By Anthony Birley
Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor who governed the Roman Empire among advert 161 and one hundred eighty, is without doubt one of the most sensible recorded members from antiquity. Even his face turned greater than frequently generic: the imperial coinage displayed his portrait for over forty years, from the clean-shaven younger inheritor of Antonius to the war-weary, seriously bearded ruler who died at his publish in his overdue fifties.His correspondence along with his coach Fronto, or even extra the non-public workstation he stored for his final ten years, the Meditations, offers a different sequence of brilliant and revealing glimpses into the nature and peoccupations of this emporer who spent decades in bad wars opposed to northern tribes.In this obtainable and scholarly research, Professor Birley paints a portrait of an emporer who used to be human and simply - an embodiment of the pagan virtues of Rome.
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Extra resources for Marcus Aurelius: A Biography (Roman Imperial Biographies)
But the emperor’s brother-inlaw Julius Servianus had been consul for the second time as early as the year 102. Now the well-connected Verus had overtaken him. A curious poem is preserved on an inscription, in which a man called Ursus describes himself as the leading player in ‘the glass ball game’. But he concludes by confessing that ‘I myself was beaten by the thrice consul Verus, my patron, not once but often’. It was originally supposed that this Ursus was a professional sportsman. But the ingenious explanation has been advanced that the ball-player is none other than Julius Servianus – who had taken the name Ursus many years before.
Indeed, Marcus bore the names ‘Catilius Severus’ for some years in addition to his original ‘Marcus Annius Verus’. Severus is described as his ‘maternal great-grandfather’. It looks as if he had married the widow of old Domitius Tullus, thus becoming the stepfather of the elder Lucilla. Such an alliance would have been valuable to Catilius Severus, a talented man, but with no other known ties to the aristocracy old or new. He was evidently from an Italian family settled in Bithynia. 15 Not much is known about Marcus’ uncle Annius Libo, except that he was consul in 128, as junior colleague to one of the old aristocracy.
As it was the consuls who made the appointment, it seems probable that it was Ceionius Commodus who appointed his intended son-in-law. 30 The entry into the family circle of the Ceionii Commodi had another important effect on the life of Marcus. He met a Stoic philosopher, Apollonius of Chalcedon, who had taught Commodus. Stoicism was by now the fashionable school of philosophy and Apollonius one of its leading expounders. There is no question but that Marcus was enormously influenced by this man whom he names, with two others only, as one of those whom he thanks the gods for having met.
Marcus Aurelius: A Biography (Roman Imperial Biographies) by Anthony Birley