Principles can only lose their vitality when the first impressions from which they derive have sunk into extinction; and it is for you to keep fanning these continually into new flame… You have only to see things once more in the light of your first and earlier vision, and life begins anew.
This week, I finished Donald Robertson’s new book How To Think Like a Roman Emperor. And, what a remarkable book it is.
It succeeds in being a practical introduction to Stoicism whilst combining biography, history, psychotherapy and philosophy. Each chapter uses a period in Marcus’s life to illustrate an issue, for example, conquering desire or relinquishing fear. It describes Marcus’s situation, then demonstrates Stoic exercises that deal with the topic in question.
The first rule is, to keep an untroubled spirit; for all things must bow to Nature’s law, and soon enough you must vanish into nothingness, like Hadrian and Augustus.
The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are, remembering that it is your duty to be a good man. Do without flinching what man’s nature demands; say what seems to you most just – though with courtesy, modesty and sincerity.