City Readers Digital Historic Collections at the New York Society Library
Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome (121-180)
Marcus Aurelius (; Latin: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180 AD) was Roman emperor from 161 to 180. He ruled with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, until Verus' death in 169, and with his son, Commodus, from 177. He was the last of the so-called Five Good Emperors.
Among Roman Emperors he has been called "The Philosopher". He was a practitioner of Stoicism, and his personal philosophical writings, which later came to be called Meditations, are a significant source of the modern understanding of ancient Stoic philosophy. They are considered by many commentators to be one of the greatest works of philosophy.
During his reign, the Roman Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire in the East; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius sacked the Parthian capital Ctesiphon in 164. In central Europe, Aurelius fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians with success during the Marcomannic Wars, although the threat of the Germanic peoples began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. A revolt in the East led by Avidius Cassius was quickly suppressed. Persecution of Christians increased during his reign.
His death in 180 is considered the end of the Pax Romana. The increasing instability in the West that followed has traditionally been seen as the beginning of the eventual fall of the Western Roman Empire.