Meditations - Marcus Aurelius


Meditations (Penguin Great Ideas) by Marcus Aurelius, translated by Maxwell Staniforth

Philosophy was a hard sell for me to actually read, I’ll admit. In high school I always wanted to be someone who could quote and understood ancient philosophers. I’ve acquired several books and never read them. But when a friend shared a quote from this book that struck a chord, I knew I would actually read this one. Even if it did take me a rather long time.

Here’s a snippet of that quote:
You will never be remarkable for quick-wittedness. Be it so, then; yet there are still a host of other qualities whereof you cannot say, 'I have no bent for them.' Cultivate these, then, for they are wholly within your power: sincerity, for example, and dignity; industriousness, and sobriety.
(If you liked that, here are some more.)

It’s worth mentioning that I have questions about his views on slavery and think he may have been a misogynist, but also that every single “you” in this text was addressed to himself. Apparently this masterful philosopher and emperor struggled with certain concepts a lot and attempted to steer his mind to better thoughts. It’s really commendable. I doubt my own ‘notes to self’ would be as compelling.

I’ve heard it from several readers, the Penguin Great Ideas edition is really good. I marked that sucker up, and despite a slow and rocky beginning find myself thinking often of things that Marcus has said and wanting to re-read and share things with everyone. We disagree on a lot, but still, I’d love to hang out with that dude.

"You don't mind if I call you Marcus, do you?" I’ll say when I drop in to have a beer in his courtyard, put my feet up on the furniture and annoy the shit out of him.

I'm really glad I read it.

Pages: 176
Year: 02/01/2005
Publisher: Penguin

To be clear: Marcus Aurelius wrote these snippets between 161 to 180 AD and while he probably never intended for them to be published, they likely were first published posthumously.

Read: 8 September 2015 to 16 March 2017
Stars: 4.5 (adored it)