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The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – 8 May 2008

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks (8 May 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540594
  • Product Dimensions: 19.3 x 1.5 x 12.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,333,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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About the Author

Marcus Aurelius reigned from 161 AD to 180 AD- perhaps the only true philosopher- king in the history of the world. In his MEDITATIONS, a series of notes to himself, he formulated his pantheist Stoic beliefs with a passionate religious conviction. The MEDITATIONS were written day by day, in every situation including war. They often appear to be responses to the stress of supreme power, from the imminent fear of death in battle, to the trials of everyday life.
Gregory Hays, the translator, is Assistant Professor of Classics at the University of Virginia.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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From* my grandfather Verus:* the lessons of noble character and even temper. Read the first page
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By The Frog on 19 Dec. 2007
Format: Hardcover
I came to my copy of this book after a long search, and after having turned down several other translations and editions as being less than satisfactory. This edition has the following to commend it to the reader. First, the translation reads well. Second, the footnotes by Mr Farquharson are a model of painstaking scholarship, setting out detailed background, references, and explanations for the ideas presented by Marcus Aurelius, although the reader to whom they are aimed is likely to be a scholar rather than a novice. Third, the book has a proper sewn hard-back cloth binding and paper of a good quality, which is vital for a book to which the reader may wish to refer again and again. Fourth, the type in which the book is set is good, and clear. The work itself, as a rare survivor from the ancient world, is of great interest for the insight it gives into the mind of the author, who was Emperor of Rome. We must be grateful not just to the translator and publisher for making an effort to produce the book, but also to those who ensured the survival of a manuscript into the modern era which made this and all other modern editions possible.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mr. A. Coppola on 14 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A must for any lover of Roman history and philosophy!!! Having read it in Greek it has some translation faults, but overall great book!!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By E. Benjamin on 13 Feb. 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If you are on a quest for what a virtuous life means, this book will help you to find what you are looking for. It shows that his life was based on a solid basis of a Greek education and its "philosophy" in the widest sense.
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By Peter Matthews on 31 July 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the great philosophical texts
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 176 reviews
831 of 841 people found the following review helpful
steel for your spine 22 Dec. 2002
By The Don Wood Files - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
One should have more than one translation for Meditations. Note this difference between Maxwell Staniforth's translation in 1964 (Penguin Classics) and Hay's 2002 translation in these two passages.
1964: When force of circumstance upsets your equanimity, lose no time in recovering your self-control, and do not remain out-of-tune longer than you can help. Habitual recurrence to the harmony will increase your mastery of it.
2002: When jarred, unavoidably, by circumstances, revert at once to yourself, and don't lose the rhythm more than you can help. You'll have a better grasp of the harmony if you keep going back to it.
-----------------
1964: Adapt yourself to the environment in which your life has been cast, and show true love to the fellow-mortals with whom destiny has surrounded you.
2002: The things ordained for you - teach yourself to be at one with those. And the people who share them with you - treat them with love. With real love.
------------------
The 1964 version is regal, while the 2002 (Hays') version is Aurelius writing, quickly, in a spiral notebook while on horseback, the equivalent of "memo to myself."
Reading this book is like taking a cold shower, or visiting a favorite bartender, who insists on serving you coffee, not drink. Hays has brought us a Marcus Aurelius who puts his hand on your shoulder, looks you in the eye, and tells you like it is: Get over yourself. You can't change the world. Do your best and realize you are of this earth. Human experience is muddy, so what? This book is best read in tough times, when you could use a little steel in your spine.
62 of 63 people found the following review helpful
Memoirs of an Amazing Leader 27 Sept. 2010
By Nick - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
When it comes to Stoic philosophy, Marcus Aurelius is second to Epictetus in the discussion of avoiding the indulgence of emotion. However, Aurelius' "Meditations" is different simply because it's the first leadership memoir based on Stoic philosophy.

The book is raw - it seems that these were never going to be published, so it had a bluntness to it and an honesty rare for a military leader, let alone one of the best Roman Emperors in history. He was a spiritual man, and tried to rationalize his duties. It lacks rhetorical flourish but it's honest.

I don't know if the book stands alone as a philosophical work, but it is an interesting work about self improvement, duty and service. Despite his reputation as a "philosopher king," the book remains a valuable book in leadership and history.

The Kindle version itself is pretty well laid out with ample enough notes and historical background on Aurelius himself to help you better understand the man himself. His notes range in length from a few sentences to multiple pages, so there's no real orderly format to the book (to me, this makes it more appealing.)

Since the Kindle version is free, give it a try. You'll find yourself better for it.
100 of 106 people found the following review helpful
Great book, bad Kindle file 28 Mar. 2011
By Karl Janssen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
(Just to be clear, the Meditations is a five-star book. My two-star rating applies only to this Kindle edition.)

Marcus Aurelius, emperor of Rome, may be the closest mankind has ever come to producing the philosopher king that Plato envisioned in The Republic. A reluctant ruler and a reluctant warrior, much of his reign was spent in battle, defending the frontiers of the empire from the "barbarian" hordes. Fortunately for us, he carried a notebook along on his military campaigns, and thus we have the Meditations. Marcus's writings reveal him to be the last and greatest of the classical Stoics. Stoicism is a school of thought that asserts we have no control over our lives, only control over our perceptions. It advocates that the best life is the life that is lived in accordance with nature (not "nature" as in grass and trees, but "nature" as in the order of the universe). By concentrating one's thoughts and choices on what is good and virtuous, and disregarding the unimportant distractions of everyday life (even life and death are said to be neither good nor bad, but "indifferent"), we can avoid negative emotions like fear, anger, grief, and frustration, and live a life of happiness and tranquility. That's an oversimplification, of course. If you really want to know what Stoicism is and how it works read Epictetus or Seneca. What Marcus provides us with are the reflections of a man who studied and lived the Stoic life, and was its ultimate exemplar. Even if you don't buy into Stoicism, or have no interest in Philosophy with a capital P, you can still find inspiration and solace in the Meditations, as Marcus instructs us in dealing justly with others, overcoming emotional hardship, living life to the fullest by overcoming the fear of death, and resigning oneself to the insignificance of man in the universe.

The Meditations are divided into twelve books. Each book contains anywhere from 16 to 75 numbered paragraphs, ranging in length from a sentence to a page. The paragraphs are arranged without regard to sequence or subject matter. This haphazard method of compilation is really the book's only flaw. What the Meditations has always needed is a good index, but I've never found a volume that has one.

The Kindle edition that's offered for free on Amazon, which is the same as the one downloadable from Project Gutenberg, contains one major flaw. There is an interactive table of contents which allows you to click on the twelve books; that's fine. Following that, however, there is another clickable table of contents that lists the first line of every paragraph in the Meditations. That's a wonderful idea, in theory, but in practice it's a major pain. This extended table of contents is written as one long page of links, so it takes forever to load. You spend minutes staring at a blank screen waiting for the type to show up, then minutes more until you can actually move your cursor. Sometimes the screen saver kicks in before you even get to that point. I wish someone would go into the file and break that table up into twelve separate pages so it might actually be useful. In this edition there are no notes to the text, other than a few translator's notes. Unless you know a heck of a lot about ancient Rome and Stoicism, notes are pretty necessary for a book like this. There's a small glossary of proper names, and an appendix of correspondence between Marcus and his teacher Fronto. I like having a portable copy of the Meditations on my Kindle, but this is one case where the e-book is no substitute for a paper edition.
56 of 60 people found the following review helpful
A timeless meditation book for anyone 17 Nov. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is a great book of meditations for both believers and atheists. Marcus Aurelius was emperor of Rome with an unfaithful wife, a worthless son, and the duties of leading an army for 13 years in what is now Germany. Trying to cheer and console himself in the middle of a desolate area, he wrote down what he remembered of the Stoic philosophy which he had studied. His thoughts are inspiring and provoking. This is the book you want with you when life becomes tough. As Marcus' view of god is a pantheistic one, anyone can profit from his thoughts, whether atheist or believer. A book to read ever few years. Highly recommended.
45 of 48 people found the following review helpful
I found his meditations fascinating 14 May 2010
By Jeffrey Van Wagoner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition
I love history, philosophy, and religion. This book covered all three subjects and kept my interest. It is not often that you get a philosopher emperor to write down his thoughts, but this is what happened here. You have a man who by all accounts was a great leader and a good man and we get to see what was important to him and what his underlying assumptions were about life.

His values are quite universal. For example, he values self-mastery, and doesn't like complainers. As an engineer, I enjoyed hearing about how he thought things worked. Many are out of date, but several are what we would consider accurate.

I got a better feel for Stoicism from his discussions and it helped me understand how the Romans thought prior to adopting Christianity. He did make a disparaging comment about the Christians; he thought they were fanatics that didn't work well with others. I noticed from history that he was involved in their persecution in Gaul.

I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in philosophy. It got me thinking and sparked more interest in Marcus Aurelius.
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