The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius
By Michael Chase, Pierre Hadot
Why this book?
I encountered the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius in a course on ancient Greek philosophy when I was an undergraduate at Penn, and from time to time found it helpful for my inner tranquility to follow his advice. That advice is not always easy to heed, hence the importance of the “spiritual exercises” detailed in this brilliant study by a French scholar who conceives of philosophy as “a way of life.” I love many things about Marcus, among them the way he counsels himself when he gets up in the morning to expect, in his duties as an emperor, to encounter foul-smelling, avaricious, ungrateful, and ambitious people, but also to understand that they are as much human beings as he is, and that they cannot “implicate [him] in what is degrading” unless he allows them to do so.
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