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Meditations (Penguin Classics) Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0140441406 ISBN-10: 0140441409
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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 out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was born to an upper-class Roman family in A.D. 121 and was later adopted by the future emperor Antoninus Pius, whom he succeeded in 161. His reign was marked by a successful campaign against Parthia, but was overshadowed in later years by plague, an abortive revolt in the eastern provinces, and the deaths of friends and family, including his co-emperor Lucius Verus. A student of philosophy from his earliest youth, he was especially influenced by the first-century Stoic thinker Epictetus. His later reputation rests on his Meditations, written during his later years and never meant for formal publication. He died in 180, while campaigning against the barbarian tribes on Rome’s northern frontier.


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Mass Market Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (October 30, 1964)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140441409
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140441406
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #62,789 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

257 of 279 people found the following review helpful By H. Powell on April 10, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interference, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill will, and selfishness-all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother; therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading" (To Himself, II.1). This selection from "Meditations" ("To Himself" was the original Greek title)captures so much of the essence of this incredibly powerful book. Marcus Aurelius at times sounds more like the Buddha, Lao Tzu, Hesiod, or James Allen than he does his Stoic forerunners: proof once again that true wisdom resides in every man's heart and mind and transcends the boundaries of time, place, ethnicity,and doctrine. The job of the philosopher is to reintroduce his pupils to THEMSELVES, and once the self is realized, the reality of the universe becomes much clearer ("evil" derives from delusions)and the temptations of excess and the fears of deprivation become less powerful. These are true words to live by, more so now than they have ever been before. Happiness can be found in simplicity; hard work DOES pay off; the cooler head always prevails; immoderate pleasures can kill and fear is often unfounded. Marcus, like Buddha, was born in the lap of luxury, but he was destined to hold a position in society for which he was not well suited by virtue of his sensitive and studious nature: the ruler of an ancient and corrupt civilization that dominated most of the known world.Read more ›
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62 of 67 people found the following review helpful By D. Roberts VINE VOICE on March 18, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
If you like stoicism, this is the book for you; there is no better exemplar of the paradigm than the present example. If you dislike stoicism, then this is most assuredly not the book for you. That is, unless you have such an overwhelming interest for either Roman history or of Marcus Aurelius that it would offset your distaste for stoicism.
The great Marcus Aurelius was the closest the world has ever come to realizing Socrates' dream of the infamous "philosopher king." Aurelius was a highly educated, sagacious and kindly man whose reign formed the very apex of the Antonine emperors. Following in the lineage of Hadrian and Antonius Pious, his rule was one of the most magnanimous the world has ever seen.
Aurelius was a deeply troubled man; what follows in these pages are his intensely personal thoughts on the tribulations of the human condition. Why are people so prone to screwing up? Why are cruelty and ignorance the norms of human existence, instead of the exceptions?
Like all of the best Roman emperors, Aurelius held contempt for the human race, but he was also humble enough to realize that he was a part of it. To read these private musings of a long-suffering, sensitive mind is riveting. It is a book well worth reading for the philosopher and historian alike.
I will leave you with one of Aurelius' meditations; one which strikes to the very heart of his stoicism:
"Have I done an unselfish thing? Well then, I have my reward. Keep this thought ever present, and persevere." [p.166]
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 17, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is the most insightful book I have ever read. I think that young people would especially benefit from Marcus's wisdom. His advice about how to deal with life's trials is invaluable. He teaches that the praise or censure of others is meaningless. This is so important to teenagers trying to discover where they belong in the world. He teaches people to have courage in the face of adversity and to always live their lives by the highest standard.
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33 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Keith Appleyard on March 23, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
There's some confusion over the editorial & reviews. This edition is translated by Staniforth, and that is the one to read. Some postings suggest they are describing the Hays translation, which this is not.
I picked up the Hays translation of this work, and phrases like 'junk' and 'if you keep putting things off' leapt out of the text. Consternation - did the Greek original actually have words like that? It was a 'modern translation - modern as in 'dumbing down'.
So I went looking for this Staniforth translation, only 40 years old, but more faithful to the original, as in 'think of your many years of procrastination' rather than 'if you keep putting things off'. I'm sorry, but if you can't handle good English, and need the 'dumber' versions, then you're probably too dumb to appreciate the finer points of the work in the first place. Both versions were the same price, so that didn't influence my decision.
Then you can sit back and invest your time in enjoying the thoughts & the musings of this interesting man, who although Roman, was able to make his records in Greek.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Roger Black on August 15, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Marcus Aurelius`s Meditations is truly a great work of philosophy. Marcus was a Roman Emperor in the late second century. He wrote this gem not to be published but as a dairy to help pass the time when he was campaigning against the Germans on the northern border. Raised as nobility he had many famous teachers among them were the stoic philosophers of his time.
The stoic philosophy was very popular with the higher classes of Roman society. It had some parallels to the writings of Mencius. Both preach a very rigid social structure and that everyone should be content with his/her station in life, whether slave or emperor or poet or garbage collector, a trait that we in America have problems relating to. But it also preached that the individual should always do his best in any job that he does and to face all problems with courage and fortitude.
I find reading Marcus's Meditations very inspiring. I am amazed at how some of his ideas I take to heart while others I find their concept hard to accept. No matter what religion you are or what philosophy you follow you will find that some if not all of Marcus's words have wisdom in them. After all wisdom is where you find it. A sign of a great book is that it is as inspiring thousands of years later as it was the day it was written and Marcus Aurelius's Meditations definitely fulfils this requirement. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
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