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762 of 771 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars steel for your spine
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...
Published on December 22, 2002 by The Don Wood Files

versus
44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Be Warned! This is not the Modern Library Edition!
This is not the excellent Modern Library edition translated and with a detailed Introduction by Gregory Hays. I wish this were available on Kindle. But this is definitely not as advertised!
Published on April 9, 2011 by capcall


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762 of 771 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars steel for your spine, December 22, 2002
By 
The Don Wood Files (Fredericksburg, VA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (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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50 of 54 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A timeless meditation book for anyone, November 17, 1999
By A Customer
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Here is a great book of meditations for both believers and atheists. Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome with an unfaithful wife, a worthless son, and the duties of leading an army for 13 years in what is now Germany. Trying to cheer and console himself in the middle of a desolate area, he wrote down what he remembered of the Stoic philosophy which he had studied. His thoughts are inspiring and provoking. This is the book you want with you when life becomes tough. As Marcus' view of god is a pantheistic one, anyone can profit from his thoughts, whether atheist or believer. A book to read ever few years. Highly recommended.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perspectives on living, October 27, 2005
This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
Let facts and common sense be your guide:

1. View yourself as a part, and only a part, of nature.
2. Accept your fate without complaining. Don't waste time judging.
3. Don't be surprised that there are offensive people.
4. Accept that things change, including your body. So accept that you will die.
5. Things repeat: a life of 40 years may see as much as one of 1000 years.
6. While you're worrying about death, your mind may go. Make the best of it while it's intact.
7. Some stress is normal. You may be surprised how much you can endure, especially if you realize its for the best that you do so.
8. We weren't born to feel great, we were born to help others.
9. Why value that which can't offer you security?

That's a little of what I understood Marcus Aurelius to be advising. A sober naturalism, without the comfort of gods or the tease of enlightenment. Between Aurelius and the translator, Gregory Hays, it comes across clear enough that at time I was surprised that this ancient Roman could be speaking so intimately to me.
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30 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Modern Translation of an Ancient Classic, February 8, 2003
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This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
In the introduction to his translation of the "Meditations" Gregory Hays observes that "[I]t has been a generation since [The Meditations'] last English incarnation." Hays further explains that he has attempted to present a readable, modern translation of Marcus' great work which strill captures the "patchwork character of the original." I find that Hays's translation succeeds. He translates Marcus's reflections into a colloquial, frequently earthy, English in unstitled language and idiom that will be familiar to a modern reader. I think the translation is as well faithful to Marcus's thought. The reflective, meditative character of the paragraphs come through well, as does the difficulty of the text in many places. This is a book that will encourage the modern reader to approach Marcus -- an altogether commendable result.
Professor Hays has written an excellent introduction to his translation which can be read with benefit by those coming to the "Meditations" for the first time and by those familiar with the work. There is a brief discussion of Marcus's life, his philosophical studies, and his tenure as emperor of Rome (161-180 A.D.) Hays spends more time on the philosophical background of Marcus's thought emphasizing ancient stoicism and of the philosophy of Heraclitus. He discusses the concept of "logos", a critical term for Marcus and for later thought, and argues that logos -- or the common reason that pervades man and the universe -- is as much a process as it is a substance. This is difficult, but insightful.
Hays obviously has a great love for Marcus's book and has thought about it well. He is able to offer critical observations which will help the reader focus in studying the Meditations. (For example, Hays argues that Marcus does not understand or appreciate human joy very well. He also argues that Marcus's thought takes an overly static view of the nature of society and does not see the possiblity or need for societal change.) Hays discusses briefly the reception of the Meditiations over the centuries. I enjoyed in particular his references to the essays of Arnold and Brodsky on Marcus Aurelius. I haven't read these essays, but Hays's discussion makes me want to do so.
The Meditations is one of the great book of the West and will repay repeated readings. When I read it this time, I was struck by Marcus's devotion to his duties in life as the Roman emperor. I got the distinct impression that Marcus would have rather been at his studies but kept telling himself, in his writings, that he had to persevere and be the person he was meant to be. It is a focused approach, to say the least, to the duties to which one was called.
I was also impressed with the similarities at certain points between Marcus's thought and Buddhism. Other reviewers have also noted this similarity. Marcus talks repeatedly about the changing, impermanent character of human life and about the pervasive character of human suffering. He talks about controlling and ending suffering by understanding its causes and then changing one's life accordingly. There is a need to learn patience and to control anger and desire. More specifically, Marcus' understanding of perception and how it leads to desire and can be controlled by reason (discussed well in Hays's introduction.) is very Buddhist in tone. I have become interested in Buddhism and was struck in this reading of the Meditations by the parallels it offers to Buddhist thought.
There is a wonderful paragraph in the Meditations where Marcus urges himself to persevere and not to lose hope simply because he did not become a scholar or a hero or the person of his dreams. What matters is being a good person and living in harmony with one's nature. This passage spoke clearly and poignantly to me as I reread the Meditations. Undoubtedly, the reader will find passages in this book that are addressed clearly to him or her.
This is a book that should be read and pondered many times. Hays and the Modern Library have done readers a service with this translation.
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44 of 51 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Be Warned! This is not the Modern Library Edition!, April 9, 2011
This is not the excellent Modern Library edition translated and with a detailed Introduction by Gregory Hays. I wish this were available on Kindle. But this is definitely not as advertised!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars This translation of meditations is definitely not as advertised!, July 10, 2014
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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. Do not buy it on Kindle, get the Hays translation in hardback until they sort this problem out.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Book is neither good nor bad, October 3, 2011
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This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
The book Meditations by Marcus Aurelius is neither good nor bad. For good and bad is nothing but a meaningless illusion. This book was well loved by many statesmen; Bill Clion, King Frederick the great etc. It's popularity is not limited to the western hemisphere. Chinese premier Wen Jiabao professed to reporters during a 2008 press conference that he love this book so much that he have actually read it over for a "many" times and the book is always by his bedside. As a result, the Chinese translated version became one of the top sellers in China/Hong Kong. How much does the statesmen of our day embracing Marcus Aurelius's teachings and the wisdom of Stoicism is difficult to say. One thing for sure, it is a book that may help to give you the extra ammunition you need to fight your daily battles in a war that can never be won - Life.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb New Modern Translation, June 6, 2002
By 
E. Dolnack (Atlanta, GA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
It's long overdue that the public receives a modernernized translation of Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations". Up until now, all the translations that we had available to us in English of this intriguing work have been, well, rather dull and "dry". All that is changed. Gregory Hayes has done some fine work here. I personally congratulate him, and thank him for his efforts.
I still wouldn't necessarily call this book a thrill-a-minute, page-turner of suspense, but thanks to a more contemporary language-treatment, the experience is a whole lot less burdensome to get through. The ride may not be the best fun you've ever had reading a book, but it's considerably less painful now, thanks to this "user-friendly" updated version.
Comparison to older translations shows it to be accurate in meaning and tone, and if he were alive today, I think Marcus Aurelius would recommend this version of his work for us (as modern readers) to enjoy for years to come.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timeless advice ..., April 17, 2006
By 
grouchy (exiled into purgatory. for real.) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) (Hardcover)
"Meditations" is a series of short writings by Marcus Aurelius, a Roman Emperor during the 2nd century, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy. Stoic philosophy has been popular with the Roman intellectual elites; it is likely that Aurelius had been tutored by Epictetus.

Marcus Aurelius was not an original thinker or a leader in the development of Stoic thought, and "The Meditations" are a series of quotations, varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs. The original was written in Greek while Aurelius was campaigning sometime 170 and 180. Aurelius was in his late 50s and early 60s by then, and the notes summarize a lifetime of experiences, emotions, and thoughts. Meditations are collection of these short thoughts, brief ideas and quiet contemplations helping Aurelius in guidance and self-improvement.

The core point of Stoicism is the denial of emotion, a skill which, Marcus Aurelius says, will free a man from the pains and pleasures of the material world. Aurelius often mentions the need to focus at the moment, to look for the beauty of the moment, and to seek the meaning of the moment. He seeks to strip out the extraneous influences on existence by just pointing towards the important part of our lives: being.
Quite a Buddhist idea, in itself. Aurelius claims that the only way a man can be harmed by others is to allow his reaction to overpower him. If you have a Zen Buddhist bent, reading Meditations will likely reveal the intellectual and spiritual similarities between these two different groups of thoughts.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Appropriate Inspiration, June 30, 2002
By 
"hueykarl" (Waynesboro, Virginia United States) - See all my reviews
In an age where so many of us tune into Oprah, Dr. Phil, and so many other feel good fountains of wisdom, its refreshing to revisit the men who laid the foundations for thought in modern time. Marcus Aurelius' statements sometimes come off as trite, obvious, or even dull; however, one must only remember that he was one of the first to put these notions down on paper to realize how important and interesting the work is. Extolling on the virtues of restraining one's emotions and sacrificing for the greater good, this long gone emperor still strikes home with his platitudes and musings. Don't pass this easy to read selection over because it might seem irrelevant; everyone can learn something from a people who once ruled the known world.
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Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library)
Meditations: A New Translation (Modern Library) by Marcus Aurelius (Hardcover - May 14, 2002)
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