Who is Marcus Aurelius?June 26, 2021
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He is the last of the Five Good Emperors who served from 96 to 180 and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.
He first made his name in the wars against the resurgent Persian Empire in Asia and with Germanic tribes along the limes Germanicus (Germanic border) and then crossing the Danube river. In the east, he suppressed a revolt led by Avidius Cassius. The philosophical work of Marcus Aurelius (Meditations / My Observation) was written during the war between 170–180. The work is still respected today as a literary masterpiece and deserves praise for its “excellent emphasis and infinite delicacy”.
His real name was Marcus Annius Catilius Severus, and when he got married, he took the name Marcus Annius Verus. When he became emperor, he was given the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. Marcus Aurelius was the only son of Domitia Lucilla and Marcus Annius Verus. His only real sibling is his sister, Annia Cornificia Faustina, who is 2 years younger than him. His mother, Domitia Lucilla, comes from a wealthy family in the consul position. His father, Marcus Annius Verus, who was of Spanish descent and served as praetor, died when Marcus Aurelius was just three years old. Marcus Aurelius honors him by teaching him “unpretentious valor”.
His father’s aunt, Vibia Sabina, was the wife of Empress and Roman Emperor Hadrian. Rupilia Faustina (grandmother of Marcus Aurelius), Vibia Sabina and Salonina Matidia (niece of Roman Emperor Trajan) were half-brothers. His father’s sister, Faustina the Elder, was an Empress married to the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. After his father’s death, Aurelius was adopted by his grandfather, Marcus Annius Verus, and was raised with his mother. In 138, his grandfather died at the age of about 90.
In 136, Emperor Hadrian declared his successor to be Lucius Ceionius Commodus (now L. Aelius Caesar). Marcus had already caught Hadrian’s attention (he was the one who called Marcus verissimus (“the most honest”): he was later engaged to Ceionia Fabia, Commodus’ daughter. The engagement, for some reason, was broken off by Marcus’ marriage promise to Antoninus’ daughter after Commodus’ death. Therefore, upon the death of Hadrian’s first adopted son, L. Aelius Verus, Hadrian first declared Antoninus his successor to the imperial rank, then Antoninus Marcus (Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus) and renamed Lucius Ceionius Commodus and Lucius Aurelius He adopted the son of Lucius Aelius, named Verus, who was 10 years younger than Marcus.
After this adoption, Antoninus nominated both as successor Emperors on February 25, 138, when Marcus was just 17 years old. He would become Emperor at the age of 40. Allegedly, Commodus and Antoninus Pius were planned by Hadrian as “seat warmers” for the young Marcus and Verus. During the rule of Antoninus, the life of Marcus is known uninterruptedly due to his correspondence with Fronto, his teacher appointed by Hadrian and very interested in the cultural life of his time. According to these letters, Marcus paints a portrait of an intelligent, serious-minded and hardworking young man. The letters also show the growing importance of philosophy for the future emperor: his impatience for endless exercises in Greek and Latin rhetoric, who would later become a lover of Epictetus’s Diatribai (“Discourses”) and an important moralistic philosopher of the Stoic School. Marcus also began to take on increasing social roles by collaborating in decisions, in his consulship with Antoninus in 140, 145 and 161. In 147, outside Rome, the proconsular Imperium became the main official power in the empire, and then the Tribunicia Potestas.
In 145 he married Faustina the Younger, the daughter of Mark Antoninus and also his niece (Annia Galeria Faustina).
Upon the death of Antoninus Pius (7 March 161), he and Lucius Verus accepted the terms of dual empire. (August). Although they were legally equal in theory, Verus was second in practice, being both younger and less well-known.
The collective transformation was perhaps driven by military experience, as Marcus Aurelius was constantly at war with someone outside the empire. A highly authoritarian ruler was needed, as the emperor did not yet have the ability to simultaneously command the troops on both the Germanic and Persian fronts. However, as in the cases of Julius Caesar and Vespasian, placing any commander in charge of troops risked over time resulting in these generals seizing power with the aid of the troops and declaring themselves dictators. Marcus Aurelius solved the problem by making Verus commander of the eastern legions. Verus was strong enough to lead his troops authoritatively with their loyalty, and he also had the drive to overthrow Marcus. Verus remained faithful until his death in 169.
Joint Empire lightly Roman Republic