Roman marble bust showing Marcus Aurelius as a youth. Object dated to the 2nd century CE.
As Marcus came from an aristocratic family, his career was bright and he could even challenge the highest state offices. From literally boyhood age, he held higher and higher positions. Emperor Hadrian drew attention to the extremely prudent, serious and hardworking boy. At the age of 8, he appointed Marcus a priest of the ancient college of Salia, priests of Mars.
The boy efficiently recited from memory the prayers from centuries ago, which at that time almost no one understood anymore. Hadrian jokingly called him “the Truest” (Verissimus), possibly because Marcus detested lying. Marcus Aurelius, at the age of 15, put on a men’s gown, and 2 years later he was adopted by Antoninus Pius.