Meditations is perhaps the only document of its kind ever made. It is the private thoughts of the world’s most powerful man giving advice to himself on how to make good on the responsibilities and obligations of his positions. Trained in Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius stopped almost every night to practice a series of spiritual exercises—reminders designed to make him humble, patient, empathetic, generous, and strong in the face of whatever he was dealing with.
It is imminently readable and perfectly accessible. You cannot read this book and not come away with a phrase or a line that will be helpful to you the next time you are in trouble. Read it, it is practical philosophy embodied.
who was Marcus then? Marcus, a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 A.D., was a practising Stoic who documented his personal practise in diaries. It is important to keep in mind that Marcus is one of the most admirable leaders in history and someone we should aspire to be like in our own life.
The essayist Matthew Arnold stated in 1863 that Marcus was a person who held the greatest and most powerful station in the world, and everyone who knew him agreed that he had proven himself deserving of it. Marcus is regarded by Machiavelli as the final of the “Five Excellent Emperors” and the period of his rule as “golden time.” Marcus Aurelius was “unassuming, a lover of justice, hater of cruelty, sensitive and compassionate,” according to Machiavelli.
Marcus Aurelius had a challenging existence despite his privileges as an emperor. Marcus “did not meet with the good fortune that he deserved,” the Roman historian Cassius Dio observed, “for he was not robust in body and was entangled in a myriad of difficulties for almost his whole reign.” But despite all of his obstacles, he persisted. He is a motivating role model for us to consider in the present day whenever we feel worn out, irritated, or faced with a problem.
Also, between 170 and 180 A.D., Marcus wrote twelve books of his private notebooks during those turbulent years, mostly while he was in charge of military operations. They have grown to be among the most significant philosophical works in human history. Marcus Aurelius wrote Meditations with no intended audience in mind; it was meant for his own benefit. And it’s ironic to consider that the reason his works are unique is that they weren’t ever meant for us to read. The majority of other literary works are performances intended for an audience.
Not meditation. In actuality, To Himself is an approximate translation of their original title . Because Marcus Aurelius wrote his Meditations for his own benefit rather than the benefit of the general populace, it is for this reason that it is a rather cryptic work. Stoic exercises can be practised by writing them down, just as reciting a prayer or song does.It is a collection of brief sayings that range in length from a single sentence to a lengthy paragraph. Although it isn’t arranged by theme, a few themes keep coming up, indicating that the author considered them to be the most crucial for us to comprehend and apply to our daily lives.
The repetition of themes by Marcus shows how much of stoicism is just journaling and discussing the same thoughts. You must continuously remind yourself of the goals you have for yourself and who you want to become. This is crucial when you fall short. This is a book of actionable advice and its teachings were meant to be practiced and used.
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Marcus Aurelius: Meditations