On the steps of Marcus Aurelius: visiting Carnuntum

by Massimo Pigliucci

Some people go to Mecca. Others to see the Pope in St. Peter’s Square. I go to sites that are connected to ancient Greco-Roman history, especially to philosophers, and more often than not in particular to Stoicism.

I call these episodes my “secular pilgrimages,” as they serve a function similar to what—I assume—is the function of a pilgrimage for a religious person. My dictionary provides the following helpful definition:

Pilgrimage: a journey to a place associated with someone or something well known or respected.

Mecca, officially known as Makkah al-Mukarramah, is one such important place because it was where the Prophet Muhammad was born around 570 CE. St. Peter’s Square, in the Vatican City, is where the Christian Pope regularly appears to the faithful to deliver messages of hope and charity. And Carnuntum is a location on the Danube River, between Vienna and Bratislava, where the emperor-philosopher Marcus Aurelius spent several years fighting the Marcomanni and other German tribes while writing parts of his Meditations. … (continue at Substack, FREE)