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Marcus Aurelius (Loeb Classical Library) Revised Edition
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"...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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brilliant author, Marcus Aurelius demonstrates that great minds think alike, as he might say, because they comply with the universal Reason. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Michael Pendergast
A literary classic (in every sense) and one filled with lessons for modern life, even 2,000 years later.Published 16 months ago by Dr. Tom's Reviews
As others have mentioned, the translation here is awfully antiquated. It makes the Greek more difficult to read, not less. Read morePublished on May 17, 2014 by Ryan Mease
A classic work of Stoicism, presented with Greek text and English translation on the facing page. This edition lives up to the high standards of the Loeb series.Published on February 22, 2014 by William R. Baird
The Rodd Halstead edition is probably fine but it won't help me learn Greek. Ignore any Loeb reviews for this product.Published on January 17, 2014 by carneades
A deserved Classic. Marcus Aurelius is a comfort and a true companion, especially when you get past 45 years old. Loeb Classical Library books are without peer.Published on November 30, 2013 by Michael Harty
And who doesn't love the melancholic emperor's reflections dearly? I don't think I've ever known of anyone who really really disliked this. Read morePublished on November 2, 2013 by MZambruno
Loeb is dependable and always puts out a good product. The ONLY thing I do not like about this book is the translator's use of the familiar - lots of "thee"s, "thou"s, "thine"s &... Read morePublished on December 11, 2012 by Thomas W. Blakey
I bought this copy of Aurelius' Meditations primarily for the Greek. As an earlier reviewer has noted, the English translation offered here is archaic, and unnecessarily so. Read morePublished on August 12, 2012 by Elementality