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University of > > Mint Imperials > Denarius > On today in ad 192, the roman inn emperor Commodus was murdered.

You are watching: Who killed the cruel emperor commodus

December 31, 2015, by will certainly Leveritt

On now in advertisement 192, the roman inn emperor Commodus was murdered.

Text through Lauren Shelton

Image by sarah Jordan

The emperor to be strangled in his bath by Narcissus, a wrestler who was tasked through the deed by a tiny group the conspirators: the Praetorian Prefect, Aemilius Laetus; Commodus’ chamberlain, Eclectus; and also Commodus’ mistress, Marcia. This was no the very first time an effort had been made top top the emperor’s life and the factors for this become clear as soon as one looks at his reign.


AR denarius the Commodus. Obverse has laureate head r., M COMMODVS ANTONINVS AVG. Reverse has Liberalitas l. Through counting-board and also cornucopia, LIB AVG TR p V IMP IIII COS II ns P. 17mm, 12 o’clock, 2.72g.

Commodus to be born in 161, the son of the popular and also highly respect emperor Marcus Aurelius and his mam Faustina the Younger. He was the first emperor to it is in ‘born in the purple’, that is, during the regime of his father.

Commodus came to be co-ruler v his father in 177, once he was only 15 years old. The ancient Greek historian Herodian claims that throughout his final illness Marcus Aurelius ended up being worried the his youthful and also pleasure-seeking son can ignore public affairs and also descend into debauchery once he became sole ruler.

Marcus’ fears confirmed well-founded. Shortly after his father died in 180 Commodus discontinued his father’s war against the Germanic people on the Empire’s northern borders, instead coming to terms through them; Commodus reverted Rome to indulge in the pleasures of the city.

He soon faced the an initial attempt top top his life, in 182. The conspirators included his sister, Annia Lucilla, as well as several senators, including Ummidius Quadratus, through whom Lucilla was stated to be having an affair. Various sources give different reasons for the conspiracy: Herodian says Lucilla, who had once to be married to Marcus’ co-emperor Lucius Verus, came to be jealous the the marks of honour and also the precedence appreciated by Commodus’ wife, Crispina.

But the Historia Augusta argues that it was anger in ~ Commodus misrule which detailed the impetus. The is said to have insulted senators, given them positions listed below their dignity, provided the rule of the districts over to his favourites, and on a personal level to have engaged in scandalous behaviour. Everything the cause, the assassination to be botched, and Commodus had countless of the conspirators executed, including (at a later date) Lucilla herself, and also it to be after this the his preeminence seems to have end up being even an ext unstable.

Sources such together Cassius Dio suggest that, simply as his father seems to have actually predicted, Commodus avoided the running of the empire on a day-to-day basis and instead delegated this to a wire of favourites who he made his chief ministers.

These men, whether freedmen choose Saoterus and later, the powerful Cleander, or Praetorian Prefects like Perennis, would climb to power, manage affairs come their very own benefit, and also then be reduced down and also replaced either with intrigue in ~ the royal court, or by Commodus himself as a way to appease a specific group once their deeds became an ext widely known.

The emperor to be instead pertained to with pleasure and displaying his very own physical prowess by fighting as a gladiator in the arena or against wild animals during the countless lavish and also expensive public gamings he organized. He was also dedicated to chariot racing, together Dio speak us.

Commodus additionally alienated windy opinion by having actually a wide variety of particularly honours voted to him, consisting of renaming the legions, the month of the year and also even Rome chin after himself or the virtues he thought he possessed. He also referred to himself together a roman inn Hercules.

His misrule extended to murdering many prominent men and courtiers because that a selection of reasons, both for minor an individual sleights (real or imagined), or top top false dues of conspiracy i m sorry fed his paranoia. Indeed, it to be Marcia’s discovery of her name, and those the Eclectus and Laetus, on a perform of intended victims that relocated them to have the emperor murdered top top 31 December, 192, at the period of 31. With him passed away the Antonine dynasty.

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After his death, Publius Helvius Pertinax, the city prefect, became emperor yet the shift was no smooth, and also the Empire easily slipped into a civil war which persisted until Septimius Severus thrived in eliminating his rivals and attaining the throne.