Marcus Aurelius was born into a wealthy and politically prominent family in Rome, in 121. Growing up, his greatest intellectual interest was Stoicism, a philosophy that emphasized fate, reason, and self-restraint.
He became Roman emperor from 161-180 and is probably best known for his Meditations on Stoic philosophy. The Meditations were his own thoughts and not intended for publication. They were written down during his campaign against the Germans.
I found them very interesting and thought I’d share a few.
- Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts. Meditations V.16
- Accustom yourself to attend carefully to what is said by another, and as much as it is possible, try to inhabit the speaker’s mind. Meditations VI.53
- Think not so much of what thou hast not, as of what thou hast. Meditations VII.27
- Let the wrong which is done by a man stay there where the wrong was done. Meditations VII.29
- When thou hast done a good act and another has received it, why dost thou still look for a third thing besides these, as fools do, either to have the reputation of having done a good act or to obtain a return? Meditations VII.73
- If a man is mistaken, instruct him kindly and show him his error. Meditations X.4
- No longer talk at all about the kind of man that a good man ought to be, but be such. Meditations X.16
- Neither in writing nor in reading wilt thou be able to lay down rules for others before thou shalt have first learned to obey rules thyself. Meditations XI.29
- No man can rob us of our free will. Meditations XI.36
- I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinion of himself than on the opinion of others. If then a god or a wise teacher should present himself to a man and bid him to think of nothing and to design nothing which he would not express as soon as he conceived it, he could not endure it even for a single day. So much more respect have we to what our neighbors shall think of us than to what we shall think of ourselves. Meditations XII.4
- How ridiculous and what a stranger he is who is surprised at anything which happens in life. Meditations XII.13