AR Denarius. 3.26g, 19.2mm
MINTED: Rome mint, AD 186-187
REF: RIC 157 (scarce)
OBVERSE: M COMM ANT P FEL AVG BRIT, laureate head right.
REVERSE: [PAT]ER SENAT P M TR P XII IMP VIII COS V P P, Commodus (as Pater Senatus), togate, standing left, holding branch in right hand and transverse sceptre in left hand.
A scare type, the legend naming Commodus the Father of the Senate.
Where his father, the philosophically minded Marcus Aurelius, was a dutiful, intelligent and enlightened ruler, Commodus was a vain, easily influenced, and cruel tyrant. Once Aurelius died in 180, the 18-year old Commodus quickly rejected the austere lifestyle and Stoic philosophy of his father, indulging his personal passions and vices while allowing ambitious advisors and freedmen to run the government on his behalf.
Towards the end of his reign, Commodus became mentally unstable and megalomaniacal in the extreme. He believed himself the reincarnation of the demigod Hercules, dressing up in a lionskin and carrying about a club in public. He scandalized the nobility of Rome by performing in public arenas naked as a gladiator, while threatening to execute any who offended him. In a bizarre act of egomania, he renamed Rome and all the months of the year after himself. Finally, in 192, a group of those closest to him, including his chamberlain Eclectus, his concubine Marcia, and the praetorian prefect Laetus, joined a conspiracy to murder him. On December 31, they poisoned his food and had his wrestling trainer, Narcissus, strangle him in his bath.
In the 2000 film Gladiator, Commodus was the memorably villainous emperor.
COMMODUS . AD 177-192 . AR Denarius . Emperor as Father of the Senate
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