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Meditations (With Introductions, Notes, and Glossary)

Meditations (With Introductions, Notes, and Glossary)

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by Marcus Aurelius
     
 

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Meditations (Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, Ta eis heauton, literally "thoughts addressed to himself") is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 AD, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in "highly

Overview

Meditations (Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, Ta eis heauton, literally "thoughts addressed to himself") is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 AD, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in "highly educated" Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the second book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the third book was written at Carnuntum. It is not clear that he ever intended the writings to be published, so the title Meditations is but one of several commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.

The Meditations is divided into twelve books that chronicle different periods of Marcus's life. Each book is not in chronological order and it was written for no one but himself. The style of writing that permeates the text is one that is simplified, straightforward, and perhaps reflecting Marcus's Stoic perspective on the text. 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. 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 an individualist perspective. 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. An order or logos permeates existence. Rationality and clear-mindedness allow one to live in harmony with the logos. This allows one to rise above faulty perceptions of "good" and "bad".

Marcus Aurelius has been lauded for his capacity "to write down what was in his heart just as it was, not obscured by any consciousness of the presence of listeners or any striving after effect". Gilbert Murray compares the work to Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Confessions and St. Augustine's Confessions. Though Murray criticizes Marcus for the "harshness and plainness of his literary style", he finds in his Meditations "as much intensity of feeling as in most of the nobler modern books of religion, only with a sterner power controlling it". "People fail to understand Marcus", he writes, "not because of his lack of self-expression, but because it is hard for most men to breathe at that intense height of spiritual life, or, at least, to breathe soberly".

D.A. Rees calls the Meditations "unendingly moving and inspiring", but does not offer them up as works of original philosophy. Bertrand Russell found them contradictory and inconsistent, evidence of a "tired age" where "even real goods lose their savour". Using Marcus as an example of greater Stoic philosophy, he found their ethical philosophy to contain an element of "sour grapes". "We can't be happy, but we can be good; let us therefore pretend that, so long as we are good, it doesn't matter being unhappy". Both Russell and Rees find an element of Marcus' Stoic philosophy in Kant's own philosophical system.

Michael Grant called Marcus Aurelius "the noblest of all the men who, by sheer intelligence and force of character, have prized and achieved goodness for its own sake and not for any reward".

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940015630381
Publisher:
Balefire Publishing
Publication date:
09/23/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
210
File size:
11 MB
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Meet the Author

Marcus Aurelius (April 26, 121 CE. – March 17, 180 CE.) was Roman Emperor from CE 161 to 180. He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus' death in 169. He was the last of the "Five Good Emperors", and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers. During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire; Aurelius' general Avidius Cassius sacked the capital Ctesiphon in 164. 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. A revolt in the East led by Avidius Cassius failed to gain momentum and was suppressed immediately.

Marcus Aurelius' Stoic tome Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.

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Meditations 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
AdamZ1 More than 1 year ago
I pick up this book and reread selections whenever I'm feeling depressed. Time and time again the book reminds you that life is fleeting, but Aurelius' approach to this truth is different than our modern "so make the most of it" attitude. Instead, he focuses on the fact is itself, on the insignificance of life, so as to make a person with context. You'll have to read the book to understand what I mean.
manirul01 More than 1 year ago
Lovely...! beautiful.....!.... Just enjoy it.....!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Avelee More than 1 year ago
I have the paperback version and really wanted one on my nook, which can also be read on my iPad through the nook app. I need the Martin Hammond translation as that is what we are using in class. Though the paperback is that of Martin Hammond, the nook book version is not. I wish I was informed of this before I purchased it, the cover is completely different in my nook library because it is a different book. If I would have paid more than $.95 I would be much more upset, but I do not appreciate false advertising. I know this is most likely a technical issue, but it needs to be fixed. I usually spend at least $10 on school-related nook books (not textbooks). It makes me want to switch to the kindle, where I can pay with my checking account and am not limited to credit cards.
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Test!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Exactly what I was looking for!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A manor of soulus
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Doesn't have an apprentice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She wants to start training