Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus born in 121. His reign came about because Hadrian adopted Antoninus on the proviso that Marcus and Lucius Ceionius Commodus (later to be named Lucius Aurelius Verus) would be adopted to be next in line as rulers.
In his youth, Marcus was portrayed through letters as an intelligent, hardworking and serious minded student. Upon the death of Antoninus, Marcus and Verus were made joint emperors and while equal in the constitutional view, Verus was younger and seems to have been less popular.
His reign as emperor, beginning in 161, was complicated by wars in Asia and also a revolt in the East that consequently failed. He was known as a philosopher and published a “literary monument” named Meditations and was fond of Epictetus who was an important moral philosopher of his time.
He fell ill and died in 180 in the city that is now known as Vienna. His succession was secured before his death allowing Commodus to rule and unknowingly ending the era of adoptive emperors.
Co-Emperor Lucius Verus
Lucius Ceionius Commodus Verus Armeniacus born in 130. Verus was said to have been an excellent student, receiving his education from a famous tutor of that time, Marcus Cornelius Fronto and was skilled in the writing and reciting of poetry and speeches.
He ruled as co-emperor with Marcus, something which had never occurred in Roman history, and though they shared the same title and equal powers Marcus ultimately became the more dominant. To prove there was no competition between the two, control of the armies was given to Verus and he also married the daughter of Marcus, further strengthening their ties.
While in control of the armies, Verus is known to have been an admirable commander who was not too proud to delegate tasks to generals more competent than he. The morale of the armies, while under his rule, was high and Verus always ensured he had a troupe of actors and musicians with him on any trip he took.
In 168 a war broke out that would last until 180 but Verus did not see the end of it as he died in 169 from either smallpox or food poisoning.
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