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Co'mmodus or Aelius Caesar

3. L. Ceionius Commodus, otherwise called L. AURELIUS VERUS, who was adopted by Hadrian when that emperor, feeling that his health was sinking under the attacks of protracted disease, deemed it expedient to select an assistant and successor. The new prince from that time forward, as we infer from inscriptions and Fasti, laid aside his former appellations, and, passing into the gens Aelia, was styled L. AELIUS VERUS 1 CAESAR, being the first individual on whom the title of Caesar was bestowed to indicate the next heir to the imperial throne. Of the early life of Aelius Caesar we know nothing except that he attracted the attention and gained the favour of Hadrian by his personal beauty and literary accomplishments, although the son-in-law of Nigrinus, who was put to death as a traitor. The precise date of his adoption is a disputed point among chronologers (see Tillemont and Eckhel), some, on the authority of Spartianus, declaring for A. D. 135; while others with greater probability conclude, from inscriptions and coins, that it took place the year following. He is set down in the Fasti as consul for A. D. 136, under the name of Ceionius Commodus, which seems to prove that the ceremonies of adoption had not at all events been completed at the commencement of that year; while on the coins of his second consulship, which belongs to A. D. 137, we find him designated as L. Aelius Caesar, and invested with the tribunicia potestas. Soon after his elevation, he was nominated governor of Pannonia, returned from his province in the course of 137, died suddenly on the 1st of January, 138, and was interred in the mausoleum of Hadrian.

Aelius Caesar, according to the testimony of his biographer, Spartianus, was a man of comely features, graceful bearing, and noble aspect, but in all other respects deeply stamped with the impress of mediocrity. He displayed moderate abilities as a statesman, governed his province respectably, was considered a tolerably good general, and although somewhat addicted to the pleasures of the table and other luxurious indulgences, maintained a decent character in his private life and social relations. His health was so wretched, that Hadrian is said to have speedily repented of the choice he had made, declaring that he had leaned for support upon a falling wall, and had thrown away the large sums lavished on the soldiers and people in largesses and shows in honour of the adoption. Aelius Caesar left behind him one daughter, Fabia, and one son, namely

1 * Spartianus in several passages gives him the name of Verus and so Hadrian (ap. Vopisc. Saturn. 100.8); but Cardinal Noris rejects Verus, because it does not appear in inscriptions and Fasti.

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