Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor is part of Yale University Press’ Ancient Lives series. It is a novel biography that brings Marcus Aurelius (121–180 CE) to life for a new generation of readers by exploring the emperor’s fascinating psychological journey. Donald J. Robertson examines Marcus’s relationships with key figures in his life, such as his mother, Domitia Lucilla, and the emperor Hadrian, as well as his Stoic tutors. He draws extensively on Marcus’s own Meditations and correspondence, and he examines the emperor’s actions as detailed in the Augustan History and other ancient texts.
Marcus Aurelius struggled to reconcile his philosophy and moral values with the political pressures he faced as emperor at the height of Roman power. Robertson examines Marcus’s attitude toward slavery and the moral dilemma posed by capturing enemies in warfare; his attitude toward women; the role of Stoicism in shaping his response to the threat of civil war; the treatment of Christians under his rule; and the naming of his notorious son Commodus as his successor.
Throughout, the Meditations is used to shed light on the mind of the emperor—his character, values, and motives—as Robertson skillfully weaves together Marcus’s inner journey as a philosopher with the outer events of his life as a Roman emperor.
Marcus Aurelius: The Stoic Emperor was number one Hot New Release in Amazon’s Philosopher Biographies. The hardback edition is now available from all good bookstores (ISBN: 9780300256666). Audiobook (narrated by Donald) and ebook versions will be available in due course.
- “Few historical figures are as fascinating as Marcus Aurelius, the emperor-philosopher. And few writers have been so effective at bringing his complex life and character to the attention of modern readers as Donald Robertson.”—Massimo Pigliucci, author of How to Be a Stoic: Using Ancient Philosophy to Live a Modern Life
- “Robertson has written a very thorough and very readable account of Marcus’s life and the events and people that shaped him. Anyone who wants to understand the author of Meditations should read this book.”—Robin Waterfield, author of Marcus Aurelius, Meditations: The Annotated Edition
- “Donald Robertson guides us into the world of a philosopher-emperor whose humility and Stoic teachings fill the pages. We are indebted to Robertson for this wonderful account of the emperor who penned notes to himself while in battle that would be later known as the Meditations and read by millions for philosophical inspiration. Simply spellbinding.”—Nancy Sherman, author of Stoic Wisdom: Ancient Lessons for Modern Resilience
- “This highly readable biography is the perfect place to begin for anyone who wants to learn more about the man behind the Meditations.”—John Sellars, author of The Pocket Stoic
- “Robertson’s biography provides a compelling narrative of Marcus’ life, carefully based on the primary sources. He brings out very clearly the life-long significance of Stoicism for Marcus and the interplay between philosophy, politics, and warfare.”—Christopher Gill, author of Learning to Live Naturally: Stoic Ethics and Its Modern Significance