Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. Followed by Year of the Five Emperors.Part of a series on. 26 April 121 - 17 March 180 was Roman emperor. From 161 to 180 and a Stoic. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors. A term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolò Machiavelli.
, and the last emperor of the Pax Romana. (27 BC to 180 AD), an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul.In 140, 145, and 161. Marcus was born during the reign of Hadrian.
To the emperor's nephew, the praetor Marcus Annius Verus. And the heiress Domitia Calvilla. His father died when he was three, and his mother and grandfather. Died in 138, the emperor adopted Marcus' uncle Antoninus Pius.
In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus and Lucius. Hadrian died that year and Antoninus became emperor. Now heir to the throne, Marcus studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as Herodes Atticus.
He kept in close correspondence with Fronto for many years afterward. Marcus married Antoninus' daughter Faustina.
After Antoninus died in 161, Marcus acceded to the throne alongside his adoptive brother, who took the name Lucius Verus. The reign of Marcus Aurelius. Was marked by military conflict.In the East, the Roman Empire fought successfully. With a revitalized Parthian Empire. And the rebel Kingdom of Armenia. However, these and other Germanic peoples.
Began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. He modified the silver purity of the Roman currency.
The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire. Appears to have increased during Marcus' reign, but his involvement in this is unknown. Broke out in 165 or 166 and devastated the population of the Roman Empire.
Causing the deaths of five million people. Lucius Verus may have died from the plague in 169. Unlike some of his predecessors, Marcus chose not to adopt an heir. Who married Lucius, and Commodus.
Whose succession after Marcus has been a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians. And Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius. Still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories. 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.
Bust of Marcus Aurelius in the Archaeological Museum of Istanbul. The major sources depicting the life and rule of Marcus are patchy and frequently unreliable.The most important group of sources, the biographi contained in the Historia Augusta. 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. Or Ignotus, are much more accurate. For Marcus's life and rule, the biographies of Hadrian. Are largely reliable, but those of Aelius Verus. 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. 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.
A Greek senator from Bithynian. 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. On the habits of the Antonine elite, the orations of Aelius Aristides. On the temper of the times, and the constitutions preserved in the Digest. On Marcus's legal work. Main article: Early life of Marcus Aurelius. A bust of young Marcus Aurelius Capitoline Museum.
His modern biographer, writes of the bust:'This is certainly a grave young man. Marcus was born in Rome. 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, 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.In his chronology of the Roman emperors On Weights and Measures. Calls him Marcus Aurelius Verus. Marcus's paternal family was of Roman Italo-Hispanic origins. His father was Marcus Annius Verus (III). Was of Italian origins with legendary claims of descendance from Numa Pompilius. And a branch of it moved to Ucubi. A small town south east of Córdoba. 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. And (according to the Historia Augusta) ex- praetor. His grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II).
Marcus was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty. Was the mother of Rupilia and her half-sister, Hadrian's wife Sabina.Marcus's mother, 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. 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. 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. Into which Marcus was adopted at the age of 17, was a Sabine.
His adoptive father, came from the Aurelii Fulvi, a branch of the Aurelii based in Roman Gaul. 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. 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.
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. Over his son and grandson.
Technically this was not an adoption, the creation of a new and different patria potestas. 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.
An upscale area with few public buildings but many aristocratic villas. Marcus's grandfather owned a palace beside the Lateran. 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.
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.
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 Homeric. 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.