The Life of Commodus


Historia Augusta


1

1

The ancestry of Commodus Antoninus has been sufficiently discussed in the life of Marcus Antoninus.

2

As for Commodus himself, he was born, with his twin brother Antoninus, at Lanuvium — where his mother's father was born, it is said — on the day before the Kalends of September, while his father and uncle were consuls.

3

Faustina, when pregnant with Commodus and his brother, dreamed that she gave birth to serpents, one of which, however, was fiercer than the other.

4

But after she had given birth to Commodus and Antoninus, the latter, for whom the astrologers had cast a horoscope as favourable as that of Commodus, lived to be only four years old.

5

After the death of Antoninus, Marcus tried to educate Commodus by his own teaching and by that of the greatest and the best of men.

6

In Greek literature he had Onesicrates as his teacher, in Latin, Antistius Capella; his instructor in rhetoric was Ateius Sanctus.

7

However, teachers in all these studies profited him not in the least — such is the power, either of natural character, or of the tutors maintained in a palace. For even from his earliest years he was base and dishonourable, and cruel and lewd, defiled of mouth, moreover, and debauched.

8

Even then he was an adept in certain arts which are not becoming in an emperor, for he could mould goblets and dance and sing and whistle, and he could play the buffoon and the gladiator to perfection.

9

In the twelfth year of his life, at Centumcellae, he gave a forecast of his cruelty. For when it happened that his bath was drawn too cool, he ordered the bathkeeper to be cast into the furnace; whereupon the slave who had been ordered to do this burned a sheep-skin in the furnace, in order to make him believe by the stench of the vapour that the punishment had been carried out.

10

While yet a child he was given the name of Caesar, along with his brother Verus, and in his fourteenth year he was enrolled in the college of priests.


2

1

When he assumed the toga, he was elected one of the leaders of the equestrian youths, the trossuli, and even while still clad in the youth's praetexta he gave largess and presided in the Hall of Trajan.

2

He assumed the toga on the Nones of July — the day on which Romulus vanished from the earth — at the time when Cassius revolted from Marcus.

3

After he had been commended to the favour of the soldiers he set out with his father for Syria and Egypt, and with him he returned to Rome.

4

Afterward he was granted exemption from the law of the appointed year and made consul, and on the fifth day before the Kalends of December, in the consulship of Pollio and Aper, he was acclaimed Imperator together with his father, and celebrated a triumph with him.

5

For this, too, the senate had decreed. Then he set out with his father for the German war.

6

The more honourable of those appointed to supervise his life he could not endure, but the most evil he retained, and, if any were dismissed, he yearned for them even to the point of falling sick.

7

When they were reinstated through his father's indulgence, he always maintained eating-houses and low resorts for them in the imperial palace. He never showed regard for either decency or expense.

8

He diced in his own home. He herded together women of unusual beauty, keeping them like purchased prostitutes in a sort of brothel for the violation of their chastity. He imitated the hucksters that strolled about from market to market.

9

He procured chariot-horses for his own use. He drove chariots in the garb of a professional charioteer, lived with gladiators, and conducted himself like a procurer's servant. Indeed, one would have believed him born rather to a life of infamy than to the high place to which Fortune advanced him.


3

1

His father's older attendants he dismissed, and any friends that were advanced in years he cast aside.

2

The son of Salvius Julianus, the commander of the troops, he tried to lead into debauchery, but in vain, and he thereupon plotted against Julianus.

3

He degraded the most honourable either by insulting them directly or giving them offices far below their deserts.

4

He was alluded to by actors as a man of depraved life, and he thereupon banished them so promptly that they did not again appear on the stage.

5

He abandoned the war which his father had almost finished and submitted to the enemy's terms, and then he returned to Rome.

6

After he had come back to Rome he led the triumphal procession with Saoterus, his partner in depravity, seated in his chariot, and from time to time he would turn around and kiss him openly, repeating this same performance even in the orchestra.

7

And not only was he wont to drink until dawn and squander the resources of the Roman Empire, but in the evening he would ramble through taverns and brothels.

8

He sent out to rule the provinces men who were either his companions in crime or were recommended to him by criminals.

9

He became so detested by the senate that he in his turn was moved with cruel passion for the destruction of that great order, and from having been despised he became bloodthirsty.


4

1

Finally the actions of Commodus drove Quadratus and Lucilla, with the support of Tarrutenius Paternus, the prefect of the guard, to form a plan for his assassination.Finally the actions of Commodus drove Quadratus and Lucilla, with the support of Tarrutenius Paternus, the prefect of the guard, to form a plan for his assassination.

2

The task of slaying him was assigned to Claudius Pompeianus, a kinsman.

3

But he, as soon as he had an opportunity to fulfil his mission, strode up to Commodus with a drawn sword, and, bursting out with these words, "This dagger the senate sends thee," betrayed the plot like a fool, and failed to accomplish the design, in which many others along with himself were implicated.

4

After this fiasco, first Pompeianus and Quadratus were executed, and then Norbana and Norbanus and Paralius; and the latter's mother and Lucilla were driven into exile.

5

Thereupon the prefects of the guard, perceiving that the aversion in which Commodus was held was all on account of Saoterus, whose power the Roman people could not endure, courteously escorted this man away from the Palace under pretext of a sacrifice, and then, as he was returning to his villa, had him assassinated by their private agents.

6

But this deed enraged Commodus more than the plot against himself.

7

Paternus, the instigator of this murder, who was believed to have been an accomplice in the plot to assassinate Commodus and had certainly sought to prevent any far-reaching punishment of that conspiracy, was now, at the instigation of Tigidius, dismissed from the command of the praetorian guard by the expedient of conferring on him the honour of the broad stripe.

8

And a few days thereafter, Commodus accused him of plotting, saying that the daughter of Paternus had been betrothed to the son of Julianus with the understanding that Julianus would be raised to the throne. On this pretext he executed Paternus and Julianus, and also Vitruvius Secundus, a very dear friend of Paternus, who had charge of the imperial correspondence.

9

Besides this, he exterminated the whole house of the Quintilii, because Sextus, the son of Condianus, by pretending death, it was said, had made his escape in order to raise a revolt.

10

Vitrasia Faustina, Velius Rufus, and Egnatius Capito, a man of consular rank, were all slain.

11

Aemilius Iuncus and Atilius Severus, the consuls, were driven into exile. And against many others he vented his rage in various ways.


5

1

After this Commodus never appeared in public readily, and would never receive messages unless they had previously passed through the hands of Perennis.

2

For Perennis, being well acquainted with Commodus' character, discovered the way to make himself powerful,

3

namely, by persuading Commodus to devote himself to pleasure while he, Perennis, assumed all the burdens of the government — an arrangement which Commodus joyfully accepted.

4

Under this agreement, then, Commodus lived, rioting in the Palace amid banquets and in baths along with 300 concubines, gathered together for their beauty and chosen from both matrons and harlots, and with minions, also 300 in number, whom he had collected by force and by purchase indiscriminately from the common people and the nobles solely on the basis of bodily beauty.

5

Meanwhile, dressed in the garb of an attendant at the sacrifice, he slaughtered the sacrificial victims. He fought in the arena with foils, but sometimes, with his chamberlains acting as gladiators, with sharpened swords. By this time Perennis had secured all the power for himself.

6

He slew whomsoever he wished to slay, plundered a great number, violated every law, and put all the booty into his own pocket.

7

Commodus, for his part, killed his sister Lucilla, after banishing her to Capri.

8

After debauching his other sisters, as it is said, he formed an amour with a cousin of his father, and even gave the name of his mother to one of his concubines.

9

His wife, whom he caught in adultery, he drove from his house, then banished her, and later put her to death.

10

By his orders his concubines were debauched before his own eyes,

11

and he was not free from the disgrace of intimacy with young men, defiling every part of his body in dealings with persons of either sex.

12

At this time Claudius also, whose son had previously come into Commodus' presence with a dagger, was slain, ostensibly by bandits, and many other senators were put to death, and also certain women of wealth.

13

And not a few provincials, for the sake of their riches, were charged with crimes by Perennis and then plundered or even slain;

14

some, against whom there was not even the imputation of a fictitious crime, were accused of having been unwilling to name Commodus as their heir.


6

1

About this time the victories in Sarmatia won by other generals were attributed by Perennis to his own son.

2

Yet in spite of his great power, suddenly, because in the war in Britain he had dismissed certain senators and had put men of the equestrian order in command of the soldiers, this same Perennis was declared an enemy to the state, when the matter was reported by the legates in command of the army, and was thereupon delivered up to the soldiers to be torn to pieces.

3

In his place of power Commodus put Cleander, one of his chamberlains.

4

After Perennis and his son were executed, Commodus rescinded a number of measures on the ground that they had been carried out without his authority, pretending that he was merely re-establishing previous conditions.

5

However, he could not maintain this penitence for his misdeeds longer than thirty days, and he actually committed more atrocious crimes through Cleander than he had done through the aforesaid Perennis.

6

Although Perennis was succeeded in general influence by Cleander, his successor in the prefecture was Niger, who held this position as prefect of the guard, it is said, for just six hours.

7

In fact, prefects of the guard were changed hourly and daily, Commodus meanwhile committing all kinds of evil deeds, worse even than he had committed before.

8

Marcius Quartus was prefect of the guard for five days. Thereafter, the successors of these men were either retained in office or executed, according to the whim of Cleander.

9

At his nod even freedmen were enrolled in the senate and among the patricians, and now for the first time there were twenty-five consuls in a single year. Appointments to the provinces were uniformly sold;

10

in fact, Cleander sold everything for money. He loaded with honours men who were recalled from exile; he rescinded decisions of the courts.

11

Indeed, because of Commodus' utter degeneracy, his power was so great that he brought Burrus, the husband of Commodus' sister, who was denouncing and reporting to Commodus all that was being done, under the suspicion of pretending to the throne, and had him put to death; and at the same time he slew many others who defended Burrus.

12

Among these Aebutianus was slain, the prefect of the guard; in his place Cleander himself was made prefect, together with two others whom he himself chose.

13

Then for the first time were there three prefects of the guard, among whom was a freedman, called the "Bearer of the Dagger".


7

1

However, a full worthy death was at last meted out to Cleander also. For when, through his intrigues, Arrius Antoninus was put to death on false charges as a favour to Attalus, whom Arrius had condemned during his proconsulship in Asia, Commodus could not endure the hatred of the enraged people and gave Cleander over to the populace for punishment.

2

At the same time Apolaustus and several other freedmen of the court were put to death. Among other outrages Cleander had debauched certain of Commodus' concubines, and from them had begotten sons,

3

who, together with their mothers, were put to death after his downfall.

4

As successors to Cleander Commodus appointed Julianus and Regillus, both of whom he afterwards condemned.

5

After these men had been put to death he slew the two Silani, Servilius and Dulius, together with their kin, then Antius Lupus and the two Petronii, Mamertinus and Sura, and also Mamertinus' son Antoninus, whose mother was his own sister;

6

after these, six former consuls at one time, Allius Fuscus, Caelius Felix, Lucceius Torquatus, Larcius Eurupianus, Valerius Bassianus and Pactumeius Magnus, all with their kin;

7

in Asia Sulpicius Crassus, the proconsul, Julius Proculus, together with their kin, and Claudius Lucanus, a man of consular rank; and in Achaia his father's cousin, Annia Faustina, and innumerable others.

8

He had intended to kill fourteen others also, since the revenues of the Roman empire were insufficient to meet his expenditures.


8

1

Meanwhile, because he had appointed to the consulship a former lover of his mother's, the senate mockingly gave Commodus the name Pius; and after he had executed Perennis, he was given the name Felix, as though, amid the multitudinous executions of many citizens, he were a second Sulla.

2

And this same Commodus, who was called Pius, and who was called Felix, is said to have feigned a plot against his own life, in order that he might have an excuse for putting many to death.

3

Yet as a matter of fact, there were no rebellions save that of Alexander, who soon killed himself and his near of kin, and that of Commodus' sister Lucilla.

4

He was called Britannicus by those who desired to flatter him, whereas the Britons even wished to set up an emperor against him.

5

He was called also the Roman Hercules, on the ground that he had killed wild beasts in the amphitheatre at Lanuvium; and, indeed, it was his custom to kill wild beasts on his own estate.

6

He had, besides, an insane desire that the city of Rome should be renamed Colonia Commodiana. This mad idea, it is said, was inspired in him while listening to the blandishments of Marcia.

7

He had also a desire to drive chariots in the Circus,

8

and he went out in public clad in the Dalmatian tunic and thus clothed gave the signal for the charioteers to start.

9

And in truth, on the occasion when he laid before the senate his proposal to call Rome Commodiana, not only did the senate gleefully pass this resolution, but also took the name "Commodian" to itself, at the same time giving Commodus the name Hercules, and calling him a god.


9

1

He pretended once that he was going to Africa, so that he could get funds for the journey, then got them and spent them on banquets and gaming instead.

2

He murdered Motilenus, the prefect of the guard, by means of poisoned figs. He allowed statues of himself to be erected with the accoutrements of Hercules; and sacrifices were performed to him as to a god.

3

He had planned to execute many more men besides, but his plan was betrayed by a certain young servant, who threw out of his bedroom a tablet on which were written the names of those who were to be killed.

4

He practised the worship of Isis and even went so far as to shave his head and carry a statue of Anubis.

5

In his passion for cruelty he actually ordered the votaries of Bellona to cut off one of their arms,

6

and as for the devotees of Isis, he forced them to beat their breasts with pine-cones even to the point of death. While he was carrying about the statue of Anubis, he used to smite the heads of the devotees of Isis with the face of the statue. He struck with his club, while clad in a woman's garment or a lion's skin, not lions only, but many men as well. Certain men who were lame in their feet and others who could not walk, he dressed up as giants, encasing their legs from the knee down in wrappings and bandages to make them look like serpents, and then despatched them with his arrows. He desecrated the rites of Mithra with actual murder, although it was customary in them merely to say or pretend something that would produce an impression of terror.


10

1

Even as a child he was gluttonous and lewd. While a youth, he disgraced every class of men in his company and was disgraced in turn by them.

2

Whosoever ridiculed him he cast to the wild beasts. And one man, who had merely read the book by Tranquillus containing the life of Caligula, he ordered cast to the wild beasts, because Caligula and he had the same birthday.

3

And if any one, indeed, expressed a desire to die, he had him hurried to death, however really reluctant.

In his humorous moments, too, he was destructive.

4

For example, he put a starling on the head of one man who, as he noticed, had a few white hairs, resembling worms, among the black, and caused his head to fester through the continual pecking of the bird's beak — the bird, of course, imagining that it was pursuing worms.

5

One corpulent person he cut open down the middle of his belly, so that his intestines gushed forth.

6

Other men he dubbed one-eyed or one-footed, after he himself had plucked out one of their eyes or cut off one of their feet.

7

In addition to all this, he murdered many others in many places, some because they came of his presence in the costume of barbarians, others because they were noble and handsome.

8

He kept among his minions certain men named after the private parts of both sexes, and on these he liked to bestow kisses.

9

He also had in his company a man with a male member larger than that of most animals, whom he called Onos. This man he treated with great affection, and even made him rich and appointed him to the priesthood of the Rural Hercules.

11

1

It is claimed that he often mixed human excrement with the most expensive foods, and he did not refrain from tasting them, mocking the rest of the company, as he thought.

2

He displayed two misshapen hunchbacks on a silver platter after smearing them with mustard, and then straightway advanced and enriched them.

3

He pushed into a swimming-pool his praetor prefect Julianus, although he was clad in his toga and accompanied by his staff; and he even ordered this same Julianus to dance naked before his concubines, clashing cymbals and making grimaces.

4

The various kinds of cooked vegetables he rarely admitted to his banquets, his purpose being to preserve unbroken the succession of dainties.

5

He used to bathe seven and eight times a day, and was in the habit of eating while in the baths.

6

He would enter the temples of the gods defiled with adulteries and human blood.

7

He even aped a surgeon, going so far as to bleed men to death with scalpels.

8

Certain months were renamed in his honour by his flatterers; for August they substituted Commodus, for September Hercules, for October Invictus, for November Exsuperatorius, and for December Amazonius, after his own surname.

9

He had been called Amazonius, moreover, because of his passion for his concubine Marcia, whom he loved to have portrayed as an Amazon, and for whose sake he even wished to enter the arena of Rome dressed as an Amazon.

10

He engaged in gladiatorial combats, and accepted the names usually given to gladiators with as much pleasure as if he had been granted triumphal decorations.

11

He regularly took part in the spectacles, and as often as he did so, ordered the fact to be inscribed in the public records.

12

It is said that he engaged in gladiatorial bouts seven hundred and thirty-five times.

13

He received the name of Caesar on the fourth day before the Ides of the month usually called October, which he later named Hercules, in the consulship of Pudens and Pollio.

14

He was called Germanicus on the Ides of "Hercules" in the consulship of Maximus and Orfitus.


12

1

He was received into all the sacred colleges as a priest on the thirteenth day before the Kalends of "Invictus," in the consulship of Piso and Julianus.

2

He set out for Germany on the fourteenth day before the Kalends of the month which he later named Aelius,

3

and assumed the toga in the same year.

4

Together with his father he was acclaimed Imperator on the fifth day before the Kalends of "Exsuperatorius," in the year when Pollio and Aper served their second consulships,

5

and he celebrated a triumph on the tenth day before the Kalends of January in this same year.

6

He set out on his second expedition on the third day before the Nones of "Commodus" in the consulship of Orfitus and Rufus.

7

He was officially presented by the army and the senate to be maintained in perpetuity in the Palatine mansion, henceforth called Commodiana, on the eleventh day before the Kalends of "Romanus," in the year that Praesens was consul for the second time.

8

When he laid plans for a third expedition, he was persuaded by the senate and people to give it up.

9

Vows were assumed in his behalf on the Nones of "Pius," when Fuscianus was consul for the second time.

10

Besides these facts, it is related in records that he fought 365 gladiatorial combats in his father's reign.

11

Afterwards, by vanquishing or slaying retiarii, he won enough gladiatorial crowns to bring the number up to a thousand.

12

He also killed with his own hand thousands of wild beasts of all kinds, even elephants. And he frequently did these things before the eyes of the Roman people.


13

1

But, though vigorous enough for such exploits, he was otherwise weak and diseased; indeed, he had such a conspicuous growth on his groin that the people of Rome could see the swelling through his silken robes.

2

Many verses were written alluding to this deformity; and Marius Maximus prides himself on preserving these in his biography of Commodus.

3

Such was his prowess in the slaying of wild beasts, that he once transfixed an elephant with a pole, pierced a gazelle's horn with a spear, and on a thousand occasions dispatched a mighty beast with a single blow.

4

Such was his complete indifference to propriety, that time and again he sat in the theatre or amphitheatre dressed in a woman's garments and drank quite publicly.

5

The Moors and the Dacians were conquered during his reign, and peace was established in the Pannonias, but all by his legates, since such was the manner of his life. The provincials in Britain, Dacia, and Germany attempted to cast off his yoke,

6

but all these attempts were put down by his generals.

7

Commodus himself was so lazy and careless in signing documents that he answered many petitions with the same formula, while in very many letters he merely wrote the word "Farewell".

8

All official business was carried on by others, who, it is said, even used condemnations to swell their purses.


14

1

And because he was so careless, moreover, a great famine arose in Rome, not because there was any real shortage of crops, but merely because those who then ruled the state were plundering the food supply.

2

As for those who plundered on every hand, Commodus afterwards put them to death and confiscated their property;

3

but for the time he pretended that a golden age had come, "Commodian" by name, and ordered a general reduction of prices, the result of which was an even greater scarcity.

4

In his reign many a man secured punishment for another or immunity for himself by bribery.

5

Indeed, in return for money Commodus would grant a change of punishment, the right of burial, the alleviation of wrongs, and the substitution of another for one condemned to be put to death.

6

He sold provinces and administrative posts, part of the proceeds accruing to those through whom he made the sale and part to Commodus himself.

7

To some he sold even the lives of their enemies. Under him the imperial freedmen sold even the results of law-suits.

8

He did not long put up with Paternus and Perennis as prefects; indeed, not one of the prefects whom he himself had appointed remained in office as long as three years. Most of them he killed, some with poison, some with the sword.


15

1

Prefects of the city he changed with equal readiness. He executed his chamberlains with no compunctions whatever, even though all that he had done had been at their bidding.

2

One of these chamberlains, however, Eclectus by name, forestalled him when he saw how ready Commodus was to put the chamberlains to death, and took part in a conspiracy to kill him.

3

At gladiatorial shows he would come to watch and stay to fight, covering his bare shoulders with a purple cloth.

4

And it was his custom, moreover, to order the insertion in the city-gazette of everything he did that was base or foul or cruel, or typical of a gladiator or a procurer — at least, the writings of Marius Maximus so testify.

5

He entitled the Roman people the "People of Commodus," since he had very often fought as a gladiator in their presence.

6

And although the people regularly applauded him in his frequent combats as though he were a god, he became convinced that he was being laughed at, and gave orders that the Roman people should be slain in the Amphitheatre by the marines who spread the awnings.

7

He gave an order, also, for the burning of the city, as though it were his private colony, and this order would have been executed had not Laetus, the prefect of the guard, deterred him.

8

Among other triumphal titles, he was also given the name "Captain of the Secutores" six hundred and twenty times.


16

1

The prodigies that occurred in his reign, both those which concerned the state and those which affected Commodus personally, were as follows. A comet appeared.

2

Footprints of the gods were seen in the Forum departing from it. Before the war of the deserters the heavens were ablaze. On the Kalends of January a swift coming mist and darkness arose in the Circus; and before dawn there had already been fire-birds and ill-boding portents.

3

Commodus himself moved his residence from the Palace to the Vectilian Villa on the Caelian hill, saying that he could not sleep in the Palace.

4

The twin gates of the temple of Janus opened of their own accord, and a marble image of Anubis was seen to move.

5

In the Minucian Portico a bronze statue of Hercules sweated for several days. An owl, moreover, was caught above his bed-chamber both at Lanuvium and at Rome.

6

He was himself responsible for no inconsiderable an omen relating to himself; for after he had plunged his hand into the wound of a slain gladiator he wiped it on his own head, and again, contrary to custom, he ordered the spectators to attend his gladiatorial shows clad not in togas but in cloaks, a practice usual at funerals, while he himself presided in the vestments of a mourner.

7

Twice, moreover, his helmet was borne through the Gate of Libitina.

8

He gave largess to the people, 725 denarii to each man. Toward all others he was close-fisted to a degree, since the expense of his luxurious living had drained the treasury.

9

He held many races in the Circus, but rather as the result of a whim than as an act of religion, and also in order to enrich the leaders of the factions.


17

1

Because of these things — but all too late — Quintus Aemilius Laetus, prefect of the guard, and Marcia, his concubine, were roused to action and entered into a conspiracy against his life.

2

First they gave him poison; and when this proved ineffective they had him strangled by the athlete with whom he was accustomed to exercise.

3

Physically he was very well proportioned. His expression was dull, as is usual in drunkards, and his speech uncultivated. His hair was always dyed and made lustrous by the use of gold dust, and he used to singe his hair and beard because he was afraid of barbers.

4

The people and senate demanded that his body be dragged with the hook and cast into the Tiber; later, however, at the bidding of Pertinax, it was borne to the Mausoleum of Hadrian.

5

No public works of his are in existence, except the bath which Cleander built in his name.

6

But he inscribed his name on the works of others; this the senate erased.

7

Indeed, he did not even finish the public works of his father. He did organize an African fleet, which would have been useful, in case the grain-supply from Alexandria were delayed.

8

He jestingly named Carthage Alexandria Commodiana Togata, after entitling the African fleet Commodiana Herculea.

9

He made certain additions to the Colossus by way of ornamentation, all of which were later taken off,

10

and he also removed its head, which was a likeness of Nero, and replaced it by a likeness of himself, writing on the pedestal an inscription in his usual style, not omitting the titles Gladiatorius and Effeminatus.

11

And yet Severus, a stern emperor and a man whose character was well in keeping with his name, moved by hatred for the senate — or so it seems — exalted this creature to a place among the gods and granted him also a flamen, the "Herculaneus Commodianus," whom Commodus while still alive had planned to have for himself.

12

Three sisters survived him. Severus instituted the observance of his birthday.


18

1

Loud were the acclamations of the senate after the death of Commodus.

2

And that the senate's opinion of him may be known, I have quoted from Marius Maximus the acclamations themselves, and the content of the senate's decree:

3

"From him who was a foe of his fatherland let his honours be taken away; let the honours of the murderer be taken away; let the murderer be dragged in the dust. The foe of his fatherland, the murderer, the gladiator, in the charnel-house let him be mangled.

4

He is foe to the gods, slayer of the senate, foe to the gods, murderer of the senate, foe of the gods, foe of the gods, foe of the senate.

5

Cast the gladiator into the charnel-house. He who slew the senate, let him be dragged with the hook; he who slew the guiltless, let him be dragged with the hook — a foe, a murderer, verily, verily.

6

He who spared not his own blood, let him be dragged with the hook;

7

he who would have slain you, let him be dragged with the hook. You were in terror along with us, you were endangered along with us. That we may be safe, O Jupiter Best and Greatest, save for us Pertinax.

8

Long life to the guardian care of the praetorians! Long life to the praetorian cohorts! Long life to the armies of Rome! Long life to the loyalty of the senate!

9

Let the murderer be dragged in the dust.

10

We beseech you, O Sire, let the murderer be dragged in the dust. This we beseech you, let the murderer be dragged in the dust. Hearken, Caesar: to the lions with the informers! Hearken Caesar: to the lions with Speratus!

11

Long life to the victory of the Roman people! Long life to the soldiers' guardian care! Long life to the guardian care of the praetorians! Long life to the praetorian cohorts!

12

On all sides are statues of the foe, on all side are statues of the murderer, on all sides are statues of the gladiator. The statues of the murderer and gladiator, let them be cast down.

13

The slayer of citizens, let him be dragged in the dust. The murderer of citizens, let him be dragged in the dust. Let the statues of the gladiator be overthrown.

14

While you are safe, we too are safe and untroubled, verily, verily, if in very truth, then with honour, if in very truth, then with freedom.

15

Now at last we are secure; let informers tremble. That we may be secure, let the informers tremble. That we may be safe, cast informers out of the senate, the club for informers! While you are safe, to the lions with informers!

16

While you are ruler, the club for informers!


19

1

Let the memory of the murderer and the gladiator be utterly wiped away. Let the statues of the murderer and the gladiator be overthrown. Let the memory of the foul gladiator be utterly wiped away. Cast the gladiator into the charnel-house.

2

Hearken, Caesar: let the slayer be dragged with the hook. In the manner of our fathers let the slayer of the senate be dragged with the hook. More savage than Domitian, more foul than Nero. As he did unto others, let it be done unto him. Let the remembrance of the guiltless be preserved. Restore the honours of the guiltless, we beseech you. Let the body of the murderer be dragged with the hook,

3

let the body of the gladiator be dragged with the hook, let the body of the gladiator be cast into the charnel-house. Call for our vote, call for our vote: with one accord we reply, let him be dragged with the hook.

4

He who slew all men, let him be dragged with the hook. He who slew young and old, let him be dragged with the hook. He who slew man and woman, let him be dragged with the hook. He who spared not his own blood, let him be dragged with the hook.

5

He who plundered temples, let him be dragged with the hook. He who set aside the testaments of the dead, let him be dragged with the hook. He who plundered the living, let him be dragged with the hook. We have been slaves to slaves.

6

He who demanded a price for the life of a man, let him be dragged with the hook. He who demanded a price for a life and kept not his promise, let him be dragged with the hook. He who sold the senate, let him be dragged with the hook. He who took from sons their patrimony, let him be dragged with the hook.

7

Spies and informers, cast them out of the senate. Suborners of slaves, cast them out of the senate. You, too, were in terror along with us; you know all, you know both the good and the evil.

8

You know all that we were forced to purchase; all we have feared for your sake. Happy are we, now that you are the emperor in truth. Put it to the vote concerning the murderer, put it to the vote, put the question. We ask your presence.

9

The guiltless are yet unburied; let the body of the murderer be dragged in the dust. The murderer dug up the buried; let the body of the murderer be dragged in the dust."


20

1

The body of Commodus was buried during the night, after Livius Laurensis, the steward of the imperial estate, had surrendered it at the bidding of Pertinax to Fabius Cilo, the consul elect.

2

At this the senate cried out:

3

"With whose authority have they buried him? The buried murderer, let him be dug up, let him be dragged in the dust." Cincius Severus said: "Wrongfully has he been buried. And I speak as pontifex, so speaks the college of the pontifices.

4

And now, having recounted what is joyful, I shall proceed to what is needful: I give it as my opinion that the statues should be overthrown which this man, who lived but for the destruction of his fellow-citizens and for his own shame, forced us to decree in his honour;

5

wherever they are, they should be cast down. His name, moreover, should be erased from all public and private records, and the months should be once more called by the names whereby they were called when this scourge first fell upon the state."