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[[File: Commodus one.jpg|
200px| thumb|left| A bust of Commodus]]__NOTOC__
Emperor Commodus (161 -192 AD) was one of the most despicable rulers in Rome’s long and violent history. He has been portrayed in many popular movies and tv series. Joaquin Phoenix even played a fictionalized version of Commodus in the movie <i>Gladiator</i>. Commodus's reign was a complete disaster.
==How did Commodus become Emperor?==
[[File: Commodus 2.jpg|
200px| thumb|left|Bust of Marcus Aurelius]]
Commodus was born on August 31, 161 AD. His father was Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who was revered by his subjects and was also a great philosopher. The young Commodus received an excellent education based on Stoic principles and, from an early age, accompanied his father on his campaigns in the Marcomannic War.<ref>Geoff W Adams, Emperor Commodus: Gladiator, Hercules or a tyrant? (Boca Raton, Brown Walker Press, 2013), p 17</ref> In 177 AD, he was made the joint ruler of the Empire with his father.
In 180 AD, Marcus Aurelius died while on campaign beyond the Danube. Commodus became the sole and absolute ruler of the Roman world. He immediately paid a donative to the legions. To fund this, he devalued the coinage for the first time since the reign of Nero. Commodus continued the campaign against the German tribes on the Danube but soon entered into negotiations with the enemy. He signed a peace treaty that ended the Macromannic Wars, which had lasted almost 18 years.
Commodus returned to Rome, and after securing the Senate's loyalty, he held a spectacular Triumph. It soon became apparent that Commodus did not have any interest in ruling and the day-to-day administration. Soon, he invested a favorite freedman with the management of the Imperial government. Commodus lived a very lavish existence, and he provided many mass entertainments and regularly gave the army donatives.<ref>Adams, p 119</ref>
The ruler of Rome began to portray himself as the demi-god Heracles. This was more than just propaganda; he appeared to believe that he was a manifestation of the legendary hero. It is claimed by Roman authors that he believed that he was the God when he was killing lions with a bow and arrow in the arena, just as the demigod had in the myths. Some believe that his identification with divinity was a strategy to strengthen his rule and secure the population's obedience.
No one in the elite and his government
was safe. By 190, Commodus was completely paranoid. The Emperor personally killed citizens who refused to attend the Games. <ref>Adams, p 118. </ref> On December 31, 192, the Prefect of Rome and some members of the Emperor’s inner circle had him strangled while he was bathing with the champion wrestler, Narcissus. The Senate immediately proclaimed Pertinax, the city prefect, one of Commodus's assassins, the new Emperor. <ref>Herodian, CHP. 1</ref> His death marked the end of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty.
==Why did Commodus end the Macromannic War?==
[[File: Comm 3.jpg|
300px|thumb|left| The Colosseum in Rome, where Commodus killed animals and gladiators]]
By 180 AD, the legions had been at war for eighteen years. It seemed that Rome was on the verge of a complete victory and was about to annex the Marcomanni and their allies' territory, the Qadi. Marcus Aurelius hoped that one more campaign season would result in a complete and total victory and expand Rome into central Europe. His death changed all of this. Soon after his death, Commodus ended the war, and many ancient writers regretted this, and later historians echoed this until recent times.