Meditations 47

47 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he'auton, lit. 'things to one's self') is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy.

Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek as a source for his own guidance and self-improvement. It is possible that large portions of the work were written at Sirmium, where he spent much time planning military campaigns from 170 to 180. Some of it was written while he was positioned at Aquincum on campaign in Pannonia, because internal notes tell us that the first book was written when he was campaigning against the Quadi on the river Granova (modern-day Hron) and the second book was written at Carnuntum.  

It is unlikely that Marcus Aurelius ever intended the writings to be published. The work has no official title, so "Meditations" is one of several titles commonly assigned to the collection. These writings take the form of quotations varying in length from one sentence to long paragraphs.

MEDITATIONS

By Marcus Aurelius

THE ELEVENTH BOOK (XX - XXXI)

XX. Remember the fable of the country mouse and the city mouse, and the great fright and terror that this was put into.

XXI. Socrates was wont to call the common conceits and opinions of men, the common bugbears of the world: the proper terror of silly children.

XXII. The Lacedæmonians at their public spectacles were wont to appoint seats and forms for their strangers in the shadow, they themselves were content to sit anywhere.

XXIII. What Socrates answered unto Perdiccas, why he did not come unto him, Lest of all deaths I should die the worst kind of death, said he: that is, not able to requite the good that hath been done unto me.

XXIV. In the ancient mystical letters of the Ephesians, there was an item, that a man should always have in his mind some one or other of the ancient worthies.

XXV. The Pythagoreans were wont betimes in the morning the first thing they did, to look up unto the heavens, to put themselves in mind of them who constantly and invariably did perform their task: as also to put themselves in mind of orderliness, or good order, and of purity, and of naked simplicity. For no star or planet hath any cover before it.

XXVI. How Socrates looked, when he was fain to gird himself with a skin, Xanthippe his wife having taken away his clothes, and carried them abroad with her, and what he said to his fellows and friends, who were ashamed; and out of respect to him, did retire themselves when they saw him thus decked.

XXVII. In matter of writing or reading thou must needs be taught before thou can do either: much more in matter of life. 'For thou art born a mere slave, to thy senses and brutish affections;' destitute without teaching of all true knowledge and sound reason.

XXVIII. 'My heart smiled within me.' 'They will accuse even virtue herself; with heinous and opprobrious words.'

XXIX. As they that long after figs in winter when they cannot be had; so are they that long after children, before they be granted them.

XXX. 'As often as a father kisseth his child, he should say secretly with himself' (said Epictetus,) 'tomorrow perchance shall he die.' But these words be ominous. No words ominous (said he) that signify anything that is natural: in very truth and deed not more ominous than this, 'to cut down grapes when they are ripe.' Green grapes, ripe grapes, dried grapes, or raisins: so many changes and mutations of one thing, not into that which was not absolutely, but rather so many several changes and mutations, not into that which hath no being at all, but into that which is not yet in being.

XXXI. 'Of the free will there is no thief or robber:' out of Epictetus; Whose is this also: that we should find a certain art and method of assenting; and that we should always observe with great care and heed the inclinations of our minds, that they may always be with their due restraint and reservation, always charitable, and according to the true worth of every present object. And as for earnest longing, that we should altogether avoid it: and to use averseness in those things only, that wholly depend of our own wills. It is not about ordinary petty matters, believe it, that all our strife and contention is, but whether, with the vulgar, we should be mad, or by the help of philosophy wise and sober, said he. XXXII. Socrates said, 'What will you have? the souls of reasonable, or unreasonable creatures? Of reasonable. But what? Of those whose reason is sound and perfect? or of those whose reason is vitiated and corrupted? Of those whose reason is sound and perfect. Why then labour ye not for such? Because we have them already. What then do ye so strive and contend between you?'

BOOK XI V. "Cithaeron" (6): Oedipus utters this cry after discovering that he has fulfilled his awful doom, he was exposed on Cithaeron as an infant to die, and the cry implies that he wishes he had died there. Sophocles, Oedipus Tyrannus, 1391.

V. "New Comedy...," etc. C. has here strayed from the Greek rather widely. Translate: "and understand to what end the New Comedy was adopted, which by small degrees degenerated into a mere show of skill in mimicry." C. writes Comedia Vetus, Media, Nova. XII. "Phocion" (13): When about to be put to death he charged his son to bear no malice against the Athenians.

XXVIII. "My heart," etc. (31): From Homer, Odyssey ix. 413. "They will" From Hesiod, Opera et Dies, 184.

"Epictetus" Arr. i. II, 37.

XXX. "Cut down grapes" (35): Correct "ears of corn." "Epictetus"(36): Arr. 3, 22, 105.

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Meditations 55

55 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he’auton, lit. ’things to one’s self’) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek asContinue reading “Meditations 55”

Meditations 54

54 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he’auton, lit. ’things to one’s self’) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek asContinue reading “Meditations 54”

Meditations 53

53 Meditations (Medieval Greek: Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, romanized: Ta eis he’auton, lit. ’things to one’s self’) is a series of personal writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor from AD 161 to 180, recording his private notes to himself and ideas on Stoic philosophy. Marcus Aurelius wrote the 12 books of the Meditations in Koine Greek asContinue reading “Meditations 53”

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