• Welcome to the new Internet Infidels Discussion Board, formerly Talk Freethought.

Marcus Aurelius the smack head

DrZoidberg

Contributor
Joined
Nov 29, 2007
Messages
10,504
Location
Copenhagen
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
I heard in a podcast that Marcus Aurelius was an opium addict. I googled it. It seems to be widely believed and referenced a lot. Even in science papers. But I can't for the life of me track down the source of this belief. I don't want to be guilty of spreading, yet another, urban myth. So I thought I'd turn to the briliant and very critical minds of this eminent forum.

Is it fact or fiction? And why do you believe it is (whatever it is you believe about this)?

If he was a smackhead, it would explain a lot. The miserable gloomy guy who thought emotional detachment was the highest virtue.
 

Jokodo

Veteran Member
Joined
Dec 29, 2010
Messages
4,658
Location
Riverside City
Basic Beliefs
humanist
I don't know about that but I do know that poppy has been cultivated throughout Europe since the neolithic. It actually seems to be one of few crops that were originally domesticated here, being native to the western Mediterranean and grown all over Central Europe by 4500 BCE. Its doubtful they only used the seeds. :)
 

Politesse

Lux Aeterna
Joined
Feb 27, 2018
Messages
9,219
Location
Chochenyo Territory, US
Gender
nb; all pronouns fine
Basic Beliefs
Jedi Wayseeker
Sounds like "mostly fiction" to me. I own multiple biographies of the man, and a cursory look through the indices reveals no such claim. I can guess easily at the source of the rumour, though. Marcus suffered from chronic illness and tried many remedies over the years, the most long-term of which was the panacea known as Theriac (prescribed to him by Galen, the master physician himself). It is possible, even likely, that opium seeds were among the ingredients of the mixture, but highly unlikely that they were present in such an amount as to cause psychotropic effects.

The idea of an ur-Stoicist allowing themselves to fall into a chemical addiction must be tantalizing to detractors of that philosophy, but I personally find it quite impossible to believe that a man who drank nothing but cold water and preferred plain bread to meat would easily fall prey to such a vice.
 

DrZoidberg

Contributor
Joined
Nov 29, 2007
Messages
10,504
Location
Copenhagen
Basic Beliefs
Atheist
Sounds like "mostly fiction" to me. I own multiple biographies of the man, and a cursory look through the indices reveals no such claim. I can guess easily at the source of the rumour, though. Marcus suffered from chronic illness and tried many remedies over the years, the most long-term of which was the panacea known as Theriac (prescribed to him by Galen, the master physician himself). It is possible, even likely, that opium seeds were among the ingredients of the mixture, but highly unlikely that they were present in such an amount as to cause psychotropic effects.

The idea of an ur-Stoicist allowing themselves to fall into a chemical addiction must be tantalizing to detractors of that philosophy, but I personally find it quite impossible to believe that a man who drank nothing but cold water and preferred plain bread to meat would easily fall prey to such a vice.

Yes. It does seem to contradict one of the most central tenets of stoicism.
 
Top Bottom