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Marcus Aurelius: A Biography (Roman Imperial Biographies) 2nd Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0415171250
ISBN-10: 0415171253
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Birley is Professor of Ancient History, Heinrich Heine University, Dusseldorf.
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Product Details

  • Series: Roman Imperial Biographies
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 2 edition (August 8, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415171253
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415171250
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.8 x 11 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,866,925 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Anthony Birley's biography of Marcus Aurelius manages to give the reader a good view of the life of an Emperor by pulling together the very few resources available. Marcus' early years and education are given in good detail including some letters between Marcus and his teachers. It is true that the chapters dealing with Marcus' personal life and family are not as 'exciting' as some might wish but they show a side to an Emperor rarely seen.
The Parthian War, which was commanded by Co-Emperor Lucius Verus, is given a good overview. However, the Marcommanic Wars are covered in excellent detail. Anthony Birley reviews all the sources that are available and gives reasons for his conclusions. Coins, The Colume of marcus Aurelius and Cassius Dio are the prime sources for the Marcommanic Wars. The Commanding Generals are named and fans of 'Gladiator' will be disappointed.
This is real history and a look into one of Rome's most popular Emperors. If you are a fan of 'Gladiator' then read this book and see how much more exciting reality is.
The role Commodus played and the reasons Marcus made him Co-Emperor after Lucius Verus are explained very well. This book by far is one of the best Imperial Biographies I have read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The book is worth reading, but for quite an expensive kindle version one would expect that the notes are accessible. They are not.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed Birley's biography of Marcus Aureliusm, because I was interested in the man.
Even so, it is written as an academic treatment limiting the story to the primary sources, with constant quotes from them. This is certainly an accurate manner to depict biographical information, but not as compelling as say Robin Fox's treatment of Alexander the Great which is equally well-research and annotated but is also a great "read."
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Format: Paperback
I'm not a scholar of history, but have always been interested in the man that wrote the Meditations. I thought an in-depth analysis would be the trick for getting to know this Stoic Emperor better. In Birley's book, however, I experienced information overload.

We learn a great deal about the Emperor's tutors and family. But the reader, at least this reader, is given so much detail, that it is difficult to organize the data in a meaningful way. I could not distinguish the significant from the merely interesting.

If you already know quite a bit about Marcus Aurelius and want to learn more, by all means buy this book.

If, on the other hand, you want an inroduction to his life, I'd recommend looking elsewhere.
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