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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: 13 x 1.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,840 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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18 of 18 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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82 of 85 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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11 of 11 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By John P. Jones III TOP 500 REVIEWER on 2 Feb 2011
Format: Paperback
Marcus Aurelius was a Roman emperor, from 161 to his death, from the plague, in 180. He has been dubbed the last of the five good emperors. He wrote this collection of thoughts, which latter would be titled "Meditations," in the last decade of his life, the 6th, a time of life that others also wisely begin to contemplate the real questions of life. Aurelius subscribed to the Stoic school of philosophy which originated in Greece, and he often contrasts his thoughts with the ones from another Greek school, the Epicurean. Christianity, a minor sect at the time, is mentioned only once in the book. Although Roman, with presumably Latin being his first tongue, Aurelius wrote these thoughts in Greek, which was the language of the "cultivated" at the time, much as French was in the 18th Century.

There is this "I need to pinch myself to make sure I'm not dreaming" quality about this book. Aurelius was the Emperor of one of the greatest empires on earth, at its apogee, and these thoughts were written as he was actively campaigning against hostile tribes in areas that are now Serbia and Hungary. He was not concerned with the particulars involving his subordinates, nor the changing fortunes of the wars. He addressed the larger issues of life, the philosophical "big questions," and did this not in an abstract, academic sense, but as to how they applied to his daily living. His first book is a collection of "thanks" to the individuals who influenced him (a useful exercise for all of us). There are ample dollops of fatalism and re-incarnation in his mediations. His work is also heavy on the ultimate question - how to face one's own death - and he consistently stresses the importance of exiting with grace, and without regret. Yes, A Happy Death.
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