Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

Easton Press Marcus Aurelius books

Works of Marcus Aurelius - Harvard Classics - 1993
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius - Collector's Library of Famous Editions - 1996
The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Deluxe Edition (In slip case) - 2010 
Wisdom of Marcus Aurelius Deluxe Edition (Included in slip case with Sayings of Epictetus) - 2014

Franklin Library Marcus Aurelius books

Works of Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus and Titus Lucretius Carus - Great Books of the Western World - 1981


Who was Marcus Aurelius?

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (often referred to as "the wise") was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 161 to his death in 180. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the more important Stoic philosophers. His two decades as emperor were marked by near continual warfare. He was faced with a series of invasions from German tribes, and by conflicts with the Parthian Empire in the east. His reign also had to deal with an internal revolt in the east, led by Avidius Cassius. Marcus Aurelius was the last of the five "good Roman emperors". The Emperor Hadrian adopted Titus Aurelius Antoninus, thereby choosing him to succeed him, and arranged for Antonius to adopt Marcus, and thus, from a young age, Marcus was groomed for power. During this time, he devoted himself to philosophy with passion and diligence. At the age of forty he became Emperor and was known as Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. Remarkably in a culture of absolute power, he insisted that his adoptive brother and co-consul, Lucius, be elevated to co-emperor. The historian Herodian, a contemporary, "he gave proof of his learning not by mere words or knowledge of philosophical doctrines but by his blameless character and temperate way of life."
Coming from a distinguished family, Marcus Aurelius was adopted by the reigning Emperor Antoninus Pius, which paved the way for his future ascent to the imperial throne. His reign was characterized by military campaigns, including the Marcomannic Wars against Germanic tribes and the Parthian War in the east. Despite the challenges posed by these conflicts, Marcus Aurelius is often praised for his commitment to duty and his efforts to maintain the well-being of the Roman Empire. However, it is Marcus Aurelius's philosophical legacy that has endured through the ages. During his campaigns, he wrote a series of personal reflections and philosophical meditations known as the Meditations. These writings, while not originally intended for publication, provide profound insights into his Stoic beliefs and the challenges of leading a virtuous life in the face of adversity.

How did Marcus Aurelius die and when?

Marcus Aurelius's death in 180 AD marked the end of an era, both in terms of the Pax Romana (Roman Peace) and the philosophy he espoused. His writings have since become a classic of Stoic literature, influencing thinkers and leaders throughout history. Marcus Aurelius remains celebrated not only for his role as a Roman Emperor but also as a philosopher whose insights continue to inspire individuals seeking wisdom and resilience in the face of life's challenges.

The exact cause of his death is not entirely clear, and historical accounts provide different perspectives. The primary historical sources for Marcus Aurelius' life and reign are the Meditations, a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius himself, and the Roman historian Cassius Dio. According to Cassius Dio, Marcus Aurelius died of natural causes, likely from complications related to the plague that was affecting the Roman military camps at the time. Some historians also suggest that he may have succumbed to other illnesses. It's important to note that the historical record from this period is not always precise, and the details of events, including the cause of Marcus Aurelius' death, may have been subject to interpretation and limited information.

What did Marcus Aurelius look like?

Descriptions of the physical appearance of historical figures from ancient times can be limited, and in the case of Marcus Aurelius, there are no contemporary portraits or sculptures that can be definitively confirmed as accurate representations. However, there are some artistic representations and descriptions from ancient sources that provide general impressions.

Marcus Aurelius is often depicted in traditional Roman imperial style, with wavy hair, a beard, and the toga typical of Roman leaders. His busts and statues, like many ancient portraits, idealized his features rather than aiming for strict realism. These artistic representations may not be accurate likenesses but rather convey an image of strength, wisdom, and authority. While we have a general idea of the artistic conventions of the time, the specific details of Marcus Aurelius' physical appearance remain somewhat speculative.


Meditations stands as a timeless testament to the wisdom and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius, one of the most revered Roman emperors and Stoic philosophers in history. Compiled as a series of personal reflections and philosophical musings during his reign from 161 to 180 AD, this profound work offers readers a glimpse into the mind of a ruler grappling with the complexities of leadership, morality, and the human condition. Born Marcus Annius Verus on April 26, 121 AD, in Rome, Marcus Aurelius was groomed for leadership from a young age. Adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius, he ascended to the throne in 161 AD, inheriting an empire beset by external threats and internal strife. Despite the challenges of his reign, Marcus Aurelius remained steadfast in his commitment to Stoic philosophy, drawing upon its teachings to guide his decisions and actions as ruler.

Meditations reflects Marcus Aurelius's deep engagement with Stoic principles, offering timeless wisdom on topics ranging from the nature of virtue and the importance of self-discipline to the inevitability of change and the transience of life. Written in the form of personal notes addressed to himself, the book serves as a philosophical diary, allowing Marcus Aurelius to reflect on his own shortcomings and aspirations while imparting timeless lessons for readers seeking guidance in their own lives. Throughout Meditations, Marcus Aurelius emphasizes the importance of living in accordance with reason, embracing adversity as an opportunity for growth, and cultivating inner tranquility in the face of external turmoil. His reflections on the interconnectedness of all things, the impermanence of life, and the pursuit of virtue offer readers a profound insight into the Stoic worldview and its enduring relevance in navigating the challenges of the human experience.

Despite his status as a powerful ruler, Marcus Aurelius approached his role with humility and a deep sense of duty to his people. He saw himself as a servant of the state and a steward of the common good, committed to leading with wisdom, integrity, and compassion. His teachings in Meditations reflect this ethos, emphasizing the importance of ethical leadership and the pursuit of excellence in all aspects of life. Meditations has endured for centuries as a cherished guide to Stoic philosophy and a source of inspiration for readers seeking guidance in the pursuit of wisdom, virtue, and inner peace. Marcus Aurelius's timeless reflections continue to resonate with readers of all backgrounds, offering solace, insight, and practical wisdom for navigating the complexities of the human condition.

Marcus Aurelius quotes

"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking."

"The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injustice."

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

"You have power over your mind not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."

"Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one."

"The best revenge is to be unlike him who performed the injustice."

"The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts."

"Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart."

"The best way to avenge yourself is to not be like that."

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