Marcus Aurelius

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.

Play on BBC Sounds website


  • Simon Goldhill 8 episodes
    Professor of Greek Literature and Culture and Fellow of King's College, Cambridge
  • Angie Hobbs 24 episodes
    Professor of the Public Understanding of Philosophy at the University of Sheffield
  • Catharine Edwards 9 episodes
    Professor of Classics and Ancient History at Birkbeck, University of London

Reading list

  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
    Marcus Aurelius (trans. A. S. L. Farquharson and ed. R. B. Rutherford) (Oxford University Press, 2008) Google Books →
  • Meditations
    Marcus Aurelius (trans. M. Hammond) (Penguin, 2015) Google Books →
  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius with selected correspondence
    Marcus Aurelius (trans. R. Hard and ed. C. Gill) (Oxford University Press, 2011) Google Books →
  • Marcus Aurelius: A Biography
    Anthony R. Birley (Routledge, 1993) Google Books →
  • Pagan and Christian in an Age of Anxiety
    E. R. Dodds (Cambridge University Press, 1965) Google Books →
  • Seneca: Selected Letters
    Catharine Edwards (Cambridge University Press, 2019)
  • Discourses and Selected Writings
    Epictetus (trans. and ed. R. Dobbin) (Penguin, 2008) Google Books →
  • The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
    Pierre Hadot (Harvard University Press, 1998) Google Books →
  • Stoicism: A Very Short Introduction
    B. Inwood (Oxford University Press, 2018) Google Books →
  • Hellenistic Philosophy
    A. A. Long (Duckworth, 1974) Google Books →
  • The Hellenistic Philosophers
    A. A. Long and D. N. Sedley (Cambridge University Press, 1987) Google Books →
  • Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor
    Frank McLynn (Bodley Head, 2009) Google Books →
  • Marcus Aurelius in Love
    Amy Richlin (Chicago University Press, 2006)
  • The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius: A Study
    R. B. Rutherford (Oxford University Press, 1989) Google Books →
  • Marcus Aurelius
    John Sellars (Routledge, 2020) Google Books →
  • Letters from a Stoic
    Seneca (ed. R. Campbell) (Penguin, 2004) Google Books →
  • Marcus Aurelius as Ideal Emperor in Late-Antique Greek Thought
    Stephen A. Stertz ( _The Classical World_ 70:7, 1977)
  • A Companion to Marcus Aurelius
    Marcel Van Ackeren (ed.) (Wiley-Blackwell, 2012) Google Books →

Related episodes

Programme ID: m000sjxt

Episode page:

Auto-category: 188 (Philosophy of ancient Greece and Rome)

Hello (First sentence from this episode) Hello, Marcus Aurelius, 121 to 180 AD, is known as the last of the five good emperors of Rome and as a model of the philosopher king.