Marcus Aurelius

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Roman Emperor and philosopher-at-heart Marcus Aurelius (April 26, 121 CE - March 17, 180 CE) must have certainly been familiar with Epicurean teachings. It is not known what sources, if any, he may have had available to him.

Unlike Epictetus, whose pronouncements on the finality of death for the individual are decisive and unequivocal, Marcus appears reluctant to fully accept death as the final dissolution of the person. In his Meditations (more correctly "To Myself"), Marcus repeatedly seeks solace in juxtaposing the only two interpretations he saw as viable: that of his Stoic mentors, i.e. that, upon a person's death, his/her individual daimon will somehow return and be fused back into the World Logos, or that of the atomists (by which he certainly meant the Epicureans), i.e. that whatever the individual human is and is made of will be dispersed once and for all upon death.

In either case, concludes Marcus rather ruefully, all the anguish, anxiety, and agitation of life is largely in vain.

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