Marcus Aurelius was a man who lived by the Stoic laws, which so capably go into making a virtuous man. He returns to this theme many times throughout The Meditations. According to one historian, his circle of friends were distraught. With all of this in mind, it’s easier to understand another common slogan of Stoicism: fear does us more harm than the things of which we’re afraid. No confusion in your words. Consisting of 12 books, written during times of constant strife: a dying wife, a troublesome son who lacked his fathers good temperament and was destined for his seat, rebellions and even war. After his father’s death, Marcus was mostly raised by his nurses and grandfather, also Marcus Annius Verus, who, although he lived in a palace and had all the means a man could ask for, never displayed ill-temper, only the purest of characters. However, this saying also has a deeper meaning for Stoics. We live in denial of the self-evident fact that we all die eventually. Any one of us could die at any moment. He did this by nature and also by learned practices, all the way from his youth to his dying breath: “Adorn thyself with simplicity and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. To order a copy go to guardianbookshop.com. Marcus had no ties to Christianity, except perhaps the fact that he chose to keep it firmly outlawed in his state. Still, there was no shortage of formidable masculine figures in the boy’s life – his guardians equipped him with the best tutors the civilized world could offer and he was, of course, the best pupil they could have asked for. Love mankind. It is very common to hear in both academic circles, as well as more close-knit Stoic circles, Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 CE) being referred to as the philosopher king. Being superior to pain and pleasure allows us to fully accept the … Roman historians describe the legions being devastated, and entire towns and villages being depopulated and going to ruin. Marcus was born in Romeon 26 April 121. Most of us find it easier to bury our heads in the sand. During a tour of his Eastern Provinces, in the years leading up to 172 AD, he paid a visit to Athens, where he set up the ‘Four Chairs Of Philosophy’ to preserve the Stoic, Aristotelian, Platonic and Epicurean branches. We’re told this was what Marcus was thinking about on his deathbed. Marcus Aurelius, through decades of training in Stoicism, in other words, had taught himself to face death with the steady calm of someone who has done so countless times already in the past. Yet, there were a handful of emperors in Rome, who’ve been assigned to history as decent men. The Meditations, by a Roman emperor who died in a plague named after him, has much to say about how to face fear, pain, anxiety and loss, Sat 25 Apr 2020 07.00 EDT Who can I point out as an example? Seneca The Younger – philosopher and dramatist, How to Keep a Stoic Journal – 7 Days of Example Entries, Interview With Donald Robertson, Author Of How To Think Like A Roman Emperor. He covered every conceivable notion of importance to governing the will and living rightly, with each so profoundly placed so as to solve it in the readers mind. The poet says that Law rules all. He grew into a very well made man, this quote may give you insight into his attitude toward life: “No carelessness in your actions. Agasicles, king of the Spartans, once quipped that he wanted to be ‘the student of men whose son I should like to be as well.’ It is a critical consideration we need to make in our search for role models. Much, if not all, of our thinking is also up to us. The Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus was the last famous Stoic philosopher of antiquity. Marcus Aurelius was a man who lived by the Stoic laws, which so capably go into making a virtuous man. Our view of Roman leadership, especially over the few centuries around the birth of Christ, is tainted by tales of tyranny and callous pompousness. Co-authored by Steven Umbrello and Tina Forsee. They learn from how other people cope. He did this by nature and also by learned practices, all the way from his youth to his dying breath: “Adorn thyself with simplicity and with indifference towards the things which lie between virtue and vice. The second century CE Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius was also a Stoic philosopher, and his Meditations, which he wrote to and for himself, offers readers a unique opportunity to see how an ancient person (indeed an emperor) might try to live a Stoic life, according to which only virtue is good, only vice is bad, and the things which we normally busy ourselves with are all indifferent to our … Although his mother didn’t spend a great deal of time with him, he had profound respect for her. All rights reserved. Follow God. And it is enough to remember that law rules all.”. In a word, if there is a god, all is well; and if chance rules, do not thou be governed by it.”. Tragically, only four daughters and one son outlived him, which was, no doubt, something of a trial for one who held so dearly the people close to him. It’s not the virus that makes us afraid but rather our opinions about it. Don’t feel harmed, and you haven’t been.” Our … Even historical figures or fictional characters can serve as role models. Upon his adoption by Antoninus as heir to the throne, he was known as Marcus Aelius Aurelius Verus Caesar and… Modern Stoics tend to call this “the dichotomy of control” and many people find this distinction alone helpful in alleviating stress. Marcus likes to ask himself, “What virtue has nature given me to deal with this situation?” That naturally leads to the question: “How do other people cope with similar challenges?” Stoics reflect on character strengths such as wisdom, patience and self-discipline, which potentially make them more resilient in the face of adversity. Every story told of his father painted him as a pillar of humility and manhood. In that respect, it’s easy to see how fear can do us more harm than the things of which we’re afraid because it can impinge on our physical health and quality of life. © 2020 Guardian News & Media Limited or its affiliated companies. Born in Ucubi, Cordoba, to a Praetor and Senator’s son, Marcus Annius Verus and a very, very wealthy woman named Domitia Lucilla, Marcus was destined for greatness. Marcus Aurelius, the Philosopher King, as they call him, was most certainly one of those special few. I will leave you to regard the following: “Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul, and observe how all things have reference to one perception, the perception of this one living being; and how all things act with one movement; and how all things are the cooperating causes of all things which exist; observe too the continuous spinning of the thread and the contexture of the web.”. That, however, didn’t stop the later named ‘Meditations’ from becoming one of the most celebrated pieces of Stoic literature. How to Think Like a Roman Emperor: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius by Donald Robertson (St Martin’s Press, £21.99). Come 132 AD, with Diognetus’ encouragement, Marcus adopted the traditional dress of the Stoics, a modest Greek toga, in spite of his obvious fortune. It’s true, first of all, in a superficial sense. No imprecision in your thoughts.”. It’s also the basic premise of modern cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), the leading evidence-based form of psychotherapy. In extreme cases some people may even take their own lives. Sadly, he lost his father at a very early age, a handful of years after his own birth in 121 AD. An introspective man whose collected works are considered some of the most poignant amongst the texts of our Stoic fathers, Marcus took no human relationship lightly. Read what he warns about leaving things to chance: “The universal intelligence puts itself in motion for every separate effect… or it puts itself in motion once, and everything else comes by way of a sequence in a manner; or individual elements are the origin of all things.
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