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Aurelius, Marcus Meditations

ISBN 13: 9781420951103

Meditations

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9781420951103: Meditations
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Marcus Aurelius was born in Rome in 121 AD and would become its Emperor from 161 to 180. Considered by Machiavelli as the last of the good Emperors, Marcus Aurelius would become one of the most important of the Stoic philosophers. Educated in oratory, he would turn aside from rhetoric to the study of the Stoic philosophy, of which he was the last distinguished representative. The "Meditations," which he wrote in Greek, are among the most noteworthy expressions of this system, and exhibit it favorably on its practical side. The work is a series of twelve books that he intended for his own guidance and self-improvement, which picture with faithfulness the mind and character of this noblest of the Emperors. Simple in style and sincere in tone, they record for all time the height reached by pagan aspiration in its effort to solve the problem of conduct. In Marcus Aurelius’s practice of this philosophy along with his teaching he showed that “even in a palace life may be led well.” This edition is printed on premium acid-free paper, follows the highly-regarded translation of George Long, and includes an introduction by Alice Zimmern.

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One measure, perhaps, of a book's worth, is its intergenerational pliancy: do new readers acquire it and interpret it afresh down through the ages? The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated and introduced by Gregory Hays, by that standard, is very worthwhile, indeed. Hays suggests that its most recent incarnation--as a self-help book--is not only valid, but may be close to the author's intent. The book, which Hays calls, fondly, a "haphazard set of notes," is indicative of the role of philosophy among the ancients in that it is "expected to provide a 'design for living.'" And it does, both aphoristically ("Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.") and rhetorically ("What is it in ourselves that we should prize?"). Whether these, and other entries ("Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life.") sound life-changing or like entries in a teenager's diary is up to the individual reader, as it should be. Hays's introduction, which sketches the life of Marcus Aurelius (emperor of Rome A.D. 161-180) as well as the basic tenets of stoicism, is accessible and jaunty. --H. O'Billovich

From the Back Cover:

The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus embodied in his person that deeply cherished, ideal figure of antiquity, the philosopher-king. His Meditations, written in moments snatched from military campaigns and the rigors of politics, reveal a mind of exceptional clarity and originality, and a spirit attuned to both the particulars of human destiny and the vast patterns which underlie it.

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