Jeron Ryan: How Evil was Commodus

Commodus as expressed in the Historia of Augusta was a highly offensive, morally debased individual. In the biography he is depicted as an emperor who abused his power. In the bust of Commodus, he is shown with what appears to be a club in his right hand, along with fruits (probably apples) in his left hand. Commodus was a very violent person and thoroughly enjoyed observing and take part in gladiator matches. This might be why he has the weapon in his right hand. Also, in the bust, Commodus has the remains of a lion on top of his head with the lion’s paws wrapped around his shoulders. I believe that this was done to portray a level of fierceness, power, and respect. Besides being an extremely vile individual, Commodus seemed to be very narcissistic and absorbed with himself. He really wanted to be seen as Hercules and also had the names of months changed in order to honor himself. I also gather the sense that Commodus was an extremely sadistic person. In the biography is says that he placed a starling on top of the head of a man that he noticed had a few white hairs amongst the black which resembled worms. This in turn caused the bird to continually peck at the man’s head, causing much pain and discomfort. Commodus’ bust also has a defined, muscular build, demonstrating strength and authority. This bust commemorates one of the many emperors whom abused their position of power.