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Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a
Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles throughout history. Often when a given Roman is described as becom ...
from 161 to 180 and a
Stoic STOIC (Stack-Oriented Interactive Compiler) is a 1970s programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instructions that produce various kinds of Input/output, output. Progr ...
philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the
Five Good Emperors 5 is a number, numeral, and glyph. 5, five or number 5 may also refer to: * AD 5, the fifth year of the AD era * 5 BC, the fifth year before the AD era Literature * ''5'' (visual novel), a 2008 visual novel by Ram * ''5'' (comics), an awa ...
(a term coined some 13 centuries later by
Niccolò Machiavelli Niccolò di Bernardo dei Machiavelli (; ; rarely rendered Nicholas Machiavel (see below See or SEE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * Music: ** See (album), ''See'' (album), studio album by rock band The Rascals *** "See", song by ...
), and the last emperor of the
Pax Romana The ''Pax Romana'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
(27 BC to 180 AD), an age of relative peace and stability for the
Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of governme ...

Roman Empire
. He served as
Roman consul A consul held the highest elected political office The incumbent is the current holder of an office An office is a space where an Organization, organization's employees perform Business administration, administrative Work (human acti ...
in 140, 145, and 161. Marcus was born during the reign of
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of in . His father was of senatorial rank and was ...

Hadrian
to the emperor's nephew, the praetor
Marcus Annius Verus Marcus Annius Verus (II) ( 50 – 138 AD) was the grandfather and adoptive father of the Roman Emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperor ...
, and the heiress
Domitia Calvilla Domitia Calvilla (also known as Domitia Lucilla Minor and Lucilla, died 155–161), was a noble Roman woman who lived in the 2nd century. She is best known as the mother of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Descent Lucilla was the daughter of Do ...
. His father died when he was three, and his mother and
grandfather Grandparents are the parent A parent is a caregiver of the offspring In biology, offspring are the young born of living organism, organisms, produced either by a single organism or, in the case of sexual reproduction, two organisms. Collecti ...
raised Marcus. After Hadrian's adoptive son, Aelius Caesar, died in 138, the emperor adopted Marcus' uncle
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (; la, Antōnīnus Pius ; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of differen ...

Antoninus Pius
as his new heir. In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus and
Lucius Lucius ( el, Λούκιος ''Loukios''; ett, Luvcie) is a male given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a as well, and differentiates that pe ...

Lucius
, the son of Aelius. Hadrian died that year and Antoninus became emperor. Now heir to the throne, Marcus studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as
Herodes Atticus Herodes Atticus ( grc-gre, Ἡρώδης; AD 101–177) was an Athens, Athenian rhetorician and philanthropic magnate, as well as a Roman Senate, Roman senator. Counted as "one of the best-known figures of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Antonine Pe ...
and
Marcus Cornelius Fronto Marcus Cornelius Fronto (c. 100late 160s), best known as Fronto, was a Roman grammarian, rhetorician, and advocate. Of Berber origin, he was born at Cirta in Numidia. He was suffect consul for the '' nundinium'' of July-August 142 with Gaius La ...
. He married Antoninus' daughter Faustina in 145. After Antoninus died in 161, Marcus acceded to the throne alongside his adoptive brother, who reigned under the name Lucius Verus. Under Marcus' rule, the Roman Empire witnessed heavy military conflict. In the East, the Romans fought successfully with a revitalized
Parthian Empire The Parthian Empire (), also known as the Arsacid Empire (), was a major political and cultural power in from 247 BC to 224 AD. Its latter name comes from its founder, , who led the tribe in conquering the region of in 's northeast, ...

Parthian Empire
and the rebel
Kingdom of ArmeniaKingdom of Armenia may refer to: *Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), also known as Artaxiad or Arsacid Armenia, 380 BC to AD 387/428 *Kingdom of Armenia (Middle Ages), also known as Bagratid Armenia, AD 885 to 1045 Other ancient Armenian kingdoms *Satr ...
. Marcus defeated the
Marcomanni The Marcomanni were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Soc ...
,
Quadi The Quadi were an early Germanic Germanic may refer to: * Germanic peoples, an ethno-linguistic group identified by their use of the Germanic languages ** List of ancient Germanic peoples and tribes * Germanic languages :* Proto-Germanic lang ...
, and
Sarmatian The Sarmatians (; : ; la, Sarmatae , ) were a large that existed in , flourishing from about the fifth century BC to the fourth century AD. Originating in the central parts of the , the Sarmatians were part of the wider . They started migra ...
Iazyges (ruled 117–138), showing the location of the Iazyges in the plain of the Tisza river., alt=A physical map of Europe under Emperor Hadrian with the borders of Rome in red. The Iazyges (), singular Ἰάζυξ. were an ancient Sarmatians, ...
in the
Marcomannic Wars The Marcomannic Wars (: ''bellum Germanicum et Sarmaticum'', "German and Sarmatian War") were a series of wars lasting from about 166 AD until 180. These wars pitted the against, principally, the and and the ; there were related conflicts w ...
; however, these and other
Germanic peoples The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

Germanic peoples
began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. He modified the silver purity of the
Roman currency Roman currency for most of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilisation of ancient Rome. Roman history has been influential on the modern world, especially in the ...
, the
denarius The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
. The
persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire The persecution of Christians The persecution of Christians Christians () are people who follow or adhere to Christianity Christianity is an Abrahamic religions, Abrahamic Monotheism, monotheistic religion based on the Life of Jesus ...
appears to have increased during Marcus' reign, but his involvement in this is unknown. The
Antonine Plague The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 CE – /), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen and sometimes known ...
broke out in 165 or 166 and devastated the population of the Roman Empire, causing the deaths of five to ten million people. Lucius Verus may have died from the plague in 169. Unlike some of his predecessors, Marcus chose not to adopt an heir. His children included
Lucilla Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla or Lucilla (7 March 148 or 150 – 182) was the second daughter and third child of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger. She was the wife of her father's co-ruler and adoptive brother ...
, who married Lucius, and
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn R ...

Commodus
, whose succession after Marcus has been a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians. The
Column A column or pillar in architecture and structural engineering is a structural element that transmits, through compression (physical), compression, the weight of the structure above to other structural elements below. In other words, a column is ...
and
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius The ''Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (s ...
still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories. ''
Meditations ''Meditations'' () is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a from 161 to 180 and a philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the (a term coined s ...

Meditations
'', the writings of "the philosopher" – as contemporary biographers called Marcus – are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, monarchs, and politicians centuries after his death.


Sources

The major sources depicting the life and rule of Marcus are patchy and frequently unreliable. The most important group of sources, the biographies contained in the ''
Historia Augusta The ''Historia Augusta'' (English: ''Augustan History'') is a late Roman collection of biographies A biography, or simply bio, is a detailed description of a person's life. It involves more than just the basic facts like education, work, r ...
'', claimed to be written by a group of authors at the turn of the 4th century AD, but it is believed they were in fact written by a single author (referred to here as 'the biographer') from about 395 AD. The later biographies and the biographies of subordinate emperors and usurpers are unreliable, but the earlier biographies, derived primarily from now-lost earlier sources (
Marius Maximus Lucius Marius Maximus Perpetuus Aurelianus (more commonly known as Marius Maximus) (c. AD 160 – c. AD 230) was a Roman biographer, writing in Latin, who in the early decades of the 3rd century AD wrote a series of biographies of twelve Emperors, ...
or Ignotus), are much more accurate.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', pp. 229–30. The thesis of single authorship was first proposed in H. Dessau's 'Über Zeit und Persönlichkeit der ''Scriptoes Historiae Augustae'' (in German), ''Hermes'' 24 (1889), pp. 337ff. For Marcus's life and rule, the biographies of
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of in . His father was of senatorial rank and was ...

Hadrian
,
Antoninus
Antoninus
, Marcus, and
Lucius Lucius ( el, Λούκιος ''Loukios''; ett, Luvcie) is a male given name A given name (also known as a first name or forename) is the part of a quoted in that identifies a person, potentially with a as well, and differentiates that pe ...

Lucius
are largely reliable, but those of Aelius Verus and
Avidius Cassius Gaius Avidius Cassius ( 130 – July 175 AD) was a Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', ...
are not. A body of correspondence between Marcus's tutor Fronto and various Antonine officials survives in a series of patchy manuscripts, covering the period from c. 138 to 166. Marcus's own ''Meditations'' offer a window on his inner life, but are largely undateable and make few specific references to worldly affairs. The main narrative source for the period is
Cassius Dio Lucius Cassius Dio (; ) or Dio Cassius ( ''Dion Kassios'')), Cassius Lucius Dio or Cassius Claudius Dio; alleged to have the ' (nickname) Cocceianus was a Roman statesman and historian of Greek and Roman origin. He published 80 volumes of the ...
, a Greek senator from
Bithynian Bithynia (; Koine Greek Koine Greek (, , Greek approximately ;. , , , lit. "Common Greek"), also known as Alexandrian dialect, common Attic, Hellenistic or Biblical Greek, was the koiné language, common supra-regional form of Greek language, ...
Nicaea Nicaea or Nicea (; el, Νίκαια, ''Níkaia'') was an ancient Greek city in northwestern Anatolia Anatolia,, tr, Anadolu Yarımadası), and the Anatolian plateau. also known as Asia Minor, is a large peninsula in Western Asia and t ...
who wrote a history of Rome from its founding to 229 in eighty books. Dio is vital for the military history of the period, but his senatorial prejudices and strong opposition to imperial expansion obscure his perspective. Some other literary sources provide specific details: the writings of the physician
Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 – c. AD 216), often Anglicized Linguistic anglicisation (or anglicization, occasionally anglification, anglifying, or Englishing) is the practice of modi ...
on the habits of the Antonine elite, the orations of
Aelius Aristides Publius Aelius Aristides Theodorus ( grc-gre, Πόπλιος Αίλιος Αριστείδης Θεόδωρος ''Poplios Elios Aristidis Theodoros''; 117–181 AD) was a Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or rela ...
on the temper of the times, and the constitutions preserved in the ''
Digest Digest may refer to: In biology: *Digestion of food *Restriction digest In literature or publication: *''The Digest'', formerly the English and Empire Digest *Digest size magazine format *Digest (Roman law), ''Digest'' (Roman law), also known as ...
'' and ''
Codex Justinianeus The Code of Justinian ( la, Codex Justinianus, ''Justinianeus'' or ''Justiniani'') is one part of the ''Corpus Juris Civilis The ''Corpus Juris'' (or ''Iuris'') ''Civilis'' ("Body of Civil Law") is the modern name for a collection of fundament ...
'' on Marcus's legal work. Inscriptions and
coin finds
coin finds
supplement the literary sources.


Early life


Name

Marcus was born in
Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, Italy).svg , map_caption = The te ...

Rome
on 26 April 121. His name at birth was supposedly Marcus Annius Verus, but some sources assign this name to him upon his father's death and unofficial adoption by his grandfather, upon his coming of age,''Historia'' MA I.9–10Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 33. or at the time of his marriage. He may have been known as Marcus Annius Catilius Severus, at birth or some point in his youth, or Marcus Catilius Severus Annius Verus. Upon his adoption by Antoninus as heir to the throne, he was known as Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar and, upon his ascension, he was Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus until his death;
Epiphanius of Salamis Epiphanius of Salamis ( grc-gre, Ἐπιφάνιος; c. 310–320 – 403) was the bishop of at the end of the . He is considered a and a by both the and es. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of . He is best known for composing th ...
, in his chronology of the Roman emperors included in his '' On Weights and Measures'', calls him ''Marcus Aurelius Verus''.


Family origins

Marcus's paternal family was of Roman Italo-Hispanic origins. His father was Marcus Annius Verus (III). The gens Annia was of Italian origins (with legendary claims of descendance from
Numa Pompilius Numa Pompilius (; 753–673 BC; reigned 715–673 BC) was the legendary second king of Rome The king of Rome ( la, rex Romae) was the chief magistrate Chief magistrate is a public official, executive or judicial, whose office is the highest ...

Numa Pompilius
) and a branch of it moved to Ucubi, a small town south east of Córdoba in Iberian
Baetica Hispania Baetica, often abbreviated Baetica, was one of three Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Roman ...

Baetica
.Sánchez, p. 165. This branch of the Aurelii based in Roman Spain, the ''Annii Veri'', rose to prominence in Rome in the late 1st century AD. Marcus's great-grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (I) was a
senator A senate is a deliberative assembly, often the upper house or Debating chamber, chamber of a bicameral legislature. The name comes from the Ancient Rome, ancient Roman Senate (Latin: ''Senatus''), so-called as an assembly of the senior (Lat ...

senator
and (according to the ''Historia Augusta'') ex-
praetor Praetor ( , ), also pretor, was the granted by the government of to a man acting in one of two official capacities: (i) the commander of an , and (ii) as an elected ' (magistrate), assigned to discharge various duties. The functions of the magi ...
; his grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II) was made
patrician Patrician may refer to: * Patrician (ancient Rome), the original aristocratic families of ancient Rome, and a synonym for "aristocratic" in modern English usage * Patrician (post-Roman Europe), the governing elites of cities in parts of medieval a ...
in 73–74. Through his grandmother
Rupilia Rupilia Faustina (c. 87 A.D. – before 138 A.D.) was an influential Roman noblewoman. She was the daughter of Salonina Matidia and suffect Roman consul, consul Libo Rupilius Frugi, Lucius Scribonius Libo Rupilius Frugi Bonus. She possibly had an ...
, Marcus was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty; the emperor
Trajan Trajan ( ; la, Caesar Nerva Trajanus; 18 September 539/11 August 117) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Trajan
's sororal niece
Salonia Matidia Salonia Matidia (4 July 68 CE – 23 December 119 CE) was the daughter and only child of Ulpia Marciana Ulpia Marciana (August 48 – 112) was the beloved elder sister of Roman Emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire durin ...
was the mother of Rupilia and her half-sister, Hadrian's wife . Marcus's mother,
Domitia Lucilla Minor Domitia Calvilla (also known as Domitia Lucilla Minor and Lucilla, died 155–161), was a noble Roman woman who lived in the 2nd century. She is best known as the mother of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; ...

Domitia Lucilla Minor
(also known as Domitia Calvilla), was the daughter of the Roman patrician P. Calvisius Tullus and inherited a great fortune (described at length in one of
Pliny Pliny may refer to: People from antiquity * Pliny the Elder (AD 23–79), ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, historian, and author of ''Naturalis Historia'' (''Pliny's Natural History'') * Pliny the Younger (died 113), ancient Roman statesman, ...

Pliny
's letters) from her parents and grandparents. Her inheritance included large brickworks on the outskirts of Rome – a profitable enterprise in an era when the city was experiencing a construction boom – and the ''Horti Domitia Calvillae'' (or ''Lucillae''), a villa on the
Caelian hill The Caelian Hill (; la, Collis Caelius; it, Celio ) is one of the famous seven hills of Rome. Geography The Caelian Hill is a sort of long promontory about long, to wide, and tall in the park near the Temple of Claudius. The hill ove ...

Caelian hill
of Rome. Marcus himself was born and raised in the ''Horti'' and referred to the Caelian hill as 'My Caelian'. The adoptive family of Marcus was of Roman Italo-Gallic origins: the gens Aurelia, into which Marcus was adopted at the age of 17, was a
Sabine The Sabines (; lat, Sabini; it, Sabini, all exonym An endonym (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Sou ...

Sabine
gens;
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (; la, Antōnīnus Pius ; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of differen ...

Antoninus Pius
, his adoptive father, came from the Aurelii Fulvi, a branch of the Aurelii based in
Roman Gaul Roman Gaul refers to Gaul Gaul ( la, Gallia) was a region of Western Europe Western Europe is the western region of Europe Europe is a continent A continent is any of several large landmasses. Generally identified by con ...

Roman Gaul
.


Childhood

Marcus's sister, Annia Cornificia Faustina, was probably born in 122 or 123. His father probably died in 124, when Marcus was three years old during his praetorship.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 31. Though he can hardly have known his father, Marcus wrote in his ''Meditations'' that he had learned 'modesty and manliness' from his memories of his father and the man's posthumous reputation. His mother Lucilla did not remarry and, following prevailing aristocratic customs, probably did not spend much time with her son. Instead, Marcus was in the care of 'nurses', and was raised after his father's death by his grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II), who had always retained the legal authority of ''
patria potestas The ''pater familias'', also written as ''paterfamilias'' (plural ''patres familias''), was the head of a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th centu ...
'' over his son and grandson. Technically this was not an adoption, the creation of a new and different ''patria potestas''.
Lucius Catilius Severus Lucius Catilius Severus Julianus Claudius Reginus was a Roman Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *'' ...
, described as Marcus's maternal great-grandfather, also participated in his upbringing; he was probably the elder Domitia Lucilla's stepfather. Marcus was raised in his parents' home on the
Caelian Hill The Caelian Hill (; la, Collis Caelius; it, Celio ) is one of the famous seven hills of Rome. Geography The Caelian Hill is a sort of long promontory about long, to wide, and tall in the park near the Temple of Claudius. The hill ove ...

Caelian Hill
, an upscale area with few public buildings but many aristocratic villas. Marcus's grandfather owned a palace beside the
Lateran 250px, Basilica and Palace - side view Lateran and Laterano are the shared names of several buildings in Rome. The properties were once owned by the Lateranus family of the Roman Empire. The Laterani lost their properties to Emperor Constantine ...
, where he would spend much of his childhood. Marcus thanks his grandfather for teaching him 'good character and avoidance of bad temper'. He was less fond of the mistress his grandfather took and lived with after the death of his wife Rupilia.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 35. Marcus was grateful that he did not have to live with her longer than he did. From a young age, Marcus displayed enthusiasm for
wrestling Wrestling is a combat sport A combat sport, or fighting sport, is a competitive contact sport that usually involves one-on-one combat. In many combat sports, a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling the oppon ...

wrestling
and
boxing Boxing is a combat sport A combat sport, or fighting sport, is a competitive contact sport that usually involves one-on-one combat. In many combat sports, a contestant wins by scoring more points than the opponent or by disabling the opponent ...

boxing
. Marcus trained in wrestling as a youth and into his teenage years, learned to fight in armour and led a dance troupe called the College of the Salii. They performed ritual dances dedicated to Mars, the god of war, while dressed in arcane armour, carrying shields and weapons. Marcus was educated at home, in line with contemporary aristocratic trends; he thanks Catilius Severus for encouraging him to avoid public schools. One of his teachers, Diognetus, a painting master, proved particularly influential; he seems to have introduced Marcus Aurelius to the philosophic way of life. In April 132, at the behest of Diognetus, Marcus took up the dress and habits of the philosopher: he studied while wearing a rough Greek cloak, and would sleep on the ground until his mother convinced him to sleep on a bed. A new set of tutors – the
Homer Homer (; grc, Ὅμηρος , ''Hómēros'') was an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Modern Greek (, , or , ''Kiní Neoellinikí Glóssa''), generally re ...

Homer
ic scholar Alexander of Cotiaeum along with
Trosius Aper Trosius Aper was a grammarian of ancient Rome who served as one of two Latin tutors for the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius, along with Tuticius Proculus. He was from Pola (modern Pula) in Istria, and was assigned to Aurelius as a tutor around 132 or ...
and Tuticius Proculus, teachers of
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
– took over Marcus's education in about 132 or 133. Marcus thanks Alexander for his training in literary styling. Alexander's influence – an emphasis on matter over style and careful wording, with the occasional Homeric quotation – has been detected in Marcus's ''Meditations''.


Succession to Hadrian

In late 136, Hadrian almost died from a
hemorrhage Bleeding, also known as a hemorrhage, haemorrhage, or simply blood loss, is blood Blood is a body fluid in humans and other animals that delivers necessary substances such as nutrients and oxygen to the Cell (biology), cells and transports ...
. Convalescent in his villa at
Tivoli Tivoli may refer to: Buildings * Tivoli (Baltimore, Maryland), a mansion built about 1855 * Tivoli Building (Cheyenne, Wyoming), a historic downtown building * Tivoli Hotel in Pirie Street, Adelaide#History and notable buildings, Pirie Street, A ...
, he selected Lucius Ceionius Commodus, Marcus's intended father-in-law, as his successor and adopted son, according to the biographer 'against the wishes of everyone'. While his motives are not certain, it would appear that his goal was to eventually place the then-too-young Marcus on the throne. As part of his adoption, Commodus took the name, Lucius Aelius Caesar. His health was so poor that, during a ceremony to mark his becoming heir to the throne, he was too weak to lift a large shield on his own. After a brief stationing on the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
frontier, Aelius returned to Rome to make an address to the Senate on the first day of 138. However, the night before the scheduled speech, he grew ill and died of a hemorrhage later in the day. On 24 January 138, Hadrian selected Aurelius Antoninus, the husband of Marcus's aunt
Faustina the Elder Annia Galeria Faustina the Elder, sometimes referred to as Faustina I (born on February 16 around 100; died in October or November of 140), was a Roman empress and wife of the Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empir ...
, as his new successor. As part of Hadrian's terms, Antoninus, in turn, adopted Marcus and Lucius Commodus, the son of Lucius Aelius. Marcus became M. Aelius Aurelius Verus, and Lucius became L. Aelius Aurelius Commodus. At Hadrian's request, Antoninus's daughter Faustina was betrothed to Lucius. Marcus reportedly greeted the news that Hadrian had become his adoptive grandfather with sadness, instead of joy. Only with reluctance did he move from his mother's house on the Caelian to Hadrian's private home. At some time in 138, Hadrian requested in the senate that Marcus be exempt from the law barring him from becoming ''
quaestor A ( , ; "investigator") was a public official in Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest ...
'' before his twenty-fourth birthday. The senate complied, and Marcus served under Antoninus, the consul for 139. Marcus's adoption diverted him from the typical career path of his class. If not for his adoption, he probably would have become ''
triumvir monetalis 400px, Various Roman currency A was one of three moneyers appointed in Ancient Rome to oversee the minting coins, minting of Roman coin, coins. Name The ' derived their name from the ancient Rome, Roman Mint (facility), mint's location in the T ...
'', a highly regarded post involving token administration of the state mint; after that, he could have served as tribune with a legion, becoming the legion's nominal second-in-command. Marcus probably would have opted for travel and further education instead. As it was, Marcus was set apart from his fellow citizens. Nonetheless, his biographer attests that his character remained unaffected: 'He still showed the same respect to his relations as he had when he was an ordinary citizen, and he was as thrifty and careful of his possessions as he had been when he lived in a private household'. After a series of suicide attempts, all thwarted by Antoninus, Hadrian left for
Baiae Baiae ( it, Baia; nap, Baia) was an ancient Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a let ...
, a seaside resort on the
Campania it, Campano (man) it, Campana (woman) , population_note = , population_blank1_title = , population_blank1 = , demographics_type1 = , demographics1_footnotes = , demographics1_title1 = , demographics1_info1 ...
n coast. His condition did not improve, and he abandoned the diet prescribed by his doctors, indulging himself in food and drink. He sent for Antoninus, who was at his side when he died on 10 July 138. His remains were buried quietly at
Puteoli Pozzuoli (; ; ) is a city and ''comune The (; plural: ) is a basic Administrative division, constituent entity of Italy, roughly equivalent to a township or municipality. Importance and function The provides many of the basic civil fu ...
. The succession to Antoninus was peaceful and stable: Antoninus kept Hadrian's nominees in office and appeased the senate, respecting its privileges and commuting the death sentences of men charged in Hadrian's last days. For his dutiful behaviour, Antoninus was asked to accept the name 'Pius'.


Heir to Antoninus Pius (138–145)

Immediately after Hadrian's death, Antoninus approached Marcus and requested that his marriage arrangements be amended: Marcus's betrothal to
Ceionia Fabia Ceionia Fabia (flourished 2nd century) was a noble Roman woman and a member of the ruling Nerva–Antonine dynasty of the Roman Empire. Fabia was the first-born daughter to Lucius Aelius and Avidia (mother of Lucius Verus), Avidia. In 136, her fat ...
would be annulled, and he would be betrothed to Faustina, Antoninus's daughter, instead. Faustina's betrothal to Ceionia's brother Lucius Commodus would also have to be annulled. Marcus consented to Antoninus's proposal. He was made
consul Consul (abbrev. ''cos.''; Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the powe ...
for 140 with Antoninus as his colleague, and was appointed as a ''seviri'', one of the
knights A knight is a person granted an honorary title A title is one or more words used before or after a person's name, in certain contexts. It may signify either generation, an official position, or a professional or academic qualification. In so ...
' six commanders, at the order's annual parade on 15 July 139. As the heir apparent, Marcus became ''princeps iuventutis'', head of the equestrian order. He now took the name Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar. Marcus would later caution himself against taking the name too seriously: 'See that you do not turn into a Caesar; do not be dipped into the
purple dye Tyrian purple ( grc, πορφύρα ''porphúra''; la, purpura), also known as Phoenician red, Phoenician purple, royal purple, imperial purple, or imperial dye, is a reddish-purple Purple is any of a variety of color Color (Ame ...
– for that can happen'. At the senate's request, Marcus joined all the priestly colleges (''
pontifices A pontiff (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman R ...
'', ''
augur An augur was a priest and official in the classical Roman world. His main role was the practice of augury Augury is the practice from ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religiou ...

augur
es'', ''
quindecimviri sacris faciundis In ancient Rome In historiography, ancient Rome is Roman people, Roman civilization from the founding of the Italian city of Rome in the 8th century BC to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD, encompassing the Roman ...
'', ''
septemviri epulonum The (Latin for "feasters"; sing. ''epulo'') arranged feasts and public banquets at Roman festival, festivals and games ''(ludi)''. They constituted one of the four great collegium (ancient Rome), religious corporations (''quattuor amplissima coll ...
'', etc.);''HA Marcus'' vi. 3; Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', 57. direct evidence for membership, however, is available only for the
Arval Brethren In ancient Roman religion Religion in ancient Rome includes the ancestral ethnic religion In religious studies, an ethnic religion is a religion or Belief#Religion, belief associated with a particular ethnic group. Ethnic religions are often ...
. Antoninus demanded that Marcus reside in the House of Tiberius, the imperial palace on the Palatine, and take up the habits of his new station, the ''aulicum fastigium'' or 'pomp of the court', against Marcus's objections. Marcus would struggle to reconcile the life of the court with his philosophic yearnings. He told himself it was an attainable goal – 'Where life is possible, then it is possible to live the right life; life is possible in a palace, so it is possible to live the right life in a palace' – but he found it difficult nonetheless. He would criticize himself in the ''Meditations'' for 'abusing court life' in front of company. As quaestor, Marcus would have had little real administrative work to do. He would read imperial letters to the senate when Antoninus was absent and would do secretarial work for the senators. But he felt drowned in paperwork and complained to his tutor, Marcus Cornelius Fronto: 'I am so out of breath from dictating nearly thirty letters'. He was being 'fitted for ruling the state', in the words of his biographer. He was required to make a speech to the assembled senators as well, making oratorical training essential for the job.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 89. On 1 January 145, Marcus was made consul a second time. Fronto urged him in a letter to have plenty of sleep 'so that you may come into the Senate with a good colour and read your speech with a strong voice'. Marcus had complained of an illness in an earlier letter: 'As far as my strength is concerned, I am beginning to get it back; and there is no trace of the pain in my chest. But that ulcer ..I am having treatment and taking care not to do anything that interferes with it'. Never particularly healthy or strong, Marcus was praised by Cassius Dio, writing of his later years, for behaving dutifully in spite of his various illnesses. In April 145, Marcus married Faustina, legally his sister, as had been planned since 138. Little is specifically known of the ceremony, but the biographer calls it 'noteworthy'. Coins were issued with the heads of the couple, and Antoninus, as ''
Pontifex Maximus The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation w ...
'', would have officiated. Marcus makes no apparent reference to the marriage in his surviving letters, and only sparing references to Faustina.


Fronto and further education

After taking the '' toga virilis'' in 136, Marcus probably began his training in
oratory Oratory is a type of public speaking. Oratory may also refer to: * Eloquence, fluent, forcible, elegant, or persuasive speaking * Rhetoric, the art of discourse Places * Oratory (worship), a public or private place of divine worship, akin to a c ...
. He had three tutors in
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...
(Aninus Macer, Caninius Celer, and
Herodes Atticus Herodes Atticus ( grc-gre, Ἡρώδης; AD 101–177) was an Athens, Athenian rhetorician and philanthropic magnate, as well as a Roman Senate, Roman senator. Counted as "one of the best-known figures of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Antonine Pe ...
) and one in Latin (
Marcus Cornelius Fronto Marcus Cornelius Fronto (c. 100late 160s), best known as Fronto, was a Roman grammarian, rhetorician, and advocate. Of Berber origin, he was born at Cirta in Numidia. He was suffect consul for the '' nundinium'' of July-August 142 with Gaius La ...
). The latter two were the most esteemed orators of their time, but probably did not become his tutors until his adoption by Antoninus in 138. The preponderance of Greek tutors indicates the importance of the Greek language to the aristocracy of Rome. This was the age of the
Second Sophistic The Second Sophistic is a literary-historical term referring to the Greek writers who flourished from the reign of Nero Nero ( ; Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 15 December 37 – 9 June 68 AD) was the fifth Roman emperor, ruling fr ...
, a renaissance in Greek letters. Although educated in Rome, in his ''
Meditations ''Meditations'' () is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a from 161 to 180 and a philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the (a term coined s ...

Meditations
'', Marcus would write his inmost thoughts in Greek. Atticus was controversial: an enormously rich Athenian (probably the richest man in the eastern half of the empire), he was quick to anger and resented by his fellow Athenians for his patronizing manner. Atticus was an inveterate opponent of
Stoicism Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy Hellenistic philosophy is the period of Western philosophy Western philosophy encompasses the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and fundamental questions, s ...
and philosophic pretensions. He thought the Stoics' desire for
apatheia Apatheia ( el, ἀπάθεια; from ''a-'' "without" and ''pathos'' "suffering" or "passion"), in Stoicism, refers to a state of mind in which one is not disturbed by the passions (philosophy), passions. It is best translated by the word equanimit ...

apatheia
was foolish: they would live a 'sluggish, enervated life', he said. In spite of the influence of Atticus, Marcus would later become a Stoic. He would not mention Herodes at all in his ''Meditations'', in spite of the fact that they would come into contact many times over the following decades. Fronto was highly esteemed: in the self-consciously antiquarian world of Latin letters, he was thought of as second only to
Cicero Marcus Tullius Cicero ( ; ; 3 January 106 BC – 7 December 43 BC) was a Ancient Rome, Roman statesman, lawyer, scholar, philosopher and Academic skepticism, Academic Skeptic, who tried to uphold optimate principles during crisis of ...

Cicero
, perhaps even an alternative to him.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', pp. 65–67. He did not care much for Atticus, though Marcus was eventually to put the pair on speaking terms. Fronto exercised a complete mastery of Latin, capable of tracing expressions through the literature, producing obscure
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme A morpheme is the smallest meaningful lexical item in a language. A morpheme is not a word. The difference between a morpheme and a word is that a morpheme bound and free morphemes, sometimes does not stand alone ...
s, and challenging minor improprieties in word choice. A significant amount of the correspondence between Fronto and Marcus has survived.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 69. The pair were very close, using intimate language such as 'Farewell my Fronto, wherever you are, my most sweet love and delight. How is it between you and me? I love you and you are not here' in their correspondence. Marcus spent time with Fronto's wife and daughter, both named Cratia, and they enjoyed light conversation. He wrote Fronto a letter on his birthday, claiming to love him as he loved himself, and calling on the gods to ensure that every word he learnt of literature, he would learn 'from the lips of Fronto'. His prayers for Fronto's health were more than conventional, because Fronto was frequently ill; at times, he seems to be an almost constant invalid, always suffering – about one-quarter of the surviving letters deal with the man's sicknesses. Marcus asks that Fronto's pain be inflicted on himself, 'of my own accord with every kind of discomfort'. Fronto never became Marcus's full-time teacher and continued his career as an advocate. One notorious case brought him into conflict with Atticus. Marcus pleaded with Fronto, first with 'advice', then as a 'favour', not to attack Atticus; he had already asked Atticus to refrain from making the first blows. Fronto replied that he was surprised to discover Marcus counted Atticus as a friend (perhaps Atticus was not yet Marcus's tutor), and allowed that Marcus might be correct, but nonetheless affirmed his intent to win the case by any means necessary: ' e charges are frightful and must be spoken of as frightful. Those in particular that refer to the beating and robbing I will describe so that they savour of gall and bile. If I happen to call him an uneducated little Greek it will not mean war to the death'. The outcome of the trial is unknown. By the age of twenty-five (between April 146 and April 147), Marcus had grown disaffected with his studies in
jurisprudence Jurisprudence, or legal theory, is the theoretical study of the propriety of law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to form a unified whol ...
, and showed some signs of general
malaise As a medical term, malaise is a feeling of general discomfort Comfort (or being comfortable'')'' is a sense of physical or psychological ease, often characterized as a lack of hardship. Persons who are lacking in comfort are uncomfortabl ...
. His master, he writes to Fronto, was an unpleasant blowhard, and had made 'a hit at' him: 'It is easy to sit yawning next to a judge, he says, but to ''be'' a judge is noble work'. Marcus had grown tired of his exercises, of taking positions in imaginary debates. When he criticized the insincerity of conventional language, Fronto took to defend it. In any case, Marcus's formal education was now over. He had kept his teachers on good terms, following them devotedly. It 'affected his health adversely', his biographer writes, to have devoted so much effort to his studies. It was the only thing the biographer could find fault with in Marcus's entire boyhood. Fronto had warned Marcus against the study of philosophy early on: 'It is better never to have touched the teaching of philosophy...than to have tasted it superficially, with the edge of the lips, as the saying is'. He disdained philosophy and philosophers and looked down on Marcus's sessions with Apollonius of Chalcedon and others in this circle. Fronto put an uncharitable interpretation of Marcus's 'conversion to philosophy': 'In the fashion of the young, tired of boring work', Marcus had turned to philosophy to escape the constant exercises of oratorical training. Marcus kept in close touch with Fronto, but would ignore Fronto's scruples. Apollonius may have introduced Marcus to Stoic philosophy, but Quintus Junius Rusticus would have the strongest influence on the boy. He was the man Fronto recognized as having 'wooed Marcus away' from oratory. He was older than Fronto and twenty years older than Marcus. As the grandson of
Arulenus Rusticus Quintus Junius Arulenus Rusticus (c. 35 – 93 AD) was a Roman Empire, Roman Roman Senate, Senator and a friend and follower of Thrasea Paetus, and like him an ardent admirer of Stoicism, Stoic philosophy. Arulenus Rusticus attained a Roman consul, ...
, one of the martyrs to the tyranny of
Domitian Domitian (; la, Domitianus; 24 October 51 – 18 September 96) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a v ...

Domitian
(''r''. 81–96), he was heir to the tradition of '
Stoic Opposition The Stoic Opposition is the name given to a group of Stoic philosophers who actively opposed the autocratic rule of certain emperors in the 1st-century, particularly Nero and Domitian. Most prominent among them was Thrasea Paetus, an influentia ...
' to the 'bad emperors' of the 1st century; the true successor of
Seneca Seneca may refer to: People and language *Seneca (name), a list of people with either the given name or surname *Seneca the Elder, a Roman rhetorician, writer and father of the stoic philosopher Seneca the Younger *Seneca the Younger, a Roman Stoi ...
(as opposed to Fronto, the false one). Marcus thanks Rusticus for teaching him 'not to be led astray into enthusiasm for rhetoric, for writing on speculative themes, for discoursing on moralizing texts.... To avoid oratory, poetry, and 'fine writing''.
Philostratus Philostratus or Lucius Flavius Philostratus (; grc-gre, Φλάβιος Φιλόστρατος; c. 170 – 247/250 AD), called "the Athenian", was a Greek sophist of the Roman Empire, Roman imperial period. His father was a minor sophist of the sa ...
describes how even when Marcus was an old man, in the latter part of his reign, he studied under
Sextus of Chaeronea Sextus of Chaeronea ( grc-gre, Σέξτος ὁ Χαιρωνεύς ''Sextos o Cheronefs'', c. 95 - c. 185) was a philosopher, a nephew or grandson of Plutarch Plutarch (; grc-gre, Πλούταρχος, ''Ploútarchos''; ; AD 46–after AD 1 ...

Sextus of Chaeronea
:
The Emperor Marcus was an eager disciple of Sextus the
Boeotia Boeotia, sometimes alternatively Latinised Latinisation or Latinization can refer to: * Latinisation of names, the practice of rendering a non-Latin name in a Latin style * Latinisation in the Soviet Union, the campaign in the USSR during the 1920 ...

Boeotia
n philosopher, being often in his company and frequenting his house. Lucius, who had just come to Rome, asked the Emperor, whom he met on his way, where he was going to and on what errand, and Marcus answered, ' it is good even for an old man to learn; I am now on my way to Sextus the philosopher to learn what I do not yet know.' And Lucius, raising his hand to heaven, said, ' O Zeus, the king of the Romans in his old age takes up his tablets and goes to school.'


Births and deaths

On 30 November 147, Faustina gave birth to a girl named Domitia Faustina. She was the first of at least thirteen children (including two sets of twins) that Faustina would bear over the next twenty-three years. The next day, 1 December, Antoninus gave Marcus the power and the ''
imperium In ancient Rome, ''imperium'' was a form of authority held by a Roman citizenship, citizen to control a military or governmental entity. It is distinct from ''auctoritas'' and ''potestas'', different and generally inferior types of power in t ...

imperium
'' – authority over the armies and provinces of the emperor. As tribune, he had the right to bring one measure before the senate after the four Antoninus could introduce. His tribunician powers would be renewed with Antoninus's on 10 December 147.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 103. The first mention of Domitia in Marcus's letters reveals her as a sickly infant. 'Caesar to Fronto. If the gods are willing we seem to have a hope of recovery. The diarrhea has stopped, the little attacks of fever have been driven away. But the emaciation is still extreme and there is still quite a bit of coughing'. He and Faustina, Marcus wrote, had been 'pretty occupied' with the girl's care. Domitia would die in 151. In 149, Faustina gave birth again, to twin sons. Contemporary coinage commemorates the event, with crossed cornucopiae beneath portrait busts of the two small boys, and the legend ''temporum felicitas'', 'the happiness of the times'. They did not survive long. Before the end of the year, another family coin was issued: it shows only a tiny girl, Domitia Faustina, and one boy baby. Then another: the girl alone. The infants were buried in the
Mausoleum of Hadrian The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as Castel Sant'Angelo (; English: ''Castle of the Holy Angel''), is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum ...

Mausoleum of Hadrian
, where their epitaphs survive. They were called Titus Aurelius Antoninus and Tiberius Aelius Aurelius.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', pp. 206–207. Marcus steadied himself: 'One man prays: 'How I may not lose my little child', but you must pray: 'How I may not be afraid to lose him'. He quoted from the ''
Iliad The ''Iliad'' (; grc, Ἰλιάς, Iliás, ; sometimes referred to as the ''Song of Ilion'' or ''Song of Ilium'') is an ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language Greek ( el, label=Modern Greek Moder ...

Iliad
'' what he called the 'briefest and most familiar saying...enough to dispel sorrow and fear':''Meditations'' x.34, tr. Farquharson, pp. 78, 224.
leaves, the wind scatters some on the face of the ground; like unto them are the children of men. – ''Iliad'' vi.146
Another daughter was born on 7 March 150, Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla. At some time between 155 and 161, probably soon after 155, Marcus's mother Domitia Lucilla died.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 107. Faustina probably had another daughter in 151, but the child,
Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina (c. 151Birley, Anthony. ''Marcus Aurelius'', revised edition (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 108. -after 165) was the eldest child of the Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire T ...
, might not have been born until 153. Another son, Tiberius Aelius Antoninus, was born in 152. A coin issue celebrates ''fecunditati Augustae'', 'to Augusta's fertility', depicting two girls and an infant. The boy did not survive long, as evidenced by coins from 156, only depicting the two girls. He might have died in 152, the same year as Marcus's sister Cornificia.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 108. By 28 March 158, when Marcus replied, another of his children was dead. Marcus thanked the temple synod, 'even though this turned out otherwise'. The child's name is unknown. In 159 and 160, Faustina gave birth to daughters: Fadilla and Cornificia, named respectively after Faustina's and Marcus's dead sisters.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 114.


Antoninus Pius's last years

Lucius started his political career as a quaestor in 153. He was consul in 154, and was consul again with Marcus in 161.Lendering, Jona
'Marcus Aurelius'
Livius.org.
Lucius had no other titles, except that of 'son of Augustus'. Lucius had a markedly different personality from Marcus: he enjoyed sports of all kinds, but especially hunting and wrestling; he took obvious pleasure in the circus games and gladiatorial fights. He did not marry until 164. In 156, Antoninus turned 70. He found it difficult to keep himself upright without . He started nibbling on dry bread to give him the strength to stay awake through his morning receptions. As Antoninus aged, Marcus would take on more administrative duties, more still when he became the
praetorian prefect The praetorian prefect ( la, praefectus praetorio, el, ) was a high office in the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Repub ...
(an office that was as much secretarial as military) when Marcus Gavius Maximus died in 156 or 157. In 160, Marcus and Lucius were designated joint consuls for the following year. Antoninus may have already been ill. Two days before his death, the biographer reports, Antoninus was at his ancestral estate at
Lorium Lorium was an ancient village of ancient Etruria Etruria () was a region of Central Italy Central Italy ( it, Italia centrale or just ) is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy used by the Istituto Nazionale di Statistica, Na ...
, in
Etruria Etruria () was a region of Central Italy Central Italy ( it, Italia centrale or just ) is one of the five official statistical regions of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ) ...

Etruria
, about 19 kilometres (12 mi) from Rome.Victor, 15:7 He ate Alpine cheese at dinner quite greedily. In the night he vomited; he had a fever the next day. The day after that, 7 March 161, he summoned the imperial council, and passed the state and his daughter to Marcus. The emperor gave the keynote to his life in the last word that he uttered when the tribune of the night-watch came to ask the password – 'aequanimitas' (equanimity).Bury, p. 532. He then turned over, as if going to sleep, and died. His death closed out the longest reign since Augustus, surpassing
Tiberius Tiberius Caesar Augustus (; 16 November 42 BC – 16 March AD 37) was the second Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors use ...

Tiberius
by a couple of months.


Emperor


Accession of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus (161)

After Antoninus died in 161, Marcus was effectively sole ruler of the Empire. The formalities of the position would follow. The senate would soon grant him the name Augustus and the title ''
imperator The Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation with" ...

imperator
'', and he would soon be formally elected as ''
Pontifex maximus The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation w ...
'', chief priest of the official cults. Marcus made some show of resistance: the biographer writes that he was 'compelled' to take imperial power. This may have been a genuine ''horror imperii'', 'fear of imperial power'. Marcus, with his preference for the philosophic life, found the imperial office unappealing. His training as a
Stoic STOIC (Stack-Oriented Interactive Compiler) is a 1970s programming language A programming language is a formal language comprising a Instruction set architecture, set of instructions that produce various kinds of Input/output, output. Progr ...
however, had made the choice clear to him that it was his duty. Although Marcus showed no personal affection for
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of in . His father was of senatorial rank and was ...

Hadrian
(significantly, he does not thank him in the first book of his ''
Meditations ''Meditations'' () is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a from 161 to 180 and a philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the (a term coined s ...

Meditations
''), he presumably believed it his duty to enact the man's succession plans. Thus, although the Senate planned to confirm Marcus alone, he refused to take office unless Lucius received equal powers. The Senate accepted, granting Lucius the ''imperium'', the tribunician power, and the title
Augustus Caesar Augustus (23 September 63 BC19 August AD 14) was the first Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emperors used a variety of different titles through ...
. Marcus became, in official titulature, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; Lucius, forgoing his name Commodus and taking Marcus's family name Verus, became Imperator Caesar Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus. It was the first time that Rome was ruled by two emperors. In spite of their nominal equality, Marcus held more ''
auctoritas 300px, Representation of a sitting of the Roman Senate: Cicero attacks Catilina, Catiline, from a 19th-century fresco ''Auctoritas'' is a Latin word which is the origin of English "authority". While historically its use in English was restricted ...
'', or 'authority', than Lucius. He had been consul once more than Lucius, he had shared in Antoninus's rule, and he alone was ''Pontifex maximus''. It would have been clear to the public which emperor was the more senior. As the biographer wrote, 'Verus obeyed Marcus...as a lieutenant obeys a proconsul or a governor obeys the emperor'. Immediately after their Senate confirmation, the emperors proceeded to the
Castra Praetoria Castra Praetoria were the ancient barracks (''castra In the Roman Republic The Roman Republic ( la, Rēs pūblica Rōmāna ) was a state of the ancient Rome, classical Roman civilization, run through res publica, public Representation ( ...
, the camp of the
Praetorian Guard The Praetorian Guard (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power o ...
. Lucius addressed the assembled troops, which then acclaimed the pair as ''imperatores''. Then, like every new emperor since
Claudius Claudius ( ; Tiberius Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus; 1 August 10 BC – 13 October AD 54) was the fourth Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial p ...

Claudius
, Lucius promised the troops a special
donativum ''Donativum'' (plural ''donativa'') was the name given to the gifts of money dispersed to the soldiers of the Roman legion The Roman legion ( la, legiō, ) was the largest military unit of the Roman army The Roman army (Latin Latin (, ...
. This
donative The ''donativum'' (plural ''donativa'') was a gift of money by the Roman emperors to the soldiers of the Roman legions or to the Praetorian Guard. The English translation is ''wikt:donative, donative''. The purpose of the ''donativa'' varied. So ...
, however, was twice the size of those past: 20,000
sesterces The sestertius (plural sestertii), or sesterce (plural sesterces), was an ancient Roman coin. During the Roman Republic it was a small, silver Silver is a chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol Ag (from the Latin ', derive ...
(5,000
denarii The denarius (, dēnāriī ) was the standard Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *, the capital city of Italy *, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *, the people of ancient Rome *', shortened to ''Romans'', a ...
) per capita, with more to officers. In return for this bounty, equivalent to several years' pay, the troops swore an oath to protect the emperors. The ceremony was perhaps not entirely necessary, given that Marcus's accession had been peaceful and unopposed, but it was good insurance against later military troubles.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 118. Upon his accession he also devalued the
Roman currency Roman currency for most of Roman history The history of Rome includes the history of the Rome, city of Rome as well as the Ancient Rome, civilisation of ancient Rome. Roman history has been influential on the modern world, especially in the ...
. He decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 83.5% to 79% – the silver weight dropping from to .'Roman Currency of the Principate'
Tulane.edu. Archived 10 February 2001.
Antoninus's funeral ceremonies were, in the words of the biographer, 'elaborate'. If his funeral followed those of his predecessors, his body would have been cremated on a pyre at the
Campus Martius The Campus Martius (Latin for the "Field of Mars", Italian language, Italian ''Campo Marzio'') was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome. The IV Rioni of Rome, rione of ...

Campus Martius
, and his spirit would have been seen as ascending to the gods' home in the heavens. Marcus and Lucius nominated their father for deification. In contrast to their behaviour during Antoninus's campaign to deify Hadrian, the senate did not oppose the emperors' wishes. A ''
flamen A (plural ''flamens'' or ''flamines'') was a priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacti ...
'', or cultic priest, was appointed to minister the cult of the deified Divus Antoninus. Antoninus's remains were laid to rest in , beside the remains of Marcus's children and of Hadrian himself. The temple he had dedicated to his wife, Diva Faustina, became the
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is an ancient Roman temple in Rome, which was later converted into a Roman Catholic church, the Chiesa di San Lorenzo in Miranda or simply "San Lorenzo in Miranda". It is located in the Forum Romanum, on the V ...

Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
. It survives as the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. In accordance with his will, Antoninus's fortune passed on to Faustina. (Marcus had little need of his wife's fortune. Indeed, at his accession, Marcus transferred part of his mother's estate to his nephew, Ummius Quadratus.) Faustina was three months pregnant at her husband's accession. During the pregnancy she dreamed of giving birth to two serpents, one fiercer than the other. On 31 August, she gave birth at
Lanuvium Lanuvium, modern Lanuvio Lanuvio is a ''comune The (; plural: ) is a local administrative division of Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a N ...
to twins: T. Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus. Aside from the fact that the twins shared
Caligula Caligula (; 31 August 12 – 24 January 41 AD), formally known as Gaius (Gaius Gaius, sometimes spelled ''Gajus'', Cajus, Caius, was a common Latin praenomen The praenomen (; plural: praenomina) was a given name, personal name chosen by th ...

Caligula
's birthday, the omens were favorable, and the astrologers drew positive horoscopes for the children. The births were celebrated on the imperial coinage.


Early rule

Soon after the emperors' accession, Marcus's eleven-year-old daughter, Annia Lucilla, was betrothed to Lucius (in spite of the fact that he was, formally, her uncle). At the ceremonies commemorating the event, new provisions were made for the support of poor children, along the lines of earlier imperial foundations. Marcus and Lucius proved popular with the people of Rome, who strongly approved of their ''civiliter'' ('lacking pomp') behaviour. The emperors permitted free speech, evidenced by the fact that the comedy writer Marullus was able to criticize them without suffering retribution. As the biographer wrote, 'No one missed the lenient ways of Pius'. Marcus replaced a number of the empire's major officials. The ''
ab epistulis''Ab epistulis'' was the chancellor's office in the Roman Empire with responsibility for the emperor's Letter (message), correspondence. The office sent ''mandata'' (instructions) to provincial governors and other officials. ''Ab epistulis'' wrote i ...
'' Sextus Caecilius Crescens Volusianus, in charge of the imperial correspondence, was replaced with Titus Varius Clemens. Clemens was from the frontier province of
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
and had served in the war in
Mauretania Mauretania (; ) is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...

Mauretania
. Recently, he had served as procurator of five provinces. He was a man suited for a time of military crisis. Lucius Volusius Maecianus, Marcus's former tutor, had been prefectural governor of Egypt (Roman province), Egypt at Marcus's accession. Maecianus was recalled, made senator, and appointed prefect of the treasury (''aerarium Saturni''). He was made consul soon after. Fronto's son-in-law, Gaius Aufidius Victorinus, was appointed governor of Germania Superior.''HA Marcus'' viii. 8; Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 123, citing W. Eck, ''Die Satthalter der germ. Provinzen'' (1985), pp. 65ff. Fronto returned to his Roman townhouse at dawn on 28 March, having left his home in Cirta as soon as news of his pupils' accession reached him. He sent a note to the imperial freedman Charilas, asking if he could call on the emperors. Fronto would later explain that he had not dared to write the emperors directly. The tutor was immensely proud of his students. Reflecting on the speech he had written on taking his consulship in 143, when he had praised the young Marcus, Fronto was ebullient: 'There was then an outstanding natural ability in you; there is now perfected excellence. There was then a crop of growing corn; there is now a ripe, gathered harvest. What I was hoping for then, I have now. The hope has become a reality.' Fronto called on Marcus alone; neither thought to invite Lucius.Birley, ''Marcus Aurelius'', p. 120. Lucius was less esteemed by Fronto than his brother, as his interests were on a lower level. Lucius asked Fronto to adjudicate in a dispute he and his friend Calpurnius were having on the relative merits of two actors. Marcus told Fronto of his reading – Lucius Coelius Antipater, Coelius and a little Cicero – and his family. His daughters were in Rome with their great-great-aunt Matidia; Marcus thought the evening air of the country was too cold for them. He asked Fronto for 'some particularly eloquent reading matter, something of your own, or Cato, or Cicero, or Sallust or Gracchus – or some poet, for I need distraction, especially in this kind of way, by reading something that will uplift and diffuse my pressing anxieties.' Marcus's early reign proceeded smoothly; he was able to give himself wholly to philosophy and the pursuit of popular affection. Soon, however, he would find he had many anxieties. It would mean the end of the ''felicitas temporum'' ('happy times') that the coinage of 161 had proclaimed. In either autumn 161 or spring 162, the Tiber overflowed its banks, flooding much of Rome. It drowned many animals, leaving the city in famine. Marcus and Lucius gave the crisis their personal attention. In other times of famine, the emperors are said to have provided for the Italian communities out of the Roman granaries. Fronto's letters continued through Marcus's early reign. Fronto felt that, because of Marcus's prominence and public duties, lessons were more important now than they had ever been before. He believed Marcus was 'beginning to feel the wish to be eloquent once more, in spite of having for a time lost interest in eloquence'. Fronto would again remind his pupil of the tension between his role and his philosophic pretensions: 'Suppose, Caesar, that you can attain to the wisdom of Cleanthes and Zeno of Citium, Zeno, yet, against your will, not the philosopher's woolen cape'. The early days of Marcus's reign were the happiest of Fronto's life: Marcus was beloved by the people of Rome, an excellent emperor, a fond pupil, and perhaps most importantly, as eloquent as could be wished. Marcus had displayed rhetorical skill in his speech to the senate after an earthquake at Cyzicus. It had conveyed the drama of the disaster, and the senate had been awed: 'Not more suddenly or violently was the city stirred by the earthquake than the minds of your hearers by your speech'. Fronto was hugely pleased.


War with Parthia (161–166)

On his deathbed, Antoninus spoke of nothing but the state and the foreign kings who had wronged him. One of those kings, Vologases IV of Parthia, made his move in late summer or early autumn 161. Vologases entered the
Kingdom of ArmeniaKingdom of Armenia may refer to: *Kingdom of Armenia (antiquity), also known as Artaxiad or Arsacid Armenia, 380 BC to AD 387/428 *Kingdom of Armenia (Middle Ages), also known as Bagratid Armenia, AD 885 to 1045 Other ancient Armenian kingdoms *Satr ...
(then a Roman client state), expelled its king and installed his own – Bakur, Pacorus, an Arsacid Empire, Arsacid like himself. The governor of Cappadocia, the frontline in all Armenian conflicts, was Marcus Sedatius Severianus, a Gaul with much experience in military matters. Convinced by the prophet Alexander of Abonutichus that he could defeat the Parthians easily and win glory for himself, Severianus led a legion (perhaps the Legio IX Hispana, IX Hispana) into Armenia, but was trapped by the great Parthian general Chosrhoes at Elegeia, a town just beyond the Cappadocian frontiers, high up past the headwaters of the Euphrates. After Severianus made some unsuccessful efforts to engage Chosrhoes, he committed suicide, and his legion was massacred. The campaign had lasted only three days. There was threat of war on other frontiers as well – in Britain, and in Raetia and Upper Germany, where the Chatti of the Taunus mountains had recently crossed over the ''Limes (Roman Empire), limes''. Marcus was unprepared. Antoninus seems to have given him no military experience; the biographer writes that Marcus spent the whole of Antoninus's twenty-three-year reign at his emperor's side and not in the provinces, where most previous emperors had spent their early careers. More bad news arrived: the Syrian governor's army had been defeated by the Parthians, and retreated in disarray. Reinforcements were dispatched for the Parthian frontier. P. Julius Geminius Marcianus, an African senator commanding Legio X Gemina, X Gemina at Vindobona (Vienna), left for Cappadocia with detachments from the Danubian legions. Three full legions were also sent east: Legio I Minervia, I Minervia from Bonn in Upper Germany, Legio II Adiutrix, II Adiutrix from Aquincum, and Legio V Macedonica, V Macedonica from Troesmis. The northern frontiers were strategically weakened; frontier governors were told to avoid conflict wherever possible. Marcus Annius Libo (consul 161), M. Annius Libo, Marcus's first cousin, was sent to replace the Syrian governor. His first consulship was in 161, so he was probably in his early thirties, and as a patrician, he lacked military experience. Marcus had chosen a reliable man rather than a talented one. Marcus took a four-day public holiday at Alsium, a resort town on the coast of Etruria. He was too anxious to relax. Writing to Fronto, he declared that he would not speak about his holiday. Fronto replied: 'What? Do I not know that you went to Alsium with the intention of devoting yourself to games, joking, and complete leisure for four whole days?' He encouraged Marcus to rest, calling on the example of his predecessors (Antoninus had enjoyed exercise in the ''palaestra'', fishing, and comedy), going so far as to write up a fable about the gods' division of the day between morning and evening – Marcus had apparently been spending most of his evenings on judicial matters instead of at leisure. Marcus could not take Fronto's advice. 'I have duties hanging over me that can hardly be begged off', he wrote back. Marcus Aurelius put on Fronto's voice to chastise himself: ''Much good has my advice done you', you will say!' He had rested, and would rest often, but 'this devotion to duty! Who knows better than you how demanding it is!' Fronto sent Marcus a selection of reading material, and, to settle his unease over the course of the Parthian war, a long and considered letter, full of historical references. In modern editions of Fronto's works, it is labeled ''De bello Parthico'' (''On the Parthian War''). There had been reverses in Rome's past, Fronto writes, but in the end, Romans had always prevailed over their enemies: 'Always and everywhere [Mars] has changed our troubles into successes and our terrors into triumphs'. Over the winter of 161–162, news that a rebellion was brewing in Syria arrived and it was decided that Lucius should direct the Parthian war in person. He was stronger and healthier than Marcus, the argument went, and thus more suited to military activity. Lucius's biographer suggests ulterior motives: to restrain Lucius's debaucheries, to make him thrifty, to reform his morals by the terror of war, and to realize that he was an emperor. Whatever the case, the senate gave its assent, and, in the summer of 162, Lucius left. Marcus would remain in Rome, as the city 'demanded the presence of an emperor'. Lucius spent most of the campaign in Antioch, though he wintered at Laodicea in Syria, Laodicea and summered at Daphne, a resort just outside Antioch. Critics declaimed Lucius's luxurious lifestyle, saying that he had taken to gambling, would 'dice the whole night through', and enjoyed the company of actors. Libo died early in the war; perhaps Lucius had murdered him. In the middle of the war, perhaps in autumn 163 or early 164, Lucius made a trip to Ephesus to be married to Marcus's daughter Lucilla. Marcus moved up the date; perhaps he had already heard of Lucius's mistress Panthea. Lucilla's thirteenth birthday was in March 163; whatever the date of her marriage, she was not yet fifteen. Lucilla was accompanied by her mother Faustina and Lucius's uncle (his father's half-brother) M. Vettulenus Civica Barbarus, who was made ''comes Augusti'', 'companion of the emperors'. Marcus may have wanted Civica to watch over Lucius, the job Libo had failed at. Marcus may have planned to accompany them all the way to Smyrna (the biographer says he told the senate he would), but this did not happen. He only accompanied the group as far as Brundisium, where they boarded a ship for the east. He returned to Rome immediately thereafter, and sent out special instructions to his proconsuls not to give the group any official reception. The Armenian capital Artashat (ancient city), Artaxata was captured in 163. At the end of the year, Lucius took the title ''Armeniacus'', despite having never seen combat; Marcus declined to accept the title until the following year. When Lucius was hailed as ''imperator'' again, however, Marcus did not hesitate to take the ''Imperator II'' with him. Occupied Armenia was reconstructed on Roman terms. In 164, a new capital, Kaine Polis ('New City'), replaced Artaxata. A new king was installed: a Roman senator of consular rank and Arsacid descent, Sohaemus of Armenia, Gaius Julius Sohaemus. He may not even have been crowned in Armenia; the ceremony may have taken place in Antioch, or even Ephesus. Sohaemus was hailed on the imperial coinage of 164 under the legend : Lucius sat on a throne with his staff while Sohaemus stood before him, saluting the emperor. In 163, the Parthians intervened in Osroene, a Roman client in upper Mesopotamia centred on Edessa, Mesopotamia, Edessa, and installed their own king on its throne. In response, Roman forces were moved downstream, to cross the Euphrates at a more southerly point. Before the end of 163, however, Roman forces had moved north to occupy Dausara and Nicephorium on the northern, Parthian bank. Soon after the conquest of the north bank of the Euphrates, other Roman forces moved on Osroene from Armenia, taking Anthemusia, a town southwest of Edessa. In 165, Roman forces moved on Mesopotamia. Edessa was re-occupied, and Mannus, the king deposed by the Parthians, was re-installed. The Parthians retreated to Nisibis, but this too was besieged and captured. The Parthian army dispersed in the Tigris. A second force, under Avidius Cassius and the III Gallica, moved down the Euphrates, and fought a major battle at Dura. By the end of the year, Cassius's army had reached the twin metropolises of Mesopotamia: Seleucia on the right bank of the Tigris and Ctesiphon on the left. Ctesiphon was taken and its royal palace set to flame. The citizens of Seleucia, still largely Greek (the city had been commissioned and settled as a capital of the Seleucid Empire, one of Alexander the Great's Diadochi, successor kingdoms), opened its gates to the invaders. The city was sacked nonetheless, leaving a black mark on Lucius's reputation. Excuses were sought, or invented: the official version had it that the Seleucids broke faith first. Cassius's army, although suffering from a shortage of supplies and the effects of a plague contracted in Seleucia, made it back to Roman territory safely. Lucius took the title Parthicus Maximus, and he and Marcus were hailed as ''imperatores'' again, earning the title 'imp. III'. Cassius's army returned to the field in 166, crossing over the Tigris into Media (region), Media. Lucius took the title 'Medicus', and the emperors were again hailed as ''imperatores'', becoming 'imp. IV' in imperial titulature. Marcus took the Parthicus Maximus now, after another tactful delay. On 12 October of that year, Marcus proclaimed two of his sons, Marcus Annius Verus Caesar, Annius and
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn R ...

Commodus
, as Caesar (title), his heirs.Adams, p. 94.


War with Germanic tribes (166–180)

During the early 160s, Fronto's son-in-law Victorinus was stationed as a legate in Germany. He was there with his wife and children (another child had stayed with Fronto and his wife in Rome). The condition on the northern frontier looked grave. A frontier post had been destroyed, and it looked like all the peoples of central and northern Europe were in turmoil. There was corruption among the officers: Victorinus had to ask for the resignation of a legionary legate who was taking bribes. Experienced governors had been replaced by friends and relatives of the imperial family. Lucius Dasumius Tullius Tuscus, a distant relative of Hadrian, was in Upper Pannonia, succeeding the experienced Marcus Nonius Macrinus. Lower Pannonia was under the obscure Tiberius Haterius Saturnius. Marcus Servilius Fabianus Maximus was shuffled from Lower Moesia to Upper Moesia when Marcus Iallius Bassus had joined Lucius in Antioch. Lower Moesia was filled by Pontius Laelianus's son. The Dacias were still divided in three, governed by a praetorian senator and two procurators. The peace could not hold long; Lower Pannonia did not even have a legion. Starting in the 160s, Germanic tribes, and other nomadic people launched raids along the limes Germanicus, northern border, particularly into Gaul and across the Danube#History, Danube. This new impetus westwards was probably due to attacks from tribes further east. A first invasion by the Chatti in the province of Germania Superior was repulsed in 162.McLynn, ''Marcus Aurelius: A Life'', pp. 323–24. Far more dangerous was the invasion of 166, when the
Marcomanni The Marcomanni were a Germanic people The Germanic peoples were a historical group of people living in Central Europe Central Europe is an area of Europe between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, based on a common History, historical, Soc ...
of Bohemia, clients of the Roman Empire since 19 AD, crossed the Danube together with the Lombards and other Germanic tribes.Le Bohec, p. 56. Soon thereafter, the Iranian Sarmatians, Sarmatian
Iazyges (ruled 117–138), showing the location of the Iazyges in the plain of the Tisza river., alt=A physical map of Europe under Emperor Hadrian with the borders of Rome in red. The Iazyges (), singular Ἰάζυξ. were an ancient Sarmatians, ...
attacked between the Danube and the Tisza, Theiss rivers.Grant, ''The Antonines: The Roman Empire in Transition'', p. 29. The Costoboci, coming from the Carpathian Mountains, Carpathian area, invaded Moesia, Macedonia (Roman province), Macedonia, and Greece. After a long struggle, Marcus managed to push back the invaders. Numerous members of Germanic tribes settled in frontier regions like Dacia, Pannonia, Germany, and Italy itself. This was not a new thing, but this time the numbers of settlers required the creation of two new frontier provinces on the left shore of the Danube, Sarmatia and Marcomannia, including today's Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Hungary. Some Germanic tribes who settled in Ravenna revolted and managed to seize possession of the city. For this reason, Marcus decided not only against bringing more barbarians into Italy, but even banished those who had previously been brought there.


Legal and administrative work

Like many emperors, Marcus spent most of his time addressing matters of law such as petitions and hearing disputes, but unlike many of his predecessors, he was already proficient in imperial administration when he assumed power. He took great care in the theory and practice of legislation. Professional jurists called him 'an emperor most skilled in the law' and 'a most prudent and conscientiously just emperor'. He showed marked interest in three areas of the law: the manumission of slaves, the guardianship of orphans and minors, and the choice of city councillors (''decuriones''). Marcus showed a great deal of respect to the Roman Senate and routinely asked them for permission to spend money even though he did not need to do so as the absolute ruler of the Empire. In one speech, Marcus himself reminded the Senate that the imperial palace where he lived was not truly his possession but theirs. In 168, he revalued the denarius, increasing the silver purity from 79% to 82% – the actual silver weight increasing from . However, two years later he reverted to the previous values because of the military crises facing the empire.


Trade with Han China and outbreak of plague

A possible contact with Han Dynasty, Han China occurred in 166 when a Sino-Roman relations, Roman traveller visited the Han court, claiming to be an ambassador representing a certain Andun (Chinese language, Chinese: wikt:安, 安 wikt:敦, 敦), ruler of Daqin, who can be identified either with Marcus or his predecessor Antoninus. In addition to Roman Republic, Republican-era Roman glasswares found at Guangzhou along the South China Sea, Roman golden medallions made during the reign of Antoninus and perhaps even Marcus have been found at Óc Eo, Vietnam, then part of the Kingdom of Funan near the Chinese province of Jiaozhi (in northern Vietnam). This may have been the port city of Kattigara, described by Ptolemy (c. 150) as being visited by a Greek sailor named Alexander and lying beyond the Golden Chersonese (i.e. Malay Peninsula).Young, pp. 29–30.For further information on Óc Eo, see Osborne, Milton
''The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future''
Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin, 2006, revised edition, first published in 2000. pp. 24–25. .
Roman coins from the reigns of Tiberius to Aurelian have been found in Xi'an, China (site of the Han capital Chang'an), although the far greater amount of Indo-Roman trade relations, Roman coins in India suggests the Roman maritime trade for History of silk, purchasing Chinese silk was centred there, not in China or even the overland Silk Road running through Persia.Ball, p. 154. The
Antonine Plague The Antonine Plague of 165 to 180 AD, also known as the Plague of Galen (after Galen Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus ( el, Κλαύδιος Γαληνός; September 129 CE – /), often Anglicization, Anglicized as Galen and sometimes known ...
started in Mesopotamia in 165 or 166 at the end of Lucius's campaign against the Parthians. It may have continued into the reign of Commodus. Galen, who was in Rome when the plague spread to the city in 166, mentioned that 'fever, diarrhoea, and inflammation of the pharynx, along with dry or pustular eruptions of the skin after nine days' were among the symptoms.Murphy, Verity
'Past pandemics that ravaged Europe'
BBC News, 7 November 2005.
It is believed that the plague was smallpox. In the view of historian Rafe de Crespigny, the plagues afflicting the Eastern Han empire of China during the reigns of Emperor Huan of Han (r. 146–168) and Emperor Ling of Han (r. 168–189), which struck in 151, 161, 171, 173, 179, 182, and 185, were perhaps connected to the plague in Rome. Raoul McLaughlin writes that the travel of Roman subjects to the Han Chinese court in 166 may have started a new era of Roman–Far East trade. However, it was also a 'harbinger of something much more ominous'. According to McLaughlin, the disease caused 'irreparable' damage to the Roman maritime trade in the Indian Ocean as proven by the archaeological record spanning from Roman Egypt, Egypt to Indo-Roman relations, India, as well as significantly decreased Roman commerce, Roman commercial activity in Southeast Asia.McLaughlin, pp. 59–60.


Death and succession (180)

Marcus died at the age of 58 on 17 March 180 of unknown causes in his military quarters near the city of Sirmium in Pannonia (modern Sremska Mitrovica). He was immediately deified and Cremation, his ashes were returned to Rome, where they rested in Hadrian's mausoleum (modern Castel Sant'Angelo) until the Visigoth Sack of Rome (410), sack of the city in 410. His campaigns against Germans and Sarmatians were also commemorated by a Column of Marcus Aurelius, column and a temple of Marcus Aurelius, temple built in Rome.Kleiner, p. 230. Some scholars consider his death to be the end of the ''
Pax Romana The ''Pax Romana'' (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to ...
''.Merrony, p. 85. Marcus was succeeded by his son
Commodus Commodus (; 31 August 161 – 31 December 192) was a Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn R ...

Commodus
, whom he had named Caesar in 166 and with whom he had jointly ruled since 177.Birley, 'Hadrian to the Antonines', pp. 186–91. Biological sons of the emperor, if there were any, were considered heirs; however, it was only the second time that a "non-adoptive" son had succeeded his father, the only other having been a century earlier when Vespasian was succeeded by his son Titus. Historians have criticized the succession to Commodus, citing Commodus's erratic behaviour and lack of political and military acumen. At the end of his history of Marcus's reign, Cassius Dio wrote an encomium to the emperor, and described the transition to Commodus in his own lifetime with sorrow:Tr. Cary, ''ad loc''.
[Marcus] did not meet with the good fortune that he deserved, for he was not strong in body and was involved in a multitude of troubles throughout practically his entire reign. But for my part, I admire him all the more for this very reason, that amid unusual and extraordinary difficulties he both survived himself and preserved the empire. Just one thing prevented him from being completely happy, namely, that after rearing and educating his son in the best possible way he was vastly disappointed in him. This matter must be our next topic; for our history now descends from a kingdom of gold to one of iron and rust, as affairs did for the Romans of that day. :–Dio lxxi. 36.3–4
Dio adds that from Marcus's first days as counsellor to Antoninus to his final days as emperor of Rome, "he remained the same [person] and did not change in the least." Michael Grant (classicist), Michael Grant, in ''The Climax of Rome'', writes of Commodus:
The youth turned out to be very erratic, or at least so anti-traditional that disaster was inevitable. But whether or not Marcus ought to have known this to be so, the rejections of his son's claims in favour of someone else would almost certainly have involved one of the civil wars which were to proliferate so disastrously around future successions.Grant, ''The Climax Of Rome'', p. 15.


Attitude towards Christians

In the first two centuries of the Christian era, it was local Roman officials who were largely responsible for the Persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire, persecution of Christians. In the second century, the emperors treated Christianity as a local problem to be dealt with by their subordinates. The number and severity of persecutions of Christians in various locations of the empire seemingly increased during the reign of Marcus. The extent to which Marcus himself directed, encouraged, or was aware of these persecutions is unclear and much debated by historians.McLynn, ''Marcus Aurelius: A Life'', p. 295. The early Christian apologist, Justin Martyr, includes within his First Apology (written between 140 and 150 A.D.) a letter from Marcus Aurelius to the Roman senate (prior to his reign) describing a battlefield incident in which Marcus believed Christian prayer had saved his army from thirst when "water poured from heaven," after which, "immediately we recognized the presence of God." Marcus goes on to request the senate desist from earlier courses of Christian persecution by Rome. However, this letter was one of three from Roman emperors included by Martyr, two of which (including the Aurelius letter) are regarded as spurious.


Marriage and children

Marcus and his Cousin marriage, cousin-wife Faustina had at least 14 children during their 30-year marriage,Stephens, p. 31. including two sets of twins. One son and four daughters outlived their father. Their children included: * Domitia Faustina (147–151)McLynn, ''Marcus Aurelius: A Life'', p. 92. * Titus Aelius Antoninus (149)Lendering, Jona
'Antoninus and Aelius'
Livius.org.
Levick, p. 171. * Titus Aelius Aurelius (149) * Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla (150–182), married her father's co-ruler Lucius Verus, then Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus, had issue from both marriages *
Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina (c. 151Birley, Anthony. ''Marcus Aurelius'', revised edition (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 108. -after 165) was the eldest child of the Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire T ...
(born 151), married Gnaeus Claudius Severus (consul 167), Gnaeus Claudius Severus, had a son * Tiberius Aelius Antoninus (born 152, died before 156) * Unknown child (died before 158) * Fadilla, Annia Aurelia Fadilla (born 159), married Marcus Peducaeus Plautius Quintillus, had issue * Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor (born 160), married Marcus Petronius Sura Mamertinus, had a son * Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus (161–165), elder twin brother of Commodus * Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus (Commodus) (161–192), twin brother of Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, later emperor, married Bruttia Crispina, no issue * Marcus Annius Verus Caesar (162–169) * Hadrianus * Vibia Aurelia Sabina (170– died before 217), married Lucius Antistius Burrus, no issue


Writings

While on campaign between 170 and 180, Marcus wrote his ''
Meditations ''Meditations'' () is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a from 161 to 180 and a philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the (a term coined s ...

Meditations
'' in Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. The original title of this work, if it had one, is unknown. 'Meditations' – as well as other titles including 'To Himself' – were adopted later. He had a logical mind and his notes were representative of Stoic philosophy and spirituality. ''Meditations'' is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty. According to Hays, the book was a favourite of Christina of Sweden, Frederick the Great, John Stuart Mill, Matthew Arnold, and Goethe, and is admired by modern figures such as Wen Jiabao and Bill Clinton. It has been considered by many commentators to be one of the greatest works of philosophy.Collins, p. 58. It is not known how widely Marcus's writings were circulated after his death. There are stray references in the ancient literature to the popularity of his precepts, and Julian the Apostate was well aware of his reputation as a philosopher, though he does not specifically mention ''Meditations''. It survived in the scholarly traditions of the Eastern Church and the first surviving quotes of the book, as well as the first known reference of it by name ('Marcus's writings to himself') are from Arethas of Caesarea in the 10th century and in the Byzantine Suda (perhaps inserted by Arethas himself). It was first published in 1558 in Zurich by Wilhelm Xylander, Wilhelm Xylander (né Holzmann), from a manuscript reportedly lost shortly afterwards. The oldest surviving complete manuscript copy is in the Vatican library and dates to the 14th century.


Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius

The
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius The ''Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius Antoninus ( ; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor The Roman Emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (s ...
in Rome is the only Roman equestrian statue which has survived into the modern period. This may be due to it being wrongly identified during the Middle Ages as a depiction of the Christianity in the 4th century, Christian emperor Constantine the Great, and spared the destruction which statues of pagan figures suffered. Crafted of bronze in circa 175, it stands and is now located in the Capitoline Museums of Rome. The emperor's hand is outstretched in an act of clemency offered to a bested enemy, while his weary facial expression due to the stress of leading Rome into nearly constant battles perhaps represents a break with the Ancient Greek art, classical tradition of Ancient Greek sculpture, sculpture.


Column of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus's victory column, established in Rome either in his last few years of life or after his reign and completed in 193, was built to commemorate his victory over the Sarmatians and Germanic tribes in 176. A spiral of carved reliefs wraps around the column, showing scenes from his military campaigns. A statue of Marcus had stood atop the column but disappeared during the Middle Ages. It was replaced with a statue of Saint Paul in 1589 by Pope Sixtus V. The column of Marcus and the column of Trajan are often compared by scholars given how they are both Doric order, Doric in style, had a pedestal at the base, had sculpted friezes depicting their respective military victories, and a statue on top.


Legacy and reputation

Marcus acquired the reputation of a philosopher king within his lifetime, and the title would remain after his death; both Dio and the biographer call him 'the philosopher'.Christians such as Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, and Eusebius also gave him the title. The latter went so far as to call him "more philanthropic and philosophic" than Antoninus and Hadrian, and set him against the persecuting emperors Domitian and Nero to make the contrast bolder. The historian Herodian wrote:
Alone of the emperors, he gave proof of his learning not by mere words or knowledge of philosophical doctrines but by his blameless character and temperate way of life.
Iain King explains that Marcus's legacy was tragic:
[The emperor's] Stoic philosophy – which is about self-restraint, duty, and respect for others – was so abjectly abandoned by the imperial line he anointed on his death.Thinkers at War.


In popular culture

* In the 1965 epic drama ''The_Fall_of_the_Roman_Empire_(film), The Fall of The Roman Empire'', Alec Guinness portrays Marcus Aurelius. The film is noteworthy for using quotes from 'Meditations'. *In the 1991 feature ''The Silence of the Lambs (film), The Silence of the Lambs'', Marcus Aurelius is mentioned in a note by Hannibal Lecter written on the Buffalo Bill (character), Buffalo Bill case file he had given back to Clarice Starling as having posed the question, and what was written stated : " First principles, Clarice. Simplicity. Read Marcus Aurelius. Of each particular thing ask: what is it in itself? What is its nature? What does he do, this man you seek?". * In the 2000 British-American drama ''Gladiator (2000 film), Gladiator'', Richard Harris portrays Marcus Aurelius in a fictionalized version. * In the 2017 docu-drama miniseries ''Roman Empire (TV series), Roman Empire'', John Bach portrays Marcus Aurelius.


See also

* List of Roman emperors


Notes


Citations

All citations to the ''Historia Augusta'' are to individual biographies, and are marked with a ''HA''. Citations to the works of Fronto are cross-referenced to C.R. Haines's Loeb edition.


Bibliography


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*
Epiphanius of Salamis Epiphanius of Salamis ( grc-gre, Ἐπιφάνιος; c. 310–320 – 403) was the bishop of at the end of the . He is considered a and a by both the and es. He gained a reputation as a strong defender of . He is best known for composing th ...
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an
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:Translations (from Latin) o

[http://www.sacred-texts.com/cla/luc/wl3/wl303.htm ''Imagines'' (''A Portrait–Study'')], an
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External links

* * * * * *
Marcus Aurelius
at the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy {{DEFAULTSORT:Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius, 121 births 180 deaths 2nd-century philosophers 2nd-century Roman emperors Aelii Ancient Roman adoptees Annii Augurs of the Roman Empire Aurelii Fulvi, Marcus Burials at the Castel Sant'Angelo Cultural critics Deified Roman emperors Glycon cult Hellenistic writers Imperial Roman consuls Moneyers of ancient Rome Moral philosophers Nerva–Antonine dynasty Philosophers of ethics and morality Philosophers of law Philosophers of mind Philosophers of Roman Italy Philosophy writers Political philosophers Roman philhellenes Ancient Roman philosophers Roman-era Stoic philosophers Social critics Social philosophers Stoic philosophers Stoicism Greek-language writers Roman pharaohs