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Ancient Roman sculpture showing the young Marcus Aurelius. 139-144 AD, Capitoline Museum.

Ancient Roman sculpture showing the young Marcus Aurelius. 139-144 AD, Capitoline Museum.

Marcus Lucius never had any temptations to be promoted. His father was already quite high in the army structure. Maximus was legati, a legion commander, who also controlled the auxiliary regiments attached to their legion, headed the civil administration and had to report directly to the emperor in Rome. He was one of the youngest in such a crucial post, but he had enough experience and backup from the legions behind him. They loved their empire with the incomprehensible, undefined, but noticeable power of Rome: Rome, the endless, powerful city and unlimited, successful state. The name of their capital was expressed with love due to the anagram for amor. Rome was worth fighting for.

Marcus Lucius preferred to stay on his post as a legionnaire. Once, he asked his father about being such an important commander and Maximus thought about it for a while, before answering the question.

-It’s not easy, my son, and it’s a great responsibility. The further you go, the more enemies you have.

-Enemies? – Marcus Lucius was surprised, because he never saw a person acting unfriendly towards his father.

-Oh yes, enemies. They watch your every step, they analyse your weaknesses and smile politely in front of you. Still, you have to stay focussed and know whom to trust in hard times.

-How do you know who is your friend and who’s not, then? – Marcus Lucius was curious.

-Sometimes, it’s easy, and sometimes, it’s not. You have to get trust in soldiers, when you fight with them on your side, because you need someone to rely on, but you have to stay focussed and hope that you chose the right people around you. If you’re not sure about someone, let it be. Don’t push yourself too far, because, of all things, you have to be true to yourself.

-And that’s it? There is no further way to be sure of it?

-You never can be sure about anything. People change, because life brings new experiences every day. You can just assume with high probability what the next day can bring you. Due to collected experiences and memories, you assume with high probability that someone is your friend or not. Sometimes, you have to dare a leap, sometimes you have to draw back. Still, there is nothing for sure in life. We are all people struggling with our surrounding, with situations and with ourselves.

His father’s tone was reasoning and somewhat sad. He didn’t make the impression like talking with his son, rather like talking to a good friend. Marcus Lucius listened cautiously to every word and inhaled the advices like a sponge. He appreciated them all.

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