Introduced by Maxwell Staniforth
Introduced by translator Maxwell Staniforth, the private thoughts of this great emperor are a hymn to the philosophy of service and duty.
‘States flourish if philosophers rule, or if rulers are philosophers.’ Emperor Marcus Aurelius (ad 121–80) was one of the greatest embodiments of Plato’s ideal. Dubbed ‘Verissimus’ (the boy who could not lie) by Hadrian, this reflective and humane emperor proved an outstanding ruler in an age ravaged by famine, plague, revolt and invasion. The Meditations are a collection of Marcus Aurelius’ private thoughts, written while he was waging war against barbarians on the Roman Empire’s northern frontier. From such lofty Stoic concerns as humankind’s place in the universe and the need to live in accordance with Nature – ‘nothing can happen to any man that Nature has not fitted him to endure’ – Marcus Aurelius derives some surprisingly practical advice, including a compelling argument for why we should get out of bed in the morning, and expresses a simple human joy in even the humblest aspects of the physical world. It is refreshing to learn of the simple pleasures of freshly baked bread and ripe olives from a man who bore the weight of the Roman world on his shoulders.
‘He was severe to himself, indulgent to the imperfection of others, just and beneficent to all mankind’
The effect of the Meditations is at once liberating and comforting. Marcus Aurelius’ calm acceptance of the stresses of both this world and the afterworld, and his rigorous sense of duty, are of great appeal in our frequently over-emotional and self-indulgent age, and have made this ancient work a modern bestseller. Maxwell Staniforth’s translation gives us a highly readable version of a timeless and inspiring guide to living a fulfilled life.
‘The sentences of Marcus Aurelius find their way to the soul’
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Review by Aylesbury on 7th Nov 2016
"This edition looks a little plain in the catalog, but holding it, it feels strangely dignified, which I think is very fitting, considering the text. The pictures are selling it a little short. As for ..." [read more]