Marcus Annius Verus (initially Marcus Catilius Severus ) took, after its adoption by the emperor Antonin the Piles, the name of Marcus Ælius Aurelius Verus . As an emperor, it was made call Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus . Lower cf its other names and titles.
BiographyMarc Aurèle, “who cultivated during all his life the reading, and overrode all the emperors by the purity of his manners, was wire of Vérus Asses, which died praetor”. (Julius Capitolinus, History Auguste .)
Its grandfather Asses Vérus, consul and prefect of Rome, was aggregate to the patricians by the emperors Vespasien and Titus, during their censure. His/her paternal uncle, Asses Libon, was consul; his/her aunt Galérie Faustine carried the title of Auguste; his/her mother Domitia Calvilla was girl of Calvisius Tullus, which had obtained twice the consulate. Its paternal great-grandfather, Asses Vérus, after having exerted préture in the municipe of Succube in Spain, became senator. Its maternal great-grandfather, Severe Catilius, was twice consul and prefect of Rome. Its paternal grandmother was Rupilie Faustine, girl of consular the Rupilius Bonus.
Marc Aurèle was born with Rome the six from the calends from May (April 26th 121), in the gardens of the Mont Célius, under the second consulate of his grandfather and under that of Augur, within an Italian family which lived a long time in Spain. He was high in the same place where he was born, and in the house of its Vérus grandfather, close to the palate of Latéran. He had a sister younger than, and named him Annia Cornificia. To its birth, it bore initially the name of its grandfather, and his maternal great-grandfather Catilius Severus . But, after the death of his/her father, Hadrian named it Annius Verissimus ; and when it had taken the toga virilis, it was, his father having died, raised and adopted by its paternal grandfather, under the name of Marcus Annius Verus .
After the death of his father, whereas it is only three years old, the emperor Hadrian took it under his protection and asked, in 138, with his adoptive son, Antonin, to adopt it in his turn like Lucius Verus, the son of that which Hadrian had initially chosen like heir and who had just died. After its adoption it becomes Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus .
The historian Dion Cassius makes a particularly revealing assessment on the character of Marc Aurèle. He writes indeed:
what I admire more in him, it is that in extraordinary difficulties and out of the commun run, he managed to survive and to save the empire.
This judgment is disputed sometimes by certain modern historians who make of Marc Aurèle a rather unspecified emperor and who, exceeded by the difficulties of his task, would have found in philosophy a derivative, a consolation. However, this opinion is vigorously disputed at the same time by the judgment of the ancient, quasi unanimous historians to rent the character, and by the majority of the current historians who, without denying the very many difficulties of his reign, admit the great moral rigor of the character.
Its Masters were, for philosophy, Apollonius de Chalcédoine; for the Greek literature, Sextus de Chéronée, grandson of Plutarque; for the Latin letters and rhetoric, Pediment, the most famous speaker of this time. It exchanged with this last, a correspondence which extended from 139, time when Marc-Aurèle became his pupil, with 166, year of died of Pediment. This correspondence is interesting because it provides invaluable details on the family personal life and of Marc Aurèle and on the court of Antonin. It reveals also the strong friendship which bound the two men, friendship sometimes tarnished by some estrangements as in 146/147 when Marc Aurèle “converts” with philosophy.
Hérodien, in its “ Roman Histoire ” (I delivers) affirms that “ of all the princes who took the quality of philosopher, him only deserved it ”. It did not make it only consist in knowing all the feelings and with knowing to discourse of all things, but rather in an exact and severe practice of the virtue. The subjects having an honor to imitate their prince, one never saw as well philosophers as under his reign.
The historian Dion Cassius, in his “ Roman Histoire ” (delivers 71) teaches us that Marc Aurèle “was weak of temperament and gave to the study almost all his time; it is said that, even being emperor, it did not redden to go in its professors, that it attended the philosopher Sextus de Béotie, and that it did not fear to go to listen to the lessons of the rhetor Hermogène; moreover it was especially attached to the sect stoical”.
In 145, he married his German cousin Annia Faustina (Faustine the Young person), the girl of Antonin, of which he will have very many children. The ancient historians rained themselves to evoke many supposed adulteries of Faustine the Young person but it is certain that Marc Aurèle was deeply affected by the death in 176 with Halala in Cappadoce of that which the soldiers called affectionately, because of its presence at the sides of her husband in the military campaigns, MATER castrorum (the Mother of the camps).
Its qualities morals and the excellence of received education point out it by Hadrian who recognizes in him a possible successor, but too young person in 138, it will have to await the death of Antonin to assemble on the throne the March 7th 161. By respect for Hadrian, it then associates his brother of adoption Lucius Verus with the Empire.
Its reign was marked by the recrudescence of the wars on all fronts: the philosophical emperor, convert with stoicism, will have to pass all his reign to be tempted to clog all the breaches which open in the borders of an immense and attacked Empire of all shares.
The year of its accession to the throne the Parthes invaded the Eastern provinces of the empire and the Roman army knew a first disaster. Lucius Verus is sent in urgency in the East. If the military capacities of the Co-emperor are real, its love of the luxury and the vice quickly makes him give up the direction of the operations with two excellent generals, Statius Priscus and especially Avidius Cassius. Between 162 and 166, the Romans take again the advantage and seize the two big cities the Parthian kingdom, Séleucie of the Tiger and especially the capital Ctésiphon.
On the internal plan, it achieves an important legislative work. But its reign is announced by its intolerance with regard to the Christian religion, which knows important persecutions. In 165, Marc Aurèle persecutes the Christians (see Persécution of Marc Aurèle). Justin dies martyr.
The two emperors celebrate their triumph in 166 but the Roman army of return to Rome brings back in its luggage the " Plague antonine " , a terrible epidemic which makes such damage in the population that certain historians wrongly made of it the decisive cause of the Roman decline (occurred two centuries later). The social consequences and economic of this epidemic were however very serious. Besides the beginning of the reign knew great natural disasters which strongly marked the spirits, like the floods of the the Tiber in 161 or the earthquake of Cyzique in 165.
Hardly the war against Parthes it is finished that a new threat appears at the borders. The cruel people installed in the Danubian areas, the Quades and the Marcomans, directly threaten north of the Italy. The threat is so strong that the two emperors personally on the spot go in 168/169 and spend the winter in Aquilée. In January 169 Lucius Verus dies exhausted and sick and thus leaves Marc Aurèle like only emperor. It is necessary more than five years (169/175) for the emperor to come to end from this threat. It was then pressed on qualified generals like Claudius Pompeianus his son-in-law, or Pertinax, the future emperor.
At this point in time a false rumor - real or pretexts? - death of Marc Aurèle led Avidius Cassius, governor of a broad part of the East, to proclaim emperor. The fidelity of the governor of Cappadoce, Martius Verus, leaves time to the emperor to raise troops and to prepare to go on the rebel. But in July 175 this one is assassinated and its head sent to Marc Aurèle. This last judge more careful to however accomplish a voyage in the East with its wife, who dies in way, and her son Commode. He visits the Cilicie, the Syria, the Egypt then with the return by Smyrna and Athens where, with his son, he is initiated with the Mystères of Éleusis.
It is at the time of one of its campaigns on the Danube, that Marc-Aurèle fell sick, in Pannonia. He dies the March 17th 180, probably struck by the plague (of which true nature is unknown) with Vindobona (today Vienna in Austria).
As soon as that it felt its end to approach, it did not deal any more but with his son Commode, who had only fifteen or sixteen years, and the emperor feared that abandoned with itself in a so great youth, it did not forget soon the good instructions that one had given him, to be delivered to excesses and the vice. Contrary to the wise practices of its predecessors, already started by Hadrian, it not leaves the empire with worthiest but to its son, renewing dynastic practices which had been fatal at the 1st century with the Julio-Claudiens then with the Flaviens.
DoctrinesMarc Aurèle was a stoical , his intellectual guides were all of the representatives of the Gantry: Épictète, Apollonius de Chalcédoine, Sextus de Chéronée. Of this heritage, it made a practical philosophy of the life which it exposed in its single work “Pensées for myself”.
Through the twelve books which compose the thought , several topics, often in the form of recurring maxims. One has as follows:
- All the things take part of a All (which it names One sometimes , God , Nature , Substance , Loi , Raison ). Us, men, sums of the parts of this Whole.
- We must live according to Nature, i.e. while following the Natural law and this one proceeds of Providence, therefore all that arrives is necessary and useful to the universal world, of which you form part (Book II).
- That wants to also say to live in conformity with the Nature of the man who is reasonable and sociable. It is necessary to tend towards what is useful and appropriate well to the community (Book VII)
- death belongs to Nature, because any exchange, all change, all, since eternity, similarly occur and will reproduce in other similar forms ad infinitum (Book IX).
- What imports it is the present, it is neither the future, nor the past which are you with load, but always the present .
Philosophical contribution" Often thought on the sequence of all things in the world and of their reciprocal reports/ratios, they are could one say interlaced the ones to the others and, therefore, have the ones for the others a mutual insurance company friendship, and that under the terms of the connection which involves it and of the unit of the matière" writes Marc-Aurèle in Pensées for myself (VI, 38). It seems that the emperor philosophizes had already seized in a way more conceptual than physical than Einstein will show well later: " All forces, any movement, all dimensions, all characteristics material are relative and take part in a unit: the univers."
Marc-Aurèle fits in a " Stoicism abouti". What let us understand by there? We mean that the emperor had sufficiently integrated the teaching of Epictète, Sénèque and Zénon to prolong with address the knowledge of this control of passions which formula the teaching of stoicism.
The recognition of the harmony of the Pneuma , of this hot breath which crosses our being to carry out it towards the movement of the life and its balance with the destiny does not imply any fatalism but request a certain practice.
It is with this Art praxis that Marc-Aurèle is exerted. It is of him, indeed, that we hold " this matter for the conduite" , ethics actually very far away from the aspect Manichean which often imposes collective morals, ethical near contrary to a right understanding in our acts: " best the manner of being avenged, it is not to make itself similar to those which made you mal".
Marc-Aurèle will have always in heart to recognize within the complexity of the human relations and the formations even physical what the man can bring in terms of balance as much for itself that for the world. Control thus fits in a dynamics which exceeds the human being in order to bind more closely to the harmony of a single world: " All things are dependant between it and of a crowned node, and there is almost nothing which does not have its relations. All the beings are coordinated together, all contribute to the harmony of very the monde"
The understanding of the philosophical emperor thus comes to promise a certain agreement between what it names " genius (or demon) intérieur" , the possibility of apprehending nature by creation, and what nature in its turn creates and determines. From this relation is born a certain wisdom and manner of living, an idea of what the universe can bring to the individual as what the individual can bring to the universe: " Remember the universal matter of which you are a so mean part; duration without end of which it to you was assigned one so short moment, and like a point; finally of the destiny of which you are a share and what a share! ".
The philosophical emperor confronts his political obligations with the values which its stoical Masters taught to him, but also with other references: the philosophical contribution of Plato, Épicure, Démocrite, Héraclite. It is in the sense that the texts of Marc Aurèle keep an unquestionable interest. They put indeed forward an ethical accuracy within a policy where art to decide must be always articulated with this interrogation: do you want the capacity for the capacity or the exercise of the capacity? In other words, is your ambition to obtain the power, or to be able through it to reflect, say and act so that a virtuous way is traced for the city?
Far from being simple to put into practice, this interrogation underlines the concern for an emperor who, holding the supreme, continuous capacity to wonder about its own motivations and more hidden intentions. It is a lesson which, without any doubt, much of politicians should at present contemplate. The fact of stopping polemizing to wonder whether what one tries to create changing of a certain “kindness” and of a desire to help or a very personal ambition implies the politician to center and mark one time necessary in its decision making.
Marc Aurèle underlines throughout his writings the highest values of the human being: Wisdom, Justice, Moral fiber and Temperance, which since Plato is the four principal virtues of the Philosophe, those which ensure the coherence and the force of the actions of this last. The originality of its work lies in the personal tone of the " Thoughts for me-même" , which testifies to an acute attention to the urgency of " to live for the bien" , i.e. to live with dignity in a world full with disorders, with the urgency to achieve its role of man owner of a " genius intérieur" : form intelligence to locate the reason and to raise its judgment. The precariousness of the human existence, the fugacity of time, the memory, which absorbs all the men, large or small, in the lapse of memory and death; the smallness of the man and the ground in the infinite one of the universe: such are the broad topics of the philosophy of Marc Aurèle. This so modern insistence does not have anything tragedy because the man has his place in this universe where each being is located in an ordered way. By its " genius intérieur" , its reasonable spirit (still it is not a question of rationality), the man takes part of this divine cosmos. It includes/understands its eternal transformation. This vision thus eliminates the fear of the dead one which is not destruction but change, renewal of the universe. This natural event thus should be accepted peacefully. The goal of the man is then to live with dignity the present, to play its part which is to be useful for the community property, because all the men are related to nature: " That the future is not disturbed because you will come to him, when is needed it, with the same reason that you use for the things présentes".
Marc-Aurèle expresses a very high direction of his responsibility in the State, and severely criticizes itself while interrogant unceasingly the finality of the political action: " Takes the practice as much as possible, to ask you which end refers this action, which the man wishes who wants to act? ". In all the cases, the philosopher insists very lengthily on the idea that the vision of the Whole, of its eternal transformations, raises our heart. To take share with natural balance by making its thought a means to be in harmony with the world takes part in our own balance. " Vision of Tout" goes even beyond this design of balance, it places the individual in a complex relationship with the whole of the universe and obliges it to think the multiplicity of the relations between a man and " the totality of the existence" (what implies any life but also very lasted). This is why the destiny is not so foreign for us. Admittedly, it can sometimes dominate us but there does not exist without its " acteurs" and the men form part of it.
This vision of the whole eliminates to them false representations, passions (within the meaning of the suffering), in particular the ambition, pride, anger, and leads us to be modest, right and benevolent towards each man, our equal as a be reasonable and sociable, which it is necessary to listen to in " entering its âme". The man who follows the reason in all is " quiet and decided at the same time, radiant and at the same time consistant". In this direction, the emperor was a precursor of the Age of Enlightenment specifying (like Kant) the Reason like better guide for the comprehension and the judgment of the human being.
The human reason which is thus " genius intérieur" of the man becomes this piece of the divine universal purpose which is providence and to which the man must approve because it is, we included/understood it, like a part in particularly significant. The originality and the modernity of the thought of Marc-Aurèle also lie in the radical distinction and already " Cartesian ne" (desired anachronism) of the human intelligence, not only with the body, but also with the material gasoline heart. It is besides starting from this physical design that the philosophical emperor speaks then as of his ethical considerations which are: " principle of the vital functions, controls passions" and " mark spirit of the temps".
Marc-Aurèle regards himself as a " progressant" , i.e. as that which progresses little by little on the way of the universal order while precisely living according to nature, but also that which holds its spiritual adviser always confronted with the hard reality of the events. Consequently, the stoical requirement vis-a-vis the decisions which the man must make is progressing and could not completely reach the perfection but only one certain serenity: the Ataraxie.
Thus happiness is possible in what makes nature content with itself and it does not depend on any external good but on a frame of mind where the individual feels appreciably able to be in peace with itself and with the world. Beyond, it is necessary to follow its " genius intérieur" and to regard as good and badly only what depends on us because, actually, one can judge truly and with justice only his own control. This ethical concern for a " individual morals désirée" and naturally articulated with the community seems to be the major contribution of the philosophy of Marc-Aurèle.
He is also central to recall the importance of a expensive concept to the emperor: the harmony, the potentiality to associate with the dubious demonstrations of the individual or collective existence, a driving balance with a relative share of stability, itself leaving us the possibility of including/understanding nature and of reflecting on our control. If the philosopher Stoïcien underlines the impact of this harmony while meaning the characteristic, according to him, of the ethical accuracy , it is only to more sit its major interrogation of the universality, of what, like it specify it often in its thoughts, is marked by the seal of a perpetual intrication, i.e. by the constant presence of the bond which plain each elements with all the others. Marc-Aurèle is a thinker of the connection, of a relativity of bonds falling under the absolute of a unification giving direction to our actions.
Many philosophers were and are still influenced by the very modern vision and at the same time antique of Marc-Aurèle and much saw in him a pragmatic contribution and before a a whole accuracy in the assertion and the action, i.e. in the two manners of deciding and of keeping its determination.
The philosophy of Marc-Aurèle is not a system, and if it is not very complex, it remains however fundamental for any ethical construction.
Large political acts of Marc-AurèleBetween 175-176 after JC, the emperor goes on a journey to Athens and becomes protective philosophy.
Marc-Aurèle gives a fixed salary to the Rhéteur S and the philosophers, the recruitment of the Masters ensures, ensures the Senate and with the largest senators " a council of reflection for the cité" , creates four pulpits of lesson for the philosophical universities: The Platonic Academy, the College aristotelician, the Garden epicurean and the stoical Gantry. The Emperor is already in favor of a thought for the complementarity of the scientific disciplines.
The emperor, concerned of the health questions public, makes as well as possible to prevent the terrible progression of the plague. Also concerned with the problems raised by exclusion and indigence, it founds several educational establishments for 5000 poor young girls and cancels the debts towards the imperial treasure but reinforces its Praetorian Garde (guard of the emperor).
Although it clearly supported the development of philosophy, it does not support " the fanaticism of the chrétiens" (according to its own terms) and cannot tolerate to them " Fetishism " for the Christ. He persecutes them, judging that they are a threat for the unit even the cohesion of the Empire. According to Marc Aurèle, the Christianisme makes use of passions to install a morals without bond with nature but considered especially at all.
In spite of his modesty and his thirst for reflection, Marc-Aurèle will be obliged of guerroyer through all the empire and knew only 4 years of peace on 25. It had several times to push back the invaders and died in Vindobona (Vienna, Austria) after being falls ill at the time of a combat on the the Danube.
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