Marcus Aurelius: Warrior, Philosopher, Emperor Paperback – 4 Mar 2010
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"A compendious and thought-provoking study" (Boris Johnson The Mail on Sunday)
"Impressively well-researched and unfailingly engaging" (John Dillon The Irish Times)
"McLynn has written a huge, erudite survey of the social, cultural, economic and political world of the second century AD rather than a mere biography of Marcus Aurelius...there is much to enjoy here and even more to be learned" (Literary Review)
"By exposing the real Marcus Aurelius, this biography illuminates an important era of transition...it was under Marcus that the delicate balance was disturbed and this, too, is his legacy." (Martin Empson TLS)
"A flickering torch in the darkness, and with his fine biography, Frank McLynn tends the flame." (Stephen McGinty Scotsman)
`If you like your history feisty... McLynn is the man for you... it certainly makes for a terrific read.'
--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Still, let's begin with the strengths because the author deserves much credit. As well as giving a good, clear account of the life of Marcus Aurelius he goes out of his way to put that life in context by frequently stopping to explain various features of the economic, social, political and military world within which Marcus Aurelius operated. This is highly welcome. Those long, contextual sections, combined with the analytical chapter at the end, helped to give me a great deal more insight into the Roman Empire than I was expecting. McLynn also does a good job of keeping a complex cast of characters and story moving along without it getting too confusing. I got completely absorbed.
The most significant problem, to my mind, comes with the analysis of Stoicism. Within the body of the book, McLynn is forever tearing a strip off Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus for their inconsistencies and gaps. He knows very well that Aurelius was writing a private journal for his own edification, head-clearing and analysis and that Epictetus did not even 'write' his books since they are basically collections of lecture notes - and, in the case of the Enchiridion, merely extracts from them - made by one of his pupils. Now, if a student of mine wrote down my lecture notes and published them in a book without my having a chance to edit them I'm pretty sure there would be a lot of gaps and probably some inconsistencies. It's not that Epictetus can't be criticised; I can easily do so myself. It's just that on this basis McLynn's criticisms of the extant writings of both Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus seem harsh to put it mildly. It was like reading something by Victor Meldrew when he's had too many cups of coffee.Read more ›
Now onto the book. First off this is a really big book. I know that you can see that by just looking at the page numbers on this site but you don't always appreciate that till you see it. I think that each one of his books gets bigger and bigger, which is a shame since I prefer some of his shorter writings like 1066: The Year of the Three Battles. Now I'm not intimidated by a book's size but this one can be a chore.Read more ›
Now onto the book. First off this is a really big book. I know that you can see that by just looking at the page numbers on this site but you don't always appreciate that till you see it. I think that each one of his books gets bigger and bigger, which is a shame since I prefer some of his shorter writings like 1066: The Year of The Three Battles. Now I'm not intimidated by a book's size but this one can be a chore.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is excellent, covering his philosophy as well as the history.Published 21 months ago by Shaun McParland
A little rambling, opinionated, slightly dull tone but well written.Published 23 months ago by FullofStars
I found this book to be a bit like marmite - some bits were fantastic, some bits terrible. This is the first book I have read from Frank McLynn so I wasn't sure what to expect. Read morePublished on 14 July 2014 by Matthew Turner
This book is painstakingly researched and throws up an amazing volume of background facts so as book about life in Rome of the period it is very interesting. Read morePublished on 23 Jun. 2014 by J. Haynes
Most philosophers have tried to influence the world through their writing, speaking to us from an ivory tower. Read morePublished on 13 May 2014 by Bill Greenhalf
like a time machine, the knowledge of 2 millennia is available to educate your puny mind..you really are not worthy, you plebian scumlordPublished on 3 Jun. 2013 by N. Smith
Have read and enjoyed most of this author's previous biographies. This one however became very academic and eventually boring. Read morePublished on 21 April 2012 by barnton
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