MEDITATIONS

MEDITATIONS

4.6 9
by Marcus Aurelius
     
 

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INTRODUCTION


MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS was born on April 26, A.D. 121. His real name
was M. Annius Verus, and he was sprung of a noble family which claimed
descent from Numa, second King of Rome. Thus the most religious of
emperors came of the blood of the most pious of early kings. His father,
Annius Verus, had held high office in Rome,

Overview

INTRODUCTION


MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS was born on April 26, A.D. 121. His real name
was M. Annius Verus, and he was sprung of a noble family which claimed
descent from Numa, second King of Rome. Thus the most religious of
emperors came of the blood of the most pious of early kings. His father,
Annius Verus, had held high office in Rome, and his grandfather, of
the same name, had been thrice Consul. Both his parents died young, but
Marcus held them in loving remembrance. On his father's death Marcus
was adopted by his grandfather, the consular Annius Verus, and there was
deep love between these two. On the very first page of his book Marcus
gratefully declares how of his grandfather he had learned to be gentle
and meek, and to refrain from all anger and passion. The Emperor Hadrian
divined the fine character of the lad, whom he used to call not Verus
but Verissimus, more Truthful than his own name. He advanced Marcus to
equestrian rank when six years of age, and at the age of eight made him
a member of the ancient Salian priesthood. The boy's aunt, Annia Galeria
Faustina, was married to Antoninus Pius, afterwards emperor. Hence it
came about that Antoninus, having no son, adopted Marcus, changing his
name to that which he is known by, and betrothed him to his daughter
Faustina. His education was conducted with all care. The ablest teachers
were engaged for him, and he was trained in the strict doctrine of the
Stoic philosophy, which was his great delight. He was taught to dress
plainly and to live simply, to avoid all softness and luxury. His body
was trained to hardihood by wrestling, hunting, and outdoor games; and
though his constitution was weak, he showed great personal courage to
encounter the fiercest boars. At the same time he was kept from the
extravagancies of his day. The great excitement in Rome was the strife
of the Factions, as they were called, in the circus. The racing drivers
used to adopt one of four colours--red, blue, white, or green--and their
partisans showed an eagerness in supporting them which nothing could
surpass. Riot and corruption went in the train of the racing chariots;
and from all these things Marcus held severely aloof.

In 140 Marcus was raised to the consulship, and in 145 his betrothal
was consummated by marriage. Two years later Faustina brought him a
daughter; and soon after the tribunate and other imperial honours were
conferred upon him.

Antoninus Pius died in 161, and Marcus assumed the imperial state. He
at once associated with himself L. Ceionius Commodus, whom Antoninus had
adopted as a younger son at the same time with Marcus, giving him the
name of Lucius Aurelius Verus. Henceforth the two are colleagues in the
empire, the junior being trained as it were to succeed. No sooner was
Marcus settled upon the throne than wars broke out on all sides. In
the east, Vologeses III. of Parthia began a long-meditated revolt by
destroying a whole Roman Legion and invading Syria (162). Verus was sent
off in hot haste to quell this rising; and he fulfilled his trust by
plunging into drunkenness and debauchery, while the war was left to his
officers. Soon after Marcus had to face a more serious danger at home in
the coalition of several powerful tribes on the northern frontier. Chief
among those were the Marcomanni or Marchmen, the Quadi (mentioned in
this book), the Sarmatians, the Catti, the Jazyges. In Rome itself there
was pestilence and starvation, the one brought from the east by Verus's
legions, the other caused by floods which had destroyed vast quantities
of grain. After all had been done possible to allay famine and to supply
pressing needs--Marcus being forced even to sell the imperial jewels to
find money--both emperors set forth to a struggle which was to continue
more or less during the rest of Marcus's reign. During these wars, in
169, Verus died. We have no means of following the campaigns in detail;
but thus much is certain, that in the end the Romans succeeded in
crushing the barbarian tribes, and effecting a settlement which made the
empire more secure. Marcus was himself commander-in-chief, and victory
was due no less to his own ability than to his wisdom in choice of
lieutenants, shown conspicuously in the case of Pertinax. There were
several important battles fought in these campaigns; and one of them has
become celebrated for the legend of the Thundering Legion. In a battle
against the Quadi in 174, the day seemed to be going in favour of
the foe, when on a sudden arose a great storm of thunder and rain the
lightning struck the barbarians with terror, and they turned to rout.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940012472816
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
05/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
173 KB

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Meditations (Barnes & Noble Library of Essential Reading) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
what a great book. Timeline is a bit difficult to follow, but well worth rereading.
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