This 1742 translation is a collaborative work by Frances Hutcheson and a colleague at Glasgow University, the classicist James Moor. Although Hutcheson was secretive about the extent of his work on the book, he was clearly the leading spirit of the project. This influential classical work offered a vision of a universe governed by a natural law that obliges us to love mankind and to govern our lives in accordance with the natural order of things. In their account of the life of the emperor, prefaced to their translation from the Greek, Hutcheson and Moor celebrated the Stoic ideal of an orderly universe governed by a benevolent God. They contrasted the serenity recommended and practiced by Marcus Aurelius with the divisive sectarianism then exhibited by their fellow Presbyterians in Scotland and elsewhere. They urged their readers and fellow citizens to set aside their narrow prejudices.
Francis Hutcheson was a crucial link between the continental European natural law tradition and the emerging Scottish Enlightenment. Hence, he is a pivotal figure in the Natural Law and Enlightenment Classics series. A contemporary of Lord Kames and George Turnbull, an acquaintance of David Hume, and the teacher of Adam Smith, Hutcheson was arguably the leading figure in making Scotland distinctive within the general European Enlightenment.