Aurelius was a very well-known Roman emperor and most people think of him as one of the best. His birth name was Marcus Annius Verus but later took the name of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus he was born on April 26, 121 CE, in Rome and ruled Rome from 161 to 180 CE. Not only was Aurelius an emperor but he was also a philosopher of his Roman era and wrote a book called “mediations” that was based on Stoic philosophy. The book to this day is still reserved as a literary monument.
Aurelius had several family connections to various Roman emperors, mainly on his father's side. As a young boy He had also attracted the attention of the ruling Emperor Hadrian. So in 138 CE, the emperor had chosen Aurelius Antoninius as his successor but with one condition: he had to adopt Marcus and Lucius Verus as his sons and successors. Antoninus agreed and Marcus took the name of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus and was groomed as the next emperor. Aurelius eventually rose to power 180 CE but had refused the honor unless Lucius Verus (his adopted brother) was elevated as co-emperor with him. His request was granted and Aurelius and Verus became the first emperor duo.
The two of them took many actions that benefited Rome. They insisted programs to help the poor and to reward the military with more pay. They encouraged free speech, arts, and education. As well as temporarily boosting the economy by increasing the value of the currency. The two emperors quickly became very popular with the people but even though Rome thrived with Marcus as emperor, they also went through many obstacles. The 2 brothers battled the Parthians (Iran) to secure the eastern borders of their empire. Foreshadowing of the Tetrarchy (a system of multiple emperors adopted over a century later) Verus conducted the war effort while Aurelius governed in Rome. Aside from the east the adoptive brothers needed to secure the northern border from German tribes as well. The natural border of the empire was the Danube River, which was crossed by Germanic invaders in the late 160s CE. This time both Aurelius and Verus left on the campaign, but Verus then died in 169 CE. Aurelius continued and succeeded in driving the Germans back across the border. All was going well for Rome but when Verus’ army had returned from Parthia they had brought the plague with them which Rome lost many people to. The plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly. Sometimes referred to as the “black plague,” the disease is caused by a bacterial strain called Yersinia pestis. This bacteria is found in animals throughout the world and is usually transmitted to humans through fleas. Some people also think that Verus died due to this epidemic but this theory was never proven. Aurelius died on March 17th of 180 CE at age 58 due to natural causes.
To conclude, Aurelius was an amazing and educated emperor and philosopher that benefited the people of Rome in many ways. His welfare program gave new opportunities to people who were less fortunate in Rome. And he led Rome through hard battles. All while staying kind and humble.