In the second century of the Christian era, the Empire of Rome comprehended the fairest part of the earth, and the most civilized portion of mankind. The frontiers of that extensive monarchy were guarded by ancient renown and disciplined valor. The gentle but powerful influence of laws and manners had gradually cemented the union of the provinces. Their peaceful inhabitants enjoyed and abused the advantages of wealth and luxury.
Edward Gibbon
Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man to do what you have in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and with a feeling of affection, and of freedom, and justice; and give yourself relief from all other thoughts. Then you will indeed give yourself relief if you do every act of your life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands of reason, and all hypocrisy, and self-love, and discontent with the portion which has been given to you. You will see how few the things are, the which if a man lays hold of, he is able to live a life which flows in quiet, and is like the existence of the gods; for the gods will require nothing more from him who observes these things.
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

The circle of the nations that fronted on the inland sea had competed and clashed and then fallen before the legions of Rome, to become, if not one people, then at least one empire, a nation of nations, combining the will of Rome. the arts of Greece, and the commerce of the East. Then in AD 167 the empire itself came under attack by barbarous horsemen from the north and its future lay in the hands of a frail saint turned general. The war lasted eleven years but Rome was victorious and Marcus Antonious Aurelius could bequeath to his nation another hundred years of life.
His veterans were encamped now, outside eternal Rome itself, at last at peace after years of cold and pestilence and hardship on the Danube. Cohort by cohort they began to form up. Each soldier shouldered his iron-braced shield and placed on his head a crown of victory. Each took in his right hand the tool of his trade a six-foot javelin. This he would stack outside the city to bear in its stead his awards for valor. With the troops would march musicians, priests, and sacrificial animals; carts of spoils, and captive slaves. The Imperator himself, their saint and the savior of the state would ride with his son in a gilded chariot.
“Tell me a story, Terri.”
“Sic transit gloria….Sic transit Gloria mundi.” Terri’s voice was low and her eyes were closed. She had never spoken in Latin before.
“Marcus, your troops await you. Even an emperor should not be late for his triumphal procession.”
“Triumph indeed! A joyful procession over dead bodies, How civilized we are! Friends that I will chat with no more, enemies who died for nothing…widows and orphans and the mutilated. ”
“Will you give yourself a piece of praise, husband. The whole city is glorifying the legions; and you, the greatest general of our age, don’t want to participate in your own parade.”
“Oh I do Faustina. But I shouldn’t. It is not fitting to glory in this dirty work though it must be done. Besides it’s all a lie. The crowd thinks I’m fearless, I’m not. Many times I’ve lain awake all night scared of the battle next day, or of someone killing me in my sleep. The ruler of the world has enemies as well as suppliants. Sometimes they’re the same people. I should not…but I fear the day when I shall be killed…The only good I may make of it all is that I’ve written my worries down. Perhaps it will console our son if he becomes emperor to know that his father, the philosopher, was frightened too.”
“After the triumph we can be alone again. Like in the old days before the Quadi war. I will dance for you then, like the slave girls you won’t let amuse you. You’ll like that. Admit it, my philosopher is a man too and I am pretty.” Faustina dropped onto the floor and swept her auburn hair against her husband’s sandled feet.
“Now stop that, Fau, or it will take hours to get your hair the way you want it again, and we don’t have hours.
“The triumph can wait a quarter hour.”
“All the City knows me as a very serious man. This will not be in my book.” He smiled.
“You are serious, my Lover, and a man. It is I who cannot be serious.”
“I know. You have stolen the hearts of the court…”
“You are my lord, Marcus. Courtiers are courtiers, and courtiers are toys. Yes, I tease them. They are fun, some of them. There is talk. Many people are jealous of my fortune in you.”
“Fools think how great it is to be the emperors wife?”
“No. Not just that. They are jealous because I have Marcus all night as I am jealous because they have Antonious all day.”

“Is that all? Terri. Do you hear more?”
“I want to draw the curtain.” Terri sat up and adjusted herself on the sofa. Her voice had lost it’s music and was flat now. “Besides, I think they’ve stopped talking.”
But Terri knew that there was more. Aurelius had awakened startled when an old friend, the legate Flavius Licinius stepped through the portal.
“I’m sorry, Flavius; I was dreaming of poor Fau. She should have lived to see this day. She’d have been in her element…The great lady and all those marching heroes.”
“No, Caesar. Faustina’s teasing was a delight to everyone. But she had only one hero.” The legate turned away to hide an unmanly blush and spoke very quietly. “You were not dreaming; she has returned to you on your day of triumph that you may fulfill your own wish to share it with her.”
“Thank you, friend. Then my happiness is complete.” With gratitude in his heart Marcus Aurelius, Pontifax Maximus of the whole Roman people, crossed the room to where, as in every Roman home, a small altar was kept to departed loved ones and the family gods.

“Everything is only for a day, both that which remembers and that which is remembered.”
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus