The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Published by MobileReference (mobi)
The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius. Published by MobileReference (mobi)

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Meditations?is the title of a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written in Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. We know that some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the second book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the third book was written at Carnuntum. It is not clear that he ever intended the writings to be published, so the title Meditations is but one of several commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.

- Excerpted from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

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One measure, perhaps, of a book's worth, is its intergenerational pliancy: do new readers acquire it and interpret it afresh down through the ages? The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated and introduced by Gregory Hays, by that standard, is very worthwhile, indeed. Hays suggests that its most recent incarnation--as a self-help book--is not only valid, but may be close to the author's intent. The book, which Hays calls, fondly, a "haphazard set of notes," is indicative of the role of philosophy among the ancients in that it is "expected to provide a 'design for living.'" And it does, both aphoristically ("Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.") and rhetorically ("What is it in ourselves that we should prize?"). Whether these, and other entries ("Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life.") sound life-changing or like entries in a teenager's diary is up to the individual reader, as it should be. Hays's introduction, which sketches the life of Marcus Aurelius (emperor of Rome A.D. 161-180) as well as the basic tenets of stoicism, is accessible and jaunty. --H. O'Billovich

Customer Reviews:

  • A Timeless Reading
    Although this book is the only translation that I have read on Marcus Aurelius's Mediations and do not have another example for comparison, this particular book has been a favorite and read many times. Meditations is a timeless record of Stoic philosophy, not a religion as many people have misconceived; and therefore, this philosophy has historically received acceptance, and even, embracement. With the heart of a warrior and the wisdom of a great leader, Aurelius shares how to weather the most difficult times, with grace and compassion. His advice is practical and readers will identify with him on the common problems experienced by humans, and from his wisdom, learn how to apply his suggestions to our own times. The introduction defines the Stoic Philosophy and devotes a brief section to the role that it played when the early Christian Church was formed. Similiar to the Book of Proverbs style, it is possible to read one item every day for reflection. This book is small enough to easily carry, and yet, the content is worth every penny of the book cost....more info
  • Awful version of the Meditations
    Here is what Gregory Hays, this translator, wrote:
    1. MY GRANDFATHER VERSUS. Character and self-control.
    This is choppy. These are sentence fragments.
    Here is how Maxwell Staniforth translated the same passage in the Meditations:
    1. Courtesy and serenity of temper I first learnt to know from my grandfather Versus.

    Heres another verse from Hays:
    2. MY FATHER (FROM MY OWN MEMORIES AND HIS REPUTATION). Integrity and manliness.
    From Staniforth:
    2. Manliness without ostentation I learnt from what I have heard and remember of my father.

    Heaven forbid you let a young person read the sentence fragments from Hays. Fortune cookies are more eloquent than Hays.
    ...more info
  • A really great read!
    Meditations (Penguin Classics)

    I absolutely loved this book! It was a great read, and felt very personal, as if I were listening to Marcus Aurelius's thoughts. I am using it as a part of my teenage son's home-schooling studies, and even he is getting into it. Great book! Highly recommend, whether for leisure reading, home-school studies, or for some brain exercise! This would be wonderful on a long flight, long train ride, etc. ...more info
  • Profound!
    I bought this a couple of years ago and my copy is full of markings and is getting quite ragged now!

    I never find a situation upon which this wise man did not speak. Very nice work!

    I do know a fair bit of Greek but I have still enjoyed Prof. Hays' translation. I'd recommend a copy to every young graduate you know!...more info
  • More of a reference
    As part of the Dover Thrift Editions, this is a very affordable look into Stoic philosophy and insight into one of the emperors of the Roman Empire.

    As with most books from this collection, there is around 100 pages of text and no more. Rather than reading like a story, these are aphorisms, which are more or less grouped into similar subject matter, but if you want to get the most out of it, you should aim for reading, at most, a couple at a time to really reflect on what Aurelius is saying.

    An example would be number 15 from Book VII, "Whatever any one does or says, I must be good, just as if the emerald (or the gold or the purple) were always saying "Whatever any one does or says, I must be emerald and keep my color." This is a very profound and pithy saying. To get the full effect, think about what this is saying and how it applies to us and our doings. Reading many of these in a row would just blur them together.

    I would recommend this as a reference for helping to reflect on our lives....more info
  • A Mentor across the Centuries
    Most men today have not had the opportunity for a relationship with a mentor, an older, and presumably wiser male, providing the opportunity to learn through cooperative endeavor and non-judgmental advice.

    Marcus Aurelius, in his journal, Meditations, can certainly function as a mentor for its reader.

    This translation is a very digestible one and has provided me with good advice and direction for many years. I heartily recommend this book for men of all ages....more info
  • Getting Back to Basics
    Written nearly 2,000 years ago, Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" seem to become increasingly popular in eras of obscene greed, such as the Gilded Age of the late 1800s and the one we are suffering through right now. It is at such times that thoughtful people reach out for rational guides to living.

    To some extent, the Meditations provide that kind of guidance, but the reader looking for a comprehensive plan for living well is likely to be disappointed. Instead of an organized body of thought. the "Meditations" are simply haphazard thoughts that Marcus wrote down over the years as aids in developing his personal ethics. This does not mean that they are useless, simply that they are disorganized and repetitive.

    To the Stoics, everything is part of the natural order, including cruelty, pain and death. The function of the individual within this world is to suffer with dignity, restraining anger and being tolerant of the acts of others, recognizing that anything they do is in their nature and the natural order of things. The Stoic philosophy is basically pessimistic - Life's a losing battle, but in the grand scheme of things it doesn't matter because we only spend a brief time here, before being recycled by nature. The human body is no more that "rotting meat in a bag." (8.38)

    A pessimistic view, certainly, yet taken as a whole, the Meditations provide useful information for dealing with life's unpleasantries, most of which involve living the simple life - being modest and grateful for the good things that one has enjoyed, treating others politely and fairly, being indifferent to superficial honors and indicia of status, and living life honorably, simply and well during our brief moment on the stage. And if things aren't going well? We'll be dead soon enough, and after that it won't matter.

    The foregoing sounds simplistic and depressing, yet the effect of the book is positive, perhaps because we all recognize that we are capable of being better people and Marcus gives us very specific advice on how to do it. A self-help book in the finest sense.

    Gregory Hays' translation is quite readable, although perhaps too modern for some readers. His introduction is excellent, proving a clear and comprehensive introduction to Marcus, Stoicism and their historical context.

    Readers who wish to pursue Stoicism further should consider:
    * Arrian's abridgement of Epictetus' "Encheiridion;"
    * Seneca's "Letters to Lucilius;" and
    * Cicero's "On the Good Life."

    ...more info
  • Wisdom from the Emperor-Philosopher
    "Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts; for the soul becomes dyed with the color of its thoughts. Soak it then in such trains of thoughts as, for example: Where life is possible at all, a right life is possible." ~ Marcus Aurelius from "Meditations"

    Not only is Marcus Aurelius one of my heroes, he's also one of history's leading Stoic Philosophers. Stoic philosophy. You know, one of the classic Hellenistic philosophies--right there with Epicureanism and Cynicism.


    Whether or not you've heard of Stoicism, you've probably met one of its leading thinkers: Marcus Aurelius--he's the old emperor in the movie "Gladiator." :)

    Quick historical context:

    It was in the 2nd Century, during battles against Barbarian tribes in the Danube region near Hungary (not unlike the opening scene of "Gladiator"), when Aurelius wrote "Meditations."

    Imagine the powerful Roman Empire: encompassing vast territory from England to Spain and Africa, to Egypt, Arabia and Turkey. This is the Empire that Marcus Aurelius defended from barbarians and pestilence and plague at every border. Now, you can imagine Aurelius, the Emperor of this vast empire, trained in the Stoic philosophy, reminding himself to live the philosophy during some of the most trying times of his rule--in the battlefields of war.

    Interestingly, the literal translation of the title is "To Himself"--as Aurelius was simply jotting notes to himself in his private journal. His intention was not to publish anything; rather, he used his journal to remind himself of the lessons he learned as a young nobleman being groomed to one-day rule the empire. The book is broken down into bite-size nuggets of wisdom that you can enjoy a few minutes at a time. I highly recommend you start enjoying!...more info
  • Nothing original
    This is not the best translation. The Walter J. Black,Inc. 1944 Classic Club Edition is better, but either way it is just Marcus Aurelius trying to remind himself (over and over again) of the basic stoic theory that as long as we know what pertains to us and what doesn't and avoid gettting emotional about what doesn't pertain to us, all will be fine and tranquil within our souls. It reads like the book of Proverbs, jumping from topic to topic without much organization and with lots of repetition of the same basic themes with a few word changes. Many times, I felt like I was reading a remake of Epictetus Discourses, only not as well written by any stretch of the imagination. Not much of anything new or original, just a follower of a philosophy better stated by Epictetus (or should I say his student admirer, Arrian, who wrote the Discourses from first hand lectures he had heard.)...more info
  • Meditations (Modern Library Classics)
    It seems to be a solid translation. You are going to need to spend a lot of time thinking about it....more info
  • A Little Dry, But Great
    This edition of Marcus Aurelius' 'Meditations' is an excellent rendition of what may be the most profound book of insight meditation ever written. It is an updating of George Long's venerable 1862 translation, with long sentences untangled and thee's and thou's modernized to you's . At first I found it a little dry and underemphatic, but as I continued reading, I became thoroughly engaged by its clarity and precision. As a literal reading, the Dover edition is a lot more readable than Loeb's Haines translation, and more direct than Staniforth's Penguin edition. And at this price, you almost can't afford not to have it. 'Meditations' really can help you be a better person....more info
  • If I could meet just one person in history.......
    This is one of my favorite books of all time, and will always hold a place on my bookshelf. Of few things I am quite certain; this is one.

    I have read a number of versions of this book, and to date, this is the best translation in my opinion. Gregory Hays does a fantastic job and deserves kudos for this translation. The writings are clear, almost as if Marcus was talking directly to you. In some translations you have to read the passages several times before the meaning is as clear as I find it in this translation. Marcus had a profound understanding of human behavior, and this is quite evident from his passages. Reading this is a soothing balm for the soul like nothing else I can think of. I have a version I keep on my bookshelf and one I carry around with me because it gets beaten up.

    What a remarkable person Marcus must have been, made moreso in my estimation by the fact that he was a ruler. He had everything at his disposal, including wealth, and yet he saw through all of it to what was truly important in life. And the fact that The Meditations was never even written to be turned into a book makes it all the more impressive and meaningful. Who among us has such insightful random thoughts on such a consistent basis?

    When you have a headache, take an aspirin; when you want to understand our place in the universe a little better, pick up The Meditations to read.
    ...more info
  • Healthy advice on living in a possessions-possessed world
    Marcus' notes of his mindset on a challenging life appeared (to me at least) to be far from being gloomy or defeatist... The everyday triumphs of dealing well, gladly and constructively with that which others would whine, moan and perhaps cry about is much greater a joy than observing the regular course of nature recycling all seemingly positive things of the present into different, new things is any form of tragedy.

    It is indeed, in my experience over a couple years now, like having a wise, kindly old grandfather sharing relentlessly honest, mercilessly level-headed advice on how to gladly and properly socially deal with a world otherwise often seemingly made largely of chaos. He very clearly conveys the value of accurately, with remarkably scientific discipline, seeing the true nature of things and of concerning oneself utterly clearly and well with the present. This burns efficiently through popular illusions of being able to persue happiness via, say, an endless stream of mere purchases and then often attempting to persue further happiness by gloating/boasting to others of those purchases et cetera or other like self-defeating acts of desperation. The resultant peace of mind from even some success at such discipline carries its own indestructible happiness, especially in an age when one appears at least partly measured by how much time one spends gabbing into a tiny shiny thing with lots of buttons and expensive monthly charges.

    There are many, many books dispensing a wise inspiration of the day and such, but it is paramount to understand the reasoning that creates those daily inspirational sayings so that those sayings do not simply become something else externally created to be regularly consumed such as are, say, milk, bagels and fruit. Do not wonder at the possible thoughts of someone you look up to, but have such thoughts yourself as Marcus put it. Marcus has done well in managing to pass down in a set of personal notes a taste of the discipline that formed classical Greek philosophy, that philosophy that formed the foundation for modern psychology and other science.

    How does reading it (or having my computer read it back to me in my time-restricted case) compare with, say, listening to good music? The thoughts expressed seem as carefully and fluently expressed as the content of most any good music, and at least as beautiful and timeless. I have also found it to have a rather uncanny way of leading to a following day of greater real value than the preceding day, especially following a day containing difficulty in dealing with those we may otherwise consider frustating or impossible....more info
  • Great Translation
    While this translation is concise and lacks the flowery writing of the George Long version which I've also bought, it remains true to the simplicity of the Stoic lifestyle and the casual writing of someone doing this only for themselves. If you want to satisfy your ego and read something with more flowers, get the George Long version or something else. If you want to understand what Aurelius means and don't care about the difficulty of a book as long as you get something out of it, I'd recommend this because it's probably more accurate in terms of tone and formality, and like another reviewer said before me, it's reads as though Aurelius were right over your shoulder giving you advice.

    While some of his theories lack sound proof, he never wrote this for anyone else to read, so he has no reason to go out of his way to prove something to himself. It's up to the reader to find the proof, or refute what he says. It's a very interesting, easily understandable read that comes of as some sort of ancient self-help book. It's advice for living a decent life in a complicated and confusing society, with a limit on your existence in this world. Personally, I'd recommend buying both of the versions I mentioned (you can actually find some george long versions free online) because Hays tends to simplify a lot, but you can pretty much get the same understanding from this easier read version....more info
  • chicken soup for something
    This translation was a bit too dumbed down for me. Maybe I'm showing my age but the idea of a Roman emperor speaking like a New Age Guru didn't do it. That being said it is still soothing to read these thoughts....more info
  • Pure Wisdom
    Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

    Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are profound and timeless. The book is full of wisdom and common sense. I recommend this book highly....more info
  • A Modern Translation of an Ancient Classic
    In the introduction to his translation of the "Meditations" Gregory Hays observes that "[I]t has been a generation since [The Meditations'] last English incarnation." Hays further explains that he has attempted to present a readable, modern translation of Marcus' great work which strill captures the "patchwork character of the original." I find that Hays's translation succeeds. He translates Marcus's reflections into a colloquial, frequently earthy, English in unstitled language and idiom that will be familiar to a modern reader. I think the translation is as well faithful to Marcus's thought. The reflective, meditative character of the paragraphs come through well, as does the difficulty of the text in many places. This is a book that will encourage the modern reader to approach Marcus -- an altogether commendable result.

    Professor Hays has written an excellent introduction to his translation which can be read with benefit by those coming to the "Meditations" for the first time and by those familiar with the work. There is a brief discussion of Marcus's life, his philosophical studies, and his tenure as emperor of Rome (161-180 A.D.) Hays spends more time on the philosophical background of Marcus's thought emphasizing ancient stoicism and of the philosophy of Heraclitus. He discusses the concept of "logos", a critical term for Marcus and for later thought, and argues that logos -- or the common reason that pervades man and the universe -- is as much a process as it is a substance. This is difficult, but insightful.

    Hays obviously has a great love for Marcus's book and has thought about it well. He is able to offer critical observations which will help the reader focus in studying the Meditations. (For example, Hays argues that Marcus does not understand or appreciate human joy very well. He also argues that Marcus's thought takes an overly static view of the nature of society and does not see the possiblity or need for societal change.) Hays discusses briefly the reception of the Meditiations over the centuries. I enjoyed in particular his references to the essays of Arnold and Brodsky on Marcus Aurelius. I haven't read these essays, but Hays's discussion makes me want to do so.

    The Meditations is one of the great book of the West and will repay repeated readings. When I read it this time, I was struck by Marcus's devotion to his duties in life as the Roman emperor. I got the distinct impression that Marcus would have rather been at his studies but kept telling himself, in his writings, that he had to persevere and be the person he was meant to be. It is a focused approach, to say the least, to the duties to which one was called.

    I was also impressed with the similarities at certain points between Marcus's thought and Buddhism. Other reviewers have also noted this similarity. Marcus talks repeatedly about the changing, impermanent character of human life and about the pervasive character of human suffering. He talks about controlling and ending suffering by understanding its causes and then changing one's life accordingly. There is a need to learn patience and to control anger and desire. More specifically, Marcus' understanding of perception and how it leads to desire and can be controlled by reason (discussed well in Hays's introduction.) is very Buddhist in tone. I have become interested in Buddhism and was struck in this reading of the Meditations by the parallels it offers to Buddhist thought.

    There is a wonderful paragraph in the Meditations where Marcus urges himself to persevere and not to lose hope simply because he did not become a scholar or a hero or the person of his dreams. What matters is being a good person and living in harmony with one's nature. This passage spoke clearly and poignantly to me as I reread the Meditations. Undoubtedly, the reader will find passages in this book that are addressed clearly to him or her.

    This is a book that should be read and pondered many times. Hays and the Modern Library have done readers a service with this translation....more info

  • A Glimpse into Roman Philosophy
    Marcus Aurelius' "Meditations" is a celebrated work composed by one of Imperial Rome's most celebrated leaders. While at times a bit challenging to get through, the most impressive quality of the work is its classic endurance. Partly a collection of life-lessons and partly a discourse on the psychology of mankind and government, Meditations is as insightful today as it was in ancient Rome. Overall, an impressive intellectual piece and a good edition to any well-stocked private library. ...more info
  • a diamond
    The Meditations are terse statements, aphorisms, notes, even reminders. Some are like fragmented dialogues, which I find fascinated. Some are very hard to get a hold of. Others remarkably clear. Summarizing them is hard, and surely misleading, but they seem frequently to stand against illusions and mistaken judgments, especially in the face of frustration, desire, fear, and anger. The positive dimension of this is harder to describe (maybe because I have yet to know it firsthand): calmness, purpose, self-control, and a true reckoning of what will matter in the end, as understood in terms of the harmony and essential order of all things. He can be difficult in places, but at other times it is as though he sees into your soul.

    I think Marcus Aurelius will strike readers very differently based on where they are coming from. Some readers will resonate with his insistence on self-awareness, equanimity, and responsibility for one's own mental state and reactions. Other readers will be attracted by his ethical standards, commitment to the common good, and sense of divine harmony in all events. Others will simply enjoy his sobering reflection and insightful commentary on human nature. Historians will be fascinated with a look into the mind of a Roman emperor, seemingly untouched by the affairs of state (they are hardly mentioned in the text). Philosophers will enjoy learning about Stoic thought in praxis and how he's picked up the thought of other Greek thinkers (Epictetus, Chrysippus, Heraclitus, etc). Perhaps one of the most amazing things is how he might appeal equally to readers from very different backgrounds, a testament to the complexity of his thinking.

    This particular edition comes with a very good introduction that answers questions of history, religion, philosophy, and thematic ideas. I highly recommend it to those interested in Marcus Aurelius and his philosophical thought. In addition, Gregory Hays is a masterful translator who, I think, has taken care to convey the meaning of the original Greek in appropriate English counterparts.

    The first chapter is a beautiful one that describes Marcus Aurelius' gratitude to the many people that have positively influenced him, in each case telling what it is that he gained from them. Might we do the same someday ourselves? Though it is highly selective for me to do so (leaving out big chunks of what the book is like, especially the more obviously Stoic in form and content--such as the fleeting transience of life), below are just a few of my favorite quotes.

    "The best revenge is not to be like that."

    "You can hold your breath until you turn blue, but they'll still go on doing it."

    "It was for the best. So nature had no choice but to do it."

    "Forget the future. When and if it comes, you'll have the same resources to draw on--the same Logos."

    "Remember that our efforts are subject to circumstances; you weren't aiming to do the impossible. --aiming to do what then? --To try. And you succeeded. What you set out to do is accomplished."

    "Think of yourself as dead. You've lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly."

    "...people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can't tell good from evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own--not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine. And so none of them can hurt me. No one can implicate me in ugliness. Nor can I feel angry at my relative, or hate him..."...more info

  • 2nd century wisdom for the 21st century
    I have picked this book up a couple of times and am floored by what I read each time. Even in today's time, 1,800 years later, much of what is said is relevant and useful. Such quotes as "Accept modestly; surrender gracefully" and "Our anger and annoyance are more detrimental to us than the things themselves which anger or annoy us" are just two of the numerous pieces of wisdom and advice found in this book.

    Although at times it did turn philosophical it always returned to the central theme of the overarching world created by Nature and Gods. You are but a piece of it and must learn to live with it at peace. Again, it is amazing to find something written so long ago still apply to today's world.

    I have always been amazed when I read about Marcus Aurelius as Caesar, but now I am even more amazed at Marcus Aurelius as philosopher. I would definitely recommend this book to everyone.

    5 stars.

    ...more info
  • Appropriate Inspiration
    In an age where so many of us tune into Oprah, Dr. Phil, and so many other feel good fountains of wisdom, its refreshing to revisit the men who laid the foundations for thought in modern time. Marcus Aurelius' statements sometimes come off as trite, obvious, or even dull; however, one must only remember that he was one of the first to put these notions down on paper to realize how important and interesting the work is. Extolling on the virtues of restraining one's emotions and sacrificing for the greater good, this long gone emperor still strikes home with his platitudes and musings. Don't pass this easy to read selection over because it might seem irrelevant; everyone can learn something from a people who once ruled the known world....more info
  • Two for the price of one
    This book is really two pamphlets in one. Each is well worth reading in its own right. Together, they are a real treat.

    In the introduction, the author provides a high level but highly instructive overview of the life and times of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from A.D. 161 until his death in 180. From the brief biography of Marcus through the discussion of the philosophical traditions that informed the Emperor and, ultimately, the Meditations, to the summary of recurring themes, the Introduction is very worthwhile reading. The author conveniently includes some suggestions for further reading to allow any who are interested to plunge well below the surface that is only lightly touched here.

    The heart of the book, the Meditations themselves, is a superb and enduring testament to the community of humankind. Written nearly 2000 years ago, the Meditations, which Marcus never expected to be read by anyone other than himself and, perhaps, his son, reveal how consistently and deeply themes like death, integrity, ethics, and tolerance affect all people at all times. Perhaps the most notable reaction to reading this very accessible translation is that here, speaking across 20 centuries, is the basis for a successful career as a 21st Century "self-help guru"....more info

  • Lessons of life from one of Rome's greatest emperors
    Marcus Aurelius, philosopher-king of Rome for two decades, preserved his experiences not for posterity but likely for himself. A reminder of things past forming a deeply personal philosophy to guide the future. Solidly founded in Stoicism yet borrowing from cynicism, epicureanism and platonic thought the "Meditations" is a unique man's thoughts and experiences. Hardly original it is nonetheless, potent and applicable.

    The main themes of the book can be summed up:

    Experience as much as you can and interpret these experiences as honestly as you can.
    Do what you can with what you have been given.
    Do not fret over that which you cannot control..accept it.

    Some of my favorite quotes:

    Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.

    Doctors keep their scalpels and other instruments handy, for emergencies. Keep your philosophy ready too-ready to understand heaven and earth. In everything you do, even the smallest thing, remember the chain that links them. Nothing early succeeds by ignoring heaven, nothing heavenly by ignoring the earth.

    ...more info
  • Way, way before its time
    Meditations is the kind of book you can just open up to any page and learn from, a still-relevant lesson about how to set priorities in what Socrates called the examined life. It is also a fascinating tour of the mind of Marcus Aurelius, the military leader, emperor, educator, philanthropist, and philosopher who remains one of history's most noble protagonists, and whose writings reveal the loneliness of his soul without being bitter.

    This is a must-have book for the nightstand of anyone living a contemplative life, a profound precursor to modern self-help books written by a Renaissance man who lived centuries before the Renaissance.

    There is no plot to summarize here, no accurate generalizations to be made. One gets the idea that these are thoughts the author jotted down, sometimes between appointments and sometimes after months of contemplation. Often they are obvious, sometimes they are obscure. They can seem rooted in history, and at times based on today's current events. They can be funny, surprising, or sad. But they are almost always worthwhile.

    A final note: I have two editions of this book, and while I think both this one and the Hicks' translation are very good, I prefer this by a small degree....more info

  • steel for your spine
    One should have more than one translation for Meditations. Note this difference between Maxwell Staniforth's translation in 1964 (Penguin Classics) and Hay's 2002 translation in these two passages.

    1964: When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out-of-tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.

    2002: When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
    1964: Adapt yourself to the environment in which your life has been cast, and show true love to the fellow-mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.

    2002: The things ordained for you - teach yourself to be at one with those. And the people who share them with you - treat them with love. With real love.

    The 1964 version is regal, while the 2002 (Hays') version is Aurelius writing, quickly, in a spiral notebook while on horseback, the equivalent of "memo to myself."

    Reading this book is like taking a cold shower, or visiting a favorite bartender, who insists on serving you coffee, not drink. Hays has brought us a Marcus Aurelius who puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you in the eye, and tells you like it is: Get over yourself. You can't change the world. Do your best and realize you are of this earth. Human experience is muddy, so what? This book is best read in tough times, when you could use a little steel in your spine....more info

  • Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
    It is an inspiration to read the private thoughts of Rome's Philosopher King. He remains as relevant in 2007 as he did in 170 AD...more info
  • Wisdom for Today
    Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is really a manual for living. So much of what he teaches is very relevant for today. "If you don't have a consistent goal in life, you can't live in a consistent way."

    The book is actually a lot of short to the point lessons for living a better life. "If you seek tranquillity, do less." "Which brings a double saftisfaction to do less, better." That is a philosophy that we all would do well to ponder and then employ.

    Another of my favorite bits of wisdom, "Not to assume it's impossible because you find it hard. But to recognize that if it's humanly possible, you can do it too."

    Marcus Aurelius spends a lot of time on death and how to approach it. Some of that is very good. However he also spends a lot of time thinking about man's right and priviledge of deciding if and when to end live voluntary.

    There is an excellent though somewhat long introduction to the book. Hays also provides a list of persons referred to in the book. This is very helpful to at least know who Aurelius was talking about.

    I only rate the book four stars because I found The Emperior's Handbook by David Hicks easier to read and understand. I recommend that everyone read at least one of the books by Marcus Aurelius. If you can only read one, pick The Emperor's Handbook....more info
  • It's a new translation
    I was excited to order the penguin classic as I now live in Japan and had left my prior copy in NY. However, I am not quite so happy with this new translation as I find it diluted for the masses and less meaningful. Though Marcus Aurelius offers great wisedom the new translation offers the stoic cliches stated so colloquially that we've heard them all before. Meditations are statements to be slowly chewed, savored and deeply thought about while I feel the current translation offers Aurelius in a more ambiguous, predigested and less flavorful form. However, I'm a bit particular! A prior reviewer found this helpful in that it was easier to read....more info
  • Code of the warrior
    In Marcus Aurelius we find the roots of chivalry for the warrior code. A classic work for anyone interested in history or military history in particular. Stoic philosophy for all but especially the warrior in us all. ...more info
  • Writings of a Roman Emperor - with many helpful notes
    There are several things that make this book so special. It is written by a Roman Emperor and is a book of introspective philosophy rather than a publication of his public acts or justifications for his career. Although it was written in the Christian era, it is clearly a non-Christian work and that makes it very interesting as well. One of the problems we have understanding such a work is that our culture, though largely post-Christian nowadays, is rooted in and permeated by Christian concepts and institutions. Be careful as you read this book to not let your present-day mindset fool you into thinking you understand what this mind from a different world of almost 2,000 years ago wrote.

    The book is arranged in chapters - what we would call paragraphs. And books - that we would call chapters. They were written at different times and not meant to be a coherent statement of the author's beliefs. Often, they seem to be advice to himself.

    About one-half of this book is notes to help the reader understand what Marcus Aurelius wrote. This is quite necessary, because it is so easy to get off on the wrong track by misreading what is actually being said in this austere and often quite strange book.

    Yet, it has a nice payoff in helping the reader see the world a bit differently and to bring that portion of the history of the Roman Empire to life....more info
  • An Ancient Roman Amazingly Up To Date!
    As you read the words of Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome, you'll find advice and help that is as helpful now, in the 21st century as it was in his lifetime.

    I am a voracious reader of self-help books, and I see a lot of the essence of them summed up in Aurelius' MEDITATIONS.

    Aurelius is a Stoic, which is not to be confused with an unfeeling view of life. He is concerned with living a life of integrity and adopting principles of self discipline, especially in the face of impulse and action. His goal was to be just, self-disciplined, courageous and independent, and to live in the present.

    The book is divided into sections and the paragraphs are numbered. The style of writing is easy to understand, but it isn't "fast" reading -- sometimes it's possible to read two or three sentences and think deeply.

    It's a good book to carry with you and read in odd moments -- or when you have a lot of time to read. It will make you think and contemplate....more info

  • I bet even Marcus Aurelius would like this translation.
    "And you can also commit an injustice by doing nothing." -- Marcus Aurelius, from Meditations

    My sister loves this book, but I was never able to get into it until I found this translation. Marcus Aurelius wrote this for his own usage - it was never intended for publication, much less being seen by others. It was something he was writing in uncertain times, and it's an intimate view of a man searching for peace and self-mastery.

    This grace and immediacy did not come across well in previous, more formal-sounding translations which seemed to imply that Marcus Aurelius was handing down maxims to a large crowd. Hays' new translation lets us get closer to the author, and also gain a deeper understanding of how badly Marcus needed this for his own sanity, and in turn, how much modern life needs his thoughts on being a decent person in an indecent world.

    I heard about a subway mugging (apologies - I can't remember where I read this, but it was within the past 3 years) in which a young man intervened, injuring himself in the process and becoming hospitalized. When asked why he inserted himself into a situation which he could have easily avoided, he quoted from this book. Just go and read this. It certainly invited me to consider a more wide-ranging perspective and a greater awareness of the daily thoughts that distract us, and the possibility of thinking nobler, more solid thoughts. ...more info
  • Ignorance need not apply
    Marcus Aurelius is the epitamy of the old wise man. His isite into life are deep and profound making complete sense though there is none to be had. It is amazing followers of his thoughts and teachings are not more prominant....more info
  • Ian Myles Slater on: The Modern Library and the Emperor
    It was interesting to see that one reviewer went looking for a copy of the Modern Library edition of "Meditations" as a gift, and had to settle for a different translation.

    There was a time when many publishers had in print their own editions -- usually "gift editions," in a range of prices -- of the little book, "To Himself," by the second-century Roman patrician Marcus Annius Catilius Severus (121-180 C.E.), known after his marriage as Marcus Annius Verus -- almost always titled something like "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius," and most commonly some version (little choice disguised as many choices) of George Long's 1862 translation of the Greek original, originally published as "The Thoughts of the Emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus."

    For Marcus, besides receiving an excellent education in Greek, which he seems to have used as naturally as Latin, went on, through a process of adoption and co-optation, to rule the Roman Empire, beginning in 161 with the death of Antoninus Pius, his uncle, who had adopted him as heir, using a third version of his name. For moderns, he is usually just Marcus Aurelius; I found it a bit of shock to see him as just another "Antoninus" in ancient texts.

    Under any name, he has been popular, at least with publishers; even now, there seem to be something like sixty versions in English of this book available on Amazon, even though many *are* out of print (and most seem to be of the same few older translations). As usual, a number of these editions and translations are grouped by Amazon for review purposes, and I will mention some. If you find this, or someone else's, review of one translation under a different heading, PLEASE remember that, as Marcus Aurelius saw, some things really are beyond our control.

    It should require more thought to understand Marcus than it does to follow the English version. The Modern Library's current offering, a new translation by George Hays, is based on modern text editions, and seems to be both an excellent first introduction to the book, and graceful reading for those with no interest in looking further. It has brief but helpful notes, and a glossary of names, which helps keep the notes short and to the point. Some will follow his references to more advanced treatments, including textual as well as philosophical problems.

    As for Marcus Aurelius, he is generally regarded as one of the greatest, and certainly the most morally and intellectually impressive, of all Roman Emperors. Gibbon tended to see the Empire's real decline as subsequent to his death, a view not without its reflection in the recent motion picture "Gladiator." The transitions by appointment from Trajan to Hadrian to Antoninus Pius to Marcus produced one of the most successful set of reigns in history (if mainly from a strictly Roman and Imperial point of view). It is perhaps the best historically-documented counterpart of the Chinese tradition of the Sage Emperors who chose as heirs the Most Virtuous (or Most Effective) subjects, instead of favored sons.

    The policy had precedents in Roman history, although none so successful for so long. Family loyalty was admired, and inheritance gave access to key property, including the slaves in the bureaucracy, and the loyalty of followers (veteran soldiers, freedmen and other clients); yet the whole dynastic principle was suspect as un-Roman. It was in part accidental, Antoninus, for example, himself almost a last-minute substitute, having no son to be his heir. Marcus Aurelius designated his son Commodus as successor, with less fortunate consequences, after the death of his first choice; although Commodus' evil reputation may reflect his political and military failures, and the interests of his successors, as much as his personality.

    So one might expect from the great Emperor Marcus Aurelius some manifesto on statesmanship, or imperial strategy, or at least good government. In fact, his twelve books (booklets, really) of little notes "to himself" contain reflections on fate, on moral lessons from classical literature, on religion, on human nature. They are probably the last thing one would expect of a Supreme Autocrat and Generalissimo.

    Nor are they an exposition of a philosophic system; no surprise that some reviewers, apparently expecting one, have found them unsatisfying.

    The first three books have titles (some are subscripts in the manuscript tradition, but, like Hays, I think they are misplaced). "On the River Gran, Among the Quadi," refers to a campaign on the borders of the empire. If it is the heading of Book Two, the lack of any explicit reference therein to the hard-fought German campaign is worth pondering. Was this what the Emperor considered truly important? What he wanted us to think he thought was important? (But there is internal evidence that he had no intention of making any of it public.) What he preferred to think about when he could get away from the war for a few moments? It should be remembered that he was a successful campaigner.

    Hays' clear translation into modern English joins a number of post-Long translations. Older versions include the important version with commentary of A.S.L. Farquharson (Oxford, 1944, out of print; his translation with new introduction, etc., World's Classics, 1990, and Oxford World's Classics, 1998), and two competitors for the student and general reader markets, respectively, by G.M.A. Grube (originally Library of Liberal Arts, Bobbs-Merrill, 1963) and Maxwell Staniforth (Penguin Classics, 1964), which have been in and out of print (but mostly in) for four decades. Of these, I much prefer Hays -- although the additional material in the World's Classics edition(s) is worth a look. (Staniforth, by the way, says that "a couple of generations ago" major publishers had "elegant miniature" editions of classics, usually including the "Meditations" -- those I remember from the 1960s themselves were full-sized, and distinguished only by gilt edges and/or slipcovers and/or presentation pages.)

    It also joins the highly-praised contemporary version, "The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations," translated by David Hicks and C. Scott Hicks (2002; not seen).

    It competes as well with a fairly recent (1993) Dover Thrift Edition of the George Long translation, revised (and not for the first time) to modernize his mid-Victorian English and untangle his somewhat convoluted fidelity to (a long-obsolete edition of) the Greek. That Long was not very readable was probably not of much concern to those who used to buy and give (and possibly receive) editions designed to suggest educated tastes; certainly not to the sellers. Long's concern for accuracy should be emulated, but turning relatively clear Greek into opaque English doesn't seem the best way to achieve the goal. (In all fairness, what was plain enough language in mid-Victorian England / Civil War America may now seem obscure for other reasons.)

    The novelist Mary Renault thought that Marcus' example refuted Lord Acton's view that "absolute power corrupts absolutely," but the most remarkable lesson of the "Meditations" is that Marcus Aurelius did not believe that he HAD absolute power. He had been chosen and groomed for a role he had been taught to accept as a duty, and regarded it as both an obligation and an imposition. For Marcus was a Stoic -- not in the commonplace sense of someone who repressed his feelings or endured pain without expression, but in the original sense of a follower of philosophy that offered a quasi-religious approach to life. Hays usefully points out (with helpful bibliography) that Marcus was, in the manner of his time, eclectic, but grants that, if asked, he would have identified himself with Stocism.

    The movement was founded by Zeno of Citium (or Kition), born on Cyprus (about 336 B.C.E.) in a family said to be part Phoenician, who taught in the Stoa Poikile, or "Painted Walkway," in Athens, from some point after 313 to his death about 261 B.C.E. It was one of the key movements of Hellenistic times, and found a ready reception among upper class Romans as well. Teaching calm in the face of stress, and endorsing acceptance of public obligations, including religion, it is traditionally paired with, and contrasted to, Epicureanism, which taught avoidance of excessive pain and pleasure, withdrawal into private life, and the pointlessness of traditional religion. (Not hedonism, as popularly imagined; nor did it deny the existence of gods, only that they had any interest in anything so trivial and base as human concerns.)

    For those who find the "Meditations" intriguing but unsatisfying, works by other Stoics may be more fulfilling; there are some excellent recent volumes translating and interpreting Marcus' older contemporary, Epictetus, a slave who set an example to the rulers of the western world -- but that would be another review....more info
  • Stoicism for Monarchs
    If you are at all interested in the history of philosophical or theological thought, then you will want to acquaint yourself with the writings of Marcus Aurelius. In this work addressed to himself (he originally entitled it "To Myself" and it later came to be known as the "Meditations") he distills the essence of Stoicism, one of the most important and influential schools of classical philosophy. The Staniforth translation combines elegance and clarity, and the introduction and notes are excellent, so the Penguin edition is probably the one to go for, although some reviewers here seem to favor the Hays translation, which looks to be more direct and colloquial. Staniforth argues persuasively that Stoicism formed the rational basis for the fledgling Christian theology. (Interestingly, there is one, rather disparaging, reference to Christians in the text, which I suppose illustrates how significant the movement had become, a century after the death of its founder. Many scholars believe this to be an interpolation by a later author). Indeed, the similarity of this work to the late medieval "The Imitation of Christ" is striking. Part of the fascination of "Meditations" lies, of course, in the fact that Marcus was emperor of Rome, the greatest power on Earth at that time. We thus get an insight into the mind of an important historical character. This also means that much of what occupied him is hardly relevant to you or me. How many of us are plagued with sycophantic courtiers, or need to remind ourselves that the adulation of the mob may be short-lived? Yet it is clear that, despite all his power and privilege, Marcus was a troubled and pensive soul. One might say that "Meditations" is Stoicism for monarchs, whereas "The Imitation" is Stoicism for monks. If you enjoy one of those books, the chances are you will enjoy the other....more info
  • The wisdom of resignation
    The wisdom of resignation is wisdom, but it is not all the wisdom of life.
    Marcus Aurelius wrote this work while warring for the Empire near its borders from 170 to 180 A.D. He knew his fellow late Stoic philosophers well, and his wisdom is much in accord with theirs.
    As Epictetus taught what is not in our control is not for us to worry about.
    Marcus Aurelius shows his concern for us in other ways, in teaching us how to bear the pains and sufferings of this life, and to minimize the pain.
    We are after all, even the Emperors among us, merely minor specks of dust in a vast cosmos in which there is great darkness.
    The wise words here are for a time of trouble, a time of war at the borders, a time of imminent decline, a time when Hope seems to be going out of the world.
    Contrast the wisdom of others lives at other times. Wordsworth's 'Bliss was it to be alive that day , and to be young was very heaven' Or Whitman's "Do I contain contradictions.Well then I contain contradictions. I am multitudes' Spirits of times of expansion and hope and reshaping the world will not find their strength in Aurelius.
    But tired, and in old age, and nodding before the fires of life, perhaps most of us will find at twilight moments these words as goads to consolation.
    I think now of another wiseman, one much more to my heart and faith, Koheleth, as he speaks of vanity of vanities, and yet paradoxically inspires us to love life more.
    "Don't look back" Satchel Paige said, "Someone may be gaining on you."...more info
  • Perspective
    This book is more of a bullet list of ideas. Some of these are more profound than others. It appears to be written toward the end of his life and the meditations are more reflections of how he is coming to terms with his existence. It provides an excellent perspective on one individual's relationship to a larger violent world.

    There is no doubt that this is a fascinating book....more info

  • Best translation of the Meditations I've read
    This is by far the best transaltion of Marcus' Meditations I've read. The language is very accessible and the notes in the back clarify many of the more vague passsages. This one is going to stay in my library....more info
  • Emperor of Rome and himself
    If you think you cannot have at the same time a complicated job and
    peace of spirit, if you think your job is too demanding, if you think
    your house is a chaos that inevitably makes your nerves explode...if
    you think some of that, then you should read Marcus Aurelius
    Meditations. He was for twenty years emperor of one of the largest
    empires that have ever existed, dealing with intrigues, Rome, wars
    at the borders....and he was also a master of himself, living in calm,
    austerity, integrity. The book is a collection of thoughts,
    reflections, whose central message is that what is really important is
    the tranquility of the self and not all the vanities or worries of the
    daily life. Marcus Aurelius teaches how to "Be firm as the rock
    against which the waves of the sea come and go".
    ...more info
  • Avoid this inferior 'dumbed down' translation
    I picked up this more modern translation of this work, and phrases like 'junk' and 'if you keep putting things off' leapt out of the text. Consternation - did the Greek original actually have words like that? It was a 'modern' translation - 'modern' as in 'dumbing down'.

    So I went looking for another translation, only 40 years old, but more faithful to the original, as in 'think of your many years of procrastination' rather than 'if you keep putting things off'. I don't view it as 'colloquial', I view it as patronising.

    I'm sorry, but if you can't handle good English, and need the 'dumber' versions, then you're probably too dumb to appreciate the finer points of the work in the first place. Both versions were the same price, so that didn't influence my decision.

    One reviewer mentioned it was translated from the Greek, and another reviewer corrected them as he was a Roman. If the second person had actually read the book correctly, he would have discovered that this book was written in Greek - thus another mark of the man.

    Then you can sit back and invest your time in truly enjoying the thoughts & the musings of this interesting man....more info

  • Read reviews carefully
    Amazon has not done a good job sorting out the various editions and translations of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. As a result, comments with many stars actually may be referring to an entirely different translation. Likewise, hardbound references don't match up with the paperback versions. I'd recommend that you find a copy somewhere and look at the text yourself before you order.

    ...more info
  • The Hays translation: interesting and readable.
    Those turned off by older translations of "Meditations" containing all the "thys" and "thous" (as I was) need wait no longer....Gregory Hays has saved the day.

    This is an excellent and very readable version of the ancient Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius' personal notebooks and musings, and it can be extremely valuable to the inner seeker.

    Personal responsiblity in every aspect of life is emphasized, as is the acceptance of death and the position that we are free to leave this Earth whenever we choose (a very heavy viewpoint for some). Much has been made of the "bleak" worldview of Marcus, but in my opinion, it's not bleak to see things as they are, just....realistic.

    I highly recommend this book to all who want to learn to look within (and without) in a more effective way....more info
  • meditations
    this is the finest translation of marcus aurelius's meditations that i have read. previous translations i have read were loaded with so many thee's and thou's that the reading was tedious and slow. i found my self scanning the pages instead of reading until i would come across an obvious jem. this made me oblivious to the hidden jems that make up this excellent work. this book gives the emperor's words a modern flair that doesn't lose the original flavor. i highly recommend it. ...more info
    Marcus Aurelius, the emperor-philosopher, ruled the immense Roman Empire from 161 untill 180. He is the last representative of the Stoa. In this book, also known by the name "Diaries of M.A.", written between 170 and 180 in his army camp, he reflects about his ideals and his doubts. In his meditations one can (constantly) very well distinguish the ideas of a living human being, a man ... ruled by the universe of the divine providence, where all men live as fellow citizens of the gods. With far more warmth than one may expect from a stoic, Marcus Aurelius emphasizes the social "duties" and the feelings of solidarity that originate of them.

    Another ever-recurring motive is the personal liberty, freedom of the individual. This is quite normal because ALL DEPENDS on our judgments (in the sense of 'impression') of the circumstances. Very often WE SUFFER FAR MORE OF OUR JUDGMENT of something or of a situation that we consider "terrible", THAN OF THE SUBJECT ITSELF !! For example a poor constitution (of the body) and other adversities cannot/could NOT HAVE influence our own inner compass...
    Top of the shelf literature, STRONGLY RECOMMENDED to ALL OF YOU!!...more info
  • The philosophical notes of a Roman emperor
    Marcus Aurelius was an emperor of Rome. He was bought up in the stoic philosophical tradition of many of the Roman upper classes. However, for Marcus philosophy in all its forms was a life-long passion.

    What we have here are essentially note books written by Marcus on lessons he has learnt from life, drawn from his background as an emperor, general and relatively unknown person when he was younger. They are the result of a life time of thought on the human condition and mortality. He often goes over similar themes, refining what he has to say, which means at times the book can be a bit gloomy, but that does not invalidate the value of his observations.

    Gregory Hays has provided us with a new translation of Marcus's books taken from the preserved ancient Greek manuscripts. We have been given a colloquial and unpretentious translation which falls in well with what Marcus has to say. Having read this it is easy to see how these manuscripts have stood the test of time, and that what Marcus has to say is still of relevance today.

    To see how little human nature has changed in over 2 thousand years, this book is an eye opener and should be part of any collection of classic titles....more info

  • Ageless Wisdom
    Meditations, in its own right, was never meant to be a book in the first place. That's why I can't mark it down for its fragmented passages and randomly recurring themes, which are sporadically placed throughout the book. Even with this issue, though, it's fascinating to remember the author and the conditions under which it was written. Marcus Aurelius, the last of the Five Good Emperors (about 180 A.D.), kept a personal diary while he was on a campaign at war towards the end of his reign. It's astonishing to recall that this philosophical work was originally solely a personal diary, in which he was reminding himself of his beliefs.

    Meditations is still a fantastic book that offers deep insight into the nature of the human mind, and of nature itself. It questions and debunks some of the largest fears and desires which we let gain control of ourselves with great prose. His philosophical beliefs are well grounded on Stoic principles, and successfully illuminate themselves by the end of the book.

    The only problem I had with the book was with its dismal view of human life. I can't complain, because it's part of his philosophy, but the book gets pretty dismal at times. But his advice really cheers one up at other points of his work as well.

    I would recommend this book whether you're interested in the classics or not. Because it's timeless nature means that you don't have to be very familiar with Greek/Roman principles to understand it completely. If you need a book to lift you up, to enlighten you, or to deepen your knowledge of the nature of things, I would highly suggest this book....more info
  • An Exploration of Character and Integrity
    I'm awestruck - just got this today. To think it was written over 1800 years ago! Aurelius combines strict adherence to doing the right thing with a wild and dark sense of humor. The translation is right to the point and reaches me where I'm at.

    If you feel as if you're pulled in too many directions by the pressures of contemporary life, this book may help anchor you. It gave me the sense that the ordeals I face have been faced in similar ways for a long, long time. Circumstances have changed since the late Roman empire, and circumstances will doubtlessly change during the course of my life. Aurelius teaches me in the most direct terms how I can keep focus.

    Here's an Aurelius quote that got me laughing:

    "The way people behave. They refuse to admire their contemporaries, the people whose lives they share. No, but to be admired by Posterity - people they've never met and never will - that's what they set their hearts on. You might as well be upset by not being a hero to your great-grandfather."

    One Amazon reviewer did a wonderful job including some other quotes from the work. There are many from which to choose.

    You'll doubtlessly find a good, cheap copy from a marketplace seller here. Snatch it!...more info

  • Profound!
    I bought this a couple of years ago and my copy is full of markings and is getting quite ragged now!

    I never find a situation upon which this wise man did not speak. Very nice work!

    I do know a fair bit of Greek but I have still enjoyed Prof. Hays' translation. I'd recommend a copy to every young graduate you know!...more info
  • All gods for One, and One God for all
    I've been living on this Earth for decades now and I have, naturally, wondered about God. I studied the different religions and learned to respect them all. For this reason I have proclaimed myself for more than ten years: A Jewish Muslim practicing Christianity as a Budhist in Nature. It is my self discovery, so I like to think, as to what my religion is. Then, recently, I read the book, "Meditations", by Marcus Aurelius.

    In this book you see the transformation of a man, who begins as a believer of "the gods" and ends in believing in one God, which he points to as being the one Soul, one Universe, that encapsulates everything in it. Aurelius wrote all this right around when Christianity was forming, but there is no mention of it anywhere in this book. Nor is there any mention of Judaism.

    Aurelius wrote the book more than 1900 years ago, yet it is as fresh as the birth of a baby... of an idea. Idea of one God. Although this wasn't anyting new at the time, it did get legitimized when a Roman Emperor began the self-discovery for the world to follow. Anything before that, so it seems, was merely the incubation period.

    A very large portion of the book, however, is about practical life on Earth. An how-to book, if you will. About life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. Clearly the Founding Fathers of the United States of America were influenced by this book; or other works inspired by the Meditations.

    ...more info
  • Perfect....
    This book is great. I have the old Harvard Classics translation and it doesn't even start to compare with this version. It's like a knife to a sword. A portable-fit-in-your-back-pocket-wake-your-soul-up sword.

    Buy it. Carry it. Learn from it. ...more info
  • Emperor of Rome and himself
    If you think you cannot have at the same time a complicated job and
    peace of spirit, if you think your job is too demanding, if you think
    your house is a chaos that inevitably makes your nerves explode...if
    you think some of that, then you should read Marcus Aurelius
    Meditations. He was for twenty years emperor of one of the largest
    empires that have ever existed, dealing with intrigues, Rome, wars
    at the borders....and he was also a master of himself, living in calm,
    austerity, integrity. The book is a collection of thoughts,
    reflections, whose central message is that what is really important is
    the tranquility of the self and not all the vanities or worries of the
    daily life. Marcus Aurelius teaches how to "Be firm as the rock
    against which the waves of the sea come and go".
    ...more info
  • An enjoyable book
    My favorite ancient era philosopher. You will find things in here that will make you say "I wish I had said that" or "That's exactly the way I feel." He lived almost 2000 years ago but his thoughts are timeless....more info
  • Perspectives on living
    Let facts and common sense be your guide:

    1. View yourself as a part, and only a part, of nature.
    2. Accept your fate without complaining. Don't waste time judging.
    3. Don't be surprised that there are offensive people.
    4. Accept that things change, including your body. So accept that you will die.
    5. Things repeat: a life of 40 years may see as much as one of 1000 years.
    6. While you're worrying about death, your mind may go. Make the best of it while it's intact.
    7. Some stress is normal. You may be surprised how much you can endure, especially if you realize its for the best that you do so.
    8. We weren't born to feel great, we were born to help others.
    9. Why value that which can't offer you security?

    That's a little of what I understood Marcus Aurelius to be advising. A sober naturalism, without the comfort of gods or the tease of enlightenment. Between Aurelius and the translator, Gregory Hays, it comes across clear enough that at time I was surprised that this ancient Roman could be speaking so intimately to me.
    ...more info
  • Marcus Aurelius
    I found this great philosophical Marcus Aurelius shirt. You should check it out so you can spread your knowledge and wear your intelligence and your heart on your sleeve. Meditations is an outstanding philosophical text. For a mind in that time to thought the way he did is complexly amazing.

    It's made by some company calling themselves Kwest Clothing Co....more info

  • The Hays translation: interesting and readable.
    Those turned off by older translations of "Meditations" containing all the "thys" and "thous" (as I was) need wait no longer....Gregory Hays has saved the day.

    This is an excellent and very readable version of the ancient Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius' personal notebooks and musings, and it can be extremely valuable to the inner seeker.

    Personal responsiblity in every aspect of life is emphasized, as is the acceptance of death and the position that we are free to leave this Earth whenever we choose (a very heavy viewpoint for some). Much has been made of the "bleak" worldview of Marcus, but in my opinion, it's not bleak to see things as they are, just....realistic.

    I highly recommend this book to all who want to learn to look within (and without) in a more effective way....more info


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