THE THOUGHTS OF THE EMPEROR MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS

THE THOUGHTS OF THE EMPEROR MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS

by Marcus Aurelius
     
 

PREFACE.


Perhaps some may question the wisdom of putting out the Thoughts of
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to be used as a Reader by children in the
schools. It may appear to them better suited to the mature mind. The
principle, however, that has governed us in selecting reading for the
young has been to secure the best that we could find in… See more details below

Overview

PREFACE.


Perhaps some may question the wisdom of putting out the Thoughts of
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to be used as a Reader by children in the
schools. It may appear to them better suited to the mature mind. The
principle, however, that has governed us in selecting reading for the
young has been to secure the best that we could find in all ages for
grown-up people. The milk and water diet provided for "my dear children"
is not especially complimentary to them. They like to be treated like
little men and women, capable of appreciating a good thing. One finds in
this royal philosopher a rare generosity, sweetness and humility,
qualities alike suited to all ages.

Adopting the philosopher's robe at twelve, he remains a student all his
life. The precepts that he would give for the government of others, he
has practised upon himself. In his time, as in ours, there were good
physicians for the mind and body, who could make wise prescriptions for
the government of their neighbors, but were unable to apply them to
themselves. The faults of our fellows are so numerous and so easy to cure
that one is readily tempted to become the physician, while our own faults
are so few and so unimportant that it is hardly worth while to give any
attention to them. Hence we have a multitude of physicians for humanity
in general, and a scarcity of individual healers.

It was the doctrine of Marcus Aurelius that most of the ills of life come
to us from our own imagination, that it was not in the power of others
seriously to interfere with the calm, temperate life of an individual,
and that when a fellow being did anything to us that seemed unjust he was
acting in ignorance, and that instead of stirring up anger within us it
should stir our pity for him. Oftentimes by careful self-examination we
should find that the fault was more our own than that of our fellow, and
our sufferings were rather from our own opinions than from anything real.
The circle of man's knowledge is very limited, and the largest circles do
not wholly include the smallest. They are intersecting and the segment
common to any two is very small. Whatever lies outside this space does
not exist for both. Hence arise innumerable contests. The man having the
largest intelligence ought to be very generous to the other. Being
thankful that he has been blessed in so many ways, he should do all in
his power to enlighten his less favored fellow, rather than be angry with
him on account of his misfortune. Is he not sufficiently punished in
being denied the light?

Assisting his uncle in the government of the great Roman Empire at
seventeen, it was his aim constantly to restrain the power of the strong
and to assist the weak. He studied the laws of his country, not for
wisdom alone, but that he might make them more beneficial to his people.
All his life he tried to bring his fellows to a higher level, and to
think charitably of each other. Occupying himself a palace he lived
simply, like other men. It was his greatest delight to retire to his
country home and there, dwelling among his books, to meditate upon the
great problems of life. He claimed that a man's life should be valued
according to the value of the things to which he gave his attention. If
his whole thought was given to clothing, feeding and housing himself
comfortably, he should be valued like other well-housed and well-fed
animals. He would, however, derive the greatest pleasure and benefit in
this life by acting in accordance with reason, which demands of every
human being that his highest faculties should govern all the rest, and
that each should see to it that he treated his fellow kindly and
generously and that if he could not assist him to a higher level he
should at least not stand in his way. When he speaks of the shortness of
time and the value of fame, riches and power, for which men strive in
this world, he speaks not from the standpoint of one who would wish to
obtain these things, but as a Roman emperor enjoying the highest honors
that man might expect to attain in this world. He certainly was in a
position to speak intelligently concerning these matters, and his
opinions ought to have weight with the coming generations. Children may
not prefer to read such thoughts; perhaps the majority of children do not
prefer the Bible to other books. Still, we all think it is well for them
to be obliged to read it. Perhaps requiring the use of such literature in
the schools might be as valuable as the adding, subtracting, multiplying
and dividing of interminable numbers, the memorizing of all the capes,
bays and rivers in the world, and the dates of all the battles that have
occurred since the creation of man.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940012472939
Publisher:
SAP
Publication date:
05/15/2011
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
0 MB

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