Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius (Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus) (mär´kəs ôrē´lēəs), 121–180, Roman emperor, named originally Marcus Annius Verus. He was a nephew of Faustina, the wife of Antoninus Pius, who adopted him. Marcus married Antoninus' daughter, another Faustina. From youth he was a diligent student and a zealous Stoic. With his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, as colleague, Marcus succeeded Antoninus in 161. Verus allowed him to dominate, and from 169 Marcus was sole emperor. His reign was spent defending the empire against Parthians, Germans, and Britons. He won a victory over the Marcomanni (167–168), which was commemorated by the Antonine column (Piazza Colonna, Rome), erected by his son and successor, Commodus. Devoted to his duty and humanitarian in his conception of it, Marcus Aurelius was concerned with improving living conditions for the poor, particularly minors. He was always lenient with political criminals and tried to decrease the brutality at gladiatorial shows. He did, however, persecute the Christians, whom he regarded as natural enemies of the empire. His Meditations, available in several translations, expresses with great beauty and humanity a philosophy with a Stoic basis. The virtuous character of Marcus Aurelius is revealed in his letters to his tutor Fronto.

See biography by A. R. Birley (1966); study by J. H. Oliver (1970).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Marcus Aurelius: Selected full-text books and articles

FREE! Marcus Aurelius Antoninus By Paul Barron Watson Harper and Brothers, 1884
Marcus Aurelius Becomes Emperor of Rome: March 8th 161 By Cavendish, Richard History Today, Vol. 61, No. 3, March 2011
FREE! Selections from the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius By Marcus Aurelius; Benjamin E. Smith Century, 1899
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
The Roman World, 44 BC-AD 180 By Jane Sherwood; Martin Goodman Routledge, 1997
The Roman Mind: Studies in the History of Thought from Cicero to Marcus Aurelius By M. L. Clarke Harvard University Press, 1956
Librarian's tip: Marcus Aurelius is discussed in multiple chapters.
FREE! Roman Society from Nero to Marcus Aurelius By Samuel Dill MacMillan, 1905 (2nd edition)
Librarian's tip: Marcus Aurelius is discussed in multiple chapters.
Marcus Aurelius in Love: Marcus Aurelius & Marcus Cornelius Fronto By Marcus Aurelius; Marcus Cornelius Fronto; Amy Richlin; Amy Richlin University of Chicago Press, 2006
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Ethics and Rhetoric: Classical Essays for Donald Russell on His Seventy-Fifth Birthday By D. A. Russell; Doreen Innes; Harry Hine; Christopher Pelling Oxford University, 1995
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