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Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)

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

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: Latin

About the Author

Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.A" Marcus Aurelius - 'Meditations' Marcus Aurelius is considered to one of the great Emperors of Rome who was not only a skilled military leader but also a great philosopher in the Stoic tradition. He was born in 121 AD and both of his parents came from wealthy backgrounds. His father died when Marcus was 3 years old and by the time he was 6 he had gained the attention of the Emperor Hadrian who oversaw his education. Hadrian ensured that Marcus was taught by some of the greatest scholars in Rome who educated him in literature, drama, geometry, Greek oratory, Greek and Latin. Marcus later abandoned most of those subjects in favor of philosophy, with the work of the Greek philosopher Epictetus being a major influence on his thinking. In 138, while still a young man, the Emperor Antoninus Pius adopted Marcus, and in 161 he himself became Emperor. Marcus insisted he would only take up the Emperorship if Lucius Verus were also installed. Marcus's insistence on Lucius joining him as Emperor was a military one. At that time Rome was fighting wars on multiple fronts and Marcus wanted someone he could trust to marshal the troops who he knew would not at some point lead a revolt against him. Lucius and Marcus were loyal to each other up until Lucius's death in 169 AD. After Lucius's death, Marcus was the sole Emperor and due to the incessant wars in the provinces he was unable to spend much time indulging his philosophical pursuits. He did manage to found four Chairs of Philosophy in Athens, one for each of the main philosophical schools of thought, Aristotelian, Epicurean, Platonic and Stoic. Although Marcus spent almost all of his reign on campaigns in foreign territories, he managed to write down his thoughts and these became what are now considered a masterpiece of Roman philosophy, the discourses 'Meditations'. Marcus wrote 'Meditations' around 170 - 180, whilst on a campaign in central Europe, most probably in what is now Serbia, Hungary and Austria. The 12 books that make up 'Meditations' were not written as an exercise in explaining his philosophy but rather as a personal notebook for self-improvement and study. 'Meditations' illustrates just how important Epictetus was to Marcus as he quotes the Greek philosopher's famed 'Discourses' on more than one occasion. Epictetus was a legendary figure in Greek philosophy and many claim he is the greatest of the Stoics; texts that remain in existence from the period suggest that in his native Greece, he was even more popular than Plato. As was previously mentioned, 'Meditations' was not written for public consumption but rather as an aid to personal development. Marcus wanted to change his way of living and thinking and to do this he embarked on a set of philosophical exercises. He would reflect on philosophical ideas and by writing them down and by repeating them he hoped to re-programme his mind and find his own philosophy to live by. One of the key exercises in the book discusses Marcus attempting to look at the world from 'the point of view of the cosmos' in a bid to try and look at life and the universe outside of the common and limited parameters of individual concerns. You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgment, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite.A" Marcus Aurelius died on March 17, 180, in the city of Vindobona which was situated where Vienna is today. History remembers him as the last of the 'Five Good Emperors' of the Nervan-Antonian dynasty. Marcus' son Commodus replaced his father as Emperor and although he reigned over a relatively stable period in Roman history, in terms of war and peace, his personal behavior and antics were not in the spirit of those Emperors that came immediately before him. Commodus was eventually murdered in a plot that involved his mistress Marcia, thus bringing to an end the highly regarded Nervan-Antonian dynasty. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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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 (175 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #418 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

238 of 243 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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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Timothy Dougal on August 31, 2003
Format: Paperback
This edition of Marcus Aurelius' 'Meditations' is an excellent rendition of what may be the most profound book of insight meditation ever written. It is an updating of George Long's venerable 1862 translation, with long sentences untangled and thee's and thou's modernized to you's . At first I found it a little dry and underemphatic, but as I continued reading, I became thoroughly engaged by its clarity and precision. As a literal reading, the Dover edition is a lot more readable than Loeb's Haines translation, and more direct than Staniforth's Penguin edition. And at this price, you almost can't afford not to have it. 'Meditations' really can help you be a better person.
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24 of 28 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 20, 1998
Format: Paperback
My first exposure to Marcus Aurelius was "Silence of the Lambs" (when Hanibal Lector quotes Aurelius to Clarice). I was intrigued. After reading Meditations, I was even more intrigued, and started buying copies for my friends. I have read Nietzche, Plato, Sartre. But this book tells it like it IS. Aurelius did not shy away from discussing topics we find too embarrassing today: from death to sex, perversity to honesty. This small volume is PACKED with life-giving, refreshing wisdom. And the price??? An unbelievable value.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
I love Marcus. He is noble, sensitive, and trying his best to live right despite being emperor and stuck leading an army near the Danube. A great soul, a friend, someone who understands all you have suffered. Indispensable.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1998
Format: Paperback
I work in Human Services and see how clearly it is not the situations we are in that are the problem but our attitude towards those situations that is the problem. How delighted I was to find this book which puts this idea and others in such clear and elegant language. That these are words from a man who lived in antiquity only seems to highten the delight. If you love someone buy them this book, give it to a new graduate or best of all perhaps give your self the words and the quiet space and time to absorb, think and internalize. The ideas in this book are written in the secret language of life.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Daniel: Lease on December 24, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Don't buy this book! I mistakenly thought that this was the Hayes translation of Meditations due to the cover, but it turns out CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform just stole the design. This translation is public domain, the formatting is terrible (it's very large), and the quality of this book as a whole is hardly worth the $10.46 I paid for it. I'm sending it back immediately for the proper version.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 25, 1996
Format: Paperback
This book quite ably demonstrates the stoic foundations of
both Buddhism and Christianity. To the reader who carefully
reads it and follows its principles it offers both clarity
of vision and inner peace. Regardless of your religion, it
would be difficult for this philosophy to violate any of its
precepts. The dominate themes of love, forgiveness,
non-judgement, and lack of condemnation found in both Buddhism
and Christianity texts are stressed without any pretenses of
understanding the after-life.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 11, 1999
Format: Paperback
I found this book so powerful, I was moved to memorize large parts of it.
Each paragraph, while following a theme of the section, is completely relevent in itself.
The book can be picked up and read from any page and any paragraph, and the user will need no context to the previous paragraph, and will find each paragraph sufficient unto itself.
The book accomplishes this by driving, in pure and unadulterated form and words, the main theme quickly and directly to the reader.
Accerpt from memory:
"Let it be thy earnest and Incessant Care as a Roman and Countryman to do whatever it is that thou are about with true and unfeigned gravity, natural effection, freedom and a sense of justice. As for all the other cares and imaginations, how shalt thou ease thy mind of them ? Which thou shalt do, if though shall go about every action as though it were thy last, free from all vanity and self love....."
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