The Parthian Wars would last until 166 CE and concluded with a Roman victory. Problems are Created in the Mind. Marcus Aurelius wrote the Meditations, his reflections in the middle of campaigning and administration. The transition was smooth as far as Marcus was concerned; already possessing the essential constitutional powers, he stepped automatically into the role of full emperor (and his name henceforth was Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus). 25mm, 10.19 g. Rome. "Marcus Aurelius." In March of 161 CE, Antoninus Pius died and the senate looked to Aurelius as the new emperor; in keeping with Hadrian’s original designs, however, Aurelius refused the honor unless Lucius Verus was elevated as co-emperor with him. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. Although these persecutions were later condemned once Christianity triumphed, at the time they would have been considered necessary in keeping the peace. Although he would lose children, friends, and even his wife, Aurelius remained faithful to this vision of a world governed by a natural, and benign, intelligence which ran through all things, bound all things together, and dispersed all things in time. Mark, Joshua J. https://www.britannica.com/biography/Marcus-Aurelius-Roman-emperor, Ancient History Encyclopedia - Biography of Marcus Aurelius, The Catholic Encyclopedia - Biography of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Biography of Marcus Aurelius, Heritage History - Biography of Marcus Aurelius, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - Biography of Marcus Aurelius, Marcus Aurelius - Student Encyclopedia (Ages 11 and up). (IV.23). Town: Rome; Year of creation: 176. Known for his philosophical interests, Aurelius was one of the most respected emperors in … Antoninus Pius was an extremely effective monarch and an important role model for his successor. After his death the empire quickly descended into civil war. Although Fronto strongly objects to Aurelius’ interest in Stoicism in his letters, his former student embraced the philosophy fully and would put the principles he learned from his teachers into effect once he came to power. The horseman sits astride the steed, with his left hand guiding the reins and his right arm raised to shoulder level, the hand outstretched. Marcus’s claim to statesmanship has come under critical attack in numerous other ways—for example, in the matter of Christian persecution. Aurelius writes: If it is good to you, O Universe, it is good to me. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. It is also thought that Aurelius may have manipulated Verus into going to curtail his extravagant parties. Ancient History Encyclopedia Limited is a non-profit company registered in the United Kingdom. His Stoic outlook is expressed throughout his Meditations and his view of one’s responsibility to others is made clear in a line from Book VIII.59: “People exist for the sake of one another; teach them, then, or bear with them.”. During his reign, the persecution of Christians increased 3. In his Meditations, Aurelius praises both men highly and lists the many important lessons he learned from them. Not late, not early. Moreover, there was nothing specifically Stoic about this legal activity, and in one respect the age of Antoninus Pius and Marcus signalizes a retrogression in the relationship of law to society, for under them there either began or was made more explicit a distinction of classes in the criminal law—honestiores and humiliores—with two separate scales of punishments for crime, harsher and more degrading for the humiliores at every point. The pattern of ameliorating legislation was inherited rather than novel, and the measures were refinements rather than radical changes in the structure of law or society; Marcus was not a great legislator, but he was a devoted practitioner of the role of ombudsman. Please note that content linked from this page may have different licensing terms. He lived where Antoninus instructed him to in order to further his reputation as one of the elite and also for practical purposes in fulfilling his responsibilities but it seems clear he would have preferred a simpler life elsewhere. These books were carried west where they were copied and, by 1559 CE, the first printed edition of the work was available. His reign, in fact, is defined by the Stoic view and he is referred to as “the philosopher” by the later historian Cassius Dio (c. 155-235 CE) and the author (or authors) of the Historia Augusta (4th century CE), a history of Roman emperors. The long years of Marcus’s apprenticeship under Antoninus are illuminated by the correspondence between him and his teacher Fronto. If one concentrated one’s focus on the logos, the Stoics claimed, one could live peacefully because one would realize that everything which happens is natural; it is only one’s interpretation of an event which makes it “good” or “bad”. It was to the credit of Marcus, who was intelligent as well as hardworking and serious-minded, that he grew impatient with the unending regime of advanced exercises in Greek and Latin declamation and eagerly embraced the Diatribai (Discourses) of a religious former slave, Epictetus, an important moral philosopher of the Stoic school. Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com: accessed ), memorial page for Marcus Aurelius (26 Apr 121–c.17 Mar 180), Find a Grave Memorial no. The column was inspired by its more famous predecessor Trajan's Column which was set up, also in Rome, in 113 CE. Between 170-180 CE, Marcus Aurelius campaigned against the Germanic tribes and toured the eastern provinces of his empire. Aurelius had married Faustina in 145 CE and they had a number of children over the years. Professor of Ancient History, University of Cambridge, 1979–84. He has long been respected as embodying the Platonic concept of the Philosopher King as articulated in Plato’s Republic: a ruler who does not seek power for his own sake but to help his people. In the modern-day, he is probably best known from the popular film Gladiator (2000 CE) as the father of Commodus (r.177-192 CE) whose decision to pass over his son as successor serves as the point of departure for the film’s plot. Your harmony is mine. Last modified March 26, 2018. In late 161 CE, the Parthian king Vologases IV (r. 147-191 CE) invaded Armenia, which was under Rome’s protection, and the Roman province of Syria revolted. Both entries have to do with Stoic philosophical principles and strongly suggest that it was not until this time that Aurelius became acquainted with the Stoic outlook. The field most congenial to him seems to have been the law. It is also during this time (c.162-c.166 CE) that he persecuted the new sect of Christianity which refused to honor the state religion and disrupted the social order. "Marcus Aurelius." By the standards of his time, Marcus Aurelius was a lenient and humanitarian ruler, but he … It is sometimes assumed that in Hadrian’s mind both Commodus and Antoninus Pius were merely to be “place warmers” for one or both of these youths. Marcus Aurelius Equestrian Statueby Mark Cartwright (CC BY-NC-SA). (Meditations V.16). Long, G., translator; Edman, I., Introduction. The governing class of the first age of the Roman Empire, the Julio-Claudian, had been little different from that of the late Republic: it was urban Roman (despising outsiders), extravagant, cynical, and amoral. He was introduced to philosophy at a young age and his Meditations, composed while on campaign in his fifties, make clear that he held a deeply philosophical, specifically Stoic, view throughout his life. In 136 CE, the emperor Hadrian (r. 117-138 CE) selected Lucius Ceionius Commodus as his successor for reasons which are unclear. While Verus was away on campaign, Aurelius remained at Rome and, by all accounts, performed his duties with distinction. He mentions this in Meditations Book I.6 in referencing how he chose “the Greek lifestyle – the camp-bed and the cloak” after his association with Diognetus. Hadrian then adopted Titus Aurelius Antoninus (the husband of Marcus’s aunt) to succeed him as the emperor Antoninus Pius (reigned 138–161), arranging that Antoninus should adopt as his sons two young men—one the son of Commodus and the other Marcus, whose name was then changed to Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus. The work is a private journal of the emperor’s thoughts written to encourage himself in living the best life possible. His reign (161–180 CE) marked the end of a period of internal tranquility and good government. Although he is often called the "philosopher on the throne" or the "philosopher-emperor", he was also one of the greatest warriors of the Roman empire, and might be called "a philosopher in arms" - with more justification that Alexander the Great, who did in fact receive this title. It is most probable, however, that Marcus’s conscience impelled him to carry out loyally what he believed to have been the plan by which alone he himself had eventually reached the purple. As the Parthian war concluded, however, the Marcomanni tribe of Germania invaded Roman provinces on the Danube in an alliance with the Persian Sarmatians. Marcus Aurelius, bas-relief depicting his triumphal entry into Rome in a quadriga; in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, Rome. Mark has lived in Greece and Germany and traveled through Egypt. He has taught history, writing, literature, and philosophy at the college level. Aurelius’ father died in c. 124 CE and he was raised primarily by nurses and his grandfathers. They encouraged free speech, the arts, education, and boosted the economy – at least for a time – by debasing the currency; the two emperors quickly became immensely popular with the people. There was, then, no concept of tragedy in Aurelius’ philosophy because everything that happened was a natural occurrence and nothing in nature could be interpreted as tragic. The war that followed (162–166) was nominally under the command of Verus, though its successful conclusion, with the overrunning of Armenia and Mesopotamia, was the work of subordinate generals, notably Gaius Avidius Cassius. Aurelius devotes a long passage of praise to his adopted father in his Meditations in which he lists the emperor’s impressive qualities (Book I.16). His paternal great-grandfather, Annius Verus from Uccubi (near Corduba) in Baetica, had brought the family, wealthy through the production of olive oil, to prominence by gaining the rank of senator and praetor. Written by Joshua J. The martyrdoms at Lyon in 177 were of this nature, and, though it appears that Christian blood flowed more profusely in the reign of Marcus the philosopher than it had before, he was not an initiator of persecution. Marcus Aurelius - Marcus Aurelius - The Meditations: A more intimate contact with the thoughts pursued by Marcus during the troubling involvements of his reign, though not what would have been historically most valuable, his day-to-day political thoughts, can be acquired by reading the Meditations. Ancient History Encyclopedia. The child Marcus was thus clearly destined for social distinction. Even though some of these died young, Aurelius still had every reason to believe the gods could be smiling upon him with good fortune. “When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love ...” … Who can I point out as an example? by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin (CC BY-NC-SA). Am I proud to look up to this person? He would die there two years later in March of 180 CE and was succeeded by Commodus. The Julio-Claudian Dynasty [image:486] Augustus 16 Jan 27... Germanic tribes cross the Danube into the, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius translated by George Long. 1. Some Rights Reserved (2009-2021) under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise noted. It is among history’s ironies, however, that his reign is characterized by incessant warfare and the persecution of the new religious sect of Christianity. Along with his predecessors – Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antonius Pius – Marcus Aurelius brought stability to an unstable Empire; between them, the five provided almost a century of competent government, now regarded as Rome’s heyday. Marcus Aurelius in Art, Film and Literature A well-preserved bronze equestrian sculpture of Marcus Aurelius is located in Piazza del Campidoglio, Rome. In the Roman world it was standard practice to create official portrait types of high-ranking officials, such as emperors that would then circulate in vari… Struck AD 177. Although the emperor is mounted, it exhibits many similarities to standing statues of Augustus. In 178 CE, Aurelius defeated the Germanic tribes on the Danube and retired to winter quarters at Vindobona. The Meditations is far from a philosophical treatise, however; it is one man’s thoughts on life and the struggle to remain at peace with one’s self in a world which constantly threatens such peace. It is possible, even likely, that Aurelius was advised in his campaign by the experienced military leader and consul Marcus Nonius Macrinus (d. c. 171 CE), whose early career and close relationship with Aurelius inspired aspects of the character of Maximus Decimus Meridius in the film Gladiator. Although it is unclear, it seems that his mother forced him to stop his philosophical pursuits and focus on what she saw as a more respectable career path. Symbolized for many generations in the United Kingdom Antoninus to tutor Aurelius in philosophy, he one! 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