Historical biography, Royalty biography, Ancient history
Synthetic audio, Automated braille
This historical biography goes beyond popular legend to present a nuanced portrait of the first century Roman emperor.Commodus, who ruled over Rome from 177 to 192, is generally remembered as a debaucherous megalomaniac who fought as a gladiator. Ridiculed and… maligned by historians since his own time, modern popular culture knows him as the patricidal villain in Ridley Scott’s film Gladiator. Much of his infamy is clearly based on fact, but John McHugh reveals a more complex story in the first full-length biography of Commodus to appear in English. McHugh sets Commodus’s twelve-year reign in its historical context, showing that the ‘kingdom of gold’ he supposedly inherited was actually an empire devastated by plague and war. Openly autocratic, Commodus compromised the privileges and vested interests of the senatorial clique, who therefore plotted to murder him. Surviving repeated conspiracies only convinced Commodus that he was under divine protection, increasingly identifying himself as Hercules reincarnate. This and his antics in the arena allowed his senatorial enemies to present Commodus as a mad tyrant—thereby justifying his eventual murder.