100 books like Marcus Aurelius

By Anthony Birley,

Here are 100 books that Marcus Aurelius fans have personally recommended if you like Marcus Aurelius. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of The Roman Revolution

Mark Koyama Author Of How the World Became Rich: The Historical Origins of Economic Growth

From my list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies.

Why am I passionate about this?

I've always been fascinated with history. The study of economic history allows me to combine my passion for understanding the past with a rigorous and systematic set of analytical tools. In my own work I'm interested in understanding the economic, political, and institutional transformations that have created the modern world. The books I've selected here help us better understand quite how different the past and they have proven to be invaluable to me as inspirations. 

Mark's book list on politics and economics in preindustrial societies

Mark Koyama Why did Mark love this book?

Syme was wrote about the fall of the Roman Republic in the shadow of the rise of totalitarianism. 

But for me what is most interesting about this book is its use of collective biography and its argument that the rise of Caesar and Augustus is best understood as the rise of a party or a faction. Most books on the Late Republic focus on the larger-than-life personalities: Caesar, Pompey, Crassus, and Cicero. Syme focuses on structures and systematic factors.

He writes with an at times jarring cynicism. His treatment of Cicero is particularly critical for example. For Syme, all states are governed by coalitions of elites.

And the writing is unforgettable: "a monarchy rules through an oligarchy"; "at its worst, biography is flat and schematic: at its best, it is often baffled by the hidden discords of human nature... undue insistence on upon the character and exploits of a single…

By Ronald Syme,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Roman Revolution is a profound and unconventional treatment of a great theme - the fall of the Republic and the decline of freedom in Rome between 60 BC and AD 14, and the rise to power of the greatest of the Roman Emperors, Augustus. The transformation of state and society, the violent transference of power and property, and the establishment of Augustus' rule are presented in an unconventional narrative, which quotes from ancient evidence, refers
seldomly to modern authorities, and states controversial opinions quite openly. The result is a book which is both fresh and compelling.


Book cover of Encyclopaedia Biblica

Henry Davis Author Of Creating Christianity - A Weapon Of Ancient Rome

From my list on ancient history that challenge assumptions.

Why am I passionate about this?

Henry Davis is an independent historical researcher who has been studying ancient history for over 20 years. Even though he wanted to embark on a formal education studying the Classics, he suffered from extreme anxiety and felt he could not do so. He resorted to self-study, with help from family and friends, who had degrees in Classical studies, and began reading the work of respected historians/scholars/classicists, Dame Mary Beard, Tom Holland, Sir Ronald Syme, Gavin Townend, and Anthony Birley, to name only a few.

Henry's book list on ancient history that challenge assumptions

Henry Davis Why did Henry love this book?

The official title of the book is ‘Encyclopedia Biblica: A Critical Dictionary of the Literary, Political and Religious History, the Archaeology, Geography, and Natural History of the Bible.' This work was produced by various professors of Oxford University and was a continual work from 1899-1903. It seems to be rarely mentioned by historians and Biblical scholars today, and I am recommending this work because there is a considerable wealth of information in it, and any student of history would find it incredibly useful. The Oxford professors critically examined ancient folklore and legends, without being swayed by traditional opinions of the time. For example, the origins of the people of Israel, and Egyptian and Hittite history are thoroughly examined, as is the Biblical literature. Interestingly, in this work, the professors doubted the existence of Nazareth, stating: ‘Was Nazareth originally the name of a town (or village) at all? There…

By John Sutherland Black, Thomas Kelly Cheyne,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important, and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work was reproduced from the original artifact, and remains as true to the original work as possible. Therefore, you will see the original copyright references, library stamps (as most of these works have been housed in our most important libraries around the world), and other notations in the work.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and…


Book cover of Myth of Persecution

Henry Davis Author Of Creating Christianity - A Weapon Of Ancient Rome

From my list on ancient history that challenge assumptions.

Why am I passionate about this?

Henry Davis is an independent historical researcher who has been studying ancient history for over 20 years. Even though he wanted to embark on a formal education studying the Classics, he suffered from extreme anxiety and felt he could not do so. He resorted to self-study, with help from family and friends, who had degrees in Classical studies, and began reading the work of respected historians/scholars/classicists, Dame Mary Beard, Tom Holland, Sir Ronald Syme, Gavin Townend, and Anthony Birley, to name only a few.

Henry's book list on ancient history that challenge assumptions

Henry Davis Why did Henry love this book?

Certain events that the ancient writers described, do not always seem to fit within the time they were writing, and I very much enjoy books that question what was written. In my opinion, this book by Candida Moss is very provocative, as it challenges the traditional view of the alleged persecution of Christians. A particular point she makes is in regards to the Roman historian, Tacitus, she states: ‘Tacitus’s Annals dates to 115-20 (CE), at least fifty years after the events he describes. His use of the term “Christian” is somewhat anachronistic. It’s highly unlikely that, at the time the Great Fire occurred, anyone recognized Jesus followers as a distinct and separate group.’ Although this book leaves questions unanswered, it offers a great deal to think about. Another scholar of note, who also argues against the idea that Christians were a special group being attacked by the Roman state or…

By Candida Moss,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In The Myth of Persecution, Candida Moss, a leading expert on early Christianity, reveals how the early church exaggerated, invented, and forged stories of Christian martyrs and how the dangerous legacy of a martyrdom complex is employed today to silence dissent and galvanize a new generation of culture warriors.
 
According to cherished church tradition and popular belief, before the Emperor Constantine made Christianity legal in the fourth century, early Christians were systematically persecuted by a brutal Roman Empire intent on their destruction. As the story goes, vast numbers of believers were thrown to the lions, tortured, or burned alive because…


Book cover of The Jewish War

Lena Einhorn Author Of A Shift in Time: How Historical Documents Reveal the Surprising Truth about Jesus

From my list on ancient religious texts and actual history.

Why am I passionate about this?

Lena Einhorn is a writer and filmmaker, with a background in medicine. She has portrayed Greta Garbo’s life before the breakthrough, in the novel Blekinge Street 32, and in Nina’s Journey, she told the story of her mother, one of the last to leave the Warsaw ghetto alive. Nina’s Journey also became a feature film, written and directed by Einhorn. The book received the National Book Award of Sweden, and the film received the National Film Award for best picture and best script, as well as a number of international awards. In 2019 the critically acclaimed autobiographical novel The Thin Ice came out.

Lena's book list on ancient religious texts and actual history

Lena Einhorn Why did Lena love this book?

This is the parallel companion book to the New Testament, for anyone who wants to try to discern "the true story behind the religious text." And it is also the biggest impediment to all historians and biblical scholars who have attempted to portray Jesus and his disciples as historical individuals. He simply does not seem to be there (if one excepts the paragraph "Testimonium Flavianum", which has been added or amended by later scribes). But perhaps he does... If one looks slightly beneath the surface....

By Flavius Josephus,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Josephus' account of a war marked by treachery and atrocity is a superbly detailed and evocative record of the Jewish rebellion against Rome between AD 66 and 70. Originally a rebel leader, Josephus changed sides after he was captured to become a Rome-appointed negotiator, and so was uniquely placed to observe these turbulent events, from the siege of Jerusalem to the final heroic resistance and mass suicides at Masada. His account provides much of what we know about the history of the Jews under Roman rule, with vivid portraits of such key figures as the Emperor Vespasian and Herod the…


Book cover of Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of Meditations: The Annotated Edition

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Marcus Aurelius: A Guide for the Perplexed

Donald J. Robertson Author Of Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am an author and cognitive-behavioural psychotherapist. I am one of the founders of the Modern Stoicism nonprofit organisation and the president and founder of the Plato’s Academy Centre in Athens, Greece. I’ve published six books on philosophy and psychotherapy, mostly focusing on the Stoic philosophy and its relationship with modern psychology and evidence-based psychotherapy.

Donald's book list on modern books on Marcus Aurelius

Donald J. Robertson Why did Donald love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of A Companion to Marcus Aurelius

John Sellars Author Of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on Marcus Aurelius and his desire to live a good life.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Sellars is a Reader in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the author of multiple books on Stoicism. He is also a founding member of Modern Stoicism and The Aurelius Foundation, both non-profit companies devoted to bringing Stoicism to a wider audience and showing how it can benefit people today.

John's book list on Marcus Aurelius and his desire to live a good life

John Sellars Why did John love this book?

This is a large and expensive academic book containing over thirty chapters by different authors (disclaimer: two of them are by me).

It’s perhaps not the sort of thing that a typical general reader is likely to buy. But taken together, these chapters constitute the fullest discussion of Marcus Aurelius available in English, and most questions that people are likely to have about Marcus or his philosophy are probably answered somewhere in its five hundred-plus pages.

By Marcel van Ackeren,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A Companion to Marcus Aurelius presents the first comprehensive collection of essays to explore all essential facets relating to contemporary Marcus Aurelius studies. First collection of its kind to commission new state-of-the-art scholarship on Marcus Aurelius Features readings that cover all aspects of Marcus Aurelius, including source material, biographical information, and writings Contributions from an international cast of top Aurelius scholars Addresses evolving aspects of the reception of the Meditations


Book cover of Marcus Aurelius in Love

John Sellars Author Of Marcus Aurelius

From my list on Marcus Aurelius and his desire to live a good life.

Why am I passionate about this?

John Sellars is a Reader in Philosophy at Royal Holloway, University of London, and the author of multiple books on Stoicism. He is also a founding member of Modern Stoicism and The Aurelius Foundation, both non-profit companies devoted to bringing Stoicism to a wider audience and showing how it can benefit people today.

John's book list on Marcus Aurelius and his desire to live a good life

John Sellars Why did John love this book?

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.

By Amy Richlin, Marcus Aurelius,

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.…


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