Written in Greek by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy a timeless collection that has been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and readers throughout the centuries It s, of course, completely ridiculous to rate a nearly 2000 year old journal by a Roman emperor who never intended it to be read As a book experience, the repetition of Aurelius s thoughts can be frustrating the excellent introduction in this volume provides context for it, and for the concept of stoicism , but I found his challenges, his every day worries remarkably human When they re good, they re incredible At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself I have to go t It s, of course, completely ridiculous to rate a nearly 2000 year old journal by a Roman emperor who never intended it to be read As a book experience, the repetition of Aurelius s thoughts can be frustrating the excellent introduction in this volume provides context for it, and for the concept of stoicism , but I found his challenges, his every day worries remarkably human When they re good, they re incredible At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself I have to go to work as a human being What do I have to complain of, if I m going to do what I was born for the things I was brought into the world to do Or is this what I was created for T huddle under the blankets and stay warm But it s nicer here.So you were born to feel nice Instead of doing things and experiencing them Don t you see the plants, the birds, the ants and spiders and bees going about their individual tasks, putting the world in order, as best they can And you re not willing to do your job as a human being Why aren t you running to do what your nature demands In many important ways, the reflections of Marcus Aurelius 121 180 crystallize the philosophical wisdom of the Greco Roman world This little book was written as a diary to himself while emperor fighting a war out on the boarder of the Roman Empire and today this book is known to us as The Meditations.The Roman philosophers are not as well known or as highly regarded as Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, or Zeno the Stoic and for a simple reason the Roman thinkers were n In many important ways, the reflections of Marcus Aurelius 121 180 crystallize the philosophical wisdom of the Greco Roman world This little book was written as a diary to himself while emperor fighting a war out on the boarder of the Roman Empire and today this book is known to us as The Meditations.The Roman philosophers are not as well known or as highly regarded as Greek philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle, Epicurus, or Zeno the Stoic and for a simple reason the Roman thinkers were not primarily interested in abstract theory rather, they were concerned with behavior, that is, understanding how to live in the everyday world and putting their understanding into practice the goal being to live the life of an authentic philosopher, to be a person of high character and integrity, to develop inner strength and a quiet mind and value such strength and quietude above all else Indeed, to accomplish such a lofty goal, the Romans realized the need for radical transformation, a complete overhauling of one s life through rigorous mental and physical training, like turning base metal into pure gold And once a person takes on the role of a philosopher, their deeds must reflect their words no hypocrisy, thank you Thus, it isn t surprising the Romans put a premium on memorizing and internalizing simple proverbs and maxims and employed the metaphor of philosophy as the medicine to cure a sick soul.Turning now to Marcus Aurelius, we can appreciate how he imbibed the wisdom not only from the Stoics along with Seneca and Epictetus, Marcus is considered one of the three major Roman Stoics , but he was also willing to learn from the schools of Epicurus, Plato and Aristotle In the Greco Roman world, being eclectic was perfectly acceptable truth was valued over who said what.We find several recurring themes in The Meditations develop self discipline to gain control over judgments and desires overcoming a fear of death value an ability to retreat into a rich, interior mental life one s inner citadel recognize the world as a manifestation of the divine live according to reason avoid luxury and opulence But generalizations will not approach the richness and wisdom nuggets a reader will find in Marcus s actual words Thus, I conclude with my personal observations coupled with quotes from Book One, wherein Marcus begins by expressing heartfelt thanks to his family and teachers for the many fine lessons he learned as a youth Here are four of my favorites Not to have frequented public schools, and to have had good teachers at home After my own nasty experience with the mindless competition and regimentation of public schools, I wish I had Marcus s good fortune of excellent home schooling Not to meddle with other people s affairs, and not to be ready to listen to slander I didn t need a teacher here I recognized on my own at an early age that gossip is a colossal waste of time and energy, both listening to gossip and spreading gossip I can t imagine a clearer indication of a base, coarse mind than someone inclined to gossip and slandering others To read carefully, and not to be satisfied with a superficial understanding of a book How true Reading isn t a race to get to the last page matter of fact, I agree with Jorge Luis Borges that focused, precise rereading is the key to opening oneself to the wisdom of a book To be satisfied on all occasions, and be cheerful I m never in a hurry Life is too beautiful to be in a hurry For me, there is only one way to live each day in joy and free from anxiety and worry In a sense, all of the meditations of Marcus Aurelius amplify this simple view of life.I ve written this review as an encouragement to make Marcus Aurelius a part of your life You might not agree with everything he has to say, but you have to admit, Marcus has a really cool beard and head of hair When I was a freshman in college, I lived in a dorm My roommate was on the football team He would write inspiring things on poster board and hang them in our room often on the ceiling above his bed to motivate himself He favored straightforward sentiments like never give up The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius did not hang motivational posters for inspiration Instead, he kept a journal in which he collected his thoughts about how to live well MEDITATIONS is that book Most people have heard When I was a freshman in college, I lived in a dorm My roommate was on the football team He would write inspiring things on poster board and hang them in our room often on the ceiling above his bed to motivate himself He favored straightforward sentiments like never give up The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius did not hang motivational posters for inspiration Instead, he kept a journal in which he collected his thoughts about how to live well MEDITATIONS is that book Most people have heard that Aurelius counsels to expect the worst and you will never be disappointed While that is part of what he has to say, it is not the most interesting of what he has to say At his most thoughtful, Aurelius calls on us to ask the best of ourselves and never mind the behavior of others His MEDITATIONS is a work of motivational advice to inspire us in the ways of stoicism It is a manual for being a complete, mature adult It is a guide for living a dignified, thoughtful lifeConsider Suppose that a god announced that you were going to die tomorrow or the day after Unless you were a complete coward you wouldn t kick up a fuss about which day it was what difference could it make Now recognize that the difference between years from now and tomorrow is just as small Book IV Greg Hays trans., Modern Library Or Concentrate every minute like a Roman like a man on doing what s in front of you with precise and genuine seriousness, tenderly, willingly, with justice And on freeing yourself from distractions Yes, you can if you do everything as if it were the last thing you were doing in your life, and stop being aimless, stop letting your emotions override what your mind tells you, stop being hypocritical, self centered, irritable You see how few things you have to do to live a satisfying and reverent life If you can manage this, that s all even the gods can ask of you Book IIAnd If at some point in your life, you should come across anything better than justice, honesty, self control, courage than a mind satisfied that it succeeded in enabling you to act rationally, and satisfied to accept what is beyond its control if you find anything better than that, embrace it without reservations it must be an extraordinary thing indeed and enjoy it to the full Book IIIThat these thoughts came from the most powerful man in the world, a man whose personal power so vastly exceeded the personal power of any American president that we have difficulty comprehending it, makes it all theimpressive Aurelius continually writes that strength comes from humility, self restraint and good humor towards others He teaches us to accept what we cannot control and to trust what we know.Good advice, indeed Look within do not allow the special quality or worth of anything to pass you byI love this quote and I love the wisdom that runs through this book It s such a simple idea and it is also a very true one Make the most of everything and everyone, of every situation and chance that life throws your way because when they have passed, we may not get them again Marcus Aurelius is full of logic and revealing comments about life, death and the universe His meditations are very open andLook within do not allow the special quality or worth of anything to pass you byI love this quote and I love the wisdom that runs through this book It s such a simple idea and it is also a very true one Make the most of everything and everyone, of every situation and chance that life throws your way because when they have passed, we may not get them again Marcus Aurelius is full of logic and revealing comments about life, death and the universe His meditations are very open and very honest And I found them quite touching The history of his reign as Roman Emperor is impressive, but behind all his success was a very human person struggling and suffering with the same problems that plague all of us He comes to terms with his mortality and his insignificance in the face of history and time We are all of us only here a brief time, and we need to make the most of it All is ephemeral, both memory and the object of memory The book moves into discussions over the temporary nature of things, of relationships and friendships and feelings Everything changes given enough time, even memories and their ramifications Aurelius soul searches He writes these words during times of peace and war, during times of duty and heart ache, though his tone rarely changes He remains detached and accepting of destiny and where it may take him From this he ponders how to give life meaning and purpose.Aurelius suggests that one of the ways we can do this is through work, real work and toil as we strive to meet our goals He suggests that it is an edifying pursuit, to serve the development of humanity It gives life meaning and purpose as we work and improve He also argues for the creation of art and that in attaining it, it s one of the greatest pursuits we can follow because of how it benefits mankind I agree with so many of the sentiments in here, and those that challenged my own beliefs got me thinking about the nature of life