Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was one of the most well known Roman Emperors, holding power from 161 to his death in 180. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors" (named as such by Edward Gibbon, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.
His tenure was marked by wars in Asia against a revitalized Parthian Empire, and with Germanic tribes into Gaul and across the Danube River. Marcus Aurelius' work Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty.
Marcus Aurelius in Household Gods
During his campaign against the Germans, the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius expelled the tribes people which for some time occupied the frontier city of Carnuntum, and for several weeks afterwards had his headquarters there. In that time, the Emperor's aide drew his attention to the remarkable case of a local woman tavern-keeper who complained of having been raped by a Roman soldier during the restoration of Imperial rule to the city (after having successfully avoided molestation by the Germanic invaders during their occupation). The woman set her demand for compensations in writing, presenting cogent legal arguments and showing a considerable grasp of the principles of jurisprudence. This was highly unusual for a woman in the Roman society - and a provincial woman, at that - where practice of the law was a strict male preserve. The Emperor, like his aide, found it very interesting and held a long personal conversation with her.
Marcus Aurelius could not know, of course, that in fact the woman was a traveler from the future and that in her own society women could and did practice as lawyers. He informed her that under Roman law the government was not legally liable for the misdeeds of its civilian or military employees. Nevertheless, he was impressed enough by her demeanor to give her a generous compensation from his private purse, though careful to do it in a way which would not create a general precedent.
In Nicole Gunther's opinion, Marcus Aurelius was better leader of people than most politicians of her century. At the start of her meeting, Gunther expected to despise the Emperor for having dictatorial powers but found herself respecting him for being responsible and genuinely caring for the people he led.
- References to Historical Figures in Turtledove's Work, for minor references in other stories.
|Emperor of Rome
(jointly with Lucius Verus, 161-169)