Marcus Aurelius Facts

Marcus Aurelius Facts
Marcus Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD, who left behind perhaps one of the most interesting and important legacies of all the emperors from the late-early Empire. Aurelius was an active warrior emperor, having protected Roman interests and territory from the powerful Parthian Empire to the east and the ever bellicose Germans to the north, whose numbers and influence was expanding greatly in the second century. Aurelius was know for being a scholar and a philosopher even more so than a warrior. Like most emperors of the period, Aurelius was educated in both Latin and Greek and became a follower of the Stoic philosophy later in his life. He wrote a Greek language book titled Meditations, where he outlined his Stoic philosophy and the best course for one to have a happy and productive life. Marcus Aurelius was born Marcus Annius Verus on April 26, AD 121 in Rome, the Roman Empire, to Marcus Annius Veras and Domitia Lucilia. He was born into the patrician class and the ruling Antonine Dynasty, which meant that he was born with the potential to rule Rome, or be assassinated at an early age. When Antoninus announced that Marcus was his heir as emperor, he suggested that his protégé annul his current marriage and marry his daughter, Faustina; Marcus agreed and he and Faustina would have at least thirteen children over the course of their thirty year marriage.
Interesting Marcus Aurelius Facts:
Following Roman imperial tradition, Aurelius Antoninus, who would become emperor, adopted Marcus, which is how he got the surnamed Aurelius.
Marcus and Faustina first cousins, which was a common pairing in ancient Rome.
Marcus Aurelius ruled with Lucius Veras as co-emperor until Veras died in 169 either of food poisoning or the plague.
The co-rule of Aurelius and Veras was generally popular with the Romans and a time of peace, freedom, and plenty.
The prosperity of Aurelius' early rule was ended when the so-called Antonine Plague began ravaging Rome in AD 165, which modern scholars believe was small pox. The Antonine Plague left millions dead and decimated the Roman economy before it ran its course in AD 180.
Aurelius summarized the Stoic ideas of moderation, the pursuit if knowledge, and the interconnectedness of the universe in his book. One particular noteworthy quote is: "The soul of a man harms itself, first and foremost, when it becomes (as far as it can) a separate growth, a sort of tumour on the universe: because to resent anything that happens is to separate oneself in revolt from Nature, which holds in collective embrace the particular natures of all other things."
Marcus Aurelius died on March 17, 180 while on military campaign near what is the modern city of Vienna. It is believed he died of natural causes at the age of fifty-eight.
He appointed his natural son, Commodus, as his successor, which was a departure in the Roman Empire as previous emperors appointed adopted heirs.
Legendary Irish actor Richard Harris played Marcus Aurelius in the 2000 blockbuster film, Gladiator.


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