Sunday, December 31, 2017

Meditations: The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Meditations: The Thoughts of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

…there is nothing truly good and beneficial unto man, but that which makes him just, temperate, courageous, liberal; and that there is nothing truly evil and hurtful unto man, but that which causeth the contrary effects

Meditations is a collection of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, mid to late second century. They read very much as if they are instructions to some student or disciple, but Marcus Aurelius probably intended them as admonitions to himself.

Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome and a Stoic philosopher. Meditations is one of the most significant extant writings on Stoic philosophy.

I probably would have never read this book on my own; it was a gift. That’s a good thing. It’s good to get out of your comfort zone. And without subscribing to Stoicism, I have to admit, I was impressed. Marcus Aurelius certainly seems to be a man of integrity and wisdom. Many of his principles are not much different than those in the Holy Book that I use to guide my own personal life.  


One I liked wherein he admonishes himself to read:
Thou hast no time nor opportunity to read. What then? Hast thou not time and opportunity to exercise thyself, not to wrong thyself

And another, that shows that some things never change, or as Solomon said: “There is nothing new under the sun”
Will this querulousness, this murmuring, this complaining and dissembling never be at an end?

One who for his word or actions neither needs an oath, nor any man to be a witness.

If than shalt find anything better in this mortal life better than righteousness, than truth, temperance, fortitude, and in general better than a mind contented both with those things which according to right and reason she doeth, and in those, which without her will and knowledge happen unto thee by the providence; if I say, thou canst find out anything better than this, apply thyself unto it with thy whole heart

A man cannot any wither retire better than to his own soul

As a horse after a race, and a hunting dog when he hath hunted, and a bee when she hath made her honey, look not for applause and commendation

No man can hinder thee to live as thy nature doth require. Nothing can happen unto thee, but what the common good of nature doth require

And as concerning pain, that which is intolerable is soon ended by death; and that which holds long must needs be tolerable

Upon every action that thou art about, put this question to thyself; How will this when it is done agree with me? Shall I have no occasion to repent of it

Let this then be thy first ground, that thou art part of that universe, which is governed by nature.

…that is a mad man’s part, to look that there should be no wicked men in the world, because it is impossible

When thou art grieved at anything, hast thou forgotten that all things happen according to the nature of the universe



  1. I look forward to reading The Meditations. I read Seneca's Letters from a Stoic in 2017 and I loved it. Stoicism is definitely my favorite ancient philosophy. A number of Christian thinkers (like Augustine and Boethius) were influenced by Stoicism.

    1. Thanks Fariba, maybe I'll get around to Seneca as well sometime.


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