Home » Arts and Entertainment » Humanities

Who Was the Real Marcus Aurelius?

Aug 30, 2008
Archaeological excavations in southern Turkey recently brought to the surface a magnificent marble statue depicting Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Renowned as a popular leader of the empire during the second century, the discovery has prompted many to question: who exactly was Marcus Aurelius?

Hollywood most famously fictionalised the emperor in 2000 for Ridley Scott's Oscar-winning epic Gladiator, yet the true life of Marcus Aurelius elicits far more interest than then character portrayed by the late Richard Harris.

Born into a privileged and wealthy family that descended from the rank of consular, Aurelius was raised among the highest echelons of Roman society. His father's aunt, Vibia Sabina, had wed Emperor Hadrian, while his own aunt, Faustina the Elder was the spouse of Hadrian's successor, Antoninus Pius. As was befitting of the rich family pedigree, Aurelius' future was almost inevitably assured of greatness.

And so it would pass. Upon the wishes of Hadrian himself, a precondition for Antoninus Pius' rule was to adopt Aurelius along with his own grandson L. Aelius Verus, with the two being placed next in line for the position of emperor. Ordained as a successor at the age of 17, it would be another 23 years until Marcus Aurelius would become the head of the Roman Empire, although initially in a joint partnership with Verus.

This joint emperorship was marked by the continued reformation of laws, many of which were of benefit to the lower classes of Rome. Even with the death of Verus during a military campaign in 169, Aurelius would continue his policy of introducing measures favourable to the masses. Accordingly, his reputation in the eyes of his subjects was predominantly positive, an opinion that would only be enhanced when compared with the despotic rule of more hedonistic and irrational emperors.

Such is the respect for Marcus Aurelius, in fact, that when the 16th-century political philosopher Machiavelli coined the term 'Five Good Emperors', Aurelius was considered to be the last of eponymous subjects.

The period of his reign, however, was not without its troubles as international relations were embroiled in almost continuous warfare. In the wake of defeating Parthia in a drawn-out war, attacks from Germanic tribes would lead Aurelius to the front line himself where he would lead his troops for the majority of his remaining years.

It would be in modern-day Vienna that Aurelius died on March 17, 180, ending a 19 year reign over the empire. In his presence was his son and successor Commodus, whose own rule would be in a fashion far removed from the dignified manner of his father.

History has gone on to recognise Marcus Aurelius as both a emperor of repute as well as one of the great Stoic philosophers of the age. In fact, Aurelius' seminal work, Meditations, remains held in high esteem with its views on Stoicism considered to convey a high level of personal reflection and heartfelt intensity.

Unlike countless others before and after him, Aurelius dismissed the notion of immortality and was of the view that there was no afterlife. Instead he held the belief that everything, both physical and spiritual, would eventually fade into oblivion. True as this may be, for nearly two millennia Aurelius' memory has remained strong, while the discovery of the giant statue will only lead a new generation of historians to preserve the legacy of the last 'Good Emperor' for many years to come.
Rating:
Please Rate:
(Average: Not rated)
Views: 1,064
Print Email Report Share
Article Categories
    • Classic Cars
    • Motorcycles
    • Recreational Vehicles
    • SUVs
    • Trucks
    • Vans
    • Branding
    • Business Opportunities
    • Careers and Jobs
    • Corporate
    • Customer Service
    • Direct Mail
    • Entrepreneurship
    • Ethics
    • Financing
    • Franchising
    • Home-Based Business
    • Human Resources
    • Import and Export
    • Leadership
    • Management
    • Market Research
    • Marketing and Advertising
    • Negotiation
    • Network Marketing
    • Networking
    • Organizational
    • Presentation
    • Project Management
    • Public Relations
    • Small Business
    • Strategic Planning
    • Team Building
    • Telemarketing
    • Training
    • Data Recovery
    • Databases
    • Games
    • Hardware
    • Networks
    • Operating Systems
    • Programming
    • Security
    • Software
    • Spyware and Viruses
    • Ask an Expert
    • College and University
    • Home Schooling
    • K-12
    • Languages
    • Online Education
    • Psychology
    • Accounting
    • Credit
    • Currency Trading
    • Debt Consolidation
    • Insurance
    • Investing
    • Leasing
    • Loans
    • Mortgage
    • Mutual Funds
    • Personal Finance
    • Stock Market
    • Structured Settlements
    • Taxes
    • Wealth Building
    • Coffee
    • Cooking
    • Gourmet
    • Recipes
    • Wine and Spirits
    • Acne
    • Aerobics
    • Alternative Medicine
    • Beauty
    • Cancer
    • Cosmetics
    • Depression
    • Diabetes
    • Diseases and Conditions
    • Fitness Equipment
    • Fitness
    • Hair Loss
    • Heart Disease
    • Medicine
    • Men's Health
    • Muscle Building
    • Nutrition
    • Skin Care
    • Supplements and Vitamins
    • Weight Loss
    • Women's Health
    • Yoga
    • Arts and Crafts
    • Babies
    • Collecting
    • Elderly Care
    • Genealogy
    • Hobbies
    • Parenting
    • Pets
    • Pregnancy
    • Woodworking
    • Feng Shui
    • Gardening
    • Home Appliances
    • Home Security
    • Interior Design
    • Landscaping
    • Affiliate Programs
    • Article Marketing
    • Auctions
    • Audio
    • Banner Advertising
    • Blogging
    • Broadband
    • Domain Names
    • E-Books
    • E-Commerce
    • Email Marketing
    • Ezines and Newsletters
    • Forums
    • Internet Marketing
    • Link Popularity
    • Pay-Per-Click
    • Podcasting
    • RSS
    • Search Engine Marketing
    • Search Engine Optimization
    • Security
    • Social Media
    • Spam
    • Video
    • Viral Marketing
    • Web Design
    • Web Development
    • Web Hosting
    • Copyright
    • Cyber Law
    • Intellectual Property
    • National, State, Local
    • Patents
    • Regulatory Compliance
    • Trademarks
    • Buying
    • Selling
    • Baseball
    • Basketball
    • Boating
    • Cycling
    • Extreme Sports
    • Fishing
    • Football
    • Golf
    • Hockey
    • Hunting
    • Martial Arts
    • Running
    • Scuba Diving
    • Soccer
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Dating
    • Divorce
    • Marriage
    • Weddings
    • Astrology
    • Buddhism
    • Christianity
    • Faith
    • Hinduism
    • Islam
    • Judaism
    • Meditation
    • Metaphysical
    • New Age
    • Cable and Satellite TV
    • Cell Phones
    • Communication
    • Gadgets and Gizmos
    • GPS
    • Satellite Radio
    • Video Conferencing
    • VoIP
    • Addictions
    • Coaching
    • Goal Setting
    • Motivational
    • Stress Management
    • Time Management
    • Clothing
    • Electronics
    • Fashion
    • Gifts
    • Jewelry
    • Causes and Organizations
    • Environment
    • History
    • Holidays
    • Men's Issues
    • Nature
    • Philosophy
    • Politics
    • Women's Issues
    • World Affairs
    • Air Travel
    • Camping
    • Cruises
    • Destinations
    • Outdoors
    • Article Writing
    • Book Reviews
    • Copywriting
    • Fiction
    • Non-Fiction
    • Poetry
    • Quotes
    • Screenplay
    • Tools and Resources