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The Essential Marcus Aurelius (Tarcher Cornerstone Editions) Paperback – January 10, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The acclaimed author of The American Soul, Why Can’t We Be Good? and Money and the Meaning of Life, Jacob Needleman is Professor of Philosophy at San Francisco State University, and former Director of the Center for the Study of New Religions at the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. He lives in Oakland, CA.
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Product Details

  • Series: Tarcher Cornerstone Editions
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: TarcherPerigee (January 10, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585426172
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585426171
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #105,881 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This translation is "essential" because it is not a complete translation. The translators' note that some of Aurelius just is not amenable to translation and so pass on doing so. Calling this book "essenital" is making a virtue of this decision. Still, the book is nice and short with a useful intro essay. And, it does contain the basic wiring: do not look to others for approval but seek it within yourself; control what you can and do not worry about what you can not; understand that you only have this moment and commit to being a good person in it. Worth the time.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I carry my Marcus Aurelius with me everywhere. His wisdom is timeless and useful to us all. I am purchasing a few more copies for some friends that I know will appreciate him. If you are looking for the wisdom of the ages...practical, timely wisdom, then Marcus is for you.
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Format: Paperback
As I write, the minions of X have just waged a campaign on Wikipedia to revise the facts of one of the best known episodes in American history so its entry will conform to their idol's dazzlingly dumb word-salad version of that event. Elsewhere, Y is closing in on hit number 3,000. And Z, who has long wanted one, just got an afternoon talk show.

No point naming names. They don't matter. If these people didn't vie for our attention --- and our rage, our envy and our amusement --- others would. Life is incessant. And busy. And it's been that way forever.

"Life is all warfare and a stranger's wanderings, and the reward is oblivion," Marcus Aurelius (121-180 AD) writes. His remedy:

Do not waste what remains of your life in speculating about your neighbors... To wonder what so-and-so is doing and why, or what he is saying, or thinking, or scheming --- in a word, anything that distracts you from fidelity to the ruler within you --- means a loss of opportunity for some other task.

Marcus Aurelius was not the first to see the world as a play in which the characters chase after shadows, forget they are the leading actors of their own dramas and discover too late --- if at all --- that they have wasted their lives. And he was not the first to know what to do about it. But he was blunt and brief and non-judgmental, and the combination makes him stand out from other philosophers. Almost 2,000 years after his death, you can read him as if he published his book last week.

And not just read Marcus Aurelius. Re-read him. Like all great art, the "Meditations" change as you change --- the book you read in school is different at age 30, and completely fresh again at 60. Lucky is the reader who has one copy all his/her life.
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Format: Paperback
Marcus Aurelius' Meditations is among the most popular works to survive from antiquity. In the introductory 30 pages of The Essential Marcus Aurelius, Jacob Needleman and John Piazza provide the historical setting and background information so that the reader can gain a better understanding of the 12 books (chapters) of Aurelius' meditations. The passages chosen are intended to convey the universal significance of Aurelius' writings for people in all walks of life. The meditations will make the reader pause and think, as they are an inner exploration about problems and questions of life. We find that humans are basically the same, even almost 2,000 years later, for he wrote about situations that many of us ponder. Even an emperor of the huge Roman Empire had to grapple with problems and had questions about life.

-- Alice R. Berntson, New Connexion Journal
[...]
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Format: Paperback
This is a great translation of an enduring classic. The Meditations is a lifelong collection of practical wisdom that should be consulted periodically by anyone interested in living a better life.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Wow! I have read and own different daily readers and inspirational texts. But, this book has quickly become my favorite for dispensing timeless wisdom without talking to you like a child or someone who needs a lot of stories to get the point. I can routinely open to any page, read one of the numbered entries, and be inspired all day, or go back and re-read it throughout the day in agreement.

For example, in 8.29:
"Master your impressions by continually saying this to yourself: 'Now it is in my power that within this soul there be no wickedness, appetite, nor any agitation at all. But, seeing things for what they truly are, I will make use of each one according to its real worth' Remember the power that you have been given by Nature"

Replacing "Nature" for "God" works on much of his writing.

Just reading the words "..nor any agitation at all" makes one realize that letting go of the inner agitations is all it takes to find your center again.

The Essential Marcus Aurelius (Tarcher Cornerstone Editions)
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was a fantastic read. I had it assigned for an Ethics and Rhetoric class. It was by far the best reading of the quarter. Accessible to anyone, and I mean absolutely anyone. Marcus Aurelius' vivacity, wisdom and wit is every bit as relevant today as when he wrote this nearly two millennium ago. I rushed through this in two weeks, as it was required to be read in that time span for the course I was taking. It could be finished in a day. However, I suggest taking your time with this. It is filled to the brim with pithy wisdom and poignant aphorisms that deserve meditation, reflection, and time to process. I'm going to re-read this book, but take it a very slow pace, perhaps even just an aphorism a day to really give myself time to absorb and enjoy this great philosophical treasure.

The introduction was very readable and I enjoyed it almost as much as the text. The translator is a deft philosopher as well as translator. The translator notes that some sayings and sections have been cut out as they are highly debated and require more commentary to decode than this particular version can accommodate. I found I was okay with that. This is an introduction, and while it is of a scholarly quality, I do not think it is for serious scholars. There is no extensive commentary and precious few footnotes

But that's the great thing about this text, you don't have to have any degrees or prior knowledge to understand and comprehend Aurelius' insight. It is the most accessible and practically applicable philosophical text I've ever read. Aurelius reached out to the philosopher in every human and shared his wisdom without pomp.

Highly Recommended!
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