Philosophy 101 1002 7 May 2014 Marcus Aurelius The Philosopher Emperor
Marcus Aurelius was born in 121 AD to a wealthy family originally from the province of Hispania Baetica, in the Roman Empire. Known as the philosopher emperor even during his own lifetime, Marcus was a staunch follower of Stoicism, which constantly guided his rule, his administration, and defined his senses of honor and duty. Also considered to be the last of the Five Good Emperors, it was ironic that this Golden Age of Rome ended, or was at least accelerated, by Marcus himself when he ignored his lifelong philosophical creeds of duty and obligation by elevating his son, Commodus, to the rank of emperor, ignoring other more qualified (and less pathologically insane) men.
From an early age, Marcus was taken to philosophy. He was home schooled and encouraged in such teachings, which he took to eagerly. By the age of eleven he insisted upon the dress of a philosopher, wearing only roughly made Geek-style togas when studying, and even decided to sleep on the floor to emulate these selfless teachings. It wasnt until 136 AD, however, when Marcus was around fifteen years old, that he was introduced to the philosophy that would guide him the rest of his life Stoicism.
Stoicism, founded some four hundred years earlier, was a philosophical way of life founded by Zeno of Citium, in Greece. The basic idea of Stoicism is essentially that there are no negative or damaging situations it is only a persons perception or opinion of something as bad, negative, or undesirable, that makes it so, and it is within ones own ability only to change this opinion. And as one is often incapable of changing the so-called undesirable situation itself, altering your perception of it becomes all the more necessary to reach ultimate happiness. Epictetus, an influential Stoic philosopher who died some decades before Marcuss birth, described the philosophy thus Man is disturbed not by things, but by the views he takes of them...
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