Commodus was a vile person. He wanted to gain power but the things he did was really cruel. He killed a lot of people just for fun and by their looks. 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 – the bird, of course, imagining that it was pursuing worms.” He would also cut open a corpulent person down the middle of their belly so the intestines would be gushing out and murdered someone that looked noble and handsome. Commodus was evil and selfish, he wanted to show his power to everyone but he used his power in the wrong way because of all the people he killed. The bust of Commodus as Hercules portrait shows lion skin wrapped on his head and chest. It shows him holding a weapon in one hand and fruits in the other. The lion is a symbolism of power. According to the reading it says, “He engaged in gladiatorial combats, it is said that he engaged in gladiatorial bouts seven hundred and thirty-five times.” The weapon may represent his gladiatorial combats.
The picture of this sculpture is a bust of Roman Emperor Commodus, styled as if he were similar to Hercules. Lucius Aurelius Commodus, born 161 A.D was a Roman emperor who ruled along with his father Marcus Aurelius and after the death of his father in 177 A.D. Based on the reading in Life of Commodus in Lampridius’s biography, at his young age Commodus is portrayed first just as a typical spoiled dishonorable, and cruel and lewd individual. In his biography, he portrayed the first act of his cruelty when his bath was drawn too cool, he ordered the bathkeeper to be cast into the furnace. Following this, there are many examples that prove that Commodus was indeed an evil and unbelievably wicked emperor. According to Historia Augusta, Commodus pretended that he was going to Africa, so that he could get funds for the journey, then spent them on banquets and gaming instead. “He allowed statues of himself to be erected with the accoutrements of Hercules and sacrifices were performed to him as to a god”. He disgraced every class of men in his company and was disgraced in turn by them. For fun, he would do despicable things such as placing a starling bird on a head of one man who had a few white hairs, resembling worms, and caused his head to fester through the continual pecking of the bird’s beak. He would murder many people, just because of the fact that they were handsome, pluck out the eye or cut off the foot of many others. It is also claimed that he often mixed human excrement with the most expensive foods, and he did not refrain others from tasting them.
Commodus was a Roman emperor, and just along his bust (“The Bust of Commodus”), it was designed to be sculpted to give off the appearance of masculinity and dominance, as he wanted to be seen as Hercules. The sculpture has Commodus holding fruits with his left hand, while a club in his right hand, resting on his shoulder (Which the club representing gladiator matches he would partake in, or the other killings he has done. While the fruits could mean the “giving” he thought he had done as being a Roman emperor). Along with wearing a headpiece that resembles a lion (which also represents power and/or strength). I viewed it as Commodus abusing the power he had and getting the respect he thought he deserved and becoming egoistic. However, with the brutal pain he brought when he was an emperor, as based on the Lampridius’s biography “Historia Augusta”, Commodus was sinister and conceited and in the biography stated that for his amusement he would have cut open someone who was obese, down the middle of his belly; This is so that his intestines would fall out and Commodus put a starling on the head of a man who had a few white hairs which resembled worms and it caused his head to fester through the continual pecking of the bird’s beak. Commodus would slaughter thousands just for his own entertainment. Killing thousands of innocent civilian lives to show that he was superior and almighty to his empire. In the final analysis, the view of the bust is different than I first thought of it to be, Commodus led his life to be violent and destructive to the whoever went against him or questioned his authority.
Commodus is an interesting figure to say the least. Not because of anything great he did but because of the constant insanities he took part in. From the biography it is made apparent that he is nothing short of a sociopath who delights in the humiliation of others and takes pride in himself. Such can be seen as he binds men who can hardly walk and has them slither as it makes him feel tall to which he would kill them. His torturing of others wouldn’t end there as he would kill and maim people for fun; either playing surgeon or because he didn’t like them. Curiously part of the evils he did involved defiling other religious practices or killing followers of other gods. Additionally he had people see him as great and above everyone. Relating the text to the statue of him it would seem that his ego was on full display as he would make a habit of putting his name amongst great figures while switching it with heroes like Hercules. From what can be inferred by his past habits, he believed himself divine wanting to be the only one worshipped as such and resorted to making a mockery of other followings. Commodus was a truly evil man and I am lead to believe that the statues he had built of himself were to have you think him grand and heroic otherwise.
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.
Commodus Antoninus, he is a very horrible person he did many unspeakable things. Which I believe is way past borderline torture, it is full on torture and for no good reasons. All the bad things that Commodus did had no real purpose. I believe that he did it because he just felt like it and because he was in a position to do so. He abused his power and used it as an excuse to do things that were not right. I think that he might be a psychopath. One of the examples of Commodus’s evil act is when he put a starling on the head of a man who he noticed had a few white hairs, resembling worms and caused his head to fester through the continual pecking of the bird’s beak. I thought was horrible because what did he have against this man? What was the reason for this?. I found Commodus, who murdered some people because they were noble and handsome than him was something really childish. In one part of the reading it said that Commodus often mixed human excrement with the most expensive foods and he tasted them. I found that to really disgusting and weird. I do not think that Commodus was a well man he might have been mentally ill. In my opinion, he was a really selfish, childish, weird and cruel person.