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From a letter by Franz Kafka to his schoolmate Oskar Pollak, 10 January 1904 (translated by Richard and Clara Winston): 'I am putting Marcus Aurelius aside, putting him reluctantly aside. Known for his philosophical interests, Marcus Aurelius was one of the most respected emperors in Roman history. In 140, Marcus Aurelius became consul, or leader of the senate – a post he would hold two more times in his lifetime. After his adoptive father died in 161, Marcus Aurelius rose to power and was officially then known as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus.
While once again battling the German tribes, Marcus Aurelius made hisson Commodus his co-ruler in 177. If you completed your subscription and still have not received an email, please contact us. 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. Accept the things to which fate binds you, and love the people with whom fate brings you together, but do so with all your heart. The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature. Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away. What springs from earth dissolves to earth again, and heaven-born things fly to their native seat. Nothing has such power to broaden the mind as the ability to investigate systematically and truly all that comes under thy observation in life. A noble man compares and estimates himself by an idea which is higher than himself; and a mean man, by one lower than himself. Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season without thinking of the grapes it has borne. Observe constantly that all things take place by change, and accustom thyself to consider that the nature of the Universe loves nothing so much as to change the things which are, and to make new things like them. Begin - to begin is half the work, let half still remain; again begin this, and thou wilt have finished.
Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.


The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. We are too much accustomed to attribute to a single cause that which is the product of several, and the majority of our controversies come from that. Adapt yourself to the things among which your lot has been cast and love sincerely the fellow creatures with whom destiny has ordained that you shall live.
I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others. Because your own strength is unequal to the task, do not assume that it is beyond the powers of man; but if anything is within the powers and province of man, believe that it is within your own compass also. Because a thing seems difficult for you, do not think it impossible for anyone to accomplish. Everything that happens happens as it should, and if you observe carefully, you will find this to be so. Let it be your constant method to look into the design of people's actions, and see what they would be at, as often as it is practicable; and to make this custom the more significant, practice it first upon yourself. To understand the true quality of people, you must look into their minds, and examine their pursuits and aversions. Anything in any way beautiful derives its beauty from itself and asks nothing beyond itself. And thou wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last. The universal order and the personal order are nothing but different expressions and manifestations of a common underlying principle.
Be content with what you are, and wish not change; nor dread your last day, nor long for it.
Death is a release from the impressions of the senses, and from desires that make us their puppets, and from the vagaries of the mind, and from the hard service of the flesh. Such as are your habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of your mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. I think I could not live without him now, for reading two or three maxims in Marcus Aurelius makes me more composed and more disciplined, although the book as a whole only shows a man who with prudent speech and a hard hammer and sweeping view would like to make himself into a controlled, steely, upright person.
After his earlier choice for a successor died, Hadrian adopted Titus Aurelius Antoninus (who would be known as Emperor Pius Antonius) to succeed him as an emperor. As the years passed, here ceived more responsibilities and official powers, evolving into astrong source of support and counsel for Antoninus. While some sources indicate that Antoninus selected him as his only successor, Marcus Aurelius insisted that his adopted brother served as his co-ruler.


After hearing a rumor about Marcus Aurelius being deathly ill, Avidius Cassius claimed the title of emperor for himself. The one produces aspiration; the other ambition, which is the way in which a vulgar man aspires. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present. Hadrian also arranged for Antoninus to adopt Marcus Aurelius and the son of his earlier successor. Marcus Aurelius even hoped to extend the empire’s borders through this conflict, but Marcus Aurelius did livelong enough to see this vision to completion.Marcus Aurelius died on March 17, 180. Be satisfied with success in even the smallest matter, and think that even such a result is no trifle.
But his greatest intellectual interest was Stoicism, a philosophy that emphasized fate, reason, and self-restraint. Unlike the peaceful and prosperous rule of Antoninus, the joint reign of the two brothers was marked by war and disease.
Discourses, written by a former slave and Stoic philosopher Epictetus, had a great deal of influence over Marcus Aurelius. He worked alongside his adopted father while learning the ways of government and public affairs.
Instead Marcus Aurelius toured eastern provinces with his wife, re-establishing his authority.
Marcus Aurelius, however,is not best remembered for the wars he waged, but for his contemplativenature and his rule driven by reason. Much of their success in this conflict has been attributed to the generals working under Verus, especially Avidius Cassius. Returning soldiers brought some type of disease back with them to Rome, which lingered for years and wiped out a portion ofthe population. As the Parthian War ended, the two rulers had to face another military conflict with German tribes in the late 160s. After raising the necessary funds and troops, Marcus Aurelius and Verus went off to fight the invaders. Verus died in 169 so Marcus Aurelius pushed on alone, attempting to drive away the Germans.




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