A new translation of the philosophical journey that has inspired luminaries from Matthew Arnold to Bill Clinton in a beautiful hardcover gift edition, with a cover designed by Coralie Bickford-Smith
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Written in Greek by an intellectual Roman emperor without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a wide range of fascinating spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the leader struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. Spanning from doubt and despair to conviction and exaltation, they cover such diverse topics as the question of virtue, human rationality, the nature of the gods and the values of leadership. But while the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation, in developing his beliefs Marcus also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a series of wise and practical aphorisms that have been consulted and admired by statesmen, thinkers and ordinary readers for almost two thousand years.
To provide a full understanding of Aurelius's seminal work, this edition includes explanatory notes, a general index, an index of quotations, an index of names, and an introduction by Diskin Clay putting the work in its biographical, historical, and literary context, a chronology of Marcus Aurelius's life and career.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
“Here, for our age, is [Marcus’s] great work presented in its entirety, strongly introduced and freshly, elegantly translated.” —Robert Fagles
Marcus Aelius Aurelius Antoninus (121-180 CE) was adopted by the emperor Antoninus Pius and succeeded him in 161, (as joint emperor with adoptive brother Lucius Verus). The last of the so-called Five Good Emperors, he ruled alone from 169. Presiding over a changing Rome, he spent much of his reign in putting down variou rebellions. Today, he is best-know for his Meditations, a series of reflections, strongly influenced by Epictetus, which cemented his place as one of the greatest Stoic Philosophers. He died in 180 and was succeed by his natural son, thus ending the period of the adoptive emperors.
Diskin Clay is Professor Emeritus of Classical Studies at Duke University and has published widely in the area of Ancient Greek Philosophy.
Martin Hammond was Head Master of Tonbridge School and has translated many works of classic literature, including Homer's Iliad for Penguin Classics.
1. Courtesy and serenity of temper I first learnt to know from my grandfather Verus.
2. Manliness without ostentation I learnt from what I have heard and remember of my father.
3. My mother set me an example of piety and generosity, avoidance of all uncharitableness - not in actions only, but in thought as well - and a simplicity of life quite unlike the usual habits of the rich.
4. To my great-grandfather I owed the advice to dispense with the education of the schools and have good masters at home instead - and to realize that no expense should be grudged for this purpose.
5. It was my tutor who dissuaded me from patronizing Green or Blue* at the races, or Light or Heavy† in the ring; and encouraged me not to be afraid of work, to be sparing in my wants, attend to my own needs, mind my own business, and never listen to gossip.
* The colours of the rival charioteers in the Circus. Roman enthusiasm for these races was unbounded; successful drivers earned large fortunes and became popular idols.
† In one form of gladiatorial combat (the ‘Thracian’) the opponents were armed with light round bucklers; in another (the ‘Samnite’) they carried heavy oblong shields.