Website owner: James Miller
Things Marcus Aurelius states he learned from parents, grandparents, tutors, friends and others: - good morals - government of temper - modesty - manly character - piety - beneficence - abstinence from evil deeds and evil thoughts - simplicity of living - to have good teachers at home rather than attend public schools - endurance of labor - to want little - to work with his own hands - not to meddle with other people's affairs - not to be ready to listen to slander - not to busy himself about trifling things - not to give credit to what was said by miracle-workers and jugglers about incantations and the driving away of demons and such things - not to breed quails for fighting, nor to give himself up passionately to such things - to endure freedom of speech - to have become intimate with philosophy - to have written dialogues in his youth - to have desired a plank bed and skin, and whatever else of the kind that belongs to Grecian discipline - impression that his character required improvement and discipline - not to be lead astray to sophistic emulation - not to write on speculative matters - not to deliver little hortatory orations - not to show himself off as a man who practices much discipline, or does benevolent acts in order to make a display - to abstain from rhetoric, and poetry and fine writing - not to walk around in his house in his outdoor dress, nor to do other things of the kind - to write his letters with simplicity - with respect to those who had offended him by words, or done him wrong, to be easily disposed to be pacified and reconciled as soon as they had shown a readiness to be reconciled - to read carefully and not to be satisfied with a superficial understanding of a book - not to hastily give his assent to those who talk overmuch - undeviating steadiness of purpose - to look to nothing else, not even for a moment, except to reason - to be always the same, in sharp pains, on the occasion of the loss of a child, and in long illness - to see clearly in a living example that the same man can be both most resolute and yielding, and not peevish in giving his instruction - learned how to receive from friends what are esteemed favors, without being either humbled by them or letting them pass unnoticed - a benevolent disposition - the example of a family governed in a fatherly manner - the idea of living conformably to nature - gravity without affectation - to look carefully after the interests of friends - to tolerate ignorant persons, and those who form opinions without consideration - to refrain from fault-finding, and not in a reproachful way to chide those who uttered any barbarous of solecistic or strange-sounding expression - to not frequently nor without necessity to say to any one, or to write in a letter, that he had not leisure; not continually to excuse the neglect of duties required by our relations to those with whom we live, by alleging urgent occupations - to be ready to speak well of teachers - to love his children truly - to love truth - to love justice - 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 - a disposition to do good - to give to others readily - to cherish good hopes - to believe that he was loved by his friends - cheerfulness in all circumstances, as well as in illness - a just admixture in the moral character of sweetness and dignity - to do what was set before him without complaining - love of labor and perseverance - sobriety in all things and firmness, and never any mean thoughts or action, nor love of novelty QUOTATIONS "Keep thyself then simple, good, pure, serious, free from affectation, a friend of justice, a worshiper of the gods, kind, affectionate, strenuous in all proper acts. ... Reverence the gods, and help men. Short is life. There is only one fruit of this earthly life, a pious disposition and social acts." Book 4, par. 30 "When thou wishest to delight thyself, think of the virtues of those who live with thee; for instance, the activity of one, and the modesty of another, and the liberality of a third, and some other good quality of a fourth. For nothing delights so much as the examples of the virtues, when they are exhibited in the morals of those who live with us and present themselves in abundance, as far as is possible. Wherefore we must keep them before us." Book 6, par. 48 "One thing here is worth a great deal, to pass thy life in truth and justice, with a benevolent disposition even to liars and unjust men." Book 6, par. 47 "Such as are thy habitual thoughts, such also will be the character of thy mind; for the soul is dyed by the thoughts." Book 5, par. 16 "Thou sayest, Men cannot admire the sharpness of thy wits? So be it. But there are many other things of which thou canst not say, 'I am not formed for them by nature'. Show those qualities then which are altogether in thy power: sincerity, gravity, endurance of labor, aversion to pleasure, contentment with thy portion and with few things, benevolence, frankness, no love of superfluity, freedom from trifling magnanimity. Dost thou not see how many qualities thou art immediately able to exhibit, in which there is no excuse of natural incapacity and unfitness, and yet thou still remainest voluntarily below the mark? Or art thou compelled through being defectively furnished by nature to murmur, and to be stingy, and to flatter, and to find fault with thy poor body, and to try to please men, and to make great display, and to be so restless in thy mind?" Book 5, par. 5 "Live with the gods. And he does live with the gods who constantly shows to them that his own soul is satisfied with that which is assigned to him, and that it does all that the daemon wishes, which Zeus hath given to every man for his guardian and guide, a portion of himself. And this is every man's understanding and reason." Book 5, par. 27 "Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul; and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web." Book 4, par. 40 "How much trouble he avoids who does not look to see what his neighbour says or does or thinks, but only to what he does himself, that it may be just and pure; or as Agathon says, look not round at the depraved morals of others, but run straight along the line without deviating from it." Book 4, par. 18 "Do not act as if thou wert going to live ten thousand years. Death hangs over thee. While thou livest, while it is in thy power, be good." Book 4, par. 17 "Occupy thyself with few things, says the philosopher, if thou wouldst be tranquil. ---But consider if it would not be better to say, Do what is necessary, and whatever the reason of the animal which is naturally social requires, and as it requires. For this brings not only the tranquillity which comes from doing well, but also that which comes from doing few things. For the greatest part of what we say and do being unnecessary, if a man takes this away, he will have more leisure and less uneasiness. Accordingly on every occasion a man should ask himself, Is this one of the unnecessary things? Now a man should take away not only unnecessary acts, but also, unnecessary thoughts, for thus superfluous acts will not follow after." Book 4, par. 24 "The soul of man does violence to itself, first of all, when it becomes an abscess and, as it were, a tumour on the universe, so far as it can. 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. In the next place, the soul does violence to itself when it turns away from any man, or even moves towards him with the intention of injuring, such as are the souls of those who are angry. In the third place, the soul does violence to itself when it is overpowered by pleasure or by pain. Fourthly, when it plays a part, and does or says anything insincerely and untruly. Fifthly, when it allows any act of its own and any movement to be without an aim, and does anything thoughtlessly and without considering what it is, it being right that even the smallest things be done with reference to an end; and the end of rational animals is to follow the reason and the law of the most ancient city and polity." Book 2, par. 16 "What is baldness? It is that which thou hast often seen. And on the occasion of everything which happens keep this in mind, that it is that which thou hast often seen. Everywhere up and down thou wilt find the same things, with which the old histories are filled, those of the middle ages and those of our own day; with which cities and houses are filled now. There is nothing new: all things are both familiar and short-lived." Book 7, par. 1 More from SolitaryRoad.com:
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