Marcus Aurelius

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Mark Aurel (Munich, Glyptothek )

Mark Aurel (born April 26, 121 in Rome , † March 17, 180 in Vindobona or Sirmium ), also Marc Aurel or Marcus Aurelius , was Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and as a philosopher the last important representative of the younger Stoa . As Princeps and successor to his adoptive father Antoninus Pius , he called himself Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus . His reign ended in many ways a phase of internal and external stability and prosperityfor the Roman Empire, the era of the so-called adoptive emperors . Marcus Aurelius was the last of them, because in his son Commodus there was a bodily inheritance ready for the ruling function.

Mark Aurel set domestic political accents in legislation and jurisdiction to ease the lot of the disadvantaged in Roman society at that time, especially the slaves and women . He had to face extraordinary challenges in the face of a catastrophic flood of the Tiber as well as in the confrontation with the Antonine plague and in view of the spontaneous persecution of Christians within the Roman Empire . At the borders of the empire, after a long period of peace, he again had to take action on several fronts against invading enemies. In particular, the east of the empire was threatened by the Parthians , triumphed over by Marcus Aurelius, co-emperor Lucius Verus , and the Danube region by various Germanic tribes. Therefore, Marcus Aurelius spent most of the last decade of his life in the field camp. Here he wrote the self-reflections that present him to posterity as the philosopher emperor and which are sometimes counted as world literature .

Career up to assumption of power

Origin and youth

Marcus Aurelius around 138 AD
(Rome, Capitoline Museums )

The future emperor Mark Aurel was born as Marcus Annius Catilius Severus in Rome. His great-grandfather had come to Rome from the Hispanic provinces . Under Emperor Vespasian he had made it to the praetor . Marcus Annius Verus , Mark Aurel's grandfather, has already held the office of consul three times . He married his son, who was also called Annius Verus - Mark Aurel's father - to Domitia Lucilla , a relative of Emperor Hadrian , whose family had become rich through the ownership of brickworks. After the early death of his father (128), Marcus grew up in his grandfather's house. On March 17, 136, on the occasion of his betrothal to Ceionia, the daughter of Lucius Aelius Caesar , who was appointed successor to Hadrian in the same year , he took the name Marcus Annius Verus . Marcus was thus integrated into the family of the prospective heir to the throne.

The reputation of the family acquired in his official career and the serious nature of the young Marcus allegedly earned him the attention of Emperor Hadrian at an early age, who is said to have nicknamed him Verissimus ("the most truest", the superlative of verus ) because of his love of truth and probably had him accepted into the Salian priests at the age of eight . In the course of his second succession regulation, which became necessary due to the sudden death of Lucius Aelius Caesar, the terminally ill Hadrian adopted Senator Antoninus Pius on February 25, 138, with the proviso that he in turn had Lucius Verus , the son of the deceased, and Mark Aurel, Antoninus' nephews by marriage and closest male relatives to adopt. After the adoption by Antoninus, his name was now Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus . Lucius Verus was betrothed to Faustina , Antoninus' only daughter, and was thus visibly distinguished. On the other hand, the seniority and the proximity to Antoninus spoke in favor of Marcus Aurelius as the future heir to the throne.

After Hadrian's death in July of the same year, the now seventeen-year-old Mark Aurel moved to Antoninus Pius, his adoptive father and new emperor, in the government palace. Antoninus immediately changed Hadrian's rules: he immediately broke off the engagement between Lucius Verus and Faustina and instead betrothed it to Marcus Aurelius (the connection with Ceionia had previously been broken), who thus clearly came first. The main focus of the training was initially studies of Greek and Latin rhetoric with the teachers Herodes Atticus and Marcus Cornelius Fronto . He conducted a lively correspondence with the latter, some of which has been preserved. In 139, Mark Aurel was elevated to Caesar and thus formally designated heir to the throne. Again well ahead of schedule, namely at the age of 18, he held his first consulate the following year. Apparently, Antoninus Pius wanted to put Mark Aurel in an unassailable position as early as possible. This was also necessary because the succession in the principality are generally controlled during the lifetime of the predecessor had to be able to run smoothly, as was an inheritance of the imperial power not formally provided. It was therefore customary to clearly identify the desired successor in advance by means of honors and the award of important titles and powers of attorney.

Philosophical orientation

German translation of the self-contemplations (Hamburg, 1727)

The Stoic philosophers under Marcus Aurelius's teachers may have lastingly supported a tendency that he is said to have already displayed as a twelve-year-old when he dressed in the coat of the philosophers and from then on slept on an uncomfortable board, only with one from his mother Hardly prescribed animal fur padded. Here is a living took its beginning, in the on ancient Greek written Meditations ( Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν ) was held in the late years. The foundations of the convictions formulated there are likely to have applied at an early stage, because they were based on an almost 500-year-old tradition of stoic philosophizing. Mark Aurel's career and ruling practice are to be seen in close connection with the self-contemplation ; because the unity of thought and action, of word and deed, was paramount for his concept of existence laid down in it:

"It is not a question of discussing the necessary qualities of a good man - it is more about being one."
“You cannot teach writing and reading if you cannot do it yourself; teach much less how to live rightly if you don't do it yourself. "

Mark Aurel also clearly accentuated the awareness of truth and reality, which Hadrian is said to have valued in him:

“If someone can convincingly show me that I am not judging or proceeding correctly, I will be happy to do it differently. I'm only looking for the truth, she, from which no one has ever suffered harm. But harm will be suffered by those who persist in their error and ignorance. "
“Whenever you take offense at someone's insolence, ask yourself immediately: Is it also possible that there are no impudent people in the world? This is not possible. So don't ask for the impossible. "

The importance of these notations for Mark Aurel's everyday life becomes apparent from the context in which the self-contemplations originated . It was a form of spiritual exercise aimed at maintaining and updating a lifestyle in accordance with the principles of the Stoa, as well as controlling deviant emotions. That is what it was about, among other things. also in the attitude to fellow human beings:

“People are there for one another. So teach or tolerate them. "
“If you want to enjoy yourself, consider the virtues of your contemporaries, such as the energy of the one, the modesty of the other, the generosity of a third and so another virtue in a fourth . Because nothing delights as much as the patterns of virtues that fall in our eyes in abundance from the actions of our contemporaries. That's why they always have in mind. "

To deal with all kinds of unpleasant things, to endure strokes of fate and to get by with one's own imperfections, this also qualified the heir to the throne and later emperor reflections in the spirit of the Stoa to a special degree:

“If an evil originates from yourself, why do you do it? Does it come from someone else, who are you blaming? About the atoms or the gods ? Both are nonsensical. Nobody is to be charged here. For if you can, better the author; but if you cannot do that, at least improve the matter itself; but if you can't do that either, why do you accuse you? Because you shouldn't do anything without a purpose. "
“Do not feel disgust, do not let your eagerness and courage sink if you do not completely succeed in doing everything according to the right principles; Rather, if something goes wrong, start again and be satisfied when the majority of your actions are in accordance with human nature, and love what you come back to. "

Familiarization with government affairs

Cameo , Marcus Aurelius and Faustina as a pair of gods Jupiter and Juno

A better preparation for assuming political responsibility than Mark Aurel went through is hardly conceivable with regard to domestic politics. Before assuming his own rule, he had 23 years (138–161) the extensive opportunity to adjust to the requirements of the office, to familiarize himself with the administrative structures of the Roman Empire and to get to know all the important applicants and holders of influential offices. In doing so, he allegedly acquired such a sure eye for the human and task-related suitability of office holders and post candidates that Antoninus Pius is said to have based himself on the judgment of Marcus in all questions regarding staffing positions. According to the sources, those referred to each other by Hadrian also harmonized in nature. The characterization of Antoninus, which Marcus Aurelius gives in the First Book of Self- Contemplation, should express both the role model function as well as the affinity that connected the younger man with his adoptive father:

“I noticed gentleness in my father, combined with a strict inflexibility in the judgments he made after careful consideration. He despised the vain glory that claims of honor bestow, loved work and perseverance, readily listened to charitable suggestions from others, always treated everyone according to merit, had the right feeling where rigor or indulgence is appropriate, renounced unnatural love and lived only that Public welfare. [...] Nobody could say that he was a sophist , a simple-minded person, a pedant, but everyone recognized in him a mature and perfect man, above flattery, capable of looking after his own affairs as well as those of others. He also honored the true philosophers and was nonetheless indulgent to those who only appeared to be so. He was very pleasant to deal with, he liked to joke, but without exaggeration. "

Additional family ties were established by the fact that Marcus Aurelius had to break off an existing engagement in order to marry Faustina, the daughter of Antoninus, whom Hadrian, as already mentioned, had intended to be the wife of Lucius Verus. A total of 13 children were born from this marriage, the majority of which, however, died in childhood.

It is noticeable that, contrary to the tradition of the Principate , Antoninus refrained from training his successor militarily and introducing the troops stationed on the borders of the empire. The reasons why Antoninus never let his adopted son leave his side in 23 years are controversial. If one does not believe the official reading that the emperor loved Mark Aurel too much to let him out of sight for even a day, then, on the contrary, mistrust can also be an explanation: Perhaps Antoninus did not wish Mark Aurel to himself could create its own power base with the soldiers early on. The military inexperience, which was the consequence of this behavior, was to take revenge later, since Mark Aurel (in contrast to Lucius Verus) always acted rather unhappy as a general.

Aureus on the takeover of power by Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus: unity between the Augusti

As early as December 147, Mark Aurel had advanced to co-regent by being awarded the tribunicia potestas and the imperium proconsulare . With the death of Antoninus Pius in 161, the empire passed to Marcus Aurelius, who almost immediately elevated his adoptive brother Lucius Verus to formally (almost) equal co-emperor. At auctoritas course Marcus was superior, especially since he, the office of Pontifex Maximus kept to himself. Verus, who had once been planned by Hadrian as chief emperor, evidently accepted this arrangement all his life; In 164 he married the daughter of Mark Aurel, Lucilla . The appointment of Lucius Verus as co-emperor or sub-emperor has often been puzzled, but in the end Mark Aurel only had the choice of either making him co-ruler or eliminating him; otherwise Verus would likely have endangered Marcus' rule. Since Marcus Aurelius apparently did not want to cast a shadow on the beginning of his rule through political murder like Hadrian or Tiberius , he decided to let Lucius Verus participate in power instead. It is noticeable that later on, Mark Aurel only casually mentioned Lucius Verus, who has now died, in his self-contemplations, in contrast to Antoninus Pius, which may speak against an intimate relationship between the two Augusti .

In any case, both emperors were soon faced with a changed situation - compared to the previous decades of external peace - when from 161 the Parthians first questioned the sovereignty of the Roman Empire over Armenia with military force and then plundered Teutons in the Danube region from 168 on seriously pressed the northern border. The division of tasks between the two emperors showed that Marcus Aurelius actually ruled the empire, while his adoptive brother Lucius Verus was responsible for carrying out important military operations in the east until his death.

The Principate of Marcus Aurelius

Political principles

Marcus Aurelius around 170 AD

Mark Aurel's charisma , which continues to have an effect across all historical epochs, is due not least to the image of the "philosopher on the throne" associated with him and the exemplary link between political philosophy and the practice of rule. The evidence for Mark Aurel's political thinking and for his self-portrayal can be found in the self-contemplations . Some of it seems timeless and not outdated in the present. To what extent the emperor's statements are to be regarded as authentic self-testimonies of his government practice remains open; the historical source criticism reaches its limits here. It is important that the ideal of a philosopher ruler has always moved the imagination of people and that Marcus Aurelius became the embodiment of this model for many. His political thinking is reflected in the following excerpts from his self- reflections :

"Severus was an example to me in the love for our relatives as well as in the love of truth and justice [...], through him I got a concept of what belongs to a free state, where perfect equality of rights reigns for all without distinction and nothing is valued higher is called the freedom of citizens. "

Freedom and justice , above all in the sense of equal rights for all, were therefore among the guiding principles of Mark Aurel that were appropriated early on and always propagated. According to his own admission, his philosophical reflective background and self-admonitions such as the following protected him against the temptations of absolutist abuse of power to which he was inevitably exposed in his position:

“Be careful not to become a tyrannical emperor! Don't take such a paint job because it happens so easily. [...] Wrestle with the fact that you remain the man that philosophy wanted you to be. "

Marcus Aurelius was only too aware of the limits of his political scope and the frailty of utopian models of society:

“Do not hope for a platonic state either, but be satisfied if there is even a little bit of progress, and do not consider even such a small step to be insignificant. Because who can change people's principles? But what else can be expected without a change in the principles than servant service with sighing, hypocritical obedience? "

It was clear to Marcus Aurelius that mentalities are not easily malleable and disposable and therefore have to be taken into account in political action, because he gave priority to senatorial freedom, especially in the expression of opinion. In doing so, he basically followed the idea already formulated under Augustus and other emperors that aristocratic libertas must be respected under a good princeps . What was meant by this, as I said, was the right to freedom of expression, not political co-determination, which even Marcus Aurelius did not grant the Senate or the people.

According to his own statement, what mattered to him, in the Hellenistic philosophical tradition, was a rational use of power oriented towards the common good, which took into account the limits of one's own competence and gave way to greater expertise or transferred problem-solving:

“Is my mind enough for this business or not? If it is enough, I use it as a tool given to me by All-Nature. In the opposite case, I leave the work to the one who can do it better, if otherwise it is not part of my duties, or I do it as best I can, with the help of someone else who, supported by my spiritual power, can do it can do what is useful and conducive to the common good right now. "

For Marcus Aurelius, as for the principes before him, the administration of justice was the core of the good social order and the area for which he personally felt most responsible:

"If you have acumen, show it in wise judgments."

Marcus Aurelius also assigned a cosmopolitan component to his existence and even let an ecological awareness appear:

“But my nature is reasonable and destined for the community; but my city and my fatherland, insofar as my name is Antonin, Rome, insofar as I am a person, the world. So only what benefits these states is good for me. "
“But all-nature has nothing outside of its own circle. That is precisely what is admirable about her craftsmanship, that in her self-limitation everything that threatens to spoil, obsolete and become unusable in her, transforms into her own essence and again creates other new objects from it. For this purpose it needs just as little material outside it as it needs a place to throw the rot there. Rather, she has had enough of her own space, her own material and her own artistry. "

Domestic politics

Denarius of Marcus Aurelius, 168 AD

Internal burdens for the Roman Empire already arose in the initial phase of Mark Aurel's reign from a devastating flood of the Tiber and above all from the pandemic known as the Antonine Plague , which spread from the east over the entire Roman Empire from 165 onwards and from 166 onwards populated capital Rome badly hit.

Corresponding to his self-portrayal as a stoic on the imperial throne, Marcus Aurelius concentrated his government activities, as long as he was able, on the internal structures of the empire. Particular attention was paid to the weak and disadvantaged in Roman society, the slaves, women and children, whose situation he sought to ease. More than half of the passed legislative acts of the "Philosopher on the Imperial Throne" aimed to improve the legal status and freedom of these population groups. In the same direction, he also acted as the supreme judicial body of the Reich, an office which he exercised with exemplary care and unparalleled devotion.

The number of court days per year was increased on his order, so that finally 230 days were provided for negotiations and arbitration dates. When he himself went into the field in 168 against the Germanic tribes - initially still with Lucius Verus, but after his death in 169 completely on his own - he continued his judicial work on site. Those involved in the process might have to travel to the field camp for the negotiation. The historian Cassius Dio reports:

Whenever the war left him some free time, he spoke rightly. He let the speakers fill the water meters [as they were used in court] abundantly, and he occupied himself in great detail with the preliminary investigations and interrogations in order to pass a judgment that was fair to all. He often spent up to eleven or twelve days trying a single case, though he sometimes held meetings at night. Because he was hardworking and devoted himself to the tasks of his office with the greatest care. He never spoke, wrote, or did anything as if it were something unimportant, but sometimes spent whole days on some tiny little thing, because he believed that it was not up to an emperor to do something superciliously. For he was convinced that the slightest mistake would cast a bad light on all his other actions as well. "

Tiber flood, plague epidemic, war costs : it was a difficult situation in several respects in which Marcus Aurelius also had to prove himself in terms of managing the state budget. He was praised for his diligence in government spending and for not introducing new taxes in view of the enormous additional burdens that he shouldered. Incidentally, through exemplary restraint in his own lifestyle, the emperor contributed to the fact that spending limits, for example in the area of ​​circus games, could be communicated to the people. The imperial family also made its contribution to the financing of the war by auctioning a large number of valuable items from imperial estates at the forum. The historian Cassius Dio (senator under Commodus; governor of the provinces of Africa, Dalmatia and Upper Pannonia under Severus Alexander) was particularly impressed by Mark Aurel's appearance towards the soldiers who were victorious in the field, who demanded a special payment as a bonus. The emperor strictly refused to do this, pointing out that any such payment would include would have to be squeezed from the parents and relatives of the legionnaires. He issued regulatory provisions for banking.

Military challenges

Representation on the Mark Aurel column in Rome: Legions cross the border river Danube

As early as the reign of Antoninus Pius, the Parthian king Vologaeses IV had probably prepared a war against Rome in order to suppress Roman influence in Armenia . Whether the aggression originated from the Parthians or whether their attack was more of a preventive strike against the Romans, who had increased troops in the east since 158/159, is a matter of dispute. Perhaps the change of the throne and the as yet untested dual emperors of Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus encouraged the Parthians to strike immediately. When the Roman governor of Cappadocia suffered a heavy defeat, Lucius Verus was sent to the east with an army. Verus, who had been suffering from a long illness at Canusium before embarkation , did not reach Antioch on the Orontes until the end of 162 , where he initially devoted himself to the reorganization of the demoralized army and the coordination of supplies. Like Marcus Aurelius, he had no personal military experience. The operational leadership of the Roman counter-offensive, which began in 163, was therefore mainly the responsibility of experienced officers such as Avidius Cassius , who came from Syria . The Romans eventually penetrated into Armenia, where the pro-Roman Arsacid prince Sohaemus was installed as king. In 164 the main Roman offensive began in Mesopotamia ; the Osrhoene was occupied, and finally in 165 even the Parthian twin capital Seleukia-Ctesiphon fell into Roman hands, with the royal castle being destroyed. Roman troops even penetrated as far as the media for a time. The war ended victoriously in the following year. This was a tremendous success for Lucius Verus, but he was smart enough to share the ensuing triumph with senior Augustus Mark Aurel in order to maintain the hierarchy. Due to the plague epidemic (see above), Rome was probably not able to draw any lasting profit from the victory: It is unclear whether northern Mesopotamia was controlled by the Romans in the following decades.

While the situation in the Danube border area was already tense until the victory over the Parthians, but still largely controllable, this changed in 167/168 when a first battle had to be fought in Pannonia against the invading Lombards and Obier . This also happened under the sign of a weakening by the Antonine plague , probably a form of smallpox brought in by the legionnaires who had returned from the eastern theater of war. The governor of Upper Pannonia then entered into negotiations with the Teutons, but only managed to calm the situation temporarily with the help of the Marcomann king Ballomar . Because even 169 penetrated ball Omar Markomannen together with the Quaden up over the Alps to northern Italy before and destroyed the city Opitergium . Even on Ammianus Marcellinus , the great historian of late antiquity , the incursion of the Teutons did not fail to have its effect.

In Rome, Mark Aurel tried to overcome the fear of war, which was now spreading in addition to the plague depression, by religious means: “The sacrificial altars smoked, and in the midst of the famine, selected animals were slaughtered en masse. [...] For a whole week the statues of the gods were entertained as guests with delicacies and at the same time implored for mercy. ”Mark Aurel now prepared himself to go into the field with the troops. If no emperor had been at the head of the army in the war since the time of Trajan, the military monarchy was now clearly emerging as the origin of the principate . The fighting force demanded the presence of an emperor, otherwise usurpations threatened .

Both Augusti , Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus, met on the Danube front in 168 to carry out troop inspections and to sound out the situation. As a result, a specific military administration zone with large defense bases, the praetentura Italiae et Alpium, was established . The headquarters was at that time not far east of Opitergium in Aquileia . When the plague spread here as well, the emperors left for Rome on the advice of Marcus Aurelius personal physician Galen . Lucius Verus died in this way in early 169, allegedly as a result of a stroke. His now widowed daughter Lucilla married Marcus Aurelius, against her resistance, to Tiberius Claudius Pompeianus , a particularly capable officer of Syrian origin, whom he wanted to bind for the German Wars.

The dating of the military operations in the course of the Marcomannic Wars is subject to the fact that the sources are not very productive, the interpretation of which tends to be based on - more or less large - probabilities than reliable knowledge.

170 Germans and Jazygen overran the strategically exposed Dacia (Dacia) and then advanced as far as Moesia superior (Upper Moesia ). It was probably also during this time that an offensive under Marcus Aurelius failed with extremely high losses: 20,000 legionaries were killed in the process. Even two newly dug up legions could not prevent the entire Danube front from crumbling seriously; in other parts of the empire there were revolts and raids. In the southwest, the Moors rose , overcame the border fort and devastated the Spanish provinces, so that southern Spain remained a war zone for two years. The east was combined into a large military district and placed under Avidius Cassius.

Marcomannic Wars: Marcus Aurelius pardons Germanic chiefs ( Capitoline Museums )

179 let Marcus Aurelius at the Germanic Danube border, among other things. to ward off the Marcomanni, for whom Legio III Italica set up a fortified camp, from which the city of Regensburg later emerged.

Only with significant efforts also with regard to war financing (see above) and with a temporary expansion of the army's recruitment base, e.g. For example, on gladiator slaves, the Romans succeeded in gaining a foothold again in the Germanic apron on the other side of the Danube, repelling the attackers and playing off the various Germanic tribes against each other, depending on the assessment of their reliability, through different preferential treatment when concluding contracts. In part, they were now also used as auxiliary troops for the Romans in the current theaters of war. In addition, there were unsuccessful attempts to integrate limited Germanic population contingents by settling within the imperial borders.

The camps in the border area, from which Marcus Aurelius directed the military operations, changed with the requirements of the situation. When Noricum was completely in Roman hands again, he moved his headquarters to Carnuntum . Further standing quarters were in Sirmium and Vindobona. New camps were established for several legions stationed on the Danube in the course of the Marcomann Wars , such as 179 Castra Regina, today's Regensburg .

In an offensive, the Romans conquered the Moravia region ( Moravia ) in 172 , cutting off the Sarmatians , who were also hostile, from the Quadi , and finally subjugated the Marcomanni and Quadi until 174. The threat posed by the Jazygen was averted when Marcus attacked them from Sirmium.

The repeated reference in the Marcus biography of the Historia Augusta that Mark Aurel planned the establishment of two new provinces, Marcomannia and Sarmatia , on the other side of the Danube , is doubted and controversially discussed in research due to a lack of confirmation from other sources. On the one hand, mountain ranges like the Giant Mountains could have made a border easier to defend than the Danube; on the other hand, the establishment and expansion of two new provinces would have required resources which were scarcely available in the given, extremely tense situation. If Marcus Aurelius actually carried himself with such intentions, then he was prevented from attempting their realization in 175 by the usurper Avidius Cassius and in 180 by his own death.

The "embassy" to China

In Chinese sources there is an account of a Roman "embassy" that reached China in 166. The men brought gifts and claimed to have been sent by Andongni ( Chinese  安东尼, Pinyin āndōngní ) , the king of Daqin (Rome), ( Chinese 大秦, W.-G. Ta-ts'in ). With Andongni (Antoninus) only Antoninus Pius (in this case the journey would have taken more than five years) or Marcus Aurelius can be meant. However, the “ambassadors” were probably only traditional Roman merchants, not official ambassadors. Chinese sources note that the gifts the Romans gave were unimpressive (they were goods that came from South Asia, not the Roman Empire ) and of little value.

Religious Politics and Persecution of Christians

Marcus Aurelius during the ritual sacrifice to Capitoline Jupiter ( Capitoline Museums )

According to Cornelius Motschmann , theology in Rome in the 2nd century was mainly a matter for the philosophers, who, however, aligned themselves with Greek roots and kept their distance from Roman religious practice. The meticulous observance of the Roman cult rituals was nevertheless monitored in everyday life, because it was believed that political success and failure depended on it. The rise of the philosopher Mark Aurel to power as emperor could therefore have created a problematic area of ​​tension.

A significant gesture of respect towards the Senate is the fact that Marcus Aurelius did not take over the office of Pontifex Maximus at the same time as he took over power, but only had this transferred from the Senate a little later in a separate framework, as was the case in the early phase of the Principle had been common. Mark Aurel countered the hardships and dangers that arose with the floods of the Tiber, hunger, plague and the threat of war immediately after taking power. In addition to traditional atonement rites such as lustration and lecturing , foreign cults also came into play. In this context, Marcus Aurelius paid particular attention to the cult of the Egyptian god of all and healing Serapis , but without this being accepted as one of the state gods. Against the increased occurrence of self-proclaimed prophets and traveling preachers in times of crisis, Marcus Aurelius issued a rescript against the spread of superstitions , in which all acts that caused religious unrest were punished. With the mandata de sacrilegis , the provincial governors received instructions to search for religious offenders.

A revival of the consciousness of the “just war” was sought by Marcus Aurelius, also with religious reference, when he opened the second marcomannic war with a symbolic lance based on the ius fetiale on enemy territory. Since the Marcomanni broke the peace treaty of 175 with an incursion into Roman territory, this war was officially declared a bellum iustum and religiously legitimized. As a result of his investigation into Mark Aurel's religious policy, Motschmann comes to the conclusion that Roman religious practice and philosophical belief in God were not a contradiction in terms for the emperor, "but complemented each other and thus came to a peculiar synthesis."

Although the later Christian tradition generally endorsed the positive judgment about the emperor, the harshest persecution of Christians since Nero took place during the reign of Mark Aurel . In the years 165–168 - presumably in connection with the plague epidemic - Christians in the eastern part of the Roman Empire, which had been affected by the Parthian Wars, were increasingly victims of local popular anger, but not of a state-controlled initiative. Marcus Aurelius initially adhered to the line that had been in force since Trajan : They should not be prosecuted by the authorities as long as they renounced public confessions of their faith. The maintenance of public order was usually more important to the emperors than persecution. In their private life they could usually practice their Christianity undisturbed, even if it was de iure a capital crime to be a Christian. Under certain external and internal conditions, however, this practice of tacit tolerance did not guarantee personal safety everywhere. For example, decrees calling on the population to reconcile the state gods through sacrifices in the face of the plague could lead to aversions towards Christians, who actually had to refuse such sacrifices for reasons of faith. In this case they were executed. But there were also many lapses who denied their faith in front of the authorities: Those who renounced Christ were spared; only confessores ("confessors") were executed.

Further great persecutions of Christians took place in Gaul in the fall of 177 . The already mentioned strained public finances were probably to be regarded as one of the causes. Gladiators for the organization of circus games became increasingly scarce and expensive, as they were partly used to reinforce the legions in the war against the Teutons. Thus the costs of organizing such games, which had to be played by the incumbents of the municipal self-government in the provinces, rose beyond the tolerable level. Complaints in this regard from Gaul are likely to have led to the emperor and senate issuing a decree according to which criminals sentenced to death could in future be used as gladiators in the arena at cheap prices. In Lugdunum ( Lyon ), parts of the population set about tracking down Christians and, in cooperation with the local authorities, to have them tried, provided they did not renounce their confession. A xenophobic component could also have played a role in these events, as Greek names were numerous among the martyrs. Since Lugdunum was also an important center of the pagan religion in Gaul and a city in which many made their living in this context, the Christians here are likely to have been met with widespread rejection anyway. In any case, the responsible procurator secured the condemnation of the professing Christians by asking Marcus Aurelius. The following imperial rescript referred to the rule in use since Trajan; consequently, anyone who publicly professed Christianity suffered the death penalty. A clear tightening of the Trajan practice, however, is that Mark Aurel allowed an active search for Christians instead of just reacting to private reports.

After the Christians, who did not want to renounce their faith, were killed in the arena in Lugdunum 177, further persecutions of Christians in the reign of Marcus Aurelius are not known. This may be a coincidence given that he died two and a half years later. Perhaps, however, he has taken appropriate precautions after taking note of the course of events.

The usurpation of Avidius Cassius and the problem of his successor

In 175 the Syrian governor Avidius Cassius rose as a usurper . The background is not entirely clear, but both Cassius Dio and the (albeit often very unreliable) Historia Augusta cite that Faustina , the emperor's wife, worried about her husband's poor health and to maintain her own position after his death made contact with Avidius Cassius. In the east, Avidius Cassius, who had proven himself as a general in the Parthian War, was very popular. His proclamation as emperor was likely triggered by the rumor that Marcus Aurelius had died. However, when he realized that the emperor was still alive and unwilling to compromise, he made the mistake of not submitting to him and instead let it come down to a fight.

In the address of Mark Aurel to his troops before the departure against the usurper, reproduced by Cassius Dio, the emperor regretted the impending civil war-like armed conflict and assured him that he would have preferred to clarify the matter by negotiation before the Senate. It was not yet clear how Avidius Cassius would behave when they met; but it is to be feared that he will not survive the argument and that therefore Mark Aurel will not be able to forgive him and offer him his friendship. Because that would be the way he had in mind to show the world how to end a civil war.

In view of the preponderance of the Danube regions, in which Cassius received no recognition, his situation was not very promising. But there was no civil war in the first place, as Cassius was shortly afterwards slain by two men from his own ranks. The head of the rebel was sent to Markus, but he refused to look at it and ordered the funeral. He expressed his regret over the death of the capable general.

While still on the Danube border, Marcus Aurelius had his son Commodus come from Rome, made him princeps iuventutis , made peace with the Sarmatians and moved to the east of the empire to calm the situation in the provinces there after the uprising of Avidius Cassius. Mark Aurel's wife Faustina died on this trip at the age of 46. She has been said to be unfaithful to her husband. Perhaps knowing this, Marcus Aurelius had brought her to the Danube front and made her the "mother of the camp". Even after her death he did not refuse her an honorable souvenir, which on the other hand did not prevent him from choosing a concubine as soon as possible. The return journey took the emperor via Athens, where he endowed a chair for each of the four large, traditional schools of philosophy (the Platonic Academy , the Aristotelian Lyceum , the Stoa and Epicureanism ).

Successor and co-emperor Commodus around 180 AD.

On December 23, 176, Marcus Aurelius celebrated the triumph over the Teutons and Sarmatians together with Commodus in Rome (see above). On January 1, 177 he made Commodus (the twin brother Titus Aurelius Fulvus Antoninus was four years old, the one year younger brother Annius Verus Caesar died at the age of seven) as co-emperor (Augustus) with equal rights ; once to clarify its primacy over Lucius Verus. Nonetheless, it was the signal that could not be overlooked by all the world: Commodus would follow Marcus Aurelius. In the literature, which Commodus mainly judges as a bad emperor, Marcus has been interpreted as a serious weakness: Would it not have been up to him to continue the tradition of his predecessors and to hand over the fate of the empire into the best possible hands by means of adoption? Hadn't Commodus disqualified himself from being in power at a young age through incalculable behavior based on addiction? To many, the purely dynastic succession regulation does not seem to fit in at all with the other actions of the idealized philosopher emperor.

What explains Mark Aurel's decision: None of the adoptive emperors before him had a biological male heir to whom he could have made his successor. Commodus' claim - he had already been designated as a candidate for successor with the title Caesar at the age of five - was therefore not called into question by the adoption practice practiced by Mark Aurel's predecessors during the current century, even if the imperial dignity was not formally hereditary (see Principle ). The very fact that the childless emperors saw the need to adopt their successors shows, on the contrary, the factual importance of dynastic thinking.

Age portrait of Marcus Aurelius

The decisive factor was probably - judging by the course of events - the attempt at usurpation by Avidius Cassius, which showed that the poor health or the death of the emperor (175 as a rumor already deliberately spread) would have led to civil war if the question of succession had not been regulated can. In the given situation, only Commodus offered itself as a binding and, as far as possible, indisputable solution. There is nothing to suggest that Marcus Aurelius could ever have toyed with the idea of not making his son his successor. Its succession was simply a matter of course for everyone involved: As the emperor's private legacy, Commodus had enormous financial resources and the loyalty of the soldiers; as long as he lived he was inevitable as heir to the throne. Had Mark Aurel actually in favor of z. If, for example, one of his sons-in-law Commodus was not allowed to take action, this would have been equivalent to a death sentence against his own son in order to secure the power of the new ruler and could easily have provoked a civil war.

Marcus Aurelius, who may have noticed the problematic traits of his son, at least remained the hope that Commodus would grow into his tasks after puberty. In any case, he had to accompany his father's travels and campaigns from the middle of the year 175 - and until the end of March 180 - as heir to the throne, which had already been confirmed: Just as Antoninus had not let him out of his sight, Mark Aurel now also retained the Commodus always by his side. His training now concentrated heavily on the military, and it was no coincidence that Commodus remained very popular with the legions throughout his life. Nevertheless, the type and duration of his preparation for the role of ruler fell short of the possibilities that Marcus Aurelius had available. Incidentally, Commodus' later self-staging as a club-wielding Hercules and gladiator is less absurd for Fündling than it seems at first glance. According to Fündling, Hercules also acted as a symbol of a restless ruler who cleanses the world of plagues in accordance with stoic principles: “The spectacle of the blood-splattered Commodus may have been an attempt to make something of one's own out of the model, a stoicism that has hit the canine. "

Death and aftermath

The Roman Empire at the end of the reign of Marcus Aurelius: His armies occupied areas of the Marcomanni and the Jazygen for a few years . The brightly colored areas in the east are the Rome dependent kingdoms of Armenia , Colchis , Iberia and Albania .

On August 3, 178, Marcus Aurelius and Commodus embarked on the second Marcomannic War. During this campaign, the emperor died on March 17, 180, either according to Aurelius Victor in Vindobona, today's Vienna , or following his contemporary Tertullian in the Bononia camp near Sirmium of an unknown disease. Some scientists assume the Antonine plague as the cause of death, others suspect cancer . With the outbreak of the disease and in expectation of imminent death, the emperor had his son Commodus summoned and allegedly warned him to continue the campaign until victory. In this situation, Commodus was in a hurry to leave again - possibly out of fear of infection. Thereupon, in order to hasten his own end, Marcus Aurelius is said to have refused to eat and drink and soon afterwards be different. According to tradition, he replied to his complaining friends: “What are you crying for me? Weep for the plague and for everyone to die! ”The emperor's body was cremated on Campus Martius in Rome . Today the Palazzo di Montecitorio rises above the site of the Ustrinum , which was designed as a monument in antiquity . The ashes of Mark Aurel were buried in the mausoleum of Emperor Hadrian, which later became Castel Sant'Angelo . In his honor, the Senate of Rome had an honorary pillar ( Marcus Aurelius pillar ) erected between 176 and 193 . This can be found on the Piazza Colonna in Rome, which is named after her .

The best-known representation of Marcus Aurelius is his bronze equestrian statue , which has been erected since the Renaissance on the square ( Piazza del Campidoglio ) of the Capitol in Rome designed by Michelangelo (now a replica, the original in the neighboring museum). This equestrian statue has been featured on the 50 cent coin of the Italian version of this currency since the introduction of the euro in 2002 . Another cast of the equestrian statue is in Tulln on the Danube . The statue is there to commemorate the centuries-long presence of the Romans on the Danube border.

Sustainable admiration and appropriation in antiquity

The image that Marcus Aurelius had presented as ruler, as well as his traditional philosophical reflections, earned him a lot of respect and admiration among contemporaries and later generations, in broad sections of the population of the Roman Empire as well as among aristocrats and rulers. The Roman senator, contemporary and historian Cassius Dio praised Marcus Aurelius as an emperor who ruled better than anyone else in a comparable position of power. The veneration attested to the last adoptive emperor may have been intensified by the turbulence that set in after his reign, which in retrospect made his death appear as a turning point - in the words of Cassius Dios as a descent into an age of "iron and rust".

Gold bust of Septimius Severus , this emperor deliberately had the portraits of Marcus Aurelius imitated.

In the other important ancient source on the life and reign of Mark Aurel, the Historia Augusta , which was created in the 4th century, this emperor already has a special position in the title ( vita Marci Antonii philosophi ), as his name alone is linked to the term philosopher . Geoff W. Adams names moderation, equanimity, self-control and responsibility as characteristic traits that are consistently ascribed to him in the Historia Augusta . The distinction between fact and fiction in the Historia Augusta is extremely difficult, because the representation feeds on an epoch in which the idealization of Mark Aurel had penetrated his consideration comprehensively. Adams also classifies the two Marcus Aurelius critical sections (20 and 29) of the Marcus Vita in the Historia Augusta , which, in the tradition of Sueton's emperor biographies, were supposed to serve to unite the extremely positive overall picture of the philosopher on the imperial throne to give a neutral coat of paint. The Historia Augusta representation goals altogether rather on an educational paradigm as to historical realism.

Not only did his son Commodus succeed Marcus Aurelius Antoninus , but also Septimius Severus , who (fictitiously) declared himself the brother of Commodus and Mark Aurel's adoptive son and his successor in the Severian dynasty. In the 3rd century, Marcus Aurelius was part of the name of every ruler since Claudius Gothicus. By giving his name, Diocletian clearly committed himself to Marcus Aurelius; and in the second half of the fourth century, Emperor Julian highlighted him as a philosopher among all his predecessors and had the gods award him the victory in a satirical-fictional competition.

Christian reactions and reception

The main impression that Marcus Aurelius made in late antique and medieval Christianity was that of the persecutor of Christians. However, his Christian contemporaries did not react unanimously with rejection. Tertullian even assigned him a protective function ( protector ) for Christianity, as a result of Mark Aurel's gratitude to those Christians who, with their prayers , should have provided for the “ rain miracle ” in the first Marcomannic War.

The long-term Christian reception was shaped above all by the contemporary of the Christian-friendly Emperor Constantine , Eusebius of Caesarea , who highlighted Mark Aurel as a persecutor of Christians and specifically blamed him for the martyrdom of Polycarp of Smyrna in 155 (when Antoninus Pius was still emperor). Augustine of Hippo lists Marcus Aurelius in his work on the God state as the fourth of ten persecutors of Christians among the Roman emperors. The equestrian statue of Marcus was only preserved during the Middle Ages because it was believed to be the patron of Christianity, Constantine the Great. The image created by Eusebius survived almost throughout the Middle Ages: an emperor of the ancient world who had won the important war against the Parthians and organized the persecution of Christians.

Modern approaches and contemporary interpretations

The Last Words of the Philosopher Emperor , painting by Eugène Delacroix , 1844

In modern times, Marcus Aurelius was rediscovered and revered again as an ideal ruler. In the XIX. In the chapter of the Principe , Niccolò Machiavelli pays tribute to him in contrast to his successors and the soldier emperors of the 3rd century. Only he was generally highly venerated during his lifetime as well as after death, because he came into rule as a legitimate heir, i.e. he owed it neither to the soldiers nor to the people, and was therefore able to curb both without himself ever incurring hatred or contempt. In the Age of Enlightenment , according to Jörg Fündling, Mark Aurel became a downright fashion author, especially for Voltaire . "Reason, humanity, sense of duty and a non-Christian concept of God: This is how a king should be." Edward Gibbon , in his famous work History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire , based on Cassius Dio, took the view that with the death of Marcus Aurelius golden age have ended. From the modern era to the present day, important personalities have known themselves as his followers, including political leaders such as the enlightened Prussian monarch Friedrich II or the former German Chancellor Helmut Schmidt , but also Russian writers such as Anton Chekhov and the Nobel Prize laureate for literature Joseph Brodsky .

In the more recent research, among other things, the question of how important Mark Aurel's philosophy was for his political action, whether and what evidence there is for it. Lukas de Blois sees Mark Aurel's daily actions influenced by his philosophical inclinations, but not in the form of systematically founded political reforms. This is shown, among other things, in his attitude to questions of family law, the position of slaves and women. Thomas Finkenauer came to similar conclusions in his special investigation into the legislation affecting slaves under Marcus Aurelius. As a rule, slaves were not released against the interests of the slave masters. If they fled, they were persecuted like lawbreakers. A more generous release practice was only developed where only the imperial treasury was affected, i.e. in its own area of ​​disposal. Finkenauer also refers to the consilium principis , which was made up of the best lawyers of the time ; It provided advice “in an atmosphere that was apparently open to discussion” and had Mark Aurel's appreciation, so that many decisions might not have been any different even without his involvement. In summary it says: “As seldom as philosophical ideas appear in the treatises of the classical Roman jurists, it is also seldom a basis for decision-making or even just a motivation in the imperial constitutions. It would probably be too much for it. ”Christopher Gill also sees Mark Aurel's rescripts on the slave question aimed at a“ humane ”treatment of these unfree people, but not at a radically new, philosophically conceived change in the way they deal with them. Especially under the pressure of the Marcomannic Wars, it probably seemed to him the best way to pursue his stoic life project by exercising his rulership function in an effective and humane way.

On a twofold and only apparently contradicting view of Marcus Aurelius on the compatibility of his claim with his role as ruler in war, Jean-Baptiste Gourinat directs his attention on the basis of self -observations . At the beginning of Book VIII it says:

That also saves you from vain lust for glory that you have not been able to spend your whole life, especially not from your youth, as befits a philosopher, but appeared to many others, like yourself, as a person who was far from philosophy away. So you have a flaw and it is no longer easy for you to gain the fame of a philosopher. But your position in life is also a hindrance to you.

According to his own assessment, Marcus Aurelius cannot claim the rank and fame of a philosopher - also because his everyday life stands in his way. But this consideration can be found elsewhere:

How clearly it imposes itself that no other basis of life is so favorable to philosophizing as that in which you now find yourself.
The column of Marcus Aurelius in the cityscape of Rome, Piazza Colonna

For Gourinat, the merging of both perspectives results in Mark Aurel's existence in political responsibility costing the reputation of the philosopher on the one hand, but on the other hand providing him with a political practice that does not even tempt him to write treatises or his time to spend with unrealistic theoretical speculations.

For Marcel van Ackeren and Jan Opsomer, Mark Aurel cannot be adequately grasped from a purely historical perspective. Like hardly any other figure from antiquity, he is interesting for a variety of disciplines, including archeology , philosophy, philology , numismatics , political science and legal history . The self-contemplation , the Marcus Aurelius column , his equestrian statue , the extremely diverse coinage as well as ongoing archaeological finds required and enabled interdisciplinary research with the aim of using comparative methodology to develop and convey the most multifaceted understanding of Marcus Aurelius and its effects. This is the direction in which the Mark Aurelian account by the ancient historian Alexander Demandt seems to aim, who intends to “try again” “to classify the literary and epigraphic, the numismatic and archaeological testimonies of the war in a chronicle that they correspond to each other do not stand in the way and make the geostrategic sequence of events comprehensible. "

Mark Aurel's own view on the question of post-fame is contained in the self- reflections:

Words that were once used are now incomprehensible expressions. This is also the case with the names of formerly highly praised men, such as Camillus , Kaeso , Volesus, Leonnatus, and in a short time this will also be the case with a Scipio and Cato , afterwards with Augustus and then with Hadrian and Antoninus . Everything passes and soon becomes a fairy tale and quickly sinks into complete oblivion ...


In addition to the self-reflections (see below):

Birley offers a more detailed representation of the source situation.


Overview representations

  • Ilsetraut Hadot, Richard Goulet: Marcus Annius Verus (Marc Aurèle). In: Richard Goulet (ed.): Dictionnaire des philosophes antiques . Volume 4, CNRS Éditions, Paris 2005, ISBN 2-271-06386-8 , pp. 269-281

Introductions and general presentations

Essay collections

  • Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.): A Companion to Marcus Aurelius. Blackwell, Oxford et al. 2012 (current and comprehensive scientific introduction with contributions from international experts).
  • Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.): Self-contemplation and self-portrayals. The philosopher and emperor Marc Aurel in an interdisciplinary light. Files of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne July 23 to 25, 2009. Reichert, Wiesbaden 2012, ISBN 978-3-89500-929-7 ( table of contents ).
  • Volker Grieb (ed.): Marc Aurel - ways to his rule. Computus, Gutenberg 2017, ISBN 978-3-940598-27-1 ( table of contents ).
  • Richard Klein (Ed.): Marc Aurel. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1979, ISBN 3-534-07802-0 (important collection of articles on older research).

Investigations on individual topics

  • Richard P. Duncan-Jones: The Impact of the Antonine Plague. In: Journal of Roman Archeology . Volume 9, 1996, pp. 108-136.
  • Cornelius Motschmann: The religious policy of Marc Aurels (= Hermes individual writings. Volume 88). Franz Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart 2002, ISBN 3-515-08166-6 .
  • Klaus Rosen: The alleged sovereignty of Marc Aurel and Lucius Verus. A contribution from the Historia Augusta to the constitutional law of the Roman Empire. In: Historiae Augustae Colloquia. Nov. Ser. I, Macerata 1991, pp. 271-285.


  • Susanne Börner: Marc Aurel in the mirror of his coins and medallions. A comparative analysis of the urban Roman coins between 138 and 180 AD (= Antiquitas . Series I, Volume 58). Habelt, Bonn 2012, ISBN 978-3-7749-3769-7 .
  • Detlev von der Burg (ed.): Marc Aurel. The rider on the Capitol. Hirmer, Munich 1999, ISBN 3-7774-8340-0 (art historical study on the equestrian statue).


Web links

Commons : Mark Aurel  - album with pictures, videos and audio files
Wikisource: Mark Aurel  - Sources and full texts


  1. The spelling “Marc Aurel” is found almost equally often. Marcus Annius Verus (or Marcus Catilius Severus , as he was also called) took the name Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus after his adoption by Emperor Antoninus Pius (the alternative name as Aurelius Caesar Augusti Pii Filius is also passed down).
  2. ^ Name without an imperial title. His full name and title at the time of his death was Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus Germanicus Sarmaticus, Pontifex Maximus , Tribuniciae potestatis XXXIV, Imperator X, Consul III, Pater patriae .
  3. All of the following quotations from the self-contemplations originate, unless otherwise stated, from the transfer of Albert Wittstock: Marc Aurel: Self-contemplations . Reclam, Stuttgart 1949; Reprint 1995. The 12 books are indicated in the job references as usual with the Roman numerals I to XII, the subsections with Arabic numerals, z. E.g .: Mark Aurel II, 2nd
  4. Fündling emphasizes that the birth of Marcus was of special interest to Hadrian because Marcus Aurel's grandfather Annius Verus, because of his loyal attitude and his functions as acting consul and city prefect (and thus as the only member of the Senatorial class) was supposedly particularly close to the childless ruler: "If little Annius survived, one would have to think about him ..." (Fündling 2008, p. 17).
  5. No one had been elected to this group before Marcus Aurelius when they were under 16. The exception probably went back to Hadrian as Pontifex Maximus (Fündling 2008, p. 24).
  6. In Jörg Fündling states: Hadrian chose Antoninus, "without living son, but with a nephew of powerful family, the emperor had observed carefully and excellent." The question was whether Antoninus was even available without Marcus. As soon as this was integrated into the line of succession, however, the pension advantage over Lucius, the adoptive father Antoninus and each passing year favored the Marcus over Lucius. “The initiator had to know that. On the other hand, by making both brothers, Hadrian secured Lucius' future to a certain extent by appealing to Antoninus' like Marcus' pietas ... ”(Jörg Fündling: Commentary on the Vita Hadriani of the Historia Augusta . Bonn 2006, vol. 4.2 , Pp. 1068-1070).
  7. Fündling 2008, p. 38.
  8. See Henning Börm : Born to be emperor. The principle of succession and the Roman monarchy . In: Johannes Wienand (Ed.): Contested Monarchy . Oxford University Press, Oxford 2015, p. 239 ff.
  9. Historia Augusta , Marcus Aurelius 2, 6; Birley, p. 61.
  10. ^ Marcus Aurelius X, 16.
  11. Mark Aurel XI, 29.
  12. Mark Aurel VI, 21.
  13. ^ Marcus Aurelius IX, 42.
  14. Mark Aurel VIII, 59.
  15. Mark Aurel VI, 48.
  16. Mark Aurel VIII, 17th century.
  17. Mark Aurel V, 9.
  18. ^ Marcus Aurelius I, 16.
  19. The date of the first tribunicia potestas of Mark Aurel to the year 146, which is still often to be read today, goes back to Theodor Mommsen and his chronological order of the letters Frontos. It was supported by the birth of a daughter of Marcus Aurelius mentioned in the Fasti Ostienses in combination with an incorrect dating of an inscription from Smyrna (Inscriptiones Graecae ad res Romanas pertinentes IV 1399). Anthony R. Birley: Marcus Aurelius. Little, Brown, Boston MA et al. 1966, p. 78. 188, dated the birth of a daughter mentioned in the Fasti Ostienses , which preceded the award of the tribunicia potestas , to the year 147, as did Peter Herz : Imperial festivals of the principality's time. In: Hildegard Temporini (ed.): Rise and decline of the Roman world . Volume 16: Religion (Paganism: Roman Religion, General). Part 2. De Gruyter, Berlin 1978, pp. 1135–1200, here p. 1173. At the latest since the re-dating of the inscription from Smyrna by Georg Petzl : Τ. Statilius Maximus - Proconsul of Asia. In: Chiron . Volume 13, 1983, pp. 33-36, the beginning of the year 146 is considered obsolete. Cf. for example Walter Ameling : The children of Marc Aurel and the portrait types of Faustina Minor. In: Journal of Papyrology and Epigraphy . Volume 90, 1992, pp. 147-166, here pp. 150 f .; Werner Eck : The Political State of the Roman Empire. In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.): A Companion to Marcus Aurelius. Blackwell, Oxford et al. 2012, pp. 95-109, here p. 96; Susanne Börner: Coins. In: ibid pp. 278–293, here p. 283.
  20. Mark Aurel I, 14.
  21. Mark Aurel VI, 30.
  22. Mark Aurel IX, 29.
  23. Mark Aurel VII, 5.
  24. Mark Aurel VIII, 38.
  25. Mark Aurel VI, 44.
  26. Mark Aurel VIII, 50.
  27. Quoted from Birley 1977, p. 326f.
  28. Demandt 2018, p. 311 with reference to Historia Augusta, Marcus Aurelius 11, 1.
  29. Cassius Dio 72,32,3; quoted from Fündling 2008, p. 140.
  30. Demandt 2018, p. 313 with reference to Historia Augusta, Marcus Aurelius 9, 9.
  31. Cf. Ammianus Marcellinus 29, 6, 1.
  32. Fündling 2008, p. 97.
  33. Fündling 2008, p. 110.
  34. Motschmann 2002, p. 12.
  35. Motschmann 2002, pp. 103–125 under the heading: “Religion as an Instrument for Overcoming Crises”.
  36. Motschmann 2002, p. 167 f.
  37. Motschmann 2002, pp. 199-204. "In 178, for the first and last time in Roman history, the application of fetal law was deliberately determined by the idea of ​​a just war." (Ibid., P. 203)
  38. Motschmann 2002, p. 272.
  39. Cf. Paul Keresztes: Was Marc Aurel a Persecutor of Christians? In: Richard Klein (Ed.): Marc Aurel . Scientific Book Society, Darmstadt 1979, ISBN 3-534-07802-0 , pp. 261-303 .
  40. Cassius Dio 71: 24-27; quoted from Demandt 2018, p. 237 f.
  41. Demandt 2018, p. 240.
  42. Demandt 2018, p. 318 f. “The emperor prepared his son for his task in a planned and responsible manner and the Romans attuned to their future master. The preliminary stages for taking over power were known and proven since Augustus' succession policy. "(Ibid., P. 319)
  43. Fündling 2008, pp. 173f.
  44. Cassius Dio 71,33,4.
  45. Aurelius Victor, Liber de Caesaribus 16:14; Epitomes 16.12; Birley 1977, p. 379 represents this information.
  46. Tertullian, Apologeticum 25; this information is represented by Fündling 2008, p. 171 and Herbert Bannert : Der Tod des Kaisers Marcus. In: Richard Klein (Ed.): Marc Aurel . Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1979, pp. 459–472, here: p. 466.
  47. Stefan Winkle: Cultural history of epidemics . Düsseldorf 1997. p. 434.
  48. Historia Augusta, Marcus Aurelius 28, 4; Translation from Fündling 2008, p. 171, who sums it up there: "So in a way he chose his end himself."
  49. ^ Romolo A. Staccioli, Guida di Roma antica . Milano 1994. p. 343 and (plan) 344.
  50. Fündling 2008, p. 178: "It is certain that Marcus' time for Dio embodied the last fixed point of the relationship between emperor and senate to which Rome was to return."
  51. Julia Bruch / Katrin Herrmann: The Reception of the Philosopher-King in Antiquity and the Medieval Age . In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.) 2012: A Companion ... , pp. 483 and 485.
  52. ^ "The central character traits that were emphasized by the author of the Vita Marci were: moderation, equanimity, self-control, and responsibility." (Geoff W. Adams: Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond. Lanham, MD 2013, P. 242)
  53. ^ Geoff W. Adams: Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond. Lanham, MD 2013, p. 250.
  54. "It seems probable that the HA biographer sought to include these references to Marcus' weaknesses to establish his presentation as being more even-handed. If this was the case, it is clear that they were unsuccessful because of the severe break in the character representation of Marcus Aurelius and the biographical inconsistency in the narrative that they produce. ”(Geoff W. Adams: Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond. Lanham, MD 2013, p. 242)
  55. ^ "Judging from the evidence, it is clear that Marcus Aurelius was a benevolent and responsible princeps , but the representation provided in the Vita Marci Antonii extends this beyond the reality of Marcus' life into an idealized presentation of an almost 'perfect' Emperor. "(Geoff W. Adams: Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond. Lanham, MD 2013, p. 247)
  56. ^ Katrin Herrmann: Concept of rule and practice of rule with Marc Aurel and a new concept of Optimus princeps in the 3rd century. In: Marcel van Ackeren (ed.), Wiesbaden 2012 (files of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne 2009), pp. 197–200.
  57. ^ Katrin Herrmann: Concept of rule and practice of rule with Marc Aurel and a new concept of Optimus princeps in the 3rd century. In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.), Wiesbaden 2012 (files of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne 2009), p. 187.
  58. Julia Bruch / Katrin Herrmann: The Reception of the Philosopher-King in Antiquity and the Medieval Age . In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.) 2012: A Companion ... , p. 488 f.
  59. Julia Bruch / Katrin Herrmann: The Reception of the Philosopher-King in Antiquity and the Medieval Age . In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.) 2012: A Companion ... , pp. 490 and 493.
  60. Fündling 2008, p. 180, who tied his biographical presentation, which was by no means apologetically intended, to the goal, Mark Aurel in the context of "conditionality, dependency, compulsion, thought barriers (s), conventions and automatic processes (s)" to be viewed (p. 12).
  61. See Gibbon, Decline and Fall , Chapter 1.
  62. Lukas de Blois: The Relation of Politics and Philosophy under Marcus Aurelius . In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.) 2012: A Companion ... , p. 179 f.
  63. Thomas Finkenauer: Mark Aurel's legislation on slavery. Mainz 2010, pp. 87-91.
  64. Christopher Gill: Marcus Aurelius: Philosophy and the Rest of Life. In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.), Wiesbaden 2012 (files of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne 2009), p. 57.
  65. Mark Aurel VIII, first Καὶ τοῦτο πρὸς τὸ ἀκενόδοξον φέρει, ὅτι οὐκέτι δύνασαι τὸν βίον ὅλον ἢ τόν γε ἀπὸ νεότητος φιλόσοφον βεβιωκέναι , ἀλλὰ πολλοῖς τε ἄλλοις καὶ αὐτὸς ἑαυτῷ δῆλος γέγονας πόῤῥω φιλοσοφίας ὤν . πέφυρσαι οὖν, ὥστε τὴν μὲν δόξαν τὴν τοῦ φιλοσόφου κτήσασθαι οὐκέτι σοι ῥᾴδιον˙ ἀνταγςω δθαθ ἡὲ ὑπς.
  66. Mark Aurel XI, 7. Πῶς ἐναργὲς προσπίπτει τὸ μὴ εἶναι ἄλλην βίου ὑπόθεσιν εἰς τὸ φιλοσοφεῖν οὕτἐως ντύεῖν οὕτἐως ντύης οὕτἐως ντνυη οὕτἐως ντνη οὕτἐως ντνυη ουτἐως ντν ντε ντανᾗς ντενᾗς ντντᾗς ντενής ντενᾗς ντενᾗς ντενᾗς ντενής ντενής ντενής. (Quoted from: Marc Aurel: Paths to self. Edited and translated by Willy Theiler, Zurich and Munich, 3rd edition, 1984, p. 259)
  67. Jean Baptiste Gourinat: What Marcus Aurelius a philosopher? In: Marcel van Ackeren (Ed.), Wiesbaden 2012 (files of the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne 2009), p. 71 f .: “In other words, he seems to analyze his situation as favorable to the practice of philosophy, without spending himself in a theoretical speculation disconnected from practice. "
  68. Marcel van Ackeren, Jan Opsomer: The emperor and philosopher Marc Aurel as an object of interdisciplinary research. In this. (Ed.), Wiesbaden 2012 (files from the Interdisciplinary Colloquium Cologne 2009), pp. 15–17.
  69. Demandt 2018, p. 10. “Our knowledge of antiquity, which is worth knowing, can hardly be increased at all. It is and will remain possible and sensible to repeatedly pick out the cimelia from this immense treasure and present them in a form that brings out their shine. "(Ibid.)
  70. Mark Aurel IV, 33.
  71. Birley, Mark Aurel , 1977, pp. 409ff .; and Marcus Aurelius , 1987, p. 226ff.
predecessor Office successor
Antoninus Pius Roman Emperor
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on April 24, 2006 .