- historical event: The son of Marcus Aurelius – Commodus – is known to us from the hit film from 2000 "Gladiator". Historical data on Commodus really speak of his notoriety.
This day marked the start of an unfortunate series of events which would ultimately weaken the Roman Empire. Namely, the reigning Emperor Marcus Aurelius gave his son Commodus the title of Imperator. The fact that Commodus became the official successor of Marcus Aurelius was unfortunate, and it would late prove to have been a bad choice. In fact, in the preceding period, Roman Empire prospered due to a continuous string of capable emperors. It is interesting that Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor in a long time who had a biological son that would outlive him. His predecessors, in the absence of sons, named their adopted sons as successors. That turned out to be good, because they elected future emperors more according to their ability than their blood.
The golden age of the so-called “Five Good Emperors” – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, Antoninus Pius and Marcus Aurelius – was successful, according to Machiavelli, precisely because of the succession by adoption principle. Indeed, Machiavelli generalized and thought that all sons became bad emperors (except the Emperor Titus), and all adopted children proved to be good rulers.
The son of Marcus Aurelius – Commodus – is known to us from the hit film from 2000, “Gladiator”, in which he is actually a villain. Historical data on Commodus really does seem to confirm his notoriety. Namely, he had megalomaniac tendencies and portrayed himself as Hercules. Unlike his father, Marcus Aurelius, who was a stoic philosopher, it seems that Commodus was very proud of his physical appearance. It is known that he went into the arena naked, which allegedly scandalized the viewers. Apparently, during one day in the arena, he killed as many as 100 lions. He killed three elephants on the floor of the arena by himself, and even a giraffe, even though it was considered a helpless animal.
Commodus was in the arena, of course, always victorious in duels with gladiators, because they always submitted to the emperor. He allegedly killed opponents even during training. There are rumors that he brought wounded soldiers and the disabled in the arena, which he would then personally kill with a sword.
The physical appearance of Emperor Commodus was much different than how is portrayed in the film “Gladiator”. Namely, Commodus had a beard and curly blond hair, which he even adorned with gold dust.