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Biography of
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Marcus Aurelius AntoninusName: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
Born: est. CE April 26, 121
Location: Rome, Italy
Died: est. CE March 17, 180
Location: Battle Camp, Northern Frontier
Nationality: Roman

 

 

 

 

 

Genealogy

Parents/Siblings:

  • Father: Annius Verus 
  • Mother: Domitia Calvilla 
  • Brother(s): L. Ceionius Commodus, a.k.a. L. Verus 
  • Sister(s): Annia Cornificia Faustina 

Wife/Wives/Consort(s):

  • Wife: Faustina 

Children/Offspring:

  • Son(s): Gemellus Lucillae, Titus Aelius Antoninus, Titus Aelius Aurelius, Hadrianus, Titus Aurelius Fulvus, Antoninus, Commodus, Marcus Annius Verus Caesar 
  • Daughter(s): Annia Aurelia Galeria Faustina, Annia Aurelia Galeria Lucilla, Domitia Faustina, Fadilla, Annia Cornificia Faustina Minor, Vibia Aurelia Sabina 

The Emperor T. Antoninus Pius married Faustina, the sister of Annius Verus, and was consequently the uncle of Marcus Antoninus.

When Hadrian adopted Antoninus Pius and declared him his successor in the empire, Antoninus Pius adopted both L. Ceionius Commodus and Marcus Antoninus, generally called Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

The youth was most carefully brought up. He thanked the gods that he had good grandfathers, good parents, a good sister, good teachers, good associates, good kinsmen, and friends, nearly everything good. He had the happy fortune to witness the example of his uncle and adoptive father, Antoninus Pius, and he has recorded in his work the virtues of this excellent man and prudent ruler. Like many young Romans he tried his hand at poetry and studied rhetoric. There are letters extant showing the great affection of the pupil for the master, and the master's great hopes of his industrious pupil.

When he was eleven years old he assumed the dress of philosophers, something plain and coarse, became a hard student, and lived a most laborious, abstemious life, even so far as to injure his health. He abandoned poetry and rhetoric for philosophy, and attached himself to the sect of the Stoics. But he did not neglect the study of law, which was a useful preparation for the high place which he was designed to fill. We must suppose that he learned the Roman discipline of arms, which was a necessary part of the education of a man who afterwards led his troops to battle against a warlike race.

Antoninus has recorded, in his first book, the names of his teachers, and the obligations which he owed to each of them. The way in which he speaks of what he learned from them might seem to savor of vanity or self- praise, if we look carelessly at the way in which he has expressed himself; but if anyone draws this conclusion, he will be mistaken. Antoninus means to commemorate the merits of his several teachers, what they taught, and what a pupil might learn from them. Besides, this book, like the eleven other books, was for his own use; and if we may trust the note at the end of the first book, it was written during one of Marcus Antoninus' campaigns against the Quadi, at a time when the commemoration of the virtues of his illustrious teachers might remind him of their lessons and the practical uses which he might derive from them.

Among his teachers of philosophy was Sextus of Chaeroneia, a grandson of Plutarch. What he learned from this excellent man is told by himself. His favorite teacher was Rusticus, a philosopher, and also a man of practical good sense in public affairs. Rusticus was the adviser of Antoninus after he became emperor. Young men who are destined for high places are not often fortunate in those who are about them, their companions and teachers; and I do not know any example of a young prince having had an education which can be compared with that of Marcus Antoninus. Such a body of teachers distinguished by their acquirements and their character will hardly be collected again; and as to the pupil, we have not had one like him since.

 

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