Meditations: Marcus Aurelius



The Meditations, Thoughts o In addition —by its translation from Greek Τὰ εἰς ἑαυτόν, Tà eis heatón, which literally means things for himself— is a literary work made up of a series of reflections that were written by the Roman emperor and philosopher Marcus Aurelius. According to records, it was written between the years 170 and 180 and, apparently, it does not have a chronology.

This Stoic essay has twelve volumes, and, in fact, is unique of its kind. On the other hand, its content seems to cover the last years of Marcus Aurelius's life, especially in terms of his way of thinking and acting alone, when he could reflect. Many of these reflections remain valid to this day, which speaks of their relevance and the wisdom of their author.

Synopsis of The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

The musings of a life: your own and those of others

Marcus Aurelius was a man who had many teachers, not only those who had the duty to teach him, but also those who he himself decided to learn. In his thoughts, small numbered paragraphs that he wrote in those moments of solitary vigil, He thanked his trainers for what he had been able to absorb from each of them. At least, that is what corresponds to the Book 1.

Beginning Book 2, the author dedicates himself to writing autobiographical notes and sentences for himself. It is known that no other character in the ancient world has given his readers such an honest, profound and personally philosophical testimony as this emperor, who had to wear the breastplate and purple of the warrior in the face of a vast empire that was threatened.

The pursuit of excellence

Due to the complex context in which it was found Roma In the times of Marcus Aurelius, he could not hope to establish a republic like Plato's. However, His own texts, and what other authors have written about him, indicate that he always tried to behave like a Stoic philosopher. and a worthy citizen of the Eternal City, and he achieved it, transcending as an icon.

This can be seen in his strange diary, where he captured his uncertainties, grateful memories of his teachers and friends, the advice he used to repeat to himself, his hopelessness, his moments of enjoyment and his love for his country. Thanks to all this, Marcus Aurelius managed to write one of the most perfect works regarding what the management of a State should be.

Content of The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

From chapter XII, The book contains reflections on the human condition, the universe, life, death, fortune, creation, mortality and the values ​​that people should or should be inspired by. In this way, the author seems to become absorbed and assume a melancholic narrative, accepting the Roman empire and its management over it as an unsatisfactory and sad duty.

The emperor resumes the Stoic position from a point of view of the importance of man with respect to the gods, as well as the superficiality of human representations. Marcus Aurelius gave the impression of conforming to the supreme powers that rule the world in his role as a sage and philosopher, even when he tends to flee from the world and the material nature of life.

The “nonsense” of existence

After thinking for a long time, and faced with the inevitable possibility that the world may not make any sense, the wise man has no choice but to retrace his own steps and place a more significant value on his individual existence. Like Seneca, Marcus Aurelius thought that the soul is separate from the body, and is composed of spirit, pneuma, vital breath and intellect.

It was this resolution that defined his reign of the Roman Empire. Marcus Aurelius He fulfilled his role as regent with stoicism, but, at the same time, he felt the uselessness and meaninglessness that tend to maintain the irrationality of human beings, which only hinders their actions in pursuit of the evolution and enlightenment of the soul, creating a cycle of frustration that is difficult to break.

Appearance of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in Iberian lands

In 1528, in Seville, the Golden Book of Marcus Aurelius, which aroused the public's admiration and interest in the Roman emperor. This volume was written by Antonio de Guevara, who later expanded it in princes watch the next year.

The novel had 58 editions translated into several languages, reaching all of Europe. Despite its lack of historiographic data and its obvious recourse to the imagination of the Spanish ecclesiastic, the book enjoyed surprising success. It is in that context of the apogee of the figure of the emperor that The Meditations by Marcus Aurelius.

5 of Marcus Aurelius's Best Meditations: Book 1

  • “From my mother: respect for the gods, generosity and abstention not only from doing evil, but even from incurring such thoughts; even more so, frugality in the lifestyle and distancing from the way of life typical of the rich”;
  • “From my great-grandfather: not having attended public schools and having used good teachers at home, and having understood that, for such purposes, it is necessary to spend lavishly”;
  • “From my preceptor: not having been from the Green or Blue faction, nor a supporter of the parinularios or the escutarios; enduring fatigue and having few needs; work with personal effort and abstention from excessive tasks, and the unfavorable reception of slander”;
  • “From Fronto: having stopped to think about what the envy, cunning and hypocrisy of a tyrant are like, and that, in general, those among us who are called “eupatrids” are, in a certain way, incapable of affection”;
  • “From Catullus: not giving little importance to a friend's complaint, even if it happened to be unfounded, but trying to consolidate the usual relationship; the cordial praise of the teachers, as it is remembered that Domitius and Athenodotus did; “true love for children.”

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