Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

Overview
Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 161 to 180 AD. He ruled with Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

 as co-emperor from 161 until Verus' death in 169. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 philosophers.
During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius
Avidius Cassius
Gaius Avidius Cassius was a Roman general and usurper who briefly ruled Egypt and Syria in 175.-Origins:He was the son of Gaius Avidius Heliodorus, a noted orator who was Prefect of Egypt from 137 to 142 under Hadrian, and wife Junia Cassia Alexandra...

 sacked the capital Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

 in 164. Aurelius fought the Marcomanni
Marcomanni
The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.-Origin:Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" and "men"....

, Quadi
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

, and Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 with success during the Marcomannic Wars
Marcomannic Wars
The Marcomannic Wars were a series of wars lasting over a dozen years from about AD 166 until 180. These wars pitted the Roman Empire against the Marcomanni, Quadi and other Germanic peoples, along both sides of the upper and middle Danube...

, but the threat of the Germanic tribes
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire.
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Timeline

161   Emperor Antoninus Pius dies and is succeeded by his adoptif sons Marcus Aurelius en Lucius Verus.

173   Marcomannic Wars: The Roman army in Moravia is encircled by the Quadi, who has broken the peace treaty (171). In a violent thunderstorm emperor Marcus Aurelius defeats and subdue them in the so-called "miracle of the rain".

176   Emperor Marcus Aurelius grant his son Commodus the rank of ''Imperator'' and makes him Supreme Commander of the Roman legions.

180   Marcus Aurelius dies leaving Commodus the sole emperor of the Roman Empire.

 
Quotations

Say to yourself in the early morning: I shall meet today inquisitive, ungrateful, violent, treacherous, envious, uncharitable men. All these things have come upon them through ignorance of real good and ill.

II, 1

You will find rest from vain fancies if you perform every act in life as though it were your last.

II, 5

The longest-lived and the shortest-lived man, when they come to die, lose one and the same thing.

II, 14

This thou must always bear in mind, what is the nature of the whole...

Τούτων ἀεὶ μεμνῆσθαι, τίς ἡ τῶν ὅλων φύσις

II, 9

A man should be upright, not kept upright.

III, 5

Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.

III, 7

Remember that man lives only in the present, in this fleeting instant; all the rest of his life is either past and gone, or not yet revealed.

III, 10

By a tranquil mind I mean nothing else than a mind well ordered.

IV, 3

Men seek retreats for themselves, houses in the country, sea-shores, and mountains; and thou too art wont to desire such things very much. But this is altogether a mark of the most common sort of men, for it is in thy power whenever thou shalt choose to retire into thyself. For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul

IV, 3
Encyclopedia
Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor
Roman Emperor
The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman State during the imperial period . The Romans had no single term for the office although at any given time, a given title was associated with the emperor...

 from 161 to 180 AD. He ruled with Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

 as co-emperor from 161 until Verus' death in 169. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 philosophers.
During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire
Parthian Empire
The Parthian Empire , also known as the Arsacid Empire , was a major Iranian political and cultural power in ancient Persia...

; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius
Avidius Cassius
Gaius Avidius Cassius was a Roman general and usurper who briefly ruled Egypt and Syria in 175.-Origins:He was the son of Gaius Avidius Heliodorus, a noted orator who was Prefect of Egypt from 137 to 142 under Hadrian, and wife Junia Cassia Alexandra...

 sacked the capital Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

 in 164. Aurelius fought the Marcomanni
Marcomanni
The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.-Origin:Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" and "men"....

, Quadi
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

, and Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 with success during the Marcomannic Wars
Marcomannic Wars
The Marcomannic Wars were a series of wars lasting over a dozen years from about AD 166 until 180. These wars pitted the Roman Empire against the Marcomanni, Quadi and other Germanic peoples, along both sides of the upper and middle Danube...

, but the threat of the Germanic tribes
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

 began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. A revolt in the East led by Avidius Cassius failed to gain momentum and was suppressed immediately.

Marcus Aurelius' Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 tome Meditations
Meditations
Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 CE, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy....

, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.

Sources


The major sources for the life and rule of Marcus Aurelius are patchy and frequently unreliable. The most important group of sources, the biographies contained in the Historia Augusta
Augustan History
The Augustan History is a late Roman collection of biographies, in Latin, of the Roman Emperors, their junior colleagues and usurpers of the period 117 to 284...

, claim to be written by a group of authors at the turn of the 4th century, but are in fact written by a single author (referred to here as "the biographer") from the later 4th century (c. 395). The later biographies and the biographies of subordinate emperors and usurpers are a tissue of lies and fiction, but the earlier biographies, derived primarily from now-lost earlier sources (Marius Maximus
Marius Maximus
Marius Maximus 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, imitating and continuing Suetonius. Marius’s work is lost, but it was still being read in the late 4th century and was used as a source by...

 or Ignotus), are much better. For Marcus' life and rule, the biographies of Hadrian, Pius, Marcus and Lucius Verus are largely reliable, but those of Aelius Verus and Avidius Cassius are full of fiction.

Tutor Fronto and various Antonine officials survives in a series of patchy manuscripts, covering the period from c. 138 to 166. Marcus' 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 Nicaea 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 detail: the writings of the physician Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

 on the habits of the Antonine elite, the orations of Aelius Aristides
Aelius Aristides
Aelius Aristides was a popular Greek orator , who lived during the Roman Empire. He is considered to be a prime example of the Second Sophistic, a group of showpiece orators who flourished from the reign of Nero until ca. 230 AD. His surname was Theodorus...

 on the temper of the times, and the constitutions preserved in the Digest and Codex Justinianus on Marcus' legal work. Inscriptions
Epigraphy
Epigraphy Epigraphy Epigraphy (from the , literally "on-writing", is the study of inscriptions or epigraphs as writing; that is, the science of identifying the graphemes and of classifying their use as to cultural context and date, elucidating their meaning and assessing what conclusions can be...

 and coin finds
Numismatics
Numismatics is the study or collection of currency, including coins, tokens, paper money, and related objects. While numismatists are often characterized as students or collectors of coins, the discipline also includes the broader study of money and other payment media used to resolve debts and the...

 supplement the literary sources.

Family, childhood, and early education, 121–136


Marcus' family originated in Ucubi, a small town southeast of Córdoba
Córdoba, Spain
-History:The first trace of human presence in the area are remains of a Neanderthal Man, dating to c. 32,000 BC. In the 8th century BC, during the ancient Tartessos period, a pre-urban settlement existed. The population gradually learned copper and silver metallurgy...

 in Iberian Baetica. The family rose to prominence in the late 1st century AD. Marcus' great-grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (I) was a senator
Roman Senate
The Senate of the Roman Republic was a political institution in the ancient Roman Republic, however, it was not an elected body, but one whose members were appointed by the consuls, and later by the censors. After a magistrate served his term in office, it usually was followed with automatic...

 and (according to the Historia Augusta) ex-praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

; in 73–74, his grandfather, Marcus Annius Verus (II)
Marcus Annius Verus
Marcus Annius Verus was a Roman man who lived in the 1st and 2nd century. He was the son of an elder Marcus Annius Verus, who gained the rank of senator and praetor. His family originated from Uccibi near Corduba in Spain...

, was made a patrician. Verus' elder son—Marcus Aurelius' father—Marcus Annius Verus (III)
Marcus Annius Verus (praetor)
Marcus Annius Verus was a distinguished Roman politician who lived in the 2nd century, served as a praetor and was the biological father of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius....

 married Domitia Lucilla
Domitia Lucilla
Domitia Lucilla Minor sometimes known as Domitia Calvilla or Lucilla , was a noble Roman woman who lived in the 2nd century....

. Lucilla was the daughter of the patrician P. Calvisius Tullus Ruso and the elder Domitia Lucilla. The elder Domitia Lucilla had inherited a great fortune (described at length in one of Pliny
Pliny the Younger
Gaius Plinius Caecilius Secundus, born Gaius Caecilius or Gaius Caecilius Cilo , better known as Pliny the Younger, was a lawyer, author, and magistrate of Ancient Rome. Pliny's uncle, Pliny the Elder, helped raise and educate him...

's letters) from her maternal grandfather and her paternal grandfather by adoption. The younger Lucilla would acquire much of her mother's wealth, including a large brickworks on the outskirts of Rome—a profitable enterprise in an era when the city was experiencing a construction boom.


Lucilla and Verus (III) had two children: a son, Marcus, born on 26 April 121, and a daughter, Annia Cornificia Faustina
Annia Cornificia Faustina
Annia Cornificia Faustina was the youngest child and only daughter to Praetor Marcus Annius Verus and Domitia Lucilla. The parents of Cornificia came from wealthy senatorial families who were of consular rank. She was born and raised in Rome. The brother of Cornificia was the future Roman Emperor...

, probably born in 122 or 123. Verus (III) probably died in 124, during his praetor
Praetor
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army, usually in the field, or the named commander before mustering the army; and an elected magistratus assigned varied duties...

ship, when Marcus was only three years old. Though he can hardly have known him, Marcus Aurelius wrote in his Meditations that he had learned "modesty and manliness" from his memories of his father and from the man's posthumous reputation. Lucilla did not remarry. Lucilla, following prevailing aristocratic customs, probably did not spend much time with her son. Marcus was in the care of "nurses". Marcus credits his mother with teaching him "religious piety, simplicity in diet" and how to avoid "the ways of the rich". In his letters, Marcus makes frequent and affectionate reference to her; he was grateful that, "although she was fated to die young, yet she spent her last years with me".

After his father's death, Aurelius was adopted by his paternal grandfather Marcus Annius Verus (II). Another man, Lucius Catilius Severus, also participated in his upbringing. Severus is described as Marcus' "maternal great-grandfather"; he is probably the stepfather of the elder Lucilla. Marcus was raised in his parents' home on the Caelian Hill
Caelian Hill
The Caelian Hill is one of the famous Seven Hills of Rome. Under reign of Tullus Hostilius, the entire population of Alba Longa was forcibly resettled on the Caelian Hill...

, a district he would affectionately refer to as "my Caelian". It was an upscale region, with few public buildings but many aristocratic villas. Marcus' grandfather owned his own palace beside the Lateran
Lateran Palace
The Lateran Palace , formally the Apostolic Palace of the Lateran , is an ancient palace of the Roman Empire and later the main Papal residence....

, where Marcus 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 Rupilia Faustina, his wife. Marcus was grateful that he did not have to live with her longer than he did.

Marcus was taught at home, in line with contemporary aristocratic trends; Marcus 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 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—Alexander of Cotiaeum
Alexander of Cotiaeum
Alexander of Cotiaeum was a Greek grammarian, who is mentioned among the instructors of the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius. We still possess an epitaph pronounced upon him by the rhetorician Aelius Aristides, who had studied under Alexander....

, Trosius Aper, and Tuticius Proculus—took over Marcus' education in about 132 or 133. Little is known of the latter two (both teachers of Latin), but Alexander was a major littérateur, the leading Homer
Homer
In the Western classical tradition Homer , is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey, and is revered as the greatest ancient Greek epic poet. These epics lie at the beginning of the Western canon of literature, and have had an enormous influence on the history of literature.When he lived is...

ic scholar of his day. Marcus thanks Alexander for his training in literary styling. Alexander's influence—an emphasis on matter over style, on careful wording, with the occasional Homeric quotation—has been detected in Marcus' Meditations.

Civic duties and family connections, 127–36



In 127, at the age of six, Marcus was enrolled in the equestrian order on the recommendation of Emperor Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

. Though this was not completely unprecedented, and other children are known to have joined the order, Marcus was still unusually young. In 128, Marcus was enrolled in the priestly college of the Salii
Salii
In ancient Roman religion, the Salii were the "leaping priests" of Mars supposed to have been introduced by King Numa Pompilius. They were twelve patrician youths, dressed as archaic warriors: an embroidered tunic, a breastplate, a short red cloak , a sword, and a spiked headdress called an apex...

. Since the standard qualifications for the college were not met—Marcus did not have two living parents—they must have been waived by Hadrian, Marcus' nominator, as a special favor to the child. Hadrian had a strong affection for the child, and nicknamed him Verissimus, "most true". Marcus took his religious duties seriously. He rose through the offices of the priesthood, becoming in turn the leader of the dance, the vates
Vates
The earliest Latin writers used vātēs to denote "prophets" and soothsayers in general; the word fell into disuse in Latin until it was revived by Virgil...

 (prophet), and the master of the order.

Hadrian did not see much of Marcus in his childhood. He spent most of his time outside Rome, on the frontier, or dealing with administrative and local affairs in the provinces. By 135, however, he had returned to Italy for good. He had grown close to Lucius Ceionius Commodus
Lucius Aelius
Lucius Aelius Caesar became the adopted son and intended successor, of Roman Emperor Hadrian , but never attained the throne....

, husband of the daughter of Gaius Avidius Nigrinus
Gaius Avidius Nigrinus
Gaius Avidius Nigrinus was a Roman that lived between the 1st and 2nd centuries.Nigrinus’ paternal and maternal ancestors were Romans of the highest political rank. He was the son of an elder Gaius Avidius Nigrinus by an unnamed mother, his brother was the consul Titus Avidius Quietus and his...

, a dear friend of Trajan who was executed for attempting to overthrow Hadrian early in his reign. In 136, shortly after Marcus assumed the toga virilis symbolizing his passage into manhood, Hadrian arranged for his engagement to one of Commodus' daughters, Ceionia Fabia
Ceionia Fabia
Ceionia Fabia 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 the Roman Senator Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar and Avidia Plautia. Her father from 136-138, was the first adopted heir and successor of the Roman Emperor...

. Marcus was made prefect of the city
Praefectus urbi
The praefectus urbanus or praefectus urbi, in English the urban prefect, was prefect of the city of Rome, and later also of Constantinople. The office originated under the Roman kings, continued during the Republic and Empire, and held high importance in late Antiquity...

 during the feriae Latinae soon after (he was probably appointed by Commodus). Although the office held no real administrative significance—the full-time prefect remained in office during the festival—it remained a prestigious office for young aristocrats and members of the imperial family. Marcus conducted himself well at the job.
Through Commodus, Marcus met Apollonius of Chalcedon, a Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 philosopher. Apollonius had taught Commodus, and would have an enormous impact on Marcus, who would later study with him regularly. He is one of only three people Marcus thanks the gods for having met. At about this time, Marcus' younger sister, Annia Cornificia, married Ummidius Quadratus, her first cousin. Domitia Lucilla
Domitia Lucilla
Domitia Lucilla Minor sometimes known as Domitia Calvilla or Lucilla , was a noble Roman woman who lived in the 2nd century....

 asked Marcus to give part of his father's inheritance to his sister. He agreed to give her all of it, content as he was with his grandfather's estate.

Succession to Hadrian, 136–38


In late 136, Hadrian almost died from hemorrhage. Convalescent in his villa
Hadrian's Villa
The Hadrian's Villa is a large Roman archaeological complex at Tivoli, Italy.- History :The villa was constructed at Tibur as a retreat from Rome for Roman Emperor Hadrian during the second and third decades of the 2nd century AD...

 at Tivoli
Tivoli, Italy
Tivoli , the classical Tibur, is an ancient Italian town in Lazio, about 30 km east-north-east of Rome, at the falls of the Aniene river where it issues from the Sabine hills...

, he selected Lucius Ceionius Commodus as his successor, and adopted him as his son. The selection was done invitis omnibus, "against the wishes of everyone"; its rationale is still unclear. After a brief stationing on the Danube frontier, Lucius returned to Rome to make an address to the senate on the first day of 138. The night before the speech, however, he grew ill, and died of a hemorrhage later in the day. On 24 January 138, Hadrian selected Aurelius Antoninus
Antoninus Pius
Antoninus Pius , also known as Antoninus, was Roman Emperor from 138 to 161. He was a member of the Nerva-Antonine dynasty and the Aurelii. He did not possess the sobriquet "Pius" until after his accession to the throne...

 as his new successor. After a few days' consideration, Antoninus accepted. He was adopted on 25 February. As part of Hadrian's terms, Antoninus adopted Marcus and Lucius Commodus
Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

, the son of Aelius. Marcus became M. Aelius Aurelius Verus; Lucius became L. Aelius Aurelius Commodus. At Hadrian's request, Antoninus' daughter Faustina was betrothed to Lucius. Marcus was appalled to learn that Hadrian had adopted him. 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
Quaestor
A Quaestor was a type of public official in the "Cursus honorum" system who supervised financial affairs. In the Roman Republic a quaestor was an elected official whereas, with the autocratic government of the Roman Empire, quaestors were simply appointed....

 before his twenty-fourth birthday. The senate complied, and Marcus served under Antoninus, consul for 139. Marcus' adoption diverted him from the typical career path of his class. But for his adoption, he probably would have become triumvir monetalis
Triumvir Monetalis
Triumvir Monetalis [English: Monetal Triumvir] was one of three officers appointed in Ancient Rome to oversee the minting of coins. The English word "money" is perhaps derived from this title.-See also:*Moneyer...

, a highly regarded post involving token administration of the state mint; after that, he could have served as tribune with a legion
Military tribune
A military tribune was an officer of the Roman army who ranked below the legate and above the centurion...

, 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
Baiae , a frazione of the comune of Bacoli) in the Campania region of Italy was a Roman seaside resort on the Bay of Naples. It was said to have been named after Baius, who was supposedly buried there. Baiae was for several hundred years a fashionable resort, especially towards the end of the Roman...

, a seaside resort on the Campania
Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

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
Pozzuoli is a city and comune of the province of Naples, in the Italian region of Campania. It is the main city of the Phlegrean peninsula.-History:Pozzuoli began as the Greek colony of Dicaearchia...

. 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 behavior, Antoninus was asked to accept the name "Pius".

Heir to Antoninus Pius, 138–45


Immediately after Hadrian's death, Antoninus approached Marcus and requested that his marriage arrangements be amended: Marcus' betrothal to Ceionia Fabia would be annulled, and he would be betrothed to Faustina, Antoninus' daughter, instead. Faustina's betrothal to Ceionia's brother Lucius Commodus would also have to be annulled. Marcus consented to Antoninus' proposal.

Pius bolstered Marcus' dignity: Marcus was made consul for 140, with Pius as his colleague, and was appointed as a seviri, one of the knights' 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 Caesar: 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—for that can happen". At the senate's request, Marcus joined all the priestly colleges (pontifices, augures, quindecimviri sacris faciundis, septemviri epulonum, etc.); direct evidence for membership, however, is available only for the Arval Brethren
Arval Brethren
In ancient Roman religion, the Arval Brethren or Arval Brothers were a body of priests who offered annual sacrifices to the Lares and gods to guarantee good harvests...

.

Pius demanded that Marcus take up residence in the House of Tiberius, the imperial palace on the Palatine. Pius also made him take up the habits of his new station, the aulicum fastigium or "pomp of the court", against Marcus' 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 Pius was absent, and would do secretarial work for the senators. His duties as consul were more significant: one of two senior representatives of the senate, he would preside over meetings and take a major role in the body's administrative functions. He felt drowned in paperwork, and complained to his tutor, Fronto
Marcus Cornelius Fronto
Marcus Cornelius Fronto , Roman grammarian, rhetorician and advocate, was born at Cirta in Numidia. He also was suffect consul of 142.- Life :Fronto, who was born a Roman citizen c...

: "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.

On 1 January 145, Marcus was made consul a second time. He might have been unwell at this time: a letter from Fronto that might have been sent at this time urges Marcus 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." Marcus was never particularly healthy or strong. The Roman historian Cassius Dio, writing of his later years, praised him for behaving dutifully in spite of his various illnesses.
In April 145, Marcus married Faustina, as had been planned since 138. Since Marcus was, by adoption, Pius' son, under Roman law he was marrying his sister; Pius would have had to formally release one or the other from his paternal authority (his patria potestas) for the ceremony to take place. Little is specifically known of the ceremony, but it is said to have been "noteworthy". Coins were issued with the heads of the couple, and Pius, as Pontifex Maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

, 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, 136–61


After taking the toga virilis in 136, Marcus probably began his training in oratory
Oratory
Oratory is a type of public speaking.Oratory may also refer to:* Oratory , a power metal band* Oratory , a place of worship* a religious order such as** Oratory of Saint Philip Neri ** Oratory of Jesus...

. He had three tutors in Greek, Aninus Macer, Caninius Celer, and Herodes Atticus
Herodes Atticus
Lucius Vibullius Hipparchus Tiberius Claudius Atticus Herodes, otherwise known as Herodes Atticus was a very distinguished, rich Greek aristocrat who served as a Roman Senator and a Sophist. He is notable as a proponent in the Second Sophistic by Philostratus.-Ancestry and Family:Herodes Atticus...

, and one in Latin, Fronto. (Fronto and Atticus, however, probably did not become his tutors until his adoption by Antoninus in 138.) The preponderance of Greek tutors indicates the importance of the language to the aristocracy of Rome. This was the age of the Second Sophistic
Second Sophistic
The Second Sophistic is a literary-historical term referring to the Greek writers who flourished from the reign of Nero until c. 230 AD and who were catalogued and celebrated by Philostratus in his Lives of the Sophists...

, a renaissance in Greek letters. Although educated in Rome, in his Meditations, Marcus would write his inmost thoughts in Greek. The latter two were the most esteemed orators of the day.


Herodes 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 and philosophic pretensions. He thought the Stoics' desire for a "lack of feeling" foolish: they would live a "sluggish, enervated life", he said. Marcus would 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
Cicero
Marcus Tullius Cicero , was a Roman philosopher, statesman, lawyer, political theorist, and Roman constitutionalist. He came from a wealthy municipal family of the equestrian order, and is widely considered one of Rome's greatest orators and prose stylists.He introduced the Romans to the chief...

, perhaps even an alternative to him. He did not care much for Herodes, 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 synonyms, and challenging minor improprieties in word choice.

A significant amount of the correspondence between Fronto and Marcus has survived. The pair were very close. "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." 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 learned 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' full-time teacher, and continued his career as an advocate. One notorious case brought him into conflict with Herodes. Marcus pleaded with Fronto, first with "advice", then as a "favor", not to attack Herodes; he had already asked Herodes to refrain from making the first blows. Fronto replied that he was surprised to discover Marcus counted Herodes as a friend (perhaps Herodes was not yet Marcus' tutor), allowed that Marcus might be correct, but nonetheless affirmed his intent to win the case by any means necessary: "...the charges are frightful and must be spoken of as frightful. Those in particular which refer to the beating and robbing I will describe in such a way 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, and showed some signs of general malaise. 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' 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' 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' sessions with Apollonius of Chalcedon and others in this circle. Fronto put an uncharitable interpretation of Marcus' "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 he would ignore his scruples.

Apollonius may have introduced Marcus to Stoic philosophy, but Quintus Junius Rusticus
Junius Rusticus
Quintus Junius Rusticus , probably a grandson of Arulenus Rusticus, was one of the teachers of the emperor Marcus Aurelius, and the most distinguished Stoic philosophers of his time...

 would have the strongest influence on the boy. He was the man Fronto recognized as having "wooed Marcus away" from oratory. He was twenty years older than Marcus, older than Fronto. As the grandson of Arulenus Rusticus
Arulenus Rusticus
Quintus Junius Arulenus Rusticus, , is more usually called Arulenus Rusticus, but sometimes also Junius Rusticus. He was a friend and follower of Thrasea Paetus, and, like the latter, an ardent admirer of Stoic philosophy...

, one of the martyrs to the tyranny of Domitian
Domitian
Domitian was Roman Emperor from 81 to 96. Domitian was the third and last emperor of the Flavian dynasty.Domitian's youth and early career were largely spent in the shadow of his brother Titus, who gained military renown during the First Jewish-Roman War...

 (r. 81–96), he was heir to the tradition of "Stoic opposition" to the "bad emperors" of the 1st century; the true successor of Seneca
Seneca the Younger
Lucius Annaeus Seneca was a Roman Stoic philosopher, statesman, dramatist, and in one work humorist, of the Silver Age of Latin literature. He was tutor and later advisor to emperor Nero...

 (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'".

Births and deaths, 147–52


On 30 November 147, Faustina gave birth to a girl, named Domitia Faustina. She was the first of at least fourteen children (including two sets of twins) that Faustina would bear over the next twenty-three years. The next day, 1 December, Pius gave Marcus the tribunician
Tribune
Tribune was a title shared by elected officials in the Roman Republic. Tribunes had the power to convene the Plebeian Council and to act as its president, which also gave them the right to propose legislation before it. They were sacrosanct, in the sense that any assault on their person was...

 power and the imperium
Imperium
Imperium is a Latin word which, in a broad sense, translates roughly as 'power to command'. In ancient Rome, different kinds of power or authority were distinguished by different terms. Imperium, referred to the sovereignty of the state over the individual...

—authority over the armies and provinces of the emperor. As tribune, Marcus had the right to bring one measure before the senate after the four Pius could introduce. His tribunican powers would be renewed, with Pius', on 10 December 147.


The first mention of Domitia in Marcus' letters reveals her as a sickly infant. "Caesar to Fronto. If the gods are willing we seem to have a hope of recovery. The diarrhoea 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
Castel Sant'Angelo
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family...

, where their epitaphs survive. They were called Titus Aurelius Antoninus and Tiberius Aelius Aurelius.

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
Iliad
The Iliad is an epic poem in dactylic hexameters, traditionally attributed to Homer. Set during the Trojan War, the ten-year siege of the city of Troy by a coalition of Greek states, it tells of the battles and events during the weeks of a quarrel between King Agamemnon and the warrior Achilles...

 what he called the "briefest and most familiar saying...enough to dispel sorrow and fear":
leaves,
the wind scatters some on the face of the ground;
like unto them are the children of men.

– Iliad 6.146
Another daughter was born on 7 March 150, Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla
Lucilla
Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla or Lucilla was the second daughter and third child of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger and an elder sister to future Roman Emperor Commodus....

. At some time between 155 and 161, probably soon after 155, Marcus' mother, Domitia Lucilla, died. Faustina probably had another daughter in 151, but the child, Annia Galeria Aurelia Faustina, might not have been born until 153. Another son, Tiberius Aelius Antoninus, was born in 152. A coin issue celebrates fecunditati Augustae, "the Augusta's fertility", depicting two girls and an infant. The boy did not survive long; on coins from 156, only the two girls were depicted. He might have died in 152, the same year as Marcus' sister, Cornificia.

By 28 March 158, however, when Marcus replied, the child 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, after one of Faustina's dead sisters, and Cornificia, after Marcus' dead sister.

Pius' last years, 152–61



In 152, Lucius was named quaestor for 153, two years before the legal age of 25 (Marcus held the office at 17). In 154, he was consul, nine years before the legal age of 32 (Marcus held the office at 18 and 23). Lucius had no other titles, except that of "son of Augustus". Lucius had a markedly different personality than 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. Pius was not fond of his adopted son's interests. He would keep Lucius in the family, but he was sure never to give the boy either power or glory. To take a typical example, Lucius would not appear on Alexandrian coinage until 160/1.

In 156, Pius turned 70. He found it difficult to keep himself upright without stays
Corset
A corset is a garment worn to hold and shape the torso into a desired shape for aesthetic or medical purposes...

. He started nibbling on dry bread to give him the strength to stay awake through his morning receptions. As Pius aged, Marcus would have taken on more administrative duties, more still when the praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect
Praetorian prefect was the title of a high office in the Roman Empire. Originating as the commander of the Praetorian Guard, the office gradually acquired extensive legal and administrative functions, with its holders becoming the Emperor's chief aides...

 (an office that was as much secretarial as military) Gavius Maximus died in 156 or 157. In 160, Marcus and Lucius were designated joint consuls for the following year. Perhaps Pius was already ill; in any case, he died before the year was out. Two days before his death, the biographer records, Pius was at his ancestral estate in Lorium
Lorium
Lorium was an ancient village of Etruria, Italy, on the Via Aurelia, 19 km west of Rome. Antoninus Pius, who was educated here, afterwards built a palace, in which he died...

. 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. He ordered that the golden statue of Fortune, which had been in the bedroom of the emperors, should go to Marcus' bedroom. Pius turned over, as if going to sleep, and died.

Accession of Marcus and Lucius, 161


After the death of Antoninus Pius, 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
Imperator
The Latin word Imperator was originally a title roughly equivalent to commander under the Roman Republic. Later it became a part of the titulature of the Roman Emperors as part of their cognomen. The English word emperor derives from imperator via Old French Empreur...

, and he would soon be formally elected as Pontifex Maximus
Pontifex Maximus
The Pontifex Maximus was the high priest of the College of Pontiffs in ancient Rome. This was the most important position in the ancient Roman religion, open only to patricians until 254 BC, when a plebeian first occupied this post...

, 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, however, had made the choice clear. It was his duty.
Although Marcus shows no personal affection for Hadrian (significantly, he does not thank him in the first book of his 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 name Augustus. Marcus became, in official titulature, Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; Lucius, forgoing his name Commodus and taking Marcus' 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
Auctoritas
Auctoritas is a Latin word and is the origin of English "authority." While historically its use in English was restricted to discussions of the political history of Rome, the beginning of phenomenological philosophy in the twentieth century expanded the use of the word.In ancient Rome, Auctoritas...

, or "authority", than Lucius. He had been consul once more than Lucius, he had shared in Pius' administration, 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
Castra Praetoria were the ancient barracks of the Praetorian Guard of Imperial Rome.-History:According to the Roman historian Suetonius, the barracks were built in 23 AD by Lucius Aelius Sejanus, the praetorian prefect serving under the emperor Tiberius, in an effort to consolidate the several...

, the camp of the praetorian guard
Praetorian Guard
The Praetorian Guard was a force of bodyguards used by Roman Emperors. The title was already used during the Roman Republic for the guards of Roman generals, at least since the rise to prominence of the Scipio family around 275 BC...

. Lucius addressed the assembled troops, which then acclaimed the pair as imperatores. Then, like every new emperor since Claudius, Lucius promised the troops a special donative. This donative, however, was twice the size of those past: 20,000 sesterces
Sestertius
The sestertius, or sesterce, was an ancient Roman coin. During the Roman Republic it was a small, silver coin issued only on rare occasions...

 (5,000 denarii
Denarius
In the Roman currency system, the denarius was a small silver coin first minted in 211 BC. It was the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased until its replacement by the antoninianus...

) 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' accession had been peaceful and unopposed, but it was good insurance against later military troubles.

Upon his accession he also devalued the Roman currency
Roman currency
The Roman currency during most of the Roman Republic and the western half of the Roman Empire consisted of coins including the aureus , the denarius , the sestertius , the dupondius , and the as...

. He decreased the silver purity of the denarius from 83.5% to 79% — the silver weight dropping from 2.68 grams to 2.57 grams. However, Marcus would later revisit the issue of currency reform.

Pius' funeral ceremonies were, in the words of the biographer, "elaborate". If his funeral followed the pattern of past funerals, his body would have been incinerated on a pyre at the Campus Martius
Campus Martius
The Campus Martius , was a publicly owned area of ancient Rome about in extent. In the Middle Ages, it was the most populous area of Rome...

, while his spirit would rise to the gods' home in the heavens. Marcus and Lucius nominated their father for deification. In contrast to their behavior during Pius' campaign to deify Hadrian, the senate did not oppose the emperors' wishes. A flamen
Flamen
In ancient Roman religion, a flamen was a priest assigned to one of fifteen deities with official cults during the Roman Republic. The most important three were the flamines maiores , who served the three chief Roman gods of the Archaic Triad. The remaining twelve were the flamines minores...

, or cultic priest, was appointed to minister the cult of the deified Pius, now Divus Antoninus. Pius' remains were laid to rest in the Hadrian's mausoleum, beside the remains of Marcus' children and of Hadrian himself. The temple he had dedicated to his wife, Diva Faustina, became the Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
Temple of Antoninus and Faustina
The Temple of Antoninus and Faustina is an ancient Roman temple in Rome, adapted to the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda. It stands in the Forum Romanum, on the Via Sacra, opposite the Regia.-The temple:...

. It survives as the church of San Lorenzo in Miranda.

In accordance with his will, Pius' 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
Lanuvium is an ancient city of Latium , some 32 km southeast of Rome, a little southwest of the Via Appia....

 to twins: T. Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus and Lucius Aurelius Commodus. Aside from the fact that the twins shared Caligula
Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

'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, 161–62


Soon after the emperors' accession, Marcus' 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") behavior. The emperors permitted free speech, evinced by the fact that the comedy writer Marullus was able to criticize them without suffering retribution. At any other time, under any other emperor, he would have been executed. But it was a peaceful time, a forgiving time. And thus, 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 Sextus Caecilius Crescens Volusianus, in charge of the imperial correspondence, was replaced with Titus Varius Clemens. Clemens was from the frontier province of Pannonia and had served in the war in 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' former tutor, had been prefectural governor of Egypt at Marcus' accession. Maecianus was recalled, made senator, and appointed prefect of the treasury (aerarium Saturni
Aerarium
Aerarium was the name given in Ancient Rome to the public treasury, and in a secondary sense to the public finances....

). He was made consul soon after. Fronto's son-in-law, Aufidius Victorinus, was appointed governor of Upper Germany
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

.

Fronto returned to his Roman townhouse at dawn on 28 March, having left his home in Cirta
Cirta
Cirta was the capital city of the ancient Kingdom of Numidia in northern Africa . Its strategically important port city was Russicada...

 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.


Lucius was less esteemed by his tutor 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—Coelius
Lucius Coelius Antipater
Lucius Coelius Antipater was a Roman jurist and historian. He is not to be confused with Coelius Sabinus, the Coelius of the Digest. He was a contemporary of C. Gracchus ; L...

 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' early reign proceeded smoothly. Marcus was able to give himself wholly to philosophy and the pursuit of popular affection. Soon, however, Marcus would find he had many anxieties. It would mean the end of the felicitas temporum ("happy times") that the coinage of 161 had so glibly proclaimed.

In the spring of 162, the Tiber
Tiber
The Tiber is the third-longest river in Italy, rising in the Apennine Mountains in Emilia-Romagna and flowing through Umbria and Lazio to the Tyrrhenian Sea. It drains a basin estimated at...

 flooded over its banks, destroying 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' early reign. Fronto felt that, because of Marcus' 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
Cleanthes
Cleanthes , of Assos, was a Greek Stoic philosopher and the successor to Zeno as the second head of the Stoic school in Athens. Originally a boxer, he came to Athens where he took up philosophy, listening to Zeno's lectures. He supported himself by working as water-carrier at night. After the...

 and Zeno
Zeno of Citium
Zeno of Citium was a Greek philosopher from Citium . Zeno was the founder of the Stoic school of philosophy, which he taught in Athens from about 300 BC. Based on the moral ideas of the Cynics, Stoicism laid great emphasis on goodness and peace of mind gained from living a life of virtue in...

, yet, against your will, not the philosopher's woolen cape." The early days of Marcus' reign were the happiest of Fronto's life: his pupil 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
Cyzicus
Cyzicus was an ancient town of Mysia in Anatolia in the current Balıkesir Province of Turkey. It was located on the shoreward side of the present Kapıdağ Peninsula , a tombolo which is said to have originally been an island in the Sea of Marmara only to be connected to the mainland in historic...

. 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, 161–66

For details, see: Roman–Parthian War of 161–66
Roman–Parthian War of 161–66
The Roman–Parthian War of 161–166 was fought between the Roman and Parthian Empires over Armenia and upper Mesopotamia...

. See also: Roman–Persian Wars

Origins to Lucius' dispatch, 161–62


On his deathbed, Pius spoke of nothing but the state and the foreign kings who had wronged him. One of those kings, Vologases IV of Parthia
Vologases IV of Parthia
Vologases IV of Parthia ruled the Parthian Empire from 147 to 191. The son of Mithridates IV of Parthia , he united the two halves of the empire which had been split between his father and Vologases III of Parthia...

, made his move in late summer or early autumn 161. Vologases entered the Kingdom of Armenia (then a Roman client state), expelled its king and installed his own—Pacorus, an Arsacid like himself. The governor of Cappadocia, the front-line 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 IX Hispana
Legio IX Hispana
Legio Nona Hispana was a Roman legion, which operated from the first century BCE until mid 2nd century CE. The Spanish Legion's disappearance has raised speculations over its fate, largely of its alleged destruction in Scotland in about 117 CE, though some scholars believe it was destroyed in the...

) into Armenia, but was trapped by the great Parthian general Chosrhoes at Elegia, a town just beyond the Cappadocian frontiers, high up past the headwaters of the Euphrates. Severianus made some attempt to fight Chosrhoes, but soon realized the futility of his campaign, and committed suicide. His legion was massacred. The campaign had only lasted three days.


There was threat of war on other frontiers as well—in Britain, and in Raetia
Raetia
Raetia was a province of the Roman Empire, named after the Rhaetian people. It was bounded on the west by the country of the Helvetii, on the east by Noricum, on the north by Vindelicia, on the west by Cisalpine Gaul and on south by Venetia et Histria...

 and Upper Germany
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

, where the Chatti
Chatti
The Chatti were an ancient Germanic tribe whose homeland was near the upper Weser. They settled in central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of the Weser River and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder, Fulda and Weser River regions, a district approximately...

 of the Taunus
Taunus
The Taunus is a low mountain range in Hesse, Germany that composes part of the Rhenish Slate Mountains. It is bounded by the river valleys of Rhine, Main and Lahn. On the opposite side of the Rhine, the mountains are continued by the Hunsrück...

 mountains had recently crossed over the limes. Marcus was unprepared. Pius seems to have given him no military experience; the biographer writes that Marcus spent the whole of Pius' 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 X Gemina
Legio X Gemina
Legio decima Gemina , was one of the four legions used by Julius Caesar in 58 BC, for his invasion of Gaul. There are still records of the X Gemina in Vienna in the beginning of the 5th century. The legion symbol was a bull...

 at Vindobona (Vienna), left for Cappadocia with detachments from the Danubian legions. Three full legions were also sent east: I Minervia
Legio I Minervia
Legio I Minervia was a Roman legion levied by emperor Domitian in 82, for the campaign against the Germanic tribe of the Chatti. Its cognomen is related to the goddess Minerva, the legion's protector. There are still records of the I Minervia in the Rhine border in the middle of the 4th century...

 from Bonn in Upper Germany, II Adiutrix
Legio II Adiutrix
Legio secunda Adiutrix , was a Roman legion levied by emperor Vespasian in 70, from Roman navy marines of the classis Ravennatis. There are still records of II Adiutrix in the Rhine border in the beginning of the 4th century...

 from Aquincum, and V Macedonica
Legio V Macedonica
Legio quinta Macedonica was a Roman legion. It was probably originally levied by consul Gaius Vibius Pansa Caetronianus and Octavian in 43 BC, and it was stationed in Moesia at least until 5th century. Its symbol was the bull, but the eagle was used as well...

 from Troesmis. The northern frontiers were strategically weakened; frontier governors were told to avoid conflict wherever possible. M. Annius Libo, Marcus' first cousin, was sent to replace the Syrian governor. He was young—his first consulship was in 161, so he was probably in his early thirties—and, as a mere patrician, lacked military experience. Marcus had chosen a reliable man rather than a talented one.

Marcus took a four-day public holiday at Alsium
Alsium
Alsium was an ancient city on the coast of Etruria, between Pyrgi and Fregenae, at the distance of 18 miles from the Portus Augusti at the mouth of the Tiber , on the Via Aurelia, by which it is about 35 km from Rome...

, a resort town on the Etruria
Etruria
Etruria—usually referred to in Greek and Latin source texts as Tyrrhenia—was a region of Central Italy, an area that covered part of what now are Tuscany, Latium, Emilia-Romagna, and Umbria. A particularly noteworthy work dealing with Etruscan locations is D. H...

n coast. He was too anxious to relax. Writing to Fronto, he declared that he would not speak about his holiday. Fronto replied ironically: "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 (Pius had enjoyed exercise in the palaestra
Palaestra
The palaestra was the ancient Greek wrestling school. The events that did not require a lot of space, such as boxing and wrestling, were practised there...

, 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 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".

Lucius at Antioch, 162–65



Over the winter of 161–62, as more bad news arrived—a rebellion was brewing in Syria—it was decided that Lucius should direct the Parthian war in person. He was stronger and healthier than Marcus, the argument went, more suited to military activity. Lucius' biographer suggests ulterior motives: to restrain Lucius' debaucheries, to make him thrifty, to reform his morals by the terror of war, 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; the city "demanded the presence of an emperor".

Lucius spent most of the campaign in Antioch, though he wintered at Laodicea
Laodicea
- Turkey :*Laodicea on the Lycus, in Phrygia*Laodicea Pontica, in the Pontus*Laodicea Combusta, in Pisidia- Other countries :* Laodicea , in Greece* Laodicea , in Iraq* Laodicea in Media, former name of Nahavand, Iran...

and summered at Daphne
Daphne
Daphne was a female minor nature deity. Pursued by Apollo, she fled and was chased. Daphne begged the gods for help, who then transformed her into Laurel.-Overview:...

, a resort just outside Antioch. Critics declaimed Lucius' luxurious lifestyle. He had taken to gambling, they said; he would "dice the whole night through". He 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' daughter Lucilla. Marcus moved up the date; perhaps he had already heard of Lucius' mistress, the low-born and beautiful 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 M. Vettulenus Civica Barbarus, the half-brother of Lucius' father. Civica was made comes
Comes
Comes , plural comites , is the Latin word for companion, either individually or as a member of a collective known as comitatus, especially the suite of a magnate, in some cases large and/or formal enough to have a specific name, such as a cohors amicorum. The word comes derives from com- "with" +...

 Augusti, "companion of the emperors"; perhaps Marcus wanted him 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); this did not happen. Marcus only accompanied the group as far as Brundisium, where they boarded a ship for the east. Marcus returned to Rome immediately thereafter, and sent out special instructions to his proconsuls not to give the group any official reception.

Counterattack and victory, 163–66


The Armenian capital Artaxata
Artashat
Artashat , is a city on Araks River in the Ararat valley, 30 km southeast of Yerevan. Being one of the oldest cities of Armenia, Artashat is the capital of Ararat Province. Modern Artashat is situated on the Yerevan-Nakhichevan-Baku and Nakhichevan-Tabriz railway and on...

 was captured in 163. At the end of the year, Verus 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, Gaius Julius Sohaemus
Sohaemus of Armenia
Gaius Julius Sohaemus, also known as Sohaemus of Armenia and Sohaemo was an Emesene Aristocrat from Syria who served as a Roman Client King of Armenia....

. 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 Sohamenus stood before him, saluting the emperor.

In 163, the Parthians intervened in Osroene
Osroene
Osroene, also spelled Osrohene and Osrhoene and sometimes known by the name of its capital city, Edessa , was a historic Syriac kingdom located in Mesopotamia, which enjoyed semi-autonomy to complete independence from the years of 132 BC to AD 244.It was a Syriac-speaking kingdom.Osroene, or...

, a Roman client in upper Mesopotamia centered on Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

, 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 south-west 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' army had reached the twin metropolises of Mesopotamia: Seleucia
Seleucia
Seleucia was the first capital of the Seleucid Empire, and one of the great cities of antiquity standing in Mesopotamia, on the Tigris River.Seleucia may refer to:...

 on the right bank of the Tigris and Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

 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
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

, one of Alexander the Great's successor kingdoms
Diadochi
The Diadochi were the rival generals, family and friends of Alexander the Great who fought for the control of Alexander's empire after his death in 323 BC...

), opened its gates to the invaders. The city got sacked nonetheless, leaving a black mark on Lucius' reputation. Excuses were sought, or invented: the official version had it that the Seleucids broke faith first.

Cassius' 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' army returned to the field in 166, crossing over the Tigris into 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.

Conclusion of the war and events at Rome, mid-160s–167


Most of the credit for the war's success must be ascribed to subordinate generals, the most prominent of which was C. Avidius Cassius
Avidius Cassius
Gaius Avidius Cassius was a Roman general and usurper who briefly ruled Egypt and Syria in 175.-Origins:He was the son of Gaius Avidius Heliodorus, a noted orator who was Prefect of Egypt from 137 to 142 under Hadrian, and wife Junia Cassia Alexandra...

, commander of III Gallica, one of the Syrian legions. Cassius was a young senator of low birth from the north Syrian town of Cyrrhus
Cyrrhus, Syria
Cyrrhus, or Kyrros was a city in ancient Syria founded by Seleucus Nicator, one of Alexander the Great's generals. Other names for the city include Hagioupolis, Nebi Huri نبي حوري, Khoros . Its ruins are located in northern Syria, near the Turkish border. It lies about 70 km northwest of Aleppo...

. His father, Heliodorus, had not been a senator, but was nonetheless a man of some standing: he had been Hadrian's ab epistulis, followed the emperor on his travels, and was prefect of Egypt at the end of Hadrian's reign. Cassius also, with no small sense of self-worth, claimed descent from the Seleucid kings
Seleucid Empire
The Seleucid Empire was a Greek-Macedonian state that was created out of the eastern conquests of Alexander the Great. At the height of its power, it included central Anatolia, the Levant, Mesopotamia, Persia, today's Turkmenistan, Pamir and parts of Pakistan.The Seleucid Empire was a major centre...

. Cassius and his fellow commander in the war, Martius Verus, still probably in their mid-thirties, took the consulships for 166. After their consulships, they were made governors: Cassius, of Syria; Martius Verus, of Cappadocia.

At Rome, Marcus was occupied with family matters. Matidia, his great-aunt, had died. Her will was invalid under the lex Falcidia: Matidia had assigned more than three-quarters of her estate to non-relatives; her clients had convinced her to include them in codicils
Codicil (will)
A codicil is a document that amends, rather than replaces, a previously executed will. Amendments made by a codicil may add or revoke small provisions , or may completely change the majority, or all, of the gifts under the will...

 to her will. Matidia had never confirmed the documents, but, as she lay unconscious, her clients had sealed them in with the original, making them valid. It was an embarrassing situation. Fronto urged Marcus to push the family's case; Marcus demurred. He was going to consult his brother, who would make the final call.

On the return from the campaign, Lucius was awarded with a triumph
Roman triumph
The Roman triumph was a civil ceremony and religious rite of ancient Rome, held to publicly celebrate and sanctify the military achievement of an army commander who had won great military successes, or originally and traditionally, one who had successfully completed a foreign war. In Republican...

; the parade was unusual because it included the two emperors, their sons and unmarried daughters as a big family celebration. Marcus Aurelius' two sons, Commodus
Commodus
Commodus , was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father's death in 180. His name changed throughout his reign; see changes of name for earlier and later forms. His accession as emperor was the first time a son had succeeded...

 five years old and Annius Verus of three, were elevated to the status of Caesar for the occasion.

The returning army carried with them a plague, afterwards known as the Antonine Plague
Antonine Plague
The Antonine Plague, AD 165–180, also known as the Plague of Galen, who described it, was an ancient pandemic, either of smallpox or measles, brought back to the Roman Empire by troops returning from campaigns in the Near East...

, or the Plague of Galen
Galen
Aelius Galenus or Claudius Galenus , better known as Galen of Pergamon , was a prominent Roman physician, surgeon and philosopher...

, which spread through the Roman Empire between 165 and 180. The disease was a pandemic
Pandemic
A pandemic is an epidemic of infectious disease that is spreading through human populations across a large region; for instance multiple continents, or even worldwide. A widespread endemic disease that is stable in terms of how many people are getting sick from it is not a pandemic...

 believed to be either of smallpox
Smallpox
Smallpox was an infectious disease unique to humans, caused by either of two virus variants, Variola major and Variola minor. The disease is also known by the Latin names Variola or Variola vera, which is a derivative of the Latin varius, meaning "spotted", or varus, meaning "pimple"...

 or measles
Measles
Measles, also known as rubeola or morbilli, is an infection of the respiratory system caused by a virus, specifically a paramyxovirus of the genus Morbillivirus. Morbilliviruses, like other paramyxoviruses, are enveloped, single-stranded, negative-sense RNA viruses...

, and would ultimately claim the lives of two Roman emperors—Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus
Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

, who died in 169, and Marcus Aurelius, whose family name, Antoninus, was given to the epidemic. The disease broke out again nine years later, according to the Roman historian Dio Cassius
Dio Cassius
Lucius Cassius Dio Cocceianus , known in English as Cassius Dio, Dio Cassius, or Dio was a Roman consul and a noted historian writing in Greek...

, and caused up to 2,000 deaths a day at Rome, one quarter of those infected. Total deaths have been estimated at five million.

A possible contact with Han China
Han Dynasty
The Han Dynasty was the second imperial dynasty of China, preceded by the Qin Dynasty and succeeded by the Three Kingdoms . It was founded by the rebel leader Liu Bang, known posthumously as Emperor Gaozu of Han. It was briefly interrupted by the Xin Dynasty of the former regent Wang Mang...

 occurred in 166 when a Roman traveller visited the Han court
Sino-Roman relations
Romano-Chinese relations were essentially indirect throughout the existence of both empires. The Roman Empire and Han China progressively inched closer in the course of the Roman expansion into the Ancient Near East and simultaneous Chinese military incursions into Central Asia...

, claiming to be an ambassador representing a certain Andun (Chinese
Chinese language
The Chinese language is a language or language family consisting of varieties which are mutually intelligible to varying degrees. Originally the indigenous languages spoken by the Han Chinese in China, it forms one of the branches of Sino-Tibetan family of languages...

: 安敦), who can be identified either with Marcus Aurelius or his predecessor Antoninus Pius.

Legal and administrative work, 161–80


Like many emperors, Marcus spent most of his time addressing matters of law such as petitions and hearing disputes. Marcus 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 shows 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).
In 168 he revalued the denarius
Denarius
In the Roman currency system, the denarius was a small silver coin first minted in 211 BC. It was the most common coin produced for circulation but was slowly debased until its replacement by the antoninianus...

, increasing the silver purity from 79% to 82% — the actual silver weight increasing from 2.57 grams to 2.67 grams. However, two years later Marcus reverted to the previous values because of the military crises facing the empire.

Germania and the Danube

For details, see: Marcomannic Wars
Marcomannic Wars
The Marcomannic Wars were a series of wars lasting over a dozen years from about AD 166 until 180. These wars pitted the Roman Empire against the Marcomanni, Quadi and other Germanic peoples, along both sides of the upper and middle Danube...


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. L. Dasumius Tullius Tuscus, a distant relative of Hadrian, was in Upper Pannonia, succeeding the experienced M. Nonius Macrinus. Lower Pannonia was under the obscure Ti. Haterius Saturnius. M. Servilius Fabianus Maximus was shuffled from Lower Moesia to Upper Moesia when Iallius Bassus had joined Lucius in Antioch. Lower Moesia was filled by Pontius Laelianus' 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 northern border
Limes Germanicus
The Limes Germanicus was a line of frontier fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdued Germanic tribes from the years 83 to about 260 AD...

, particularly into Gaul
Gaul
Gaul was a region of Western Europe during the Iron Age and Roman era, encompassing present day France, Luxembourg and Belgium, most of Switzerland, the western part of Northern Italy, as well as the parts of the Netherlands and Germany on the left bank of the Rhine. The Gauls were the speakers of...

 and across the Danube. This new impetus westwards was probably due to attacks from tribes farther east. A first invasion of the Chatti
Chatti
The Chatti were an ancient Germanic tribe whose homeland was near the upper Weser. They settled in central and northern Hesse and southern Lower Saxony, along the upper reaches of the Weser River and in the valleys and mountains of the Eder, Fulda and Weser River regions, a district approximately...

 in the province of Germania Superior
Germania Superior
Germania Superior , so called for the reason that it lay upstream of Germania Inferior, was a province of the Roman Empire. It comprised an area of western Switzerland, the French Jura and Alsace regions, and southwestern Germany...

 was repulsed in 162. Far more dangerous was the invasion of 166, when the Marcomanni
Marcomanni
The Marcomanni were a Germanic tribe, probably related to the Buri, Suebi or Suevi.-Origin:Scholars believe their name derives possibly from Proto-Germanic forms of "march" and "men"....

 of Bohemia, clients of the Roman Empire since 19, crossed the Danube together with the Lombards
Lombards
The Lombards , also referred to as Longobards, were a Germanic tribe of Scandinavian origin, who from 568 to 774 ruled a Kingdom in Italy...

 and other German tribes. At the same time, the Iranian Sarmatians
Sarmatians
The Iron Age Sarmatians were an Iranian people in Classical Antiquity, flourishing from about the 5th century BC to the 4th century AD....

 attacked between the Danube and the Theiss
Tisza
The Tisza or Tisa is one of the main rivers of Central Europe. It rises in Ukraine, and is formed near Rakhiv by the junction of headwaters White Tisa, whose source is in the Chornohora mountains and Black Tisa, which springs in the Gorgany range...

 rivers.

Due to the situation in the East, only a punitive expedition
Punitive expedition
A punitive expedition is a military journey undertaken to punish a state or any group of persons outside the borders of the punishing state. It is usually undertaken in response to perceived disobedient or morally wrong behavior, but may be also be a covered revenge...

 could be launched in 167. Both Marcus and Verus led the troops. After the death of Verus (169), Marcus led personally the struggle against the Germans for the great part of his remaining life. The Romans suffered at least two serious defeats by the Quadi
Quadi
The Quadi were a smaller Germanic tribe, about which little is definitively known. We only know the Germanic tribe the Romans called the 'Quadi' through reports of the Romans themselves...

 and Marcomanni, who could cross the Alps, ravage Opitergium (Oderzo
Oderzo
Oderzo is a town and comune in the province of Treviso, Veneto, northern Italy.It lies in the heart of the Venetian plain, about 66 km to the northeast of Venice...

) and besiege Aquileia
Aquileia
Aquileia is an ancient Roman city in what is now Italy, at the head of the Adriatic at the edge of the lagoons, about 10 km from the sea, on the river Natiso , the course of which has changed somewhat since Roman times...

, the main Roman city of north-east Italy. At the same time the Costoboci
Costoboci
The Costoboci were an ancient people located, during the Roman imperial era, between the Carpathian Mountains and the river Dniester.The Costoboci invaded the Roman empire in AD 170 or 171, pillaging its Balkan provinces as far as central Greece, until they were driven out by Romans...

, coming from the Carpathian
Carpathian Mountains
The Carpathian Mountains or Carpathians are a range of mountains forming an arc roughly long across Central and Eastern Europe, making them the second-longest mountain range in Europe...

 area, invaded Moesia
Moesia
Moesia was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans, along the south bank of the Danube River. It included territories of modern-day Southern Serbia , Northern Republic of Macedonia, Northern Bulgaria, Romanian Dobrudja, Southern Moldova, and Budjak .-History:In ancient...

, Macedonia
Macedonia (Roman province)
The Roman province of Macedonia was officially established in 146 BC, after the Roman general Quintus Caecilius Metellus defeated Andriscus of Macedon, the last Ancient King of Macedon in 148 BC, and after the four client republics established by Rome in the region were dissolved...

 and Greece. After a long struggle, Marcus Aurelius managed to push back the invaders. Numerous Germans settled in frontier regions like Dacia
Dacia
In ancient geography, especially in Roman sources, Dacia was the land inhabited by the Dacians or Getae as they were known by the Greeks—the branch of the Thracians north of the Haemus range...

, Pannonia
Pannonia
Pannonia was an ancient province of the Roman Empire bounded north and east by the Danube, coterminous westward with Noricum and upper Italy, and southward with Dalmatia and upper Moesia....

, 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 and Hungary.

The emperor's plans were, however, prevented by a revolt in East, led by Avidius Cassius, which was prompted by false news of the death of Marcus after an illness. Of the eastern provinces, only Cappadocia
Cappadocia
Cappadocia is a historical region in Central Anatolia, largely in Nevşehir Province.In the time of Herodotus, the Cappadocians were reported as occupying the whole region from Mount Taurus to the vicinity of the Euxine...

 and Bithynia
Bithynia
Bithynia was an ancient region, kingdom and Roman province in the northwest of Asia Minor, adjoining the Propontis, the Thracian Bosporus and the Euxine .-Description:...

 did not side with the rebels. When it became clear that Marcus Aurelius was still alive, Cassius' fortunes declined quickly and he was killed by his troops after only 100 days of power.

Together with his wife Faustina, Marcus Aurelius toured the eastern provinces until 173. He visited Athens, declaring himself a protector of philosophy. After a triumph in Rome, the following year he marched again to the Danubian frontier. After a decisive victory in 178, the plan to annex Bohemia
Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

  seemed poised for success but was abandoned after Marcus Aurelius again fell ill in 180.

Death and succession


Marcus Aurelius died on 17 March 180, in the city of Vindobona (modern Vienna
Vienna
Vienna is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Austria and one of the nine states of Austria. Vienna is Austria's primary city, with a population of about 1.723 million , and is by far the largest city in Austria, as well as its cultural, economic, and political centre...

). He was immediately deified and his ashes were returned to Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

, and rested in Hadrian
Hadrian
Hadrian , was Roman Emperor from 117 to 138. He is best known for building Hadrian's Wall, which marked the northern limit of Roman Britain. In Rome, he re-built the Pantheon and constructed the Temple of Venus and Roma. In addition to being emperor, Hadrian was a humanist and was philhellene in...

's mausoleum
Mausoleum
A mausoleum is an external free-standing building constructed as a monument enclosing the interment space or burial chamber of a deceased person or persons. A monument without the interment is a cenotaph. A mausoleum may be considered a type of tomb or the tomb may be considered to be within the...

 (modern Castel Sant'Angelo
Castel Sant'Angelo
The Mausoleum of Hadrian, usually known as the Castel Sant'Angelo, is a towering cylindrical building in Parco Adriano, Rome, Italy. It was initially commissioned by the Roman Emperor Hadrian as a mausoleum for himself and his family...

) until the Visigoth
Visigoth
The Visigoths were one of two main branches of the Goths, the Ostrogoths being the other. These tribes were among the Germans who spread through the late Roman Empire during the Migration Period...

 sack of the city
Sack of Rome (410)
The Sack of Rome occurred on August 24, 410. The city was attacked by the Visigoths, led by Alaric I. At that time, Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Roman Empire, replaced in this position initially by Mediolanum and then later Ravenna. Nevertheless, the city of Rome retained a...

 in 410
410
Year 410 was a common year starting on Saturday of the Julian calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year after the Consulship of Honorius and Theodosius...

. His campaigns against Germans and Sarmatians were also commemorated by a column
Column of Marcus Aurelius
The Column of Marcus Aurelius is a Roman victory column in Piazza Colonna, Rome, Italy. It is a Doric column featuring a spiral relief: it was built in honour of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and modeled on Trajan's Column.- Construction :...

 and a temple
Temple of Marcus Aurelius
The Temple of Marcus Aurelius was a temple in Rome dedicated to the deified Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius by his son Commodus. The temple has no surviving archaeological remains, but was probably sited just to the west of the column of Marcus Aurelius, where now stands the Palazzo Wedekind on...

 built in Rome
Rome
Rome is the capital of Italy and the country's largest and most populated city and comune, with over 2.7 million residents in . The city is located in the central-western portion of the Italian Peninsula, on the Tiber River within the Lazio region of Italy.Rome's history spans two and a half...

.

Marcus gave the succession to his son Commodus
Commodus
Commodus , was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father's death in 180. His name changed throughout his reign; see changes of name for earlier and later forms. His accession as emperor was the first time a son had succeeded...

, whom he had named Caesar in 166 and made co-emperor in 177. This decision, putting an end to the series of "adoptive emperors", was highly criticized by later historians since Commodus was a political and military outsider, as well as an extreme egotist with neurotic problems.

At the end of his history of Marcus' reign, Cassius Dio wrote an encomium
Encomium
Encomium is a Latin word deriving from the Classical Greek ἐγκώμιον meaning the praise of a person or thing. "Encomium" also refers to several distinct aspects of rhetoric:* A general category of oratory* A method within rhetorical pedagogy...

 to the emperor, and described the transition to Commodus, to Dio's own times, with sorrow.
...[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.– Cassius Dio 71.36.3–4


Michael Grant, in The Climax of Rome (1968), 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 involved one of the civil wars which were to proliferate so disastrous around future successions."

Legacy and reputation


Marcus Aurelius acquired the reputation of a philosopher king
Philosopher king
Philosopher kings are the rulers, or Guardians, of Plato's Utopian Kallipolis. If his ideal city-state is to ever come into being, "philosophers [must] become kings…or those now called kings [must]…genuinely and adequately philosophize" .-In Book VI of The Republic:Plato defined a philosopher...

 within his lifetime, and the title would remain his after death; both Dio and the biographer call him "the philosopher". Christians—Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr
Justin Martyr, also known as just Saint Justin , was an early Christian apologist. Most of his works are lost, but two apologies and a dialogue survive. He is considered a saint by the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church....

, Athenagoras, Melito—gave him the title too. The last named went so far as to call Marcus "more philanthropic and philosophic" than Pius and Hadrian, and set him against the persecuting emperors Domitian and Nero to make the contrast bolder. "Alone of the emperors," wrote the historian Herodian, "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."

The 2000 movie Gladiator
Gladiator (2000 film)
Gladiator is a 2000 historical epic film directed by Ridley Scott, starring Russell Crowe, Joaquin Phoenix, Connie Nielsen, Ralf Möller, Oliver Reed, Djimon Hounsou, Derek Jacobi, John Shrapnel and Richard Harris. Crowe portrays the loyal Roman General Maximus Decimus Meridius, who is betrayed...

 featured a character based on him.

Marriage and issue



Aurelius married his first cousin
Cousin marriage
Cousin marriage is marriage between two cousins. In various jurisdictions and cultures, such marriages range from being considered ideal and actively encouraged, to being uncommon but still legal, to being seen as incest and legally prohibited....

 Faustina the Younger
Faustina the Younger
Annia Galeria Faustina Minor , Faustina Minor or Faustina the Younger was a daughter of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius and Roman Empress Faustina the Elder. She was a Roman Empress and wife to her maternal cousin Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius...

 in 145. During their 30-year marriage Faustina bore 13 children. Only one son and four daughters outlived their father:
  1. Annia Aurelia Galeria Faustina
    Annia Aurelia Galeria Faustina
    Annia Aurelia Galeria Faustina , was a Roman Princess. She was the first born daughter and child to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger. Her younger sister was Roman Empress Lucilla and younger brother was Roman Emperor Commodus...

     (147–after 165)
  2. Gemellus Lucillae (died around 150), twin brother of Lucilla
  3. Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla
    Lucilla
    Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla or Lucilla was the second daughter and third child of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger and an elder sister to future Roman Emperor Commodus....

     (148/50–182), twin sister of Gemellus, married her father's co-ruler Lucius Verus
    Lucius Verus
    Lucius Verus , was Roman co-emperor with Marcus Aurelius, from 161 until his death.-Early life and career:Lucius Verus was the first born son to Avidia Plautia and Lucius Aelius Verus Caesar, the first adopted son and heir of Roman Emperor Hadrian . He was born and raised in Rome...

  4. Titus Aelius Antoninus (born after 150, died before 7 March 161)
  5. Titus Aelius Aurelius (born after 150, died before 7 March 161)
  6. Hadrianus (152–157)
  7. Domitia Faustina (born after 150, died before 7 March 161)
  8. Annia Aurelia Fadilla
    Fadilla
    Annia Aurelia Fadilla, most commonly known as Fadilla was an influential Roman Princess and was one of the daughters born to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger. She was a sister to Roman Empress Lucilla and Roman Emperor Commodus. Fadilla was named in honor of her...

     (159–after 211)
  9. Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor
    Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor
    Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor was a Roman princess and daughter of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger. She was sister to Roman Empress Lucilla and Roman Emperor Commodus...

     (160–after 211)
  10. Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus (161–165), twin brother of Commodus
  11. Lucius Aurelius Commodus Antoninus (Commodus
    Commodus
    Commodus , was Roman Emperor from 180 to 192. He also ruled as co-emperor with his father Marcus Aurelius from 177 until his father's death in 180. His name changed throughout his reign; see changes of name for earlier and later forms. His accession as emperor was the first time a son had succeeded...

    ) (161–192), twin brother of Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus, later emperor
  12. Marcus Annius Verus Caesar
    Marcus Annius Verus Caesar
    Marcus Annius Verus Caesar was one of the thirteen children born to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger....

     (162–169)
  13. Vibia Aurelia Sabina
    Vibia Aurelia Sabina
    Vibia Aurelia Sabina was a Roman Princess, she was the youngest daughter and child born to Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Roman Empress Faustina the Younger. She was a sister to Roman Empress Lucilla and Roman Emperor Commodus...

     (170–died before 217)

Writings



While on campaign between 170 and 180, Aurelius wrote his Meditations
Meditations
Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 CE, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy....

 in Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. The title of this work was added posthumously—originally he entitled his work simply: 'To Myself'. He had been a priest at the sacrificial altars of Roman service and was an eager patriot. He had a logical mind and his notes were representative of Stoic
Stoicism
Stoicism is a school of Hellenistic philosophy founded in Athens by Zeno of Citium in the early . The Stoics taught that destructive emotions resulted from errors in judgment, and that a sage, or person of "moral and intellectual perfection," would not suffer such emotions.Stoics were concerned...

 philosophy and spirituality. Meditations
Meditations
Meditations is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 CE, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy....

 is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty. The book has been a favourite of Frederick the Great, John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill
John Stuart Mill was a British philosopher, economist and civil servant. An influential contributor to social theory, political theory, and political economy, his conception of liberty justified the freedom of the individual in opposition to unlimited state control. He was a proponent of...

, Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold
Matthew Arnold was a British poet and cultural critic who worked as an inspector of schools. He was the son of Thomas Arnold, the famed headmaster of Rugby School, and brother to both Tom Arnold, literary professor, and William Delafield Arnold, novelist and colonial administrator...

, Goethe and Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao
Wen Jiabao is the sixth and current Premier and Party secretary of the State Council of the People's Republic of China, serving as China's head of government and leading its cabinet. In his capacity as Premier, Wen is regarded as the leading figure behind China's economic policy...

.

It is not known how far Marcus' writings were circulated after his death. There are stray references in the ancient literature to the popularity of his precepts, and Julian the Apostate
Julian the Apostate
Julian "the Apostate" , commonly known as Julian, or also Julian the Philosopher, was Roman Emperor from 361 to 363 and a noted philosopher and Greek writer....

 was well aware of Marcus' reputation as a philosopher, though he does not specifically mention the Meditations. The book itself, though mentioned in correspondence by Arethas of Caesarea
Arethas of Caesarea
Arethas of Caesarea became Archbishop of Caesarea early in the 10th century, and is reckoned one of the most scholarly theologians of the Greek Orthodox Church.-Life:He was born at Patrae . He was a disciple of Photius...

 in the 10th century and in the Byzantine Suda
Suda
The Suda or Souda is a massive 10th century Byzantine encyclopedia of the ancient Mediterranean world, formerly attributed to an author called Suidas. It is an encyclopedic lexicon, written in Greek, with 30,000 entries, many drawing from ancient sources that have since been lost, and often...

, was first published in 1558 in Zurich by Wilhelm Holzmann, from a manuscript copy that is now lost. The only other surviving complete copy of the manuscript is in the Vatican library
Vatican Library
The Vatican Library is the library of the Holy See, currently located in Vatican City. It is one of the oldest libraries in the world and contains one of the most significant collections of historical texts. Formally established in 1475, though in fact much older, it has 75,000 codices from...

.

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' Loeb edition.

Ancient sources


  • Aelius Aristides. Orationes (Orations).
  • Aurelius Victor. De Caesaribus.
  • Codex Justinianus.
  • Scott, Samuel P., trans. The Code of Justinian, in The Civil Law. 17 vols. 1932. Online at the Constitution Society. Accessed 31 August 2009.
  • Digest.
  • Scott, S.P., trans. The Digest or Pandects in The Civil Law. 17 vols. Cincinnati: Central Trust Company, 1932. Online at the Constitution Society. Accessed 31 August 2009.
  • Cassius Dio. Roman History.
  • Cary, Earnest, trans. Roman History. 9 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1914–27. Online at LacusCurtius. Accessed 26 August 2009.
  • Epitome de Caesaribus.
  • Banchich, Thomas M., trans. A Booklet About the Style of Life and the Manners of the Imperatores. Canisius College Translated Texts 1. Buffalo, NY: Canisius College, 2009. Online at De Imperatoribus Romanis. Accessed 31 August 2009.
  • Fronto, Marcus Cornelius.
  • Haines, Charles Reginald, trans. The Correspondence of Marcus Cornelius Fronto. 2 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1920. Online at the Internet Archive: Vol. 1, 2. Accessed 26 August 2009.
  • Galen.
  • ad Pisonem de Theriaca.
  • de Antidotis.
  • Gellius, Aulus. Noctes Atticae (Attic Nights).
  • Rolfe, J.C., trans. The Attic Nights of Aulus Gellius. 3 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1927–28. Vols. 1 and 2 online at LacusCurtius. Accessed 26 August 2009.
  • Herodian. Ab Excessu Divi Marci (History of the Roman Empire from the Death of Marcus Aurelius).
  • Echols, Edward C., trans. Herodian of Antioch's History of the Roman Empire. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1961. Online at Tertullian and Livius. Accessed 14 September 2009.
  • Institutes.
  • Scott, S.P., trans. Institutes of Gaius in The Civil Law. 17 vols. Cincinnati: Central Trust Company, 1932. Online at the Constitution Society. Accessed 31 August 2009.
  • Lucian.
  • Alexander.
  • Harmon, A.M., trans. The Works of Lucian of Samosata. 9 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1936. Alexander online at Tertullian. Accessed 26 August 2009.
    • Historia Quomodo Conscribenda (The Way to Write History).
  • Fowler, H.W., and H.G., trans. The Works of Lucian of Samosata. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905. The Way to Write History, in volume 2, online at Sacred Texts, based on the Gutenberg e-text. Accessed 26 August 2009.
    • Imagines (Essays in Portraiture [Images]).
  • Fowler, H.W., and H.G., trans. The Works of Lucian of Samosata. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905. A Portrait Study, in volume 3, online at Sacred Texts, based on the Gutenberg e-text. Accessed 26 August 2009.
    • Pro Imaginibus (Essays in Portraiture Defended).
  • Fowler, H.W., and H.G., trans. The Works of Lucian of Samosata. 4 vols. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1905. Defence of the 'Portrait-Study, in volume 3, online at Sacred Texts, based on the Gutenberg e-text. Accessed 26 August 2009.
    • Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Meditations.
    • Farquharson, A.S.L., trans. Meditations. New York: Knopf, 1946, rept. 1992.
    • Pausanias. Description of Greece.
    • Jones, W.H.S., and H.A. Omerod, trans. Pausanias' Description of Greece. 4 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1918. Online at Theoi and Perseus at Tufts. Accessed 27 August 2009.
    • Philostratus. Heroicus (On Heroes).
    • Aiken, Ellen Bradshaw, and Jennifer K. Berenson Maclean, trans. On Heroes. Washington, DC: Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies, 2007. Online at Harvard University Centre for Hellenic Studies. Accessed 27 August 2009.
    • Quintilian. Institutio Oratoria (Institutes of Oratory).
    • Butler, H.E., trans. The Orator's Education. 5 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1920–22. Online at LacusCurtius. Accessed 14 September 2009.
    • Scriptores Historiae Augustae (Authors of the Historia Augusta). Historia Augusta (Augustan History).
    • Magie, David, trans. Historia Augusta. 3 vols. Loeb ed. London: Heinemann, 1921–32. Online at LacusCurtius. Accessed 26 August 2009.
    • Birley, Anthony R., trans. Lives of the Later Caesars. London: Penguin, 1976.
    • Themistius. Orationes (Orations).


Modern sources


  • Astarita, Maria L. Avidio Cassio (in Italian). Rome: Edizione di Storia e Letteratura, 1983.
  • Barnes, Timothy D. "Hadrian and Lucius Verus." Journal of Roman Studies 57:1–2 (1967): 65–79.
  • Birley, Anthony R. Marcus Aurelius: A Biography. New York: Routledge, 1966, rev. 1987. ISBN 0-415-17125-3
  • Birley, Anthony R. "Hadrian to the Antonines." In The Cambridge Ancient History Volume XI: The High Empire, A.D. 70–192, edited by Alan Bowman, Peter Garnsey, and Dominic Rathbone, 132–94. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-521-26335-1
  • Champlin, Edward. "The Chronology of Fronto." Journal of Roman Studies 64 (1974): 136–59.
  • Champlin, Edward. Fronto and Antonine Rome. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1980. ISBN 0-674-32668-7
  • Millar, Fergus. The Roman Near East: 31 BC – AD 337. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-674-77886-3
  • McLynn, Frank. Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor. London: Bodley Head, 2009. ISBN 9780224072922 online review
  • Stertz, Stephen A. "Marcus Aurelius as Ideal Emperor in Late-Antique Greek Thought." The Classical World 70:7 (1977): 433–39.
  • Syme, Ronald. "The Ummidii." Historia 17:1 (1968): 72–105.



External links