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Marcus Aurelius (0121–0180)

Author of The Meditations

163+ Works 18,349 Members 175 Reviews 54 Favorited

About the Author

Born in Rome, in 121, Marcus Aurelius was one of the most respected emperors in Roman history. When he was 17, Aurelius was adopted by emperor Antonius Pius and succeeded him in A.D. 161. He ruled jointly with his adoptive brother, Lucius Verus, until 169, when he became sole emperor after Verus show more died. Although Aurelius was a humanitarian ruler, he accepted the view that Christians were the enemies of Rome. Aurelius was dovoted to the Stoic philosophy. Meditations, his spiritual reflections, is considered a classic work of stoicism. Written in Greek, the work comprises of twelve books and records his innermost thoughts. Meditations is his only surviving work. Aurelius died in 180 while prosecuting war against the Marcomanni who lived along the northern limits of the Roman Empire. After his death Aurelius was idealized as the perfect emperor whose reign contrasted sharply with the disastrous period before him and the reigns that followed. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Credit: Luis García, Prado, Madrid, Spain, 2006


Works by Marcus Aurelius

The Meditations (0170) 14,805 copies
Marcus Aurelius (1916) 283 copies
100 Eternal Masterpieces of Literature - volume 2 (2020) — Contributor — 71 copies
Marcus Aurelius in Love (2007) 29 copies
Kendime Düsünceler (2005) 29 copies
Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (1908) 27 copies
La libertà interiore (2007) 7 copies
Iseendale (2021) 7 copies
Pensées - Livres VII-XII (2007) 5 copies
Samomu sebi (2001) 2 copies
Meditations Made Simple (2018) 2 copies
Pensées: Livres II à IV (2008) 2 copies
In semet ipsum 2 copies
apanta 1 / άπαντα 1 (2006) 2 copies
Epistole 1 copy
Epictet 1 copy
Suy Tưởng 1 copy
Ricordi 1 copy
Los estoicos 1 copy
Chen si lu (2009) 1 copy

Associated Works


2nd century (61) ancient (118) ancient history (62) ancient philosophy (142) Ancient Rome (220) antiquity (89) classic (139) classical (70) classical literature (78) classics (629) currently-reading (81) ebook (80) Epictetus (58) essays (94) ethics (205) Folio Society (61) Greek (97) hardcover (67) Harvard Classics (90) history (278) Kindle (116) Latin (80) Latin literature (53) literature (164) Marcus Aurelius (249) non-fiction (771) own (57) philosophy (3,093) read (82) religion (69) Roman (229) Roman Empire (68) Roman literature (79) Rome (261) stoic (73) stoicism (587) Stoics (77) to-read (884) translation (66) unread (62)

Common Knowledge

Legal name
Aurelius Antoninus, Marcus
Date of death
Burial location
Hadrian's Mausoleum
Roman Empire
Country (for map)
Rome, Roman Empire
Place of death
Vindobona or Sermium



WISDOM OF MARCUS AURELIUS & SAYINGS OF EPICTETUS in Easton Press Collectors (April 2023)
Meditations? in Ancient History (June 2016)


Marcus Aurelius had me on his team from the outset until he wrote in Book 2, “But cast away the thirst after books, that thou mayest not die murmuring.” My first reaction: the nerve of creating a book, then. Then I recalled that this book is a collection of notes to himself. Rather than asserting that any well-read person dies murmuring, he’s steeling himself against regret that he could not lead the retired life of a philosopher but that it was his lot to be emperor. That being so, he resolved to carry it out for the general good and in line with the Stoic principles he imbibed from his youth.

Moreover, even an emperor can philosophize: “Where a man can live, there he can also live well. But he must live in a palace; — well then, he can also live well in a palace.”

And what a time to be emperor. These notes were written in stolen moments while campaigning on the fringes of the Roman Empire as the Pax Romana began to crumble. The circumstances of their composition help explain the loose organization and repetition; he did not prepare these for publication. We are listening over his shoulder as he admonishes and exhorts himself. His words attest to his moral seriousness and awareness of falling short of his rigorous standards.

In Book 8, Marcus draws an analogy between an arrow and the mind, asserting that both move straight, although in a different manner. These jottings are evidence that this is not really so with the mind.

Despite the seemingly random nature of the collection, it does have overwhelming recurrent themes. Paramount: the need to cultivate equanimity in the face of mortality. Marcus believes in God/the gods (he seems to use the terms interchangeably), yet not in any afterlife. Other emphases are the need to follow the “ruling part,” as Long translates the Greek term used by Stoics to denote reason, and to remember that the opinion of others is only that, opinion.

When Marcus returns to the consideration that even an emperor can be a philosopher, he writes, “How plain does it appear that there is not another condition of life so well suited for philosophizing as this in which thou now happenest to be.” If it’s true of him, it can also be true for us since, as he writes, “How close is the kinship between a man and the whole human race, for it is a community, not of a little blood or seed, but of intelligence.”

This universal applicability helps explain why these deeply personal musings have been widely read through the centuries.
… (more)
HenrySt123 | 152 other reviews | Apr 30, 2024 |
The most interesting thing about this is how long ago it was written and how well it still holds up. That said, it is repetitive and sort of obvious, at least if you're of a certain age. There's a lot of philosophy espoused without any insight into what led to the production of said Meditations. If you get a version with recaps, that's all you need to read to glean the most essential bits. Fast read, but hardly life changing.
angiestahl | 152 other reviews | Apr 23, 2024 |
Aurelius detested his mortal form and those of others but he had many good insights.
trrpatton | 152 other reviews | Mar 20, 2024 |
Meditações, clássico escrito por Marco Aurélio, traz reflexões que servem como exercícios espirituais em tempos turbulentos, conselhos a si mesmo que o imperador buscou registrar e cujas ideias ecoam até hoje.

O pensamento estoico, longe de ser mero objeto de estudo de helenistas, encontra-se mais vivo do que nunca na sociedade contemporânea. Seus propagadores, como Sêneca e Marco Aurélio, chegam a uma nova geração de leitores aproximando a filosofia da vida prática.
Esta nova tradução do clássico Meditações oferece grande precisão linguística, permitindo decifrar as nuances de uma obra complexa que conduz o leitor a uma reflexão sobre a impermanência da vida e a nossa relação com a natureza e o cosmos… (more)
luizzmendes | 152 other reviews | Mar 17, 2024 |



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