Pašam sev

by Marks Aurēlijs

Other authorsAndris Rubenis (Foreword), Māra Rubene (Foreword), Ināra Ķemere (Translator), Brigita Cīrule (Translator), Epiktēts (Author)
Paper Book, 1991

Status

Available

Call number

188

Publication

Rīga : Zvaigzne, 1991.

Description

"Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exultation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and Aurelius's own emotions. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years." -- Publisher's website.… (more)

User reviews

LibraryThing member sagacious33
I've often wondered why we, as a society, focus so much on the views of the powerful and the wealthy. Surely there are millions of men and women who have sided toward a philosophy weighted with moral integrity . I decided that the wealthy and the powerful must overcome temptations that the average man or woman would never dream of. The antics of today's Hollywood stars should suffice to demonstrate that fame, wealth and power can saturate men and women in false senses of superiority. And money and power must provide access to a large variety of creative sins. Despite these realities, Marcus Aurelius, in the years 121-180 A.D., explores a very healthy mindset and provides some guidelines that are every bit as applicable today, some 1940 years later, as they were in the midst of the Roman Empire.… (more)
LibraryThing member drewandlori
This book was originally Marcus Aurelius's journal of philosophical notes to himself, and it definitely shows. Marcus was obviously a talented writer, and parts of it are very interesting, but he makes his points in a more or less random order, and it tends to get really repetitive. The repetition was probably great for Marcus, because it shows which ideas he really felt the need to constantly remind himself of, but on the other hand it's not that helpful for the rest of us.… (more)
LibraryThing member bezoar44
(review of Gregory Hays translation, 2003 Modern Library edition)

The Meditations are, as presented by Hays in his very helpful introduction, best understood as the private spiritual exercises of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. Hays' introduction lays out the various philosophic strains that shaped Marcus Aurelius' thinking, and fits the work into the broader cultural context of late Roman attitudes towards life, philosophy, and religion. The translation is fluid and incisive, making the thoughts come alive.

The Mediations will reward periodic rereading. The author spirals obsessively around a handful of philosophical themes: that everything we know, love, or hate is transient and will pass away; that freedom comes from accepting that most of the world - everything other than one's own choices about how to behave -- ultimately lies beyond one's control; that virtue is rooted in self-discipline. For most of us, there's a lot more to life than this, but as he works and reworks his themes, Marcus Aurelius reveals new angles or insights that give the Meditations a rich depth. Throughout, I kept wondering, with his focus on transience, self-discipline, and compassion towards others, what Marcus Aurelius would have made of Buddhism.

Underlying its wisdom, the Meditations carries two striking internal tensions. The first may simply reflect the gap between the author's intent - personal spiritual exercises -- and the book's acquired status as a work for the ages. Marcus Aurelius constantly suggests that anyone in his audience can follow his advice and be free. On the other hand, the author's position -- a patriarch among patriarchs -- is hardly universal. Only for a person with great privilege could the problem of suffering look so manageable through simple willpower. This tension subsides if Marcus Aurelius really wrote for himself alone.

The other major tension doesn't depend on the intended audience: Marcus Aurelius repeatedly orders the reader both to live in the present, and to be strategic - which necessarily implies thinking several steps ahead. That contradiction isn't unique to the Meditations; it's a challenge for all philosophic or religious systems that affirm transcendent values while also encouraging followers to engage and shape the world. While the tension is not resolved (can it ever be?), it gives the Meditations a realistic, pragmatic feel.
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LibraryThing member P_S_Patrick
The 200 or so pages of this book contain the thoughts of Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor and Stoic. Although being billed as his meditations, it is explained in the preface that he has also noted down the thoughts of other philosophers among his own, and these are not referenced, so will be up to you to spot them. They were originally written only for himself though, so he cannot be blamed for this.
On the whole I think that the bad press that Stoic philosophy gets is undeserved. The message this book gives is generally positive, and if everyone took notice of it then the world would be a more pleasant place. That isn't to say that it is all correct though, and what a lot of it comes down to is sticking one's head in the sand, and accepting the "order of the universe", or fate. This does do a good job of promoting the virtues of tolerance, and being content with your lot, though, and this is not a bad thing per se.
This edition is the one translated straight from an ancient greek manuscript, in the 17th Century, and so the language retains some of the antiquated style you would expect from a text originally written over 1800 years ago.
I would reccomend this book to those who think they may be interested in it, but it is probably more of one to dip into, than to read straight through. This is for a couple of reasons, one being that it can seem a bit repetitive, and the other bieng that you may find it hard to concentrate on, as some of the sentences are inarticulately long.
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LibraryThing member dustandshadow
I really rather enjoyed this. I admit I don't know much aside from the basics of Marcus Aurelius. I found a lot of simple wisdom in this work.

A few favorite lines:

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, and see yourself running with them.”
“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
“Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.”
“Waste no more time arguing about what a good man should be. Be one.”
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.”
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LibraryThing member viking2917
Reading just a few paragraphs a day is great way to center yourself before every day. Amazing book.
LibraryThing member NielsenGW
Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of the Roman Empire from 161 to 180 CE. Considered the last of the Five Good Emperors, he oversaw his empire with stoicism and equality. In his Meditations, written while on a military campaign in the last decade of his life, he sets forth a series of aphorisms, letters, and principles that he tried to live by. As a stoic, he thought that powerful emotions were the cause of errors in life and so sought to live a life of a more moral and intellectual manner.

The Meditations aren’t really written for an audience, and this translation is a little stilted. But what you can tell is that Marcus Aurelius is trying to reflect upon a rather interesting life. There are times when he is contented in good memories and times when the ennui of his stoic life gets to him. But the overall message is to live a good life (“Death hangs over you: while you live, and while you may, be good”) and try not to be too overly swayed by things outside of one’s control. “It is not right to vex ourselves at things,” he says, “for they care not about it.”

In the end, Marcus Aurelius’s message is both honorable and interesting. The writing takes a little getting used to, so it would behoove readers to find a good translation. It is, however, a rather good beginning look into stoicism and its effectiveness in the proper hands. Marcus Aurelius, when set against the likes of Nero and Domitian, rules in the vein of a philosopher king and tries desperately to do right by his people. All in all, a refreshing and intellectual book.
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LibraryThing member johnxlibris
There is something about Marcus Aurelius's brand of Stoicism that appeals to me. His almost simple belief in the power of reason and truth is comforting. His text offers helpful habits of mind that would be appreciated by anyone who values the practice of mindfulness and attention. I can easily see myself coming back to this book later in life.… (more)
LibraryThing member keylawk
The Stoic Emperor, succeeded to the imperial throne in 161 until his death in 180 AD. His rule was marked by justice and moderation, although the frontier was in constant defense against "barbarian hordes". Also, during this reign a severe pestilence struck Rome. The populace concluded that the anger of the gods had been incurred by their neglect in the hands of Christians, and Aurelius seems to have led his panicked people in their cruel prosecution.

The Meditations were written in Greek with a view to practical application of Stoic precepts.
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LibraryThing member knotbox
Philosophy was a hard sell for me to actually read, I’ll admit. In high school I always wanted to be someone who could quote and understood ancient philosophers. I’ve acquired several books and never read them. But when a friend shared a quote from this book that struck a chord, I knew I would actually read this one. Even if it did take me a rather long time.

Here’s a snippet of that quote:

You will never be remarkable for quick-wittedness. Be it so, then; yet there are still a host of other qualities whereof you cannot say, 'I have no bent for them.' Cultivate these, then, for they are wholly within your power: sincerity, for example, and dignity; industriousness, and sobriety.

It’s worth mentioning that I have questions about his views on slavery and think he may have been a misogynist, but also that every single “you” in this text was addressed to himself. Apparently this masterful philosopher and emperor struggled with certain concepts a lot and attempted to steer his mind to better thoughts. It’s really commendable. I doubt my own ‘notes to self’ would be as compelling.

I’ve heard it from several readers, the Penguin Great Ideas edition is really good. I marked that sucker up, and despite a slow and rocky beginning find myself thinking often of things that Marcus has said and wanting to re-read and share things with everyone. We disagree on a lot, but still, I’d love to hang out with that dude.

"You don't mind if I call you Marcus, do you?" I’ll say when I drop in to have a beer in his courtyard, put my feet up on the furniture and annoy the shit out of him.

I'm really glad I read it.
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LibraryThing member millata
This book is not my favourite of the Great Ideas series but it wasn't all bad either. I would categorise it as: "a classic you might as well read" because even if I wouldn't read it again there were still some good bits and as the book can be finished in one afternoon, you won't feel like you wasted a lot of time in the event you won't enjoy it.… (more)
LibraryThing member BookMonkee
The philosophy of a stoic emperor of Rome. (The old geezer in Gladiator)
LibraryThing member Anituel
An important, but oft neglected, work of Graeco-Roman philosophy. Marcus Aurelius was insightful, if not extremely downhearted, and represents some of the finest philosophical thinking of his time.
LibraryThing member dir21
This is one of the most splendid things that I have ever read. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is full of ideas by which to live, many of which are also highly suitable for printing out and pinning to your office wall. Another reviewer has already quoted my favourite meditation, `Begin each day ...' so I won't repeat it here. Donning my Old Fart's hat I have to say that the world would be an infinitely better place if more people had read this.… (more)
LibraryThing member GlennBell
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is an understandable book in which the Roman emperor provides his philosophy on life, death, and morality. He appears to have been a pious man who believed in the Roman gods. He believed in a moral life and the morality of his gods. He appears practical and spends a good deal of his discussion on the topic of death. I recommend the book for someone interested in historical philosophy. His understanding was limited by the science of the day, but he his thoughts on life and morality are still valuable.… (more)
LibraryThing member Grognard
Most religions in the eras of the Greeks and Romans offered less in the way of moral guidelines than they offered in bad examples. The gods were worse than human. Morality and values were left to the exploration and exposition of philosophers. The dominant philosophy in Rome prior to Christianity was stoicism, inherited from the Greeks and practiced thoroughly by Marcus Aurelius, the "last good emperor", who had a bit role early in the movie "The Gladiator." These meditations were written by him, largely while in his headquarters in military campaigns, and were reportedly U.S. Grant's favorite reading in his tent during the Civil War. The state of philosophy and values were remarkably refined before the advent of Christianity and devoid of the politics and conflicts that came with the Judeo/Christian religion. Marcus Aurelius does an admirable job of advocating the values that guided his life. An eye-opening exposure to realms of thought not normally found when one explores the origins of modern religion.… (more)
LibraryThing member librarianbryan
Hodge podge of truisms by a world leader obviously convinced of his own moral superiority. Is there wisdom in here? Sure, but it is wisdom any intelligent, remotely self reflective, person will already possess.
LibraryThing member chriszodrow
The end of the Roman culture was marked by spiritual decay. This book reveals the anatomy of parched empire. A necessary but painful read.
LibraryThing member Kelsomar
This book definately left me thinking. It was engaging and a times difficult but overall I think Meditations is a very worthwhile read.
LibraryThing member charlie68
A book to savour. A lot of things that are agreeable. Not originally for publication just Aurelius' private thoughts. Not a lot that I disagreed with.
LibraryThing member gsmattingly
I finished reading "Meditations" yesterday. It is a relatively short book but the translation is by Meric Casaubon in 1634, I believe. The language used is, I think, representative of 1634, and at times, a little hard to follow. I have now ordered a copy with language a bit more updated, I hope, without messing up the original thoughts. I'll probably wind up comparing the two versions. Anyway, I found this very interesting and I agreed with a lot in this book. I disagreed with some of it but not exactly in the sense that it was bad but more a matter of an inability on my own part to actually live the way he recommends. Anyway, I thought this was a very good book and I look forward to reading the newer version and also a book called "Marcus Aurelius: The Dialogues" by Alan Stedall and a biography of Marcus Aurelius.… (more)
LibraryThing member HadriantheBlind
The inner thoughts of a Roman emperor. Profound and for some, inspiring. A mournful, yet strong man, philosopher-king, which we don't see too often anywhere.
LibraryThing member kencf0618
Stoicism is a important thread in Western philosophy and Christianity, but as its own belief system it amounts to a denial of reality. One can imagine a Marcus Aurelius reading an Oswald Spengler at dusk.
LibraryThing member adamwolf
I read the Hays translation, and enjoyed this quite a bit. I'll be thinking about it for a while.
LibraryThing member Kurt.Rocourt
The thing that keeps being repeated in this book is don't do bad. Maybe a sign of a guilty conscience, I don't know. It is the theme for this book in any case.

Language

Original language

Greek (Ancient)

Original publication date

170-180 CE

Pages

166

ISBN

5405005959 / 9785405005959

Local notes

Pašam sev / Marks Aurēlijs ; no sengrieķu val. tulk. I. Ķemere -- Rokasgrāmata / Epiktēts ; no sengrieķu val. tulk. B. Cīrule.
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