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Aurelius (Marcus Annius Verus)






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AURELIUS - (Marcus Annius Verus) son of Annius Verus, the praetor, and of Domitia Calvilla, born at Rome in A.D.121.
After the death of his father (who was brother to the wife of Antoninus Pius), he received from Hadrian the appellation of M. Annius Verissimus.
At the early age of 15, he was permitted to assume the toga virilis.
Adopted by Antoninus Pius at the time when Hadrian adopted Antoninus, he was named in the year A.D.138, Caesar and Consul; and from that period was called M. Aelius Aurelius. After having been declared Consul for the second time, he married (A.D.145) Annia Faustina, daughter of Antoninus Pius and Faustina Senior, a woman infamous for her adulteries, but a skilful dissembler with her husband.
In A.D.147, he was invested with the Tribunitian power and at the death of Antoninus in A.D.161, he succeeded to the Empire, being proclaimed by the Senators, in conjunction with Verus, his adopted brother, whom he generously took as his colleague. Thus, for the first time, Rome saw herself governed by TWO Augusti et Imperatores, sharing with each other the supreme authority of the State, to exercise it in common. It was then (A.D.161) that he took the names M Aurelius Antoninus, thereby marking his transit from the Annia to the Aurelia family.
From A.D.162 to 165, he defeated and brought to submission the Parthians, the Medes and the Armenians.
In A.D.166. he participated with Verus, in the honours of a triumph, at Rome, for these victories. From A.D.167 to A.D.174, Aurelius was engaged in repelling the destructive inroads of the Marcomanni, Quadi, Sarmatians, and almost all the nations inhabiting the north of Europe, banded together during that period in a formidable league against the Romans. Making head against this furious storm, he saved the Empire by the firmness of his character and the wisdom of his measures, by his indefatigable zeal and undaunted courage in the midst of dangers.
About A.D.177, he received the title of Pater Patriae (P P onthe legends of his coins). Meanwhile the whole of Italy and nearly all the provinces, were desolated by a most dreadful plague, which the troops of Verus had brought with them from the East. The debauched young Verus himself had fallen, a victim to his excesses, in A.D.169.
After subduing a rebellion in Germany, suppressing a revolt of the Britons, quelling the insurrection of Avidius Cassius in Italy, and triumphing over most of his enemies, this renowned emperor terminated his eventful career in a renewed war with the Marcomanni and their barbaric allies; dying at either Vindobona or Sirmium in Pannonia (Vienna or Sirmich, Austria) in A.D.180. He was 59 years old, had reigned for 19 years, and had had, by Faustina Junior, Commodus and Lucilla together with four other sons and three daughters who had died in their infancy.
Aurelius, no less celebrated for his literary accomplishments, than for his military exploits, is usually distinguished by the name of "the philosopher," due to his attachment to the Stoic principles. But neither coins nor marbles hand down any inscriptions that assign to him this particular addition, however due to his learning and to his gravity of deportment. In public spirited disinterest and irreproachable morals, he equalled, perhaps excelled, the best of his Imperial predecessors, and successors too. When, in a calamitous struggle with invading myriads from the northern hive of nations, the public treasury became emptied, and fresh supplies of money were required to carry on the war, this illustrious prince brought to auction, in the Forum Traiani, all the ornaments and furniture of his palace, generously parting with his private fortune rather than increasing the pressure of provincial taxation. But Marcus Aurelius, wise and honest as he was, had nevertheless his weaknesses and his faults, amongst which must be noticed the dignities which he lavished on an openly abandoned wife, and the premature honours which he conferred on his monster of a son. The most grievous blot, however, which his just and merciful characteristics sustained, was in the cruelties, which, if he did not actually encourage, he too readily permitted, to be exercised against the Christians, and which were carried to such a height, that under his reign are chronologically placed the horrors of the fourth persecution. Yet, "taking him for all in all", looking to the correctness of his habits, the simplicity of his manners, the liberality of his natural disposition, as evinced in his written meditations, and practically exemplified in his conduct through life, it is not to be wondered at that his memory was long revered by posterity, or that more than a century after his death, many persons preserved his image amongst those of their tutelary deities.
The woodcut, at the head of this notice, is from the obverse of a brass medallion in the French cabinet. With the legend M ANTONINVS AVG TR P XXVIII it exhibits a striking portrait, of finished workmanship. In mature age, the Emperor retains a full head of hair, to which the laurel crown is a conspicuous ornament; his beard is luxuriant, even to shagginess; his shoulders are covered with the Imperial laticlavum, clasped with a fibula to the right shoulder.
The coins of Aurelius are very numerous.
The gold is common, except some of second degree of rarity. Silver is common, except some of fifth dgree of rarity. Brass common, except some of eighth degree of rarity.
There are pieces which represent him with Antoninus, Faustina Junior, Lucius Verus and Commodus.
On these medals he is styled AVRELIVS CAESAR - AVRELIVS CAESAR AVGusti PII FILius (with the young head) -  M AVRELIVS ANTONINVS - IMP CAES M AVREL ANTONINVS - M ANTONINVS AVGVSTVS - Also with the surnames ARMENIACVS, PARTHICVS, MAXIMVS - MEDICVS (the Median), GERMANICVS and SARMATICVS.
On his consecration medals appear DIVVS M ANTONINVS and DIVVS M ANTONINVS PIVS - Thus it appears that on several of his coins the name of Aurelius is omitted.
 


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