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Marcus Aurelius (Loeb Classical Library) Revised Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0674990647
ISBN-10: 0674990641
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Editorial Reviews

Review

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius, edited and translated by C.R. Haines, is by far the best edition in English...This is a central text for students of Stoicism as well as a unique personal guide to the moral life. (Word Trade)

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Roman Emperor
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Product Details

  • Series: Loeb Classical Library (Book 58)
  • Hardcover: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press; Revised edition (January 1, 1916)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0674990641
  • ISBN-13: 978-0674990647
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 0.9 x 6.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #410,862 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By James R. Reiff on April 27, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have read several translations of this work and have found the C.R. Haines version to be the best in terms of clarity and annotation. The format is also excellent, measuring just 4 ' by 6 ' inches, making it easy to keep in your pocket for daily reading.

"...when philosophers are kings and kings are philosophers..." Plato

If you ever hear someone turn the phrase, "when philosophers are kings," remember this; they already were and, that's right, you missed it. You missed it by about 1,820 years, give or take a few.

After some 25 or more years of training, a man born Marcus Annius Verus ascended to the Imperial throne of the Roman Empire and is known to history as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus or just Marcus Aurelius. Probably the best qualified ruler the world has known, Marcus Aurelius was a man and a ruler to whom historians most frequently point as someone who always placed the welfare of the people above all else.

Marcus Aurelius, the last in a series of philosopher emperors, spent most of the last thirteen years of his life in the damp and gloomy forests along the Danube. Beset by treason, incompetence and corruption he waged relentless war on the first few of uncounted waves of barbarian invaders who would ultimately destroy the Romans so thoroughly that not even their language would survive.

During this time he kept a diary of sorts. I use the word diary in the sense that Marcus wrote this book for himself alone, with no care whether any other should ever read it. He called his little book "To Himself."

What Marcus ultimately produced is a sometimes scattered yet concise handbook on how to live contented under any circumstances.
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Format: Hardcover
While the other reviewers wax eloquent on the topic of Marcus Aurelius and the incredibly insightful quality of his thinking, both neglect to mention C.R Haines actual translation, which, unless you know ancient Greek pretty well, is what you will actually spend your time reading. It is the fussiest, pseudo-archaic travesty of translation I have ever encountered. Never mind that the use of 'thee', 'thou' and the accompanying creaky verb forms have been out of vogue for over half a century, Haines mined the motherlode of obscurities and what I suppose is would-be poetic creativity. Thus you will encounter words like 'encairned', 'decensive', 'quotha', 'perforce', 'wroth', 'guerdon', and 'aye'(used like pepper throughout the text), all of which may be summed up in Haines' funniest quote,'Man, what art thou at?' It's hard to imagine that even in 1915 this translation did not seem ridiculously effete for a work of such practicality and clear sense! It is equally remarkable that Loeb had not modernized this turkey by 1987, anyway. If you want to consider the Greek text, this is the one to get. Otherwise you will find better and clearer English elsewhere!
7 Comments 122 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: Hardcover
A review of this treasure of wisdom and thought may border on the presumptious. Perhaps it may be of value for those coming to the book for the first time or for those who wish to compare another person's thoughts on the book with their own. Also, I find writing these notes helps me to understand my own reading.
Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor of Rome from 161--180 A.D. During the years he was absent from Rome leading wars against barbarian invaders, he set down his own thoughts during his moments of repose. His thoughts were appropriately titled "To Himself"; although they have come down to us under the more usual title of "Meditations". Marcus Aurelius never intended the publication of this work. As C.R. Haines states at the outset of his introduction to his edition: "It is not known how this small but priceless book of private devotional memoranda came to be preserved for posterity. But the writer that in it puts away all desire for after-fame has by means of it attained to imperishable remembrance."
I think it is important in the reading of this book to remember that it is Marcus Aurelius communing with himself in his position of Emperor. The reader will need to understand the book as an exercise in self-reflection to allow the book to work on his or her own capacity for self-reflection.
The book is in short, repetitive paragraphs and should not, with the exception of the opening chapter, be read as a discursive, continuous argument. Because Marcus Aurelius did not intend his reflections for publication, the language sometimes is crabbed and consise and needs effort to read. This assists in thinking through with the Emperor to the heart of what he has to say.
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Format: Hardcover
Since there are so many of these darn things the review shall be divided into three sections. First, a brief description of the Loeb series of books and their advantages/disadvantages. Second shall be my thoughts on the author himself, his accuracy, as well as his style and the style of his translator. This is of course only my opinion and should be treated as such. The final part shall review what this particular book actually covers.

The Loeb series date back to the turn of the last century. They are designed for people with at least some knowledge of Greek or Latin. They are a sort of compromise between a straight English translation and an annotated copy of the original text. On the left page is printed the text in Greek or Latin depending on the language of the writer and on the right side is the text in English. For somebody who knows even a little Greek or Latin these texts are invaluable. You can try to read the text in the original language knowing that you can correct yourself by looking on the next page or you can read the text in translation and check the translation with the original for more detail. While some of the translations are excellent mostly they are merely serviceable since they are designed more as an aid to translation rather than a translation in themselves. Most of them follow the Greek or Latin very closely. These books are also very small, maybe just over a quarter the size of your average hardcover book. This means that you'll need to buy more than just one book to read a complete work. They are also somewhat pricey considering their size. The Loeb Collection is very large but most of the more famous works can be found in better (and cheaper) translations elsewhere.
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