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 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

APPENDIX (Part 4)

After the preceptorial letters cease the others are concerned with domestic events, health and sickness, visits or introductions, birth or death. Thus the empperor writes to his old friend, who had shown some diffidence in seeking an interview:[40]

[40] Ad Verum. Imp. Aur. Caes., i. 3.

'To MY MASTER.

'I have a serious grievance against you, my dear master, yet indeed my grief is more than my grievance, because after so long a time I neither embraced you nor spoke to you, though you visited the palace, and the moment after I had left the prince my brother. I reproached my brother severely for not recalling me; nor durst he deny the fault.' Fronto again writes on one occasion: 'I have seen your daughter. It was like seeing you and Faustina in infancy, so much that is charming her face has taken from each of yours.' Or again, at a later date:[41] I have seen your chicks, most delightful sight that ever I saw in my life, so like you that nothing is more like than the likeness.... By the mercy of Heaven they have a healthy colour and strong lungs. One held a piece of white bread, like a little prince, the other a common piece, like a true philosophers son.'

[41] Ad Ant. Imp i., 3.

Marcus, we know, was devoted to his children. They were delicate in health, in spite of Fronto's assurance, and only one son survived the father. We find echoes of this affection now and again in the letters. 'We have summer heat here still,' writes Marcus, 'but since my little girls are pretty well, if I may say so, it is like the bracing climate of spring to us.'[42] When little Faustina came back from the valley of the shadow of death, her father at once writes to inform Fronto.[43] The sympathy he asks he also gives, and as old age brings more and more infirmity, Marcus becomes even more solicitous for his beloved teacher. The poor old man suffered a heavy blow in the death of his grandson, on which Marcus writes:[44] 'I have just heard of your misfortune. Feeling grieved as I do when one of your joints gives you pain, what do you think I feel, dear master, when you have pain of mind?' The old man's reply, in spite of a certain self-consciousness, is full of pathos. He recounts with pride the events of a long and upright life, in which he has wronged no man, and lived in harmony with his friends and family. His affectations fall away from him, as the cry of pain is forced from his heart:--

[42] Ad M. Caes., v. 19

[43] iv. 11

[44] De Nepote Amissa

[45]'Many such sorrows has fortune visited me with all my life long. To pass by my other afflictions, I have lost five children under the most pitiful conditions possible: for the five I lost one by one when each was my only child, suffering these blows of bereavement in such a manner that each child was born to one already bereaved. Thus I ever lost my children without solace, and got them amidst fresh grief..…'

[45] De Nepote Amissa 2

The letter continues with reflections on the nature of death, 'more to be rejoiced at than bewailed, the younger one dies,' and an arraignment of Providence not without dignity, wrung from him as it were by this last culminating misfortune. It concludes with a summing-up of his life in protest against the blow which has fallen on his grey head.

'Through my long life I have committed nothing which might bring dishonour, or disgrace, or shame: no deed of avarice or treachery have I done in all my day's: nay, but much generosity, much kindness, much truth and faithfulness have I shown, often at the risk of my own life. I have lived in amity with my good brother, whom I rejoice to see in possession of the highest office by your father's goodness, and by your friendship at peace and perfect rest. The offices which I have myself obtained I never strove for by any underhand means. I have cultivated my mind rather than my body; the pursuit of learning I have preferred to increasing my wealth. I preferred to be poor rather than bound by any' man's obligation, even to want rather than to beg. I have never been extravagant in spending money, I have earned it sometimes because I must. I have scrupulously spoken the truth, and have been glad to hear it spoken to me. I have thought it better to be neglected than to fawn, to be dumb than to feign, to be seldom a friend than to be often a flatterer. I have sought little, deserved not little. So far as I could, I have assisted each according to my means. I have given help readily to the deserving, fearlessly to the undeserving. No one by proving to be ungrateful has made me more slow to bestow promptly all benefits I could give, nor have I ever been harsh to ingratitude. (A fragmentary passage follows, in which he appears to speak of his desire for a peaceful end, and the desolation of his house.) I have suffered long and painful sickness, my beloved Marcus. Then I was visited by pitiful misfortunes: my wife I have lost, my grandson I have lost in Germany:[46] woe is me! I have lost my Decimanus. If I were made of iron, at this tine I could write no more.'

[46] In the war against the Catti.

It is noteworthy that in his _Meditations_ Marcus Aurelius mentions Fronto only once.[47] All his literary studies, his oratory and criticism (such as it was) is forgotten; and, says he, 'Fronto taught me not to expect natural affection from the highly-born.' Fronto really said more than this: that 'affection' is not a Roman quality, nor has it a Latin name.[48] Roman or not Roman, Marcus found affection in Fronto; and if he outgrew his master's intellectual training, he never lost touch with the true heart of the man it is that which Fronto's name brings up to his remembrance, not dissertations on compound verbs or fatuous criticisms of style.

[47] Book I., 8.  [48] Ad Verum, ii. 7

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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”

Meditations 52

52 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 52”

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 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

APPENDIX (Part 3)

[26]'Well, if the ancient Greeks ever wrote anything like this, let those who know decide it: for me, if I dare say so, I never read any invective of Cato's so fine as your encomtum. O if my Lord[27] could be sufficiently praised, sufficiently praised he would have been undoubtedly by you! This kind of thing is not done nowadays.[28] It were easier to match Pheidias, easier to match Apelles, easier in a word to match Demosthenes himself, or Cato himself; than to match this finisht and perfect work. Never have I read anything more refined, anything more after the ancient type, anything more delicious, anything more Latin. O happy you, to be endowed with eloquence so great! O happy I, to be tinder the charge of such a master! O arguments,[29] O arrangement, O elegance, O wit, O beauty, O words, O brilliancy, O subtilty, O grace, O treatment, O everything! Mischief take me, if you ought not to have a rod put in your hand one day, a diadem on your brow, a tribunal raised for you; then the herald would summon us all-why do I say "us"? Would summnon all, those scholars and orators: one by one you would beckon them forward with your rod and admonish them. Hitherto I have had no fear of this admonition; many things help me to enter within your school. I write this in the utmost haste; for whenas I am sending you so kindly a letter from my Lord, what needs a longer letter of mine? Farewell then, glory of Roman eloquence, boast of your friends, magnifico, most delightful man, most distinguished consul, master most sweet.

(Pheidias, the most famous sculptor of antiquity.)

(Apelles, a famous painter of antiquity.)

[26] Ad M. Caes., ii. 3.

[27] The Emperor Antoninus Pius is spoken of as _dominus meus_.

[28] This sentence is written in Greek.

[29] Several of these words are Greek, and the meaning is not quite clear.

'After this you will take care not to tell so many fibs of me, especially in the Senate. A monstrous fine speech this is! O if I could kiss your head at every heading of it! You have looked down on all with a vengeance. This oration once read, in vain shall we study, in vain shall we toil, in vain strain every nerve. Farewell always, most sweet master.'

Sometimes Fronto descends from the heights of eloquence to offer practical advice; as when he suggests how Marcus should deal with his suite. It is more difficult, he admits, to keep courtiers in harmony than to tame lions with a lute; but if it is to be done, it must be by eradicating jealousy. 'Do not let your friends,' says Fronto,'[30] 'envy each other, or think that what you give to another is filched from them.

[30] Ad M Caes., iv. 1.

Keep away envy from your suite, and you will find your friends kindly and harmonious.'

Here and there we meet with allusions to his daily life, which we could wish to be more frequent. He goes to the theatre or the law-courts,[31] or takes part in court ceremony, but his heart is always with his books. The vintage season, with its religious rites, was always spent by Antoninus Pius in the country. The following letters give sonic notion of a day's occupation at that time:(3)

[31] ii. 14

[32] iv. 5,6.

'MY DEAREST MASTER,--I am well. To-day I studied from the ninth hour of the night to the second hour of day, after taking food. I then put on my slippers, and from time second to the third hour had a most enjoyable walk up and down before my chamber. Then booted and cloaked-for so we were commanded to appear-I went to wait upon my lord the emperor. We went a-hunting, did doughty deeds, heard a rumour that boars had been caught, but there was nothing to see. However, we climbed a pretty steep hill, and in the afternoon returned home. I went straight to my books. Off with the boots, down with the cloak; I spent a couple of hours in bed. I read Cato's speech on the Property of Pulchra, and another in which he impeaches a tribune. Ho, ho! I hear you cry to your man, Off with you as fast as you can, and bring me these speeches from the library of Apollo. No use to send: I have those books with me too. You must get round the Tiberian librarian; you will have to spend something on the matter; and when I return to town, I shall expect to go shares with him. Well, after reading these speeches I wrote a wretched trifle, destined for drowning or burning. No, indeed my attempt at writing did not come off at all to-day; the composition of a hunter or a vintager, whose shouts are echoing through my chamber, hateful and wearisome as the law-courts. What have I said? Yes, it was rightly said, for my master is an orator. I think I have caught cold, whether from walking in slippers or from writing badly, I do not know. I am always annoyed with phlegm, but to-day I seem to snivel more than usual. Well, I will pour oil on my head and go off to sleep. I don't mean to put one drop in my lamp to-day, so weary am I from riding and sneezing. Farewell, dearest and most beloved master, whom I miss, I may say, more than Rome itself.'

'MY BELOVED MASTER,-I am well. I slept a little more than usual for my slight cold, which seems to be well again. So I spent the time from the eleventh hour of the night to the third of the day partly in reading in Cato's Agriculture, partly in writing, not quite so badly as yesterday indeed. Then, after waiting upon my father, I soothed my throat with honey-water, ejecting it without swallowing: I might say _gargle_, but I won't, though I think the word is found in Novius and elsewhere. After attending to my throat I went to my father, and stood by his side as he sacrificed. Then to luncheon. What do you think I had to eat? A bit of bread so big, while I watched others gobbling boiled beans, onions, and fish full of roe. Then we set to work at gathering the grapes, with plenty of sweat and shouting, and, as the quotation runs, "A few high-hanging clusters did we leave survivors of the vintage." After the sixth hour we returned home. I did a little work, and poor work at that. Then I had a long gossip with my dear mother sitting on the bed. My conversation was: What do you think my friend Fronto is doing just now? She said: And what do you think of my friend Gratia?'[33] My turn now: And what of our little Gratia,[34] the sparrowkin? After this kind of talk, and an argument as to which of you loved the other most, the gong sounded, the signal that my father had gone to the bath. We supped, after ablutions in the oil-cellar-I mean we supped after ablutions, not after ablutions in the oil-cellar; and listened with enjoyment to the rustics gibing. After returning, before turning on my side to snore, I do my task and give an account of the day to my delightful master, whom if I could long for a little more, I should not mind growing a trifle thinner. Farewell, Fronto, wherever you are, honey-sweet, my darling, my delight. Why do I want you? I can love you while far away.'

[33] Fronto's wife.

[34] Fronto's daughter

One anecdote puts Marcus before us in a new light:[35]

[35] Ad M. Caes ii. 12.

'When my father returned home from the vineyards, I mounted my horse as usual, and rode on ahead some little way. Well, there on the road was a herd of sheep, standing all crowded together as though the place were a desert, with four dogs and two shepherds, but nothing else. Then one shepherd said to another shepherd, on seeing a number of horsemen: 'I say,' says he, 'look you at those horsemen; they do a deal of robbery.' When I heard this, I clap spurs to my horse, and ride straight for the sheep. In consternation the sheep scatter; hither and thither they are fleeting and bleating. A shepherd throws his fork, and the fork falls on the horseman who came next to me. We make our escape.' We like Marcus none the worse for this spice of mischief.

Another letter[36] describes a visit to a country town, and shows the antiquarian spirit of the writer:—

'M. CÆSAR to his MASTER M. FRONTO, greeting.

'After I entered the carriage, after I took leave of you, we made a journey comfortable enough, but we had a few drops of rain to wet us. But before coming to the country-house, we broke our journey at Anagnia, a mile or so from the highroad. Then we inspected that ancient town, a miniature it is, but has in it many antiquities, temples, and religious ceremonies quite out of the way. There is not a corner without its shrine, or fane, or temple; besides, many books written on linen, which belongs to things sacred. Then on the gate as we came out was written twice, as follows: "Priest don the fell."[37] I asked one of the inhabitants what that word was. He said it was the word in the Hernican dialect for the victim's skin, which the priest puts over his conical cap when he enters the city. I found out many other things which I desired to know, but the only thing I do not desire is that you should be absent from me; that is my chief anxiety. Now for yourself, when you left that place, did you go to Aurelia or to Campania? Be sure to write to me, and say whether you have opened the vintage, or carried a host of books to the country-house; this also, whether you miss me; I am foolish to ask it, whenas you tell it me of yourself. Now if you miss me and if you love me, send me your letters often, which is a comfort and consolation to me. Indeed I should prefer ten times to read your letters than all the vines of Gaurus or the Marsians; for these Signian vines have grapes too rank and fruit too sharp in the taste, but I prefer wine to must for drinking. Besides, those grapes are nicer to eat dried than fresh-ripe; I vow I would rather tread them under foot than put my teeth in them. But I pray they may be gracious and forgiving, and grant me free pardon for these jests of mine. Farewell, best friend, dearest, most learned, sweetest master. When you see the must ferment in the vat, remember that just so in my heart the longing for you is gushing and flowing and bubbling. Good-bye.'

[36] Ad Verum. Imp ii. 1, s. fin.

[37] Santentum

Making all allowances for conventional exaggerations, it is clear from the correspondence that there was deep love between Marcus and his preceptor. The letters cover several years in succession, but soon after the birth of Marcus's daughter, Faustina, there is a large gap. It does not follow that the letters ceased entirely, because we know part of the collection is lost; but there was probably less intercourse between Marcus and Fronto after Marcus took to the study of philosophy under the guidance of Rusticus.

When Marcus succeeded to the throne in 161, the letters begin again, with slightly increased formality on Fronto's part, and they go on for some four years, when Fronto, who has been continually complaining of ill-health, appears to have died. One letter of the later period gives some interesting particulars of the emperor's public life, which are worth quoting. Fronto speaks of Marcus's victories and eloquence in the usual strain of high praise, and then continues.[38]

'The army when you took it in hand was sunk in luxury and revelry, and corrupted with long inactivity. At Antiochia the soldiers had been Wont to applaud at the stage plays, knew more of the gardens at the nearest restaurant than of the battlefield. Horses were hairy from lack of grooming, horsemen smooth because their hairs had been pulled out by the roots[39] a rare thing it was to see a soldier with hair on arm or leg. Moreover, they were better drest than armed; so much so, that Laelianus Pontius, a strict man of the old discipline, broke the cuirasses of some of them with his finger-tips, and observed cushions on the horses' backs. At his direction the tufts were cut through, and out of the horsemen's saddles came what appeared to be feathers pluckt from geese. Few of the men could vault on horseback, the rest clambered up with difficulty by aid of heel and knee and leg not many could throw a lance hurtling, most did it without force or power, as though they were things of wool-dicing was common in the camp, sleep lasted all night, or if they kept watch it was over the winecup. By what regulations to restrain such soldiers as these, and to turn them to honesty and industry, did you not learn from Hannibal's sternness, the discipline of Africanus, the acts of Metellus recorded in history.

[38] Ad Verum. imp., ii. I, s.fin.

[39] A common mark of the effeminate at Rome.

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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 51

51 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 51”

Meditations 50

50 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 50”

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 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

APPENDIX (Part 2)

To MY MASTER.[9]

'This is how I have past the last few days. My sister was suddenly seized with an internal pain, so violent that I was horrified at her looks; my mother in her trepidation on that account accidentally bruised her side on a corner of the wall; she and we were greatly troubled about that blow. For myself; on going to rest I found a scorpion in my bed; but I did not lie down upon him, I killed him first. If you are getting on better, that is a consolation. My mother is easier now, thanks be to God. Good-bye, best and sweetest master. My lady sends you greeting.'

[9] Ad M. Caes., v. 8.

[10]'What words can I find to fit my had luck, or how shall I upbraid as it deserves the hard constraint which is laid upon me? It ties me fast here, troubled my heart is, and beset by such anxiety; nor does it allow me to make haste to my Fronto, my life and delight, to be near him at such a moment of ill-health in particular, to hold his hands, to chafe gently that identical foot, so far as may be done without discomfort, to attend him in the bath, to support his steps with my arm.'

[10] Ad M. Caes., i. 2.

[11]'This morning I did not write to you, because I heard you were better, and because I was myself engaged in other business, and I cannot ever endure to write anything to you unless with mind at ease and untroubled and free. So if we are all right, let me know: what I desire, you know, and how properly I desire it, I know. Farewell, my master, always in every chance first in my mind, as you deserve to be. My master, see I am not asleep, and I compel myself to sleep, that you may not be angry with me. You gather I am writing this late at night.'

[11] iii. 21.

[12]'What spirit do you suppose is in me, when I remember how long it is since I have seen you, and why I have not seen you! and it may be I shall not see you for a few days yet, while you are strengthening yourself; as you must. So while you lie on the sick-bed, my spirit also will lie low anti, whenas,[13] by God's mercy you shall stand upright, my spirit too will stand firm, which is now burning with the strongest desire for you. Farewell, soul of your prince, your pupil.'

[14]O my dear Fronto, most distinguished Consul! I yield, you have conquered: all who have ever loved before, you have conquered out and out in love's contest. Receive the victor's wreath; and the herald shall proclaim your victory aloud before your own tribunal: "M. Cornelius Fronto, Consul, wins, and is crowned victor in the Open International Love-race."[15] But beaten though I may be, I shall neither slacken nor relax my own zeal. Well, you shall love me more than any man loves any other man; but I, who possess a faculty of loving less strong, shall love you more than any one else loves you; more indeed than you love yourself. Gratia and I will have to fight for it; I doubt I shall not get the better of her. For, as Plautus says, her love is like rain, whose big drops not only penetrate the dress, but drench to the very marrow.'

[12] Ad M. Caes., iii. 19.

[13] The writer sometimes uses archaisms such as _quom_, which I render 'whenas'.  

[14] Ad M. Caes., ii. 2.

[15] The writer parodies the proclamation at the Greek games; the words also are Greek.

Marcus Aurelius seems to have been about eighteen years of age when the correspondence begins, Fronto being some thirty years older.[16] The systematic education of the young prince seems to have been finisht, and Pronto now acts more as his adviser than his tutor. He recommends the prince to use simplicity in his public speeches, and to avoid affectation.[17] Marcus devotes his attention to the old authors who then had a great vogue at Rome: Ennius, Plautus, Nævius, and such orators as Cato and Gracchus.[18] Pronto urges on him the study of Cicero, whose letters, he says, are all worth reading.

[16] From internal evidence: the letters are not arranged in order of time. See Naher's _Prolegomena_, p. xx. Foll.

[17] Ad M. Caes., iii. x.

[18] Ad M. Caes ii. 10,; iii. 18,; ii. 4.

When he wishes to compliment Marcus he declares one or other of his letters has the true Tullian ring. Marcus gives his nights to reading when he ought to be sleeping. He exercises himself in verse composition and on rhetorical themes.

'It is very nice of you,' he writes to Fronto,[19] 'to ask for my hexameters; I would have sent them at once if I had them by me. The fact is my secretary, Anicetus-you know who I mean-did not pack up any of my compositions for me to take away with me. He knows my weakness; he was afraid that if I got hold of them I might, as usual, make smoke of them. However, there was no fear for the hexameters. I must confess the truth to my master: I love them. I study at night, since the day is taken up with the theatre. I am weary of an evening, and sleepy in the daylight, and so I don't do much. Yet I have made extracts from sixty books, five volumes of them, in these latter days. But when you read remember that the "sixty" includes plays of Novius, and farces, and some little speeches of Scipio; don't be too much startled at the number. You remember your Polemon; but I pray you do not remember Horace, who has died with Pollio as far as I am concerned.[20] Farewell, my dearest and most affectionate friend, most distinguished consul and my beloved master, whom I have not seen these two years. Those who say two months, count the days. Shall I ever see you again?'

[19] Ad M. Caes., ii. 10.

[20] He implies, as in i. 6, that he has ceased to study Horace.

Sometimes Fronto sends him a theme to work up, as thus: 'M. Lucilius tribune of the people violently throws into prison a free Roman citizen, against the opinion of his colleagues who demand his release. For this act he is branded by the censor. Analyse the case, and then take both sides in turn, attacking and defending.'[21] Or again: 'A Roman consul, doffing his state robe, dons the gauntlet and kills a lion amongst the young men at the Quinquatrus in full view of the people of Rome. Denunciation before the censors.'[22] The prince has a fair knowledge of Greek, and quotes from Homer, Plato, Euripides, but for some reason Fronto dissuaded him from this study.[23] His _Meditations_ are written in Greek. He continued his literary studies throughout his life, and after he became emperor we still find him asking his adviser for copies of Cicero's Letters, by which he hopes to improve his vocabulary.[24] Pronto helps him with a supply of similes, which, it seems, he did not think of readily. It is to be feared that the fount of Marcus's eloquence was pumped up by artificial means.

[21] Pollio was a grammarian, who taught Marcus.

[22] Ad M. Caes., v. 27,; V. 22.

[23] Ep. Gracae, 6.

[24] Ad Anton. Imp., II. 4.

Some idea of his literary style may be gathered from the letter which follows:[25]

'I heard Polemo declaim the other day, to say something of things sublunary. If you ask what I thought of him, listen. He seems to me an industrious farmer, endowed with the greatest skill, who has cultivated a large estate for corn and vines only, and indeed with a rich return of fine crops. But yet in that land of his there is no Pompeian fig or Arician vegetable, no Tarentine rose, or pleasing coppice, or thick grove, or shady plane tree; all is for use rather than for pleasure, such as one ought rather to commend, but cares not to love.

[25] Ad M. Caes, ii. 5.

A pretty bold idea, is it not, and rash judgment, to pass censure on a man of such reputation? But whenas I remember that I am writing to you, I think I am less bold than you would have me.

'In that point I am wholly undecided.

'There's an unpremeditated hendecasyllable for you. So before I begin to poetize, I'll take an easy with you. Farewell, my heart's desire, your Verus's best beloved, most distinguisht consul, master most sweet. Farewell I ever pray, sweetest soul.

What a letter do you think you have written me I could make bold to say, that never did she who bore me and nurst me, write anything SO delightful, so honey-sweet. And this does not come of your fine style and eloquence: otherwise not my mother only, but all who breathe.'

To the pupil, never was anything on earth so fine as his master's eloquence; on this theme Marcus fairly bubbles over with enthusiasm.

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Meditations 49

49 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 49”

Meditations 48

48 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 48”

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 asContinue reading “Meditations 47”

Meditations 52

52 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

APPENDIX (Part 1)

CORRESPONDENCE OF M. AURELIUS ANTONINUS AND M. CORNELIUS FRONTO[1]

M. CORNELIUS FRONTO was a Roman by descent, but of provincial birth, being native to Cirta, in Numidia. Thence he migrated to Rome in the reign of Hadrian, and became the most famous rhetorician of his day. As a pleader and orator he was counted by his contemporaries hardly inferior to Tully himself, and as a teacher his aid was sought for the noblest youths of Rome. To him was entrusted the education of M. Aurelius and of his colleague L. Verus in their boyhood; and he was rewarded for his efforts by a seat in the Senate and the consular rank (A.D. 143). By the exercise of his profession he became wealthy; and if he speaks of his means as not great,[2] he must be comparing his wealth with the grandees of Rome, not with the ordinary citizen.

Before the present century nothing was known of the works of Fronto, except a grammatical treatise; but in 1815 Cardinal Mai published a number of letters and some short essays of Fronto, which he had discovered in a palimpsest at Milan. Other parts of the same MS. he found later in the Vatican, the whole being collected.

[1] References are made to the edition of Naber, Leipzig (Trübner), 1867.

[2] Ad Verum imp. Aur. Caes., ii, 7. and edited in the year 1823.

We now possess parts of his correspondence with Antoninus Pius, with M. Aurelius, with L. Verus, and with certain of his friends, and also several rhetorical and historical fragments. Though none of the more ambitious works of Fronto have survived, there are enough to give proof of his powers. Never was a great literary reputation less deserved. It would be hard to conceive of anything more vapid than the style and conception of these letters; clearly the man was a pedant without imagination or taste. Such indeed was the age he lived in, and it is no marvel that he was like to his age. But there must have been more in him than mere pedantry; there was indeed a heart in the man, which Marcus found, and he found also a tongue which could speak the truth. Fronto's letters are by no means free from exaggeration and laudation, but they do not show that loathsome flattery which filled the Roman court. He really admires what he praises, and his way of saying so is not unlike what often passes for criticism at the present day. He is not afraid to reprove what he thinks amiss; and the astonishment of Marcus at this will prove, if proof were needed, that he was not used to plain dealing. "How happy I am," he writes, "that my friend Marcus Cornelius, so distinguished as an orator and so noble as a man, thinks me worth praising and blaming."[3] In another place he deems himself blest because Pronto had taught him to speak the truth[4] although the context shows him to be speaking of expression, it is still a point in favour of Pronto. A sincere heart is better than literary taste; and if Fronto had not done his duty by the young prince, it is not easy to understand the friendship which remained between them up to the last.

[3] Ad M. Caes iii. 17

[4] Ad M. Caes iii. 12

An example of the frankness which was between them is given by a difference they had over the case of Herodes Atticus. Herodes was a Greek rhetorician who had a school at Rome, and Marcus Aurelius was among his pupils. Both Marcus and the Emperor Antoninus had a high opinion of Herodes; and all we know goes to prove he was a man of high character and princely generosity. When quite young he was made administrator of the free cities in Asia, nor is it surprising to find that he made bitter enemies there; indeed, a just ruler was sure to make enemies. The end of it was that an Athenian deputation, headed by the orators Theodotus and Demostratus, made serious accusations against his honour. There is no need to discuss the merits of the case here; suffice it to say, Herodes succeeded in defending himself to the satisfaction of the emperor. Pronto appears to have taken the delegates' part, and to have accepted a brief for the prosecution, urged to some extent by personal considerations; and in this cause Marcus Aurelius writes to Fronto as follows:—

'AURELIUS CÆSAR to his friend FRONTO, greeting.[5]'I know you have often told me you were anxious to find how you might best please me. Now is the time; now you can increase my love towards you, if it can be increased. A trial is at hand, in which people seem likely not only to hear your speech with pleasure, but to see your indignation with impatience. I see no one who dares give you a hint in the matter; for those who are less friendly, prefer to see you act with some inconsistency; and those who are more friendly, fear to seem too friendly to your opponent if they should dissuade you from your accusation; then again, in case you have prepared something neat for the occasion, they cannot endure to rob you of your harangue by silencing you. Therefore, whether you think me a rash counsellor, or a bold boy, or too kind to your opponent, not because I think it better, I will offer my counsel with some caution. But why have I said, offer my counsel? No, I demand it from you; I demand it boldly, and if I succeed, I promise to remain under your obligation. What? you will say if I am attackt, shall I not pay tit for tat? Ah, but you will get greater glory, if even when attackt you answer nothing. Indeed, if he begins it, answer as you will and you will have fair excuse; but I have demanded of him that he shall not begin, and I think I have succeeded. I love each of you according to your merits and I know that lie was educated in the house of P. Calvisius, my grandfather, and that I was educated by you; therefore I am full of anxiety that this most disagreeable business shall be managed as honourably as possible. I trust you may approve my advice, for my intention you will approve. At least I prefer to write unwisely rather than to be silent unkindly.'

[5] Ad M. Caes ii., 2.

Fronto replied, thanking the prince for his advice, and promising that he will confine himself to the facts of the case. But he points out that the charges brought against Herodes were such, that they can hardly be made agreeable; amongst them being spoliation, violence, and murder. However, he is willing even to let some of these drop if it be the prince's pleasure. To this Marcus returned the following answer:--[6] 'This one thing, my dearest Fronto, is enough to make me truly grateful to you, that so far from rejecting my counsel, you have even approved it. As to the question you raise in your kind letter, my opinion is this: all that concerns the case which you are supporting must be clearly brought forward; what concerns your own feelings, though you may have had just provocation, should be left unsaid.' The story does credit to both. Fronto shows no loss of temper at the interference, nor shrinks from stating his case with frankness; and Marcus, with forbearance remarkable in a prince, does not command that his friend be left unmolested, but merely stipulates for a fair trial on the merits of the case.

[6] Ad. M. Caes., iii. 5.

Another example may be given from a letter of Fronto's[7] Here is something else quarrelsome and querulous. I have sometimes found fault with you in your absence somewhat seriously in the company of a few of my most intimate friends: at times, for example, when you mixt in society with a more solemn look than was fitting, or would read books in the theatre or in a banquet; nor did I absent myself from theatre or banquet when you did.[8] Then I used to call you a hard man, no good company, even disagreeable, sometimes, when anger got the better of me. But did any one else in the same banquet speak against you, I could not endure to hear it with equanimity. Thus it was easier for me to say something to your disadvantage myself, than to hear others do it; just as I could more easily bear to chastise my daughter Gratia, than to see her chastised by another.'

[7] Ad. M. Caes., iv. 12.

[8] The text is obscure

The affection between them is clear from every page of the correspondence. A few instances are now given, which were written at different periods.

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Meditations 46

46 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 46”

Meditations 45

45 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 45”

Meditations 44

44 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 44”

Meditations 51

51 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 TWELFTH BOOK (XXII - XXVII)

XXII. Herein doth consist happiness of life, for a man to know thoroughly the true nature of everything; what is the matter, and what is the form of it: with all his heart and soul, ever to do that which is just, and to speak the truth. What then remaineth but to enjoy thy life in a course and coherence of good actions, one upon another immediately succeeding, and never interrupted, though for never so little a while?

XXIII. There is but one light of the sun, though it be intercepted by walls and mountains, and other thousand objects. There is but one common substance of the whole world, though it be concluded and restrained into several different bodies, in number infinite. There is but one common soul, though divided into innumerable particular essences and natures. So is there but one common intellectual soul, though it seem to be divided. And as for all other parts of those generals which we have mentioned, as either sensitive souls or subjects, these of themselves (as naturally irrational) have no common mutual reference one unto another, though many of them contain a mind, or reasonable faculty in them, whereby they are ruled and governed. But of every reasonable mind, this the particular nature, that it hath reference to whatsoever is of her own kind, and desireth to be united: neither can this common affection, or mutual unity and correspondency, be here intercepted or divided, or confined to particulars as those other common things are.

XXIV. What doest thou desire? To live long. What? To enjoy the operations of a sensitive soul; or of the appetitive faculty? or wouldst thou grow, and then decrease again? Wouldst thou long be able to talk, to think and reason with thyself? Which of all these seems unto thee a worthy object of thy desire? Now if of all these thou doest find that they be but little worth in themselves, proceed on unto the last, which is, in all things to follow God and reason. But for a man to grieve that by death he shall be deprived of any of these things, is both against God and reason.

XXV. What a small portion of vast and infinite eternity it is, that is allowed unto every one of us, and how soon it vanisheth into the general age of the world: of the common substance, and of the common soul also what a small portion is allotted unto us: and in what a little clod of the whole earth (as it were) it is that thou doest crawl. After thou shalt rightly have considered these things with thyself; fancy not anything else in the world any more to be of any weight and moment but this, to do that only which thine own nature doth require; and to conform thyself to that which the common nature doth afford.

XXVI. What is the present estate of my understanding? For herein lieth all indeed. As for all other things, they are without the compass of mine own will: and if without the compass of my will, then are they as dead things unto me, and as it were mere smoke.

XXVII. To stir up a man to the contempt of death this among other things, is of good power and efficacy, that even they who esteemed pleasure to be happiness, and pain misery, did nevertheless many of them contemn death as much as any. And can death be terrible to him, to whom that only seems good, which in the ordinary course of nature is seasonable? to him, to whom, whether his actions be many or few, so they be all good, is all one; and who whether he behold the things of the world being always the same either for many years, or for few years only, is altogether indifferent? O man! as a citizen thou hast lived, and conversed in this great city the world. Whether just for so many years, or no, what is it unto thee? Thou hast lived (thou mayest be sure) as long as the laws and orders of the city required; which may be the common comfort of all. Why then should it be grievous unto thee, if (not a tyrant, nor an unjust judge, but) the same nature that brought thee in, doth now send thee out of the world? As if the praetor should fairly dismiss him from the stage, whom he had taken in to act a while. Oh, but the play is not yet at an end, there are but three acts yet acted of it? Thou hast well said: for in matter of life, three acts is the whole play. Now to set a certain time to every man's acting, belongs unto him only, who as first he was of thy composition, so is now the cause of thy dissolution. As for thyself; thou hast to do with neither. Go thy ways then well pleased and contented: for so is He that dismisseth thee.

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Meditations 43

43 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 43”

Meditations 42

42 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 42”

Meditations 41

41 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 41”

Meditations 50

50 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 TWELFTH BOOK (XVII - XXI)

XVII. No operation whatsoever it he, ceasing for a while, can be truly said to suffer any evil, because it is at an end. Neither can he that is the author of that operation; for this very respect, because his operation is at an end, be said to suffer any evil. Likewise then, neither can the whole body of all our actions (which is our life) if in time it cease, be said to suffer any evil for this very reason, because it is at an end; nor he truly be said to have been ill affected, that did put a period to this series of actions. Now this time or certain period, depends of the determination of nature: sometimes of particular nature, as when a man dieth old; but of nature in general, however; the parts whereof thus changing one after another, the whole world still continues fresh and new. Now that is ever best and most seasonable, which is for the good of the whole. Thus it appears that death of itself can neither be hurtful to any in particular, because it is not a shameful thing (for neither is it a thing that depends of our own will, nor of itself contrary to the common good) and generally, as it is both expedient and seasonable to the whole, that in that respect it must needs be good. It is that also, which is brought unto us by the order and appointment of the Divine Providence; so that he whose will and mind in these things runs along with the Divine ordinance, and by this concurrence of his will and mind with the Divine Providence, is led and driven along, as it were by God Himself; may truly be termed and esteemed the θεοφόρητος, or divinely led and inspired.

XVIII. These three things thou must have always in a readiness: first concerning thine own actions, whether thou doest nothing either idly, or otherwise, than justice and equity do require: and concerning those things that happen unto thee externally, that either they happen unto thee by chance, or by providence; of which two to accuse either, is equally against reason. Secondly, what like unto our bodies are whilest yet rude and imperfect, until they be animated: and from their animation, until their expiration: of what things they are compounded, and into what things they shall be dissolved. Thirdly, how vain all things will appear unto thee when, from on high as it were, looking down thou shalt contemplate all things upon earth, and the wonderful mutability, that they are subject unto: considering withal, the infinite both greatness and variety of things aerial and things celestial that are round about it. And that as often as thou shalt behold them, thou shalt still see the same: as the same things, so the same shortness of continuance of all those things. And, behold, these be the things that we are so proud and puffed up for.

XIX. Cast away from thee opinion, and thou art safe. And what is it that hinders thee from casting of it away? When thou art grieved at anything, hast thou forgotten that all things happen according to the nature of the universe; and that him only it concerns, who is in fault; and moreover, that what is now done, is that which from ever hath been done in the world, and will ever be done, and is now done everywhere: how nearly all men are allied one to another by a kindred not of blood, nor of seed, but of the same mind. Thou hast also forgotten that every man's mind partakes of the Deity, and issueth from thence; and that no man can properly call anything his own, no not his son, nor his body, nor his life; for that they all proceed from that One who is the giver of all things: that all things are but opinion; that no man lives properly, but that very instant of time which is now present. And therefore that no man whensoever he dieth can properly be said to lose any more, than an instant of time.

XX. Let thy thoughts ever run upon them, who once for some one thing or other, were moved with extraordinary indignation; who were once in the highest pitch of either honour, or calamity; or mutual hatred and enmity; or of any other fortune or condition whatsoever. Then consider what's now become of all those things. All is turned to smoke; all to ashes, and a mere fable; and perchance not so much as a fable. As also whatsoever is of this nature, as Fabius Catulinus in the field; Lucius Lupus, and Stertinius, at Baiæ Tiberius at Capreæ and Velius Rufus, and all such examples of vehement prosecution in worldly matters; let these also run in thy mind at the same time; and how vile every object of such earnest and vehement prosecution is; and how much more agreeable to true philosophy it is, for a man to carry himself in every matter that offers itself; justly, and moderately, as one that followeth the Gods with all simplicity. For, for a man to be proud and high conceited, that he is not proud and high conceited, is of all kind of pride and presumption, the most intolerable.

(Tiberius, 2nd Roman Emperor (14-31 AD.). He spent the latter part of his life at Capreae (Capri), off Naples, in luxury or debauchery, neglecting his imperial duties.)

XXI. To them that ask thee, Where hast thou seen the Gods, or how knowest thou certainly that there be Gods, that thou art so devout in their worship? I answer first of all, that even to the very eye, they are in some manner visible and apparent. Secondly, neither have I ever seen mine own soul, and yet I respect and honour it. So then for the Gods, by the daily experience that I have of their power and providence towards myself and others, I know certainly that they are, and therefore worship them.

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Meditations 40

40 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 40”

Meditations 39

39 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 39”

Meditations 38

38 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 38”

Meditations 49

49 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 TWELFTH BOOK (V - XVI)

V. Use thyself even unto those things that thou doest at first despair of. For the left hand we see, which for the most part lieth idle because not used; yet doth it hold the bridle with more strength than the right, because it hath been used unto it.

VI. Let these be the objects of thy ordinary meditation: to consider, what manner of men both for soul and body we ought to be, whensoever death shall surprise us: the shortness of this our mortal life: the immense vastness of the time that hath been before, and will he after us: the frailty of every worldly material object: all these things to consider, and behold clearly in themselves, all disguisement of external outside being removed and taken away. Again, to consider the efficient causes of all things: the proper ends and references of all actions: what pain is in itself; what pleasure, what death: what fame or honour, how every man is the true and proper ground of his own rest and tranquillity, and that no man can truly be hindered by any other: that all is but conceit and opinion. As for the use of thy dogmata, thou must carry thyself in the practice of them, rather like unto a pancratiastes, or one that at the same time both fights and wrestles with hands and feet, than a gladiator. For this, if he lose his sword that he fights with, he is gone: whereas the other hath still his hand free, which he may easily turn and manage at his will.

VII. All worldly things thou must behold and consider, dividing them into matter, form, and reference, or their proper end.

VIII. How happy is man in this his power that hath been granted unto him: that he needs not do anything but what God shall approve, and that he may embrace contentedly, whatsoever God doth send unto him?

IX. Whatsoever doth happen in the ordinary course and consequence of natural events, neither the Gods, (for it is not possible, that they either wittingly or unwittingly should do anything amiss) nor men, (for it is through ignorance, and therefore against their wills that they do anything amiss) must be accused. None then must be accused.

X. How ridiculous and strange is he, that wonders at anything that happens in this life in the ordinary course of nature!

XI. Either fate, (and that either an absolute necessity, and unavoidable decree; or a placable and flexible Providence) or all is a mere casual confusion, void of all order and government. If an absolute and unavoidable necessity, why doest thou resist? If a placable and exorable Providence, make thyself worthy of the divine help and assistance. If all be a mere confusion without any moderator, or governor, then hast thou reason to congratulate thyself; that in such a general flood of confusion thou thyself hast obtained a reasonable faculty, whereby thou mayest govern thine own life and actions. But if thou beest carried away with the flood, it must be thy body perchance, or thy life, or some other thing that belongs unto them that is carried away: thy mind and understanding cannot. Or should it be so, that the light of a candle indeed is still bright and lightsome until it be put out: and should truth, and righteousness, and temperance cease to shine in thee whilest thou thyself hast any being?

XII. At the conceit and apprehension that such and such a one hath sinned, thus reason with thyself; What do I know whether this be a sin indeed, as it seems to be? But if it be, what do I know but that he himself hath already condemned himself for it? And that is all one as if a man should scratch and tear his own face, an object of compassion rather than of anger. Again, that he that would not have a vicious man to sin, is like unto him that would not have moisture in the fig, nor children to welp nor a horse to neigh, nor anything else that in the course of nature is necessary. For what shall he do that hath such an habit? If thou therefore beest powerful and eloquent, remedy it if thou canst.

XIII. If it be not fitting, do it not. If it be not true, speak it not. Ever maintain thine own purpose and resolution free from all compulsion and necessity.  

XIV. Of everything that presents itself unto thee, to consider what the true nature of it is, and to unfold it, as it were, by dividing it into that which is formal: that which is material: the true use or end of it, and the just time that it is appointed to last.

XV. It is high time for thee, to understand that there is somewhat in thee, better and more divine than either thy passions, or thy sensual appetites and affections. What is now the object of my mind, is it fear, or suspicion, or lust, or any such thing? To do nothing rashly without some certain end; let that be thy first care. The next, to have no other end than the common good. For, alas! yet a little while, and thou art no more: no more will any, either of those things that now thou seest, or of those men that now are living, be any more. For all things are by nature appointed soon to be changed, turned, and corrupted, that other things might succeed in their room.

XVI. Remember that all is but opinion, and all opinion depends of the mind. Take thine opinion away, and then as a ship that hath stricken in within the arms and mouth of the harbour, a present calm; all things safe and steady: a bay, not capable of any storms and tempests: as the poet hath it.

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Meditations 37

37 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 37”

Meditations 36

36 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 36”

Meditations 35

35 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 35”

Meditations 48

48 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 TWELFTH BOOK (I - IV)

I. Whatsoever thou doest hereafter aspire unto, thou mayest even now enjoy and possess, if thou doest not envy thyself thine own happiness. And that will be, if thou shalt forget all that is past, and for the future, refer thyself wholly to the Divine Providence, and shalt bend and apply all thy present thoughts and intentions to holiness and righteousness. To holiness, in accepting willingly whatsoever is sent by the Divine Providence, as being that which the nature of the universe hath appointed unto thee, which also hath appointed thee for that, whatsoever it be. To righteousness, in speaking the truth freely, and without ambiguity; and in doing all things justly and discreetly. Now in this good course, let not other men's either wickedness, or opinion, or voice hinder thee: no, nor the sense of this thy pampered mass of flesh: for let that which suffers, look to itself. If therefore whensoever the time of thy departing shall come, thou shalt readily leave all things, and shalt respect thy mind only, and that divine part of thine, and this shall be thine only fear, not that some time or other thou shalt cease to live, but thou shalt never begin to live according to nature: then shalt thou be a man indeed, worthy of that world, from which thou hadst thy beginning; then shalt thou cease to be a stranger in thy country, and to wonder at those things that happen daily, as things strange and unexpected, and anxiously to depend of divers things that are not in thy power.

II. God beholds our minds and understandings, bare and naked from these material vessels, and outsides, and all earthly dross. For with His simple and pure understanding, He pierceth into our inmost and purest parts, which from His, as it were by a water pipe and channel, first flowed and issued. This if thou also shalt use to do, thou shalt rid thyself of that manifold luggage, wherewith thou art round about encumbered. For he that does regard neither his body, nor his clothing, nor his dwelling, nor any such external furniture, must needs gain unto himself great rest and ease. Three things there be in all, which thou doest consist of; thy body, thy life, and thy mind. Of these the two former, are so far forth thine, as that thou art bound to take care for them. But the third alone is that which is properly thine. If then thou shalt separate from thyself, that is from thy mind, whatsoever other men either do or say, or whatsoever thou thyself hast heretofore either done or said; and all troublesome thoughts concerning the future, and whatsoever, (as either belonging to thy body or life:) is without the jurisdiction of thine own will, and whatsoever in the ordinary course of human chances and accidents doth happen unto thee; so that thy mind (keeping herself loose and free from all outward coincidental entanglements; always in a readiness to depart:) shall live by herself, and to herself, doing that which is just, accepting whatsoever doth happen, and speaking the truth always; if, I say, thou shalt separate from thy mind, whatsoever by sympathy might adhere unto it, and all time both past and future, and shalt make thyself in all points and respects, like unto Empedocles his allegorical sphere, 'all round and circular,' &c., and shalt think of no longer life than that which is now present: then shalt thou be truly able to pass the remainder of thy days without troubles and distractions; nobly and generously disposed, and in good favour and correspondency, with that spirit which is within thee.

III. I have often wondered how it should come to pass, that every man loving himself best, should more regard other men's opinions concerning himself than his own. For if any God or grave master standing by, should command any of us to think nothing by himself but what he should presently speak out; no man were able to endure it, though but for one day. Thus do we fear more what our neighbours will think of us, than what we ourselves.

IV. how come it to pass that the Gods having ordered all other things so well and so lovingly, should be overseen in this one only thing, that whereas then hath been some very good men that have made many covenants as it were with God and by many holy actions and outward services contracted a kind of familiarity with Him; that these men when once they are dead, should never be restored to life, but be extinct for ever. But this thou mayest be sure of, that this (if it be so indeed) would never have been so ordered by the Gods, had it been fit otherwise. For certainly it was possible, had it been more just so and had it been according to nature, the nature of the universe would easily have borne it. But now because it is not so, (if so be that it be not so indeed) be therefore confident that it was not fit it should be so for thou seest thyself, that now seeking after this matter, how freely thou doest argue and contest with God. But were not the Gods both just and good in the highest degree, thou durst not thus reason with them. Now if just and good, it could not be that in the creation of the world, they should either unjustly or unreasonably oversee anything.

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Meditations 34

34 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 34”

Meditations 33

33 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 33”

Meditations 32

32 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 32”

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 31

31 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 31”

Meditations 30

30 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 30”

Meditations 29

29 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 29”

Meditations 46

46 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 (XVI - XIX)

XVI. Of everything thou must consider from whence it came, of what things it doth consist, and into what it will be changed: what will be the nature of it, or what it will be like unto when it is changed; and that it can suffer no hurt by this change. And as for other men's either foolishness or wickedness, that it may not trouble and grieve thee; first generally thus; What reference have I unto these? and that we are all born for one another's good: then more particularly after another consideration; as a ram is first in a flock of sheep, and a bull in a herd of cattle, so am I born to rule over them. Begin yet higher, even from this: if atoms be not the beginning of all things, than which to believe nothing can be more absurd, then must we needs grant that there is a nature, that doth govern the universe. If such a nature, then are all worse things made for the better's sake; and all better for one another's sake. Secondly, what manner of men they be, at board, and upon their beds, and so forth. But above all things, how they are forced by their opinions that they hold, to do what they do; and even those things that they do, with what pride and self-conceit they do them. Thirdly, that if they do these things rightly, thou hast no reason to be grieved. But if not rightly, it must needs be that they do them against their wills, and through mere ignorance. For as, according to Plato's opinion, no soul doth willingly err, so by consequent neither doth it anything otherwise than it ought, but against her will. Therefore are they grieved, whensoever they hear themselves charged, either of injustice, or unconscionableness, or covetousness, or in general, of any injurious kind of dealing towards their neighbours. Fourthly, that thou thyself doest transgress in many things, and art even such another as they are. And though perchance thou doest forbear the very act of some sins, yet hast thou in thyself an habitual disposition to them, but that either through fear, or vainglory, or some such other ambitious foolish respect, thou art restrained. Fifthly, that whether they have sinned or no, thou doest not understand perfectly. For many things are done by way of discreet policy; and generally a man must know many things first, before he be able truly and judiciously to judge of another man's action. Sixthly, that whensoever thou doest take on grievously, or makest great woe, little doest thou remember then that a man's life is but for a moment of time, and that within a while we shall all be in our graves. Seventhly, that it is not the sins and transgressions themselves that trouble us properly; for they have their existence in their minds and understandings only, that commit them; but our own opinions concerning those sins. Remove then, and be content to part with that conceit of thine, that it is a grievous thing, and thou hast removed thine anger. But how should I remove it? How? reasoning with thyself that it is not shameful. For if that which is shameful, be not the only true evil that is, thou also wilt be driven whilest thou doest follow the common instinct of nature, to avoid that which is evil, to commit many unjust things, and to become a thief, and anything, that will make to the attainment of thy intended worldly ends. Eighthly, how many things may and do oftentimes follow upon such fits of anger and grief; far more grievous in themselves, than those very things which we are so grieved or angry for. Ninthly, that meekness is a thing unconquerable, if it be true and natural, and not affected or hypocritical. For how shall even the most fierce and malicious that thou shalt conceive, be able to hold on against thee, if thou shalt still continue meek and loving unto him; and that even at that time, when he is about to do thee wrong, thou shalt be well disposed, and in good temper, with all meekness to teach him, and to instruct him better? As for example; My son, we were not born for this, to hurt and annoy one another; it will be thy hurt not mine, my son: and so to show him forcibly and fully, that it is so in very deed: and that neither bees do it one to another, nor any other creatures that are naturally sociable. But this thou must do, not scoffingly, not by way of exprobation, but tenderly without any harshness of words. Neither must thou do it by way of exercise, or ostentation, that they that are by and hear thee, may admire thee: but so always that nobody be privy to it, but himself alone: yea, though there be more present at the same time. These nine particular heads, as so many gifts from the Muses, see that thou remember well: and begin one day, whilest thou art yet alive, to be a man indeed. But on the other side thou must take heed, as much to flatter them, as to be angry with them: for both are equally uncharitable, and equally hurtful. And in thy passions, take it presently to thy consideration, that to be angry is not the part of a man, but that to be meek and gentle, as it savours of more humanity, so of more manhood. That in this, there is strength and nerves, or vigour and fortitude: whereof anger and indignation is altogether void. For the nearer everything is unto unpassionateness, the nearer it is unto power. And as grief doth proceed from weakness, so doth anger. For both, both he that is angry and that grieveth, have received a wound, and cowardly have as it were yielded themselves unto their affections. If thou wilt have a tenth also, receive this tenth gift from Hercules the guide and leader of the Muses: that is a mad man's part, to look that there should be no wicked men in the world, because it is impossible. Now for a man to brook well enough, that there should be wicked men in the world, but not to endure that any should transgress against himself, is against all equity, and indeed tyrannical.

(Hercules, p. 167, should be Apollo. See Muses.)

(Muses, the nine deities who presided over various kinds of poesy, music, etc. Their leader was Apollo, one of whose titles is Musegetes, the Leader of the Muses.)

XVII. Four several dispositions or inclinations there be of the mind and understanding, which to be aware of, thou must carefully observe: and whensoever thou doest discover them, thou must rectify them, saying to thyself concerning every one of them, This imagination is not necessary; this is uncharitable: this thou shalt speak as another man's slave, or instrument; than which nothing can be more senseless and absurd: for the fourth, thou shalt sharply check and upbraid thyself; for that thou doest suffer that more divine part in thee, to become subject and obnoxious to that more ignoble part of thy body, and the gross lusts and concupiscences thereof.

XVIII. What portion soever, either of air or fire there be in thee, although by nature it tend upwards, submitting nevertheless to the ordinance of the universe, it abides here below in this mixed body. So whatsoever is in thee, either earthy, or humid, although by nature it tend downwards, yet is it against its nature both raised upwards, and standing, or consistent. So obedient are even the elements themselves to the universe, abiding patiently wheresoever (though against their nature) they are placed, until the sound as it were of their retreat, and separation. Is it not a grievous thing then, that thy reasonable part only should be disobedient, and should not endure to keep its place: yea though it be nothing enjoined that is contrary unto it, but that only which is according to its nature? For we cannot say of it when it is disobedient, as we say of the fire, or air, that it tends upwards towards its proper element, for then goes it the quite contrary way. For the motion of the mind to any injustice, or incontinency, or to sorrow, or to fear, is nothing else but a separation from nature. Also when the mind is grieved for anything that is happened by the divine providence, then doth it likewise forsake its own place. For it was ordained unto holiness and godliness, which specially consist in an humble submission to God and His providence in all things; as well as unto justice: these also being part of those duties, which as naturally sociable, we are bound unto; and without which we cannot happily converse one with another: yea and the very ground and fountain indeed of all just actions.

XIX. He that hath not one and the self-same general end always as long as he liveth, cannot possibly be one and the self-same man always. But this will not suffice except thou add also what ought to be this general end. For as the general conceit and apprehension of all those things which upon no certain ground are by the greater part of men deemed good, cannot be uniform and agreeable, but that only which is limited and restrained by some certain proprieties and conditions, as of community: that nothing be conceived good, which is not commonly and publicly good: so must the end also that we propose unto ourselves, be common and sociable. For he that doth direct all his own private motions and purposes to that end, all his actions will be agreeable and uniform; and by that means will be still the same man.

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Meditations 28

28 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 28”

Meditations 27

27 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 27”

Meditations 26

26 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 26”