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Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) [Hardcover]

Marcus Aurelius , Gregory Hays
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 14, 2002 0679642609 978-0679642602
Few ancient works have been as influential as the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, philosopher and emperor of Rome (A.D. 161–180). A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus’s insights and advice—on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others—have made the Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. For anyone who struggles to reconcile the demands of leadership with a concern for personal integrity and spiritual well-being, the Meditations remains as relevant now as it was two thousand years ago.

In Gregory Hays’s new translation—the first in thirty-five years—Marcus’s thoughts speak with a new immediacy. In fresh and unencumbered English, Hays vividly conveys the spareness and compression of the original Greek text. Never before have Marcus’s insights been so directly and powerfully presented.

With an Introduction that outlines Marcus’s life and career, the essentials of Stoic doctrine, the style and construction of the Meditations, and the work’s ongoing influence, this edition makes it possible to fully rediscover the thoughts of one of the most enlightened and intelligent leaders of any era.

Frequently Bought Together

Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) + Letters from a Stoic (Penguin Classics) + The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

One measure, perhaps, of a book's worth, is its intergenerational pliancy: do new readers acquire it and interpret it afresh down through the ages? The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, translated and introduced by Gregory Hays, by that standard, is very worthwhile, indeed. Hays suggests that its most recent incarnation--as a self-help book--is not only valid, but may be close to the author's intent. The book, which Hays calls, fondly, a "haphazard set of notes," is indicative of the role of philosophy among the ancients in that it is "expected to provide a 'design for living.'" And it does, both aphoristically ("Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.") and rhetorically ("What is it in ourselves that we should prize?"). Whether these, and other entries ("Enough of this wretched, whining monkey life.") sound life-changing or like entries in a teenager's diary is up to the individual reader, as it should be. Hays's introduction, which sketches the life of Marcus Aurelius (emperor of Rome A.D. 161-180) as well as the basic tenets of stoicism, is accessible and jaunty. --H. O'Billovich

Review

“The emperor Marcus Aurelius, the proverbial philosopher-king, produced in Greek a Roman manual of piety, the Meditations, whose impact has been felt for ages since. Here, for our age, is his great work presented in its entirety, strongly introduced and freshly, elegantly translated by Gregory Hays for the Modern Library.”
—Robert Fagles

Product Details

  • Series: Modern Library
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Modern Library (May 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679642609
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679642602
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
682 of 691 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars steel for your spine December 22, 2002
Format:Hardcover
One should have more than one translation for Meditations. Note this difference between Maxwell Staniforth's translation in 1964 (Penguin Classics) and Hay's 2002 translation in these two passages.
1964: When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out-of-tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.
2002: When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
-----------------
1964: Adapt yourself to the environment in which your life has been cast, and show true love to the fellow-mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.
2002: The things ordained for you - teach yourself to be at one with those. And the people who share them with you - treat them with love. With real love.
------------------
The 1964 version is regal, while the 2002 (Hays') version is Aurelius writing, quickly, in a spiral notebook while on horseback, the equivalent of "memo to myself."
Reading this book is like taking a cold shower, or visiting a favorite bartender, who insists on serving you coffee, not drink. Hays has brought us a Marcus Aurelius who puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you in the eye, and tells you like it is: Get over yourself. You can't change the world. Do your best and realize you are of this earth. Human experience is muddy, so what? This book is best read in tough times, when you could use a little steel in your spine.
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43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a diamond October 5, 2003
Format:Paperback
The Meditations are terse statements, aphorisms, notes, even reminders. Some are like fragmented dialogues, which I find fascinated. Some are very hard to get a hold of. Others remarkably clear. Summarizing them is hard, and surely misleading, but they seem frequently to stand against illusions and mistaken judgments, especially in the face of frustration, desire, fear, and anger. The positive dimension of this is harder to describe (maybe because I have yet to know it firsthand): calmness, purpose, self-control, and a true reckoning of what will matter in the end, as understood in terms of the harmony and essential order of all things. He can be difficult in places, but at other times it is as though he sees into your soul.
I think Marcus Aurelius will strike readers very differently based on where they are coming from. Some readers will resonate with his insistence on self-awareness, equanimity, and responsibility for one's own mental state and reactions. Other readers will be attracted by his ethical standards, commitment to the common good, and sense of divine harmony in all events. Others will simply enjoy his sobering reflection and insightful commentary on human nature. Historians will be fascinated with a look into the mind of a Roman emperor, seemingly untouched by the affairs of state (they are hardly mentioned in the text). Philosophers will enjoy learning about Stoic thought in praxis and how he's picked up the thought of other Greek thinkers (Epictetus, Chrysippus, Heraclitus, etc). Perhaps one of the most amazing things is how he might appeal equally to readers from very different backgrounds, a testament to the complexity of his thinking.
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59 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ian Myles Slater on: The Modern Library and the Emperor November 10, 2004
Format:Paperback
It was interesting to see that one reviewer went looking for a copy of the Modern Library edition of "Meditations" as a gift, and had to settle for a different translation.

There was a time when many publishers had in print their own editions -- usually "gift editions," in a range of prices -- of the little book, "To Himself," by the second-century Roman patrician Marcus Annius Catilius Severus (121-180 C.E.), known after his marriage as Marcus Annius Verus -- almost always titled something like "The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius," and most commonly some version (little choice disguised as many choices) of George Long's 1862 translation of the Greek original, originally published as "The Thoughts of the Emperor M. Aurelius Antoninus."

For Marcus, besides receiving an excellent education in Greek, which he seems to have used as naturally as Latin, went on, through a process of adoption and co-optation, to rule the Roman Empire, beginning in 161 with the death of Antoninus Pius, his uncle, who had adopted him as heir, using a third version of his name. For moderns, he is usually just Marcus Aurelius; I found it a bit of shock to see him as just another "Antoninus" in ancient texts.

Under any name, he has been popular, at least with publishers; even now, there seem to be something like sixty versions in English of this book available on Amazon, even though many *are* out of print (and most seem to be of the same few older translations). As usual, a number of these editions and translations are grouped by Amazon for review purposes, and I will mention some. If you find this, or someone else's, review of one translation under a different heading, PLEASE remember that, as Marcus Aurelius saw, some things really are beyond our control.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars This translation of meditations is definitely not as advertised!
This is not the Hay's 2002 translation. This is definitely not as advertised! You'll hurt your head just trying to read the 1st few pages. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Daniel Coulton-Shaw
2.0 out of 5 stars Annoyingly colloquial translation
I slogged through this translation [Hays (2002)] until I got to "If he thinks x or y about pleasure" (8.14). Enough already! Read more
Published 2 days ago by Antonio Goncalves
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation and very easily readable
The most powerful and the most life changing book I've ever read. 1900 years ago, the contents of this book were personal notes and diaries that Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself... Read more
Published 9 days ago by Will
5.0 out of 5 stars Meditations Madness
With Marcus Aurelius's little book by my bedside, I read a paragraph in the morning as a guide for my daily activity, and a paragraph for thoughts before I fall asleep. Read more
Published 15 days ago by Inquirer
1.0 out of 5 stars Editors Screwed Up
The editors converted the first 50 pages to American English, but left the majority of the book in "Old English". Makes it that much more challenging to read. Read more
Published 16 days ago by S. Carver
1.0 out of 5 stars NOT the Gregory Hays translation!!
I was fooled this morning into thinking that this .99 version was the Gregory Hays translation that all the reviews seemed to say it was. Read more
Published 21 days ago by Michael A. Steen
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Journal, Great Translation
Marcus never intended for his thoughts to get out to the rest of the world and time, but I'm glad they did.
Published 1 month ago by Geordan E. Ganka
5.0 out of 5 stars zen master Marcus Aurelius
This translation, so spare and direct, shows the great Roman at his best. Honest, without conceit. His words flash like a Zen master, telling you again and again to look at... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Daniel Diffin
4.0 out of 5 stars Terric Introduction, better text
The Introduction to this translation is very, very good: instructive, educative and a most useful framing of what follows. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Gregory Kenneth Missingham
5.0 out of 5 stars Great translation!
Having read Marcus Aurelius' Meditations in several iterations I was happily pleased and well surprised with this one. Read more
Published 1 month ago by C. Mclemore
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