July 14, 2003 – A
Selected Quotations from Meditations by Marcus Aurelius (and I argue with him too)
…nor continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our relation to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations.
…from him I received the idea of a polity in which there is the same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of a kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the governed …
[Is that possible?]
…From Maximus I learned self-government, and not to be led aside by anything…
…he was neither superstitious with respect to the gods…
…He took a reasonable care of his body’s health, not as one who was greatly attached to life…
…that he was able both to abstain from, and to enjoy, those things which many are too weak to abstain from, and cannot enjoy without excess…
…For a man cannot lose either the past or the future: for what a man has not, how can any one take this from him? These two things then thou must bear in mind; the one, that all things from eternity are of like forms and come round in a circle, and that it makes no difference whether a man shall see the same things during a hundred years, or two hundred, or an infinite time; and the second, that the longest liver and he who will die soonest lose just the same. For the present is the only thing of which a man can be deprived, if it is true that this is the only thing which he has, and that a man cannot lose a thing if he has it not.
…For to be vexed at anything which happens is a separation of ourselves from nature, in some part of which the natures of all other things are contained.
[Do I agree with all that?]
…life is a warfare and a stranger’s sojourn, and after–fame is oblivion. What then is that which is able to conduct a man? One thing, and only one, philosophy. But this consists in keeping the [guardian spirit] within a man free from violence and unharmed, superior to pains and pleasures, doing nothing without a purpose, nor yet falsely and with hypocrisy, not feeling the need of another man’s doing or not doing anything; and besides, accepting all that happens, and all that is allotted, as coming from thence, wherever it is, from whence he himself came; and, finally, waiting for death with a cheerful mind, as being nothing else than a dissolution of the elements of which every living being is compounded. But if there is no harm to the elements themselves in each continually changing into another, why should a man have any apprehension about the change and dissolution of all the elements? For it is according to nature, and nothing is evil which is according to nature.
[I don’t agree with all of that. Accepting all that happens? No way.] (1)
 Marcus Aurelius “The Meditations” translated by George Long, Book I & II
Quotations from file at Project Gutenberg: http://gutenberg.net/
Also found at: http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html