Narcissus was a Roman athlete, likely a wrestler, from the 2nd century AD. He is best known to history as the assassin of the Roman Emperor Commodus, by whom he was employed as a wrestling partner and personal trainer in order to train Commodus for his self-indulgent appearances in the Colosseum as a gladiator. In AD 192 he was recruited by several senators, led by Praetorian prefect Quintus Aemilius Laetus, to assassinate the emperor.
On 31 December 192, Commodus's concubine and conspirator Marcia admitted Narcissus into Commodus's bedchamber. Commodus was supposedly in a drunken stupor after Marcia had poisoned him and Narcissus proceeded to strangle his master in his bathtub or, according to Herodian, in his bed.
The fictional character of general Maximus Decimus Meridius (played by Russell Crowe in the movie Gladiator) was partially based on Narcissus alongside being based on Marcus Aurelius's general Marcus Nonius Macrinus, Spartacus, Cincinnatus and Maximus of Hispania. Narcissus is also portrayed directly in Netflix's 2016 docu-drama series Roman Empire: Reign of Blood where he is portrayed by Mike Edward.
- Cassius Dio, Roman History, Book LXXII, pg. 117.
- Lampridius, Historia Augusta. "Life of Commodus," pg. 306.
- Herodian of Antioch, History of the Roman Empire from the Death of Marcus Aurelius to the Accession of Gordian III, I.i.; Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, 1.4.
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