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Meditations (Penguin Classics) Paperback – 27 Apr 2006


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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics (27 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140449337
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140449334
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,158 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Martin Hammond's translation of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, like his Iliad and Odyssey, is the work of an unusually gifted translator, and one who understands the value added by careful attention to supplementary material. He writes natural English, direct and often eloquent; the text is well supported by effective notes and a characteristically thorough and well-planned index; Diskin Clay supplies a useful introduction. This is a fine volume (Malcolm Heath Greece & Rome Journal)

Marcus is well served by this new translation. Hammond has a pithy turn of phrase to match the emperor's own . . . His notes abound in helpful explanation and illuminating cross-reference. Diskin Clay contributes a sparkling and sympathetic introduction. The combination of introduction, translation and notes is as good as they get (John Taylor Journal of Classics Teaching)

About the Author

Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus, 121-180. was adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius and succeeded him in 161, (as joint emperor with adoptive brother Lucius Verus). He ruled alone from 169. He spent much of his reign in putting down variou rebellions, and was a persecutor of Christians. His fame rest, above all, on his Meditations, a series of reflections, strongly influenced by Epictetus, which represent a Stoic outlook on life. He died in 180 and was succeed by his natural son, thus ending the period of the adoptive emperors.

Diskin Clay is Professor of Classical Studies at Duke University and has published widely in the area of Ancient Greek Philosophy.

Martin Hammond is Head Master of Tonbridge School and has translated Homer's Iliad for Penguin Classics.


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From my grandfather Verus: decency and a mild temper. Read the first page
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Brownbear101 on 28 July 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There's an episode of Dad's Army where the English Captain Mainwaring turns out to be able to play the bagpipes. He explains his skill by revealing that he spent his two-week honeymoon in Scotland, and that there wasn't much else to do. Marcus Aurelius, who as Emperor of Rome was higher up the army ranks than Mainwaring, probably felt the same way about northern Germany, where he spent his time trying to defeat the barbarians. To pass the hours he scribbled down jottings and ideas about how to live a fulfilled life that eventually became Meditations, one of the most wonderful personal philosophies ever written.

The thoughts and ideas here are connected by Aurelius' interest in the Stoic philosophy, but they are not a narrative so the book can be opened at any page or read in any order as each paragraph is a single idea, observation or point he wished to make. Aurelius comes across as an incredibly sane, warm, open and tolerant individual and although he personally believes in a divine nature, an atheist can happily enjoy his writing.

The Stoics were interested in logic, physics and ethics. These terms didn't hold their current meanings so Logic meant closely observing the world and thinking carefully and deriving knowledge and opinions about what you have seen. Physics is essentially the idea that the universe has a force of nature running through it and there's a connectedness between all things. Finally Ethics is how to be happy, which to the stoics meant living in tune with the rest of nature. It all sounds rather new age and vague but Aurelius' genius is to boil this down to a practical formula for everyday living.
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51 of 52 people found the following review helpful By calmly on 22 Oct. 2007
Format: Paperback
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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86 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Damian Kelleher on 22 Nov. 2007
Format: Paperback
In Plato's Republic, Socrates discusses the possibility of a philosopher king; that is, a person who would rule in a way that is just, because their thoughts and desires are outgrowths of their philosophical ideologies. Socrates suggests that this would be the best of all possible rulers - and, of course, the implication is that Plato would be this greatest ruler, because the philosophy a ruler 'should' follow, was Plato's. Marcus Aurelius was Emperor of Rome from 161 A.D. until his death in 180 A.D. He was the last of the five great Emperors who ruled Rome during a period which Edward Gibbon, writing his magnificent The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, described as the time when the world was at its happiest and most prosperous. He was not, as far as anyone else knew, a philosopher - he was simply (and sufficiently) a proficient Emperor, an able ruler, a good statesmen. And yet, in those quiet moments of leisure when he was able to take off the mantle of Emperor, Marcus Aurelius composed some of the most important works of Stoic philosophy. A series of meditations, exercises for himself, admonitions to himself, exhortations of how to be a better person.

What is immediately clear about Aurelius' Meditations is that they were written for an intimate audience of one. There is no grandstanding or pompous declarations of power or influence. There are no revelations or secrets or negative comments about current affairs. Whatever Marcus Aurelius' thoughts on the world outside himself, we are left mostly in the dark for this work. Rather, what he has done - or aims to do - is to intimately examine himself, to highlight his flaws and to recognise, but not always praise, his positive qualities.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Colin McCartney TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 7 Feb. 2008
Format: Paperback
Marcus's meditations never fail to make me feel better about the world and the best aspect of all is that his philosophy doesn't involve any radical lifestyle change. Indeed one of its basic assumptions is that you should have an unquestioning acceptance of who you are, whoever you are. Buy this and carry it with you at all times (it's not a big book by the way).
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By paul revelle on 9 April 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
EXCELLENT TRANSLATION

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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