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Marcus Aurelius - the last of the 'five good emperors' of the Roman Empire - is the one figure of antiquity who still speaks vividly to us today, over 2000 years after his death. We may thrill to the exploits of Alexander the Great, Hannibal or Caesar, and historical novelists may beguile us with their imaginative reconstructions of this life or that, but the only voice from the Greco-Roman world that still seems to have contemporary relevance is that of the man who ruled the Roman Empire from 161 to 180 A.D. His book of reflections, the Meditations, continues to sell in large numbers in numerous editions. Though a persecutor of Christians Marcus holds out the prospect of spirituality for atheists, happiness without God, joy without heaven and morality without religion. He truly was a man for all seasons, and those seasons include the twenty-first century. arcus' reign foreshadowed the eventual decline and fall of the Roman empire, and his life itself represents the fulfilment of Plato's famous dictum
Frank McLynn is the author of many critically acclaimed books, including Napoleon, 1066, Villa and Zapata, Wagons West, Stanley, 1759 and Lionheart and Lackland.