The Meditations, Marcus Aurelius
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Marcus Aurelius

The Meditations

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Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus was the model of what we call a philosopher-king. Though his rule was troubled by war and conflict, he remained a thoughtful and even-handed ruler.
Meditations isn’t a complete book, but rather a collection of his personal diary entries written over a ten-year campaign in Greece. The entries were never meant to be published; instead, they were a reminder to himself of how to remain calm, tranquil, and kind, even in the worst of situations. In them we see the emperor working out how to deal with the everyday problems all of us face: annoying coworkers, difficult family members, the expectations of others, unrealized goals and achievements, and, ultimately, happiness.
The episodic nature of Meditations makes it hard to follow at times, but in exchange, we get a deeply personal window into the life of one of Rome’s most unique emperors, and more importantly, a handbook of thoughtful advice on how to live a tranquil, satisfied, and productive life.
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But to be strong enough both to bear the one and to be sober in the other is the mark of a man who has a per­fect and in­vin­cible soul
Is any man so foolish as to fear change, to which all things that
once were not owe their being
re­ceived the im­pres­sion that my char­ac­ter re­quired im­prove­ment and dis­cip­line; and from him I learned not to be led astray to soph­istic emu­la­tion, nor to writ­ing on spec­u­lat­ive mat­ters, nor to de­liv­er­ing little hort­at­ory ora­tions, nor to show­ing my­self off as a man who prac­tises much dis­cip­line, or does be­ne­vol­ent acts in or­der to make a dis­play; and to ab­stain from rhet­oric, and po­etry, and fine writ­ing; and not to walk about in the house in my out­door dress, nor to do other things of the kind; and to write my let­ters with sim­pli­city, like the let­ter which Rus­ti­cus wrote from Sinuessa to my mother; and with re­spect to those who have of­fen­ded me by words, or done me wrong, to be eas­ily dis­posed to be pa­ci­fied and re­con­ciled, as soon as they have shown a read­i­ness to be re­con­ciled; and to read care­fully, and not to be sat­is­fied with a su­per­fi­cial un­der­stand­ing of a book; nor hast­ily to give my as­sent to those who talk over­much; and I am in­debted to him for be­ing ac­quain­ted with the dis­courses of Epic­t­etus, which he com­mu­nic­ated to me out of his own col­lec­tion.
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