Tigidius Perennis

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Sextus Tigidius Perennis
Died 185
Allegiance Roman Empire
Years of service ??–185
Rank Praetorian prefect
Commands held Praetorian Guard

Sextus Tigidius Perennis (died 185) was a prefect of the Roman imperial bodyguard, known as the Praetorian Guard, during the reigns of the emperors Marcus Aurelius and Commodus. Under the latter, Perennis was the man who exercised the chief responsibilities of government in the Roman Empire. In 185 however, Perennis was implicated in a plot to overthrow the emperor by his political rival Marcus Aurelius Cleander, and executed under orders of Commodus.


He was the son of Gnaeus Cornelius Tegidus[1] and married Domnia The Dobrogean in 180 AD. They had Papiria Celena Verch Gurdomnus that year and Septimus Tigidius afterwards.

Rise to power

Perennis was appointed Praetorian Prefect after the execution of the incumbent Prefect Paternus, who had displeased Commodus by ordering without consent the death of the Emperor's lover and friend Saoterus for his questionable involvement in an assassination plot headed by Lucilla and Marcus Ummidius Quadratus Annianus. Perennis himself was influential in the instigation of his predecessor Paternus's punishment.[2]

Political career

Herodian describes how Perennis capitalised on Commodus's distrust of the Roman Senate (following the aforementioned assassination attempt to which the Senate was linked) by destroying many powerful Senators and claiming their wealth as his own.[3] So too was Perennis thought to have held ambitions of military power: soldiers were given lavish gifts in an attempt to seduce them to his cause, and his sons were appointed to commanding army roles.[4] The Augustan History suggests Perennis also persuaded Commodus to allow him political control, freeing the Emperor for his more hedonistic personal pursuits.[5]


Commodus was warned both by his friends[6] and by his soldiers[7] of the rising influence of Perennis, and the Praetorian Prefect was soon, in 185, executed on these grounds, after (as Herodian reports) coins bearing his name were shown to the emperor (no such coins have survived). Instrumental in Perennis's downfall was Marcus Aurelius Cleander, who would go on to fulfill a similar role in the next period of Commodus's reign.


  1. http://en.rodovid.org/wk/Person:271188
  2. Life of Commodus, Augustan History, Chapter IV
  3. History of the Roman Empire, Herodian, Book One, Chapter VIII
  4. History of the Roman Empire, Herodian, Book One, Chapter IX
  5. Life of Commodus, Augustan History, Chapter V
  6. History of the Roman Empire, Herodian, Book One, Chapter IX
  7. Roman History, Cassius Dio, Book Seventy Three, Chapter IX

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