If you think about holding a position of power, being insane is almost a job requirement. Few of us would thrive under such circumstances, and most would be incompetent at best. But as history tells us, incompetence is not actually the worst character trait one can have:
Guys like Nero and Caligula usually are the first to come to mind when we think about despotic, decadent and downright crazy Roman emperors. But Elagabalus might have them beat.
He took to the throne as a sexually-confused 14-year old and quickly realized that this allowed him to engage in all the perversities he could think of. He regularly enjoyed having sex with countless strangers, both men and women, which he usually did by disguising himself as a whore and going to brothels.
Elagabalus held lavish feasts where he fed on only the most exotic food in the world, which naturally included brains. Despite the public’s disgust at the emperor’s actions, it was his religious acts that cost him his life.
Elagabalus thought it would be a good idea to replace Jupiter with a Syrian sun god named El-Gabal. Eventually, everyone in Rome wanted him dead, including his own praetorian guard who slayed the emperor at the young age of 18.
Thanks to Russell Crowe, Commodus’ name and reputation as the ultimate evil Roman emperor is rising. However, it’s pretty safe to say that the real Commodus was much more twisted than “Gladiator” let on. Like Elagabalus, Commodus wasn’t shy about indulging in his deepest desires, but his were much bloodier in nature.
Commodus fancied himself as the incarnation of Hercules and liked to show off his fighting prowess in the arena. He fought exotic animals…from the safety of an elevated tower, of course.
He also fought injured soldiers, those with disabilities and amputees. Unsurprisingly, Commodus always won his fights and charged the city of Rome an exorbitant fee for the “pleasure” of watching him in action.