His reign as Emperor of the Roman world (AD 161 to 180) was long remembered as the golden age in which the citizens enjoyed the gentle rule of a philosophic sage. The truth was not so simple. The Meditations of Marcus' old age, composed while on campaign, give us exceptional access to his mind. Although not generally concerned with the day-to-day business of warfare and administration, they do reveal, however elusively, the personality of the writer: clear-headed, serious, often disillusioned with his own status and with human activities in general. The work can be read as a historical document and as a spiritual diary. Its vivid imagery and pungent epigrams have prompted comparisons with Pascal's Pensées and the book of Ecclesiastes.