The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
“Look within. Within is the fountain of good, and it will ever bubble up, if you will ever dig.”
Meditations instructs and inspires through its calm and unblinking reckoning with the elemental difficulties of human life, and its emphasis on virtue rather than pleasure as the key to inner peace.
Presented here in a specially modernized version of the classic George Long translation, one of the world’s most famous and influential books, Meditations, by the Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121–180), outlines a philosophy of commitment to virtue above pleasure and tranquility above happiness.
Ascending to the imperial throne in A.D. 161, Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius (A.D. 121–180) found his reign beset by natural disasters and war. In the wake of these challenges, he set down a series of private reflections, incorporating the Stoic precepts he used to cope with his life as a warrior and administrator of an empire.
This eloquent and moving work draws and enriches the tradition of Stoicism, which stressed the search for inner peace and ethical certainty in an apparently chaotic world. Serenity was to be achieved by emulating in one’s personal conduct the underlying orderliness and lawfulness of nature. And in the face of inevitable pain, loss, and death—the suffering at the core of life—Aurelius counsels stoic detachment from the things that are beyond one’s control and a focus on one’s own will and perception.
“Consider that everything is opinion, and opinion is in your power. Take away then, when you choose, your opinion, and like a mariner who has rounded the headland, you will find calm, everything stable, and a waveless bay.”