Emporer Marcus Aurelius was from a well-born, wealthy family. At the age of 6 he was noticed by the Emporer Hadrian (who had a rather checkered reputation, but remained powerful nontheless), which launched his future in the political realm. His rule was notably filled with wars and rumors of wars, and he served quite well in a military capacity.
But in spite of the near constant state of war, Marcus Aurelius was a deeply intelligent man, peaceful in nature, and wrote "Meditations" one of the most famous books written by a monarch.
Here's a quote:
"Vex not thy spirit at the course of things. They heed not thy vexation. How ludicrous and outlandish is astonishment at anything that may happen in life."
However peaceful, he was also an enemy to Christians.
"But if Marcus Aurelius was a profound and peaceful intellect, then he bore little sympathy for followers of the Christian faith. To the emperor Christians seemed mere fanatical martyrs, who stubbornly refused to have any part in the greater community which was the Roman empire. If Marcus Aurelius saw in his empire the union of the people of the civilized world, then the Christians were dangerous extremists who sought to undermine this union for the sake of their own religious beliefs. For such people Marcus Aurelius had no time and no sympathy. The Christians were persecuted in Gaul during his reign."
Edited: FarSeer on 7th Jun, 2004 - 11:27am
...And where has Christiandom reached and where has Marcus gone? In never ceases to amaze me how both old and modern day tyrants subject one group with the hope of making more prosperous the other. Here is a possible picture of Marcus Aurelius: