88 Facts About Marcus Aurelius


Marcus Aurelius was the last of the rulers known, noncontemporaneously, as the Five Good Emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace, calmness and stability for the Roman Empire lasting from 27 BC to 180 AD.


Marcus Aurelius served as Roman consul in 140,145, and 161.


Marcus Aurelius was born during the reign of Hadrian to the emperor's nephew, the praetor Marcus Annius Verus, and the heiress Domitia Calvilla.


Marcus Aurelius's father died when he was three, and he was raised by his mother and paternal grandfather.


Now heir to the throne, Marcus Aurelius studied Greek and Latin under tutors such as Herodes Atticus and Marcus Aurelius Cornelius Fronto.


Marcus Aurelius defeated the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatian Iazyges in the Marcomannic Wars; however, these and other Germanic peoples began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire.


Marcus Aurelius modified the silver purity of the Roman currency, the denarius.


Unlike some of his predecessors, Marcus Aurelius chose not to adopt an heir.


Marcus Aurelius's children included Lucilla, who married Lucius, and Commodus, whose succession after Marcus has been a subject of debate among both contemporary and modern historians.


The Column and Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius still stand in Rome, where they were erected in celebration of his military victories.


The major sources depicting the life and rule of Marcus Aurelius are patchy and frequently unreliable.


Marcus Aurelius himself was born and raised in the Horti and referred to the Caelian hill as 'My Caelian'.


The adoptive family of Marcus Aurelius was of Roman Italo-Gallic origins: the gens Aurelia, into which Marcus Aurelius was adopted at the age of 17, was a Sabine gens; Antoninus Pius, his adoptive father, came from the Aurelii Fulvi, a branch of the Aurelii based in Roman Gaul.


Marcus Aurelius's sister, Annia Cornificia Faustina, was probably born in 122 or 123.


Marcus Aurelius was raised in his parents' home on the Caelian Hill, an upscale area with few public buildings but many aristocratic villas.


Marcus Aurelius's grandfather owned a palace beside the Lateran, where he would spend much of his childhood.


Marcus Aurelius was less fond of the mistress his grandfather took and lived with after the death of his wife Rupilia.


Marcus Aurelius was grateful that he did not have to live with her longer than he did.


From a young age, Marcus Aurelius displayed enthusiasm for wrestling and boxing.


Marcus Aurelius trained in wrestling as a youth and into his teenage years, learned to fight in armour and joined the Salii, an order of priests dedicated to the god Mars that were responsible for the sacred shields, called Ancilia, and possibly for heralding war season's beginning and end.


Marcus Aurelius was educated at home, in line with contemporary aristocratic trends; he thanks Catilius Severus for encouraging him to avoid public schools.


Convalescent in his villa at Tivoli, he selected Lucius Ceionius Commodus, Marcus Aurelius's intended father-in-law, as his successor and adopted son, according to the biographer 'against the wishes of everyone'.


Marcus Aurelius's health was so poor that, during a ceremony to mark his becoming heir to the throne, he was too weak to lift a large shield on his own.


Marcus Aurelius reportedly greeted the news that Hadrian had become his adoptive grandfather with sadness, instead of joy.


At some time in 138, Hadrian requested in the Senate that Marcus Aurelius be exempt from the law barring him from becoming quaestor before his twenty-fourth birthday.


The Senate complied, and Marcus Aurelius served under Antoninus, the consul for 139.


Marcus Aurelius's adoption diverted him from the typical career path of his class.


Marcus Aurelius's condition did not improve, and he abandoned the diet prescribed by his doctors, indulging himself in food and drink.


Immediately after Hadrian's death, Antoninus approached Marcus Aurelius and requested that his marriage arrangements be amended: Marcus Aurelius's betrothal to Ceionia Fabia would be annulled, and he would be betrothed to Faustina, Antoninus' daughter, instead.


Marcus Aurelius now took the name Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar.


Marcus Aurelius would criticize himself in the Meditations for 'abusing court life' in front of company.


Marcus Aurelius would read imperial letters to the senate when Antoninus was absent and would do secretarial work for the senators.


Marcus Aurelius was required to make a speech to the assembled senators as well, making oratorical training essential for the job.


Marcus Aurelius 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.


Never particularly healthy or strong, Marcus Aurelius was praised by Cassius Dio, writing of his later years, for behaving dutifully in spite of his various illnesses.


Marcus Aurelius makes no apparent reference to the marriage in his surviving letters, and only sparing references to Faustina.


Marcus Aurelius had three tutors in Greek and one in Latin.


Marcus Aurelius did not care much for Atticus, though Marcus was eventually to put the pair on speaking terms.


Marcus Aurelius spent time with Fronto's wife and daughter, both named Cratia, and they enjoyed light conversation.


Marcus Aurelius 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 learnt of literature, he would learn 'from the lips of Fronto'.


Marcus Aurelius asks that Fronto's pain be inflicted on himself, 'of my own accord with every kind of discomfort'.


Fronto replied that he was surprised to discover Marcus Aurelius counted Atticus as a friend, and allowed that Marcus Aurelius might be correct, but nonetheless affirmed his intent to win the case by any means necessary: '[T]he charges are frightful and must be spoken of as frightful.


Marcus Aurelius's 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 Aurelius had grown tired of his exercises, of taking positions in imaginary debates.


Marcus Aurelius had kept his teachers on good terms, following them devotedly.


Marcus Aurelius disdained philosophy and philosophers and looked down on Marcus's sessions with Apollonius of Chalcedon and others in this circle.


Marcus Aurelius kept in close touch with Fronto, but would ignore Fronto's scruples.


Marcus Aurelius was the man Fronto recognized as having 'wooed Marcus away' from oratory.


Marcus Aurelius was older than Fronto and twenty years older than Marcus.


Marcus Aurelius was the first of at least thirteen children that Faustina would bear over the next twenty-three years.


The first mention of Domitia in Marcus Aurelius's letters reveals her as a sickly infant.


Marcus Aurelius might have died in 152, the same year as Marcus's sister Cornificia.


Marcus Aurelius thanked the temple synod, 'even though this turned out otherwise'.


Marcus Aurelius was consul in 154, and was consul again with Marcus in 161.


Lucius had a markedly different personality from Marcus Aurelius: he enjoyed sports of all kinds, but especially hunting and wrestling; he took obvious pleasure in the circus games and gladiatorial fights.


Marcus Aurelius found it difficult to keep himself upright without stays.


Marcus Aurelius started nibbling on dry bread to give him the strength to stay awake through his morning receptions.


Marcus Aurelius then turned over, as if going to sleep, and died.


Marcus Aurelius made some show of resistance: the biographer writes that he was 'compelled' to take imperial power.


Marcus Aurelius had been consul once more than Lucius, he had shared in Antoninus's rule, and he alone was pontifex maximus.


The ceremony was perhaps not entirely necessary, given that Marcus Aurelius's accession had been peaceful and unopposed, but it was good insurance against later military troubles.


Indeed, at his accession, Marcus Aurelius transferred part of his mother's estate to his nephew, Ummius Quadratus.


Marcus Aurelius was a man suited for a time of military crisis.


Marcus Aurelius sent a note to the imperial freedman Charilas, asking if he could call on the emperors.


Marcus Aurelius's daughters were in Rome with their great-great-aunt Matidia; Marcus thought the evening air of the country was too cold for them.


Marcus Aurelius believed Marcus was 'beginning to feel the wish to be eloquent once more, in spite of having for a time lost interest in eloquence'.


The early days of Marcus Aurelius's reign were the happiest of Fronto's life: Marcus Aurelius was beloved by the people of Rome, an excellent emperor, a fond pupil, and perhaps most importantly, as eloquent as could be wished.


Marcus Aurelius had displayed rhetorical skill in his speech to the senate after an earthquake at Cyzicus.


Antoninus seems to have given him no military experience; the biographer writes that Marcus Aurelius spent the whole of Antoninus's twenty-three-year reign at his emperor's side and not in the provinces, where most previous emperors had spent their early careers.


Marcus Aurelius had chosen a reliable man rather than a talented one.


Marcus Aurelius took a four-day public holiday at Alsium, a resort town on the coast of Etruria.


Marcus Aurelius was stronger and healthier than Marcus, the argument went, and thus more suited to military activity.


Marcus Aurelius would remain in Rome, as the city 'demanded the presence of an emperor'.


Marcus Aurelius moved up the date; perhaps he had already heard of Lucius's mistress Panthea.


Marcus Aurelius only accompanied the group as far as Brundisium, where they boarded a ship for the east.


Marcus Aurelius returned to Rome immediately thereafter, and sent out special instructions to his proconsuls not to give the group any official reception.


When Lucius was hailed as imperator again Marcus Aurelius did not hesitate to take the Imperator II with him.


Lucius took the title Parthicus Maximus, and he and Marcus Aurelius were hailed as imperatores again, earning the title 'imp.


Marcus Aurelius took the Parthicus Maximus now, after another tactful delay.


Marcus Aurelius was there with his wife and children.


Marcus Aurelius took great care in the theory and practice of legislation.


Marcus Aurelius showed marked interest in three areas of the law: the manumission of slaves, the guardianship of orphans and minors, and the choice of city councillors.


Marcus Aurelius showed a great deal of respect to the Roman Senate and routinely asked them for permission to spend money even though he did not need to do so as the absolute ruler of the Empire.


In one speech, Marcus Aurelius himself reminded the Senate that the imperial palace where he lived was not truly his possession but theirs.


Marcus Aurelius was immediately deified and his ashes were returned to Rome, where they rested in Hadrian's mausoleum until the Visigoth sack of the city in 410.


Marcus Aurelius was succeeded by his son Commodus, whom he had named Caesar in 166 and with whom he had jointly ruled since 177.


Marcus Aurelius had a logical mind, and his notes were representative of Stoic philosophy and spirituality.


Marcus Aurelius acquired the reputation of a philosopher king within his lifetime, and the title would remain after his death; both Dio and the biographer call him "the philosopher".