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Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)

475 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0486298238
ISBN-10: 048629823X
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Editorial Reviews


Lots of good feedback on this wonderful book, including calls from Andrew Roberts and AC Grayling to say how much they are enjoying it. This is translating very well in to coverage. With radio features including FRONT ROW (BBC RADIO 4) on Wednesday 5 April which included not only a clip from the film Gladiator but also from the lovely Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs who wasa fan. And the producer says this generated the most calls they've had for along time, asking for further details of the book. THE VERB (BBC RADIO 3) included an interview with the translator Gregory Hays. "See the movie, read the book. Hard on the heels of Richard Harris's portrayal of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator comes a new translation of that ruler's celebrated Meditations." JOAN SMITH, THE INDEPENDENT "Sparky and slangily readable, and for those who know Marcus only as the Richard Harris character in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, this is a chance to become better aquainted" BLAKE MORRISON, THE GUARDIAN We are expecting good review and thinkpieces including THE EVENING STANDARD, and THE OBSERVER with a feature in the DAILY MAIL tbc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin
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Product Details

  • Series: Dover Thrift Editions
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Dover Publications (July 11, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 048629823X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0486298238
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (475 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,124 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

274 of 279 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1998
Format: Paperback
The style is direct and unpretentious. The message is simple but extraordinarily powerful: life is short, the past and the future are inaccessible, pain and pleasure have no meaning, but inside each one of us there is a ruling faculty that is touched only by itself. Only that which makes us better capable of confronting our condition with resolution and courage can be said to be good, and only that which makes us worse and more unsatisfied can be said to be bad. The only thing that is of any importance is our own private quest for perfection, which no external power can ever destroy. Marcus Aurelius delivers many insightful and inspirational observations about human nature and the human condition, and he makes an excellent rational argument for seeking the good and for acting modestly and continently. I cannot think or a more satifying and moving work, and it is all the more poignant because it was written by a man who wielded almost absolute power and lived surrounded by the luxury, yet managed to keep things in perspective and to occupy himself only with what truly matters. One sentence captures perfectly the spirit of his writings: "Where a man can live, there he can also live well." An extraordinary testimony of wisdom and fortitude.
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75 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Nick VINE VOICE on 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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78 of 81 people found the following review helpful By David C. Pecot on 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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97 of 102 people found the following review helpful By D. Edmunds on November 5, 2006
Format: Paperback
Amazon has not done a good job sorting out the various editions and translations of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. As a result, comments with many stars actually may be referring to an entirely different translation. Likewise, hardbound references don't match up with the paperback versions. I'd recommend that you find a copy somewhere and look at the text yourself before you order.
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112 of 122 people found the following review helpful By Karl Janssen on 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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