ROMAN (OR GREEK) OF THE WEEK

Or every other week really!

Marcus Aurelius was one of the most committed and virtuous of all of the Emperors of Rome.  He was groomed for the throne by his adoptive father, Antoninus Pius.  Marcus spent a large part of his 9 year reign fighting various German barbarians on the banks of the Rhine and, especially, the Danube.  His mostly successful campaigns led to him leaving a stable and prosperous empire to his successor.  Sadly, as we all know, his successor was his surviving son, Commodus, who proceeded to drive this successful empire into the wall and ruin it, leading to civil war and instability.
Marcus was an exponent of Stoic philosophy and found time to jot down his thoughts into what became the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius.  One quote from this book sums up this remarkable leader.
‘Don’t waste time working out what a good man is; be one.’

 

ROMAN (OR GREEK) OF THE WEEK

Or every other week really!

Socrates was the first of the very famous Greek philosophers.  He roamed the streets of Athens talking to and challenging the local populations.  He was very different from the philosophers  that came before him, though, because he didn’t claim that he knew anything! He didn’t try to say that he had answers to any of the questions he asked.  Instead he just asked questions and then, when people came up with answers, quizzed them on why they had given that answer.  He never wrote anything down and rarely expressed his own views.  He sidled up to peoplein the agora and asked them things like "What is wisdom?", "What is beauty?" and things like that, and challenged their answers.  The way Socrates taught, by asking questions, is now called the Socratic Method.  Eventually he was condemned to death by the Athenian authorities who clearly didn’t like the way he taught!

 

ROMAN (OR GREEK) OF THE WEEK

Or every other week really!

There is only one figure we could feature on our very first Roman or Greek of the fortnight article.  Augustus Caesar was the first emperor of the Roman Empire.  He took the Republic, which was already crumbling after the interventions of the Gracchi and the triumvirates, and ripped it up.  In doing this he still managed to maintain the fiction that the Republic, and democracy, still existed when, in fact, he held all the power.  Find out more about Augustus by listening to chapters 61 to 63 of The Myths and History of Greece and Rome podcast.

 

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