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Meditations [Hardcover]

Emperor of Rome Marcus Aurelius , Gregory Hays
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

13 Feb 2003
Few ancient works have been as influential as the MEDITATIONS of Marcus Aurelius. A series of spiritual exercises filled with wisdom, practical guidance, and profound understanding of human behavior, it remains one of the greatest works of spiritual and ethical reflection ever written. Marcus¿s insights and advice¿on everything from living in the world to coping with adversity and interacting with others¿have made the MEDITATIONS required reading for statesmen and philosophers alike, while generations of ordinary readers have responded to the straightforward intimacy of his style. In Gregory Hays¿s new translation¿the first in thirty-five years¿Marcus¿s thoughts speak with a new immediacy. In fresh and unencumbered English, Hays vividly conveys the spareness and compression of the original Greek text. Never before have Marcus¿s insights been so directly and powerfully presented. With an Introduction that outlines Marcus¿s life and career it is possible to fully rediscover the thoughts of one of the most enlightened and intelligent leaders of any era.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Weidenfeld & Nicolson/Orion (13 Feb 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 184212675X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1842126752
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 13.8 x 3.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 543,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Written in the mid second century by the philosopher Emperor Marcus Aurelius, Meditations presents a noble approach to life. Schooled in the classic tradition, Marcus Aurelius reflects the mature harvest of the Stoic school of philosophy. His philosophy is best summed up by the saying "Do not be too concerned, for tomorrow you die". Lest this sounds too bleak, the awareness of mortality motivates a good, noble and upright life. Since we all die, the best thing is to live nobly and honestly. This is not only the way to live well, but also the way to avoid suffering. Meditations is composed of aphorisms and insights from Marcus Aurelius that allow his philosophy to be lived out.

The translator, Gregory Hays, is assistant professor of classics at the University of Virginia. Hays provides a clearly written introduction in which he explains the philosophical influences on Marcus Aurelius as well as the political and familial pressures he experienced. The translation itself is crisp and lucid. The result is a handsome collection of short exhortations and aphorisms that encourage a noble, if stoical approach to life. Marcus Aurelius always sheds light on life, but that light is always dappled with shadow. There is no hope and little humour in Marcus Aurelius. In the end, his outlook is pessimistic, and he makes one realise how refreshing and unique the Christian virtues of faith, hope and charity really are. Nevertheless, Meditations is a cornerstone of the practical philosophy genre and this new translation will make up a vital part of a classic bookshelf. --Dwight Longenecker


Lots of good feedback on this wonderful book, including calls from Andrew Roberts and AC Grayling to say how much they are enjoying it. This is translating very well in to coverage. With radio features including FRONT ROW (BBC RADIO 4) on Wednesday 5 April which included not only a clip from the film Gladiator but also from the lovely Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs who wasa fan. And the producer says this generated the most calls they've had for along time, asking for further details of the book. THE VERB (BBC RADIO 3) included an interview with the translator Gregory Hays. "See the movie, read the book. Hard on the heels of Richard Harris's portrayal of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator comes a new translation of that ruler's celebrated Meditations." JOAN SMITH, THE INDEPENDENT "Sparky and slangily readable, and for those who know Marcus only as the Richard Harris character in Ridley Scott's Gladiator, this is a chance to become better aquainted" BLAKE MORRISON, THE GUARDIAN We are expecting good review and thinkpieces including THE EVENING STANDARD, and THE OBSERVER with a feature in the DAILY MAIL tbc.

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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
42 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perspectives on living 22 Oct 2007
By calmly
Let facts and common sense be your guide:

1. View yourself as a part, and only a part, of nature.
2. Accept your fate without complaining. Don't waste time judging.
3. Don't be surprised that there are offensive people.
4. Accept that things change, including your body. So accept that you will die.
5. Things repeat: a life of 40 years may see as much as one of 1000 years.
6. While you're worrying about death, your mind may go. Make the best of it while it's intact.
7. Some stress is normal. You may be surprised how much you can endure, especially if you realize its for the best that you do so.
8. We weren't born to feel great, we were born to help others.
9. Why value that which can't offer you security?

That's a little of what I understood Marcus Aurelius to be advising. A sober naturalism, without the comfort of gods or the tease of enlightenment. Between Aurelius and the translator, Gregory Hays, it comes across clear enough that at time I was surprised that this ancient Roman could be speaking so intimately to me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars eXCELLENT TRANSLATION 9 April 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase

The translation is excellent catching all the nuances of Aurelius's thoughts. It has been a long time since I read 'Meditations and book made re-visiting well worth while
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic reflections on life and right conduct 29 Jun 2012
By Paul Bowes TOP 500 REVIEWER
This is an excellent pocket edition of one of the most famous and enduring works of classical philosophy. The 200 pages of text are divided into twelve books; each book consists of a series of musings or reminders to himself jotted down by the author perhaps over the course of ten years. Together they form a practical manual of self-conduct and a guide to dealing with others and the world that in many respects has simply not dated. The excellent translation (2003) by Gregory Hays gives us a Marcus Aurelius unobscured by old-fashioned English, and catches his tone perfectly: direct, unaffected, penetrating, stoical.

This Phoenix edition is genuinely pocket-sized. The reader who wants to know more will have to look elsewhere - there are no notes, and no bibliography or index. But these are not necessary to a first reading of the 'Meditations', one of the most lucid and readable books that has come down to us from the Roman period.

Highly recommended.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Meditations is really just a great book. Gregory Hays is also a fantastic translator. His writing stays very lucid throughout and keeps things pretty straightforward.

However, the publisher, Phoenix, has left out all of the notes that Gregory Hays uses to clarify things throughout the text. This is EXTREMELY annoying. Why would you do this?

Regardless, I am looking forward to perusing this book during my travels. I suppose I will just have to eventually buy a different copy to get those notes.
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