Third Century Crisis in Rome

The Emperors of Rome held special position in the society of Rome. No one else had the power to declare himself a god, or could garner as much attention and praise, or was so important to the survival of Rome as an empire.

The third Century of Rome was full of foolish emperors and unrest. Marcus Aurelius was not liked by the people because of his very harsh law concerning taxes. His son and successor Commodus was even worse.

After Marcus died in 180 AD Commodus ruled very poorly. He inflated the money, he reduced the weight of the denarius from 96 per Roman pound to 105 per Roman pound, and paid little attention to the Roman army. Instead he wasted his time and money on games. After the fire in Rome in 191 Commodus was named the new Romulus and renamed Rome to Colonia Lucia Annia Commodiana, to match his name. Later that year he adopted as his full style Lucius Aelius Aurelius Commodus Augustus Herculeus Romanus Exsuperatorius Amazonius Invictus Felix Pius. He also changed many Roman things to match his name. He changed the calendar, the senate, the legions, his palace, and anything that he could attach his name too.

He was also a very bad person. He would fight in gladiatorial events and would often spare his opponents, but if others were fighting and one wanted to spare the other. He would tie them together to fight until one died, he would kill the women that he loved best, he would feed his friends to animals, he would take disabled people to the arena to kill like they were giants, and many other disturbing things. Cassius Dio, a first-hand witness, describes him as “not naturally wicked but, on the contrary, as guileless as any man that ever lived.” But his decent into madness after his murder attempts turned him into a complete savage.

His conceit eventually angered those under him, and after he declared him to be Hercules incarnate, and the son of Jupiter, his guard had had enough. They attempted to poison him, but he detected the plot and avoided it. So they sent his wrestling partner to strangle him in his bath.

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