A set of memo’s
Meditations is the title of a collection of personal notes made by the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (121-180 AD.). This collection of memos and practical lessons was originally intended to operate as a diary, but it is now now read as a collection of quotations that might help you comprehend stoicism.
Marcus Aurelius lived in a period when the world was a harsher place. By chance, he became emperor when Emperor Hadrian’s (76-138 AD.) adoptive son died, and he then adopted Marcus’ uncle Antonius Pius (86-161 AD.). Antonius Pius, in turn, adopted Marcus Aurelius, whose biological father had died while he was a child. Marcus had a co-emperor called Lucius Verus (130-169 AD.) when he became Emperor, but he died in 169 AD. Marcus Aurelius was the last of the adoptive emperors and the last emperor of the Pax Romana. Marcus Aurelius was followed by his son, Lucius Aurelius Commodus (161-192 AD.), who was one of the worst emperors of all time.
Marcus Aurelius’ reign is distinguished by a number of military engagements. He battled against the Parthian empire in the east and the Germanic tribes in the north. The Antonine Plague occurred during his rule as well (165-180 AD.). He wrote Meditations against this backdrop.
This book is significantly influenced by Stoicism and it is one of the few classical Stoic writings that have survived. Stoicism is a philosophy that began in classical Athens (ca. the third century BC), and the term alludes to the Stoa Poikile, a colonnade overlooking the agora. Here Zeno of Citium (334-262 BC.) founded the Stoic philosophy, which was later on shaped and formed by numerous Greek and Roman thinkers, including Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4 BC.-65 AD.) and Epictetus (50-130 AD.).
Accepting things as they come is at the heart of Stoicism. It is a philosophy that says you should not allow your life be dominated by cravings, pleasure, or fear. It is about treating others fairly/justly and living in harmony with nature. It teaches that pain is only a perspective of one’s surroundings, not reality. As a result, the Stoic doctrines are all about courage, justice, wisdom, and self-control.
“You have power over your mind — not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.”— Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
The book’s main body is 173 pages long. These pages include brief journal entries or memos. On these pages, the reader learns about the views of a guy who lived over a century ago. Some of these concepts are context-specific, but the majority of the entrees are timeless.
You can definitely sense Marcus Aurelius’s struggle to cope with his life’s trials and tribulations. These problems of a slower way of life are struggles that we, perhaps even more, experience in our fast-paced modern existence. He attempts to cope with loss, harmful ideas and emotions, the meaninglessness of existence, and what it means to be a good human being.
The contemporary world may be extremely stressful or sad. Consumption governs our life to a large extent. People are pushed to buy more and larger, and you will most likely regret purchasing all of these needless items in the end. Social media has taken over our life as well. Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, TikTok, and Facebook all show us photos and videos of joyful and attractive individuals. This encourages people to compare themselves to a fabricated reality, which can lead to self-doubt and melancholy.
This is, however, unneeded. Meditations can provide you with useful reminders about your own power. There are numerous lines and paragraphs about coming back down to earth, about the simple things in life, and about the brevity of life. He says things like, “The pleasure of your life depends on the quality of your ideas.” and, “Let not your mind run on what you need as much as on what you have already.”
This may appear corny, common, or mundane, but that doesn’t mean it’s not true or can’t help you. Marcus Aurelius wrote chapters in his book about dealing with mortality, the future, your thoughts, and the inevitableness of it all. These passages may assist you in coping with the same issues that so many of us have faced or are facing, both in the past and in the present.
“Our life is what our thoughts make it.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations
Written by Marcus Aurelius, introduced by Diskin Clay and translated by Martin Hammond.
416 pages. Penguin. (Penguin Pocket Hardbacks, 2014)