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Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Latin: [ˈmaːrkʊs au̯ˈreːliʊs antoːˈniːnʊs]; English: // aw-REE-lee-əs; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD and a Stoic philosopher. He was a member of the Nerva–Antonine dynasty, the last of the rulers later known as the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace, calm, and stability for the Roman Empire lasting from 27 BC to 180 AD. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.
|Reign||7 March 161 – 17 March 180|
|Born||(121-04-26)26 April 121|
Rome, Italia, Roman Empire
|Died||17 March 180(180-03-17) (aged 58)|
Vindobona, Pannonia Superior, or Sirmium, Pannonia Inferior
|Spouse||Faustina the Younger (m. 145; d. 175)|
|14, including Commodus, Marcus Annius Verus Caesar, Lucilla, Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina, Fadilla, Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor, and Vibia Aurelia Sabina|
|Religion||Ancient Roman religion|
|Roman imperial dynasties|
|Nerva–Antonine dynasty (AD 96–192)|
|Part of a series on|
Marcus Aurelius was the son of the praetor Marcus Annius Verus and his wife, Domitia Calvilla. He was related through marriage to the emperors Trajan and Hadrian. Marcus's father died when he was three, and he was raised by his mother and paternal grandfather. After Hadrian's adoptive son, Aelius Caesar, died in 138, Hadrian 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's 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 reduced 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 since there is no record of early Christians in the 2nd century calling him a persecutor, and Tertullian even called Marcus a "protector of Christians". 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.
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