- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Modern Library; First American PB Edition edition (May 6, 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780812968255
- ISBN-13: 978-0812968255
- ASIN: 0812968255
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 282 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #980 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Meditations: A New Translation First American PB Edition Edition
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“Here, for our age, is [Marcus’s] great work presented in its entirety, strongly introduced and freshly, elegantly translated.” —Robert Fagles
From the Inside Flap
A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, Marcus Aurelius's "Meditations remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus's insights and advice--on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others--have made the "Meditations required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style.
In Gregory Hays's new translation--the first in a generation--Marcus's thoughts speak with a new immediacy: never before have they been so directly and powerfully presented.
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To no avail I only found more and more of either the same translation from years ago or even older. I'm sure they worked for their time, but was getting discouraged because I would have to take more time on an already heavy book.
After taking a break, I was listening to Chris Fisher's podcast called, "Traditional Stoicism," he mentioned Gregory Hayes' translation being much more accessible to the modern reader.
I bought it instantly and devoured it. I'm on my second reading now highlighting even more text than before.
SO MUCH EASIER!
As a person who practices Stoicism daily, I highly recommend this edition for its smoothness and updated translation.
The book inspired Adam Smith, Goethe, Tolstoy, Wen Jiabao, Frederick the Great, among many others. Bill Clinton reads and re-reads it so many times (it’s his favourite book), it’s one of the inspirations for Mahatma Gandhi’s non-violence principles, and it’s the book that kept Nelson Mandela’s sanity during his 27 years in prison.
It’s one of a kind book, and yes it’s that good.
I became interested in Meditations after reading Ten Caesars, which introduced Marcus Aurelius as the Roman emperor from 8 March 161 to 17 March 180, and as a Stoic philosopher. I have read about what the Romans did, but knew little of what they thought. However, selecting Meditations for this purpose was not the best choice. First, Marcus was a Caesar, hardly representative of the common Roman. And with his thoughtful bent, neither was Marcus representative as a Caesar. In spite of this misguided purpose, I found the book a treasure.
Many other publications of Meditations are available. This one contains a newer translation and a helpful introduction by translator/author Gregory Hays that provides a summary primer on Stoicism. With little background in ancient philosophy, I opted for this version. Although the translation was easily understood in modern terms, I wondered about several anachronisms that might have been inserted for the reader’s convenience.
Organization. The organization of Marcus’s material was very similar to other translations. Little insight was provided on the document organization (if any) that Marcus intended.
Style. Much of this book was written as if Marcus is having a dialog with, or creating a guide for himself.
Content. The Roman study of philosophy was taken seriously. Reflecting this, Meditations deals with major questions about life and death, how to live, and finding a purpose for one’s life. For example, Marcus thought about the soul, time, the mind, change, nature, good, risk, happiness, remembrance, prayer, fate, and gratefulness. Roman religion in Marcus’s time was polytheistic. (Although Christianity existed, it was not mainstream.) It seemed that Marcus’s principles for living did not conflict with Roman religion.
Summary. Although somewhat brief and at times sketchy, Meditations contains seeds of thought on the central issues of human existence. True to its title, this book leaves the reader much to think about. I would benefit from reading it again.
If you really read the book and take the time to understand what Hays translated and what Aurelius was trying to relate, you'll come away with an immense amount of knowledge that's been resolutely proven since Aurelius wrote his thoughts down.
This translation does a good job maintaining a modern vibe as well, I would be interested in reading more about how faithful Gregory Hayes feels he has been to the original text.
Long story short, if you are someone who finds yourself easily stressed out and often in stressful situations, this book can reset your attitude, and maybe even change your life. If every person on earth lived by the ideals offered here we would be a peaceful and enlightened race.
Be kind, act justly, think clearly... "we have power over our minds, not external events, realizing this is strength."