Marcus Aurelius, Sayings

LCL 58: 360-361

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Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

(1) Capit. iv. 7.

Post hoc patrimonium paternum sorori1 totum concessit, cum eum ad divisionem mater vocaret, responditque “avi bonis se esse contentum,” addens “ut et mater, si vellet, in sororem suum patrimonium conferret, ne inferior esset soror marito.”2

(2) Capit. v. 3, 4.

Ubi autem comperit se ab Hadriano3 adoptatum, magis est deterritus quam laetatus, iussusque in Hadriani privatam domum migrare invitus de maternis hortis4 recessit. Cumque ab eo domestici quaererent, cur tristis in adoptionem regiam transiret, disputavit “quae mala in se contineret imperium.,,

(3) Capit. xxvii. 7.

Sententia Platonis5 semper in ore illius fuit, “Florere civitates, si aut philosophi imperarent aut imperantes philosopharentur.”

(4) Dio 71. 34, § 4 = Suidas sub voce Μάρκος.

Εἰ μέν τις χρηστόν τι ἔπραττεν, ἐπῄνει καὶ ἔχρητο ἐς ἐκεῖνο αὐτῷ,6 τῶν δὲ ἑτέρων οὐ προσεποιεῖτο, λέγων ὅτι “ποιῆσαι μέν

  • 1His only sister Cornificia.
  • 2Ummidius Quadratus.
  • 3Schulz supplies Antonino auctore before Hadriano.
  • 4These “Gardens,” that is, Lucilla’s private residence in its own private grounds, were probably on the Caelian hill.
  • 5Plato, Rep. 473 d, quoted also by Cicero in his letter to his brother Quintus, de provincia administranda.
  • 6A lesson learnt from Pius; see above, i. 16, § 6.

The Sayings of Marcus

The Sayings of Marcus


After this1 he gave up to his sister all that he had inherited from his father, though his mother invited him to share it equally, and replied that he was content with being his grandfather’s heir, adding that his mother too, if she were willing, should bestow her property upon his sister, that his sister might be on an equality with her husband.


When however he learnt that he had been adopted by Hadrian, he was more abashed than pleased, and when bidden to migrate to Hadrian’s private house, he left his mother’s mansion with regret. And when the household asked him why he took his adoption into the royal house so sadly, he enlarged upon the evils inseparable from sovran power.


The sentence of Plato was for ever on his lips: Well was it for states, if either philosophers were rulers or rulers philosophers.2


If anyone did anything excellent, he praised him and utilized him for that, but did not expect other things from him, saying, It is impossible to make men exactly as

  • 1About 136 a.d., when Marcus was 15.
  • 2Aur. Victor (De Caes. xv. 3) applies the saying to Pius. Justin was well advised therefore in his Apology (i. 3), addressed to Pius and Marcus, in quoting the similar aphorism: ἔφη που καί τις τῶν παλαίων· ἂν μὴ οἱ ἄρχοντες φιλοσοφήσωσι καὶ οἱ ἀρχόμενοι, οὐκ ἂν εἴη τὰς πόλεις εὐδαιμονῆσαι.
DOI: 10.4159/DLCL.marcus_aurelius-sayings.1916