Marcus Aurelius

Biographical Sketch: 

Aurelius was Roman Emperor and a a Stoic philosopher. Stoicism was a complex philosophy that advised people to find happiness by living in harmony with the universe and by doing their part to better the world—without worries about fate or about things they were unable to control. When Marcus Aurelius became emperor there was widespread celebration that Plato's dream of a philosopherking had become reality at last.

Aurelius was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus' death in 169 and is considered the last of the "Five Good Emperors." During his reign, the empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius sacked the capitol Ctesiphon in 164. Aurelius fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and other groups with success during the Marcomannic Wars, but the threat of the Germanic Tribes began to represent a troubling reality for the empire. During the reign of Marcus Aurelius the celebrated Pax Romana collapsed.


The Meditations (12 books)


A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires.