The Life of Marcus Aurelius


Historia Augusta


1

1

Marcus Antoninus, devoted to philosophy as long as he lived and pre-eminent among emperors in purity of life,

2

was the son of Annius Verus, who died while praetor. His grandfather, named Annius Verus also, attained to a second consulship, was prefect of the city, and was enrolled among the patricians by Vespasian and Titus while they were censors.

3

Annius Libo, a consul, was his uncle, Galeria Faustina Augusta, his aunt. His mother was Domitia Lucilla, the daughter of Calvisius Tullus, who served as consul twice.

4

Annius Verus, from the town of Succuba in Spain, who was made a senator and attained to the dignity of praetor, was his father's grandfather; his great-grandfather on his mother's side was Catilius Severus, who twice held the consulship and was prefect of the city. His father's mother was Rupilia Faustina, the daughter of Rupilius Bonus, a man of consular rank.

5

Marcus himself was born at Rome on the sixth day before the Kalends of May in the second consulship of his grandfather and the first of Augur, in a villa on the Caelian Hill.

6

His family, in tracing its origin back to the beginning, established its descent from Numa, or so Marius Maximus tells, and likewise from the Sallentine king Malemnius, the son of Dasummus, who founded Lupiae.

7

He was reared in the villa where he was born, and also in the home of his grandfather Verus close to the dwelling of Lateranus.

8

He had a sister younger than himself, named Annia Cornificia; his wife, who was also his cousin, was Annia Faustina.

9

At the beginning of his life Marcus Antoninus was named Catilius Severus after his mother's grandfather.

10

After the death of his real father, however, Hadrian called him Annius Verissimus, and, after he assumed the toga virilis, Annius Verus. When his father died he was adopted and reared by his father's father.


2

1

He was a solemn child from the very beginning; and as soon as he passed beyond the age when children are brought up under the care of nurses, he was handed over to advanced instructors and attained to a knowledge of philosophy.

2

In his more elementary education, he received instruction from Euphorion in literature and from Geminus in drama, in music and likewise in geometry from Andron; on all of whom, as being spokesmen of the sciences, he afterwards conferred great honours.

3

Besides these, his teachers in grammar were the Greek Alexander of Cotiaeum, and the Latins Trosius Aper, Pollio, and Eutychius Proculus of Sicca;

4

his masters in oratory were the Greeks Aninius Macer, Caninius Celer and Herodes Atticus, and the Latin Cornelius Fronto.

5

Of these he conferred high honours on Fronto, even asking the senate to vote him a statue; but indeed he advanced Proculus also — even to a proconsulship, and assumed the burdens of the office himself.

6

He studied philosophy with ardour, even as a youth. For when he was twelve years old he adopted the dress and, a little later, the hardiness of a philosopher, pursuing his studies clad in a rough Greek cloak and sleeping on the ground; at his mother's solicitation, however, he reluctantly consented to sleep on a couch strewn with skins.

7

He received instruction, furthermore, from the teacher of that Commodus who was destined later to be a kinsman of his, namely Apollonius of Chalcedon, the Stoic;


3

1

and such was his ardour for this school of philosophy, that even after he became a member of the imperial family, he still went to Apollonius' residence for instruction.

2

In addition, he attended the lectures of Sextus of Chaeronea, the nephew of Plutarch, and of Junius Rusticus, Claudius Maximus, and Cinna Catulus, all Stoics.

3

He also attended the lectures of Claudius Severus, an adherent of the Peripatetic school, but he received most instruction from Junius Rusticus, whom he ever revered and whose disciple he became, a man esteemed in both private and public life, and exceedingly well acquainted with the Stoic system,

4

with whom Marcus shared all his counsels both public and private, whom he greeted with a kiss prior to the prefects of the guard,

5

whom he even appointed consul for a second term, and whom after his death he asked the senate to honour with statues. On his teachers in general, moreover, he conferred great honours, for he even kept golden statues of them in his chapel, and made it a custom to show respect for their tombs by personal visits and by offerings of sacrifices and flowers.

6

He studied jurisprudence as well, in which he heard Lucius Volusius Maecianus,

7

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.

8

He attended also the public schools of rhetoricians. Of his fellow-pupils he was particularly fond of Seius Fuscianus and Aufidius Victorinus, of the senatorial order, and Baebius Longus and Calenus, of the equestrian.

9

He was very generous to these men, so generous, in fact, that on those whom he could not advance to public office on account of their station in life, he bestowed riches.


4

1

He was reared under the eye of Hadrian, who called him Verissimus, as we have already related, and did him the honour of enrolling him in the equestrian order when he was six years old

2

and appointing him in his eighth year to the college of the Salii.

3

While in this college, moreover, he received an omen of his future rule; for when they were all casting their crowns on the banqueting-couch of the god, according to the usual custom, his crown, as if placed there by his hand, fell on the brow of Mars.

4

In this priesthood he was leader of the dance, seer, and master, and consequently both initiated and dismissed a great number of people; and in these ceremonies no one dictated the formulas to him, for all of them he had learned by himself.

5

In the fifteenth year of his life he assumed the toga virilis, and straightway, at the wish of Hadrian, was betrothed to the daughter of Lucius Ceionius Commodus.

6

Not long after this he was made prefect of the city during the Latin Festival, and in this position he conducted himself very brilliantly both in the presence of the magistrates and at the banquets of the Emperor Hadrian.

7

Later, when his mother asked him to give his sister part of the fortune left him by his father, he replied that he was content with the fortune of his grandfather and relinquished all of it, further declaring that if she wished, his mother might leave her own estate to his sister in its entirety, in order that she might not be poorer than her husband.

8

So complaisant was he, moreover, that at times, when urged, he let himself be taken to hunts or the theatre or the spectacles.

9

Besides, he gave some attention to painting, under the teacher Diognetus. He was also fond of boxing and wrestling and running and fowling, played ball very skilfully, and hunted well.

10

But his ardour for philosophy distracted him from all these pursuits and made him serious and dignified, not ruining, however, a certain geniality in him, which he still manifested toward his household, his friends, and even to those less intimate, but making him, rather, austere, though not unreasonable, modest, though not inactive, and serious without gloom.


5

1

Such was his character, then, when, after the death of Lucius Caesar, Hadrian looked about for a successor to the throne. Marcus did not seem suitable, being at the time but eighteen years of age; and Hadrian chose for adoption Antoninus Pius, the uncle-in‑law of Marcus, with the provision that Pius should in turn adopt Marcus and that Marcus should adopt Lucius Commodus.

2

And it was on the day that Verus was adopted that he dreamed that he had shoulders of ivory, and when he asked if they were capable of bearing a burden, he found them much stronger than before.

3

When he discovered, moreover, that Hadrian had adopted him, he was appalled rather than overjoyed, and when told to move to the private home of Hadrian, reluctantly departed from his mother's villa.

4

And when the members of his household asked him why he was sorry to receive royal adoption, he enumerated to them the evil things that sovereignty involved.

5

At this time he first began to be called Aurelius instead of Annius, since, according to the law of adoption, he had passed into the Aurelian family, that is, into the family of Antoninus.

6

And so he was adopted in his eighteenth year, and at the instance of Hadrian exception was made for his age and he was appointed quaestor for the year of the second consulship of Antoninus, now his father.

7

Even after his adoption into the imperial house, he still showed the same respect to his own relatives that he had borne them as a commoner,

8

was as frugal and careful of his means as he had been when he lived in a private home, and was willing to act, speak, and think according to his father's principles.


6

1

When Hadrian died at Baiae and Pius departed to bring back his remains, Marcus was left at Rome and discharged his grandfather's funeral rites, and, though quaestor, presented a gladiatorial spectacle as a private citizen.

2

Immediately after Hadrian's death Pius, through his wife, approached Marcus, and, breaking his betrothal with the daughter of Lucius Ceionius Commodus, . . . he was willing to espouse one so much his junior in years, he replied, after deliberating the question, that he was.

3

And when this was done, Pius designated him as his colleague in the consulship, though he was still only quaestor, gave him the title of Caesar, appointed him while consul-elect one of the six commanders of the equestrian order and sat by him when he and his five colleagues were producing their official games, bade him take up his abode in the House of Tiberius and there provided him with all the pomp of a court, though Marcus objected to this, and finally took him into the priesthoods at the bidding of the senate.

4

Later, he appointed him consul for a second term at the same time that he began his fourth.

5

And all this time, when busied with so many public duties of his own, and while sharing his father's activities that he might be fitted for ruling the state, Marcus worked at his studies eagerly.

6

At this time he took Faustina to wife and, after begetting a daughter, received the tribunician power and the proconsular power outside the city, with the added right of making five proposals in the senate.

7

Such was his influence with Pius that the Emperor was never quick to promote anyone without his advice.

8

Moreover, he showed great deference to his father, though there were not lacking those who whispered things against him,

9

especially Valerius Homullus, who, when he saw Marcus' mother Lucilla worshipping in her garden before a shrine of Apollo, whispered, "Yonder woman is now praying that you may come to your end, and her son rule." All of which influenced Pius not in the least,

10

such was Marcus' sense of honour and such his modesty while heir to the throne.


7

1

He had such regard for his reputation, moreover, that even as a youth he admonished his procurators to do nothing high-handed and often refused sundry legacies that were left him, returning them to the nearest kin of the deceased.

2

Finally, for three and twenty years he conducted himself in his father's home in such a manner that Pius felt more affection for him day by day,

3

and never in all these years, save for two nights on different occasions, remained away from him.

For these reasons, then, when Antoninus Pius saw that the end of his life was drawing near, having summoned his friends and prefects, he commended Marcus to them all and formally named him as his successor in the empire. He then straightway gave the watch-word to the officer of the day as "Equanimity," and ordered that the golden statue of Fortune, customarily kept in his own bed-chamber, be transferred to the bed-chamber of Marcus.

4

Part of his mother's fortune Marcus then gave to Ummidius Quadratus, the son of his sister, because the latter was now dead.

5

Being forced by the senate to assume the government of the state after the death of the Deified Pius, Marcus made his brother his colleague in the empire, giving him the name Lucius Aurelius Verus Commodus and bestowing on him the titles Caesar and Augustus.

6

Then they began to rule the state on equal terms, and then it was that the Roman Empire first had two emperors, when Marcus shared with another the empire he had inherited. Next, he himself took the name Antoninus,

7

and just as though he were the father of Lucius Commodus, he gave him the name Verus, adding also the name Antoninus; he also betrothed him to his daughter Lucilla, though legally he was his brother.

8

In honour of this union they gave orders that girls and boys of newly-named orders should be assigned a share in the distribution of grain.

9

And so, when they had done those things which had to be done in the presence of the senate, they set out together for the praetorian camp, and in honour of their joint rule promised twenty thousand sesterces apiece to the common soldiers and to the others money in proportion.

10

The body of their father they laid in the Tomb of Hadrian with elaborate funeral rites, and on a holiday which came thereafter an official funeral train marched in parade.

11

Both emperors pronounced panegyrics for their father from the Rostra, and they appointed a flamen for him chosen from their own kinsmen and a college of Aurelian priests from their closest friends.


8

1

And now, after they had assumed the imperial power, the two emperors acted in so democratic a manner that no one missed the lenient ways of Pius; for though Marullus, a writer of farces of the time, irritated them by his jests, he yet went unpunished.

2

They gave funeral games for their father.

3

And Marcus abandoned himself to philosophy, at the same time cultivating the good-will of the citizens.

4

But now to interrupt the emperor's happiness and repose, there came the first flood of the Tiber — the severest one of their time — which ruined many houses in the city, drowned a great number of animals, and caused a most severe famine;

5

all these disasters Marcus and Verus relieved by their own personal care and aid.

6

At this time, moreover, came the Parthian war, which Vologaesus planned under Pius and declared under Marcus and Verus, after the rout of Attidius Cornelianus, than governor of Syria.

7

And besides this, war was threatening in Britain, and the Chatti had burst into Germany and Raetia.

8

Against the Britons Calpurnius Agricola was sent; against the Chatti, Aufidius Victorinus.

9

But to the Parthian war, with the consent of the senate, Marcus despatched his brother Verus, while he himself remained at Rome, where conditions demanded the presence of an emperor.

10

Nevertheless, he accompanied Verus as far as Capua, honouring him with a retinue of friends from the senate and appointing also all his chiefs-of‑staff.

11

And when, after returning to Rome, he learned that Verus was ill at Canusium he hastened to see him, after assuming vows in the senate, which, on his return to Rome after learning that Verus had set sail, he immediately fulfilled.

12

Verus, however, after he had come to Syria, lingered amid the debaucheries of Antioch and Daphne and busied himself with gladiatorial bouts and hunting. And yet, for waging the Parthian war through his legates, he was acclaimed Imperator,

13

while meantime Marcus was at all hours keeping watch over the workings of the state, and, though reluctantly and sorely against his will, but nevertheless with patience, was enduring the debauchery of his brother.

14

In a word, Marcus, though residing at Rome, planned and executed everything necessary to the prosecution of the war.


9

1

In Armenia the campaign was successfully prosecuted under Statius Priscus, Artaxata being taken, and the honorary name Armeniacus was given to each of the emperors. This name Marcus refused at first, by reason of his modesty, but afterwards accepted.

2

When the Parthian war was finished, moreover, each emperor was called Parthicus; but this name also Marcus refused when first offered, though afterwards he accepted it.

3

And further, when the title "Father of his Country" was offered him in his brother's absence, he deferred action upon it until the latter should be present.

4

In the midst of this war he entrusted his daughter, who was about to be married and had already received her dowry, to the care of his sister, and, accompanying them himself as far as Brundisium, sent them to Verus together with the latter's uncle, Civica.

5

Immediately thereafter he returned to Rome, recalled by the talk of those who said that he wished to appropriate to himself the glory of finishing the war and had therefore set out for Syria.

6

He wrote to the proconsul, furthermore, that no one should meet his daughter as she made her journey.

7

In the meantime, he put such safeguards about suits for personal freedom — and he was the first to do so — as to order that every citizen should bestow names upon his free-born children within thirty days after birth and declare them to the prefects of the treasury of Saturn.

8

In the provinces, too, he established the use of public records, in which entries concerning births were to be made in the same manner as at Rome in the office of the prefects of the treasury, the purpose being that if any one born in the provinces should plead a case to prove freedom, he might submit evidence from these records.

9

Indeed, he strengthened this entire law dealing with declarations of freedom, and he enacted other laws dealing with money-lenders and public sales.


10

1

He made the senate the judge in many inquiries and even in those which belonged to his own jurisdiction. With regard to the status of deceased persons, he ordered that any investigations must be made within five years.

2

Nor did any of the emperors show more respect to the senate than he. To do the senate honour, moreover, he entrusted the settling of disputes to many men of praetorian and consular rank who then held no magistracy, in order that their prestige might be enhanced through their administration of law.

3

He enrolled in the senate many of his friends, giving them the rank of aedile or praetor;

4

and on a number of poor but honest senators he bestowed the rank of tribune or aedile.

5

Nor did he ever appoint anyone to senatorial rank whom he did not know well personally.

6

He granted senators the further privilege that whenever any of them was to be tried on a capital charge, he would examine the evidence behind closed doors and only after so doing would bring the case to public trial; nor would he allow members of the equestrian order to attend such investigations.

7

He always attended the meetings of the senate if he was in Rome, even though no measure was to be proposed, and if he wished to propose anything himself, he came in person even from Campania.

8

More than this, when elections were held he often remained even until night, never leaving the senate-chamber

9

until the consul announced, "We detain you no longer, Conscript Fathers". Further, he appointed the senate judge in appeals made from the consul.

10

To the administration of justice he gave singular care. He added court-days to the calendar until he had set 230 days for the pleading of cases and judging of suits,

11

and he was the first to appoint a special praetor in charge of the praetor of wards, in order that greater care might be exercised in dealing with trustees; for previously the appointment of trustees had been in the hands of the consuls.

12

As regards guardians, indeed, he decided that all youths might have them appointed without being obliged to show cause therefor, whereas previously they were appointed under the Plaetorian Law, or in cases of prodigality or madness.

11

1

In the matter of public expenditures he was exceedingly careful, and he forbade all libels on the part of false informers, putting the mark of infamy on such as made false accusations. He scorned such accusations as would swell the privy-purse.

2

He devised many wise measures for the support of the state-poor, and, that he might give a wider range to the senatorial functions, he appointed supervisors for many communities from the senate.

3

In times of famine he furnished the Italian communities with food from the city; indeed, he made careful provision for the whole matter of the grain-supply.

4

He limited gladiatorial shows in every way, and lessened the cost of free theatrical performances also, decreeing that though an actor might receive five aurei, nevertheless no one who gave a performance should expend more than ten.

5

The streets of the city and the highways he maintained with the greatest care. As for the grain-supply, for that he provided laboriously.

6

He appointed judges for Italy and thereby provided for its welfare, after the plan of Hadrian, who had appointed men of consular rank to administer the law;

7

and he made scrupulous provision, furthermore, for the welfare of the provinces of Spain, which, in defiance of the policy of Trajan, had been exhausted by levies from the Italian settlers.

8

Also he enacted laws about inheritance-taxes, about the property of freedmen held in trust, about property inherited from the mother, about the succession of the sons to the mother's share, and likewise that senators of foreign birth should invest a fourth part of their capital in Italy.

9

And besides this, he gave the commissioners of districts and streets power either themselves to punish those who fleeced anyone of money beyond his due assessment, or to bring them to the prefect of the city for punishment.

10

He engaged rather in the restoration of old laws than in the making of new, and ever kept near him prefects with whose authority and responsibility he framed his laws. He made use of Scaevola also, a man particularly learned in jurisprudence.


12

1

Toward the people he acted just as one acts in a free state.

2

He was at all times exceedingly reasonable both in restraining men from evil and in urging them to good, generous in rewarding and quick to forgive, thus making bad men good, and good men very good, and he even bore with unruffled temper the insolence of not a few.

3

For example, when he advised a man of abominable reputation, who was running for office, a certain Vetrasinus, to stop the town-talk about himself, and Vetrasinus replied that many who had fought with him in the arena were now praetors, the Emperor took it with good grace.

4

Again, in order to avoid taking an easy revenge on any one, instead of ordering a praetor who had acted very badly in certain matters to resign his office, he merely entrusted the administration of the law to the man's colleague.

5

The privy-purse never influenced his judgment in law-suits involving money.

6

Finally, if he was firm, he was also reasonable.

7

After his brother had returned victorious from Syria, the title "Father of his Country" was decreed to both, inasmuch as Marcus in the absence of Verus had conducted himself with great consideration toward both senators and commons.

8

Furthermore, the civic crown was offered to both; and Lucius demanded that Marcus triumph with him, and demanded also that the name Caesar should be given to Marcus' sons.

9

But Marcus was so free from love of display that though he triumphed with Lucius, nevertheless after Lucius' death he called himself only Germanicus, the title he had won in his own war.

10

In the triumphal procession, moreover, they carried with them Marcus' children of both sexes, even his unmarried daughters;

11

and they viewed the games held in honour of the triumph clad in the triumphal robe.

12

Among other illustrations of his unfailing consideration towards others this act of kindness is to be told: After one lad, a rope-dancer, had fallen, he ordered mattresses spread under all rope-dancers. This is the reason why a net is stretched them to‑day.

13

While the Parthian war was still in progress, the Marcomannic war broke out, after having been postponed for a long time by the diplomacy of the men who were in charge there, in order that the Marcomannic war might not be waged until Rome was done with the war in the East.

14

Even at the time of the famine the Emperor had hinted at this war to the people, and when his brother returned after five years' service, he brought the matter up in the senate, saying that both emperors were needed for the German war.


13

1

So great was the dread of this Marcomannic war, that Antoninus summoned priests from all sides, performed foreign religious ceremonies, and purified the city in every way, and he was delayed thereby from setting out to the seat of war.

2

The Roman ceremony of the feast of the gods was celebrated for seven days.

3

And there was such a pestilence, besides, that the dead were removed in carts and waggons.

4

About this time, also, the two emperors ratified certain very stringent laws on burial and tombs, in which they even forbade any one to build a tomb at his country-place, a law still in force.

5

Thousands were carried off by the pestilence, including many nobles, for the most prominent of whom Antoninus erected statues.

6

Such, too, was his kindliness of heart that he had funeral ceremonies performed for the lower classes even at the public expense; and in the case of one foolish fellow, who, in a search with divers confederates for an opportunity to plunder the city, continually made speeches from the wild fig-tree on the Campus Martius, to the effect that fire would fall down from heaven and the end of the world would come should he fall from the tree and be turned into a stork, and finally at the appointed time did fall down and free a stork from his robe, the Emperor, when the wretch was hailed before him and confessed all, pardoned him.


14

1

Clad in the military cloak the two emperors finally set forth, for now not only were the Victuali and Marcomanni throwing everything into confusion, but other tribes, who had been driven on by the more distant barbarians and had retreated before them, were ready to attack Italy if not peaceably received.

2

And not a little good resulted from that expedition, even by the time they had advanced as far as Aquileia, for several kings retreated, together with their peoples, and put to death the authors of the trouble.

3

And the Quadi, after they had lost their king, said that they would not confirm the successor who had been elected until such a course was approved by our emperors.

4

Nevertheless, Lucius went on, though reluctantly, after a number of peoples had sent ambassadors to the legates of the emperors asking pardon for the rebellion.

5

Lucius, it is true, thought they should return, because Furius Victorinus, the prefect of the guard, had been lost, and part of his army had perished; Marcus, however, held that they should press on, thinking that the barbarians, in order that they might not be crushed by the size of so great a force, were feigning a retreat and using other ruses which afford safety in war, held that they should persist in order that they might not be overwhelmed by the mere burden of their vast preparations.

6

Finally, they crossed the Alps, and pressing further on, completed all measures necessary for the defence of Italy and Illyricum.

7

They then decided, at Lucius' insistence, that letters should first be sent ahead to the senate and that Lucius should then return to Rome.

8

But on the way, after they had set out upon their journey, Lucius died from a stroke of apoplexy while riding in the carriage with his brother.


15

1

It was customary with Marcus to read, listen to, and sign documents at the circus-games; because of this habit he was openly ridiculed, it is said, by the people.

2

The freedmen Geminas and Agaclytus were very powerful in the reign of Marcus and Verus.

3

Such was Marcus' sense of honour, moreover, that although Verus' vices mightily offended him, he concealed and defended them; he also deified him after his death, aided and advanced his aunts and sisters by means of honours and pensions, honoured Verus himself with many sacrifices,

4

consecrated a flamen for him and a college of Antonine priests, and gave him all honours that are appointed for the deified.

5

There is no emperor who is not the victim of some evil tale, and Marcus is no exception. For it was bruited about, in truth, that he put Verus out of the way, either with poison — by cutting a sow's womb with a knife smeared on one side with poison, and then offering the poisoned portion to his brother to eat, while keeping the harmless portion for himself

6

or, at least, by employing the physician Posidippus, who bled Verus, it is said, unseasonably. After Verus' death Cassius revolted from Marcus.


16

1

Such was Marcus' kindness toward his own family that he bestowed the insignia of every office on all his kin, while on his son, and an accursed and foul one he was, he hastened to bestow the name of Caesar, then afterward the priesthood, and, a little later, the title of imperator and a share in a triumph and the consulship.

2

It was at this time that Marcus, though acclaimed imperator, ran on foot in the Circus by the side of the triumphal car in which his son was seated.

3

After the death of Verus, Marcus Antoninus held the empire alone, a nobler man by far and more abounding in virtues,

4

especially as he was no longer hampered by Verus' faults, neither by those of excessive candour and hot-headed plain speaking, from which Verus suffered through natural folly, nor by those others which had particularly irked Marcus Antoninus even from his earliest years, the principles and habits of a depraved mind.

5

Such was Marcus' own repose of spirit that neither in grief nor in joy did he ever change countenance, being wholly given over to the Stoic philosophy, which he had not only learned from all the best masters, but also acquired for himself from every source.

6

For this reason Hadrian would have taken him for his own successor to the throne had not his youth prevented.

7

This intention, indeed, seems obvious from the fact that he chose Marcus to be the son-in‑law of Pius, in order that the direction of the Roman state might some time at least come into his hands, as to those of one well worthy.


17

1

Toward the provinces from then on he acted with extreme restraint and consideration. He carried on a successful campaign against the Germans.

2

He himself singled out the Marcomannic war — a war which surpassed any in the memory of man — and waged it with both valour and success, and that at a time when a grievous pestilence had carried away thousands of civilians and soldiers.

3

And so, by crushing the Marcomanni, the Sarmatians, the Vandals, and even the Quadi, he freed the Pannonias from bondage, and with Commodus his son, whom he had previously named Caesar, triumphed at Rome, as we told above.

4

When he had drained the treasury for this war, moreover, and could not bring himself to impose any extraordinary tax on the provincials, he held a public sale in the Forum of the Deified Trajan of the imperial furnishings, and sold goblets of gold and crystal and murra, even flagons made for kings, his wife's silken gold-embroidered robes, and, indeed, even certain jewels which he had found in considerable numbers in a particularly holy cabinet of Hadrian's.

5

This sale lasted for two months, and such a store of gold was realised thereby, that after he had conducted the remainder of the Marcomannic war in full accordance with his plans, he gave the buyers to understand that if any of them wished to return his purchases and recover his money, he could do so. Nor did he make it unpleasant for anyone who did or did not return what he had bought.

6

At this time, also, he granted permission to the more prominent men to hold banquets with the same pomp that he used himself and with servants similar to his own.

7

In the matter of public games, furthermore, he was so liberal as to present a hundred lions together in one performance and have them all killed with arrows.


18

1

After he had ruled, then, with the good-will of all, and had been named and beloved variously as brother, father, or son by various men according to their several ages, in the eighteenth year of his reign and the sixty-first of his life he closed his last day.

2

Such love for him was manifested on the day of the imperial funeral that none thought that men should lament him, since all were sure that he had been lent by the gods and had now returned to them.

3

Finally, before his funeral was held, so many say, the senate and people, not in separate places but sitting together, as was never done before or after, hailed him as a gracious god.

4

This man, so great, so good, and an associate of the gods both in life and in death, left one son Commodus; and had he been truly fortunate he would not have left a son.

5

It was not enough, indeed, that people of every age, sex, degree and rank in life, gave him all honours given to the gods, but also whosoever failed to keep the Emperor's image in his home, if his fortune were such that he could or should have done so, was deemed guilty of sacrilege.

6

Even to‑day, in fine, statues of Marcus Antoninus stand in many a home among the household gods.

7

Nor were there lacking men who observed that he foretold many things by dreams and were thereby themselves enabled to predict events that did come to pass.

8

Therefore a temple was built for him and priests were appointed, dedicated to the service of the Antonines, both Sodales and flamens, and all else that the usage of old time decreed for a consecrated temple.


19

1

Some say, and it seems plausible, that Commodus Antoninus, his son and successor, was not begotten by him, but in adultery;

2

they embroider this assertion, moreover, with a story current among the people. On a certain occasion, it was said, Faustina, the daughter of Pius and wife of Marcus, saw some gladiators pass by, and was inflamed for love of one of them; and afterwards, when suffering from a long illness, she confessed the passion to her husband.

3

And when Marcus reported this to the Chaldeans, it was their advice that Faustina should bathe in his blood and thus couch with her husband.

4

When this was done, the passion was indeed allayed, but their son Commodus was born a gladiator, not really a prince;

5

for afterwards as emperor he fought almost a thousand gladiatorial bouts before the eyes of the people, as shall be related in his life.

6

This story is considered plausible, as a matter of fact, for the reason that the son of so virtuous a prince had habits worse than any trainer of gladiators, any play-actor, any fighter in the arena, anything brought into existence from the offscourings of all dishonour and crime.

7

Many writers, however, state that Commodus was really begotten in adultery, since it is generally known that Faustina, while at Caieta, used to choose out lovers from among the sailors and gladiators.

8

When Marcus Antoninus was told about this, that he might divorce, if not kill her, he is reported to have said "If we send our wife away, we must also return her dowry".

9

And what was her dowry? the Empire, which, after he had been adopted at the wish of Hadrian, he had inherited from his father-in‑law Pius.

10

But truly such is the power of the life, the holiness, the serenity, and the righteousness of a good emperor that not even the scorn felt for his kin can sully his own good name.

11

For since Antoninus held ever to his moral code and was moved by no man's whispered machinations, men thought no less of him because his son was a gladiator, his wife infamous.

12

Even now he is called a god, which ever has seemed and even now seems right to you, most venerable Emperor Diocletian, who worship him among your divinities, not as you worship the others, but as one apart, and who often say that you desire, in life and gentleness, to be such a one as Marcus, even though, as far as philosophy is concerned, Plato himself, were he to return to life, could not be such a philosopher. So much, then, for these matters, told briefly and concisely.


20

1

But as for the acts of Marcus Antoninus after the death of his brother, they are as follows: First of all, he conveyed his body to Rome and laid it in the tomb of his fathers.

2

Then divine honours were ordered for Verus. Later, while rendering thanks to the senate for his brother's deification, he darkly hinted that all the strategic plans whereby the Parthians had been overcome were his own.

3

He added, besides, certain statements in which he indicated that now at length he would make a fresh beginning in the management of the state, now that Verus, who had seemed somewhat negligent, was removed.

4

And the senate took this precisely as it was said, so that Marcus seemed to be giving thanks that Verus had departed this life.

5

Afterwards he bestowed many privileges and much honour and money on all Verus' sisters, kin, and freedmen. For he was exceedingly solicitous about his good reputation, indeed he was wont to ask what men really said of him, and to correct whatever seemed justly blamed.

6

Just before setting out for the German war, and before the period of mourning had yet expired, he married his daughter to Claudius Pompeianus, the son of a Roman knight, and now advanced in years, a native of Antioch, whose birth was not sufficiently noble (though Marcus later made him consul twice),

7

since Marcus' daughter was an Augusta and the daughter of an Augusta. Indeed, Faustina and the girl who was given in marriage were both opposed to this match.

21

1

Against the Mauri, when they wasted almost the whole of Spain, matters were brought to a successful conclusion by his legates;

2

and when the warriors of the Bucolici did many grievous things in Egypt, they were checked by Avidius Cassius, who later attempted to seize the throne.

3

Just before his departure, while he was living in retreat at Praeneste, Marcus lost his seven-year‑old son, by name Verus Caesar, from an operation on a tumour under his ear.

4

For no more than five days did he mourn him; and even during this period, when consulted on public affairs he gave some time to them. And because the games of Jupiter Optimus Maximus were then in progress

5

and he did not wish to have them interrupted by public mourning, he merely ordered that statues should be decreed for his dead son, that a golden image of him should be carried in procession at the Circus, and that his name should be inserted in the song of the Salii.

6

And since the pestilence was still raging at this time, he both zealously revived the worship of the gods and trained slaves for military service — just as had been done in the Punic war — whom he called Volunteers, after the example of the Volones.

7

He armed gladiators also, calling them the Compliant, and turned even the bandits of Dalmatia and Dardania into soldiers. He armed the Diogmitae, besides, and even hired auxiliaries from among the Germans for service against Germans.

8

And besides all this, he proceeded with all care to enrol legions for the Marcomannic and German war.

9

And lest all this prove burdensome to the provinces, he held an auction of the palace furnishings in the Forum of the Deified Trajan, as we have related, and sold there, besides robes and goblets and golden flagons, even statues and paintings by great artists.

10

He overwhelmed the Marcomanni while they were crossing the Danube, and restored the plunder to the provincials.


22

1

Then, from the borders of Illyricum even into Gaul, all the nations banded together against us — the Marcomanni, Varistae, Hermunduri and Quadi, the Suebians, Sarmatians, Lacringes and Buri, these and certain others together with the Victuali, namely, Osi, Bessi, Cobotes, Roxolani, Bastarnae, Alani, Peucini, and finally, the Costoboci. Furthermore, war threatened in Parthia and Britain.

2

Thereupon, by immense labour on his own part, while his soldiers reflected his energy, and both legates and prefects of the guard led the host, he conquered these exceedingly fierce peoples, accepted the surrender of the Marcomanni, and brought a great number of them to Italy.

3

Always before making any move, he conferred with the foremost men concerning matters not only of war but also of civil life.

4

This saying particularly was ever on his lips: "It is juster that I should yield to the counsel of such a number of such friends than that such a number of such friends should yield to my wishes, who am but one".

5

But because Marcus, as a result of his system of philosophy, seemed harsh in his military discipline and indeed in his life in general, he was bitterly assailed;

6

to all who spoke ill of him, however, he made reply either in speeches or in pamphlets.

7

And 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,

8

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.

9

Several proconsular provinces he changed into consular, and several consular provinces into proconsular or praetorian, according to the exigencies of war.

10

He checked disturbances among the Sequani by a rebuke and by his personal influence;

11

and in Spain, likewise, he quieted the disturbances which had arisen in Lusitania.

12

And having summoned his son Commodus to the border of the empire, he gave him the toga virilis, in honour of which he distributed largess among the people, and appointed him consul before the legal age.


23

1

He was always displeased at hearing that anyone had been outlawed by the prefect of the city.

2

He himself was very sparing of the public money in giving largess — a fact which we mention rather in praise than in disparagement

3

but nevertheless he gave financial assistance to the deserving, furnished aid to towns on the brink of ruin, and, when necessity demanded, cancelled tribute or taxes.

4

And while absent from Rome he left forceful instructions that the amusements of the Roman people should be provided for by the richest givers of public spectacles,

5

because, when he took the gladiators away to the war, there was talk among the people that he intended to deprive them of their amusements and thereby drive them to the study of philosophy.

6

Indeed, he had ordered that the actors of pantomimes should begin their performances nine days later than usual in order that business might not be interfered with.

7

There was talk, as we mentioned above, about his wife's intrigues with pantomimists; however, he cleared her of all these charges in his letters.

8

He forbade riding and driving within the limits of any city. He abolished common baths for both sexes. He reformed the morals of the matrons and young nobles which were growing lax. He separated the sacred rites of Serapis from the miscellaneous ceremonies of the Pelusia.

9

There was a report, furthermore, that certain men masquerading as philosophers had been making trouble both for the state and for private citizens; but this charge he refuted.


24

1

It was customary with Antoninus to punish all crimes with lighter penalties than were usually inflicted by the laws; although at times, toward those who were clearly guilty of serious crimes he remained implacable.

2

He himself held those trials of distinguished men which involved the death-penalty, and always with the greatest justice. Once, indeed, he rebuked a praetor who heard the pleas of accused men in too summary a fashion, and ordered him to hold the trials again, saying that it was a matter of concern to the honour of the accused that they should be heard by a judge who really represented the people.

3

He scrupulously observed justice, moreover, even in his dealings with captive enemies. He settled innumerable foreigners on Roman soil.

4

By his prayers he summoned a thunderbolt from heaven against a war-engine of the enemy, and successfully besought rain for his men when they were suffering from thirst.

5

He wished to make a province of Marcomannia and likewise of Sarmatia,161 and he would have done so

6

had not Avidius Cassius just then raised a rebellion in the East. This man proclaimed himself emperor, some say, at the wish of Faustina, who was now in despair over her husband's death;

7

others, however, say that Cassius proclaimed himself emperor after spreading false rumours of Antoninus' death, and indeed he had called him the Deified.

8

Antoninus was not much disturbed by this revolt, nor did he adopt harsh measures against Cassius' dear ones.

9

The senate, however, declared Cassius a public enemy and confiscated his property to the public treasury.


25

1

The Emperor, then, abandoning the Sarmatian and Marcomannic wars, set out against him

2

At Rome there was a panic for fear that Cassius would arrive during Antoninus' absence; but he was speedily slain and his head was brought to Antoninus.

3

Even then, Marcus did not rejoice at Cassius' death, and gave orders that his head should be buried.

4

Maecianus, Cassius' ally, in whose charge Alexandria had been placed, was killed by the army; likewise his prefect of the guard — for he had appointed one — was also slain.

5

Marcus then forbade the senate to impose any heavy punishment upon those who had conspired in this revolt;

6

and at the same time, in order that his reign might escape such a stain, he requested that during his rule no senator should be executed.

7

Those who had been exiled, moreover, he ordered to be recalled; and there were only a very few of the centurions who suffered the death-penalty.

8

He pardoned the communities which had sided with Cassius, and even went so far as to pardon the citizens of Antioch, who had said many things in support of Cassius and in opposition to himself.

9

But he did abolish their games and public meetings, including assemblies of every kind, and issued a very severe edict against the people themselves.

10

And yet a speech which Marcus delivered to his friends, reported by Marius Maximus, brands them as rebels.

11

And finally, he refused to visit Antioch when he journeyed to Syria,

12

nor would he visit Cyrrhus, the home of Cassius. Later on, however, he did visit Antioch. Alexandria, when he stayed there, he treated with clemency.


26

1

He conducted many negotiations with kings, and ratified peace with all the kings and satraps of Persia when they came to meet him.

2

He was exceedingly beloved by all the eastern provinces, and on many, indeed, he left the imprint of philosophy.

3

While in Egypt he conducted himself like a private citizen and a philosopher at all the stadia, temples, and in fact everywhere. And although the citizens of Alexandria had been outspoken in wishing Cassius success, he forgave everything and left his daughter among them.

4

And now, in the village of Halala, in the foothills of Mount Taurus, he lost his wife Faustina, who succumbed to a sudden illness.

5

He asked the senate to decree her divine honours and a temple, and likewise delivered a eulogy of her, although she had suffered grievously from the reputation of lewdness. Of this, however, Antoninus was either ignorant or affected ignorance.

6

He established a new order of Faustinian girls in honour of his dead wife,

7

expressed his pleasure at her deification by the senate,

8

and because she had accompanied him on his summer campaign, called her "Mother of the Camp".

9

And besides this, he made the village where Faustina died a colony, and there built a temple in her honour. This, however, was afterwards consecrated to Elagabalus.

10

With characteristic clemency, he suffered rather than ordered the execution of Cassius,

11

while Heliodorus, the son of Cassius, was merely banished, and others of his children exiled but allowed part of their father's property.

12

Cassius's sons, moreover, were granted over half their father's estate and were enriched besides with sums of gold and silver, while the women of the family were presented with jewels. Indeed, Alexandria, Cassius' daughter, and Druncianus, his son-in‑law, were allowed to travel wherever they wished, and were even put under the protection of the Emperor's uncle by marriage.

13

And further than this, he grieved at Cassius' death, saying that he had wished to complete his reign without shedding the blood of a single senator.


27

1

After he had settled affairs in the East he came to Athens, and had himself initiated into the Eleusinian mysteries in order to prove that he was innocent of any wrong-doing, and he entered the sanctuary unattended.

2

Afterwards, when returning to Italy, he encountered a violent storm on the way.

3

Then, reaching Italy by way of Brundisium, he donned the toga and bade his troops do likewise, nor indeed during his reign were the soldiers ever clad in the military cloak.

4

When he reached Rome he triumphed, then hastened to Lavinium.

5

Presently he appointed Commodus his colleague in the tribunician power, bestowed largess upon the people, and gave marvellous games; shortly thereafter he remedied many civil abuses,

6

and set a limit to the expense of gladiatorial shows.

7

Ever on his lips was a saying of Plato's, that those states prospered where the philosophers were kings or the kings philosophers.

8

He united his son in marriage with the daughter of Bruttius Praesens, performing the ceremony in the manner of ordinary citizens; and in celebration of the marriage he gave largess to the people.

9

He then turned his attention to completing the war, in the conduct of which he died. During this time the behaviour of his son steadily fell away from the standard the Emperor had set for himself.

10

For three years thereafter he waged war with the Marcomanni, the Hermunduri, the Sarmatians, and the Quadi, and had he lived a year longer he would have made these regions provinces.

11

Two days before his death, it is said, he summoned his friends and expressed the same opinion about his son that Philip expressed about Alexander when he too thought poorly of his son, and added that it grieved him exceedingly to leave a son behind him.

12

For already Commodus had made it clear that he was base and cruel.


28

1

He died in the following manner: When he began to grow ill, he summoned his son and besought him first of all not to think lightly of what remained of the war, lest he seem a traitor to the state.

2

And when his son replied that his first desire was good health, he allowed him to do as he wished, only asking him to wait a few days and not leave at once.

3

Then, being eager to die, he refrained from eating or drinking, and so aggravated the disease.

4

On the sixth day he summoned his friends, and with derision for all human affairs and scorn for death, said to them: "Why do you weep for me, instead of thinking about the pestilence and about death which is the common lot of us all?"

5

And when they were about to retire he groaned and said: "If you now grant me leave to go, I bid you farewell and pass on before."

6

And when he was asked to whom he commended his son he replied: "To you, if he prove worthy, and to the immortal gods".

7

The army, when they learned of his sickness, lamented loudly, for they loved him singularly.

8

On the seventh day he was weary and admitted only his son, and even him he at once sent away in fear that he would catch the disease.

9

And when his son had gone, he covered his head as though he wished to sleep and during the night he breathed his last.

10

It is said that he foresaw that after his death Commodus would turn out as he actually did, and expressed the wish that his son might die, lest, as he himself said, he should become another Nero, Caligula, or Domitian.


29

1

It is held to Marcus' discredit that he advanced his wife's lovers, Tertullus and Tutilius and Orfitus and Moderatus, to various offices of honour, although he had caught Tertullus in the very act of breakfasting with his wife.

2

In regard to this man the following dialogue was spoken on the stage in the presence of Antoninus himself. The Fool asked the Slave the name of his wife's lover and the Slave answered "Tullus" three times; and when the Fool kept on asking, the Slave replied, "I have already told you thrice Tullus is his name".

3

But the city-populace and others besides talked a great deal about this incident and found fault with Antoninus for his forbearance.

4

Previous to his death, and before he returned to the Marcomannic war, he swore in the Capitol that no senator had been executed with his knowledge and consent, and said that had he known he would have spared even the insurgents.

5

Nothing did he fear and deprecate more than a reputation for covetousness, a charge of which he tried to clear himself in many letters.

6

Some maintain — and held it a fault — that he was insincere and not as guileless as he seemed, indeed not as guileless as either Pius or Verus had been.

7

Others accused him of encouraging the arrogance of the court by keeping his friends from general social intercourse and from banquets.

8

His parents were deified at his command, and even his parents' friends, after their death, he honoured with statues.

9

He did not readily accept the version of those who were partisans in any matter, but always searched long and carefully for the truth.

10

After the death of Faustina, Fabia tried to manoeuvre a marriage with him. But he took a concubine instead, the daughter of a steward of his wife's, rather than put a stepmother over so many children.