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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

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I finally finished The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius. I can't say that I enjoyed it, so I'm glad that it is over. The Analects of Confucius, and The Maxims of La Rochefoucauld were the same sort of thing but much better. There were two parts I did like though:

Book II. 17. In human life time is but an instant, and the substance of it a flux, and the perception dull, and the composition of the whole body subject to putrefaction, and the soul a whirl, and fortune hard to divine, and fame a thing devoid of certainty. And, to say all in a word, everything that belongs to the body is a stream, and what belongs to the soul is a dream and vapor, and life is a warfare and a stranger's sojourn, and after-fame is oblivion. What then can guide a man? One thing and only one, philosophy.

and

Book XI. 27. The Pythagoreans bid us in the morning look to the heavens that we may be reminded of those bodies that continually do the same things and in the same manner perform their work, and also be reminded of their purity and nudity. For there is no veil over a star.

The first quote reminds me of The Book of Job, the second, of nothing but itself.
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Comments

  1. Anza's Avatar
    Very interesting choice of reading. I, myself have read parts, but doubt that I could read the whole thing... I'm a chicken! ~:>
  2. Virgil's Avatar
    I too have read parts. I always loved the opening:

    1. FROM my grandfather Verus [I learned] good morals and the government of my temper. 1
    2. From the reputation and remembrance of my father, modesty and a manly character. 2
    3. From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich. 3
    4. From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented public schools, and to have had good teachers at home, and to know that on such things a man should spend liberally.
    It's something I always keep in mind about my parents and grandparents. Not only does it show continuity of knowledge, but it shows respect.
  3. kiz_paws's Avatar
    Haven't read this book, but thanks for sharing your thoughts. And a warm welcome to the Blogs! Kizzo
  4. mortalterror's Avatar
    Thank you very much, everybody. It's nice to be here.
  5. Miguel's Avatar
    Good excerpt!

    One of the key things I gain from reading Marcus Aurelius is the state of presence he exudes - it's where he wrote it from, and it's he leads you.

    He makes constant use of changing perspective as a tool to cope with the mishappenings of life, but also to get a more realistic view of the impermanence of all things - ourselves included.

    Marcus Aurelius was one of those few persons in History that combined power with humbleness. One often overlooked fact, which I find quite relevant when judging people of the past, is that he actively participated in the slaughter of christians. He saw them as a sect that threatened his empire.

    I say, let's focus on the good he left us with and see who dares cast the first stone.