by Marc Aurèle

Paperback, ?



Call number



J'ai Lu


Original language



Stirring reflections on the human condition provide a fascinating glimpse into the mind and personality of a highly principled Roman warrior and emperor of the 2nd century.

Media reviews

The translation doesn't shrink from anachronism (there's talk of atoms) and sometimes verges on the new age: "Stay centred on that", "Let it hit you". But it's sparky and slangily readable, and for those who know Marcus only as the Richard Harris character in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, this is a
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chance to become better acquainted. As a critic once said, the Meditations are an "unassailable wintry kingdom". But in the desert of 2003, their icy blasts are refreshing and restorative. They tell you the worst. And having heard the worst, you feel less bad.
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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
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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.
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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
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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 viking2917
Reading just a few paragraphs a day is great way to center yourself before every day. Amazing book.
LibraryThing member Jerry.Yoakum
It seems that Marcus Aurelius put a lot of effort into making it easy to get to the heart of ideas quickly. Which makes this a very quotable book.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.”

“Your mind will take the shape of what you frequently hold in thought, for the human
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spirit is colored by such impressions.”

“Not to feel exasperated, or defeated, or despondent because your days aren’t packed with wise and moral actions. But to get back up when you fail, to celebrate behaving like a human—however imperfectly—and fully embrace the pursuit that you’ve embarked on.”

Three Key Takeaway Lessons from Meditations
- “You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”
- People will always do awful things but we are only responsible our own virtue.
- We will die, and we ought not waste our lives being distressed. We should focus on doing good for others with the unknowable amount of time we have left to live. To make this a part of our lives we must reflect regularly on the fact that we will die.
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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
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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 jwhenderson
Marcus Aurelius was steeped in the thoughts of the Greek and Roman stoics who, starting with Zeno, focused on the search for a firm support for the moral life. "How should I live?" was the great and overriding question for them. Following on from Zeno, Epictetus, and Seneca, Marcus Aurelius
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portrayed in his Meditations the idea that the importance of philosophical inquiry lay in its significance for the moral life. He said, “Always think of the universe as one living organism with a single substance and a single soul.” This leads to the basic Stoic perception that “there is a law which governs the course of nature and should govern human actions.”(Meditations, p 73)

Marcus Aurelius emphasizes several other themes in his notes on life known as the Meditations. Among them are the tenets that underlie the stoic philosophy that he learned from his teachers including a discussion of the importance of your duty both to your own nature and that of the whole universe. It is with these tenets in mind that we see him telling us to accept what is beyond our control (5.8) in his expression of the notion that freedom for man is possible only when he is indifferent to the his fate as decreed by nature. This is consistent with the view of Epictetus in his Encheiridion ( ). Both emphasize that this in the sense that the we are all a part of the whole of nature and recognition of that is necessary to achieve the good. The good which is always the moral good.

The importance of this is seldom clearer than when Aurelius notes the importance of focusing on the present, the "task at hand" if you will by exercising dispassionate justice in the following way:

"Vacating your mind from all its other thoughts. And you will achieve this vacation if you perform each action as if it were the last of your life: freed, that is, from all lack of aim, from all passion-led deviation from the ordinance of reason, from pretence, from love of self, from dissatisfaction with what fate has dealt you." (2.5)

It is acting like this, not in any morbid sense, but with a cheerfulness of mind, as described in the quote from Seneca above, that you will achieve the tranquility of being that is the ultimate form of happiness. But there is more than happiness in Stoicism and honestly that is not the primary goal of the stoic life.
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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
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myself coming back to this book later in life.
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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
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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 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
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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 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,
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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 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 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
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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.
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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 MarieAlt
Annoyed that I can't find my edition, but there's only so much I'm willing to do with there are more than 200 editions. :P

And no rating because it doesn't really rate on the scale. It is what it is and the free ebook available from GR isn't great...looks like scanning issues. Not unreadable though,
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unless you despise King James era English, and this is pretty convoluted even for that. Reader beware.
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LibraryThing member joeodeg
I have read this book a number of times and always gain something new each time I revisit it. Although I find aspects of Stoic thinking quite foreign, there is unquestionably a disciplined and humble mind behind these words. I wish more of our contemporary leaders could muster the courage to be as
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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 observingmind
Meditations of Marcus Aurelius (AD 121-180) is like meeting up with an old friend. If it is not that well-known you could hardly tell the private musings are that of a Roman emperor. To me it is an account of Stoicism as a viable option to the dross we find in much of popular religion these days.
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,
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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.
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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 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.
LibraryThing member jmcdbooks
Rated: F
Oh, I tried. Night after night I would try to digest a few more random thoughts from this stoic Emperor of Rome. I'm not a stoic for sure. Finally gave up about 2/3 through the book. Very few nuggets could I hold up as true in more own life. I rarely give up on a book. Just had to with this
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LibraryThing member albertgoldfain
Succinct self-help for the stoic. The introduction in the Modern Library edition sets the historical context well and the translation makes most of the advice read as practical and not overly-repetetive.
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 shdawson
Some ranting, but still a good read. Take the writing in context of a successful though dying person.
LibraryThing member dcunning11235
"Meditations" is a collection of aphorisms, musings, quotes, and, essentially, diary entries from a Roman emperor who would have been one of Plato's Philosopher-Kings. Concerned greatly with his philosophy (a Stoicism mixed with other influences) and how he should live his life, these are
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essentially notes and reflections meant for himself. As such, it must be admitted that there is quite a lot of repetition here. In some sense that is actually not bad: it becomes quite obvious that Marcus Aurelius struggled often and greatly to live up to the values and ethics he believed in.

Note: this is not the kind of book you sit down and read through, but rather pick through over days. If you do try to just run through it the above-mentioned repetition will somewhat ruin it.
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Original publication date

ca. 170 - 180

Physical description

8.03 inches


2290058963 / 9782290058961
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