Talk:Commodus

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Calendar[edit]

What's the correct order of the months of Commodus's calendar? All the sources seem to agree that the months are Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius, Commodus, Augustus, Herculeus, Romanus, Exsuperatorius, Amazonius, Invictus, Felix, Pius, but searching on the net I've gotten a few different accounts of what the correct order is, which months correspond to January–December. Everyking 20:53, 1 Jan 2005 (UTC)

Commodus: Life of[edit]

I note that the account of Commodus' life in the detailed entry at this site [1] is much less damning. Could it be that popular histories have over-done the demonization? Davidbrake

No. The general consensus among historians since the 4th century is that Commodus is one of the very worst of the Roman emperors, with no discernible values during his reign.HammerFilmFan (talk) 18:58, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Character[edit]

I think the line "Though he has become a byword for insane caprice, it is difficult to assess his character from the written sources" in the character section is a little unwarranted.

This guy was very clearly an asshole: from giving himself 12 names (or however many it was) and frequently changing his name, to fighting opponents who wouldn't fight back in the gladiator arena, to charging huge sums for his worthless and vain gladiator appearances, to portraying himself as Hercules (a revered god) all over the place. It's no wonder his family deserted him.

I remember my dollege history teaching called him worthless, and the cover or jacket notes for the Penguin edition of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations describes him as worthless. I'm not a Western Civilization scholar, but the impression I get is that the sober predominant view among those who have expertise is that this guy was a jerk.

I don't know what's behind trying to lionize this guy, such as the section on the discussion page below that's questioning whether Commodus got an unnecessary unfair assessment on the Wikipedia page. Is it just because he was an emperor who fought in gladiator combat? We don't need to lionize wimpy schlumps and treat jerks as if they're heroes just because they do some things that might be impressive in a way if some of the details (vainglorious emperor, submissive opponents, robbery of state) were changed.

Anyway, bottom line, I think the sentence I quoted above should be edited out-- if someone who has familiarity with the written sources (I don't) feels the same way I do about it. Thanks. 67.85.225.175 21:47, 3 December 2007 (UTC) Swan

While I won't judge Commodus' character, spending just a few minutes reading Cassius Dio's account of Commodus is rather telling. I've marked this and will update the character section with Cassius Dio's account of some of Commodus' actions. Vorpala (talk) 10:36, 14 December 2007 (UTC)

Question[edit]

What is the source for the claim of 12,000 kills in gladiatorial combat? In Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire he states that the emperor fought in the arena 735 times and rarely killed any opponent in public, although it was a different matter in his private fights.

Also, the article states that Commodus ordered a city to be wiped out. Which city? What is the source?

--Spondoolicks 20:45, 22 September 2005 (UTC)

I have now removed these two claims, together with the claim that he was fully armed while his opponents fought with wooden weapons. Cassius Dio records in book 73 of his history that Commodus himself fought with a wooden sword and the public fights were not very serious. I have found no mention of a city being massacred although there's plenty of other bloodshed.
I think also there should be a disclaimer mentioning that the more scandalous stories of Commodus' behaviour may be, to some extent, propaganda. He was particularly unpopular with the senators (Cassius Dio was one of these) as they were heavily taxed, while the general public and the soldiers often received quite generous handouts and he retained some popularity with them. --Spondoolicks 11:45, 28 September 2005 (UTC)

Name[edit]

"Commodus" is literally Latin for "convenient". What???--Codenamecuckoo 11:50, 20 November 2005 (UTC)

My Latin dictionary doesn't define it so narrowly. It gives the definitions for the adjective commodus: "proper, fit, full; suitable, easy, opportune"; and when referring to a person, "pleasant, obliging". Derivatives include "commodity". -Silence 20:30, 20 November 2005 (UTC)
Still not a very good description of him...--Codenamecuckoo 16:56, 3 December 2005 (UTC)
Maybe you should think of his name as one might think of the name "Felix"? Vince In Milan 16:06, 28 March 2006 (UTC)
Who and when named him so? -- Error (talk) 19:48, 4 February 2014 (UTC)

Title[edit]

I have changed his title from "Autocrat of the Roman Empire" to "Emperor of the Roman Empire", as I can't see any particular reason why the article shouldn't use the same title as for the other emperors.Manfi 16:06, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

That's good, because the Autocracy did not begin until after the death of Severus Alexander. After that, the Principate was dead, and the 'emperors' were autocrats.HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:00, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Incest[edit]

The article says the 'many ancient sources' support Commodus's incestuous love for Lucilla. I can't find any. Is this accurate?The Singing Badger 21:41, 4 January 2006 (UTC)

I'm not an expert on Roman history, but if you can't find anything to substantiate it, it's quite probable that someone saw the movie Gladiadtor and decided to throw that in there. TheMrFrog

Commode[edit]

I wonder if Commodus was the impetus behind the word commode, which of course is another word for toilet. I didn't see anything in the article to say if Commodus was the inspiration or not.
JesseG 05:12, 22 June 2006 (UTC)

"Commode" does indeed derive from the Latin commodus in its sense of "convenient/convenience", but there is no connection to the Emperor (except perhaps for the unusual amount of bathroom humor vandalism that this article seems to attract). SteveStrummer (talk) 19:18, 28 May 2010 (UTC)

Data sheet[edit]

Below the picture of the statue of Commodus is the data sheet for his father. Anyone able to fix this?Ackander 18:38, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Overly negative assessment?[edit]

I'm thinking the article may be slightly POV in its extremely damning and negative verdict on Commodus. Statements such as that Commodus "ruined the Roman economy" are probably impossible to back up and should thus be omitted. Some of his actions could also be seen in a more positive light than has been attempted. For example, the territories north of the Danube subdued by Marcus Aurelius were economically worthless and strategically extremely exposed; thus it made sense to abandon them. There are both precedents to this (the decision not to attempt to reconquer Germania in the reign of Tiberius, the decision not to annex Caledonia after the battle of Mons Graupius, etc.) and later, similar developments (e.g. the abandonment of the Agri Decumates and of Dacia). This is just an example of how some things could be interpreted in an alternative, more positive way. Whilst I haven't read the original sources, a lot of what is in the article sounds like quotes or paraphrases of typical Latin rhetoric (which was written by people who didn't like Commodus), but without being acknowledged as such. I believe the article might need an overhaul. --Helmold 21:28, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

"For each appearance in the arena, he charged the city of Rome a million sesterces, straining the Roman economy." Can this really have strained the Roman economy? I once read that a Roman auxiliary soldier in pre-third century imperial times received a pay of 250 denarii, i.e. 1000 sesterces, per year. This is an auxiliary soldier, who would have received considerable less than the standard legionary. In other words, with what Commodus received (if we believe Cassius Dio) he could have paid 1000 auxiliaries for a year. This may seem large, but the Roman army was dealing in terms of hundreds of thousands of soldiers. In other words, I can't see how this could have actually ruined the Roman economy. The Roman state depended upon the economic well-being of the wealthy landowners; but what Commodus pocketed, if he pocketed it, could never have been enough to necessitate a tax increase so radical it could have bankrupted landowners, or indeed any tax increase at all. I'm not saying the statement should be deleted, but it would be very desirable that it gets backed up by evidence. --Helmold 21:52, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

Virtually all historical authorities have little or nothing positive to say of Commodus - Professor Boak's comment is typical: "Commodus is one of the few Roman emperors of which nothing good can be said." He appears to have been a 180-degree opposite from his intelligent, dedicated father - a youth totally devoted to his own pleasures and self-importance, probably with clinical mental issues. HammerFilmFan (talk) 07:21, 28 July 2011 (UTC) HammerFilmFan

Crimes of Commodus section[edit]

I deleted the entire Crimes of Commodus section since it appeared to be little more than a miscellany of Commodus' misdeeds and on the whole rather POV. I don't wish to whitewash Commodus, so of course the issues touched upon in the section ought to be included in the article, emphatically including the unpleasant ways in which Commodus rid himself of his enemies, real or imaginary. But this might be done in a slightly different form, and from a slightly more neutral point of view. --Helmold 22:00, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

The POV is probably influenced by Commodus' nagative portrayal in the film Gladiator. Anything which is mentioned in the film but can't be backed historically should be removed. --Manfi 16:10, 17 July 2009 (UTC)

Legacy section[edit]

I've also deleted the Legacy section, since it claims that Commodus' reign is considered as the beginning of the decline of the Roman Empire. Whilst I've personally never read a scholar who believes this, it should be deleted even if there are people who hold this view, since "is considered" implies that there is a scholarly consensus about this. The other part of the Legacy section essentially repeated points made in previous sections of the article and was thus unnecessary. --Helmold 22:04, 8 October 2006 (UTC)

I have read many scholars that support this view. In fact, his reign was the end of the period from Nerva-Marcus Aurelius in which good successive gov't's were ended within the Principate. While all these Princeps had their faults and misdeeds occurred during their reigns, generally speaking, the empire had good government and successors were chosen on their merits rather than a monarchy, until Marcus, who could not have been blind to Commodus's failings, did not have the courage to have him put aside or better yet, executed. The Severan dynasty was mostly a series of bad rulers, and the Autocracy followed its end. There were bright spots along the way, but civil war was often the order of the day, ushered in by Septimius Severus.HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:07, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

Flow of Roman History[edit]

The content of this article doesn't mention the epilogue of his death and doesn't flow into the next dynasty of the Roman Empire. Roy Laurie 08:38, 12 December 2006 (UTC)

The film gladiator[edit]

(There is no historical evidence suggesting Marcus Aurelius was murdered, much less by his own son.) I think that should be taken out. It is making reference to the fact that he was murdered in "Gladiator" the movie but it was not his own son that killed him. Can anyone tell me why it is there?

Possible copied content?[edit]

Some edits[2] make me worry about copied content. The key word that set me off was the 1950s?? white-collar slang term "cashiered" to mean dismissed, which is never used today;

"never" is a long time - I hear this term used every week.HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:09, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

but on examination the next edit was more worrisome, to fix the use of "0n" for "On", which means to me that some content was scanned and OCRed here. This may be properly cited to a print source that is referenced, but I don't have this handy. Please ensure that there isn't so much copying as to run afoul of plagiarism concerns. Wnt (talk) 09:16, 14 December 2008 (UTC)

Commodus killing 100 lions[edit]

Gibbons is cited as the source for this info, though in fact it comes from Herodian's work. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 76.197.12.153 (talk) 09:44, 26 February 2009 (UTC)

Intellectual[edit]

I remember reading somewhere that Commodus was illiterate. A google search http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=three_crowned_asses affirmed thisIn the article it states that his education was 'intellectual' but he does not sound an intellectual to me, quite the opposite. In this the article contradicts itself. Could he have been dyslexic? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Workgate (talkcontribs) 19:49, 19 July 2010 (UTC)

Unfortunately we cannot accept that source as it appears to be based on forum comments by anonymous users. To maintain our policy on verifiability and avoid original research we can only include facts published by reliable sources. Road Wizard (talk) 22:46, 20 July 2010 (UTC)
While by most accounts Commodus was a lazy youth who had no interest in learning the technical mechanisms of running the Empire, it is highly doubtful that a son of Marcus Aurelius would have been allowed to grow up without learning to read. Now, if the claim is being made that he didn't learn the important cultural literature of his nation and time, that is most probably true. HammerFilmFan (talk) 07:28, 28 July 2011 (UTC) HammerFilmFan

This article is is almost completely NONSENSE[edit]

Much of this article is absolute nonsense. Sorry. The citations are almost exclusively from a single source that condemned Commodus. Other "information" appears to have come from the movie "Gladiator", which is ridiculous. Movies are NOT a good source of historical information. These websites are much more accurate and much less POV:

http://www.roman-emperors.org/commod.htm

http://rense.com/general81/great.htm

The last website starts with a VERY WELL KNOWN historical fact about Commodus saving a thief from a lion. This story is well documented, and it would be difficult to find a roman history book where it is not mentioned, yet the story does not appear in this article, instead we see events from the movie that never happened in real life. Very very bad article folks. --74.124.96.206 (talk) 19:43, 9 October 2012 (UTC)

Era style[edit]

This article does not have an era style. If you must add an era style, it would be preferred that you use the neutral "BCE"/"CE" out of respect for the Nerva-Antonine Dynasty since they had no affiliation, or liking to Christianity. If you object, please provide a valid reason as to why. Lupus Bellator (talk) 21:15, 4 December 2012 (UTC)

Utter rubbish. Anyway, we use whatever was the original use within the article - if it starts with BC/AD, we keep it, per the Wiki rules.HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:11, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Personal preference isn't a sufficient reason to change from one convention to the other, per WP:ERA.Cúchullain t/c 19:30, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
As at Hadrian and other articles, this article used the BC/AD convention until you removed it today. In the future, that convention should be retained as per WP:ERA.Cúchullain t/c 21:17, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
I agree with Cúchullain. Δρ.Κ. λόγοςπράξις 21:25, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
Oppose changing or deleting era convention, per the Plotinus example at WP:ERA. Cynwolfe (talk) 21:51, 4 December 2012 (UTC)
It's been restored, thanks to an editor. I agree - please don't do that again, Lupus.HammerFilmFan (talk) 19:12, 6 December 2012 (UTC)
Please note that illustration of the coin, described as a silver denarius of Commodus and showing a quadriga, is a MODERN FORGERY. It is actually a CAST of a brass Sestertius (or 1/4 Denarius) and this can be easily seen because of the letters S C that appear at the bottom of the coin. They stand for Senatus Consulto and ONLY appear on Roman copper-based coins, from the time of Augustus until the mid 3rd century. They refer to the Senate's role in supervising that type of coinage (gold and silver was directly under the emperor). In addition, all the small holes and softness of design clearly indicate a cast rather than a struck coin. DuncanandFinchDuncanandFinch (talk) 09:14, 4 February 2013 (UTC)

Contradictory claims in gladiator section[edit]

The gladiator section says that Commodus did not kill his opponents in arena matches, and then claims he clubbed amputees to death. The latter claim sounds rather absurd and completely contradicts the former claim - web searching the topic exclusively brings up pages quoting or paraphrasing this article. Is this material accurate? Is the source valid? Some guy (talk) 13:11, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Weight of the denarius[edit]

"He reduced the weight of the denarius from 105 per Roman pound to 96 (3.85 grams to 3.35 grams)". Fewer coins per pound would mean heavier coins. Klausok (talk) 13:25, 5 February 2014 (UTC) In addition, if the accepted range of the Roman pound is 322 to 329 grams, then the weight of the denarius should be between 3.07 grams and 3.13 grams for the smaller coin and between 3.35 grams and 3.43 grams for the larger coin. Mtusler (talk) 15:31, 13 April 2014 (UTC)

I noticed the same. I am not very familiar with the Roman pound, but Klausok makes sense: fewer coins per pound would mean HEAVIER coins, assuming the pound stayed constant. I'm not in a position to correct this at the moment, even if I felt qualified. It would be nice if someone DID correct this small, but glaring, error. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 199.248.185.22 (talk) 19:12, 7 May 2014 (UTC)
Fixed - Ttwaring (talk) 14:20, 24 June 2014 (UTC)

Commodus and Heracles[edit]

I know this is a nit. But I question the un-cited assertion that Commodus was left handed. When I read an article and spot that a citation is needed I do a quick check to see if I can fill the hole. Commodus being a leftie is widely talked about on the internet, but never cited ( as far as I could tell). I did find this though. Commodus also killed two elephants, several rhinoceroses, and a giraffe with the greatest of ease. (Cass. Dio, 73.10), and with his left hand (ibid., 73.19). I would be more inclined to read that as someone showing off with their off hand than I would a confirmation of being left handed. Then there is this: http://www.nndb.com/people/985/000087724/ "In 1874 a statue of Commodus was dug up at Rome, in which he is represented as Hercules -- a lion's skin on his head, a club in his right and the apples of the Hesperides in his left hand." All indications would point to Commodus being fairly vain. It seems odd that a statue that was obviously meant to flatter his ego would miss the fact that supposedly the emperor was very proud of of hos left handedness. I'll give this about a week. If someone can find a good source for this, I'll drop it. Otherwise I will neutralize or eliminate the sentence as appropriate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jtgelt (talkcontribs) 20:30, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

I'll retract the above. I found a reference and will update the missing citation. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Jtgelt (talkcontribs) 02:16, 18 July 2014 (UTC)