Marcus Aurelius’ greatest hits

I just finished reading Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and highlighted a number of useful ideas (many of which are consistent with Scripture). If I read it again in the future, I’ll opt for a more modern translation, however, as the one I chose rendered Aurelius’ Latin into an old-fashioned version of English. In copying some of the highlighted text here, I’ve modified the translation somewhat, but it still sounds like the King James Version of the Bible at times. At any rate, here is a taste of Aurelius:

How many who have commended you will in a short while speak ill of you?

At the conceit and apprehension that someone has sinned, ask yourself, ‘What do I know whether this is indeed a sin, as it seems to be? If it is so, what do I know but that he himself has already condemned himself for it?”

If it’s not befitting, don’t do it. If it isn’t true, don’t say it. Keep your own purpose and resolution free from all compulsion and necessity.

Give yourself leisure to learn some good thing and cease wandering to and fro.

No one can admire you for your sharp acute language, such is your natural disability that way.

Let these things be seen in you, which depend wholly upon you: sincerity, gravity, laboriousness, contempt of pleasure, not querulous, content with little, kind, free, avoiding all superfluity, all vain prattling, be magnanimous.

Rejoice with true simplicity and modesty.

It is a princely thing to do well and to be ill-spoken of.

It is ridiculous that anyone should excuse vice and wickedness in himself, which is in his power to restrain, and should go about to suppress it in others, which is altogether impossible.

To righteousness, in speaking the truth freely, and without ambiguity, and in doing all things justly and discreetly.

Now in this good course let not other people’s wickedness or opinion or voice hinder you.

Receive temporal blessings without ostentation when they are sent and you will be able to part with them with all readiness and facility when they are taken from you again.

All worldly things you must behold and consider, dividing them into matter, form and reference, or their proper end.

Rid yourself of all manifold baggage by which you are roundabout encumbered. He who regards neither his body, nor his clothing, nor his dwelling, nor anything external gains for himself great rest and ease.

How happy is a man with the power that has been granted to him, that he needs not do anything but what God shall approve, and that he may embrace contentedly whatever God sends him.


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