10 books like A Companion to Marcus Aurelius

By Marcel van Ackeren,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like A Companion to Marcus Aurelius. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

By Donald Robertson,

Book cover of How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

While William Irvine’s book introduced me to Stoic philosophy, Donald took me further into the incredible life of Roman emperor and Stoic Marcus Aurelius. This book takes you deeper into Stoic philosophy. I get asked whom I’d want to have lunch with, dead or alive, and I answer Marcus Aurelius. During his reign he was the most powerful person in the Western hemisphere. History is littered with examples that prove Lord Acton’s quip “Power corrupts; absolutely power corrupts absolutely.” Marcus is a rare exception.

How to Think Like a Roman Emperor

By Donald Robertson,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked How to Think Like a Roman Emperor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"This book is a wonderful introduction to one of history's greatest figures: Marcus Aurelius. His life and this book are a clear guide for those facing adversity, seeking tranquility and pursuing excellence." --Ryan Holiday, bestselling author of The Obstacle is the Way and The Daily Stoic

The life-changing principles of Stoicism taught through the story of its most famous proponent.

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was the final famous Stoic philosopher of the ancient world. The Meditations, his personal journal, survives to this day as one of the most loved self-help and spiritual classics of all time. In How to Think…


The Inner Citadel

By Pierre Hadot, Michael Chase (translator),

Book cover of The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

The French philosopher and historian, Pierre Hadot, was the first modern author to systematically describe the “spiritual exercises” found in ancient Greek and Roman philosophical texts. This book is the most popular scholarly analysis of the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius available. It provides essential information on the underlying structure of Marcus’ writing and how it fits into the broader system of Stoic philosophy. Although an academic work, most nonacademics find Hadot very readable. 

The Inner Citadel

By Pierre Hadot, Michael Chase (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Inner Citadel as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should 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…


Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Robin Waterfield (translator),

Book cover of Meditations: The Annotated Edition

This is the most recent translation of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations, at the time of writing but I’m mainly including it because of Robin Waterfield’s very thorough annotations, which are invaluable when it comes to understanding some of the more obscure passages. They provide historical and philosophical context that’s otherwise missing and make it much easier to appreciate what Marcus was trying to say.

Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Robin Waterfield (translator),

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Meditations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the sixteenth emperor of Rome -- and by far the most powerful and wealthy man in the world. Yet he was also an intensely private person, with a rich interior life and deep reservoirs of personal insight. He collected his thoughts in notebooks, gems which have come to be called his Meditations. Never intended for publication, the work survived his death and has proved an inexhaustible source of wisdom and one of the most important Stoic texts of all time. In often passionate language, the entries range from essays to one-line aphorisms, and from profundity to…


Marcus Aurelius in Love

By Marcus Aurelius, Amy Richlin,

Book cover of Marcus Aurelius in Love

This book contains a selection of letters from the correspondence between Marcus Aurelius and his rhetoric teacher Fronto. Most of these letters date from Marcus’s youth and show a quite different side to his character. Richlin argues – controversially – that some of these letters give evidence of a homosexual relationship between Marcus and Fronto. Although I’m not convinced by that claim, this volume remains a really helpful way to access these letters in a modern translation with helpful notes. The youthful Marcus we meet is a nice counterpoint to the older Marcus of the Meditations.

Marcus Aurelius in Love

By Marcus Aurelius, Amy Richlin,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marcus Aurelius in Love as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1815 a manuscript containing one of the long-lost treasures of antiquity was discovered-the letters of Marcus Cornelius Fronto, reputed to have been one of the greatest Roman orators. But this find disappointed many nineteenth-century readers, who had hoped for the letters to convey all of the political drama of Cicero's. That the collection included passionate love letters between Fronto and the future emperor Marcus Aurelius was politely ignored-or concealed. And for almost two hundred years these letters have lain hidden in plain sight.

Marcus Aurelius in Love rescues these letters from obscurity and returns them to the public eye.…


Marcus Aurelius

By Anthony Birley,

Book cover of Marcus Aurelius: A Biography

Although some people assume we don’t know much about Marcus Aurelius, the truth is that we probably know more about him than most other ancient philosophers, and certainly, there are several modern biographies of Marcus Aurelius but the best is this one by the British historian, Anthony Birley. Birley adopts a scholarly approach but he also keeps quite a tight focus on the events of Marcus’ life. (Frank McLynn’s biography is more widely-read but ranges more freely over topics such as the Roman empire’s economy.)  

Marcus Aurelius

By Anthony Birley,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Marcus Aurelius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Marcus Aurelius, the philosopher-emperor who ruled the Roman Empire between AD 161 and 180, is one of the best recorded individuals from antiquity. Even his face became more than usually familiar: the imperial coinage displayed his portrait for over 40 years, from the clean-shaven young heir of Antonius to the war-weary, heavily bearded ruler who died at his post in his late fifties.
His correspondence with his tutor Fronto, and even more the private notebook he kept for his last ten years, the Meditations, provides a unique series of vivid and revealing glimpses into the character and peoccupations of this…


Marcus Aurelius

By John Sellars,

Book cover of Marcus Aurelius

John Sellars is a British academic philosopher and one of the leading modern scholars of Stoicism but he’s also a great communicator and his writings are easily accessible to nonacademics. Many readers assume, at first glance, that the Meditations consist of “random musings.” However, this recent work on the philosophy underlying Marcus Aurelius’ thought helps to expose the systematic nature of his reasoning. 

Marcus Aurelius

By John Sellars,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marcus Aurelius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this new study, John Sellars offers a fresh examination of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations as a work of philosophy by placing it against the background of the tradition of Stoic philosophy to which Marcus was committed.

The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a perennial bestseller, attracting countless readers drawn to its unique mix of philosophical reflection and practical advice. The emperor is usually placed alongside Seneca and Epictetus as one of three great Roman Stoic authors, but he wears his philosophy lightly, not feeling the need to state explicitly the ideas standing behind the reflections that he was writing for…


Marcus Aurelius

By William O. Stephens,

Book cover of Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed

This is a short introduction to the life and philosophy of Marcus Aurelius written by an American professor of philosophy. A short biographical introduction is followed by chapters discussing some technical points of Marcus’ Stoic philosophy from the Meditations. I found the biography a good condensation of the details you’ll find in Birley’s book. Although this is designed as an introduction, it gets a little technical at times, so nonacademic readers might prefer to look at John Sellars’ book first. This book will help you to think more deeply about what Marcus is saying, though.

Marcus Aurelius

By William O. Stephens,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Marcus Aurelius as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This title presents the exploration of the life and philosophical reflections of this complex Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor. This book is a clear and concise introduction to the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. His one major surviving work, often titled 'meditations' but literally translated simply as 'to himself', is a series of short, sometimes enigmatic reflections divided seemingly arbitrarily into twelve books and apparently written only to be read by him. For these reasons Marcus is a particularly difficult thinker to understand. His musings, framed as 'notes to self' or 'memoranda', are the exhortations of an earnest, conscientious Stoic…


Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Martin Hammond (translator),

Book cover of Meditations

While riding on the New York subway one day, the young woman sitting next to me was reading from the so-called “Little Black Book” (a collection of daily thoughts often read by members of Alcoholics Anonymous). After closing the book, she pulled out this very edition of Marcus Aurelius and I could not help but comment to her that she had made a great choice. Not only does the theme of the “Serenity Prayer” go back to Stoics, but Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations (literally titled “To Himself”) show the thoughtful and meditative side of Stoicism. In addition, Marcus Aurelius seems to be practicing what we now call spiritual exercises. Last, what is especially striking is that the Emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote many of these entries while he was stuck on military campaigns; thus, we see up close a man utilizing Stoicism to grapple with the messiness of life.

Meditations

By Marcus Aurelius, Martin Hammond (translator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Meditations as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Their icy blasts are refreshing and restorative. They tell you the worst. And having heard the worst, you feel less bad' Blake Morrison

Written in Greek by the only Roman emperor who was also a philosopher, without any intention of publication, the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius offer a remarkable series of challenging spiritual reflections and exercises developed as the emperor struggled to understand himself and make sense of the universe. While the Meditations were composed to provide personal consolation and encouragement, Marcus Aurelius also created one of the greatest of all works of philosophy: a timeless collection that has been…


The Practicing Stoic

By Ward Farnsworth,

Book cover of The Practicing Stoic: A Philosophical User's Manual

In The Practicing Stoic, Ward Farnsworth has collected a wide range of Stoic and Stoicism-adjacent quotes into one place, each categorized by subject, and in so doing he has given every seeker of wisdom a true gift. Need advice concerning emotional health, overcoming adversity, dealing with wealth, or even the topic of death? The Practicing Stoic contains practical, timeless wisdom on every page. On my first reading, it felt like I was moving through years of my own journals, notebooks, and highlighted pages, except everything was conveniently organized rather than frustratingly scattered about. Farnsworth also lends us his own insights in this collection, as he expounds on the Stoic worldview while weaving together the many excerpts he has collected for us. The Practicing Stoic is a book I often find reason to return to, and it’s worth having on your shelf.

The Practicing Stoic

By Ward Farnsworth,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Practicing Stoic as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Farnsworth beautifully integrates his own observations with scores of quotations from Epictetus, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius, Montaigne and others. This isn't just a book to read-it's a book to return to, a book that will provide perspective and consolation at times of heartbreak or calamity."-The Washington Post

See more clearly, live more wisely, and bear the burdens of this life with greater ease-here are the greatest insights of the Stoics, in their own words. Presented in twelve lessons, Ward Farnsworth systematically presents the heart of Stoic philosophy accompanied by commentary that is clear and concise.

A foundational idea to Stoicism is…


Lives of the Stoics

By Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman,

Book cover of Lives of the Stoics: The Art of Living from Zeno to Marcus Aurelius

We learn more through stories than through reading about abstract concepts. Lives of the Stoics is the story of the ancient Stoics. Who were they? How did they think? How did they live? If we want to live a Stoic life, then it helps us to know how other Stoics applied philosophy in their own lives: How did they face adversity? How did they handle betrayal? How did they handle prosperity? How did they deal with the ups and downs of life? The tone of the book is more informal and personal rather than authoritative. Yet this is one of the best books on Stoicism. Instead of giving us advice on how to use Stoic principles to live a better life, Holiday and Hanselman give us actual examples of people who lived by the principles and the results they got. If you are serious about practicing Stoicism, you will get…

Lives of the Stoics

By Ryan Holiday, Stephen Hanselman,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Lives of the Stoics as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
#1 WALL STREET JOURNAL BESTSELLER

From the bestselling authors of The Daily Stoic - an inspiring guide to the lives of Stoicism's greatest practitioners

A New York Times Noteworthy Pick

'In story after page-turning story, Lives of the Stoics brings ancient philosophers to life.' - David Epstein, bestselling author of Range

'Wonderful' - Chris Bosh, two-time NBA Champion

For millennia, Stoicism has been the ancient philosophy that attracts those who seek greatness, from athletes to politicians and everyone in between. And no wonder: its embrace of self-mastery, virtue and indifference to that which we cannot…


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