Marcus Aurelius, Caesar 139-161 AD,
Augustus 161-180 A.D.
Marcus Aurelius, born on April 26, 121 AD, was the Roman emperor from 161 to 180 AD. He ruled jointly with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus until Verus died in 169 and then alone until his death. Known as the last of the “Five Good Emperors,” his rule is often considered a high point in the history of the Roman Empire.
Born into an aristocratic family, Marcus Aurelius was adopted by his uncle, Emperor Antoninus Pius, at the behest of Emperor Hadrian. His upbringing was marked by a rigorous education that formed the foundation of his philosophical pursuits, notably his adoption and promotion of Stoicism.
Marcus Aurelius is particularly renowned for his contributions to philosophy. He was crucial in developing and propagating Stoic philosophy, a Hellenistic philosophy emphasizing ethics, virtue, and living in harmony with nature. His work, known as the ‘Meditations,’ is a series of personal reflections and exercises in Stoic philosophy. It is considered a significant text in understanding Stoic thought and continues to be widely read and admired for its wisdom and practical guidance.
The foresight and plans of Emperor Hadrian shaped the path to the throne for Marcus Aurelius. Hadrian, having no biological heirs, took measures to ensure a smooth succession to the imperial throne. In 136 AD, he adopted Lucius Ceionius Commodus, who took the name, Lucius Aelius Caesar as his son and heir. However, Lucius Aelius died unexpectedly in 138 AD, and Hadrian had to adapt his succession plan quickly.
In response to this unexpected turn of events, Hadrian adopted Titus Aurelius Fulvus Boionius Arrius Antoninus, known as Antoninus Pius, as his new heir. Antoninus was a respected senator with a strong track record of public service and was related to Marcus Aurelius through marriage. However, Hadrian imposed a condition on Antoninus Pius’s adoption: Antoninus must adopt Marcus Aurelius, who was the grandson of Antoninus’s wife, and Lucius Verus, the son of the deceased Lucius Aelius, as his own heirs.
Antoninus Pius ascended to the throne upon Hadrian’s death later in 138 AD. As part of the agreement, Marcus was officially adopted by Antoninus Pius and renamed Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar. Marcus was then engaged to Antoninus’s daughter, Faustina the Younger, cementing his position as heir.
Upon Antoninus Pius’s death in 161 AD, the Senate proclaimed Marcus emperor. In a break from tradition and in accordance with Hadrian’s original succession plan, Marcus insisted that his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, become co-emperor, marking the first time two emperors ruled Rome. Their joint rule would continue until Verus’s death in 169 AD, after which Marcus ruled alone.
Obverse: IMP CAES M AVREL ANTONINVS AVG P M, bare-headed, cuirassed bust right.
Reverse: CONCORD AVGVSTOR TR P XV around, S-C across fields, COS III
below, Marcus and Verus clasping hands.
Diameter: 31.5 mm
RIC 796; Cohen 45; Sear 4962 var.
Made in the USA
Packaged in a coin collecting flip with the description of the coin printed on the flip insert.