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Key information:


Birthdate: August 31, 161 CE.

(Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus, 1)

Birthplace: Lanuvium, Italy.

(Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus, 1)

Reign: Commodus was named emperor in 176 CE, at the age of 15, on the orders of his father Marcus Aurelius. Commodus ruled jointly with his father for a period of four years. When Marcus Aurelius died on March 17, 180 CE, Commodus became sole emperor. 

(Herodian 1.5.1) (Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus, 2.4)


Bruttia Crispina (178-191 CE)

(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 73.4)

Death: Commodus died on December 31, 192 CE in Rome. He was strangled to death by Narcissus, his wrestling partner.  

(Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus, 17) (Cassius Dio, Roman History, 73.22)

Bust of Commodus, Palazzo Massimo, Rome, September 2019
Bust of Commodus, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, January 2020
Bust of Commodus, Musei Capitolini, Rome, April 2019

Famous facts and dates

In 177 CE, at the age of 15, Commodus was named consul by the Roman senate and his father, Marcus Aurelius. However, despite this early start to public life, Commodus had little interest in government and administration.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Marcus Aurelius, 22)


Commodus loved gladiator games, and he often took part in spectacles in the Colosseum. According to Cassius Dio, Commodus killed one hundred bears in a single day. He also hunted tigers, elephants, and hippopotamuses in the arena.
(Cassius Dio, Roman History, 73.18-19)
Commodus was a narcissist and megalomaniac. He renamed all twelve months of the year after himself, and he renamed Rome to “Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana.”
(Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus, 8-10)
Upon his death, the Roman senate declared Commodus a public enemy and damned his memory. However, three years later, the emperor Septimius Severus restored Commodus’ memory and declared him a god.
(Historia Augusta, Life of Commodus, 17-19)

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Cite this page as: Darius Arya, The American Institute for Roman Culture, “Commodus,” Ancient Rome Live. Last modified 12/11/2022.


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