Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 C.E. He was born in 121 to Emperor Hadrian but was adopted by the new emperor when Hadrian died in 124. Growing up there as adopted son of Emperor Antoninus Pius, Marcus Aurelius became a Caesar at the age of 18 and served along with his adoptive father with tribunician power from 147 to 161. Emperor Antoninus died then in 161 and Marcus assumed the role of Emperor.
Known as the last of the “five good emperors” Marcus was, in the words of the translaters C. Scot Hicks and David V. Hicks “in many ways, the fabulous realization of Plato’s dream of a philosopher-king…never again would civilization reach these heights under one ruler.”
Most recently made popular by the movie Gladiator, Emperor Marcus Aurelius epitomized sage wisdom and reflection. He “seemed impossibly good” in his reputation according to the Hicks brothers and I am inclined to believe them.
“Our work habits, daily concerns, and brotherhood allowed us to imagine a certain sympathy with the probable practice of the second-century philosopher-emperor-general. An hour or two of written thought exercise, stolen at the end of a day managing people, fulfilling social and religious obligations, and being husband, father and citizen, can revive the spirits. The refreshing candor with which Marcus voices his daily frustrations and the vigor with which he admonishes himself won our hearts and inspired us to bear our much lighter burdens with less complaint and far more gratitude.”

I must say the writings of the Emperor, thus far, have certainly done the same for me as well.