Today on August 31 161, the infamous Roman tyrant, Commodus, was born.
Lucius Aurelius Commodus was one of fourteen children born to Marcus Aurelius and Faustina the Younger. He was born one of twins, however his brother died at the age of 4. Commodus was the only male to survive childhood and become heir to the Roman Empire. Commodus was depicted in the Academy Award winning film, Gladiator.
At the age of 16, Commodus began ruling as co-emperor with his father until his death in 180. He became the first biological son to succeed his father as emperor of Rome for almost a hundred years. He is best known for his passion for the gladiatorial games and often fought in the arena himself dressed as a gladiator. However, he is ultimately remembered as a cruel tyrant known for excessive behavior, constant suspicion and the slaughtering of his enemies.
His eccentric behavior eventually led to his assassination in 192. Laetus, the leader of his personal bodyguard, planned the conspiracy. They first attempted to poison his food but he vomited up the poison, so the conspirators sent his wrestling partner, Narcissus, to strangle him while bathing. Commodus' statues were immediately destroyed and taken down and his body was buried in the Mausoleum of Hadrian.