Marcus Aurelius

Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and Stoic philosopher / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Marcus Aurelius Antonius (Latin: [ˈmaːr.kus̠ auˈreː.li.us̠ anˈtoː.niː.nus̠]; English: /ɔːˈrliəs/ aw-REE-lee-əs;[2] 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and a Stoic philosopher. 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, an age of relative peace, calmness and stability for the Roman Empire lasting from 27 BC to 180 AD. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

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Marcus Aurelius
Roman emperor
Reign7 March 161 – 17 March 180
PredecessorAntoninus Pius
SuccessorCommodus
Co-emperor
Born(121-04-26)26 April 121
Rome, Italy
Died17 March 180(180-03-17) (aged 58)
Vindobona, Pannonia Superior or
Sirmium, Pannonia Inferior
Burial
SpouseFaustina the Younger (145–175, her death)
Issue
Detail
14, including Commodus, Marcus Annius Verus Caesar, Lucilla, Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina, Fadilla, Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor, and Vibia Aurelia Sabina
Names
Marcus Annius Catilius Severus (birth)
Marcus Annius Verus (124)
Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar (138)
(see section Name for details)
Regnal name
Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus
DynastyNerva–Antonine
Father
MotherDomitia Calvilla

Philosophy career
Notable workMeditations
EraHellenistic philosophy
RegionWestern philosophy
SchoolStoicism
Main interests
Ethics
Notable ideas
Memento mori[1]
Influenced
Close

Marcus Aurelius 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 raised him. After Hadrian's adoptive son, Aelius Caesar, died in 138, the emperor adopted Marcus's uncle Antoninus Pius as his new heir. In turn, Antoninus adopted Marcus and 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 and Marcus Cornelius Fronto. He married Antoninus' daughter Faustina in 145.

After Antoninus died in 161, Marcus Aurelius acceded to the throne alongside his adoptive brother, who reigned under the name Lucius Verus. Under his rule the Roman Empire witnessed heavy military conflict. In the East, the Romans fought successfully with a revitalized Parthian Empire and the rebel Kingdom of Armenia. Marcus defeated the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatian Iazyges in the Marcomannic Wars; 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 denarius. The persecution of Christians in the Roman Empire appears to have increased during his reign, but his involvement in this is unlikely, as early Christians living in the 2nd century never claimed him as a persecutor and Tertullian even called Marcus a "protector of Christians".[3] The Antonine Plague 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, who married Lucius, and Commodus, whose succession after Marcus has been a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians. The Column and Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories. Meditations, the writings of "the philosopher" – as contemporary biographers called Marcus – are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. These writings have been praised by fellow writers, philosophers, monarchs, and politicians centuries after his death.