After reading the entire article on the life of Commodus I would have to say that Commodus bought a new meaning to evil. The fact that it started out in the womb made it worst. It was said that his mother had a dream about two serpents and that one was fiercer than the other. Commodus happened to grow up spoiled and also fouled mouthed as described in the article. Starting from a young age, the first time that it was noted that he was cruel was when he sent a serpent to burn into a furnace after his bath appeared to be too cool. It also intrigues me how he was able to put many people to death with just his will and status. The craziest part is that barely anyone dared to stand against him due to his status. I also think that those who were around him that had authority had a huge role in his evil intentions because they were al ridiculed and decided to go along with whatever was said by Commodus. another thing that surprises me is how he was able to murder people with no remorse. An example could be when he put servants to death just because they made a correctable mistake and when he would put others to death based on his opinion and because he felt as if they were threats or had some kind special quirk. He also treated the opposite sex as play toys or factors of pleasure. He had no care and was clearly unfit to rule a whole nation.
Commodus was obsessed with Hercules for, “He allowed statues of himself to be erected with the accouterments of Hercules;” . This obsession led him to act out of cruelty for he wanted power. His efforts to gain power consisted of disgracing and slaughtering others as well as torturing others for his own amusement. For example, “he put a starling on the head of one man who, as he noticed, had a few white hairs, resembling worms, among the black, and caused his head to fester through the continual pecking of the bird’s beak”. Commodus was an evil man that believed through his obsession of Hercules, that he was like a god. He had sacrifices done in his name and he sought out to execute a number of men to show his status. This obsession also led to questionable sexual acts, as he had in his company men that were named after both female and male sexual parts and he would give them kisses. He also forced people to complete embarrassing and demoralizing acts while naked. Such as when he made Julianus dance naked in front of others while “clashing cymbals”. These numerous acts of cruelty show just how evil Commodus was.
Commodus’ obsession with Hercules, reveals his thirst for power and obsession with authority. In many pieces of art the lion is shown as regal, powerful and a creature that demands respect and the fact that Commodus’ bust has the skin of a lion draped over it shows that he has conquered power and respect. The club he wields in his hand demonstrates the brutality with which he will wield his power as told in the Life of Commodus, “In his passion for cruelty he actually ordered the votaries of Bellona to cut off one of their arms, and as for the devotees of Isis, he forced them to beat their breasts with pine-cones even to the point of death.”(289). His thirst for blood was also fueled by his brutality by participating in some 700 gladiatorial bouts. Apart from his brutality, Commodus also believed himself to be the reincarnation of Hercules, as shown by the golden apples in his hand. Commodus renamed months after himself, Hercules and those that “flattered” him. In respect to the awful and barbaric things Commodus has done under his reign, it’s surprising that any works with his face still exist, the stories told about his reign would surely have made people want to erase his mark from history.
The sculpture below is known as The Bust of Commodus as Hercules. Commodus was a Roman Emperor who was known for his passion for gladiatorial games. When I look at this sculpture, I see power and authority. Commodus is holding an item that looks like a baton in one hand and some apples in the other. He also has a headpiece that resembles a lion and his upper body looks muscular. After reading sections 9-11 of the Life of Commodus in Lampridius’s biography Historia Augusta, I realized Commodus wasn’t who I thought he was. Based off the readings, I would describe him as a greedy, selfish, crazy person. Section 9 starts off with, “He pretended once that he was going to Africa, so that he could get funds for the journey, then got them and spent them on banquets and gaming instead.” Doing something like this is pathetic and awful. He lied about traveling so he can use the money on gaming and banquets instead. But it gets worse. In section 10 it states, “Whosoever ridiculed him he cast to the wild beasts.”. He was the type of person that only thought of violence as the only solution. He has killed many people for the littlest reasons. Commodus was very destructive and someone who I would never want to be around. His behavior is unacceptable and it is shown that he was like this ever since he was young. After reading the sections and seeing the sculpture, I can tell that the item in his hand is a club that he used to strike people while he was wearing woman’s garment or lion’s skin. Now I view the sculpture differently. All in all, Commodus was a nasty emperor and a super evil person.
You may have heard of the gladiator-obsessed Roman Emperor Commodus (reign 180-192 CE) made infamous in the movie Gladiator. Read sections 9-11 of the Life of Commodus in Lampridius’s biography Historia Augusta. Click on the following link [http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Historia_Augusta/Commodus*.html, section 9 begins with ” He pretended once that he was going to Africa” and section 11 ends with “He was called Germanicus on the Ides of “Hercules” in the consulship of Maximus and Orfitus.”]
Assignment: Write a 200-word post relating the Roman portrait bust of Commodus as Hercules to what you think are important points in Lampridius’s biography. To submit your Homework on the OpenLab, follow the directions “How To Post.” Please check off the category #studentHW and add a few keywords to tag your post.
PLEASE SUBMIT YOUR POSTS BY MONDAY October 7 Midnight (Same DUE DATE as Paper #1)