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Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius by [Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius]
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Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius Kindle Edition

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Length: 96 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
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Product Details

  • File Size: 367 KB
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1477660909
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publication Date: May 12, 2012
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0082XKGGU
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,716 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
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The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote his 'Thoughts' between 170 and 180. Other titles assigned to the same book are: 'Personal Notes', 'Meditations', 'The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius' et al. It is one of the few complete works of a late Stoic philosopher that still exists today. He wrote his 'Thoughts' as personal notes for himself. He writes about solidarity, physical adversity, good and evil, inner freedom and more. 'Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius' is a book full of wisdom that brings comfort and contemplation; it is moving and inspiring. I highly recommend it.

This edition was originally translated into English by George Long in 1862 and edited by Edwin Ginn in 1893. Ginn has written the first 8% of the Kindle edition (preface, biographical sketch), and the last 15% (on the philosophy of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus). The 'Thoughs' of Marcus Aurelius are grouped in 12 'books' (chapters). The first book is clearly different from the other eleven; it is a 'thank you' to people who have had a good influence on him. For example: 'From my grandfather Verus (I learned) good morals and the government of my temper.' (I.1). The other eleven books contain his notes. His Stoic philosophy emphasizes ethics, especially everyday problems. This book is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from several websites.

Some quotations from this book:
Since it is possible that thou mayest depart from life this very moment, regulate every act and thought accordingly. (II.11)
Be cheerful also, and seek not external help nor the tranquillity which others give. A man then must stand erect, not be kept erect by others. (III.5)
Always run to the short way; and the short way is the natural: accordingly say and do everything in conformity with the soundest reason. For such a purpose frees a man from trouble, and warfare, and all artifice and ostentatious display. (IV.51)
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Marcus Aurelius was the last of a group of "good" Roman Emperors. His profile was raised most recently in the "Gladiator" film, where appears as a benevolent leader of an increasingly corrupt empire. If his thoughts as outlined in this document are any indication, then the movie portrayal Marcus Aurelius is not far from the truth. These thoughts appear piecemeal as epiphanies written by the Emperor between 170-180 AD. Aurelius considered himself a philosopher, which was the equivalent of a dedicated scientist in his day. He believed in a life of humble service and dedication to improving the world around him. His view of world included the need to better understand and forgive others for their shortcomings. It is a window into the Romans view of how to ideally conduct themselves in public and private life that is incredibly fascinating.

The content and tone of these writings belies the fact that Marcus Aurelius governed an area that reached from Britain to Egypt (most of modern Europe and the Middle East). "Alone of the emperors," wrote the historian Herodian, "he gave proof of his learning not by mere words or knowledge of philosophical doctrines but by his blameless character and temperate way of life." (From Wikipedia). There is a tone and tenor to his writings that aligns well the Christian doctrines that will soon transform Europe. "If any man has done wrong, then the harm is his own" (location 1403-7, Kindle Edition).

So much of the modern western world owes its foundation to the Roman Republic and Empire. If you wish to better understand the decline and fall of modern republics (and empires), then all roads still lead to Rome as the model for the demise of democratic governments. The distance of nearly 2000 years melts away and you might find yourself wishing for an opportunity to meet the man who many consider the greatest Roman Emperor.
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First, my review may be a little different because I read it from a different perspective so hopefully it sheds a little light on not just the man, but his method. Marcus Aurelius was quoted in a book about Professionalism that I have been reading and it peaked my interest as to why someone would use one quote, as one would from the Bible, if it could be out of context? My thinking was, "read the whole book". So, I did and I was very surprised to find a man who though he was a learned Stoic student, exemplified the very basic principles of what "Christians" are taught to be and also of professionalism; i.e. trust, forgiveness, straight forwardness, patience, kindness. It started to sound a lot like the seven fruits of the Spirit were imbodied in this man who was a professed pagan. I was moved by how godly, little "g", he was compared to men who profess to be Godly, big "G". If you are a professional or desire to become one, Marcus Aurelius was a Caesar and by all means embodied his title with the utmost professionalism. P.S. he repeats himself a lot, so just be prepared to realize "we will all die" and "all matter will be forgotten". Cheers!
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I am not a Stoic scholar by any means, and so must review this work from my layman's point of view.

First, this book is a tough read (compared to modern books) because it's written in the ancient English of its day, with lots and lots of thous, xxest verbs (doest, thinkest, etc), and abstract words such as Nature, Virtue, (and others) that had different meanings in Roman times than we assign to them today. So I found that I had to force myself through the book.

Even the translator's comments say that much of Aurelius' text and thoughts was disorganized, obscure (no easy meaning could be found in his words), and corrupt (undecipherable) in places. So it's definitely not an easy read.

The last section of the book contains a summary of Aurelius' views and thoughts, written mostly in modern day language. I recommend that you read it first to get an overview of the main book content.

The main value of the work seems to be in the Stoic principles and personal thoughts that are made visible by the personal writings of an Emperor of Rome. Reading this work disabuses you of the notion that emperors had an easy life just because they were emperors.

As for a more interesting and accessible explanation of Stoic principles, I recommend A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy, which is a professionally written, much easier, and more thought-provoking read than either Aurelius or Epictetus. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who wants to learn more about the Stoic school of thought.
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