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154 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best translation available!
The Hicks brothers have produced a handsome volume of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius that is also the best translation available. The old Penguin edition translation was servicable. George Long's translation was incomprehensible in many parts. The Gregory Hays translation does very well but is not as transparently clear and as elegant as this one. I got this book the...
Published on November 6, 2002 by Ingalls

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208 of 218 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Question of Tone
This translation of the Greek writings that the author called "To Himself" is smooth, deft, and self-assured; the book sits well in the hand; the subject index is thorough. For generations Marcus Aurelius has proven not only a welcome counselor, but a worthy opponent to measure oneself against. Why does this version leave one feeling not refreshed but harangued...
Published on October 15, 2005 by Warren Keith Wright


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154 of 159 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best translation available!, November 6, 2002
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This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
The Hicks brothers have produced a handsome volume of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius that is also the best translation available. The old Penguin edition translation was servicable. George Long's translation was incomprehensible in many parts. The Gregory Hays translation does very well but is not as transparently clear and as elegant as this one. I got this book the first week that it came out and it will be my preferred edition for many years to come. Highly recommended.
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208 of 218 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Question of Tone, October 15, 2005
This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
This translation of the Greek writings that the author called "To Himself" is smooth, deft, and self-assured; the book sits well in the hand; the subject index is thorough. For generations Marcus Aurelius has proven not only a welcome counselor, but a worthy opponent to measure oneself against. Why does this version leave one feeling not refreshed but harangued?

In an earnest attempt to reach modern readers, something has gone wrong with the tone. The pages are peppered with the imperative contraction "Don't," and the "You" being addressed is not a man conferring with his soul, but a smug preacher hectoring us with his own perfection. Yet consider how often Marcus returns to certain themes---that you should not mind what other people think of you; that you should cease to assign blame, or feel resentment for ill-treatment; that since life is but breath you should not care whether yours is long or short. The very repetition shows how hard it was for him to attain permanent detachment: you need not exhort yourself to meet standards you have already mastered.

Perhaps a claim made in the introduction, explaining the rationale for a new edition, hints at what seems amiss in The Emperor's Handbook: "[W]e tend to conceive of freedom, even the religious freedoms we take pretty much for granted, in largely political terms, perhaps because, second, we have come seriously to doubt our psychological freedom, or freedom of mind." (9) (How's that again? Rather, in an era of contracting public freedoms and increasing pressure toward conformity, many contend that the only true liberty lies within.) A version inspired by such assumptions skews the even-tempered voice of the fellow human being who wrote these meditations. The layout, with bullet lists and sound bites, makes the book look like yet another treatise aimed at the tired businessman; and the new title seems a marketing ploy. The world needs no more emperors.

When judging a work in a foreign tongue, it is wise to use one translation as a corrective for another. By all means buy this version, as I did: the celebrated and successful give it high praise (see dust jacket). And buy one of the other renderings; consult the reviews on this site for Hays, or Staniforth. Then read them in tandem, compare and contrast, in order to better "See things for what they are" (Book 12, Section 10) for yourself.
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78 of 80 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Masterful Translation of a Masterpiece, June 2, 2003
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James R. Reiff (North Bergen, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
The Hicks brothers' collaboration has produced a masterful translation of a masterpiece. "The Emperor's Handbook" captures the sublime essence and ancient character of "The Meditations" but never strays into the arcane terminology of the ancient Stoics. The Hicks brothers also avoid the forced and complex grammatical constructs found in other translations. This translation could easily be understood by a sixth grade child yet it sacrifices none of the profound meaning or prosaic beauty of the original. Most refreshing is the absence of any effort to turn the work into some New-Age mystical revelation.
Having read about nine translations I must say, this one is, by far, the best contemporary English translation available. There are other fine ones such as the work by Hard and Gill or even the Loeb Classics version but they are better suited for people already familiar with Marcus Aurelius and Stoic philosophy.
My warmest thanks go out to David and Scot Hicks for a work that I hope will broaden the audience of Marcus Aurelius.
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73 of 83 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A mediocre translation of a great book, August 8, 2008
This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
This review is of the translation, not of the work (which I would rate 5 stars).

The translation in "The Emperor's Handbook" is probably more readable to a general audience than the much more accurate Loeb Classical Library translation, but the writing has been spun into soundbites. Marcus Aurelius did not write in soundbites. This results in a punchier work that is more accessible yet unfortunately shallower as well. The tone of a man writing for his own edification is turned into an almost preachy self-help book. Which is apparently what the publisher wanted, something to follow "The Book of Five Rings" and "The Art of War" as the latest book to help businessmen sound pseudo-intellectual and impress their non-reading fellow businessmen . . . and there are lots of readily-quotable soundbites separated out for easy use.

I am not being snarky. Read the intro and see who their target audience is. See what they are trying to accomplish.

Marcus Aurelius never would have named his work "The Emperor's Handbook," because he was not trying to teach people how to be emperor. He did not write in preachy soundbites.

Marcus Aurelius was a man trying to remind himself how to be a better person and live according to his stoic principles. This translation abandons that basic point.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A source of inspiration, June 21, 2003
This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
"What is its individual make-up? Its essence, form, and matter?..
(Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, VIII, 11)
I recall when I had in-class Greek examinations, and we were asked to translate quotes of Marcus Aurelius chosen at random. Chance did let me encounter this verse a few times, and each time I did put more effort finalized in the understanding and expression of meanings implied in these straightforward questions.
The greatness of this work could best be found in its brevity and simplicity. The plain style, and the naturalness of writing are persuasive. The moral truths that Marcus Aurelius had accepted in the past, and that much had enlightened his being both an emperor and a conflictual human-being, have been transposed in memorable form. Marcus Aurelius'soliloquy and self-analysis are a great spiritual exercise. As such, the book is an exhortation to think and meditate, and it is especially addressed to those who hold the power, and are in charge of other people who stand for them. The dynamics of leadership haven't changed in the millenia: [Yet] I ask myself if today's leaders are driven and inspired by such honesty of intents?!
Marcus Aurelius had been influenced by the work of Epictetus. Both belong to the late Stoicism: A period that didn't produce anything of original. In this viewpoint, it could be argued that "the Meditations" were a moral set of catchphrases of the earlier Stoa. As such, this work doesn't bring any novelty neither in physics, nor in logics, and ethics, or epistemology. It could also be argued that Marcus Aurelius was not a philosopher at all, but rather a self-disciplined and very well-educated man and leader. He didn't produce these chapters neither for a vast audience nor for publication. Things are best remembered when written down. As such, the emperor wrote expressions of his thought, and read them again and again to himself. I believe that this discipline much helped him to find the strength and willpower necessary to face enemies outside (and inside) Rome, and the destiny of the antiquity's greatest empire.
The "Meditations" are therefore a powerful and elightening work of self-analysis and virtues' devotion. Although it does not add anything new to the phylosophical Zeitgeist, it can be argued that -- on the contrary, both brevity and simplicity, are here best expressed with a plain, natural, and unpretentious style. Such lack of redundant embellishments make this work a duly inspiring masterwork.
This version is a very solid and contemporary transposition of Marcus Aurelius'notes. Both mastery and choice of terms are remarkable. Not only the Hicks have captured the essence and clarity of the emperor's thought and affection, but also have given him fresh and renewed life and recognition.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Great, August 27, 2005
This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
The choice of reading this translation of Aurelius' "Meditations" was based purely on the reviews I read here at Amazon. Most people seemed to love Scot and David Hicks' translation, so I thought it would be worth trying it. That choice was, indeed, a very good one, so thanks to all the reviewers who raved about this translation!

Unlike some translations of older works, this one does not have that dry feeling to the style, and the language is very modern and easy to flow through. It has to be said that the translation has been with done with a lot of consideration for the meaning of Aurelius as well as the sensitivities and preferences of the modern reader in terms of language and style. Overall, an excellent translation to get into and read.

"The Emperor's Handbook" is the first translation I have read of Marcus Aurelius' book, and I was surprised that Aurelius did not write it to be published. It is, rather, Aurelius' personal reflections and thoughts on life, himself and other things. His scope of topic matter is comprehensive, and the concise aphorisms give easily remembered ideas to think about yourself.

The translators claim that you do not need to read it cover-to-cover, but can really start anywhere in the book. I tested this out, and they are right. I started reading in random places, and still got a good insight from the reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and I would say that if you are looking for a good translation of it, buy this one. The reviewers here before me were right: it is an excellent translation and a very, very useful book. Food for life, one might say.
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23 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE BEST !, February 22, 2003
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WKT (Knoxville, TN United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
I have read several translations of this great work..and without a doubt this is the finest available. What makes this the best is its ability to seem both classical and modern at the same time..in other words its not overly stuffy--nor is it distorted into "New Age" drivle. Don't think twice about buying this..you won't be dissapointed.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Renewing the foundations, November 30, 2002
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This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
David and Scot Hicks have brought us the penetrating wisdom of Marcus Aurelius vividly and with a freshness that seems lacking in most translations of the ancients. Aurelius wrote directly, without pomposity, naturally. David and Scot have imititated him, making him accessible. I will be using this book with my high school students, encouraging them to reflect each day on one of the numbered sections or mini-chapters. And I will be using it myself as I lead my organization.
One of my favorites: "So you don't dazzle them with your blazing intellect. Get over it!... Let the virtues you do possess shine forth"
Maybe wisdom and virtue are more fashionable at some times than others, but given the obvious need for them today David and Scot Hicks have provided a much-needed brick for the foundation of our civilization.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A splendid translation, November 15, 2002
This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
This is more than just a translation of Marcus Aurelius' wonderful "Meditations". It is a recreation of its meaning for the modern reader, true to the original text and to the tenets of Stoic philosophy and yet in a lucid and poetic language that is immensely readable. I have studied the "Meditations" in the original Greek, and I have seen other translations. Scot Hicks' and David Hicks' rendering is undoubtedly the best. It is supported by a commendable graphical production which highlights the most memorable passages. Marcus Aurelius deserves to be read by everyone but especially by those who purport to lead other people.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, November 25, 2006
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This review is from: The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations (Hardcover)
This is a great book for bringing into focus the important things in life. Written almost 2,000 years ago, the information is very valuable and relevant today.

While we may know and understand a lot of the information contained in the book, as the authors point out in the introduction, "we need more often to be reminded than informed." The book is not to be read once and placed on the shelf. It can and should be read from time to time. It is not necessary to read from front to back or to read the entire book. You can open the book to any page and find some valuable lessons.

A recurring theme of the book is that no one controls your mind but yourself. But what you allow into your mind controls your outlook on life and your circumstances in life. Therefore it is imperative that you only think appropriate thoughts.

Another very important lessons that is repeated often is "for the present moment is of eaual duration for everyone, and that is all any man possess." That we should not live in the past or the future, but live fully in the present moment.

He gives us good advise when we are reminded to remember people, "...who ignoring the good that lay at their feet, ran after some vain thing and never found the happiness that was within their reach all the time."

There are many excellent lessons on how to lead a better life. It is well worth reading and contemplating on the lessons contained in the book.

It is truly a treasure from the past that still has great value today.
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The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations
The Emperor's Handbook: A New Translation of The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (Hardcover - November 26, 2002)
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