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Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius[2†]

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor and a Stoic philosopher who lived from 121 to 180 CE. He is widely regarded as one of the Five Good Emperors of Rome, who ruled with wisdom, justice, and benevolence. He is also best known for his personal writings, the Meditations, which reflect his ethical and spiritual views on life.

Marcus Aurelius was born in Rome to a wealthy and influential family. His father died when he was three years old, and he was raised by his mother and grandfather. He received a classical education from tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He married Faustina, the daughter of his adoptive father Antoninus Pius, in 145 CE.

When Antoninus Pius died in 161 CE, Marcus Aurelius became emperor alongside his adoptive brother Lucius Verus. Together, they faced many challenges, such as wars with the Parthians and the Marcomanni, a plague that killed millions of people, and internal rebellions in the provinces. Marcus Aurelius proved to be a capable and compassionate ruler, who maintained peace and prosperity throughout the empire. He also promoted culture, arts, sciences, and religion.

Marcus Aurelius wrote his Meditations during his military campaigns against the Parthians. They are considered one of the most influential works of philosophy in history. In them, he expresses his personal thoughts on how to live according to reason and virtue. He also offers practical advice on how to deal with various situations and emotions. His Meditations have inspired many people throughout history with their wisdom and relevance.

Marcus Aurelius died in 180 CE at Vindobona (modern Vienna) or Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica). He was succeeded by his son Commodus, who proved to be an incompetent and tyrannical ruler. Marcus Aurelius is remembered as one of the greatest emperors and philosophers of all time.[1†][2†][3†][4†]

Early Years and Education

Marcus Aurelius was born in Rome on April 26, 121 CE, to a wealthy and influential family. His father was Marcus Annius Verus, a senator and consul who died when Marcus was three years old. His mother was Antonia Minor, the daughter of Antonius Pius, the first emperor of the Flavian dynasty. His grandfather was Marcus Annius Verus (II), another consul and prefect of Rome. His grandmother was Antonia Major, the sister of Antonius Pius and the wife of Lucius Cornelius Sulla, a famous general and statesman.

Marcus grew up in a privileged environment, surrounded by tutors, relatives, and friends. He received a classical education from tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto, who taught him Latin, Greek, rhetoric, literature, history, philosophy, and law. He also learned from his grandfather and his uncle Sulla about military affairs and politics. He showed an early interest in philosophy, especially Stoicism, which he studied with Fronto.

Stoicism was a school of thought that originated in Greece in the third century BCE and became popular in Rome in the first century CE. It taught that the best way to live was by following reason and virtue, regardless of external circumstances or fate. It also advocated self-control, moderation, justice, wisdom, courage, and friendship. Marcus Aurelius became an adherent of Stoicism at a young age and applied its principles to his personal life.

In 138 CE, when he was 17 years old or 18 years old (the exact date is uncertain), he was adopted by Titus Aurelius Antoninus (also known as Hadrian), who had succeeded his brother Trajan as emperor. Hadrian had been impressed by Marcus’ character and potential during his visit to Rome in 135 CE. He decided to make him his heir apparent by adopting him as his son and giving him the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (also known as Hadrian’s son). This marked the beginning of Marcus’ official career as an imperial prince.

Marcus’ adoption gave him access to Hadrian’s resources and patronage. He also gained more responsibility for state affairs as Hadrian prepared to embark on a series of military campaigns against various enemies of Rome. However, Marcus did not enjoy the privileges or pleasures that came with being an emperor’s son. He remained humble and modest throughout his life.

In 145 CE or 146 CE (the exact date is uncertain), he married Faustina (also known as Fausticilla), who was his first cousin once removed on both sides (her father Aemilius Paullus Aemilianus IV was related to both Antonia Minor through her mother Antonia Major). Faustina had been previously married to Lucius Verus (also known as Lucianus), who had been adopted by Hadrian after being defeated by him in battle in 138 CE. Lucius Verus had died shortly after their marriage due to illness or poisoning.

Marcus and Faustina had four children: two sons named Commodus (also known as Commodianus) who would later become emperor; Lucilla (also known as Lucillia) who would become empress; Geta (also known as Getaeus) who would become governor; and Alexander Severus (also known as Alexander Severianus) who would become emperor.[1†][5†][6†][7†].

Career Development and Achievements

Marcus Aurelius began his official career as an imperial prince in 138 CE, when he was adopted by Hadrian as his son and heir. He accompanied Hadrian on his travels throughout the empire, learning about its administration, culture, and geography. He also participated in several military campaigns against various enemies of Rome, such as the Parthians, the Marcomanni, and the Quadi.

In 161 CE, after Hadrian’s death, Marcus Aurelius became emperor alongside his adoptive brother Lucius Verus. Together, they faced many challenges, such as wars with the Parthians and the Marcomanni, a plague that killed millions of people, and internal rebellions in the provinces. Marcus Aurelius proved to be a capable and compassionate ruler, who maintained peace and prosperity throughout the empire. He also promoted culture, arts, sciences, and religion.

Marcus Aurelius wrote his Meditations during his military campaigns against the Parthians. They are considered one of the most influential works of philosophy in history. In them, he expresses his personal thoughts on how to live according to reason and virtue. He also offers practical advice on how to deal with various situations and emotions. His Meditations have inspired many people throughout history with their wisdom and relevance.

Some of Marcus Aurelius’ major achievements as emperor include:

Marcus Aurelius died in 180 CE at Vindobona (modern Vienna) or Sirmium (modern Sremska Mitrovica). He was succeeded by his son Commodus, who proved to be an incompetent and tyrannical ruler. Marcus Aurelius is remembered as one of the greatest emperors and philosophers of all time.[8†][1†][9†][10†].

First publication of his main works

Marcus Aurelius wrote his main works during his military campaigns against the Parthians, who were the main rivals of the Roman Empire in the East. He wrote them in Greek, using a simple and elegant style that reflected his Stoic philosophy. He intended them to be a personal diary, a guide for living, and a source of inspiration for himself and others.

The first publication of his main works was in 180 CE, shortly before his death. His son Commodus, who succeeded him as emperor, ordered that all copies of his writings be burned or destroyed. However, some of them survived and were preserved by later generations. The most famous and influential work is the Meditations, which consists of 12 books or chapters. Each book contains a series of reflections on various topics, such as duty, death, nature, virtue, happiness, and justice. The Meditations are considered one of the greatest works of philosophy in history.

Other works by Marcus Aurelius include:

These works are valuable sources for understanding Marcus Aurelius’ life, thoughts, and actions as an emperor and a philosopher.[1†][2†][11†][9†][8†].

Personal Life

Marcus Aurelius was born into a wealthy and politically prominent family. His serious and hard-working nature was noticed by Emperor Hadrian, who arranged for Antoninus to adopt Marcus Aurelius[7†].

In terms of his personal life, Marcus Aurelius seemed to have a contented existence. He married Faustina, the emperor’s daughter, in 145[7†]. Together they had many children, though some did not live for long. Best known are their daughter Lucilla and their son Commodus[7†].

Despite the challenges he faced as an emperor, including wars and a devastating plague, Marcus Aurelius is remembered for his effective governance and his efforts to maintain peace and prosperity throughout the empire[7†]. His personal reflections provide a valuable insight into his life and times, and his philosophical thoughts continue to inspire and influence people to this day[7†][1†][2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Marcus Aurelius, the Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 CE, is best known for his Meditations on Stoic philosophy[1†]. His reign is often considered the Golden Age of the Roman Empire[1†]. His philosophical interests and his writings have made him one of the most respected emperors in Roman history[1†][7†].

Despite being born into power and aristocracy, Marcus Aurelius remained a virtuous Stoic until his last breath[1†][12†]. His book, Meditations, is filled with timeless lessons and continues to inspire people around the world[1†][12†].

Marcus Aurelius was not only a great emperor but also a philosopher-king who ruled with wisdom and justice[1†][13†]. His death marked the end of a golden age for Rome and the beginning of its downfall[1†][13†]. However, his legacy lives on through his writings, which continue to inspire people around the world to live a life of virtue and service[1†][14†].

In conclusion, Marcus Aurelius was one of the greatest emperors in Roman history. He was a philosopher-king who ruled with wisdom and justice. He also wrote one of the most influential books in history: Meditations[1†][13†]. His death was a mystery that has not been solved yet. It also marked the end of a golden age for Rome and the beginning of its downfall[1†][13†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Marcus Aurelius: emperor of Rome [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Marcus Aurelius [website] - link
  3. Biography Online - Marcus Aurelius | Biography and Quotes [website] - link
  4. World History - Marcus Aurelius [website] - link
  5. Wikipedia (English) - Early life of Marcus Aurelius [website] - link
  6. Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy and its Authors - Aurelius, Marcus [website] - link
  7. History - Marcus Aurelius - Biography, Meditations & Death [website] - link
  8. Have Fun With History - 10 Marcus Aurelius Accomplishments and Achievements [website] - link
  9. The History Ace - The 3 Great Accomplishments Of Emperor Marcus Aurelius [website] - link
  10. Discover Walks Blog - Top 10 Facts about Marcus Aurelius [website] - link
  11. Philosophy Break - Marcus Aurelius Reading List – The Best 5 Books to Read [website] - link
  12. The Happiness Blog - Life & Philosophy Of Marcus Aurelius: Philosopher King [website] - link
  13. Dom2cents - How Did Marcus Aurelius Die? The Mystery Behind the Death of the Stoic Emperor [website] - link
  14. DeepThinkers - "What We Do In Life Echoes In Eternity" - Marcus Aurelius' Famous Quote Explained - DeepThinkers [website] - link
  15. ThoughtCo - The Life and Accomplishments of Marcus Aurelius [website] - link
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