He was of low birth (he was an ex-slave), ambitious, and cunning—and during his ascendancy, which stretched from approximately 182 to 189, he was practically emperor while Commodus indulged his private pursuits. [27] Ancient sources suggest that they had received only half their promised pay. Although he had no previous military experience, his education and family’s money granted him the luxury of becoming the commander of a small legion of Gallic soldiers in Syria. Pertinax would be the first of what became known as the Year of the Five Emperors. Just not that Commodus! Portrait bust of Commodus as a Child photographed by the author, in the Ostia Archaeological Museum . Web. His unique ability as a leader did not go unnoticed by those around him, and he quickly became a tribune stationed at York. The general Maximus, weary of battle, decides to retire at his Spanish farm estate at the Emperor's behest, but the Emperor tells him that Commodus is unfit to rule and thus appoints him as regent to help save Rome from corruption. He ruled as junior co-e… [24] Neither the guards on duty nor the palace officials chose to resist them. [11], When Commodus' behaviour became increasingly erratic throughout the early 190s, a conspiracy led to his assassination on 31 December 192. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Pertinax/. "Pertinax." Commodus was a bloody tyrant and his reign was also a disaster and contributed to the decline of the greatest Classical Empire. At some pont before the events of Ryse, he was appointed by his father as governor of Britannia. Our latest articles delivered to your inbox, once a week: Our mission is to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. Last modified September 19, 2013. He took the throne as regent, but was killed by Maximus in the Colosseum. Commodus, Emperor of Rome. Ancient History Encyclopedia Foundation is a non-profit organization. Jay. One of those reforms, the restoration of discipline among the Praetorian Guard, led to conflict that eventually culminated in Pertinax's assassination by the Guard. He was also known for imagining that he was the god Hercules, entering the arena to fight as a gladiator or to kill lions with bow and arrow. Commodus (31 August 161-31 December 192) was the Emperor of the Roman Empire from 180 to 192, succeeding Marcus Aurelius and preceding Pertinax.. Cassius Dio wrote, he “raised money as best he could from the statues, the arms, the horses, the furniture, and the favourites of Commodus, and gave the Praetorian all that he had promised ….” While the public was initially pleased (at least until he reduced the number of gladiatorial games), the Guard and the palace officials were not. He attempted to institute several reform measures, although the short length of his time as emperor prevented the success of those attempts. He received an excellent education as a child as his father was known for his philosophical musings and is, to this day, remembered as a philosopher. Pertinax was Roman Emperor for three months in 193 CE and, as successor to Commodus, it was hoped that he would restore much needed sobriety to the office of emperor. Wasson, D. L. (2013, September 19). [33] For some time, he held games on the anniversary of Pertinax's ascension and his birthday. Donald has taught Ancient, Medieval and U.S. History at Lincoln College (Normal, Illinois)and has always been and will always be a student of history, ever since learning about Alexander the Great. The Ancient History Encyclopedia logo is a registered EU trademark. Lucius Aurelius Commodus was born to the philosopher/king and Faustina the Younger at Lanuvium, a city fourteen miles southeast of Rome on August 31, 161 CE. With no apparent successor, the throne was once again left vacant. Ancient History Encyclopedia. Italics indicates a junior co-emperor, while underlining indicates a usurper. After his reign of terror, the Emperors became the absolute rulers of the Roman World, following his example. At first, events after the emperor’s death went exactly according to plan. Information about the Roman emperor Commodus. He was born in 161 AD, and made joint ruler with his father, the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, at age 16. Fight for Glory He succeeded Commodus to become the first emperor during the tumultuous Year of the Five Emperors. [7] He suffered a setback as a victim of court intrigues during the reign of Marcus Aurelius, but shortly afterwards, he was recalled to assist Claudius Pompeianus in the Marcomannic Wars. He is eager to pass knowledge on to his students. He led a truly 'rags to riches' story as his father went from slavery to success and wealth in the wool trade, allowing his son to receive a classical education which, in turn, permitted Pertinax to lead a quiet and uneventful life as a teacher of grammar. Marcus "Aurelius" Commodus is a fictional character and the main antagonist of the 2000 Oscar winner historic action film Gladiator. In 180 AD, Marcus Aurelius died, leaving Commodus as sole Emperor of Rome. His twin brother, Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antonius, died at age four. Pertinax. Dio refers to him as "an excellent and upright man"[35] who displayed "not only humaneness and integrity in the imperial administrations, but also the most economical management and the most careful consideration for the public welfare". [2] In 175, he received the honor of a suffect consulship[8] and until 185, Pertinax was governor of the provinces of Upper and Lower Moesia, Dacia, Syria and finally governor of Britain. He also … Commodus (161-192) was the son of Marcus Aurelius. He was the son of the reigning emperor, Marcus Aurelius, and Aurelius's first cousin, Faustina the Younger, the youngest daughter of Emperor Antoninus Pius, who had died only a few months before. [29] Pertinax must have been aware of the danger he faced by assuming the purple, for he refused to use imperial titles for either his wife or son, thereby protecting them from the aftermath of his own assassination. [34], Pertinax's historical reputation is largely a positive one, beginning with the assessment of Cassius Dio, a historian and senator who was a colleague of Pertinax. However, in 161 CE, at the age of thirty-five, he tired of the low pay and left teaching to enter the military. After the assassination of Roman Emperor Commodus on December 31, 192 CE, the empire’s throne was left vacant. Though describing him as a good man, Machiavelli considered Pertinax's attempt to reform a soldiery that had become "accustomed to live licentiously" a mistake, as it inspired their hatred of him, which led to his overthrow and death. See, D. Fishwick, The Imperial Cult in the Latin West (Leiden, 1987-91), 473. Already at the age of five, in the year AD 166, he was made Caesar (junior emperor). Falco was pardoned - it became apparent that he had been set up - but several others involved were executed. Pertinax was born on August 1, 126 CE at Alba Pompeia in Liguria to a freed slave Helvius Successus; his mother’s name is unknown. Written by Donald L. Wasson, published on 19 September 2013 under the following license: Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. Commodus, Roman emperor from 177 to 192 (sole emperor after 180). The story of Commodus’ rise and fall from grace begins in late summer, AD 161. His brutal misrule precipitated civil strife that ended 84 years of stability and prosperity within the empire. Even though he tried to reason with them, his words fell on deaf ears; he and Electus were both stabbed to death. Caesar Augustus) AD 14-37. The excesses of Commodus had come to an end as the finances of the empire were now in ruin. [27] He is also critical of Pertinax's judgment when it came to the speed with which he tried to reform the excesses of the reign of Commodus by suggesting that a more tempered approach would have been less likely to result in his murder. His reign was nothing like his predecessors in bloodletting, at least in Rome. [20][21] He reformed the Roman currency dramatically, increasing the silver purity of the denarius from 74% to 87% – the actual silver weight increasing from 2.22 grams to 2.75 grams. Cite This Work As an emperor, Commodus soon became a disappointment to Marcus Aurelius. Thank you! And in AD 177, after the revolt of Cassius, Marcus Aurelius made him Augustus and thereby joint emperor. 4 He Didn’t Actually Do Any Of His Duties. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. [16][note 1] His short reign (86 days) was an uneasy one. "He failed to comprehend, though a man of wide practical experience, that one cannot with safety reform everything at once, and that the restoration of a state, in particular, requires both time and wisdom". The senate acclaimed Pertinax as emperor, damned the memory of Commodus, and undid all his ambitious renaming. Despite his education, he did not inherit any of his father’s work. Following the death of Commodus, Pertinax was acclaimed emperor. [28], Although advised to flee, he then attempted to reason with them, and was almost successful before being struck down by one of the soldiers. With the emperor away at Ostia inspecting a grain shipment, an assassination plot by a Praetorian Guard member, Quintas Sosius Falco, was exposed. 23 Dec 2020. As the son of emperor Marcus Aurelius, Commodus was the first Roman emperor to have been "born in the purple," and thus dynastically selected to be his successor. [20], Dio's approval is not unqualified, however. Silver Spoon in Mouth. Commodus was appointed as a co-ruler, at the age of 16, after fighting alongside his father and emperor, Marcus Aurelius, during the ‘Marcomannic Wars.’ Discussing the importance of a prince not being hated, Machiavelli provides Pertinax as an example of how it is as easy for a ruler to be hated for good actions as for bad ones. Unfortunately, his lack of skill in appeasing those around him (such as the Senate, the Guard, and the citizenry) would bring about his demise. Commodus's death marked the end of the Nervan-Antonian dynasty, and the beginning of the end for the Western Roman Empire. The empire was thrown into a civil war, and it would be four years before the dust would clear. [41], In Romanitas, a fictional alternate history novel by Sophia McDougall, Pertinax's reign is the point of divergence. He succeeded Commodus to become the first emperor during the tumultuous Year of the Five Emperors. [36], Pertinax is discussed in The Prince by Niccolò Machiavelli. 0 2. Realizing he needed to ensure the Guard’s support, Pertinax hurried to the Praetorian Guard’s camp where he guaranteed each soldier a bonus of 12,000 sesterces. His historical reputation has largely been a positive one, in line with Cassius Dio's assessment. Lucius Aurelius Commodus, born 161 A.D., was appointed co-emperor by his father Marcus Aurelius in 177 A.D. when he was just 16 years old. After serving in battle on the northern frontier in 178 and 179, together with Aurelius, Commodus returned to Rome in 180 after his father’s death. Since there were no familial candidates, they chose a former teacher and military commander, Publius Helvius Pertinax. In 172 AD, during the Marcomannic War, Commodus was given the victory title Germanicus. He was the only surviving son, and therefore he was the sole heir of the emperor. In 177 AD following Cassius’ rebellion, Emperor Aurelius announced Commodus as Augustus and co-emperor. Wasson, Donald L. Aurelius’ physician, Galen, was tasked with looking after Commodus to ensure that he stayed healthy and well. The Colosseum, Rome. [24] The plot was betrayed; Falco himself was pardoned but several of the officers behind the coup were executed. 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