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COMMODUS (Lucius Aurelius) ANTONIUS, who on his coins is also called MARCUS, was the son of M. Aurelius and of Faustina junior; and was born at Lanuvium, in Latium, 914 (A. D. 161), the year in which his father entered on his third consulate, and succeeded Antonius in the sovereignty - viz. the day before the calends of September. His mother gave birth at the same time to another son, named Antoninus, and, in reference to the event, Geminus; but that child died at the age of four years. Capitolinus, however, gives it as his opinion, that Commodus was the son, not of Aurelius, but of some gladiator. Whichever of the two may be the correct version, it is certain that Aurelius constantly acknowledged him as his own child; and was much attached to him, frequently carrying him in his arms, and shewing him to the soldiers; and not only endeavoured himself to instil virtuous principles into his mind, but also committed his education to the care of men remarkable for their moral and intellectual qualifications; with how little benefit was shewn throughout the whole of his atrocious career.
In 919 (A. D. 166), Commodus received the title of CAESAR, in conjunction with his brother Aunius Verus, at the request of L. Verus, on the occasion of the triumph celebrated by both emperors, over the Parthians.
925 (A. D. 172). He was styled CERMANICVS.
928 (A. D. 175). Admitted as a priest into all the sacerdotal colleges, he went the same year from Rome into Germania, by order of his father, who there conferred on him the toga virilis, at the time of the revolt of Avidius Cassius, i.e. the 7th of July. On that occasion he was also styled PRINCEPS IVVENTVTIS, and before the customary time nominated consul. Same year, he set out with his father for the East, in order to put an end to the disturbances still resulting from the revolt of Cassius. The title of SARMATICVS, which Aurelius assumed this year, was also shared by Commodus.
929. (A. D. 176). Towards the close of this year, he returned with his father from the East, and received, in conjunction with Aurelius, the title of IMPERATOR, on the 27th of November. The honours of a triumph for victories over the Germani, and Sarmatae, were conferred by a Senatus Consultum upon his father and himself on the 23rd of December. Shortly afterwards he was associated by Aurelius in the Tribunitia Potestas; on which occasion a congiarium was distributed to the people.
930 (A.D. 177). In January of this year, he proceeded Consul; about this time he married Crispina. The same year Aurelius conferred the title of AUGUSTUS and also that of PATER PATRIAE on his unworthy son; and in consequence of victories gained, associated him with himself as IMPERATOR II.
931 (A. D. 178). On the 5th of August, he set out with his father for the war in Germania.
932 (A. D. 179). Commodus was present in the German campaign. A bloody victory was gained over the Marcomanni, the Hermanduri, and the Sarmatae, in consequence of which Aurelius was styled IMP. X. and Commodus IMP. III.
933 (A. D. 180). Marcus Aurelius dying on the 17th March, Commodus succeeded to the sole sovereignty. Leaving the war still unfinished, and concluding a peace with the barbarians, for which, it would appear, he received the victorious title of IMP. IV. he returned to Rome, and celebrated a triumph.
935 (A. D. 182). Nothing of importance is recorded to have taken place, under his reign, during the preceding year. But in the latter part of this year, Commodus was declared IMPERATOR V. by acclamation, according to the tetimony of coins, although in reward of what victory is not known; for historians record several wars, conducted by his lieutenants, without specifying dates.
936 (A. D. 183). Serving the consulate (IV.) with Aufidius Victorianus for his colleague, Commodus was styled IMP. VI. at the close of this year, though it is uncertain for what victory. Tillermont expresses his opinion that it was for one over the Britons. Commodus escaped a dangerous conspiracy set on foot by his sister Lucilla, whom, as well as his wife, he caused to be put to death. This year the agnomen of PIVS is added to his titles.
937 (A. D. 184). The title PONT. MAX. begins. This year the Caledonians having crossed the wall, an important war was waged, with them by the Roman forces in Britain, under the generalship of Ulpius Marcellus, a man of the highest military renown; in consequence of whose victories, Commodus gained first the title of IMP. VII. and afterwards of BRITannicus.