Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond

Marcus Aurelius in the Historia Augusta and Beyond

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This book examines the biography of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. It seeks to further understand the author of the Historia Augusta alongside the reminiscences of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Geoff W. Adams arrives at this understanding through a study of a wide range of literary texts. Marcus Aurelius was a very important ruler of the Roman Empire, who has had an impact symbolically, philosophically, and historically upon how the Roman Empire has been envisioned. Adams achieves this end to bring a clearer understanding to his representation and to modern interpretations of his highly interpreted and romanticized representations in the ancient texts.

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Product details

  • Hardback | 344 pages
  • 154.94 x 226.06 x 30.48mm | 657.71g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 11 black & white illustrations
  • 0739176382
  • 9780739176382

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Review quote

Adams provides a welcome precis of his biographical-literary methods that reveal the intensely aretalogical aspect (narrating the mythical or miraculous deeds of a hero or god) in the Vita Marci Antonini Philosophi, set within the larger context of the historically and textually problematic Historia Augusta. The author acknowledges the earlier contributions of Joseph Schwendemann, Andre Chastagnol, Ronald Syme, and Robin Birley, and claims to publish the first in-depth commentary on the Vita Marci. He validates his claims through an insightful thematic analysis that focuses on the biographer's motivations, the probity of the Vita as a historical source, and the romantic memorialization of Marcus Aurelius as the ideal princeps. Adams presents a trenchantly detailed literary dissection of the Vita using a distinctive approach (complete with graphs) that focuses on the biographical elevation of thematic progression over historical fact. By contextualizing the Vita Marci, Adams demonstrates the consistent partiality toward the "character" of Marcus Aurelius evidenced within the entire corpus of the Historia Augusta. This is a highly specialized literary study demonstrating (and demanding) a virtuosic command of scholarship. It cuts across a broad spectrum of scholarly issues, and should appeal to advanced students of Roman imperial history and biography. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. CHOICE

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About Geoff W. Adams

Geoffrey Adams taught as assistant lecturer in Archaeology and Ancient History at Monash University in 2007/8. His research interests include Roman Domestic Space, Pompeii and Herculaneum, Roman Biography, Roman Imperial History, Roman Britain, Pyrrhus of Epirus and the design of Hellenistic Palaces.

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