178 AD and struck in Rome. 25,000 euros.