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Headword: Κόμοδος
Adler number: kappa,2007
Translated headword: Commodus
Vetting Status: high
[Commodus,] emperor of [the] Romans; [it was he] who, driven by some fortune, advanced to such a point of madness and insanity as to reject his own name and to call himself Heracles the son of Zeus.[1] He bid that the months take their names from himself in this manner: Amazonius, Commodus, Augustus, Heracleus, Romaeus, Hyperairon, Aniketos, Eusebes, Eutyches, Lucius, Aelius, Aurelius.[2] Shedding the dignity of the Romans, he put on a lion skin and took up a club. In this manner, he fought one-on-one with beasts and men in public — displaying, in truth, fine skill with the javelin and amazing everyone. But when he turned to much murderousness, he mercilessly gathered into the theatre all the wretched and mutilated men and fitted their knees with some wondrous serpent-like things and killed them with his club as the giants.[3] And, sleeping among the gladiatorial contests[4] and from there going to meet at the assemblies before the gathered senate, he was harshly criticized so that even Marcia, his most honored concubine, charged him and renounced what he had done. And many others too begged him to do nothing unworthy of an emperor.
Greek Original:
Κόμοδος, βασιλεὺς Ῥωμαίων: ὃς ὑπό τινος τύχης ἐλαυνόμενος ἐς τοσοῦτον μανίας καὶ παροινίας προὐχώρησεν, ὡς τὴν ἰδίαν προσηγορίαν παραιτήσασθαι, Ἡρακλέα δὲ καὶ Διὸς υἱὸν ὀνομάζεσθαι: τούς τε μῆνας ἀφ' ἑαυτοῦ φέρειν τὰς προσηγορίας προσέταξεν οὕτως: Ἀμαζόνιος, Κόμοδος, Αὔγουστος, Ἡράκλειος, Ῥωμαῖος, Ὑπεραίρων, Ἀνίκητος, Εὐσεβής, Εὐτυχής, Λούκιος, Αἴλιος, Αὐρήλιος. ἀποδυσάμενός τε τὸ Ῥωμαίων σχῆμα λεοντῆν ὑπεστρώννυτο καὶ ῥόπαλον ἐπεφέρετο: οὕτω τε θηρίοις καὶ ἀνθρώποις δημοσίᾳ ἐμονομάχει, εὐστόχως κατὰ τὸ ἀληθὲς ἀκοντίζων καὶ παρὰ πάντων θαυμαζόμενος. ἐπειδὰν δὲ εἰς πολλὴν μιαιφονίαν ἐτράπη, πάντας ἀφειδῶς τοὺς ἀθλίους καὶ λελωβημένους ἄνδρας ἐς τὸ θέατρον συναγαγὼν δρακοντοειδῆ τέ τινα περιθεὶς ἐκ γονάτων φάσματα, ὡς γίγαντας τῷ ῥοπάλῳ κατειργάσατο. καθεύδων δὲ ἐν τοῖς μονομαχείοις, ἐκεῖθεν ἐς τὰς πανηγύρεις πρὸς τῆς συγκλήτου βουλῆς ὑπαντώμενος ἐκ πάντων μὲν κακῶς διεβάλλετο, ὥστε καὶ τὴν Μαρκίαν, ἣν εἶχε παλλακῶν τιμιωτάτην, καταγνῶναι αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀπαγορεῦσαι τὰ πραττόμενα. πολλοὶ δὲ καὶ ἄλλοι ἱκέτευον αὐτὸν μηδὲν ἀνάξιον τῆς βασιλείας ποιεῖν.
L. Aurelius Antoninus Commodus was the son of the last of the so-called five "good" emperors, Marcus Aurelius (mu 214), and reigned from 180 to 192. See generally A.R. Birley in OCD(4) s.v., and web address 1.
The present material is part of John of Antioch fr.129 FHG (4.584), now 203 Roberto.
[1] cf. Historia Augusta, Diadumenus Antoninus 7.3 (web address 2), Commodus Antoninus 8.5-8.9 (web address 3), and Constantine VII, De sententiis: ὁ τοῦ Διὸς παῖς καλλίνικος Ἡρακλῆς οὔκ εἰμι Λούκιος, ἀλλ' ἀναγκάζουσί με . (This is an epigram placed on the base of the Colossus after it was given Commodus' head and dressed like Hercules).
[2] cf. Cassius Dio 73.15.3; Historia Augusta, Comm. Ant. 11.8-10 (web address 3). For Amazonius, the Historia Augusta has an explanation at Comm. Ant. 11.9-10 (web address 3). Hyperairon through Eutyches may be roughly translated: "He who Excels", "Unconquerable", "Pious", "Fortunate".
[3] cf. Cassius Dio 73.20.3. Commodus was here trying to match himself to Hercules who used his club to kill the giants (sometimes imagined to have snake-like lower bodies).
[4] Perhaps "among the gladiators" would be better. Cf. Historia Augusta, Comm. Ant. 2.9 gladiatoribus convi{x}it.
Associated internet addresses:
Web address 1,
Web address 2,
Web address 3
Keywords: athletics; biography; clothing; ethics; gender and sexuality; geography; historiography; history; medicine; mythology; religion; women; zoology
Translated by: Abram Ring on 25 November 2003@22:15:31.
Vetted by:
David Whitehead (augmented primary note, and keywords) on 26 November 2003@03:55:10.
Catharine Roth (cosmetics, keyword) on 17 September 2008@01:28:15.
David Whitehead (more keywords; tweaking) on 10 March 2013@07:56:25.
David Whitehead on 4 August 2014@07:19:31.
David Whitehead (updated a ref) on 29 January 2015@10:32:49.
David Whitehead (coding) on 2 May 2016@04:35:18.


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