Greek Philosophy – Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius (121 – 180 CE), Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, was heavily influenced by Epictetus.  Educated by Greek tutors in Rome, Aurelius wrote his Meditations, his philosophical work, one of the finest of ancient Rome, in Greek.  Here are some quotes from his Meditations that serve as good examples of Stoic philosophy:

When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be ungrateful, violent, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and uncharitable. All of these things have come upon them through ignorance of good and evil. But I have seen the beauty of good, and the ugliness of evil, and have recognized that the wrongdoer has a nature related to my own, not of the same blood or birth, but the same mind, and possessing a share of the divine…I can neither be harmed by any of them, for no one will involve me in wrong, nor can I be angry with them or hate them, for we have come into the world to work together.

Marcus Aurelius on Horseback

I have often wondered how it is that every man loves himself more than all the rest of men, but yet sets less value on his own opinions of himself than on the opinions of others.

The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane.

Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth.

marcus aurelius relief

Our life is what our thoughts make it.

How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.

The best revenge is to be unlike the one who performed the injury.

It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live.

Marcus Aurelius facade

Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present.

Look back over the past, with its changing empires that rose and fell, and you can foresee the future, too.

Do every act of your life as if it were your last.

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