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Marcus Aurelius

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the life, meditations and reputation of this stoic and philosopher king, who Machiavelli called the last of the 'Five Good Emperors'.

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the man who, according to Machiavelli, was the last of the Five Good Emperors. Marcus Aurelius, 121 to 180 AD, has long been known as a model of the philosopher king, a Stoic who, while on military campaigns, compiled ideas on how best to live his life, and how best to rule. These ideas became known as his Meditations, and they have been treasured by many as an insight into the mind of a Roman emperor, and an example of how to avoid the corruption of power in turbulent times.

The image above shows part of a bronze equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius.


Simon Goldhill
Professor of Greek Literature and Culture and Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge

Angie Hobbs
Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield


Catharine Edwards
Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London

Producer: Simon Tillotson

Available now

53 minutes

Last on

Thu 25 Feb 2021 21:30



Catharine Edwards at Birkbeck, University of London

Simon Goldhill at the University of Cambridge

Angie Hobbs at the University of Sheffield


Marcus Aurelius (trans. A. S. L. Farquharson and ed. R. B. Rutherford), The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (Oxford University Press, 2008)

Marcus Aurelius (trans. M. Hammond), Meditations (Penguin, 2015)

Marcus Aurelius (trans. R. Hard and ed. C. Gill), The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius with selected correspondence (Oxford University Press, 2011)

Anthony R. Birley, Marcus Aurelius: A Biography (Routledge, 1993)

E. R. Dodds, Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety (Cambridge University Press, 1965)

Catharine Edwards, Seneca: Selected Letters (Cambridge University Press, 2019)

Epictetus (trans. and ed. R. Dobbin), Discourses and Selected Writings (Penguin, 2008)

Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (Harvard University Press, 1998)

B. Inwood, Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford University Press, 2018)

A. A. Long, Hellenistic Philosophy (Duckworth, 1974)

A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers (Cambridge University Press, 1987)

Frank McLynn, Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor (Bodley Head, 2009)

Amy Richlin, Marcus Aurelius in Love (Chicago University Press, 2006)

R. B. Rutherford, The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: A Study (Oxford University Press, 1989)

John Sellars, Marcus Aurelius (Routledge, 2020)

Seneca (ed. R. Campbell), Letters from a Stoic (Penguin, 2004)

Stephen A. Stertz, ‘Marcus Aurelius as Ideal Emperor in Late-Antique Greek Thought’ (The Classical World 70:7, 1977)

Marcel Van Ackeren (ed.), A Companion to Marcus Aurelius (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012)


Marcus Aurelius - Wikipedia


  • Thu 25 Feb 2021 09:00
  • Thu 25 Feb 2021 21:30

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