Marcus Aurelius, Emperor of Rome from 161-180 C.E. is more renowned for his Meditations than for his political and military victories. The last of "The Five Good Emperors," he is considered one of the greatest of the Stoic philosophers.
Meditations, written while Aurelius was on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty. Comprising eight books, Meditations describes a philosophy dedicated to finding and preserving equanimity even in the midst of conflict.
- "How is my soul's helmsman going about his task? For in that lies everything."
- "A little flesh, a little breath, and a Reason to rule all - that is myself."
- "Your mind will be like its habitual thoughts, for the soul becomes dyed by the colour of its thoughts."
- "(T)he sole thing of which any man be deprived is the present; since this is all he owns, and nobody can lose what is not his."
- "Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one."
- "(T)he passing moment is all that a man can ever live or lose."
- "Put from you the belief that 'I have been wronged', and with it will go the feeling. Reject your sense of injury, and the injury itself disappears."
- "Have I done an unselfish thing? Well then, I have my reward Keep this thought ever present and persevere."
- "Are you distracted by outward cares? Then allow yourself a space of quiet, wherein you can add to your knowledge of the Good and learn to curb your restlessness."
- "To pursue the unattainable is insanity, yet the thoughtless can never refrain from doing so."
Excerpted from Maxwell Staniforth's translation of the Meditations" (London: Penguin), 1964.