Marcus Aurelius and Quotes from His Meditations

Marcus Aurelius was once emperor of Rome, a philosopher, and a military leader. He practiced Stoicism, a branch of Hellenistic philosophy. 

He is a great inspiration.

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Meditations by Marcus Aurelius resting on a copy of The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday.

 


A Time to Sit and Think

Years ago, I was on a trip with my fiancé that took me through London, Oxford, and Whitby (photographs available here). We made a few stops at Blackwell’s Bookshop in Oxford, and I bought the Oxford World Classic’s edition Leonardo Da Vinci’s Notebooks, as well as the Oxford World Classic’s edition of Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

Meditations is a series of private notes that Marcus Aurelius wrote to himself. It is a phenomenal book and one worth reading, especially at this time of year. As summer approaches, subtle shifts in pressure and responsibility have left me reflecting on my life and how I live it.

It’s the perfect time of year to sit down and think. My head bubbles with questions and concerns:

How will this summer go? How will this season and next year unfold? How can I honor my commitments while also enjoying some time off?

These meditations remind me to stay in the present moment, to use logic, and to move through life as a social being. Although these are private notes were meant for the emperor’s reflection,  I have found them useful in my own life. I have shared a few quotes from Meditations below.

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The Oxford World’s Classic Edition

Marcus Aurelius’s examination of his own life, his logical flow of thoughts, and the constant criticism of his own character, each drives me to examine my own life through the lens of philosophy.

I find myself returning to the book regularly, thumbing through the pages in search of something brilliant, or simply reading a series of meditations to process the meaning.

I first read excerpts from Meditations in high school, and now that I have a copy of my own, I finally have the opportunity to dog-ear the pages and mark the passages that resonate with me. Whether I am writing fiction, grading papers, or reading literature, these meditations seem to find a way into my life.

In this edition of Meditations, the work is divided into twelve parts. Each part is labeled as a book. Each book is further divided into meditations, ranging from one sentence to several paragraphs per meditation.

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4 Quotes from Meditations

These quotes are each considered one meditation. They have provided some food for thought this week. I hope you find them useful as well.

Do not suppose that if you personally find that something is hard to achieve, it is therefore beyond human capacity; rather, if something is possible and appropriate for human beings, assume that it must also be within your reach.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.19


If something is not right, do not do it, if something is not true, do not say it; for you should keep your impulses under your own control.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 12.17


Look at the inner nature of things; and in each instance, let niehter its specific quality nor its worth escape you.

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 6.3


No more of all this talk about what a good man should be, but simply be one!

-Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, 10.16


Is there a quote that you particularly like?

-Curtis

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