Comfortable, the gladiator emperor

Did you see the film too? gladiatorwhere the emperor fought in the arena of the Colosseum? You may have wondered if all of this is fictional. Well, no. The character of Commodus, the troubled emperor, is based on someone who existed. And boy it was legendary. As much as Nero and Caligula and not exactly for their good deeds. We are talking about Marco Aurelio Comodo Antonino Augusto. In short, we're talking about Comfortable, the gladiator emperor.

He was born in AD 161. C. It was the last part of the Antonine dynasty. And yes, he would go to the amphitheater to fight like another gladiator. Some classic authors have written about it. Dión Casio and Herodiano agree that their real passion was the arena of the amphitheater. It is explained in the dossier "The Emperors and the Roman Games in the History of the Augustans". For years he comfortably simulated confrontations in which his assistants acted as gladiators. So he acquired skills.

Comfortable, the gladiator emperor, famous for his eccentricity. And for being played by Joaquin Phoenix.
Comfortable, the gladiator emperor, famous for his eccentricity. And for being played by Joaquin Phoenix.

He was left-handed and proud of it. He enjoyed challenging the "Retiarius" or Reciarios. He tried to make his enemy one of those fighters armed with a trident, dagger, or net. Comfortable, the gladiator emperor, always used a short sword (the characteristic "Gladius"). He always wore a rectangular shield, additional armor and a full helmet.

A fashionable gladiator

To demonstrate that he was the emperor, he wore a purple cloak over his shoulders. Cassius Dio describes him in battle as follows: “Before he entered the amphitheater, he wore a silk robe. It was long sleeved, white with gold embroidery. So received our greetings. But when he entered, he was wearing a purple cape with sequins …

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The chronicles of time show a remarkable fact. Comfortable achieved no fewer than seven hundred and thirty-five victories in a one-on-one battle against gladiators.

But in "History of the Roman Empire" Herodian thought differently. «In his gladiatorial fights he easily defeated his opponents. It hardly hurt them because they all let themselves be won ». There used to be clashes with wooden swords to prevent him from really being in danger.

No animal rights

But Commodus didn't like to face only gladiators. He also loved to kill wild animals in front of thousands of people. Some texts speak of his great ability with the arrows and the spear. Others have said that they made it very easy for them to catch animals to kill them.

Depiction of the triumphal entry of the emperor into the arena.
Depiction of the triumphal entry of the emperor into the arena.

Herodian says: «The day of the show came and the amphitheater was full. A circular barrier had been built to protect Commodus. From a high and safe place, he showed his goal more than his courage. He chased deer and gazelles while fleeing before killing them. He killed the lions and panthers with his arrows from above. And nobody saw him a second shot or other wound than the fatal one.

The emperor was gradually going mad. One day he appeared naked in the arena to face his rival. He no longer wanted to live in the Imperial Palace, but wanted to move to the gladiator school. Shortly thereafter, he ordered the giant colossus of the Colosseum to be cut off. He put a stone representation of him in his place.

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His increasing eccentricity led his enemies to stage a conspiracy against him. The last day of 192 d. C., his lover wanted to poison his food, but it didn't work. In the end, it was a freed slave, Narcissus, who strangled him to death in the bathtub. This was the end of Commodus, the gladiator emperor.

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