- Series: Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
- Paperback: 368 pages
- Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised edition (December 28, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0674007077
- ISBN-13: 978-0674007079
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.1 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,809 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,283 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Inner Citadel: The <i>Meditations</i> of Marcus Aurelius (Meditations of Marcus Aurelius) Revised Edition
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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius has been a popular text since the sixteenth century, and is a vital source in understanding the ideas of the Stoic School. Hadot seeks to demonstrate the context and background to Marcus Aurelius's writings, and helps to explain them to a modern readership. He makes the crucial point that Stoics considered the sole purpose of studying philosophy was to improve one's moral conduct. Hence Marcus's writings are in the form of a personal journal designed to develop the practice of acting morally and reflectively...Throughout the book Hadot stresses the depth of Stoic thought, and the interest it holds for modern philosophy...I would particularly recommend this book to those whose education in Ancient Philosophy has centred on Plato and Aristotle, and who are interested in finding out how their ideas were developed by later philosophers. (Matthew Clark JACT Review)
In The Inner Citadel, Hadot applies to Marcus Aurelius' Meditations his characteristic interpretive approach: treating ancient philosophy as a 'way of life,' in particular one which provides its students with 'spiritual exercises' to enable them to make progress towards wisdom, and treating ancient philosophical texts with attention to the 'forms of discourse,' or constraints of genre, tradition, and audience that affected their production...The Inner Citadel is a rich and substantial book and will certainly affect future scholarship on Marcus Aurelius. (Rachana Kemtekur Bryn Mawr Classical Review)
Hadot probes Marcus Aurelius's guidelines and convictions and discerns the until now unperceived conceptual system that grounds them. Abundantly quoting the Meditations to illustrate his analysis, he allows Marcus Aurelius to speak directly to us. Hadot unfolds for us the general philosophical context of the Meditations, commenting on the philosophers Marcus Aurelius read and giving special attention to the teachings of Epictetus, whom Marcus followed closely...Hadot's study offers a fresh picture of the fascinating philosopher-emperor, a fuller understanding of theories and doctrines of Stoicism, and rich insight on the culture of the Roman empire in the second century. Hadot has been working on Marcus Aurelius for more than twenty years; in this book he distills his analysis and conclusions with extraordinary lucidity for the general reader and specialist. (Word Trade)
Plato used to talk of philosopher-kings; Marcus Aurelius was something even better: He was a philosopher-emperor. The leader of the Roman Empire spent most of his life in troubling times, campaigning against the barbarians, dealing with conspiracy at home, even combatting an upstart cult that revered one of those Galilean wonder-workers. Yet the most powerful man in the world still managed to live the life of a Stoic, and to record his reflections on how we should live. Those meditations, as these inner pep talks are usually called, became one of the best-loved books of antiquity...This study--by a leading authority on Marcus--provides background matter and analysis of the main themes in the Meditations, as well as fresh translations of many of the sayings. (Washington Post Book World)
Because both translator and author are contemporaries, discussions between them contributed to an excellent and faithful translation....[Hadot argues] that The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius must be understood primarily as a 'philosophical' work not in the sense of speculative philosophy, but as philosophy that represents a way of life in the tradition of the Stoics...This is an excellent study of the Meditations. (P. A. Streveler Choice)
The power and vigour of H.'s interpretation derive partly from his belief in the importance and continuing value of Stoic philosophy at least broadly interpreted in terms of a stoic outlook on life...In this book, as in his work as a whole, he sets a demanding standard, and an example which we can all applaud. (R. B. Rutherford Classical Review)
Pierre Hadot, Professeur Honoraire of the College de France, aims in The Inner Citadel to discover what the emperor wanted to accomplish by writing [the Meditations] The book he has written (published in French in 1992) achieves these aims superbly while also offering a broad introduction to the intellectual world of the second century Through his analysis of the Meditations, Hadot exposes to our view the mind of those who ruled the Roman world at the height of its prosperity. (Kenneth D. Bratt Calvin Theological Journal)
Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Of my grandfather Verus I have learned to be gentle and meek, and to refrain from all anger and passion. From the fame and memory of him that begot me I have learned both shamefastness and manlike behaviour. Of my mother I have learned to be religious, and bountiful; and to forbear, not only to do, but to intend any evil; to content myself with a spare diet, and to fly all such excess as is incidental to great wealth. Of my great-grandfather, both to frequent public schools and auditories, and to get me good and able teachers at home; and that I ought not to think much, if upon such occasions, I were at excessive charges.
George Long's version:
From my grandfather Verus I learned good morals and the government of my temper. From the reputation and remembrance of my father, modesty and a manly character. From my mother, piety and beneficence, and abstinence, not only from evil deeds, but even from evil thoughts; and further, simplicity in my way of living, far removed from the habits of the rich. From my great-grandfather, not to have frequented public schools, and to have had good teachers at home, and to know that on such things a man should spend liberally.
Having said this however, it's still worth comparing both translations which are free on the Kindle.
“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts: therefore, guard, accordingly, and take care that you entertain no notions unsuitable to virtue and reasonable nature.”
Before I get into details, I must say that reading Meditations was one of the hardest, but most rewarding experiences in my own personal growth. The book has done so much to ferment my prior beliefs and has helped a lot to broaden my mind and encourage me to be all that I can be.
It is very difficult in today’s world to believe in anything, whether it be divine beings, other people, or even ourselves. It is an epidemic that buries potential and love deep down and leaves anger and frustration to dictate life.
There is no reason to feel unhappy, unfulfilled, or unappreciated , and Meditations by Marcus Aurelius offers advice to anyone who is looking for self help, self love, and a rational way of directing life.
Before reading this book it is interesting to know the man that wrote it. Marcus Aurelius was the last of The Five Good Emperors of Ancient Rome. He took the title of Augustus after the death of his adopted father, Antoninus Pius, the adopted son of the late Emperor Hadrian.
However Marcus Aurelius had tried to pass on the emperorship, for he prefered a much more simple philosophic lifestyle. He accepted the honor with the sole demand that Lucius Verus, his adopted brother, would share the seat with him.
Sharing his seat of power is the one move that summarizes Marcus Aurelius’s entire life; the fear of power and the duty embedded in him through his interest in Stoicism, a philosophy that grounds itself on self-restraint, reason, and fate.
His work is a reflection of his life, and the words inscribed in Meditations are the product of his own thoughts and his own experiences. While reading this book good feelings will begin to surface through introspection, and in turn bad feelings will be expelled.
In my everyday life quotes from his book swim in my mind when I am met with difficult situations, and they enable me to make smarter more thought out and rational decisions. It is fascinating and rewarding each time I don’t simply act on impulse.
This book is not for entertainment, not for adventure, and it is definitely not a “light read.” It is a book that will help those who seek help, irritate those who don’t, and fascinate those who wish to learn and grow.
Hadot also takes the time to outline the development of Stoic philosophy, tracing the teacher/student relation through a few generations. He makes a point to explain to the reader the circumstances in which Meditations was written, why it was written, and for whom it was written. All of these are important aspects to consider when one wants to understand the books more fully. Hadot also takes the time to give examples of how this ancient school of thought can be implemented in the modern world (although that is not the point of this book, as there are others which focus on that topic more exclusively.)
If you have any interest in understanding Meditations, or any interest in Stoic philosophy, then this book is a must read.