Felix dies natalis, Marce Aureli!

Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was born Marcus Annius Verus on April 26, 121 AD of an aristocratic family of Spanish origin (from Ucubi, a small town southeast of Cordoba in Baetica). He was the last of the five “good” emperors of Rome and a major Stoic philosopher. When Marcus Aurelius was a young child he gained the attention and favor of Hadrian by the frankness of his character. Hadrian nicknamed him Verissimus, meaning most truthful or sincere.

Portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius as a boy, Musei Capitolini, Rome

Portrait of Emperor Marcus Aurelius as a boy, Musei Capitolini, Rome
© Carole Raddato

In 127, at the age of six, Hadrian gave him equestrian honors, and made him a priest of the Salii at the age of eight.  After the death of Aelius Caesar (the adopted son and intended successor of Hadrian), Hadrian adopted as his heir Antoninus Pius, Marcus’ uncle, on condition that he in turn adopt Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Ceionius Commodus (Lucius Verus), son of Aelius Caesar. This became known as the Antonine Dynasty. Their reigns were considered as the height of Roman power and glory, and it was once said that this was ‘the happiest times of humanity’.

Portrait of Marcus Aurelius as a young man, from the Area of San Teodoro on the Palatine, Palatine Museum, Rome

Portrait of Marcus Aurelius as a young man, from the Area of San Teodoro on the Palatine, Palatine Museum, Rome

Marble bust of Marcus Aurelius in a fringed cloak, circa 160-170, found in the House of Jason Magnus in Cyrene (Libya), British Museum Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

Marble bust of Marcus Aurelius in a fringed cloak, circa 160-170, found in the House of Jason Magnus in Cyrene (Libya), British Museum
© Carole Raddato

Links and further reading: Historia Augusta – The life of Marcus Aurelius / An online encyclopedia of Roman Emperors

Marcus Aurelius, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen © Carole Raddato

Marcus Aurelius, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
© Carole Raddato

“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Cuirassed statue of Marcus Aurelius, Capitoline Museums © Carole Raddato

Cuirassed statue of Marcus Aurelius, Capitoline Museums
© Carole Raddato

“All is ephemeral — fame and the famous as well.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Marcus Aurelius, from the Mausoleum of Hadrian, Rome, AD 170-180, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen Carole Raddato CC BY-SA

Marcus Aurelius, from the Mausoleum of Hadrian, Rome, AD 170-180, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen
© Carole Raddato

“When you arise in the morning think of what a privilege it is to be alive, to think, to enjoy, to love…” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Musei Capitolini, Rome © Carole Raddato

Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, Musei Capitolini, Rome
© Carole Raddato

“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you foresee the future too.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Portrait of emperor Marcus Aurelius, from Rome, after AD 169, Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main

Portrait of emperor Marcus Aurelius, from Rome, after AD 169, Liebieghaus, Frankfurt am Main
© Carole Raddato

“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Young Marcus Aurelius, Venice Museo Archeologico, Italy © Carole Raddato

Young Marcus Aurelius, Venice Museo Archeologico, Italy
© Carole Raddato

“Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

Marcus Aurelius, between 180 and 183 AD, from the villa of Marcus Aurelius daughter Lucilla at Acqua Traversa, near Rome (Italy), Louvre Museum, Paris

Marcus Aurelius, between 180 and 183 AD, from the villa of Marcus Aurelius daughter Lucilla at Acqua Traversa, near Rome (Italy), Louvre Museum, Paris
© Carole Raddato

Further portraits of Marcus Aurelius can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.

About followinghadrian

I came, I saw, I photographed... follow me in the footsteps of Hadrian!
This entry was posted in Marcus Aurelius, Nerva–Antonine dynasty, Roman Portraiture, SPQR and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Felix dies natalis, Marce Aureli!

  1. This is my FAVOURITE roman emperor. This post made my day. 🙂 Thanks!!

    Like

  2. Pingback: Roman Empire Archeology News Today 2013-04-28 - Roman Empire News and Archeology

  3. followinghadrian says:

    Reblogged this on FOLLOWING HADRIAN.

    Like

  4. billgncs says:

    so odd that his son became one of the worst emperors

    Like

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