Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was born to an upper-class Roman family in A.D. 121 and was later adopted by the future emperor
Antoninus Pius, whom he succeeded in 161. His reign was marked by a successful campaign against Parthia, but was overshadowed
in later years by plague, an abortive revolt in the eastern provinces, and the deaths of friends and family, including his
co-emperor Lucius Verus. A student of philosophy from his earliest youth, he was especially influenced by the first-century
Stoic thinker Epictetus. His later reputation rests on his Meditations, written during his later years and never meant for
formal publication. He died in 180, while campaigning against the barbarian tribes on Rome's northern frontier.