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Marcus Aurelius : family, dynasty, power


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Jarvis, P 2012 , 'Marcus Aurelius : family, dynasty, power', Research Master thesis, University of Tasmania.

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This thesis is a prosopographical examination of the policy of Marcus Aurelius regarding his family. The prosopographical method avoids schematic biography, and allows the inclusion of individuals who would otherwise only appear in a periphery sense. I aim to demonstrate that a new perspective on Marcus as an emperor can be gained through an examination of the individuals connected to the imperial nexus, most notably his six sons-in-law. The thesis is divided into three chapters. Chapter 1 places Marcus in the context of his scheming family and the succession arrangements of Hadrian, who intended Lucius Verus to be his ultimate successor. Chapter 2, through detailed examination of Marcus’ sons-in-law, establishes that Marcus admitted Lucius to the imperial power from necessity, and how he sought to build his own nexus by moving power away from Lucius and his many connections. Chapter 3 analyses how the rebellion of Avidius Cassius in 175 showed Marcus the potential weakness of his arrangements. The manner in which Marcus responded to the crisis reveals his determination to ensure the succession of Commodus. Marcus accomplished this by completing the construction of a powerful family nexus, which was centred on his sons-in-law. He should be seen not only as a philosopher but as a canny, dynastic, and ruthless emperor. This is established by the position of Marcus in Hadrian’s succession arrangements, an examination of Marcus’ sons-in-law and the manner in which they were selected, and the response of Marcus to the rebellion of Avidius Cassius.

Item Type: Thesis - Research Master
Authors/Creators:Jarvis, P
Keywords: Marcus Aurelius, Roman history, prosopography, Hadrian, Lucius Verus
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Copyright 2012 the author

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