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1964: When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out-of-tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.
2002: When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
1964: Adapt yourself to the environment in which your life has been cast, and show true love to the fellow-mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.
2002: The things ordained for you - teach yourself to be at one with those. And the people who share them with you - treat them with love. With real love.
The 1964 version is regal, while the 2002 (Hays') version is Aurelius writing, quickly, in a spiral notebook while on horseback, the equivalent of "memo to myself."
Reading this book is like taking a cold shower, or visiting a favorite bartender, who insists on serving you coffee, not drink. Hays has brought us a Marcus Aurelius who puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you in the eye, and tells you like it is: Get over yourself. You can't change the world. Do your best and realize you are of this earth. Human experience is muddy, so what? This book is best read in tough times, when you could use a little steel in your spine.
One of the most difficult tasks for a reader interested in non-English language work (and works from classical times in particular) is to choose an appropriate translation. Of course, what counts as `appropriate' is somewhat subjective.
What I was looking for was a translation that is clear and accurate; one that manages to convey something of a feeling for the both the person who wrote, and the times they wrote in. In this Staniforth excels.
Unlike say, the Benjamin Jowett translation of Plato which (at least to my ears) has a distinctly Victorian ring, or the popular new age paraphrases of many of the Stoics (and in truth they are paraphrases or adaptations rather than translations), to me Staniforth (whose translation dates from 1964) strikes just the right balance.
The words of Marcus Aurelius are rendered intelligibly and with a dignity and awareness of the historical context. The reader is neither forced to re-read and ponder (i.e., speculatively re-translate), nor wince at inappropriate colloquialisms of 21st century English. Better still, one can immediately perceive and appreciate the times in which the work was written. No mean accomplishment, to say the least.
Of course, each reader needs to make this judgment for themselves. Amazon provides an excellent (and free) way of doing this with its `search inside this book' feature, which is enormously useful for anyone making this decision.
The book is raw - it seems that these were never going to be published, so it had a bluntness to it and an honesty rare for a military leader, let alone one of the best Roman Emperors in history. He was a spiritual man, and tried to rationalize his duties. It lacks rhetorical flourish but it's honest.
I don't know if the book stands alone as a philosophical work, but it is an interesting work about self improvement, duty and service. Despite his reputation as a "philosopher king," the book remains a valuable book in leadership and history.
The Kindle version itself is pretty well laid out with ample enough notes and historical background on Aurelius himself to help you better understand the man himself. His notes range in length from a few sentences to multiple pages, so there's no real orderly format to the book (to me, this makes it more appealing.)
Since the Kindle version is free, give it a try. You'll find yourself better for it.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great Deal! Excellent Product!! Super Fast Delivery!!! Thanks a Bunch!!!!Published 4 days ago by Brett
Amazon lumps different translations together as merely variations on how the book is delivered. In this case, the Hays translation is the hardcover, while the authors who... Read morePublished 7 days ago by Nom de Bloom