Marcus Aurelius: The Philosopher & Emperor of the Roman Empire

Server Costs Fundraiser 2024

Help our mission to provide free history education to the world! Please donate and contribute to covering our server costs in 2024. With your support, millions of people learn about history entirely for free every month.
$3329 / $18000


Kelly Macquire
by and
published on 11 July 2023

Marcus Aurelius (r. 161 to 180 CE) was a Roman emperor best known as the last of the Five Good Emperors of Rome (following Nerva, Trajan, Hadrian, and Antoninus Pius) and as the author of the philosophical work Meditations. Although it has been claimed he instigated a persecution of Christians, modern scholarship argues against this.

He has long been respected as embodying the Platonic concept of the Philosopher King as articulated in Plato's Republic: a ruler who does not seek power for his own sake but to help his people. He was introduced to philosophy at a young age and his Meditations, composed while on campaign in his fifties, make clear that he held a deeply philosophical, specifically Stoic, view throughout his life.



0:00​ Introduction
0:59 Early Life of Marcus Aurelius
2:43 Adoption by Antoninus Pius
4:19 Marcus Aurelius as Emperor of Rome
6:54 Philosopher First, Emperor Second – His Meditations
9:12 Death and Legacy of Marcus Aurelius
10:23 Outro

Marcus Aurelius
Marcus Aurelius: Plato’s Philosopher King
Marcus Aurelius: Philosopher Emperor or Philosopher-King?
The Column of Marcus Aurelius

Ancient Rome Playlist
The Ancient Romans at War - Warfare and Strategy
The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire
Pax Romana or the Roman Peace Explained
An Introduction to Ancient Roman Literature

You can find all attribution and credits for images, animations, graphics and music here -

The music used in this recording is the intellectual copyright of Michael Levy, a prolific composer for the recreated lyres of antiquity, and used with the creator's permission. Michael Levy's music is available to stream at all the major digital music platforms. Find out more on:

World History Encyclopedia

#history #ancientrome #marcusaureliusquotes #marcusaurelius

Remove Ads
Subscribe to this author

About the Author

Kelly Macquire
Kelly is a graduate from Monash University who has completed her BA (Honours) in Ancient History and Archaeology, focussing on iconography and status in Pylos burials. She has a passion for mythology and the Aegean Bronze Age.

Cite This Work

APA Style

Macquire, K. (2023, July 11). Marcus Aurelius: The Philosopher & Emperor of the Roman Empire. World History Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

Chicago Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Marcus Aurelius: The Philosopher & Emperor of the Roman Empire." World History Encyclopedia. Last modified July 11, 2023.

MLA Style

Macquire, Kelly. "Marcus Aurelius: The Philosopher & Emperor of the Roman Empire." World History Encyclopedia. World History Encyclopedia, 11 Jul 2023. Web. 21 Jul 2024.