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Meditations | Key Figures

Key Figure Description
Marcus Aurelius Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome at the time he wrote his Meditations, c. 161–180 CE. He refers to himself in both the first and second person as he presents his philosophical discussions as dialogues. Read More
Quintus Junius Rusticus Rusticus was influential in mid- 160s CE Rome as two-time consul and city prefect. He is considered Aurelius's philosophical father. Read More
Epictetus Epictetus is the Roman Stoic philosopher who dictated his philosophy to one of his students, who wrote down Discourses. Read More
Hadrian Roman Emperor Hadrian evidently took a shine to the very young Aurelius and wanted him as his successor. Read More
Epicurus Epicurus was the Greek founder of one of two major philosophical schools in the Greco-Roman empire. Read More
Heraclitus Heraclitus was a Greek Stoic who hailed from the city of Ephesus. Read More
Socrates Socrates was the Greek founder of philosophy. He believed in the free exchange of ideas based upon the principles of reason. Read More
Chrysippus Chrysippus was a Stoic philosopher who led the school in Athens. Crysippus is remembered as having laid out the basic tenets of Stoic philosophy.
Alexander the Grammarian Alexander was a Greek tutor from Cotiaeum (Syria) employed to teach Aurelius.
Alexander the Macedonian Alexander the Macedonian, also known as Alexander the Great, is cited as an example of the most powerful and influential ruler of his time. However, as Aurelius continually points out, Alexander and all who knew him are now gone.
Antisthenes Antisthenes was a Greek orator of some repute—Plato lists him as among those who witnessed the death of Socrates. He was more interested in ethics than metaphysics.
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius was Aurelius's uncle and Emperor of Rome before him. Antoninus groomed Aurelius over a long period of time to follow him as emperor, and he is credited with having influenced Aurelius's better judgement and discipline of mind.
Apollonius of Chalcedon Apollonius was a Stoic philosopher who came to Rome to teach Aurelius on the invitation of Aurelius's uncle, Emperor Antoninus Pius.
Archimedes Archimedes was a Greek scientist and mathematician.
Aristotle Although not named in Meditations, the writings of Aristotle profoundly influenced the Stoicism expressed by Aurelius—particularly in discussion of the ideal state that benefits, and is benefitted by, each individual. Observations on the mimicry of art to nature can be attributed to Aristotle.
Arius Didymus of Alexandria Arius Didymus was a prominent Stoic philosopher for Augustus, first emperor of Rome.
Athenodorus Cananites Athenodorus Cananites was a Stoic philosopher who taught Fronto.
Augustus Caesar Augustus was the first emperor of Rome from 27 BCE until his death in 14 CE.
Bacchius of Paphos Bacchius was a Platonic philosopher.
Benedicta Benedicta is assumed to have been one of the household slaves in the home where Aurelius grew up.
Marcus Porcius Cato Cato the Elder was a Roman consul who wrote on history and agriculture. To Romans, Cato was a paragon of virtue and moral strength.
Catulus Little is known of Catulus, except that he is listed as one of Aurelius's Stoic mentors.
Caninius Celer Caninius Celer was a rhetorician and one of three tutors (along with Aninus Macer and Herodes Atticus) hired to educate the young Aurelius.
Crates Crates was a Greek Cynic philosopher attached to Diogenes.
Croesus Croesus was the last king of Lydia and considered the wealthiest man of his time. He controlled a vast area of Greece and made lavish gifts to the Oracle of Delphi.
Democritus Democritus was a pre-Socratic philosopher whose theory on atoms as the smallest unit of matter was later taken up by the Epicurians.
Diogenes of Sinope Diogenes of Sinope was a Greek philosopher who ardently opposed the writings of Plato, poked fun at the pretensions and rules of society, and debunked the principles of sophistry.
Diognetus Diognetus was the tutor hired to teach drawing to the young Aurelius, but it seems that he also had an informal philosophical influence on his student.
Dion of Syracuse Dion was a wealthy, aristocratic student of Plato, who trained him in the appropriate life view for a philosopher-king. However, Dion proved to be an arrogant tyrant with a bad temper, which cost him his attempt to liberate Sicily.
Empedocles Empedocles was a pre-Socratic philosopher, poet, and follower of Pythagoras.
Euripides Euripides was an Athenian tragic playwright little appreciated in his own time, but whose general style of expression enhances Aurelius's thoughts.
Marcus Cornelius Fronto Fronto was a Roman rhetorician of Cirta (North Africa) who was brought in by Hadrian to provide strong support to Aurelius's education in law. He also wrote letters to Aurelius over a period of time, in which he continued his discussions.
Gaius Julius Caesar Gaius Julius Caesar was a famous Roman general whose popularity propelled him into civil war and who became "dictator for life" until his assassination in 44 BCE.
Leon of Salamis It is possible, but not certain, that Leon of Salamis was an Athenian general and a contemporary of Socrates. Although Socrates refused to arrest Leon on the orders of the Athenian authorities, he also did nothing to warn Leon he was at risk.
Lucilla Lucilla was Aurelius's mother, whom he credits with modesty and simplicity of life, so as to forgo the lifestyle of the wealthy. She is credited as a source of inspiration.
Claudius Maximus Maximus was a Stoic philosopher who, along with Catulus, was one of Aurelius's mentors.
Philip II of Macedonia Philip was the father of Alexander the Great, and ruler of the first Macedonian empire. He is presented as an example of the transience of earthly glory.
Plato Athenian philosopher Plato's concepts of the ideal society and art suffuse most of what Aurelius has to say.
Gnaeus Magnus Pompeius Pompeius is a champion of the Roman Republic, standing against the dictatorship of Julius Caesar, and ending in Egypt, where he was murdered.
Pythagoras Pythagoras was a combination mystic, mathematician, and philosopher in Greece. His attributes of opposites inform Aurelius's ideas.
Rusticus Along with Benedicta and Theodotus, Rusticus was probably a slave in the household of the young Aurelius.
Severus Severus is the great-grandfather of Aurelius. He is part of Aurelius's Pater Familias.
Sextus of Chaeronea Sextus of Chaeronea was a Stoic philosopher who taught both Aurelius and his adoptive brother.
Sophocles Sophocles was a Greek tragic playwright who wrote Oedipus the King.
Theodotus Theodotus is presumed to have been a slave in the household of the young Aurelius, along with Benedicta and Rusticus.
Theophrastus Theophrastus followed Aristotle to become the leader of the Peripatetic school of philosophy.
Thrasea Thrasea adamantly opposed the cruelty and abuse of power by Roman Emperor Nero. He was a Stoic philosopher and admirer of Cato.
Marcus Annius Verus (1) Marcus Annius Verus was Aurelius's father, whom Aurelius could have known about only through reputation, although his bust would have been among Aurelius's pater familias.
Verus (2) Marcus Annius Verus was Aurelius's grandfather, who raised him in the early years of his life as an orphan. The virtues and personality of Verus are glowingly praised, and his bust would have been featured in Aurelius's pater familias.
Lucius Aurelius Verus (3) Also named Lucius Ceionius Commodus, Verus was the adoptive brother of Aurelius, who was established as his co-emperor by Aurelius to honor the dying wish of the previous emperor.
Xenocrates The Greek Stoic Xenocrates was a Platonic philosopher and head of the Athenian Academy.
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