The death of Marcus Aurelius, in 180 A.D., brought the felicity of the Antonine age to an abrupt end. His son Commodus was a tyrant who degraded the imperial dignity by personally fighting in the amphitheatre both against wild beasts and against professional gladiators. He was murdered after a reign of twelve years. His successor, the senator Pertinax, who sought to return to the methods of Marcus, lasted only twelve weeks. He was murdered by the Pretorian guards who now, resenting the restoration of discipline, “threw their swords into the scale” and, having thus made the throne again vacant, treated it as their property and offered it for sale to the highest bidder. It was bought by a rich senator, Didius Julianus. But this claim of the Roman household troops to dispose of the empire aroused the resentment of the legions abroad. By a rapid march on Rome, the commander of the army on the Danube, the African Septimius Severus, deposed Julianus after a reign of 66 days, defeated his rival generals, and inaugurated the rule of a new dynasty: the last imperial dynasty of the Pagan empire.
— The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chapter II: The House of Severus
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