More fascinating facts:
The lead-drinking thing, and possibly inbreeding, might be why Commodus
looks like that. I figure, the man was the fucking emperor. If a commissioned sculpture of "He Who Spared None" looked like that, can you imagine how he really must have looked? He ordered someone to be thrown in the furnace when his bath was too cold.
At the age of twelve.
(This is the same Commodus of Gladiator movie fame, by the way.)
Apparently his relatives were also dumbasses:
The task of slaying him was assigned to Claudius Pompeianus, a kinsman. But he, as soon as he had an opportunity to fulfil his mission, strode up to Commodus with a drawn sword, and, bursting out with these words, "This dagger the senate sends thee," betrayed the plot like a fool, and failed to accomplish the design, in which many others along with himself were implicated.
Okay, the picture in this post is the best I could find. Boy ain't right. And he looks like that in EVERY statue, adult as well. Bovine, half-asleep, dull, eyes not quite pointing the same direction. Oh Commodus. :D Even your Hercules costume and marble-chiseled abs couldn't hide it. He was succeeded as emperor by a slave. Of course, said slave was also a prefect of the city. Slavery was a bit different then.
MAN I need to study Latin again. Because I am absolutely positive that the original Latin of the text I linked is even more bluntly depraved than the 1920s translation makes out. For instance, the Latin word "subactor," which apparently means the uh, "catcher," was translated as "his partner in depravity." (And I think the word "procurer" is a euphemism for "pimp" or something. Apparently Commodus acted like a pimp's servant. Which is presumably not nearly as respectable as a pimp. This makes us wonder: what did an ancient Roman pimp wear?)
And in truth, on the occasion when he laid before the senate his proposal to call Rome Commodiana, not only did the senate gleefully pass this resolution, but also took the name 'Commodian' to itself, at the same time giving Commodus the name Hercules, and calling him a god.
Certain men who were lame in their feet and others who could not walk, he dressed up as giants, encasing their legs from the knee down in wrappings and bandages to make them look like serpents.
In his humorous moments, too, he was destructive. For example, he put a starling on the head of one man who, as he noticed, had a few white hairs, resembling worms, among the black, and caused his head to fester through the continual pecking of the bird's beak — the bird, of course, imagining that it was pursuing worms.
(Was there a cage over his head or something? Why would it stay there? I don't think starlings are that dumb.)
Oh my god, read it. It just keeps topping itself and getting more and more ridiculous:
He displayed two misshapen hunchbacks on a silver platter after smearing them with mustard, and then straightway advanced and enriched them.
So in conclusion, Commodus was one fucked up dude. And "He displayed two misshapen hunchbacks on a silver platter after smearing them with mustard" is a strong contender for "incredible phrase of the month," because really, it can't get much more incredible, and the month is almost over.