26 April A.D. 121 the future Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius was born.

Marcus was the last of the so-called five good emperors and was himself an important stoic philosopher.The Meditations was written in Greek over a ten-year period between  170 and 180 A.D. whilst Marcus was on campaign against the Germans.

Marcus acceded to the throne in 161 at the age of 40, ruling through almost 20 turbulent years before dying on 17 March 180 A.D. his reign saw him engaged in a war with Parthia from the first year of his principate until 166, followed almost immediately by war with the Germanic tribes which would see the Emperor at war for the remainder of his reign.

Some of the sources believed that at his death Marcus was only one campaigning season away from a successful conclusion to his Germanic wars which were subsequently abandoned by Commodus. Marcus married Faustina the Younger in 145, together they had 13 children but only four daughters and one son outlived their father. Perhaps Marcus’ greatest failing was returning the principate to hereditary succession and allowing Commodus to become Emperor.

image credit: NoJin