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Marcus Aurelius was born on April 26, 121, in Italy, and was chosen by Emporer Hadrian to be his eventual successor. In 161, Aurelius took control of the Roman Empire along with his brother Verus. War and disease threatened Rome on all sides. Aurelius held his territory, but was weakened as a ruler after the death of his brother Verus. His son Commodus later became co-ruler in 177, only three years before Aurelius died on March 17, 180.