ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Known as one of the most egotistical Roman emperors, Commodus famously commissioned statues depicting himself as the mythical hero Hercules. He regularly fought as a gladiator, and claimed to be the son of Jupiter. Ultimately his megalomania would be his downfall, when in 192, a conspiracy formed by his mistress and the praetorian prefect went into action.

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TRANSCRIPT

00:00:02an empire is like a living body with the emperor as its heart a strong regular heart keeps the body thriving but a bad heart will cause the body to revolt emperor Commodus considered himself a god his reign was rife with torture murder and debauchery plenty of those in
00:00:24his own court plotted his demise senators commanders servants even his own sister they all failed the Coliseum was Khamis's execution chamber he challenged rooms greatest gladiators just to prove he was untouchable his opponents never dared strike him sometimes the emperor spared them in reward for their submission but
00:00:52sometimes even if they surrendered he killed them anyway comidas held up the gladiators bloody head a man grin spreading across his face he locked eyes with the senators sitting in the front row of the arena he raised his blood stained sword pointing at right at them it was
00:01:13a warning your next one death can change the world at least that's what assassins believe every week we examine the famous assassins of history and the men and women who were assassinated welcome to assassinations on the par cast network I'm your host bill Thomas and I'm your host
00:01:43Kate Leonard this is our first episode on Roman Emperor comidas the mad king who thought himself a god on December thirty first of the year one ninety two A. D. a Cup all of his closest confidants finally put an end to his reign of terror if you like
00:02:02the show you can subscribe on your favorite podcast directory a new episode comes out every Monday you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram at par cast on Twitter at par cast network and at par cast dot com right which torture murder and ego mania comidas is
00:02:25rain was considered to be the beginning of the fall of the Roman Empire the Senate was the only thing standing between Rome and utter destruction in November of one ninety two a de comidas held an event called the plebeian games to prove his power to the people every
00:02:44morning he shot hundreds of arrows at an arena of wild beasts lions elephants ostriches and more every afternoon he battled the city's gladiators and he always won the senators could only gather and watch the gory spectacle in disgust comidas would drown the empire in its own blood if
00:03:06they didn't stop him two assassination attempts had already failed nearly everyone comidas once trusted had already been executed there was only one person who could slip past the emperor's defenses and get close enough to kill him that person was his closest confidante the closest thing he had to
00:03:26a wife his favorite concubine Marcia Marshall was born in the centre of Rome's power in government little is known about her early life but it's believed her full name was Marcia %HESITATION Ralea Dimitrius her father was a former slave who had been freed and join the imperial court
00:03:50mother was a woman of renowned beauty and that beauty was passed down to Marcia around the year one sixty seven a D. when Marshall was a young girl she was taken in and raised by a Christian eunuch named Hyacinthus he brought the young woman into the fledgling faith
00:04:13just over a hundred years after the death of Jesus Christ Christianity was slowly taking root across the Roman Empire however Romans misunderstood the new religion at the time there was only one denomination of Christianity and that denomination celebrated the sacrament of the Eucharist which is still practiced today
00:04:34in Roman Catholicism during the consecration of the Eucharist bread and wine are trans substantiated into Jesus's body and blood Christians then eat the bread and drink the wine believing that they are really consuming the body and blood of Christ it's a very sacred spiritual practice however the Romans
00:04:56didn't understand the new wants they twisted the meaning of the Eucharist the Romans branded the Christians as cannibals anyone who would hear to the faith was persecuted ruthlessly Christians were killed in the streets or forced into slavery on a regular basis Marcia was a survivor she kept her
00:05:18faith a secret choosing her every word with the utmost caution but still she lived with the shadow of persecution lurking just over her shoulder however there was another more immediate fact that threaten to marshes freedom she was a woman in one hundred eighty A. D. the eighteen year
00:05:40old emperor Commodus took power he had a habit of rounding up beautiful women and forcing them to become his concubines as a beautiful woman Marshall was doomed to be seen as a little more than property an object of desire but she'd inherited some great from her Friedman father
00:05:59she would find a way to transcend her place Marcia became the lover of senator quadratus who was the cousin of emperor Commodus their relationship may not have been true love but they did fulfill each other's needs quadratus got to spend his nights with a beautiful woman and Marcia
00:06:20was given a place among the wealthy and powerful that is the somewhat powerful the Roman Senate was created to have equal power alongside the emperor but over time the emperor's had gradually become more authoritarian and the Senate's power diminished by the time of comma diss rain the Senate
00:06:42was made up of wealthy nobles who sought social prestige rather than true political power it was this wealth and prestige that quadratus reveled in and showered upon Marcia she sat with him at state dinners she mingled with delete a chariot races and gladiator games her place in the
00:07:03Roman political world was similar to that of a movie stars Parramore she lived among the upper classes but as a woman she had no power of her own she could only exert her influence from behind the scenes still Marshall was on track to make the best of her
00:07:22position until emperor Commodus turned her world upside down as soon as Commodus took power in the year one eighty he started stirring up trouble the eighteen year old emperor completely avoided his royal duties preferring instead to spend his time drinking with his harem of concubines against the advice
00:07:44of the Senate comidas past all command of the state's affairs to one of his guards a man named perennis perennis let the emperor indulging as much debauchery as he wanted it kept him distracted meanwhile perennis used his new power to seize property from the country's nobleman fattening his
00:08:05own wallet at their expense men and women who had spent their entire lives in the lap of luxury were literally dragged from their homes and thrown into the street if they complained they were stripped of their positions and privileges emperor Commodus was not coming to their rescue he
00:08:24seemed intent on getting rid of anyone who might threaten his own power he'd even cast his own sister loot Sheila from the royal court and this would prove to be a serious mistake loot Sheila had spent her entire life next to the seat of power and now she
00:08:42was being forced into obscurity she had no intention of going quietly in the year one eighty two Lou Chila took her problem to Khamis's cousin senator quadratus quadratus hadn't been thrown out of power yet but he knew he might be next they decided there was only one solution
00:09:03they had to kill emperor Commodus look Sheila and quadratus told Marcia about their plan she could be a valuable help she was March quadratus trusted her and most importantly she was a beautiful young woman who wouldn't raise the emperor suspicions Marcia refused any active role in the assassination
00:09:25plot whether she approved of the plan or not she had the good sense to keep her mouth shut about it quadratus said about his mission he hit a dagger under his robes and waited in the shadows behind an entry way at the center of the Coliseum comidas came
00:09:45through this entrance everyday like clockwork quadratus knew it wouldn't be long he waited the cold steel of the dagger pressed against his belly finally footsteps echo down the passageway comidas and his military guards appeared marching steadily toward the center of the Coliseum the thunder of footsteps filled quadratus
00:10:09his ears it was time to act raising the blade above his head he leaped from the shadows some moments require strategy and intellect to change the course of history but assassinations require only physical speed and skill had quadratus been a soldier he might have succeeded but he was
00:10:35a senator he had spent his life sharpening his words not his knives before he could bring the dagger home a parting speech bubbled out of his throat this dagger the Senate sends the this gave the guard's more than enough time to seize him and kick his dagger away
00:10:58in one eighty two C. E. quadratus into Chilo were executed thrown into a pit with wild beasts and torn to bits Marcia managed to avoid any blame but she didn't quite go free comidas took notice of his would be assassins widow she was very beautiful so like most
00:11:19of the beautiful women in Rome she was taken to live as the emperor's concubines Marcia knew how lucky she'd been comidas could have tossed her to the wild beast like quadratus being taken as a concubine was a light punishment in comparison never heart break an anger she was
00:11:38feeling she buried it she had no control over her circumstances but she would make the most of them marshes which was as great as her beauty and she quickly became the emperor's favorite mistress comidas had sworn to never take another wife after he had his first wife executed
00:11:58for adultery but though he never married Marsha he treated her as if she were his wife comet is sensed the deep reservoir of strength in Marcia he had artists paint portraits of her in the likeness of an Amazon the mystic race of female warriors she had as firm
00:12:17a grip on his ear as she did on his heart it was widely known that no one not even Khamis's appointed advisers in chamberlain's could mitigate his unstable tendencies better than Marcia she was a steady whispering wind that cooled his roiling mind comidas was paranoid of another assassination
00:12:39plot and he became extremely hesitant to appear in public he trusted no one he wouldn't receive any message unless it had first passed through his right hand man perennis but he always listen to Marcia gentle suggestion flowed from her lips like honey sometimes comidas would make a decision
00:13:01without even realizing where the idea came from she urged comidas to pass laws in favor of treating Christians more gently without ever giving away her own it here instead of faith in one instance she asked the pope for a list of all the Christians who had been forced
00:13:20into labor in the Sardinian mines and then convinced comidas to release them all but a wildfire can only be controlled for so long soon marshes influence would run its course a paranoid emperor would come to see marshes gentle suggestions as something far more loathsome coming up we'll dive
00:13:47into the mind of the mad emperor now back to the story in fifteen oh three Niccolo Machiavelli said that quote all the Roman emperors who succeeded to the throne by birth except Titus were bad all were good who succeeded by adoption but as soon as the empire fell
00:14:12once more to the air is by birth it's ruined recommenced that return to heirs by birth began with Lucious %HESITATION reveleus comidas on August thirty first one sixty one twin sons were born to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius he called them comidas and Antonius Marcus's wife Faustina had been
00:14:37plagued by nightmares during the pregnancy she dreamed that instead of giving birth to human babies too scaled serpents slithered from her coiling around each other and hissing one serpent much larger than the other turned on its brother and devoured it after a sickly infancy Antonius died on his
00:14:59fourth birthday comidas was left the sole heir to the throne in the one sixties AD the Roman Empire was locked in a series of wars and wounded soldiers brought home a plague of smallpox that was ravaging the city emperor Marcus Aurelius still held the people's favor he'd ascended
00:15:25to the throne from an elected position in the Senate and despite the empire's problems he was considered a wise and just ruler from childhood comidas was groomed to be as grand an emperor as his father Marcus Aurelius was the first emperor in generations to have a legitimate son
00:15:45and he planned on bringing back the old tradition of rule by birthright comidas was trained by the best masters in all realms of study but early on the boy proved to have a cruel streak in his nature one day when Commodus was twelve one of his slaves drew
00:16:04him a bath when the young emperor got into the water he felt it was too cold so without compunction he ordered that the slave be cast into the furnace on another occasion the young comidas used a scalpel to cut open a man's belly simply to satisfy his curiosity
00:16:24about what was inside his teachers could only stand by and watch as he unfurled the man's intestines despite all of his worrying behavior or really is promoted his son to the rank of imperator on November twenty seventh one seventy six eighty making him second in command of rooms
00:16:45army comidas was only fifteen the youngest consul in Roman history only a year after that comidas was made co emperor ruling alongside his father in one eighty are really is died leaving eighteen year old comidas as the sole emperor in his final moments Marcus Aurelius might have dreamed
00:17:09that his son would lead Rome into a bright new era comidas would be the first biological heir to take the throne in over a hundred years and his father had done everything to prepare him for the responsibility these hopes did not come to pass comidas proved to be
00:17:28a worst disease upon a Roman than the plague rather than actually ruling his domain comedies spent his days at the Coliseum watching gladiator battles he wasn't content to simply watch sometimes he would enter the arena himself and brutally murder his opponents before the screaming crowd during his reign
00:17:51comedy a spot in over seven hundred and thirty five gladiator battles against both men and animals he brought exotic beasts into Colosseum lions elephants hippos ostriches gazelles and Tigers and massacred them all one ancient historian wrote quote such was his prowess in the slaying of wild beasts that
00:18:16he wants transfixed an elephant with a pole peer stickers els horn with a spear and on a thousand occasions dispatched a mighty beasts with a single blow he often invited gladiators to his home to practice on offered that meant certain death no one dared to defeat the emperor
00:18:36in battle not with his guards stationed around the perimeter of the room once they surrendered Commodus would slay them without an ounce of mercy his cruelty aired into the macabre comidas delighted in mocking decorum and decency once at a state dinner comidas served up to live hunchback men
00:18:58on silver platters both of the men covered in mustard at another banquet he forced to men with dwarfism to fight to the death with butcher knives atop the banquet table comedies ate greedily as they battled ignoring the gallons of blood splattered onto his plate comidas was known to
00:19:19round up women he found desirable and force them into his harem he would wander the streets and command his guards to a doctor any women that caught his fancy and as we mentioned earlier after his cousin quadratus tried to assassinate him in one eighty two he got the
00:19:38last laugh by taking quadratus as lover Marcia as a concubine but Marcia proved to be much stronger and smarter than competence had anticipated rather than let the kidnapping break her spirit Marcia maneuver her way into a position of influence she had the emperor's here and before he knew
00:19:59what he was doing everything she asked comidas had always had an astounding ego but as the boy emperor matured into his twenties he literally began to think of himself as a god he insisted that he was the reincarnation of the demigod Hercules and took to wearing alliance skin
00:20:20cloak and carrying a club he renamed Rome as comedy ana and called its people comedy on he the months of the year were all renamed in his honor August became comidas September became Hercules December he renamed after his beloved mistress the warrior woman Amazonia S. as his megalomania
00:20:44grew so did his higher for the Senate he believed they were unnecessary in the face of a god like rulers such as himself at the gory culmination of his gladiator battles he would often hold up the severed head of his opponents and thrust it toward where the senators
00:21:01were sitting he would gesture at them with his bloody sword indicating that they were next if this weren't enough he had a statue of himself built outside of the Senate house his likeness held an arrow notched and pointed right at the building but even though comidas was only
00:21:20in his twenties by the mid one eighties his feats of strength for slowing down his diet of wind and mustard covered live hunch backs had left him weak and diseased and his debauchery had done even more damage to the Roman public comment as had devalued the Roman currency
00:21:40by limiting the amount of gold and silver used to make each coin a decision that set the empire sliding toward economic collapse after that he'd left public matters to is chamberlain's perennis and Cleander who sold political positions to the highest bidders and seized property for their own personal
00:22:00gain in one eighty five perennis the long time enabler of the emperor decided that he himself would make a better ruler three years after quadratus is failed attempt on comma diss life yet another assassination plot was formed using the wealth he'd stolen from the Roman people perennis sent
00:22:22his sons to bribe the imperial soldiers and recruit an army to overthrow comidas he planned to March toward the capital take the emperor by surprise and have him publicly executed horrendous would then take over as the uncontested leader of Rome but there was a hitch in parenthesis plan
00:22:43a few of the soldiers he spoke to were still loyal to the emperor they came to comidas and told him about the plot comidas is paranoia was finally vindicated in a fit of rage he had perennis and his sons publicly executed and fed to wild beasts as he
00:23:02had done with his first attempt at assassins with perennis out of the way Khamis's other chamberlain Cleander was left solely in charge of the state he continued on the same path of corruption as before selling off government offices and consolidating his own power this scheme wouldn't hold for
00:23:24long in the spring of one ninety a food shortage swept through Rome leading people starving in the streets by June they have found a scapegoat for the famine Cleander at the end of June a Marlboros outside the circus maximus stadium protesting against Klay Anders injustices under send his
00:23:47guard to quell the uprising then escaped to ask comidas for help but the mob followed him they swarmed outside the house were comidas was staying calling for Klay Anders had comidas had a choice save his most trusted chamberlain or save his reputation as he'd done so many times
00:24:09before he asked Marcia for advice she told him to give the people what they wanted Cleander was beheaded Cleander son was executed two and just for good measure the man who oversaw the city's grain supply was executed as well the people were a piece for now but Khamis's
00:24:33paranoia was worse than ever he'd only been ruling for ten years and he already executed or banished everyone close to him everyone except for two people his treasured concubine Marcia and his wrestling coach narcissus comidas was now nearing thirty and he wasn't as spry as he once was
00:24:56he had recruited nurses says to help him train for his gladiator battles the young wrestler was the only fighting partner that comedies would never kill or maim after a fight with everyone else turning against him narcissus and Marcia were the only people who had never threatened Khamis's power
00:25:15or his life one can only imagine how narcissus and Marcia must have felt held hostage by the win in favor of someone who's insanity was only rivaled by his cruelty Marcia spent her nights pressed up against comma diss fevered flesh his body writhing in his sleep like the
00:25:37serpent his mother had dreamed of before his birth some nights Marshall would slip from the mad king's embrace and stand between the great marble pillars of the palace no more than a shadow in the night beyond her role was starving and festering one disaster away from collapse Marcia
00:25:57it was the only one who was safe from the emperor's fury at least for now until one fateful day in December of one ninety two eighty comidas announced that he would bring in the new year by abolishing the Senate he would stand as the sole ruler of Rome
00:26:17he planned to take up residence in the gladiators barracks and rule the kingdom like the god warrior king he believed himself to be up to that point the Senate had been the only thing besides Marcia mitigating Khamis's whims without percentage the empire safety would depend entirely on marsh's
00:26:36influence Marcia bag to comment is not to be so careless the Senate was working to end the famine and stop the spread of the plague dissolving their power would lead to disgrace for the Roman Empire but comidas heard something else in her whispers now not a soothing voice
00:26:57of reason but a sinister manipulation she was trying to diminishes power just like Cleander and perennis and Luci lab and quadratus comidas kept a list of people he intended to execute as soon as he over through the Senate but by this point the list had grown quite long
00:27:17minor enemies senators state officials his own servants no one was off limits not even his closest confidants after two assassination attempts he would not suffer another betrayal in December one ninety two a few days before the new year comidas picked up his quill and scribbled out his updated
00:27:40list not long after his servant boy found it at the very top of the list the ink still wet Marcia Aralia Dimitrius coming up we'll examine the fallout of the emperor's paranoia have you heard the news park cast has released its first ever fiction podcast mine site plagued
00:28:11by nightmares homicide detective Kate Maclay in list her radio journalist husband to get to the bottom of her horrifying dreams in the process Kate fights against psychology unsolved crimes her own family and even a serial killer if you love true crime podcasts mysterious audio dramas and psychological thrillers
00:28:31like I do this is definitely the show for you I was hooked right away be sure to stay tuned to the end of our show to hear a teaser search minds I work every listen to podcasts or visit park cast dot com slash mines I'd to start listening
00:28:46now that's mines by the scariest monsters are those hiding inside our own minds now back to the story in one ninety two A. D. Rome was on the verge of collapse famine and plague swept through the city emperor Commodus had threatened the Senate with destruction and Marshall was
00:29:10the only one close enough to comment as to do anything about it on the night before the new year the emperor's servant boy found a list of the people he intended to execute the next morning once he abolished the Republic and declared himself the gladiator king marshes name
00:29:29was at the top of the list he grabbed the tablet and ran he ran right into Marcia she stopped the boy and took the tablet she didn't know what it was but she saw her name in fresh ink at the top below her name was a collective S.
00:29:46quemada says trusted servant below his Emily S. latest the commander of the emperor's guard Marcia muttered quote well done indeed comidas this is fine return for the kindness and affection I have lavished on you and for the drunken insults which I haven't toured from you all these years
00:30:08a funnel drunkard is not going to get the better of a sober woman end quote Marsha calls for collectors and latest they had all tried to reason with comidas but now it was too late for talking they had to act Marcia knew what she had to do the
00:30:31Romans were old hats when it came to poisons cyanide deadly nightshade hemlock ever since the days of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra in forty eight D. these substances had been slipped into food as regularly as a handful of pepper it was easier to sneak a poison passed an emperor's
00:30:52defense then it was a dagger but poison was unreliable if the dosing is off even by the smallest amount Commodus would recover and Marcia would be the one who wound up dead comidas love to drink in the bath and he was known to bait seven or eight times
00:31:10a day Marcia always brought him his drink while he based no one else was allowed to be with him only Marcia on new year's eve in one ninety two A. D. Marcia came to comet as his bathroom with a goblet of wine the same as every night even
00:31:28though comidas had condemned her to death a part of him still trusted her she had been his closest companion for so long this love gave Marcia the chance to release the emperor's wine with a deadly poison to make sure it worked she used an incredibly powerful dose but
00:31:46the poison was so strong that comidas became violently ill vomiting it all back up Marcia fear the emperor might live after all and if he did she wouldn't be strong enough to take him on with her bare hands so she sent word for narcissus Khamis's wrestling coach when
00:32:08narcissus arrived he found comatose wallowing in a bath full of his own vomit arriving in pain like one of the many disease to citizens had neglected throughout his reign it must've been a pathetic sight the ones godly emperor clinging to life what followed was an act of mercy
00:32:28narcissus bent down wrapped his arm around Khamis's straining neck and press down the emperor was so weak from the poison he couldn't have struggled much with a few splashes the gladiator who'd never suffered a defeat was finally killed by the very man who taught him to fight emperor
00:32:48Commodus died on the last day of the year one ninety two when word of common this is death reached the Senate they proclaim to quote let the memory of the murderer and the gladiator be utterly wiped away let the statues be overthrown as he did on to others
00:33:09let it be done unto him let the body of the murderer be dragged in the dust and quote and so ended the life of one of Rome's most maniacal emperors but the wounds that he inflicted on Rome would not be healed by his death a tide of conspiracy
00:33:29betrayal and murder continued to flow Marshall would go on to learn as the Bible of her hidden faith had warned that all who will take up the sword will die by the sword on next week's episode we'll delve into the fate of comma diss assassins how his power
00:33:51vacuum was filled and what might have happened if marshes plot had failed thanks for listening to assassinations we hope you enjoyed part one of our series on the assassination of Roman Emperor comidas if you're looking for more episodes or other stories of murder and crime you can find
00:34:15us as well as all of our cast other podcasts on apple podcasts Spotify stitcher Google play cast box tune in or your favorite podcast directory you can also find us on Facebook and Instagram as at park cast and on Twitter as at park cast network see you next
00:34:35Monday assassinations was created by Max Cutler is a production of color media and is part of the park cast network it is produced by Max and Ron Cutler sound design by Kenny Hobbs with production assistance by Ron Shapiro and Paul Mahler additional production assistance by Carly Madden and
00:34:57Maggie admire assassinations is written by David Calvert and stars Kate Leonard and bill Thomas now here it is a teaser of park Cass first fiction podcast mind's eye if you enjoy it be sure to rate review and subscribe to mine site where ever you listen to podcasts seven
00:35:23zero five January twenty seventh more notes on case phone number three four nine east Colfax motel murder now east Colfax motel murders new victim middle aged male sound mutilated nude murders are clearly connected based on posing if your sexual in nature my working theory the jilted husband killing
00:35:47for revenge now turns zero killer victims would be managed slept with his wife or possibly men that have a better sex life either way he's jealous stabbing scene passionate but cleanliness of motel room suggests premeditation have a co Santa Fe PT today about a similar case they're working
00:36:07from last year they say there's Posen but won't release details removal of body parts points to psychosis or perhaps it's a message Haraszthy keeps bringing up Jack the Ripper's kidney letter and told the girl gets our mail to watch out for stray eyeballs he's a little green the
00:36:28gotta give him props for the enthusiasm here's the thing the crime scenes are identical if it's a message it's the same message repeated and we are receiving it detective Cohle Denver PD give me a second I'll be right there one last note media all over second victims case
00:36:51the nickname the killer the blind butcher

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