Text by Mike Welbourn. Your soul takes on the color of your thoughts. 20 Jan 2021. When he was born, his paternal grandfather was already consul for the second time and prefect of Rome, which was the crown of prestige in a senatorial career; his father’s sister was married to the man who was destined to become the next emperor and whom he himself would in due time succeed; and his maternal grandmother was heiress to one of the most massive of Roman fortunes. As the Parthian war concluded, however, the Marcomanni tribe of Germania invaded Roman provinces on the Danube in an alliance with the Persian Sarmatians. At his own insistence, however, his adoptive brother was made coemperor with him (and bore henceforth the name Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus). Along with his predecessors – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antonius Pius – Marcus Aurelius brought stability to an unstable Empire; between them, the five provided almost a century of competent government, now regarded as Rome’s heyday. Books Early in 138, however, Commodus died, and later, after the death of Hadrian, the engagement was annulled. Although he is often called the "philosopher on the throne" or the "philosopher-emperor", he was also one of the greatest warriors of the Roman empire, and might be called "a philosopher in arms" - with more justification that Alexander the Great, who did in fact receive this title. Marcus had a long apprenticeship at the side of Antoninus, learning the business of government and assuming public roles, before peacefully assuming power upon Antoninus’s death. The extent to which he intended it to be seen by others is uncertain. The Meditations is far from a philosophical treatise, however; it is one man’s thoughts on life and the struggle to remain at peace with one’s self in a world which constantly threatens such peace. Between 170-180 CE, Marcus Aurelius campaigned against the Germanic tribes and toured the eastern provinces of his empire. The Column of Marcus Aurelius is a Roman victory column in Piazza Colonna, Rome, Italy. In 136 CE, the emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138 CE) selected Lucius Ceionius Commodus as his successor for reasons which are unclear. For only $5 per month you can become a member and support our mission to engage people with cultural heritage and to improve history education worldwide. The column carries representations carved in high relief of the emperor's successful … He most likely would have also adopted the Cynic approach to simple, coarse food, few possessions, & neglect of basic hygiene. How should we live our lives? The first two types belong to the emperor’s youth, before he assumed the duties of the principate. Fronto and Aurelius would become life-long friends and both he and Atticus would exert significant influence over the young Aurelius. Marcus thus was marked out as a future joint emperor at the age of just under 17, though, as it turned out, he was not to succeed until his 40th year. Life changed drastically for Marcus Aurelius, and Rome in 161 when Antoninus Pius died, leaving Marcus effectively as the new Emperor. Marcus married his cousin Annia Galeria Faustina, the emperor Antoninus Pius’s daughter. The military precariousness of the empire and the inflexibility of its financial structure in the face of emergencies now stood revealed; desperate measures were adopted to fill the depleted legions, and imperial property was auctioned to provide funds. Marcus Aurelius, AE as, AD 161-180. Numerous measures were promulgated and judicial decisions made, clearing away harshnesses and anomalies in the civil law, improving in detail the lot of the less-favoured—slaves, widows, minors—and giving recognition to claims of blood relationship in the field of succession (see inheritance). Hays elaborates: According to this theory, man is like a dog tied to a moving wagon. Web. Verus had more military experience than Aurelius and so took charge of the campaigns in the east personally. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2021) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. How he came to the throne, however, remains a mystery. Commodus was married to Marcus Aurelius’ aunt Faustina and it is probable that Hadrian chose Commodus as a kind of place-holder for the teen-age Aurelius who would then succeed him later. In 145 he married his cousin, the emperor’s daughter Annia Galeria Faustina, and in 147 the imperium and tribunicia potestas, the main formal powers of emperorship, were conferred upon him; henceforth, he was a kind of junior coemperor, sharing the intimate counsels and crucial decisions of Antoninus. Aurelius seems to have been quite impressed with this outlook as he then affected a typically Cynic lifestyle of dressing in a rough woolen cloak and sleeping on the ground or the floor of his room instead of his bed. It is most probable, however, that Marcus’s conscience impelled him to carry out loyally what he believed to have been the plan by which alone he himself had eventually reached the purple. How can we live with the knowledge that someday we will no longer exist? Together they had at least 12 children, including Commodus, Marcus’s successor. Epictetus (l. c. 50-130 CE) was the author of the Discourses and Enchiridion, famous lectures on Stoic principles and practice and the logos was the binding force in the universe which caused all things to be and kept all running harmoniously. Marcus Aurelius, bas-relief depicting his triumphal entry into Rome in a quadriga; in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Retrieved from https://www.ancient.eu/Marcus_Aurelius/. Am I proud to look up to this person? Aurelius’ father died in c. 124 CE and he was raised primarily by nurses and his grandfathers. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. Professor of Ancient History, University of Cambridge, 1979–84. They encouraged free speech, the arts, education, and boosted the economy – at least for a time – by debasing the currency; the two emperors quickly became immensely popular with the people. T he Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. One of Rome’s most remarkable rulers, Marcus Aurelius (121-180AD) is commonly described as ‘The last of the five good emperors’. Antoninus groomed his successor in almost every aspect of becoming an efficient ruler (though he neglected to instruct him in military matters) and, although Aurelius complied, his tastes ran more toward philosophical introspection than the mundane duties of court life. 1. What happened to the Meditations after Aurelius’ death is unknown but they somehow survived and copies were made and preserved. Marcus’s claim to statesmanship has come under critical attack in numerous other ways—for example, in the matter of Christian persecution. These were most likely works of the Cynic Philosophers who sought to live in the simplest way and disregarded all social conventions as artifice. by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin (CC BY-NC-SA). When Marcus Aurelius was 17 years of age, his uncle became the emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 138–161) and adopted him and another young man as his successors. ‘Marcus Aurelius’ Marcus Annius Verus (AD 121 – AD 180) Marcus Annius Verus was born at Rome on 26 April AD 121. These emperors did … Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike. The logos, which controls all things, controls one’s fate as well but, even so, a human being still has the freedom to choose how to respond to circumstance. The universe, to Aurelius and the Stoics, is good and only has the best intentions for humanity; it is an individual’s choice to interpret those intentions correctly and find peace or to choose to cling to one’s impressions and suffer. Such duties seem fairly meaningless twice, and 161 and Rome in a ;... High school students exert significant influence over the young Aurelius to your inbox requires login ) spiritual nourishment time would. 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