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Marcus Aurelius (26 April 121 – 17 March 180 AD), was Roman Emperor from 161 to 180 AD.
If ever there was an exemplification of Plato's 'Philosopher King', it would be Marcus Aurelius. Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending.
When you arise in the morning, think of what a precious privilege it is to be alive - to breathe, to think, to enjoy, to love. Enabling JavaScript in your browser will allow you to experience all the features of our site. The Meditations is divided into twelve books that chronicle different periods of Marcus's life. Born in 121, he became a Roman Emperor in 161, and his reign lasted until his death in 180. An ardent Stoic, he is best remembered today as the author of the Meditations, a collection of 'spiritual exercises' that were written for himself between 170 and 180. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. Fortunately for us, this work was preserved for posterity, and it can be read profitably today by anyone looking for a source of spiritual guidance. The style of writing that permeates the text is one that is simplified, straightforward, and perhaps reflecting Marcus's Stoic perspective on the text.


During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius sacked the capital Ctesiphon in 164. Depending on the English translation, Marcus's style is not viewed as anything regal or belonging to royalty, but rather a man among other men which allows the reader to relate to his wisdom.A central theme to "Meditations" is to analyze your judgement of self and others and developing a cosmic perspective. Aurelius fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians with success during the Marcomannic Wars, but the threat of the Germanic tribes began to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. As he said "You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgement, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite".
He advocates finding one's place in the universe and sees that everything came from nature, and so everything shall return to it in due time. It seems at some points in his work that we are all part of a greater construct thus taking a collectivist approach rather than having a individualist perspective. The last named went so far as to call Marcus "more philanthropic and philosophic" than Pius and Hadrian, and set him against the persecuting emperors Domitian and Nero to make the contrast bolder. Another strong theme is of maintaining focus and to be without distraction all the while maintaining strong ethical principles such as "Being a good man".His Stoic ideas often involve avoiding indulgence in sensory affections, a skill which, he says, will free a man from the pains and pleasures of the material world. He claims that the only way a man can be harmed by others is to allow his reaction to overpower him. Both plots posited that Marcus Aurelius was assassinated because he intended to pass down power to Aurelius's adopted son, a Roman general, instead of his biological son Commodus.


This allows one to rise above faulty perceptions of "good" and "bad".EXCERPTSIf thou art pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs thee, but thy own judgment about it.
Never regard something as doing you good if it makes you betray a trust or lose your sense of shame or makes you show hatred, suspicion, ill-will or hypocrisy or a desire for things best done behind closed doors. Not to feel exasperated or defeated or despondent because your days aren't packed with wise and moral actions. For look at the immensity of time behind thee, and to the time which is before thee, another boundless space. In this infinity then what is the difference between him who lives three days and him who lives three generations?
When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own—not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine.



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