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message 1: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 08, 2010 01:25AM) (new)

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This thread will discuss the Age of the Antonines. This is not a non spoiler thread.

History Today has a good article on Edward Gibbon and the Golden Age of the Antonines.

I liked this quote:

The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire appears to offer a paean to the civilised society of the Antonines. But Gibbon, as A. Lentin reveals, was well aware that it bestowed 'the benefits of order' without the 'blessing of freedom'.

Here is the article which may probe some discussion in general about the Antonines:

Any books, reference material, articles, and any open discussion regarding the Age of the Antonines or the Antonines themselves may be discussed here.

The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1 by Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon Edward Gibbon

message 2: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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The Metropolitan's write-up on The Antonine Dynasty (138–193)

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message 4: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Herman Melville wrote a poem about the Antonines:

The Age Of The Antonines

While faith forecasts millennial years
Spite Europe's embattled lines,
Back to the Past one glance be cast--
The Age of the Antonines!
O summit of fate, O zenith of time
When a pagan gentleman reigned,
And the olive was nailed to the inn of the world
Nor the peace of the just was feigned.
A halcyon Age, afar it shines,
Solstice of Man and the Antonines.

Hymns to the nations' friendly gods
Went up from the fellowly shrines,
No demagogue beat the pulpit-drum
In the Age of the Antonines!
The sting was not dreamed to be taken from death,
No Paradise pledged or sought,
But they reasoned of fate at the flowing feast,
Nor stifled the fluent thought,
We sham, we shuffle while faith declines--
They were frank in the Age of the Antonines.

Orders and ranks they kept degree,
Few felt how the parvenu pines,
No law-maker took the lawless one's fee
In the Age of the Antonines!
Under law made will the world reposed
And the ruler's right confessed,
For the heavens elected the Emperor then,
The foremost of men the best.
Ah, might we read in America's signs
The Age restored of the Antonines.

message 5: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited Mar 08, 2010 01:30AM) (new)

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Here is a google book:

The Roman Empire of the Second Century - or The Age of the Antonines

This was not found on goodreads.

message 6: by 'Aussie Rick' (new)

'Aussie Rick' (aussierick) I have not read any books specifically about the Antonines but an author who generally writes very good books on Roman history, Michael Grant, published this book some years back; "The Antonines: Roman Empire in Transition" by Michael Grant.

The Antonines The Roman Empire in Transition by Michael Grant by Michael Grant
Publishers blurb:
"The Antonines - Antonius, Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus - played a crucial part in the development of the Roman Empire, controlling its huge machine for half a century of its most testing period.
Theirs was a period when art and literature were flourishing. It was also a time of social and political change, and there are still many unanswered questions: did the Antonines' rule contain the seeds of later decay? How did the Christians fare? Was Commodus as bad as he was made out to be? Michael Grant examines these issues with clarity and skill.
The importance of the Antonines is manifold, but it mainly lies in the fact that they represented an `age of transition'. They were playing gigantic parts in the massive historical drama that was unfolding, a drama which was destined to transform the Roman Empire from its ancient mould and bring it into the Middle Ages.
Michael Grant is one of the world's greatest writers on ancient history. He has had a distinguished academic career, most recently as Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast, and has published over fifty books."

message 7: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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This sounds particularly good.

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The Antonine Dynasty

"This is just another combination of the same Emperors named before (this grouping includes only those reigning from 138 - 192 AD).

They were successors of Trajan (r. 98–117 A.D.) and Hadrian (r. 117–38 A.D.), both from respectable provincial families in Spain; Hadrian had secured the line with the adoption of Antoninus Pius, who in turn adopted Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus.

Antonine rule commenced with the reign of Antoninus Pius (r. 138–61 A.D.) and included those of Marcus Aurelius (r. 161–80 A.D.), Lucius Verus (r. 161–69 A.D.), and Commodus (r. 177–92 A.D.). Their dynasty reflects the connections between wealthy provincial and Italian families

Antoninus Pius, who was from southern Gaul, restored the status of the Senate without compromising his imperial power. With succession assured, he quietly furthered the centralization of government. In addition to his own knowledge of law, he surrounded himself with a coterie of legal experts. One result of their revision of Roman law was the ruling that a man must be considered innocent until proven guilty.

Antoninus Pius was the last emperor to reside permanently in Rome; his reign was relatively peaceful and benevolent. Military campaigns, such as the one that led to the construction of the Antonine wall in Scotland in the 140s A.D., were conducted by imperial legates, not by the emperor in person.

Temples were erected in honor of Antoninus and his wife Faustina, in Rome and throughout the provinces, and many statues and portraits of the imperial couple were produced.

After Antoninus' death, imperial power was for the first time shared between two co-emperors, his adoptive sons Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus. Verus waged a successful war against Parthia and captured Ctesiphon, but died early in 169 A.D. The continuing reign of Marcus Aurelius, however, was marked by incessant warfare with the Germanic tribes along the Upper Danube frontier, later known as the Marcomannic Wars (167–75 A.D.). The theme of victory became dominant in official art, as conquests were commemorated by triumphal arches and monumental columns erected in Rome to celebrate the military achievements of the dynasty. The constant campaigns, however, eventually drained imperial revenues.

Marcus Aurelius' devotion to duty, protecting the frontiers of the empire, was in marked contrast to the behavior of his son, Commodus. In 180 A.D., Commodus abruptly abandoned the campaigns on the German frontier and returned to Rome. There, however, he alienated the Senate by resorting to government by means of favorites and identifying himself with the semidivine hero Hercules. By the time of his assassination in 192 A.D., Rome was in a chaotic state of affairs."

Source: Write-up from The Metropolitan Museum


message 9: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (last edited May 10, 2010 08:19AM) (new)

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The Antonine Dynasty - Reigned from 138 - 192 AD

15. Antoninius Pius 138 - 161

16. Here there are two: (Co-Emperors - Lucius Verus died first at 39)

Marcus Aurelius 161 - 180 AD
Lucius Verus 161 - 169 AD

17. Commodus 180 - 192 AD

These emperors were already listed before; but this is a different combination and subset - same Emperors listed 15 - 17.

message 10: by Bentley, Group Founder, Leader, Chief (new)

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Writings by the last of the good emperors: (Marcus Aurelius)

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Meditations by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius

Happiness How to Achieve It (Illuminations) by Marcus Aurelius Happiness: How to Achieve It by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius

Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Large Print Edition) by Marcus Aurelius Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius

The Meditations are available on Internet Archive:

This was found on the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

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Antoninus Pius

Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionus Arrius Antoninus was born on 19 September AD 86 at Lanuvium (ca. 20 miles south of Rome). His family had long before come from the city of Nemausus (Nïmes) in southern Gaul, but for a long time since they had been a prominent and distinguished family at Rome. Antoninus' father, Titus Aurelius Fulvus, had held the office of consul once in AD 89, his grandfather had even held it twice.

As a boy Antoninus grew up at the family estate at Lorium in southern Etruria, roughly 10 miles to the west of Rome. He was raised first by his paternal grandfather, as his father died when he was still young. On the death of this grandfather, the maternal grandfather took charge of him. Inheriting the walth of both his grandfathers made Antoninus one of the richest men in Rome.

He embarked on the traditional career for a senator, climbing the ladder of various offices, achieving the post of quaestor, then praetor and, alas, in AD 120 becoming consul under emperor Hadrian. After this Hadrian chose him to be one of the four high judges who administered administered law in Italy. Next he served as governor of the province of Asia, from AD 135 to 136. Most likely on the basis of the very good reputation he had made for himself as governor of Asia, Antoninus, when he returned to Rome was made a member of the imperial council, a body of advisors to the emperor.

Despite his consulship and remarkable conduct as governor of Asia, Antoninus' experience of government was fairly limited. More still he possessed no knowledge of any military matters whatsoever and, other than his stay in the province of Asia, he had never been beyond the borders of Italy. So it was clearly his impressive person - honourable, sound and clearheaded - which won him the respect of the senate and the emperor.

Then, on his 62nd birthday (24 January AD 138) Hadrian, by now of failing health, announced he was to adopt Antoninus Pius. The adoption ceremony was held a month after, on 25 February AD 138. The ceremony revealed Hadrian's plans for the empire. In adopting Antoninus, Hadrian just sought a safe pair of hands into which to trust the empire for the immediate future. But 51 years old at the time and childless, Antoninus was not to be the main aim of Hadrian's intentions. For the ceremony in which Hadrian adopted Antoninus, simultaneously had Antoninus adopt Marcus Annius Verus (Marcus Aurelius), Hadrian's young nephew, and Lucius Ceionius Commodus, young son of the deceased Lucius Ceionius Commodus, who had been Hadrian's first choice as heir.

If however Hadrian had thought that the relatively old Antoninus Pius would not reign for long before his death would hand power to the heirs he intended then he was wrong. For Antoninus was to live to the ripe old age of 74 (almost as old as Augustus), ruling longer than Trajan or Hadrian.

Following the example of Hadrian, Antoninus was also a bearded emperor. Tall and handsome, physically strong, he possessed a calm and kind nature, though with a stern, aristocratic air. He represented many of the virtues Roman sought in their emperor. An accomplished speaker, sound in morals, incorruptible by the temptations of easy living, not given to flaunt his wealth, he was dedicated to his duties. Compared to his predecessors Antoninus was clearly not an ambitious emperor. But then he most likely understood himself as the custodian of an empire which was to be passed on to the young heirs chosen by Hadrian. And so he sought to maintain, rather than to make his own mark. But there is no doubt that Antoninus possessed a willful, even determined side. For when he began to bend with old age, he wore a truss made of splints of lime wood, to allow him to walk erect. For evidently it was his decision that Romans should have an emperor who should walk upright.

Antoninus had no surviving sons. His only surviving daughter Faustina the younger eventually married Marcus Aurelius, further strengthening the succession intended by Hadrian.

The reason for the addition 'Pius' (meaning 'dutiful' or 'respectful') to his name is something which appears unclear even to the Roman historians. Several difference possibilities are known;

- he used to support his frail and elderly father-in-law with his arm when attending the senate
- he pardoned those whom Hadrian, embittered by ill-health, had sentenced to death
- he insisted on great honours being bestowed on Hadrian, despite general opposition
- he guarded Hadrian against killing himself when the emperor despaired at his illness
- he was a truly compassionate and kind emperor who ruled with great care and moderation

At the death of Hadrian on 10 July AD 138, Antoninus' succession to the throne was a seamless, peaceful event. There was no opposition. The officials of Hadrian's government remained largely unchanged. Antoninus, if already respected before his accession, quickly won the goodwill of the senators, for being a moderate ruler, who was respectful of the ancient institution of the senate.

However, all should not go smoothly at first. Namely the deification of Hadrian which Antoninus demanded, was vehemently opposed. Hadrian had been unpopular, even hated. Worse still he had executed some senators. But it was to be a battle of wills which Antoninus won. He clearly understood it as his duty to have divine status conferred upon the man - his adoptive father! - to whom he owed the throne. To have failed in this duty would not only have questioned the honour of Hadrian, but so too that of Antoninus himself. And so, even if deeply unpopular and bitterly opposed by the senate at that early time of his reign, Antoninus' reasons were still much understood and respected.

These initial problems behind him, Antoninus won renown for being a mild and compassionate ruler. He established new laws, protecting slaves from cruelty and abuse. During his reign two treason trials were conducted, yet not, like in previous reigns, blindly following the whims and allegations of an emperor, but according to law. Also Antoninus avoided any witch-hunts to find co-conspirators. As a consequence to such a style of rule, Antoninus was a popular emperor.

Antoninus did not travel the empire like his predecessor, in fact he hardly ever left the capital at all during his 23-year rule. And if he left he would never move much further away from Rome than Campania or Etruria. He said, he worried for the expenses an emperor and his court might incur upon a province, if he chose to travel.

If Antoninus' reign is much known for its peace and tranquility, it is due to the calm of the man, rather than due to there being true peace along the borders of he empire. Southern Scotland was conquered, with Hadrian's wall being abandoned and a new defence - the Antonine Wall - being built ca. 40 miles further north. Brigands caused trouble in Mauretania (AD 150), next trouble arose in Germany, an uprising took place in Egypt (AD 154), rebellions flared up in Judaea and Greece. Another rebellion arose in Dacia (AD 158) and conflicts ensued with the Alans. But Antoninus was at times able to convince an opponent of the futility of war, merely by threatening it. Knowing of the renown of the Roman legions, he sent a letter to the king of Parthia, Vologaeses telling him of Rome's willingness to intervene should he decide to attack Armenia. Vologaeses thougt better of it and dropped his plans for an attack.

Alas, Antoninus died after a very short illness in his sleep, having handed the reins of government to his adopted son Marcus Aurelius on that very day, 7 March AD 161.

Antoninus died a very popular man and was deified by the senate without opposition. His body was laid to rest in the Mausoleum of Hadrian, together with the body of his wife and sons, who had died much earlier.

Antoninus' famous successor Marcus Aurelius paid this tribute to him: 'Remember his qualities, so that when your last hour comes your conscience may be as clear as his.' (Source:

message 12: by Vicki, Assisting Moderator - Ancient Roman History (last edited Apr 14, 2018 02:42PM) (new)

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The Reign of Antoninus Pius

The Reign of Antoninus Pius (1895) by Ernest Edward Bryant by Ernest Edward Bryant (no photo)


This book was originally published prior to 1923, and represents a reproduction of an important historical work, maintaining the same format as the original work. While we strive to adequately clean and digitally enhance the original work, there are occasionally instances where imperfections such as blurred or missing pages, poor pictures or errant marks may have been introduced due to either the quality of the original work or the scanning process itself. Despite these occasional imperfections, we have brought it back into print as part of our ongoing global book preservation commitment, providing customers with access to the best possible historical reprints. We appreciate your understanding of these occasional imperfections, and sincerely hope you enjoy seeing the book in a format as close as possible to that intended by the original publisher.

Available online at

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Thank you Vicki

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Commodus: An Emperor at the Crossroads

Commodus An Emperor at the Crossroads by Olivier Hekster by Olivier Hekster (no photo)


The emperor Commodus (AD 180-192) has commonly been portrayed as an insane madman, whose reign marked the beginning of the end of the Roman Empire. Indeed, the main point of criticism on his father, Marcus Aurelius, is that he appointed his son as his successor. Especially Commodus' behaviour as a gladiator, and the way he represented himself with divine attributes (especially those of Hercules), are often used as evidence for the emperor's presumed madness. However, this 'political biography' will apply modern interpretations of the spectacles in the arena, and of the imperial cult, to Commodus' reign. It will focus on the dissemination and reception of imperial images, and suggest that there was a method in Commodus' madness.

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The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino: Understanding the Roman Games

The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino Understanding the Roman Games by Jerry Toner by Jerry Toner (no photo)


The Roman emperor Commodus wanted to kill a rhinoceros with a bow & arrow, & he wanted to do it in the Colosseum. Commodus' passion for hunting animals was so fervent that he dreamt of shooting a tiger, an elephant & a hippopotamus; his prowess was such that people claimed he never missed when hurling his javelin or firing arrows from his bow. For fourteen days near the end of AD 192, the emperor mounted one of the most lavish and spectacular gladiatorial games Rome had ever seen. Commodus himself was the star attraction, & people rushed from all over Italy to witness the spectacle. But this slaughter was simply the warm-up act to the main event: the emperor was also planning to fight as a gladiator.

Why did Roman rulers spend vast resources on such over-the-top displays--& why did some emperors appear in them as combatants? Why did the Roman rabble enjoy watching the slaughter of animals & the sight of men fighting to the death? How best can we in the modern world understand what was truly at stake in the circus & the arena? In "The Day Commodus Killed a Rhino," Jerry Toner set out to answer these questions by vividly describing what it would have been like to attend Commodus' fantastic shows & watch one of his many appearances as both hunter & fighter.

Highlighting the massive logistical effort needed to supply the games with animals, performers & criminals for execution, the book reveals how blood & gore were actually incidental to what really mattered. Gladiatorial games played a key role in establishing a forum for political debate between the rulers & the ruled. Roman crowds were not passive: they were made up of sophisticated consumers with their own political aims, which they used the games to secure. In addition, the games also served as a pure expression of what it meant to be a true Roman. Drawing on notions of personal honor, manly vigor & sophisticated craftsmanship, the games were a story that the Romans loved to tell themselves about themselves.

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José Luís  Fernandes | 1016 comments The Prince of Medicine: Galen in the Roman Empire

The Prince of Medicine Galen in the Roman Empire by Susan P. Mattern by Susan P. Mattern (no photo)


Galen of Pergamum (A.D. 129 - ca. 216) began his remarkable career tending to wounded gladiators in provincial Asia Minor. Later in life he achieved great distinction as one of a small circle of court physicians to the family of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, at the very heart of Roman society. Susan Mattern's The Prince of Medicine offers the first authoritative biography in English of this brilliant, audacious, and profoundly influential figure. Like many Greek intellectuals living in the high Roman Empire, Galen was a prodigious polymath, writing on subjects as varied as ethics and eczema, grammar and gout. Indeed, he was (as he claimed) as highly regarded in his lifetime for his philosophical works as for his medical treatises. However, it is for medicine that he is most remembered today, and from the later Roman Empire through the Renaissance, medical education was based largely on his works. Even up to the twentieth century, he remained the single most influential figure in Western medicine. Yet he was a complicated individual, full of breathtaking arrogance, shameless self- promotion, and lacerating wit. He was fiercely competitive, once disemboweling a live monkey and challenging the physicians in attendance to correctly replace its organs. Relentless in his pursuit of anything that would cure the patient, he insisted on rigorous observation and, sometimes, daring experimentation. Even confronting one of history's most horrific events- a devastating outbreak of smallpox-he persevered, bearing patient witness to its predations, year after year. The Prince of Medicine gives us Galen as he lived his life, in the city of Rome at its apex of power and decadence, among his friends, his rivals, and his patients. It offers a deeply human and long- overdue portrait of one of ancient history's most significant and engaging figures.

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José Luís  Fernandes | 1016 comments The Antonines: The Roman Empire in Transition

The Antonines The Roman Empire in Transition by Michael Grant by Michael Grant Michael Grant


The Antonines - Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius, Lucius Verus and Commodus - played a crucial part in the development of the Roman empire, controlling its huge machine for half a century of its most testing period. Edward Gibbon observed that the epoch of the Antonines, the 2nd century A.D., was the happiest period the world had ever known.

In this lucid, authoritative survey, Michael Grant re-examines Gibbon's statement, and gives his own magisterial account of how the lives of the emperors and the art, literature, architecture and overall social condition under the Antonines represented an 'age of transition'. The Antonines is essential reading for anyone who is interested in ancient history, as well as for all students and teachers of the subject.

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Thank you Vicki and Jose.

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Teri (teriboop) Apuleius and Antonine Rome: Historical Essays

Apuleius and Antonine Rome Historical Essays by Keith Bradley by Keith Bradley (no photo)


Apuleius and Antonine Rome features outstanding scholarship by Keith Bradley on the Latin author Apuleius of Madauros and on the second-century Roman world in which Apuleius lived. Bradley discusses Apuleius work in the context of social relations (especially the family and household), religiosity in all its diversity and complexity, and cultural interactions between the imperial centre and the provincial periphery.

These essays examine the Apology, the speech Apuleius made when he defended himself on the criminal charge of having enticed a wealthy widow to marry him through magical means; the fragments of his speeches known as the Florida; and the remarkable serio-comic novel Metamorphoses (better known as The Golden Ass). Altogether, Apuleius and Antonine Rome effectively illustrates how socio-cultural history can be recovered from works of literature."

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Marcus Aurelius: A Biography

Marcus Aurelius A Biography by Robert Taylor by Robert Taylor (no photo)


Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus' death in 169. He was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.

During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire in the East: Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius sacked the capital Ctesiphon in 164. In central Europe, Aurelius fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians with success during the Marcomannic Wars, although the threat of the Germanic tribes began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. A revolt in the East led by Avidius Cassius failed to gain momentum and was suppressed immediately.

Marcus Aurelius' Stoic tome Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.

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Thank you Vicki for the add

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Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius by Frank McLynn by Frank McLynn (no photo)


The vivid, magisterial and long-awaited biography of Marcus Aurelius — the last of the “five good emperors” of the Roman Empire.

Emperor Marcus Aurelius — the embodiment of the philosopher’s king — is the one figure of antiquity who still speaks vividly to us today, over 2000 years after his death. We may thrill to the exploits of Alexander the Great, Hannibal or Caesar, and historical novelists may beguile us with their imaginative reconstructions of this life or that, but the only voice from the Greco-Roman world that still seems to have contemporary relevance is that of the man who ruled the Roman Empire from 161 to 180 A.D. His book of reflections, Meditations, continues to sell in large numbers in numerous editions.

Though a persecutor of Christians, Marcus holds out the prospect of spirituality for atheists, happiness without God, joy without heaven and morality without religion. He truly was a man for all seasons, and those seasons include the twenty-first century.

His reign foreshadowed the eventual decline and fall of the Roman Empire, and his life itself represents the fulfillment of Plato’s famous dictum that mankind will prosper only when philosophers are rulers and rulers philosophers. Marcus Aurelius by acclaimed historian Frank McLynn, promises to be the definitive biography of this monumental historical figure — now known very widely through the Oscar-winning film Gladiator.

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Thank you for the add Vicki

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The Emperor Commodus: God and Gladiator

The Emperor Commodus God and Gladiator by John S. McHugh by John S. McHugh (no photo)


Commodus is synonymous with debauchery and megalomania, best remembered for fighting 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 Gladiator. Much of his infamy is clearly based on fact, but is this the full story?

John McHugh reviews the ancient evidence to present the first full-length biography of Commodus in English. His twelve-year reign is set 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 to justify his murder, which they finally succeeded in arranging by having him strangled by a wrestler.

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Thank you for the add Vicki

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