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Marcus Annius Verus, better known as Marcus Aurelius, was best known for his Meditations as a Stoic Philosopher and as an Emperor of Rome from 161 CE to 180 CE. He was also recognized as the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome.
See the fact file below for more information on Marcus Aurelius, or you can download our 29-page Marcus Aurelius worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- He was born in the year 121 CE, on the 26th of April in Italy and died in Vindobona, now known as Vienna, Austria, on March 17, 180 CE.
- Marcus shared ancestry with several of the most illustrious families of the new Roman elite, which had established its social and political dominance during the Flavian emperors.
- Marcus as a child was meant for social distinction because of his ancestors’ rich background.
- He was later renamed Marcus Aurelius or Marcus the Golden.
- Marcus was therefore identified as a potential joint emperor at the minor age of 17, but it turned out that he would not triumph until his forties.
- Marcus Aurelius dedicated himself to the actual inner religion that is underneath the ceremonies and rites that he was taught in the imperial religion at the young age of eleven.
- Marcus Aurelius was born and nurtured in the Horti Domitian Lucillae, his mother’s residence on the Caelian Hill, which he later referred to as “my Caelian.”
- He was taught by Emperor Pius the value of civic virtue and self-control, the traits he would eventually come to embody.
- Marcus Aurelius’s father was Marcus Annius Verus, and his mother’s name was Dometia Calvilla.
- His paternal grandfather raised him when he was three because his father died, and his mother did not remarry.
FAMILY AND ORIGINS
- The emperor adopted the person who would eventually become his heir in the Roman Empire. Antoninus Pius, the adoptive son of the reigning emperor Hadrian at the time, took in Marcus Annius Verus, a young man with a passion for philosophy, and his brother Lucius in 138 CE.
- Marcus was married to the emperor’s daughter Anna Galeria Faustina, also known as Faustina Minor, and they were blessed with eleven children.
- By the age of seven, Marcus Aurelius had already started his education and was taught inside his home.
- Marcus had a Stoic Philosopher mentor named Gaius Claudius Maximus, who taught him the art of being cheerful and humorous.
- He had another three tutors: Euphoric taught him primary Greek language and literature, Geminus was assigned to teach Latin pronunciation and general elocution, and lastly, the unnamed educator who was in charge of his general development and social welfare.
- In 132-133 CE, a new set of teachers took over Marcus Aurelius’ education. They were Tuticius Proculus, Alexander of Cotiaeum, and Trosius Aper. Little is known about the latter two, but they were both Latin instructors.
- After his adoption in 138 CE, he was tutored in Latin by Fronto and Herodes Atticus, and Aninus Macer in Greek. They also taught him the significance of language as a noble in Rome.
- Another tutor of Marcus is Junius Rusticus, who nurtured his love of stoicism.
- When he was 12 years old, he was ready for secondary education, where he was under the grammatici.
- It was where he met Andro, his musician and geometrician teacher, and Diognetus, his painting teacher or master. Diognetus also taught him the philosophical way of life in 132 CE.
- Another tutor of Marcus Aurelius was Catulus, who was also a Stoic Philosopher and imparted to him the knowledge of being a family-oriented person and how to deal with other people. Marcus learned to love his children truly because of him.
- His adoptive father, Antoninus, brought two new tutors to teach Marcus philosophy. They were Quintus Junius Rusticus, one of the greatest Stoic philosophers of his days, and Apollonius of Chalcedon.
- The essential lessons that Marcus learned from these two tutors (Quintus Junius Rusticus and Apollonius of Chalcedon) were also written in his Meditations.
- He also had a tutor in law, Lucius Volusiius Maecianus.
EVENTS DURING HIS REIGN
- In 161 CE, Marcus succeeded to the throne and was the first emperor who appointed someone to serve as his co-ruler, his adopted brother, Lucius Aurelius Verus.
- In his reign from 162-166 CE, he persecuted the upstart form of Christianity, which challenged the established order and refused to respect the national religion. Even though these persecutions were ultimately rejected as Christianity gained ground, at the time, they would have been seen as essential to maintaining order.
- During Marcus’s rule, military conflicts arose, such as the battle with the Parthian empire, which they won in 165 CE.
- However, when the soldiers from the Parthian war arrived, they brought the Antonine plague (named after Marcus), which spread through the empire for years and killed about five million Roman citizens. This put the whole empire at risk of invasion.
- Marcus Aurelius had reduced the size of his army along the extensive European frontier, which was approximately defined by the Rhine and the Danube rivers, to gather forces for the Eastern campaign. However, some of his local governors provoked the Germanic tribes, and they invaded the Danube River in the late 160s CE.
- The Marcomanni of Bohemia broke their allegiance with Rome in 166 CE, which led to a far more significant Danube invasion.
- During 168 CE, the rebellion of the Marcomanni ended.
- In 169 CE, Lucius Verus died due to the plague, and Marcus became the sole emperor of Rome.
- In 170 CE, Marcus Aurelius stayed at the Carnuntum during their war with Quadi. He fought on the front lines until the end of his conflicts with the Germanic tribes.
- The Quadi and the Iazyges tribes formed an alliance that surrounded and outnumbered the emperor.
- The tactics and formations of the Romans were a success because, at the end of 173 CE, they won against the Quadi.
- In 175 CE, Marcus Aurelius successfully imposed cruel peace conditions on both tribes. However, his authority was challenged by Avidius Cassius, who wanted to claim the throne, but he was killed by his own soldiers.
- Before Marcus died, he made his son, Commodus, his co-emperor during 177 CE, and they fought together.
- The Column of Marcus Aurelius and Faustina, which stands in Piazza Colonna in Rome and represents the emperor’s campaigns over the Danube, was assumed to be erected by Commodus around 180 CE.
INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT MARCUS AURELIUS
- He was respected and considered the last member of the Five Good Emperors. These emperors were the ones who created prosperity and expanded the border and influence of the empire, which increased the power of the Roman Empire.
- He was the author of the philosophical work called Meditations. It contained his private notes or personal writings, experiences, the knowledge he learned, and his ideas about Stoic Philosophy, which he did not want to be published.
- Some of the quotes in Marcus’s Meditations were influenced by his previous mentors and teachers.
- Because of the ongoing battle and rebellion, he never got the chance to relax for the rest of his life.
- He was the last well-known Stoic philosopher of antiquity.
Marcus Aurelius Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Marcus Aurelius across 29 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching kids about Marcus Aurelius, who was a Stoic Philosopher and an Emperor of Rome from 161 CE to 180 CE
Complete List of Included Worksheets
Below is a list of all the worksheets included in this document.
- Marcus Aurelius Facts
- History Book
- Significant Events
- Knowing the Emperor
- Facts and Lie in a Box
- Code Box
- Father and Son
- Unscramble Time
- The Next Emperor
- Quote of the Day
- My Perspective
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Marcus Aurelius best known for?
Marcus Aurelius was the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome. He was known for writing the book Meditations, which is considered one of the greatest works in world literature. Marcus Aurelius ruled from 161 to 180 CE.
What was Marcus Aurelius’ greatest achievement?
One of his most impressive accomplishments while Emperor was his ability to maintain the Roman Empire during difficult times, such as the Parthian War and Germanic Wars. He was also successful in working together with Lucius Verus, his adoptive brother, and co-Emperor.
What did Marcus Aurelius do for fun?
Marcus Annius Verus was born into a wealthy and influential family. He was a serious young man who liked to mix wrestling, boxing, and hunting.
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