Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (121-180
CE) was born to an aristocratic Roman family before becoming the
adopted heir to Emperor Antoninus Pius in 139.
Weary of sophistry and with a penchant for truth-telling--Emperor Hadrian
called him Verissimus--the young Marcus turned from the study of
rhetoric to philosophy in 145,
influenced primarily by the Stoics, Cato and Junius Rusticus. Serving
first as co-emperor with Antoninus Pius, he became sole emperor in 161,
preferring study to the political life. In 167,
Marcus wrote The Meditations [DOC],
the last work of classical
spite of a strong distaste for violence, he ordered the persecution of
Christians in Lyons and Vienne for a brief period in 177. He
died while away on a military expedition in 180.