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Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) Paperback – July 11, 1997

ISBN-13: 978-0486298238 ISBN-10: 048629823X

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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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (125 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,155 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Martin Hammond's translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, like his Iliad and Odyssey, is the work of an unusually gifted translator, and one who understands the value added by careful attention to supplementary material. He writes natural English, direct and often eloquent; the text is well supported by effective notes and a characteristically thorough and well-planned index; Diskin Clay supplies a useful introduction. This is a fine volume -- Malcolm Heath Greece & Rome Journal Marcus is well served by this new translation. Hammond has a pithy turn of phrase to match the emperor's own ... His notes abound in helpful explanation and illuminating cross-reference. Diskin Clay contributes a sparkling and sympathetic introduction. The combination of introduction, translation and notes is as good as they get -- John Taylor Journal of Classics Teaching --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

164 of 168 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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58 of 63 people found the following review helpful By James on July 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
I was excited to order the penguin classic as I now live in Japan and had left my prior copy in NY. However, I am not quite so happy with this new translation as I find it diluted for the masses and less meaningful. Though Marcus Aurelius offers great wisdom the new translation offers the stoic cliches stated so colloquially that we've heard them all before. Meditations are statements to be slowly chewed, savored and deeply thought about; while I feel the current translation offers Aurelius in a more ambiguous, predigested and less flavorful form. However, I'm a bit particular! A prior reviewer found this helpful in that it was easier to read.
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42 of 45 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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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on March 26, 2008
Format: Paperback
I reread Marcus Aurelius' Meditations every five years or so, and each time I do I'm struck by the sheer pathos of the book. Here's the most powerful man in the world (of his day), the emperor Marcus Aurelius, absolute sovereign of the western world, a ruler who held the power of life and death over millions of subjects, and moreover a man steeped in philosophy and wisdom traditions--who confronts his own mortality and realizes that even he must die. The Meditations is Marcus' soul-searching, occasionally disingenuous, usually calm but sometimes panicky panicky effort to come to grips with that sobering fact. If life is ephemeral, even for the world's most powerful man, how should that life be lived?

It's this intensely human need to figure out what life is about before the inevitable night closes in that makes Marcus' journals so intensely interesting and valuable to the rest of us. His answers, coming from the philosophical tradition of Stoicism, aren't for everyone. My guess is that readers with a few years on them will find stoicism more attractive than younger readers who are full of oats and hormones. Marcus argues that that a happy life is one lived in accordance with nature; that living in accordance with nature means cultivating a "just" or rational mind and virtuous behavior that accord with the rationality of creation; that humans are interconnected both with nature and one another, such that no person who tries to deny the connection can live happily or healthily; and that human freedom and happiness is proportionate to the cultivation of apatheia or indifference to those matters over which we have no control (very much like the wisdom expressed in the Buddha's Four Noble Truths).

Ultimately, each person must face death alone, as best he or she can. But if Marcus's Meditations offer much food for thought, not only about the mortality which we all carry but also about the good life for which we all yearn.
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By greg taylor VINE VOICE on July 26, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
What makes Meditations an important book is that it provides the opportunity to discuss what it is to be human, to have a soul, to live a good life with one of the most remarkable men in history.
Before I get to that I want to second a suggestion made by several reviewers. Use two or more translations when you read the Meditations. I like this Penguin Classics edition. The introduction by Diskin Clay is useful, the translation by Martin Hammond is mostly accurate and his explanatory notes are very useful. There are some solid suggestions for further reading and several useful indices (of Names, of Quotations, and a General Index).
My one qualm about the translation is that Hammond sometimes makes the book sound a little Christian. Hammond will use "sin" where other translators (like Farquharson or Frances Hutchinson) would use "impiety" or "harm". This is decidedly not a Christian text. There is nothing in Marcus Aurelius (MA) of final judgment. There is no reward or punishment for our actions in this life. MA suspends judgments on all sorts of issues. It is clear that he believes in gods and occasionally talks about God (see 12.2). But he also mentions many times the alternative belief that all is chance and that death will be followed by oblivion. It is essential to his ethics however that death is not followed by any sort of hell.
Also worth thinking about is whether MA is a man whose philosophy is to be rejected (or, at least, radically modified) because it ultimately makes one less human. With MA, everything is to be thought through with the corrosive that is reason. We must not let our attachments cause us to lose sight of the truth.
We may kiss our children good night but we must remind ourselves as we are doing so that they could be dead tomorrow (11.
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