Tag: Marcus Aurelius

Echoes through time: take your stand

An empty pageant; a stage play; flocks of sheep, herds of cattle; a tussle of spearmen; a bone flung among a pack of curs; a crumb tossed into a pond of fish; ants, loaded and labouring; mice, scared and scampering; puppets, jerking on their strings – that is life. In the midst of it all you must take your stand, good-temperedly and without disdain, yet always aware that a man’s worth is no greater than the worth of his ambition.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (7.3)

 

Echoes through time: the totality of all Being

Think of the totality of all Being, and what a mite of it is yours; think of all Time, and the brief fleeting instant of it that is allotted to yourself; think of Destiny, and how puny a part of it you are.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (5.24)

I also quite like the Gregory Hays’ translation of this:

Remember:

Matter. How tiny your share of it.

Time. How brief and fleeting your allotment of it.

Fate. How small a role you play in it.

 

Echoes through time: what nature gives us

Each of us needs what nature gives us, when nature gives it.

Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (10.20)

Note: I usually quote the Maxwell Staniforth translation from the Penguin Great Ideas edition. However, for this I preferred the more recent (and much lauded) Gregory Hays translation from 2003.

 

Downtime: Marcus Aurelius – Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor by Frank McLynn

We talk a lot about Marcus Aurelius, but often know nothing beyond the 100-odd pages of Meditations, the published collection of his private notebooks.

Frank McLynn corrects this with a comprehensive biography of the famed philosopher-king. It’s a weighty read, but fascinating. I came away a much richer understanding of Roman history, economy, geography and military as well as some insight into the man and his beliefs.

I think it’s fair to say that McLynn is no Stoic himself, but it is interesting to understand the history of Stoicism and how it was understood in Marcus’ own time.

If I’m not too late, this would make a fantastic holiday read.