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Statue bust of Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121 - 180 CE)

Marcus Aurelius was a Roman Emperor who ruled from 161 CE to 180 CE. He ruled as co-emporer with Lucius Verus from 161 CE until Verus's death in 169 CE.

Known as the last of the Five Good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius is today considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.

Marcus Aurelius's work Meditations (written in Greek while on campaign between 170 CE and 180 CE) is still revered today.

The work serves as an example of how Aurelius approached the Platonic ideal of a philosopher–king, and how he symbolized much of what was best about Roman civilization.

"It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live."

– Marcus Aurelius

At the start of his reign, the Empire, under the joint rule of Marcus and Lucius Verus, defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire in a war from 161 to 166.

The unforeseen consequences for the Empire were great. The returning troops brought with them a plague (the so-called Antonine Plague), which may have been smallpox. It would eventually kill about 5 million people, and severely weaken the Empire.

Aurelius fought the German tribes during a long war from 166 CE to 180 CE. The pressure from the Goths moving west pushed settled Germanic tribes into invading Roman client states in Gaul, and across the Danube.

Life of Marcus Aurelius

121 CE
161 CE
ascends to the throne, against the advice of the Senate
181 CE
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