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.
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’.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“All is ephemeral — fame and the famous as well.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“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
“Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you foresee the future too.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.” Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
“Do every act of your life as though it were the very last act of your life.”Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Further portraits of Marcus Aurelius can be viewed from my image collection on Flickr.