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Meditations [Paperback]

Marcus Aurelius , Jeremy Collier , Alice Zimmern
3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)

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Book Description

February 2, 2009 1438509480 978-1438509488
Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome from 121 to 180. Marcus Aurelius believed that human happiness arises in part from man's acceptance of his duties and responsibilities. He believed that one should accept calmly what cannot be avoided and perform one's duties as well as possible. From the introduction " By the irony of fate this man, so gentle and good, so desirous of quiet joys and a mind free from care, was set at the head of the Roman Empire when great dangers threatened from east and west. For several years he himself commanded his armies in chief. In camp before the Quadi he dates the first book of his Meditations, and shows how he could retire within himself amid the coarse clangour of arms. The pomps and glories which he despised were all his; what to most men is an ambition or a dream, to him was a round of weary tasks which nothing but the stern sense of duty could carry him through. And he did his work well. His wars were slow and tedious, but successful. With a statesman's wisdom he foresaw the danger to Rome of the barbarian hordes from the north, and took measures to meet it. As it was, his settlement gave two centuries of respite to the Roman Empire; had he fulfilled the plan of pushing the imperial frontiers to the Elbe, which seems to have been in his mind, much more might have been accomplished. But death cut short his designs."

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Editorial Reviews


"Here, for our age, is [Marcus's] great work presented in its entirety, strongly introduced and freshly, elegantly translated." --Robert Fagles

"From the Trade Paperback edition. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus (121-180) became joint emperor in 161 with adoptive brother Lucius Verus, and ruled alone from 169.

Diskin Clay is professor of classical studies at Duke University.

Martin Hammond is headmaster of the Tonbridge School and has translated Homer's Iliad for Penguin Classics. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 172 pages
  • Publisher: Book Jungle (February 2, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1438509480
  • ISBN-13: 978-1438509488
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 0.4 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,276,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of an Amazing Leader September 26, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When it comes to Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius is second to Epictetus in the discussion of avoiding the indulgence of emotion. However, Aurelius' "Meditations" is different simply because it's the first leadership memoir based on Stoic philosophy.

The book is raw - it seems that these were never going to be published, so it had a bluntness to it and an honesty rare for a military leader, let alone one of the best Roman Emperors in history. He was a spiritual man, and tried to rationalize his duties. It lacks rhetorical flourish but it's honest.

I don't know if the book stands alone as a philosophical work, but it is an interesting work about self improvement, duty and service. Despite his reputation as a "philosopher king," the book remains a valuable book in leadership and history.

The Kindle version itself is pretty well laid out with ample enough notes and historical background on Aurelius himself to help you better understand the man himself. His notes range in length from a few sentences to multiple pages, so there's no real orderly format to the book (to me, this makes it more appealing.)

Since the Kindle version is free, give it a try. You'll find yourself better for it.
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99 of 105 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Great book, bad Kindle file March 28, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
(Just to be clear, the Meditations is a five-star book. My two-star rating applies only to this Kindle edition.)

Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome, may be the closest mankind has ever come to producing the philosopher king that Plato envisioned in The Republic. A reluctant ruler and a reluctant warrior, much of his reign was spent in battle, defending the frontiers of the empire from the "barbarian" hordes. Fortunately for us, he carried a notebook along on his military campaigns, and thus we have the Meditations. Marcus's writings reveal him to be the last and greatest of the classical Stoics. Stoicism is a school of thought that asserts we have no control over our lives, only control over our perceptions. It advocates that the best life is the life that is lived in accordance with nature (not "nature" as in grass and trees, but "nature" as in the order of the universe). By concentrating one's thoughts and choices on what is good and virtuous, and disregarding the unimportant distractions of everyday life (even life and death are said to be neither good nor bad, but "indifferent"), we can avoid negative emotions like fear, anger, grief, and frustration, and live a life of happiness and tranquility. That's an oversimplification, of course. If you really want to know what Stoicism is and how it works read Epictetus or Seneca. What Marcus provides us with are the reflections of a man who studied and lived the Stoic life, and was its ultimate exemplar.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I found his meditations fascinating May 14, 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
I love history, philosophy, and religion. This book covered all three subjects and kept my interest. It is not often that you get a philosopher emperor to write down his thoughts, but this is what happened here. You have a man who by all accounts was a great leader and a good man and we get to see what was important to him and what his underlying assumptions were about life.

His values are quite universal. For example, he values self-mastery, and doesn't like complainers. As an engineer, I enjoyed hearing about how he thought things worked. Many are out of date, but several are what we would consider accurate.

I got a better feel for Stoicism from his discussions and it helped me understand how the Romans thought prior to adopting Christianity. He did make a disparaging comment about the Christians; he thought they were fanatics that didn't work well with others. I noticed from history that he was involved in their persecution in Gaul.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in philosophy. It got me thinking and sparked more interest in Marcus Aurelius.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic of Personal Reflection Literature February 6, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor from the second part of the second century AD. He is considered the last of the five "good emperors," and he ruled around the time of empire's greatest extent. However, even in his own time many cracks that were later to undermine the entire political and social structure of the empire were becoming visible. The Roman world was experiencing constant turmoil, from triumphant victories on the battlefield to internal strife and constant civil disturbances. Many citizens of the empire sought some semblance of stability and meaningfulness amidst all these uncertainties, resorting to various new religious movements or to philosophical schools of thought. One of these schools of philosophy - Stoicism - enjoyed a significant following with the Roman elite. Marcus Aurelius was probably the most prominent example of this trend, and comes closest to a Platonic ideal of philosopher-king.

"Meditations" were written in Greek (the language of learning and education at the time) during several military campaigns between 170 AD and 180 AD. They were intended as personal reflections on various aspects of one's life, the values that one has espoused, and the way that these have played out in the real world situations. These are quintessentially personal musings that don't aim to establish or further the Stoic school of thought, even thought they are firmly based in this philosophical tradition. Nonetheless, it is this straightforward genuineness coupled with an easy and accessible style that has made "Meditations" into a classic. By reflecting on them we can appreciate the timelessness of some fundamental human concerns and gain a greater insight into the human condition that transcends even our own metaphysical outlooks. At the very least we realize that we have much more in common with the 2nd century Roman emperor than we had ever thought to be the case.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Not for the fain of hart.
I tried to listen to this because i like history, especially Roman. i was bored out of my mind and had to turn it off.
Published 4 days ago by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not the translation I was looking for.
Published 15 days ago by IT nerd
5.0 out of 5 stars Marcus you number one (in early AD)
Deep mind of a great thinker who was not very pro Christian. Best man for his times.
Published 1 month ago by George
2.0 out of 5 stars Two Stars
Published 1 month ago by CHARLIE MARASCALCO
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughts by Rome's Philosopher Emperor
Written by probably the best emperor Rome ever had, this is an important volume in the history of thought. Recommended
Published 1 month ago by Wallace Webster
5.0 out of 5 stars If you have only 5 books on your shelf, ...
If you have only 5 books on your shelf, this should be one of them. Open randomly and read something that we all need to understand, assimilate, and put into action. Read more
Published 2 months ago by L. Tallis Avery
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
AS advertised. Thank you
Published 2 months ago by mike schutz
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting historical philosophy - not necessarily for beginners
You have to really be into philosophy for this book, if you are a beginner or looking for some feel good stuff, you will NOT like it, it's way too boring for you. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Eric Z
4.0 out of 5 stars Very nice Kindle edition
Well worth the cost, and it is really nice to use bookmarks and to record comments while reading it on the KIndle.
Published 5 months ago by J. Arms
1.0 out of 5 stars Soooo incredibly bad!
The reader sucks!id rather have a drunken Russian read this book than this guy! Really awful reading!it couldn't be worse!
Published 6 months ago by Lorian Micu
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