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Was Commodus the Worst Emperor in Ancient Roman History?

In the competition for worst Roman emperor ever, certain names stand out. Caligula, for example, whose debauchery and perversion are legendary to this day. Or Nero, who became renowned for his cruelty and who, by popular legend, did nothing but strum his lyre while Rome burned to ashes. Then there’s Commodus, who managed all of that and more.

Reigning from 180 to 192 A.D., Commodus all but ignored his official duties. Instead, he devoted himself to his harem of 300 females and a like number of males, played gladiator at Rome’s Colosseum and ordered the executions of countless foes, allies and family members alike. When Rome burned on his watch, he not only made little effort to stop it but insisted that the rebuilt city be renamed in his honor. He also believed himself to be the reincarnation of mythological strong man Hercules.

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