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Commodus, Emperor of Rome

Commodus was the son of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. He was the brother of Princess Lucilla, and uncle of Lucius. He later killed his father after he announced that General Maximus Meridius would be his successor. He took the throne as regent, but was killed by Maximus in the Colosseum.

He was portrayed by Joaquin Phoenix in the 2000 film Gladiator.

Coup d'Etat[]

Commodus was a cowardly prince of Rome, and he arrived to meet the emperor shortly after the Battle against the Barbarians. He was happy that he missed the battle and the war, and embraced Maximus as a brother. However, his secret jealousy of Maximus led to a huge fight. He introduced Maximus to senators Falco and Gaius, who were loyal friends to the prince. He warned Maximus that when he got home, and when he was emperor, he might call him back to duty.

Later on, he visited his father and announced he was ready to serve Rome. However, the emperor announced to him that Maximus would be emperor instead of him. Enraged by this, the prince suffocated his father to death and was later crowned as the Emperor of Rome (Caesar).

Emperor of Rome[]

Commodus was crowned Emperor of Rome, but had an uneasy approach to the post. He ignored the fact given to him by Gracchus that the Greek Quarter of the Roman Empire was infected by plague. Commodus was angry at all the lists of demands given to him by the senators, but he wanted the people to love him because he was never loved. He seemed to fall in love with Lucilla, though his sister, and took her as his consort empress.

His hatred for Maximus did not extinguish. After Maximus defeated other gladiators after a reenactment of the Battle of Carthage, Maximus removed his helmet and revealed his identity to Commodus. Thinking he was dead after a failed execution, Commodus wanted to kill him. However, the people in the audience of the colosseum wanted Maximus to live, and his lust for appreciation drove Commodus to decide to let Maximus live. He tried to kill Maximus at a fight with Tigris of Gaul by unleashing three tigers to kill him, but Maximus defeated Tigris and killed one of the tigers. He eventually tortured Maximus by describing the emotions of his wife and son as they were crucified. Maximus declared one day that he would get total revenge on him.

After the failed escape of Maximus, Commodus then confronted him in prison and secretly stabbed him in the side in an effort to weaken him before their arena match. He then ordered the Praetorian Guard to strap on Maximus' armor and the latter soon joined him at the platform in preparation for their match in the Colosseum. During the first seconds of the duel,Commodus was disarmed by Maximus and his guards refused to give him a sword. He then produced a dagger and tried to deliver the killing blow on his rival, but was stabbed instead. Minutes later, his body can be seen on the arena floor while his sister and Senator Gracchus carry Maximus' body away with the help of the Roman people and his gang.


The actual Roman emperor Commodus was infamous for his infatuation with gladiatoral combat to the point that he would himself participate in matches as a secutor class gladiator himself. While he was known to spare his opponents in arena matches, he also enjoyed slaughtering people in practice. Commodus is also recorded to have killed various beasts in the arena by himself, including ostriches, a giraffe, panthers, and lions.

Romans saw such acts as a disgrace, and coupled with his tyranny, Commodus was widely hated throughout the empire. He was killed by his trainer and wrestling partner Narcissus, and his guard prefect Quintus Laetus.