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on 3 March 2017
Brilliant book, it will change your life for good. only wish I had of come across this book thirty years ago.
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on 16 June 2017
Great book. Broadens the mind and helps you find peace in what can be a hectic world in which we now live. Would recommend to anyone who enjoys something different from your everyday book. This can be picked up and read from anywhere giving an insight into a truly marvellous mind of Marcus Aurelius. I'm 24 years old and can relate to a lot of the stuff described, only downside is it is slightly tedious. Better to read it over a period of time instead of all together.
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on 15 July 2017
I like to read a page or two when I feel like it. For inspiration. For me it's not a cover to back read, it's a book that you can peek in and let your mind wonder.
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on 21 March 2017
Wonderful
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on 5 June 2016
beautiful
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on 10 December 2016
Book of knowledge
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{NB. This is a review of the paperback Penguin Classics edition of the Hammond translation, not any other.}

To begin with, here are three disparate, virtually random quotes from this astonishing book of meditations, aphorisms, and the wisdom of years by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius {AD 121-180}:

A stone thrown in the air: nothing bad for it on the way down or good for it on the way up.

He who sees the present has seen all things, both all that has come to pass from everlasting and all that will be for eternity: all things are related and the same.

The Pythagoreans say, 'Look at the sky at dawn' ~ to remind ourselves of the constancy of those heavenly bodies, their perpetual round of their own duty, their order, their purity, and their nakedness. No star wears a veil.

That first one could easily be a zen koan, the second could be from the pen of Rumi, the third leaves me speechless before its haunting beauty and strangeness. They were written down {mainly for his own use} by a man schooled in the Stoic tradition, though his concerns and his compassion transcend mere Stoicism. The timelessness of his wisdom and often austere clarity of thought could be from almost any school in any age.
One could use this book as a guide through life, much as the Tao Te Ching or the Dhammapada, or even the Essays of Montaigne. {This is no Bible or Qu'ran; there is little if any dogma here.}
I have looked in a few editions of this much-translated work and, by a whisker, prefer the Penguin Classics edition, translated by Martin Hammond. He seems to reproduce the cool clarity and meditative concision of the passages. It is also a rather splendid paperback to own, with a suitably sober-looking detail from a sculpture of the emperor on the cover.
With its excellent introduction by American Classical scholar Prof. Diskin Clay, a chronology and full notes and index at the back, this is a book to treasure through life, and is so much more than some kind of smug 'self-help' guide or New Age 'you are the star of your own life' guff. This is a man who thought deeply, and gathered together ~ with no ideas of publication ~ his considered and meditated-upon thoughts and ruminations for, as it turned out, a lucky and grateful posterity.
One last quote:

That all is as thinking makes it so ~ and you control your thinking. So remove your judgements whenever you wish and then there is calm ~ as the sailor rounding the cape finds smooth water and the welcome of a waveless bay.

Never meant to be a book, nevertheless this has rightly become one of the world's great books, and a repository of clear-eyed, endless wisdom and, yes, beauty ~ surely the two qualities go together.

Essential reading for anyone with a pulse.
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on 23 June 2015
I had accepted that this was the 'best available' translation. I'm about 30 pages in, often re-reading paragraphs to gain understanding, but it turns out that there's a better translated version here: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/0140449337/

I've just bought it. I only realised when I came across some meditation quotes on 'Good Reads' and thought 'What the hell, these seem much easier to read than how I remember meditations' :)
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on 3 April 2016
To be clear: Meditations is fantastic.

However, the quality of this particular edition is terrible. The text is littered with what looks like bad automatic character recognition (see the attached photo) and bad typesetting, where the gap after the end of one book is just enough to push the book headings to the bottom of the same page, but not on to the next page, where you'd expect it to be.

What's more, the style of the translation is clumsy and antiquated at best: "Upon every action that thou art about, put this question to thyself;" etc. All in all, I strongly recommend buying a different edition of Meditations and always using the "Look Inside" feature before buying any book.
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on 28 July 2010
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. It's rather as if he is in his tent cursing some piece of misfortune and then stops himself, considers his philosophy and how he should handle the problem and writes the solution down. So you might get something like "Never make light of a friend's rebuke", or "Never listen to gossip" followed by an explanation of the consequences and disbenefits. More often however a paragraph will be a mini essay on why a certain type of behaviour is good or bad for the individual. Some are very short such as, "Men exist for each other, then either improve them or put up with them" whilst others roll across a page or perhaps a little more.

There is repetition here and there and not everything is a golden nugget of truth but taken as a whole this is a remarkable work, and I don't believe that anyone would not have greater contentment and less stress if they followed the advice he gives. On the negative side he can sound a bit miserable about the world and give the impression that it is a constant struggle to exist, but I expect when you are fighting off German invaders every morning you begin to get somewhat glum.

This is something to keep by your bedside and dip into every few weeks or months. Highly recommended.
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