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Unpopular Ancient Roman Emperor – Commodus – Part II
Posted In: Ancient Civilizations  8/30/12
By: Yona Williams

Being an unpopular emperor meant that there were attempts on your life. Commodus was so disliked that his own sister tried to have him murdered. In the end, his cruelty towards another loved one would be his downfall. In this article, you will learn about the trio of conspirators who were successful in murdering the ancient Roman emperor.  

It was Commodus' sister, Lucilla that convinced Marcia to join a plot with Quadratus to take the life of Commodus. However, the fate of Commodus' sister did not end the same as the movie, as the plot against his life was uncovered and both Lucilla and Quadratus were executed. Commodus did not suspect Marcia as being a part of the plan, and she did face any charges. When Commodus' wife Bruttia Crispina was exiled and murdered for committing adultery, the emperor decided not to marry again and instead, took Marcia as his concubine.

Marcia was not the legal wife of Commodus, but he treated her as such. She had a great deal of influence over the leader. However, there came a point when Commodus' anger overcame his affection for his companion. To celebrate the Roman New Year, the emperor wanted to appear before the Roman people out of the gladiator barracks – escorted by the rest of the warriors. This was not customary, as royalty was supposed to come from the palace wearing the traditional purple robes. When telling Marcia of his plan the night before, she pleaded with him to rethink and not to disgrace the Roman Empire.

Commodus was angered by her reaction and shared his intentions with the Praetorian Prefect, Aemillius Laetus, and his servent, Eclectus. They also tried to talk Commodus out of the move. He was so angry with the trio that he placed their names to a list of people that he wanted executed in the next morning. He also added the names of prominent senators to the list.

Marcia eventually found out about the list – unintentionally intercepting it. While she read the names, she learned that she was the first. Feeling betrayed, she started to think about all of the times he insulted and drunkenly abused her while all she did was show affection and kindness to the emperor. She immediately spoke with Laetus and Eclectus, and together, they agreed that they had to kill Commodus in order to save their own lives. Marcia was usually the person that gave the emperor his first drink after his bath, so she mixed poison with the wine. Upon consuming the wine, he became violently ill and started to vomit endlessly.

The trio became worried that Commodus would throw up all of the poison, so they promised a large reward to the athlete Narcissus to strangle Commodus. After Commodus was murdered, Marcia and Eclectus became man and wife, but she did not last too long after the death of her lover. Didius Julianus killed the mistress in 193 AD.


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