From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus (31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 180 to 192 (also with his father, Marcus Aurelius, from 177 until 180). The name given here was his official name at his accession to sole rule; see Changes of name for earlier and later forms. His accession as emperor was the first time a son had succeeded his father since Titus succeeded Vespasian in 79. Commodus was the first emperor "born to the purple"; i.e., born during his father's reign.
Commodus in popular culture
- In 1964's The Fall of the Roman Empire, Commodus is portrayed by Christopher Plummer.
- Also in 1964 I Due Gladiatori centers on Commodus being challenged by a twin brother named Lucius Crassus who was believed to have died at a young age (Commodus did indeed have such a twin—Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus), but—in the film only—actually matured to adulthood without knowing his ancestry. The long-lost brother returns to kill Commodus in the arena, briefly becoming emperor—for a matter of hours—before turning abdicating and turning the title of emperor over to Pertinax.
- In 2000's Academy Award-winner for Best Picture, Gladiator, Commodus serves as the main antagonist of the film. He is depicted as a very evil and insane villain; mainly a murderous, manipulative egomaniac with a sister complex who is arrogant, cowardly, greedy and ruthless. He is played by Joaquin Phoenix.
All three films are fictional works and do not depict actual history.
- British adventure writer Talbot Mundy's novel Caesar Dies deals with Commodus' murder and events leading up to it.
- The video game Colosseum: Road to Freedom included Commodus as an opponent in the Colosseum.
- Along with other contemporary figures, Commodus also features prominently in the historically authentic MMORPG Roma Victor, which is set in the 180s.