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.
Why should I read it?
What is this book about?
The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are treasured today--as they have been over the centuries--as an inexhaustible source of wisdom. And as one of the three most important expressions of Stoicism, this is an essential text for everyone interested in ancient religion and philosophy. Yet the clarity and ease of the work's style are deceptive. Pierre Hadot, eminent historian of ancient thought, uncovers new levels of meaning and expands our understanding of its underlying philosophy.
Written by the Roman emperor for his own private guidance and self-admonition, the Meditations set forth principles for living a good and just life. Hadot probes…