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E&D 11 Marcus Aurelius: Warrior Monk

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James Corke-Webster

on 6 June 2016

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Transcript of E&D 11 Marcus Aurelius: Warrior Monk

he did not want to have them interrupted by public mourning
he merely ordered that statues of his son should be decreed, that a golden image of him should be carried in procession at the Circus games and that his name should be inserted in the hymn of the Salii."
App. 2
theory of knowledge
study of language
syllogistic argument & rhetoric
natural sciences
the good life
extensive details of his education
Fronto - grammarian, rhetorician and advocate
close relationship with the emperor
correspondence extant [so greater weight?]
not in
cautious of philosophy?
progressed to philosophy
interested since age 11; 1st teacher at 14
the Stoic Apollonius
numerous others -
Quintus Junius Rusticus
Claudius Maximus
Claudius Severus [not Stoic]
Sextus of Chaeronia
Cinna Catulus
Herodes Atticus
trained to be

go back to Hadrian: new heir in 136 - Lucius Ceionius Commodus
adopted as Lucius Aelius Caesar
[NB Hadrian’s full name = Publius Aelius Hadrianus]
Aelius Caesar has 3 children: a 7-year old son + two daughters
one daughter engaged to 15-year old Marcus Annius Verus
= Hadrian’s favourite [to us, Marcus Aurelius]
Aelius Caesar gets proconsular imperium + tribunician powers
Aelius Caesar † 137

Hadrian presents new heir on deathbed - Aurelius Antoninus
uncle (by marriage) of Marcus Annius Verus
condition - adopt Marcus Annius Verus
and little son (now 8 years old) of Aelius Caesar - Lucius Commodus
[i.e. named after his father! Aelius Caesar used to be Lucius Ceionius Commodus]

SO -
Marcus Aurelius
Antoninus = Marcus Annius Verus
born 121; rule 161-180
Imp. Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus
= Lucius Commodus
born 130; rule 161-169
Imp. Caesar Lucius Aurelius Verus Augustus

Marcus Aurelius: Warrior Monk
"From Apollonius,
self-reliance and an unequivocal determination not to leave anything to chance; and to look to nothing else even for a moment save Reason alone
; and t
o remain ever the same, in the throes of pain, on the loss of a child, during a lingering illness
; and to see plainly from a living example that one and the same man can be very vehement and yet gentle: not to be impatient in instructing others..."

Marcus Aurelius,
“A spider prides itself on capturing a fly; one man on catching a hare, another on netting a sprat, another on taking wild boars, another bears,
another Sarmatians
. Are not these brigands, if you test their principles?”
Marcus Aurelius,
'1. It is reported that Marcus Aurelius Cæsar, brother of Antoninus, being about to engage in battle with the Germans and Sarmatians, was in great trouble on account of his army suffering from thirst. But
the soldiers of the so-called Melitene legion, through the faith which has given strength from that time to the present, when they were drawn up before the enemy, kneeled on the ground, as is our custom in prayer, and engaged in supplications to God
2. This was indeed a strange sight to the enemy, but it is reported that a stranger thing immediately followed.
The lightning drove the enemy to flight and destruction, but a shower refreshed the army of those who had called on God, all of whom had been on the point of perishing with thirst
3. This story is related by non-Christian writers who have been pleased to treat the times referred to, and it has also been recorded by our own people. ...
6. He [Tertullian] writes that
there are still extant letters of the most intelligent Emperor Marcus in which he testifies that his army, being on the point of perishing with thirst in Germany, was saved by the prayers of the Christians. And he says also that this emperor threatened death to those who brought accusation against us
Eusebius of Caesarea,
Ecclesiastical History


"So it was that Antoninus became emperor. And
since he had no male offspring, Hadrian adopted for him Commodus’ son Commodus, and, in addition to him, Marcus Annius Verus
; for he wished to appoint those who were afterwards to be emperors for as long a time ahead as possible. This Marcus Annius, earlier named Catilius, was a grandson of Annius Verus who had been consul thrice and prefect of the city. And though had kept urging Antoninus to adopt them both, yet he preferred Verus on account of his kinship and his age and because he was already giving indication of exceptional strength of character. This led Hadrian to apply to the young man the name Verissimus, thus playing upon the meaning of the Latin word."
Cassius Dio 69.21.1-2
RIC 1287: sestertius of Lucius Verus (AD 161). Obverse: bust of Lucius Verus (IMP CAES L AVREL VERVS AVG). Reverse: Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus clasping hands (CONCORD AVGVSTOR TR P COS II S C).
RIC 8: denarius of Marcus Aurelius (AD 161). Obverse: bust of Marcus Aurelius (IMP CAES M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG). Reverse: Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus clasping hands (CONCORDIAE AVGVSTOR TR P XV COS III).
own concerns [as vs. most Romans?]
breaking the adoptive principle?
already a dynasty [KIV Faustina]?
or attempt at stability
Cassius revolt, Mar-Jul 175
Christian memory

"Two days before he died, his friends were admitted to his presence and he is said to have expressed to them the same opinion about his son a Philip did about Alexander, when he thought ill of him, adding that
he did not take it amiss at all that he was dying, only that he was dying leaving such a son to survive him; for Commodus was already showing himself to be base and cruel.
Historia Augusta,
Life of Marcus Aurelius
"[Faustina Minor expected that Marcus] would die at any moment, and she was afraid that the empire would fall to someone else as Commodus was young and rather naive - and that she would be reduced to a private station.
Therefore she secretly persuaded Avidius Cassius to make his preparations so that, if anything would happen to Antoninus [i.e. Marcus Aurelius], he might take over both her and the empire.

Cassius Dio 71.22.3
RIC 601: denarius issued under Marcus Aurelius (AD 175). Obverse: bust of Commodus as Caesar (COMMODO CAES AVG FIL GERM). Reverse: Commodus holding branch + reversed spear with trophy (PRINC IVVENT).
"He whose heart flutters for after-fame does not reflect that very soon every one of those who remember him, and he himself, will be dead, and their successors again after them, until
at last the entire recollection of the man will be extinct
, handed on as it is by links that flare up and are quenched. "

Marcus Aurelius,
Nothing attracts me so much as that love and longing for a lasting name, man's worthiest aspiration
, especially in one who is aware that there is nothing in him to blame and so has no fear if he is to be remembered by posterity. "

Think by way of illustration upon the times of Vespasian, and you will see all these things
: mankind marrying, rearing children, sickening, dying, warring, making holiday, trafficking, tilling, flattering others, vaunting themselves, suspecting, scheming, praying for the death of others, murmuring at their own lot, loving, hoarding, coveting a consulate, coveting a kingdom.
Not a vestige of that life of their is left anywhere any longer

Marcus Aurelius,
12 books
1st = c. dedication: family, friends, teachers etc
other 11 = substance
for self (?)
Epictetus the biggest influence
not interested logic or physics; ethics
never calls himself a Stoic
evinces Stoic principles {e.g. death son - 5 days mourning]
eclectic interest
distilled recollection teachers
reminder of lessons learnt in happier times
written during war - Book 2 "written among the Quadi on the Gran"
not a philosopher
few references to war
only written
of war

"This too serves as a corrective to vain-gloriousness, that
you are no longer able to have lived your live wholly, or even from your youth up, as a philosopher
. You can clearly perceive, and many others can see it too, that
you are far from Philosophy
. So then your life is a chaos, and
no longer is it easy for you to win the credit of being a philosopher; and the facts of your life too war against it.

Marcus Aurelius,

Cassius Dio,
Roman History
Historia Augusta
Marcus Aurelius,

"To my Lord.
Cratia returned here last night. But my delight at having her back was no greater than my pleasure at seeing that you have translated your [Greek] sentences so splendidly
; the one I received today was almost perfect and could be inserted into a book of Sallust without being out of place or inferior in any way. I am happy, merry, healthy, even young again when you make such progress."

"To my master. I have received two letters from you at the same time.
In one of them you reprove me and show that I have written a sentence carelessly; but in the other you strove to encourage my work with praise. But I swear to you by health, by my mother's too and by yours,

that the first letter gave me the greater pleasure
and that as I read it I exclaimed several times, "How lucky I am!" Are you then so lucky", someone will say, "to have a teacher who will show you how to write a translation of you Greek maxims more expertly, more clearly, more briefly, more elegantly?" No, that is not my reason for calling myself fortunate. Why then? It is because I learn to speak truth from you [

Marcus Aurelius, in Fronto,
They say that it is better never to have touched the teachings of philosophy, as well, than to have tasted it superficially
, with the edge of his lips, as the saying is - and that those who enter the corridors of some art and turn aside before they have penetrated within, turn out the most perfidious."

“From Rusticus, to become aware of the fact that
I needed amendment and training for my character
; and not to be led aside into an argumentative sophistry;
nor compose treatises on speculative subjects, or deliver little homilies
, or pose ostentatiously as the moral athlete or unselfish man; and to
eschew rhetoric, poetry, and fine language
Marcus Aurelius,
"From my "brother" Severus, love of family, love of truth, love of justice, and (thanks to him)
to know Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dion, Brutus
; and the conception of a state with one law for all, based upon individual equality and freedom of speech, and of
a sovereignty which prizes above all things the liberty of the subjects

Marcus Aurelius,
"Then, you seem to me, in the fashion of the young, tired of boring work,
to have deserted the pursuit of eloquence and to have turned aside to philosophy
, in which there is no introductory section to be carefully elaborated, no account of the facts, bringing them together with concision, clarity, and skill...."

De. eloq
"From Maximus,
self-mastery and stability of purpose; and cheeriness in sickness as well as in all other circumstances
; and a character justly proportioned of sweetness and gravity; and to perform without grumbling the task that lies to one's hand..."

Marcus Aurelius,
Stoicism - from
; Athenian portico
Zeno son of Mnaseas -founder (not Athenian; prob not even Greek)
born 333/332BC [year Alexander the Great rose to throne]
eastern thought & Hellenic intellectual discipline
evolved out of Cynicism
debts to Platonic thought
successor Cleanthes, then Chrysippus
Chrysippus was the writer; systematised the thoughts earlier Stoics

The easiest thing in the world, - to live in accordance with his own nature. But this is turned into a hard task by the general madness of mankind
; we push one another into vice. And how can a man be recalled to salvation, when he has none to restrain him, and all mankind to urge him on?"
Moral Letters to Lucilius
. 64 C.E

How many a Chrysippus, how many a Socrates, how many an Epictetus
has Time already devoured.”
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 7.19
2nd C Stoic heroes of resistance
Thrasea Paetus [Nero]
Helvidius Priscus [Vespasian]
Junius Arulenus Rusticus [Domitian]
after death of Domitian Sept. 96
Stoicism into the mainstream
lame ex-slave
pupil of Musonius Rufus
exiled under Domitian
also ethical focus
genuine inner freedom
appropriate for imperial period
"Some things are under our control, others are not. The things under our control are: our mental concepts, choice, desire, aversion, in a word everything we do. The things not under our control are: our body, property, reputation, public office, in a word everything that is not our own doing. And things under our control are by nature free, unhindered, unimpeded. The things not under our control are weak, in servitude, subject to hindrance, not our own...
Do not seek to have everything happen as you desire, but desire that things happen as they actually do happen, and then you will be well-off.
copy of equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, outside Capitoline Museum
spread to Rome 2nd C BE
Panaetius & Posidonius
last century Republic, philosophy of leading men
Tiberius Gracchus
Scipio Aemilianus
younger Cato
OBV:BRVT·IMP; around, L·PLAET·CEST. Border of dots.
RV: EID·MAR. Border of dots.
live according to nature
be free from emotions - self-control
virtue is sufficient for happiness
military man or military image?
physically weak
limited martial training
kept with Antoninus Pius; not sent to front
later extensive experience - many revolts & wars
145 - Mauretanian revolts and war
161-166 - war with Parthia
c.166-180 - Marcomannic wars /
bellum Germanicum et Sarmaticum
North-Eastern European border - Germans etc
167-175 = First Marcomannic War [NB 168 = death of Lucius Verus]
175-180 = Second Marcomannic War
numerous other rebellions, e.g.
171 - invasion on Iberian peninsula
172 - rebellion in Egypt
175 - Armenian trouble
Italy invaded [first time in hundreds of years]

spiral relief - two expeditions of Marcomannic wars [unclear which]
new "expressionistic" style - pathos, drama, emperor in charge
battle/violence/execution > marches/building [cf. Trajan's column]
incongruous? or a new ambivalence towards Rome's actions? or superiority?
reliefs [11 panels; 8 reused on Arch of Constantine]
likely celebrate victory over Sarmatian and German tribes & triumph 176
original location / purpose unclear - triumphal arch?

because in this German, or Marcomannic, war, or rather I should say in this "War of Many Nations
," many nobles perished, for all of whom he erected statues in the Forum of Trajan, his friends often urged him to abandon the war and return to Rome. He, however, disregarded this advice and stood his ground, nor did he withdraw before he had brought all the wars to a conclusion.”
Historia Augusta, Marcus Aurelius
"He studied jurisprudence as well, in which he heard Lucius Volusius Maecianus, and
so much work and labour did he devote to his studies that he impaired his health — the only fault to be found with his entire childhood

Historia Augusta, Life of Marcus Aurelius
"Envoys were sent to Marcus by the Iazyges to request peace, but they did not obtain anything.
For Marcus, both because he knew their race to be untrustworthy and also because he had been deceived by the Quadi, wished to annihilate them utterly.
Dio Cassius 72. 13.1
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