A Day In The Life Of Emperor Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius ruled the Roman Empire (161-180 AD) as a philosopher-king, deeply rooted in the principles of Stoicism. But even with his considerable power, he led a life of simplicity and discipline, guided by a strong moral compass. Today, we peek into the daily life of this truly unique leader in human history.

Rising with the sun, Aurelius would start his day with a simple breakfast, often just some bread and wine. He believed in the Stoic principle of moderation, avoiding extravagance. In the early morning hours, he’d contemplate the universe, his place within it, and the transient nature of all things. This daily meditation helped him stay centered and grounded in the face of the day-to-day challenges of his position.

Despite being Emperor, Marcus did not shy away from paperwork. His mornings were typically spent dealing with administrative duties, from reviewing petitions to consulting with advisors on matters of state. His deep-rooted commitment to duty was a constant reminder of his Stoic principle of accepting and fulfilling one’s role in society. He treated everyone, from the lowest slave to the highest official, with equal respect and consideration, a manifestation of the Stoic belief in universal brotherhood.

After a modest lunch, Marcus would set out to attend to his public duties. This could involve presiding over legal cases, meeting foreign dignitaries, or leading religious ceremonies. Despite his introverted nature, he understood his role as a public figure and performed his duties with grace and poise. He saw these responsibilities not as burdens, but as opportunities to apply his philosophy in practical ways.

In the evenings, after the business of the day, Aurelius would retreat into his private quarters for solitude and reflection. He would often spend hours reading and studying, constantly seeking knowledge and wisdom. He was also an avid writer, and it was during these quiet hours that he penned his renowned work, Meditations, a collection of his personal reflections on Stoic philosophy.

Despite the pressure and responsibilities of his position, Marcus Aurelius remained steadfast in his Stoic beliefs. His life serves as a compelling testament to the power of Stoicism to guide and enrich one’s life, regardless of one’s circumstances.

If your life feels like a dull routine, try and center yourself in your experiences and personal actions as Aurelius did. Every moment of our day gives us the ability to act in accordance with our virtues.