The Meditations of the great Roman Philosopher-Emperor Marcus Aurelius are simple yet profound works of stoic philosophy.
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Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. For anyone who struggles to reconcile the demands of leadership with a concern for personal integrity and spiritual well-being, the Meditations remains as relevant now as it was two thousand years ago.
1. Courtesy and serenity of temper I first learnt to know from my grandfather Verus.
2. Manliness without ostentation I learnt from what I have heard and remember of my father.
3. My mother set me an example of piety and generosity, avoidance of all uncharitableness - not in actions only, but in thought as well - and a simplicity of life quite unlike the usual habits of the rich.
4. To my great-grandfather I owed the advice to dispense with the education of the schools and have good masters at home instead - and to realize that no expense should be grudged for this purpose.
5. It was my tutor who dissuaded me from patronizing Green or Blue* at the races, or Light or Heavy† in the ring; and encouraged me not to be afraid of work, to be sparing in my wants, attend to my own needs, mind my own business, and never listen to gossip.
† In one form of gladiatorial combat (the ‘Thracian’) the opponents were armed with light round bucklers; in another (the ‘Samnite’) they carried heavy oblong shields.
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