The Reign of Marcus Aurelius
Source: Eutropius, Compendium of Roman History VIII.12-14. William Stearns Davis, ed., Readings
in Ancient History: Illustrative Extracts from the Sources, 2 Vols. (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1912-13), Vol.
II: Rome and the West. Scanned by: J. S.
Arkenberg, Dept. of History, Cal. State Fullerton. Prof. Arkenberg has
modernized the text.
Marcus Aurelius was trained in philosophy by Apollonius of
Chalcedon: in the Greek language by Sextus of Chaeronea, the grandson of
Plutarch, while the eminent orator Fronto instructed him in Latin literature. He
conducted himself towards all men at Rome, as if he had been their equal, being
moved by no arrogance by his elevation to the Empire. He exercised prompt
liberality, and managed the provinces with the utmost kindness and indulgence.
Under his rule affairs were successfully conducted against the
Germans. He himself carried on a war with the Marcomanni, which was greater
than any in the memory of man (in the way of wars with the Germans)---so that
it was compared to the Punic Wars, for it was exceedingly formidable, and in it
whole armies were lost; especially as in this reign, after the victory over the
Parthians there occurred a great pestilence so that at Rome, and throughout
Italy and the provinces a large fraction of the population, and actually the bulk
of the regular troops perished from the plague.
With the greatest labor and patience he persevered for three
whole years at Carnutum [a strategically located fortress town in Pannonia],
and brought the Marcomannic war to an end; a war in which the Quadi, Vandals,
Sarmatians, Suevi and all the barbarians in that region, had joined the
outbreak of the Marcomanni. He slew several thousand men, and having delivered
the Pannonians from bondage held a triumph at Rome. As the treasury was drained
by the war, and he had no money to give his soldiers; and as he would not lay
any extra tax on the provinces or Senate, he sold off all his imperial
furniture and decorations by an auction held in the Forum of Trajan, consisting
of gold and cups of crystal and precious stone, silk garments belonging to his
wife and to himself, embroidered---as they were---with gold, and numbers of
jeweled ornaments. This sale was kept up through two successive months and a
great deal of money was raised by it. After his victory, however, he refunded
the money to such purchasers as were willing to restore what they had bought,
but was by no means troublesome to those who wished to keep their purchase.
After his victory he was so magnificent in his display of games
he is said to have exhibited in the arena one hundred lions at once. Having
then at last rendered the state happy by his excellent management and
gentleness of character, he died in the eighteenth year of his reign, in the
sixty-first of his life. He was enrolled among the gods, all the Senate voting
unanimously that he should have such honor.