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By: Marcus Aurelius

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Meditations is a series of writings by Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor 161–180 CE, setting forth his ideas on Stoic philosophy. A central theme to "Meditations" is to analyze your judgement of self and others and developing a cosmic perspective. As he said "You have the power to strip away many superfluous troubles located wholly in your judgement, and to possess a large room for yourself embracing in thought the whole cosmos, to consider everlasting time, to think of the rapid change in the parts of each thing, of how short it is from birth until dissolution, and how the void before birth and that after dissolution are equally infinite". He advocates finding one's place in the universe and sees that everything came from nature, and so everything shall return to it in due time. It seems at some points in his work that we are all part of a greater construct thus taking a collectivist approach rather than having an individualist perspective. Another strong theme is of maintaining focus and to be without distraction all the while maintaining strong ethical principles such as "Being a good man". His Stoic ideas often involve avoiding indulgence in sensory affections, a skill which will free a man from the pains and pleasures of the material world. He claims that the only way a man can be harmed by others is to allow his reaction to overpower him. An order or logos permeates existence. Rationality and clear-mindedness allow one to live in harmony with the logos.

Amazon lumps different translations together as merely variations on how the book is delivered. In this case, the Hays translation is the hardcover, while the authors who translated the paperback and Kindle versions aren't specified. So use the tools available (look inside, free sample) to get an idea of the language used by the author and see if it's something you'd like to read, or if a different translation suits you better.

- sydney_rivera

I am sincerely pissed that I was not provided a copy of this as a kid growing up. I have devised a work around to the whole "Not growing up with a father figure" issue. I have decided that Marcus Aurealis is my actual father, and Socrates is my great uncle and Thales is my grand father. I realize this sounds nutty to read but I honestly feel more in common with these thinkers then the absent XY chromosome donor.

- corbin_edwards

A hard read, though it is only 93 pages (the Meditations themselves, excluding introduction and notes). Do not however, concern yourself with the stylistic choices of the translation, though at times it may be confusing or simply bland. You cannot blame the translator for translating the Meditations, and you cannot blame Marcus for writing his journal his way, without ever believing anyone else would read it, for that does not matter. I have no criticism, simply I point out this book is not a light read.

If you are apt to reading philosophy, profound books that give you insight into the universe and your place in it, I cannot think of any greater book than the Meditations. Marcus Aurelius has been called Plato's philosopher-king, and though I disagree with this, I see the point: he ruled the Roman Empire near its greatest extent with the virtues of fundamental stoicism. He did not want or consent to Plato's Republic, but he put his duties, his loved ones, and his country before his own interests. He rejected luxury and comfort. He wrote to remind himself to lead by example, that he is the master of himself, that emotions cannot puppeteer him, and that pleasures cannot warp his logic and his will to do good. He reminded himself to always be favorable to all that came by him, even those that disagreed with him and spoke ill of him, for he believed they were brought to the earth to work together. He rejected unreasonable condemnation and unhelpful criticism as well as praise and arrogant pride. He looked to correct, not condemn, the ignorant, and stand agreeable and thankful, not prideful and bashful, when corrected. He praised the universe for her inner-workings, borrowing from Plato's idea that all that is natural must in turn be good, if not for the individual, then for the whole, which then must still be good for the individual regardless. His metaphysics are not scientifically sound, the same for Plato, a large influence, but they do tap into the imagination.

He ponders most on death. Death is natural, and all that comes from nature must be good, therefore death is good. He reminds himself to never fear death as he would never fear breathing, or his eyes never fear seeing, or his hands ever fear writing. Death is a product of life, as sight is a product of the eyes, and writing all product of the hands, all natural consequences of being. What is there to fear? Nothing. What is there to be angry about? Nothing. When irritated, whose fault is it? Yours, for allowing exterior happenings you cannot control affect your inner peace.

My favorite part of the entire book is when he ponders on inner peace. Many would seek peace retiring to a calm village, a seaside home, or in the mountains far from the busy cities. Marcus argues he who has not inner peace in himself wherever, will never have inner peace whatever. Surroundings matter not, only your attitude. This is the biggest lesson of the Meditations, the greatest wisdom Marcus has to offer: it is your reaction to life, not life itself, that creates happiness. This was the principle Nelson Mandela stuck to when he was imprisoned. This is the principal that is the core of stoicism.

"You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength."

Pick up this book. It would be unfortunate going through life, pondering how to bring yourself happiness, when the secret to happiness was found 2,000 years ago. You do not have to accept all Marcus says, I do not agree with him on all things. But his wisdom is invaluable.

- kayla_nguyen

First, do we all recognize that the author of this text, Marcus Aurelius, was a Roman Emperor? If so, why have I not been forced to read this from a young age? This is quite possibly the most insightful, existential book I've ever read. Emperor Aurelius has given us wisdom in its purest form. This should be a manual for every human's life. Every sentence is mind-numbingly profound. This book is so good, that I might just have the entire text tattooed on my body. I cannot stress enough that the sagacity of this book is beyond what I have ever read. Definitely a must-read and a must-live-by.

- hazel_nelson

I purchased the hardcover version of this book expecting the translation to be by Greg Hayes. This was based on other reviews I read. Instead, I received the George Long translation.

Long's translation is very difficult to read. It reminds me of Shakespeare. I spend 10 seconds reading each paragraph, and then 30 seconds trying to figure out what it may mean. I am an average reader, and this book was very tough for me. Only an avid reader or somebody in acedemia may want this version.

The Greg Hayes translation is much easier to read. It's in everyday English. This version can certainly be comprehended by an average reader. I would highly recommend the Hayes translation.

I had to go to a local book store to buy the Hayes version. It is worth it.

The George Long version has a black cover with a picture of a roman statue on it, and white text near the bottom. The Greg Hayes translation has a white cover with statues of several people, and the text at the top.

- leighton_brown

As a linguist and translator I have to say that this is an appalling translation. The vocabulary used is totally inappropriate for the period of antiquity in which it was written - full of Americanisms like "guys". The English grammar was so bad I couldn't follow the meaning. In the end I gave up and removed it from my device replacing it with a far better translation that did not even cost me anything. I could have done a better job myself.

- alan_collins

This translation is completely unreadable - like maybe they just fed the text into google translate? Unfortunately I left it too long to return this for a refund, but please please please learn from my mistakes and don't order this version! As an example, this is the first couple of lines copied faithfully:

"MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS turned into born on April 26, A.D. 121. His actual name was M. Annius Verus, and he changed into sprung of a noble own family which claimed decent from Numa, 2nd King of Rome."

I was also surprised at the many references to Marcus Aurelius's many web pages:
"on the very first web page of his book..."

- lauryn_gutierrez

"What am I doing with my soul?"

This collection of sublime thoughts compiled as a book (originally titled as "Eis Heauton", meaning: "To Himself"; original language was Greek) has never gone out of print since circa AD 161. The writer, Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, was a Roman emperor and the most renowned stoic philosopher of antiquity. My review though is not about the book itself but about the various available translations of the book.

There are three noted translations which are most readily available in market:
1. A. S. L. Farquharson's Everyman's Library hardcover edition.
2. Martin Hammond's Penguin Classics edition.
3. Gregory Hays' Modern Library edition.

The first one is the most revered edition published in 1944. Though the physical appearance of this edition is the most eye-catching with an elegantly produced hardcover binding and handsome printing, the translation seems dated and old-fashioned. If you want to exhibit your book collection in front of people, you may buy this edition. Though for reading pleasure and better understanding of the philosophy, I'll not recommend it.

The second edition by Penguin (2006) is better than the Farquharson's as far as readability is concerned, but avoid this one too. This translation is more inclined to the exactness of the original text than the readability or understandability of the writing. As it seems, this is the bestselling edition of "Meditations" as far as the Amazon's Indian website is concerned. Thanks to the Penguin Classics tag attached to it, perhaps. No matter what, this is NOT the best edition in comparison.

The last edition which is by Hays (2002), in my opinion (and as per the general consensus as well), is the best edition available. This is the most comprehensible translation of "Meditations" for the modern readers. The language is fluid and contemporary. If you want to study the thoughts of Aurelius more profoundly then get this Gregory Hays edition, paperback published by Modern Library (snapshots attached).

- emely_sanchez

DO NOT BUY! Don’t waste your money buying this abysmal translation. I have no idea how this has gained any reviews more than one star - it is largely unreadable gibberish, and the word ‘software’ should definitely not be present! Should be removed from Amazon.

- zariyah_lewis

Just to be clear: I am reviewing the 2018 edition published by East India out of Ottowa. Amazon may - or may not - tag the review to the right item! Minus: This is obviously a revival of a very old translation, presumably rushed out to cash in on the current craze for Stoic thought. It is a clumsy translation into (now) very old fashioned English. In fact some sentences are actually meaningless. There is no index and the translator is not even credited. Plus: The introduction gives an interesting sketch of MA's life and background, although in 19th C style English. It is a handsomely produced volume - and cheap - and will do if you don't want to spend to much to have a crack at MA's take on life.

- jad_cox

Started reading at the intro... and immediately came across stuff like:

" ... MARCUS AURELIUS ANTONINUS become born on April 26, AD 121. His actual name changed into M. Annius Verus , and he changed into sprung of a noble own family which Claimed descent from Numa, 2d King of Rome. Thus the maximum spiritual of emperors Got right here of the blood of the maximum pious of early kings. His father, Annius Verrus, had held excessive office in Rome, and his grandfather, of the identical call, were thrice Consul..."

My first reaction was "WTF?"... it appears like it was machine translated and not edited at all. Later it gets worse:

"His body changed into knowledgeable to hardihood through way of wrestling, searching, and outside video video video video games; and no matter the truth that his charter have become susceptible, he confirmed superb personal courage to encounter the fiercest boars. At the same time he changed into stored from the extravagancies of his day. The tremendous delight in Rome end up the strife of the Factions, as they have been known as, inside the circus. The racing drivers used to undertake clearly one in every of 4 shades—pink, blue, white, or green—and their partisans confirmed an eagerness in helping them which no longer some element can also furthermore additionally want to surpass."

"... outside video video video video games" (?!?!?) Seriously?

So, it's basically unreadable. No idea how this was translated, or by who, but it's clearly not what I thought I was buying. No faith that the actual meditations which follow have been faithfully translated, and I've requesting a refund.

Best avoid this one and pick a version from a reputable source.

- alivia_hill

Don't bother. A very poor translation by someone who needs to study the English language. Search for a recommended version. I gave up after struggling with the introduction.

- vincenzo_clark

The philosophy in this ground grounds you. Although written is 160 AD I feel it still holds resonance in today's world. Very good read, not too difficult to read like some philosophical texts can be and I would recommend it to everyone. As it's written in 'books' which equates to chapters within them it contains numbered paragraphs, sometimes leading on the same vein as the last, some switching to a different subject. It shows it stream of consciousness perfectly and also holds fascinating details about life as a roman emperor in that era

- nola_hall

This book was my introduction to Stoicism and my first philosophical book in general. Compared to books I read afterwards, this book is easy to read, seeing as it is mostly written in standalone paragraphs. The detailed notes that accompany most of these paragraphs do indeed help in better understanding both the context in which the book was written and the ideas themselves.

As far as being "able to change your mindset" is concerned, I believe that the ideas written here can influence the outlook on many aspects of one's life, especially if they are already thinking along similar lines.

If you are interested in learning about Stoicism, this is a great place to start.

- oaklyn_ramos

Who on earth published this? On the last page, it says the end and printed by Amazon. It certainly wasn't designed by anyone remotely connected with the book printing industry. From what could have been an attractive, easy to read textbook had it been given to a graphic designer or someone in the publishing business, it is a disgrace. Glossy covers, perfectly bound on really inferior grade paper, set in 8pt type solidly leaded, practically unreadable. Atrocious.

- dimitri_rodriguez

Fast delivery, and this book it awesome, I recommend it to those who face adversity in their lives, I had it once before ,I actually stole it from a book shelf ...but felt bad and returned it to a charity shop, felt like it was missing from my life so I had to buy it this time.

- undefined_jimenez

It's impressive a man of such status has a deep understanding and awareness of the fragility of the world. It's written in classical english, took me some time to read and understand what is being said but still readable nonetheless. I sometime find myself lost in midst of reading cause I'm not used to the writing style, but as soon as I'm on track (by re-reading/looking up some word on the dictionary) there's always a little gem hidden.

- keenan_martinez

I was nervous before reading this book. I have done some light reading on stoicism and watched videos on Youtube and it had become clear that this book was a must read for. The expectations had built up and I was worried that it might be a case of don't meet your heroes. Fortunately I couldn't have been more wrong as the tales of being emperor of antiquities most revered society infused with such wisdom was fascinating

- quincy_garcia

I haven’t read all of it yet but it’s an enlightening read so far. I stopped at Marcus Aurelius’s monument in Rome near the Pantheon and knew of him but never realised he was one of the most noteworthy stoics. For such a powerful and busy man he comes across as a deep thinker too.

- milani_morris

This is a really old book! Written by Marcus Aurelius (from Gladiator The Movie fame!).

I recommend just to read a page or two per day, as it can be a little difficult to understand. A wide range of wise and interesting quotes and thoughts

The book has little structure as such. It is however, a wealth of personal reflection. The key thing is that Marcus would never have thought this book would be published, as it was written as his own journal and thoughts.

Highly recommended if you can handle the English that is written in!

- kinslee_campbell

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