Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor who ruled the Roman Empire between AD and , is one of the best recorded individuals from antiquity. Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor who ruled the Roman Empire In this accessible and scholarly study, Professor Birley paints a. MARCUS AURELIUS A Biography By Anthony Birley Yale University Press. pp. $ WHEN PLATO, in The Republic, foresaw no end of.

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Yale University Press, This excellent study is a substantially rewritten and updated version of the Marcus Aurelius brought out in Birley himself 9 inventories the differences, and there is no need to consume space with them here.

First, full marks to Birley for continuing to write imperial biographies his Septimius Severus the African Emperor, issued inis another jewel in the face of some absurd attacks on the genre from distinguished quarters. Syme Tacitus 91,in two of his considerations of Suetonius, pronounced that “biography offers the easy marchs to history, and some go no further than biography,” capping this with the gibe “if biography is cheap and easy, so is edification.

And Birley too has anthnoy much time on the HA apart from full discussions in the present volume, there marcjs his partial translation in the Penguin Lives of the Later Caesars without suffering such revulsion. Fergus Millar IRS 56 [],in the course of a negative verdict against imperial biography, asserted that “neither the actions of an emperor nor the politics of a particular reign can be meaningfully studied until the whole social context of the Imperial power has been examined over a substantial period, and perhaps not bifley then.


Meanwhile, the debate continues-as docs the production of imperial biographies.

Marcus Aurelius: A Biography by Anthony Richard Birley

Apart from well known work on Julius Caesar and Augustus, I can think of at least six twentieth century studies of Nero, whilst Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, Titus, and Hadrian have also received their meed.

But where, 0 where, is the anglophone Life of Domitian, one of the most important books still not written?

Birley’s first chapter provides an admirable and succinct account of the age of the Antonines. He docs well 11 to deflate Gibbon’s misleading claim that the adoption of the best man was a new principle of imperial succession, by pointing to the dearth of natural sons and the family relationships connecting Trajan and Hadrian, Pius and Marcus.

One could go further in exposing Gibbon’s false dichotomy between the second century and the first: Birley does adumbrate some of the first-century materialbut Galba is missing and mmarcus brisk disposal of Dornitian’s “reign of terror” is a tralatician view that simply enhances my earlier pica for a proper study of that much-maligned ruler.

One prolegomenon to this is the thought-provoking “The Character of Dornitian,” by K.

Marcus Aurelius: A Biography

Waters in Aurlius 18 49, altogether ignored by Birley. There is something to be said for Birley’s comparing 23 of the Antonine age to the eighteenth century, but the much-maligned Victorian period is equall y d propos, especially in terms of the contrast between public respectability and private lives.

Although it provides him with a good joke 24Birley rather overdoes Hadrian’s beard as a proclamation of Anthonu allegiance. Fear or assassination by a barber or for once the lIA’s explanation Iladr.


Marcus Aurelius: A Biography – Anthony R Birley – Google Books

After all, as Birley himself later observes, Verus shaved off his beard to please a girl friend; nor are all the Romans who went unshaved before the epiphany of barbers at Rome about B.

Hadrian’s taste for the poems of Antimachus was not quite so zany as Birley 24 thinks; Quintilian If you would like to authenticate using a different subscribed institution aureluis supports Shibboleth authentication or have your own login and password to Project MUSE, click ‘Authenticate’.

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