Marcus Aurelius was this Roman emperor around 161 A.D.. He was also a philosopher and deep thinker, and Meditations is a collection of 12 books of his private reflections. The words writings are on the values of Stoicism, detachment from things that are beyond one’s control, and are a master class in the stoic way of thought.
The book is easy to pick up and put down, as it is broken into twelve books. Each book, every individual thought is numbered. So it’s easy to stop anywhere as there’s no continuous story.
This book is filled with quotations I was excited to write down. I’ve been obnoxiously sharing them the whole week, and now I’m gonna share some more.
“Now that which does not make a man worse, how can a man’s life be worse.”
“Everything that is in any way beautiful is beautiful in itself and terminates in itself, not having praise as part of itself since a thing is neither better nor worse for having been praised. Is it such a thing as an emerald made worse than it was, if it is not praised?”
“That which is not good for the swarm is not good for the bee either.”
“It is a ridiculous thing for a man not to fly away from his own badness, which is indeed possible, but to fly from other men’s badness, which is impossible.”
“When you have done a good act and another has received it, why do you look for a third thing besides these things, as, whether to have the reputation of having done a good act or to obtain a return?”
I could leave lots of quotes here. I’ll stop.
This book also has passages that are just plain indecipherable. I’d read them four or five times, shrug and just move on. This is probably a combination of the facts that I’m not that smart, that life in the 100s was different, that it’s translated from Greek, and that Marcus Aurelius wrote long sentences. No one should write sentences that long.
This book is a highly recommend. It may take some time to get through because of it’s dense subject matter, but I’m sure you’ll take away plenty and love it like I do. If not, at least read some Marcus Aurelius quotes on the internet and be happy you did.