Facts stand wholly outside our gates; they are what they are, and no more; they know nothing about themselves, and they pass no judgement upon themselves. What is it, then, that pronounces the judgement? Our own guide and ruler, Reason.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (9.15)
He who lets the world, or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him, has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of imitation. He who chooses his plan for himself, employs all his faculties. … Human nature is not a machine to be built after a model, and set to do exactly the work prescribed for it, but a tree, which requires to grow and develop itself on all sides, according to the tendency of the inward forces which make it a living thing.
Each person acquires their own character, but their official roles are designated by chance. You should invite some to your table because they are deserving, others because they may come to deserve it.
Make the best of today. Those who aim instead at tomorrow’s plaudits fail to remember that future generations will be nowise different from the contemporaries who so try their patience now, and nowise less mortal.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.44)
A man’s true delight is to do the things he was made for. He was made to show goodwill to his kind, to rise above the promptings of his senses, to distinguish appearances from realities, and to pursue the study of universal Nature and her works.
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.26)
Everything – a horse, a vine – is created for some duty. This is nothing to wonder at: even the sun-god himself will tell you, ‘There is a work that I am here to do,’ and so will the other sky-dwellers. For what task, then, were you yourself created? For pleasure? Can such a thought be tolerated?
Marcus Aurelius (AD 120 – 180), Meditations (8.19)