Customer Reviews


91 Reviews
5 star:
 (67)
4 star:
 (11)
3 star:
 (10)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


156 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of practical philosophy ever written
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...
Published on December 1, 1998

versus
53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a new translation
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...
Published on July 13, 2007 by James


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

156 of 160 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best book of practical philosophy ever written, December 1, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars It's a new translation, July 13, 2007
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Read reviews carefully, November 5, 2006
By 
D. Edmunds (Oregon (Pacific NW)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Death and the emperor, March 26, 2008
By 
Kerry Walters (Lewisburg, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Some thoughts on translations and on Marcus Aurelius., July 26, 2009
By 
greg taylor (Portland, Oregon United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
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 (11.34 in Meditations- this bit of choice advice came from Epictetus)!
One point about this is that there is a real conflict in MA with his idea that we should accept everything that the gods see fit to visit upon us (an idea expressed too many times to quote a single source) and his desire to not be effected by any of it. I would argue that true acceptance does not seek invulnerability. True confront embraces vulnerability and fully accepts the whole of our humanity. We have a choice about how we respond to our suffering. MA, at his best, is saying that and pointing out that we can not let our suffering control our actions. At his worst, he sometimes seems to be saying that we can chose not to feel our suffering. He is such a compelling writer that I think it is all too easy to read MA in a way that avoids how radical are some of his ideas.
The desire of MA for some sort of emotional invulnerability is part and parcel of his rejection of quotidian experience. He does not seem to have liked or admired many of his contemporaries and he does not seem fond of the simple pleasures of life. His descriptions of sexuality are always mingled with tones of disgust.
Where the Meditations may be most useful is when we are dealing with some sort of very extreme situation. There are two Naval Academy essays by John Stockdale about how he survived his imprisonment during the Vietnam War using the philosophy of Epictetus that delve into the full complexity of that philosophy. (These essays are referenced in the intro to the Penguin edition
of Epictetus' writings. You can use the Amazon preview of that book to see the reference.)
Does all this mean that I think you should not immediately run out and buy a copy of this book? NO, NO, a thousand times, NO. The Meditations is one of those few books that everyone should read for help in working out their own philosophy. We all have to come to grips with how we want to live our own lives, what values we want to honor and MA is one of the writers who will help you work that out. He belongs in the company of St. Augustine, of Montaigne, of Machiavelli, of Plato, and of the Buddha (among many others- this list is mine own).
So, yes, read MA in the Hammond translation by all means. Remember that he wrote this book so that he would have constant and personal reminders to live up to his own philosophy. By reading this book, you may come to some understanding of what it would be like to live up to your own philosophy.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Philosophy that pulls no punches, August 20, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Prescient+Powerful Completely Relevant 2500 yr Philosophy, February 11, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) (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....."
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful-a friend in dark times, November 2, 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lessons of life from one of Rome's greatest emperors, January 9, 2007
Marcus Aurelius, philosopher-king of Rome for two decades, preserved his experiences not for posterity but likely for himself. A reminder of things past forming a deeply personal philosophy to guide the future. Solidly founded in Stoicism yet borrowing from cynicism, epicureanism and platonic thought the "Meditations" is a unique man's thoughts and experiences. Hardly original it is nonetheless, potent and applicable.

The main themes of the book can be summed up:

Experience as much as you can and interpret these experiences as honestly as you can.

Do what you can with what you have been given.

Do not fret over that which you cannot control..accept it.

Some of my favorite quotes:

Think of yourself as dead. You have lived your life. Now take what's left and live it properly.

Doctors keep their scalpels and other instruments handy, for emergencies. Keep your philosophy ready too-ready to understand heaven and earth. In everything you do, even the smallest thing, remember the chain that links them. Nothing early succeeds by ignoring heaven, nothing heavenly by ignoring the earth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Little Dry, But Great, August 31, 2003
By 
Timothy Dougal (Madison, Wi United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) (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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 210 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions)
Meditations (Dover Thrift Editions) by Marcus Aurelius (Paperback - July 11, 1997)
$3.00 $1.00
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Rate and Discover Movies
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.