June 25, 2022
July 8, 5022 U










[English Version]

edited by C.R. Haines


Copyright © 1918. All Rights Reserved.












PREFACE     ix


STOICISM     xxi



BOOK I     2

BOOK II     26

BOOK III     44

BOOK IV     66

BOOK V     98

BOOK VI     130

BOOK VII     164

BOOK VIII     198

BOOK IX     230

BOOK X     260

book xi     292

BOOK XII     320

SPEECHES     346

SAYINGS     359






If thou would'st master care and pain, Unfold this book

and read and read again Its blessed leaves, whereby thou

soon shalt see The past, the present, and the days to be

With opened eyes; and all delight, all grief, Shall be like

smoke, as empty and as brief.

C. R. H.


[Epigram in Koine Greek not shown here]
[This epigram is found at the end of the Vatican MS. and also

in the Anthologia Palatina, ii. p. 603 (Jacobs). Possibly by

Arethas (see P. Maas in Hermes xlviii. p. 295 ff.).]



The Greek text of this book is often difficult and in many

places corrupt beyond cure, but no trouble has been

spared to make the translation as accurate and idiomatic

as possible. I have preferred to err, if error it be, on the side

of over-faithfulness, because the physiognomy of the book

owes so much to the method and style in which it is written.

Its homeliness, abruptness, and want of literary finish

(though it does not lack rhetoric) are part of the character of

the work, and we alter this character by rewriting it into the

terse, epigrammatic, staccato style so much in vogue at the

present day. Another reason for literalness is that it makes

a comparison with the Greek, printed beside it, easier for

the unlearned. When a work has been translated so often

as this one, it is difficult to be original without deviating

further from the text, but I have not borrowed a phrase,

scarcely a word, from any of my predecessors. If

unconscious coincidences appear, it remains only to say

Pereani qui ante nos nostra dixerint!


Numerous references (such as have proved so invaluable

for the due understanding of the Bible) and good indices

have always been greatly wanted in the translations

of this work, and I have taken pains to supply the want.

For a better understanding of the character of Marcus

I have added to the Thoughts translations of his

Speeches and Sayings, with a Note on his attitude

towards the Christians (in which I am glad to

find myself in complete agreement with M. Lemercier). A

companion volume on the Correspondence with Fronto will

contain all his extant Letters. In conclusion my best thanks

are due to Messrs. Teubner for permission to use their text

as the basis of the revised one here printed, to Professors

Leopold and Schenkl for advice and help on various points,

and, last but not least, to my predecessors in the

translation of this "Golden Book."


Godalming, 1915.



It is not known how this small but priceless book of

private devotional memoranda came to be preserved for

posterity. But the writer that in it puts away all desire for

after-fame has by means of it attained to imperishable

remembrance. As Renan has said, "tous, tant que nous

sommes, nous portons au coeur le deuil de Marc Aurele

comine s'il etait mort d'hier." Internal evidence proves that

the author was Marcus Antoninus, emperor of Rome

7 March 161 to 17 March 180, and notes added in one MS

between Books I and II and II and III shew that the second

Book was composed when the writer was among the Quadi

on the Gran, and the third at Carnuntum (Haimburg). The

headquarters of Marcus in the war against the barbarians

were at Carnuntum 171-173, and we know that the so-called

"miraculous victory" against the Quadi was in 174.

But Professor Schenkl has given good reasons for thinking

that the first book was really written last and prefixed as a

sort of introduction to the rest of the work. It was probably

written as a whole, while the other books consist mostly of

disconnected jottings. The style


throughout is abrupt and concise, and words have

occasionally to be supplied to complete the sense. There is

here no reasoned treatise on Ethics, no exposition of Stoic

Philosophy, such as the sectarum ardua ac perocculta or

the ordo praeceptionum, on which Marcus is said to have

discoursed before he set out the last time for the war in

178, but we have a man and a ruler taking counsel with

himself, noting his own shortcomings, excusing those of

others, and "whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things

are honourable, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever

things are pure," exhorting his soul to think on these things.

Never were words written more transparently single-

hearted and sincere. They were not merely written, they

were lived. Those who accuse Marcus of pharisaism

wilfully mistake his character and betray their own. Very

noticeable is the delicacy of the author's mind and the

restrained energy of his style. He eschews all the

'windflowers' of speech, but the simplicity,

straightforwardness, and dignity of his thoughts lend an

imperial nobility to his expression of them. There is a

certain choiceness and even poetry in his words which

amply condone an occasional roughness and technicality

of phrase. Striking images are not infrequent, and such a

passage as Book II, 2 is unique in ancient literature. This is

not a book of confessions, and comparatively few allusions

to personal incidents are to be found except in the first

book, while an air of complete aloofness and detachment

pervades the whole. The author expressly disclaims all

[--] or originality and


acuteness of intellect, and there is a good deal of repetition

unavoidable in the nature of the work, for "line upon line"

and "precept upon precept" are required in all moral


Of his two great Stoic predecessors Marcus has no

affinity with Seneca. He certainly knew all about him and

they have many thoughts in common, but Seneca's

rhetorical flamboyance, his bewildering contradictions, the

glaring divergence between his profession and his practice

have no counterpart in Marcus. Epictetus the Phrygian

slave was his true spiritual father, but we do not find in the

Emperor the somewhat rigid didacticism and spiritual

dogmatism of his predecessor. Marcus is humbler and not

so confident. The hardness and arrogance of Stoicism are

softened in him by an infusion of Platonism and other

philosophies. With the Peripatetics he admits the

inequality of faults. His humanity will not cast out

compassion as an emotion of the heart. His is no cut and

dried creed, for he often wavers and is inconsistent. Call

not his teaching ineffectual. He is not trying to teach

anyone. He is reasoning with his own soul and

championing its cause against the persuasions and

impulses of the flesh. How far did he succeed? "By nature

a good man," says Dio, "his education and the moral

training he imposed upon himself


made him a far better one." "As was natural to one who

had beautified his soul with every virtuous quality he was

innocent of all wrong-doing." The wonderful revelation

here given of the [--] of the spiritual athlete in the

contests of life is full of inspiration still even for the modem

world. It has been and is a source of solace and strength to

thousands, and has helped to mould the characters of

more than one leader of men, such as Frederick the Great,

Maximilian of Bavaria, Captain John Smith, the 'saviour of

Virginia,' and that noble Christian soldier, General Gordon.

It was but the other day, on the fiftieth anniversary of Italian

Unity, that the King of Italy, speaking on the Capitol,

referred to Marcus "as the sacred and propitiatory image of

that cult of moral and civil law which our Fatherland wishes

to follow," a reference received with particular applause by

those who heard it.

Whoever rescued the MS of the "Thoughts" on the

death of their author in 180, whether it was that noble

Roman, Pompeianus, the son-in-law of Marcus, or the

high-minded Victorinus, his lifelong friend, we seem to hear

an echo of its teaching in the dying words of Comificia, his

possibly last surviving daughter, when put to death by

Caracalla in 215: "O wretched little soul of mine,

imprisoned in an unworthy body, go forth, be free!" It was

doubtless known to Chryseros the freedman and

nomenclator of Marcus who wrote a history of Rome to the

death of his patron, and to the Emperor


Gordian I., for the latter in his youth, soon after the

Emperor's death, wrote an epic poem on Pius and Marcus.

He also married Fabia Orestilla, the latter's granddaughter

through Fadilla (probably) and Claudius Severus. As their

eldest son Gordian II. had sixty children, the blood of

Marcus was soon widely diffused.

The first direct mention of the work is about 350 A.D. in

the Orations of the pagan philosopher Themistius, who

speaks of the [--] (precepts) of Marcus. Then for

550 years we lose sight of the book entirely, until, about

900, the compiler of the dictionary, which goes by the name

of Suidas, reveals the existence of a MS of it by making

some thirty quotations, taken from books I, III, IV, V, IX,

and XI. He calls the book [--] an "[--] (a directing) of

his own life by Marcus the Emperor in twelve

books." About the same time Arethas, a Cappadocian

bishop, writing to his metropolitan, speaks of the scarcity of

this [--] and apparently sends him a copy of it.

He also refers to it three times in scholia to Lucian,

calling it [--]. Two similar references are found in the scholia

to Dio Chrysostom, possibly by the same Arethas.

Again a silence of 250 years, after which Tzetzes, a

grammarian of Constantinople, quotes passages from

Books IV. and V. attributing them to Marcus. About 150

years later (1300 A.D.) the ecclesiastical historian,

Nicephorus Callistus (iii. 31) writes that Marcus a composed

a book of instruction for his son, full of universal

([--] secular) experience and wisdom." About

this very time Planudes, a monk


of Constantinople, may have been engaged in compiling

the anthology of extracts from various authors, including

Marcus and Aelian, which has come down to us in twenty-

five or more MSS dating from the fourteenth to the

sixteenth century. They contain in all forty-four extracts

from books IV.-XII., but are practically of no help in

re-establishing the text. Our present text is based almost

entirely upon two MSS, the Codex Palatinus (P) first printed

in 1558 by Xylander but now lost, which contains the whole

work, and the Codex Vaticanus 1950 (A) from which about

forty-two lines have dropped out by accidental omissions

here and there. Two other MSS give some independent

help to the text, but they are incomplete, the Codex

Darmstadtinus 2773 (D) with 112 extracts from books I.-IX.

and Codex Parisinus 319 (C) with twenty-nine extracts from

Books I.-IV., with seven other MSS derived from it or from

the same source. Apart from all these there is but one other

MS (Monacensis 323) which contains only fourteen very

short fragments from Books IL, III.,IV., and VII.

Translations of this Book have been made into Latin,

English, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Norse, Russian,

Czech, Polish and Persian. In England alone twenty-six

editions of the work appeared in the seventeenth century,

fifty-eight in the eighteenth, eighty-one in the nineteenth,

and in the twentieth up to 1908 thirty more.

The English translations are as follows.—

1. Meric Casaubon,—"Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. His

Meditations concerning himselfe: Treating of a


Naturall Man's Happinesse; wherein it consisteth, and of

the Meanes to attain unto it. Translated out of the original

Greeke with Notes by Meric Casaubon B.D., London,


This, the first English translation, albeit involved and

periphrastic, is not without dignity or scholarship, though

James Thomson in 1747 says that "it is everywhere rude

and unpolished and often mistakes the author's meaning,"

while the Foulis Press Translators of 1742 find fault with its

"intricate and antiquated style." It may be conveniently read

in Dr. Rouse's new edition of 1900, which also contains

some excellent translations of letters between Fronto and


2. Jeremy Collier.—"The Emperor Marcus Antoninus

His Conversation with Himself. Translated into English by

Jeremy Collier M.A., London 1701." A recent edition of it by

Alice Zimmern is in the Camelot Series, but it hardly

deserved the honour. We may fairly say of it that it is too

colloquial. James Thomson in 1747 speaks of it as "a very

coarse copy of an excellent original," and as "bearing so

faint a resemblance to the original in a great many places

as scarcely to seem taken from it." R. Graves in 1792

remarks that it "abounds with so many vulgarities, anilities

and even ludicrous expressions . . . that one cannot now

read it with any patience." The comment of G. Long in 1862

is much the same, but it called forth an unexpected

champion of the older translator in Matthew Arnold, who

says: "Most English people, who knew Marcus Aurelius

before Mr. Long appeared as his introducer, knew him

through Jeremy Collier. And the acquaintance of a man like

Marcus Aurelius is such an imperishable


benefit that one can never lose a peculiar sense of

obligation towards the man who confers it. Apart from this

however, Jeremy Collier's version deserves respect for its

genuine spirit and vigour, the spirit and vigour of the age of

Dryden. His warmth of feeling gave to his style an

impetuosity and rhythm which from Mr. Long's style are

absent." The real defect of Collier as a translator, adds

Arnold, is his imperfect acquaintance with Greek.

3. James Moor and Thomas Hutcheson.—"The

Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.

Newly translated from the Greek with notes." Glasgow: The

Foulis Press, 1742. Certainly the best translation, previous

to Long's, for accuracy and diction, and superior to that in

spirit. Dr. Rendall (1898) praises it as "the choicest alike in

form and contents." R. Graves, however, in 1792, while

allowing its fidelity, had pronounced it "unnecessarily

literal," and shewing a "total neglect of elegance and

harmony of style." A very satisfactory revision of this

translation appeared in 1902, made by G. W. Chrystal.

4. Richard Graves.—"The Meditations of the Emperor

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus. A New Translation from the

Greek Original, with notes." By R. Graves, M.A., Rector of

Claverton, Somerset. Bath, 1792.

A fairly accurate and smooth version of no especial

distinction, but superior to most of its predecessors. An

abbreviated edition of this was published at Stourport

without any date by N. Swaine with the title: "The

Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus

Philosophus collated with and abridged from the best



5. George Long.—"The Thoughts of the Emperor

Marcus Aurelius Antoninus." Translated by George Long.

London, 1862. This may be looked upon as in some sense

the "authorized version," and it is from it that most people

know their Marcus Aurelius. For nearly forty years it was

master of the field. M. Arnold, though finding fault with the

translator as not idiomatic or simple enough and even

pedantic, yet gives him full credit for soundness, precision,

and general excellence in his translation. The author tells

us that he deliberately chose a ruder style as better suited,

in his opinion, to express the character of the original,

which is distinctive, for in spite of Arnold's dictum to the

contrary the book of Marcus has a "distinct physiognomy,"

and here, more than is usually the case, le style c'est


6. Hastings Crossley.—"The Fourth Book of the

Meditations of Marcus Aurelius." A revised text with

Translation and commentary by Hastings Crossley, M.A.,

London, 1882. This specimen makes us regret that the

author did not publish the whole version which he tells us

was in MS. The book contains an interesting appendix on

the relations of Fronto and Marcus.

7. G. H. Rendall.—"Marcus Aurelius Antoninus to

Himself: An English Translation with Introductory Study on

Stoicism and the Last of the Stoics." By Gerald H. Rendall,

M.A., Litt.D., London, 1898. A second edition with a

different introduction was published in 1901.

This version has been pronounced by many critics the

best rendering of the Thoughts. Its accuracy, ability, and

liveliness are unquestionable.

8. John Jackson,—"The Meditations of Marcus


Aurelius Antoninus." Translated by John Jackson. With an

introduction by Charles Bigg. Oxford, 1906.

This version is the newest comer, and is a worthy

presentment of the Thoughts. There are useful notes, but

some very bold alterations of the text have been followed in

the English version. The book would have been more

acceptable without the introduction by Dr. Bigg, which gives

a most unfair and wholly inaccurate view of the life and

character of Marcus.

Besides the above versions there are several abridged

translations of the Thoughts, which need not be

enumerated here. But the two chief ones seem to be by B.

E. Smith, published by the Century Company, New York,

1899, and by J. E. Wilson, London, 1902.



Stoicism was so called from the Colonnade at Athens,

where Zeno about 300 B.C. first taught its doctrines. More

religious in character than any other Greek philosophy, it

brought a new moral force into the world. It put intellectual

speculation more into the background, and carried the

moral attitude of the Cynics further into the domain of right

conduct. Oriental fervour was in it grafted on Greek

acumen, for Zeno was a Phoenician Greek of Cyprus, and

Chrysippus, the St Paul who defined and established

Stoicism, a Cilician like the Apostle.

In spite of its origin Stoicism proved wonderfully adapted

to the practical Roman character, and under the tyranny of

the early Caesars it formed the only impregnable fortress8

of liberty for the noblest Romans. It reached its culmination,

and found its highest exponents as a living creed in the

courtier Seneca, the Phrygian slave Epictetus, and the

emperor Marcus Antoninus.

Stoic philosophy consisted of Logic, Physics, and

Ethics. Logic, which comprised Dialectics and


Rhetoric, was the necessary instrument of all speculation;

but Marcus found no satisfaction in either branch of it, nor

in such Physics as dealt with Meteorology.

The key-note of Stoicism was Life according to Nature,

and Marcus was converted to the pursuit of this possibly by

Sextus the Boeotian. By "Nature" was meant the

controlling Reason of the Universe. A study of Physics

was necessary for a proper understanding of the Cosmos

and our position in it, and thus formed the scientific basis of

philosophy; but it was regarded as strictly subordinate, and

merely a means to an end.

Though he confesses to some disappointment in his

progress therein, there is no doubt that Marcus was well

versed in Stoic Physics. Fully recognizing the value of a

scientific spirit of enquiry, he describes it as a

characteristic of the rational soul to "go the whole Universe

through and grasp its plan," affirming that "no man can be

good without correct notions as to the Nature of the Whole

and his own constitution."

To the Stoics the Universe—God and Matter—was

One, all Substance, unified by the close 'sympathy' and

interdependence of the parts, forming with the rational

Power, that was co-extensive with it, a single entity. The

Primary Being, by means of its informing


Force, acting as igneous or atmospheric current upon

inert matter, evolved out of itself a Cosmos, subsequent

modifications being by way of consequence. This Universe

is periodically destroyed by fire, thus returning again to its

pristine Being, only however to be created anew on the

same plan even to the smallest details; and so on for ever.

God and Matter being thus indistinguishable, for all that

was not God in its original form was God in an indirect

sense as a manifestation of him, the Stoic creed was

inevitably pantheistic. It was also materialistic; for the

Stoics, allowing existence to nothing incorporeal, by means

of their strange theory of air-currents inherent even in

abstract things such as virtue, rendered not only them but

God himself corporeal, terming him the "perfect living

Being." But their conceptions on this point seem to be

really irreconcilable, for while on the one hand they speak

of the Supreme Power by such names as Zeus, Cause or

Force, Soul, Mind, or Reason of the Universe, Law or

Truth, Destiny, Necessity, Providence, or Nature of the

Whole, on the other they identify it with such terms as Fiery

Fluid, or Heat, Ether (warm air) or Pneuma (atmospheric



Other physical theories were borrowed from Heraclitus,

and Marcus constantly alludes to these, such as the

"downward and upward" round of the elements as they

emanate from the primary Fire, air passing into fire, fire into

earth, earth into water and so back again, and the famous

doctrine that all things are in flux.

Man consists of Body, Soul, Intelligence, or Flesh,

Pneuma, and the Ruling Reason. But the [--] (soul) can be

looked upon in two ways, as [--], an exhalation

from blood, and as [--], the ruling Reason. It

is the latter, a "morsel" or "efflux" from the Divine, which

constitutes the real man. Marcus often speaks of this

rational nature of a man as his daemon, or genius

enthroned within him, and makes the whole problem of life

depend upon how this Reason treats itself. As all that is

rational is akin, we are formed for fellowship with others

and, the universe being one, what affects a part of it affects

the whole. Reason is as a Law to all rational creatures, and

so we are all citizens of a World-state. In this

cosmopolitanism the Stoics approached the Christian view,

ethics being divorced from national politics and made of

universal application. It was no cloistered virtue the Stoics

preached, showing how a man can save his own soul, but

a practical positive goodness; though it cannot be denied

that the claims of [--]


(the self-sufficiency of the Inner Self) and Koivwvta (social

interdependence of parts of a common whole) are not easy

to reconcile. It is certain, however, that the Stoic admission

of slaves into the brotherhood of man had an ameliorating

effect upon slavery, and the well-known bias of Marcus in

favour of enfranchisement may well have been due to his


From virtue alone can happiness and peace of mind

result, and virtue consists in submission to the higher

Power and all that he sends us, in mastery over our animal

nature, in freedom from all perturbation, and in the entire

independence of the Inner Self. Since life is Opinion and

everything but what we think it, the vital question is what

assent we give to the impressions of our senses. "Wipe

out imagination," says Marcus, time after time, "and you

are saved." "Do not think yourself hurt and you remain

unhurt." He longs for the day when he shall cease to be

duped by his impressions and pulled like a puppet by his

passions, and his soul shall be in a great calm. But virtue

must also show itself, like faith, in right actions. It means

not only self-control but justice and benevolence to others

and piety towards the Gods.

By the Gods Marcus sometimes means the controlling

Reason, sometimes, apparently, Gods in a more popular

sense, such as are even visible to the


eyes. He often puts the alternative God (or Gods) and

Atoms, but himself firmly believes that there are immortal

Gods who care for mankind, live with them, and help even

bad men. He bids himself call upon them, follow them, be

their minister, live with them and be likened to them. They

too are part of the Cosmos and subject to its limitations,

and by our own loyalty to Destiny we contribute to the

welfare and permanence of God himself. But a predestined

Order of things involved fatalism, and the Stoics were hard

put to it to maintain the complete freedom of the will.

Unfortunately the Stoic scheme left no room for

Immortality. At most a soul could only exist till the next

conflagration, when it must be absorbed again into the

Primary Being. Seneca indeed, who was no true Stoic,

speaks in almost Christian terms of a new and blissful life

to come, but Epictetus turns resolutely, and Marcus with

evident reluctance, from a hope so dear to the human

heart. In one place the latter even uses the expression

"another life," and finds it a hard saying that the souls of

those who were in closest communion with God should die

for ever when they die. But he does not repine. He is

ready for either fate, extinction or transference elsewhere.

One more question remains, that of Suicide. The Stoics

allowed this, if circumstances made it impossible



for a man to maintain his moral standard. The

door is open, but the call must be very clear. Still the act

seems quite inconsistent with the doctrine of submission to

Destiny, and the classing of things external as indifferent.

In this brief sketch of Stoicism much has perforce been

omitted, and much may seem obscure, but Marcus

confesses that "things are in a manner so wrapped up in

mystery that even the Stoics have found them difficult to

apprehend." This at least we know, that Stoicism inspired

some of the noblest lives ever lived, left its humanizing

impress upon the Roman Law, which we have inherited,

and appeals in an especial way to some of the higher

instincts of our nature.



Of the chief editions and commentaries referred to in the critical notes.

Xyl.—The premier edition from the lost Palatine MS., issued in 1558, with a Latin translation by Xylander (i.e. W. Holzmann of Augsburg).

Cas.—Meric Casaubon's first edition of the original Greek in

1643. Reprinted 1680.

Gat.—Thomas Gataker's edition, published in 1652 at Cambridge with a new Latin version and voluminous notes including contributions from Saumaise (Salm.), Boot, and Junius. Reprinted 1696, 1704, 1707, 1729 (Wollt and Buddeus), 1744, 1751, 1775 (Morus).

Sch.—Jo. Matth. Schultz. Editions 1802 (Sleswig), 1820 (Leipzig), 1842 (Paris). Menagius and Reiske supplied notes to Schultz. Cor.—A. Coraes, in vol. iv.: [--]. Paris, 1816. This editor has made more successful emendations of the text than any other.

Bach.—Nicholas Bach, "De Marco Aurelio Antonino," Lipsiae,


Pierron.—Alexis Pierron, "Penskes de l'Empereur Marc Aurele Antonin." Paris, 1843 (with introduction and notes).

Loft.—Edition by C. L. Porcher (—Capel Lofft). New York, 1863.

Proof-sheets of this, with additional notes, are in the British


Scaph.—Panag. Schaphidiotes, [--] Athens, 1881.

Stich.—Jo. Stich, H "Adnotationes criticae ad M. Antoninum,"

Programm der K. Studienanstatt, Zweibriicken, 1880/1.

The same editor brought out an edition for the Teubner

Series in 1882, and a second revised edition in 1903, with

valuable introductions and index.


Nauck.—August Nauck, "De M. Antonini Commentariis," 1882,

Bulletin de l'Academie imperials des Sciences de St. Petersbourg (28), pp. 196-210. See also "Melanges Greco-Romains" ii. 743-5.

Pol.—Hermann J. Polak, "In Marci Antonini Commentaries

analecta critica," Hermes xxi. (1886), pp. 321-356, and Sylloge

commentationum quam C. Conto obtulerunt philologi Batavi,

Lugd. Bat., 1894, pp. 85-94.

Rend.—G. H. Rendall, "On the text of M. Aurelius Antoninus [--],"

Journal of Philology, xxiii., pp. 116-160.

Wilam.—Ulrich de Wilamowitz-Moellendorf, Griechisches

Lesebuch ii., pp. 311-320. Berlin, 1902.

Hoffm.—P. Hoffmann, "Notes critiques sur Marc Aurfele," Revue de l'Instruction publique en Belgique, xlvii., 1904, pp. 11-23.

Sonny.—Adolf Sonny, "Zur Ueberlieforung Geschichte von M.

A.," Philologus 54, pp. 181-3.

Leop.—J. H. Leopold, "Ad M. Antonini commentaries,"

Mnemosyne xxxi., 1902, pp. 341-364; xxxiv., 1907, pp. 63-82. He

also brought out a new edition of the Greek text for the Clarendon Press in 1911.

Fourn.—Paul Fournier, "Penskes de Marc Aurdle." Traduction

d'Auguste Couat editee par P. Fournier. Paris, 1904. There are

numerous notes.

Rich.—Herbert Richards, "Notes on Marcus Aurelius," Classical Quarterly, xix., Feb., 1905, pp. 18-21.

Kron.—A. J. Kronenberg, "Ad M. Antoninum," Classical Review, xix., July, 1905, pp. 301-3.

Schmidt.—Karl Fr. W. Schmidt, "Textkritische Bemer-kungen zu Mark Aurel," Hermes, xlii. 1907, pp. 595-607.

Lemerc.—A. P. Lemercier, "Les Penskes de Marc Aurele," Paris, 1910, with notes and a good introduction.

Schenld.—Heinrich Schenkl, a new edition of the Thoughts for the Teubner Press, 1913. The latest and most complete edition with valuable introductions and full indices. The same Editor has also published "Zur handscriftlichen Ueberlieferung von Marcus Antoninus" (Bran os Vmdobonensis, 1893), and "Zum erste Buche des Selbstbetrachtungen des Kaisers Marcus Antoninus"

(Wiener Studien, 1912).


Haines.—C. R. Haines, "The Composition and Chronology of the Thoughts of Marcus Aurelius," Journal of Philology, vol. xxxiii., No. 66, pp. 278-295.

For the history and doctrines of Stoicism besides the standard

work of Zeller and the recent treatise on "Roman Stoicism" by E. V. Arnold, the following will be found useful:—N. Bach

(mentioned above) 1826; H. Doergens, "de comparatione

Antoninianae philosophise cum L. Annaei Senecae," 1816; the

admirable essay on Stoicism bv G. H. Rendall prefixed to his

edition of 1898; "Greek ana Roman Stoicism'' by C. H. S. Davis,

1903; and "Stoic and Christian" by Leonard Alston, 1906.

We now have:

A. L. Trannoy, Pensbes, edited with French translation, Bude,

Paris, 1925.

F. Martinazzoli, La Successio d. Marco Aurelio. Struttura e

spirito del primo I. dei Pensieri, Bari, 1951.

H. R. Neuenschwander, Mark Aurels. Beziehungen zu Seneca

u. Poseidonius, Bern, 1951.

A. S. L. Farquharson, Meditations, edited with English

translation. I. Oxford, 1944.

M. Staniforth, Translation in Penguin Books, Harmonds-worth

(1964), 1966.

A. Birley, Marcus Aurelius, London, 1966. Deals with his



P = Codex Palatinus (Xylander), = T (Schenkl).

A = Codex Vaticanus 1950.

0 = Codex Parisinus 319.

D = Codex Darmstadtinus 2773.

Mo = Codex Monachensis (Munich) 529.

< > Words thus enclosed are inserted by conjecture.

[ ] Words in the text which should probably be omitted.

t Doubtful readings in the text.

" " mark quotations or words of a speaker.

' ' mark proverbial, colloquial, or poetical expressions.


* * * *

Website NOTE: [--] means Koine Greek words

are not transliterated and not shown

by the editor of this website version.

* * * *






[Koine Greek]












1. From my Grandfather Verus, a kindly disposition

and sweetness of temper.

2. From what I heard of my Father and my memory of

him, modesty and manliness.

3. From my Mother, the fear of God, and generosity;

and abstention not only from doing ill but even from the very

thought of doing it; and furthermore to live the simple life,

far removed from the habits of the rich.

4. From my Grandfather's Father, to dispense with

attendance at public schools, and to enjoy good teachers at

home, and to recognize that on such things money should

be eagerly spent.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

5. From my Tutor, not to side with the Green Jacket or

the Blue at the races, or to back the Light-Shield Champion

or the Heavy-Shield in the lists; not to shirk toil, and to

have few wants, and to do my own work, and mind my own

concerns; and to turn a deaf ear to slander.

6. From Diognetus, not to be taken up with trifles; and

not to give credence to the statements of miracle-mongers

and wizards about incantations and the exorcizing of

demons, and such-like marvels; and not to keep quails, nor

to be excited about such things: not to resent plain

speaking; and to become familiar with philosophy and be a

hearer first of Baccheius, then of Tandasis and Marcianus;

and to write dialogues as a boy; and to set my heart on a

pallet-bed and a pelt and whatever else tallied with the

Greek regimen.

7. From Rusticus, to become aware of the fact that I

needed amendment and training for my character; and not

to be led aside into an argumentative sophistry; nor

compose treatises on speculative subjects, or deliver little

homilies, or pose ostentatiously as the moral athlete or

unselfish man; and to eschew rhetoric, poetry, and fine

language; and not to go


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

about the house in my robes, nor commit any such breach

of good taste; and to write letters without affectation, like his

own letter written to my mother from Sinuessa; to shew

oneself ready to be reconciled to those who have lost their

temper and trespassed against one, and ready to meet

them halfway as soon as ever they seem to be willing to

retrace their steps; to read with minute care and not to be

content with a superficial bird's-eye view; nor to be too

quick in agreeing with every voluble talker; and to make the

acquaintance of the Memoirs of Epictetus, which he

supplied me with out of his own library.

8. From Apollonius, self-reliance and an unequivocal

determination not to leave anything to chance; and to look

to nothing else even for a moment save Reason alone; and

to remain ever the same, in the throes of pain, on the loss of

a child, during a lingering illness; and to see plainly from a

living example that one and the same man can be very

vehement and yet gentle: not to be impatient in instructing

others; and to see in him a man who obviously counted as

the least among his gifts his practical experience and facility

in imparting philosophic truths; and to learn in accepting

seeming favours from friends not to give up our

independence for such things nor take them callously as a

matter of course.

9. From Sextus, kindliness, and the example of a


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

household patriarchally governed; and the conception of life

in accordance with Nature; and dignity without affectation;

and an intuitive consideration for friends; and a toleration of

the unlearned and the unreasoning.

And his tactful treatment of all his friends, so that simply

to be with him was more delightful than any flattery, while at

the same time those who enjoyed this privilege looked up to

him with the utmost reverence; and the grasp and method

which he shewed in discovering and marshalling the

essential axioms of life.

And never to exhibit any symptom of anger or any other

passion, but to be at the same time utterly impervious to all

passions and full of natural affection; and to praise without

noisy obtrusiveness, and to possess great learning but

make no parade of it.

10. From Alexander the Grammarian, not to be

captious; nor in a carping spirit find fault with those who

import into their conversation any expression which is

barbarous or ungrammatical or mispronounced, but tactfully

to bring in the very expression, that ought to have been

used, by way of answer, or as it were in joint support of the

assertion, or as a joint consideration of the thing itself and

not of the language, or by some such graceful reminder.

11. From Fronto, to note the envy, the subtlety, and the

dissimulation which are habitual to a tyrant; and that, as a

general rule, those amongst us who rank as patricians are

somewhat wanting in natural affection.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

12. From Alexander the Platonist, not to say to

anyone often or without necessity, nor write in a letter, I am

too busy, nor in this fashion constantly plead urgent affairs

as an excuse for evading the obligations entailed upon us

by our relations towards those around us.

13. From Catulus, not to disregard a friend's

expostulation even when it is unreasonable, but to try to

bring him back to his usual friendliness; and to speak with

whole-hearted good-will of one's teachers, as it is recorded

that Domitius did of Athenodotus; and to be genuinely

fond of one's children.

14. From my 'brother' Severus, love of family, love of

truth, love of justice, and (thanks to him !) to know Thrasea,

Heividius, Cato, Dion, Brutus; and the conception of a state

with one law for all, based upon individual equality and

freedom of speech, and of a sovranty which prizes above all

things the liberty of the subject; and furthermore from him

also to set a well-balanced and unvarying value on

philosophy; and readiness to do others a kindness, and

eager generosity, and optimism, and confidence in the love

of friends; and perfect openness in the case of those that

came in for his censure; and the absence of any need for

his friends to surmise what he did or did not wish, so plain

was it.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

15. From Maximus, self-mastery and stability of purpose;

and cheeriness in sickness as well as in all other

circumstances; and a character justly proportioned of

sweetness and gravity; and to perform without grumbling the

task that lies to one's hand.

And the confidence of every one in him that what he said

was also what he thought, and that what he did was done

with no ill intent. And not to shew surprise, and not to be

daunted; never to be hurried, or hold back, or be at a loss,

or downcast, or smile a forced smile, or, again, be ill-

tempered or suspicious.

And beneficence and placability and veracity; and to give

the impression of a man who cannot deviate from the right

way rather than of one who is kept in it; and that no one

could have thought himself looked down upon by him, or

could go so far as to imagine himself a better man than he;

and to keep pleasantry within due bounds.

16. From my Father, mildness, and an unshakable

adherence to decisions deliberately come to; and no empty

vanity in respect to so-called honours; and a love of work

and thoroughness; and a readiness to hear any suggestions

for the common good; and an inflexible determination to

give every man his due; and to know by experience when is

the time to insist and when to desist; and to suppress all

passion for boys.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

And his public spirit, and his not at all requiring his friends

to sup with him or necessarily attend him abroad, and their

always finding him the same when any urgent affairs had

kept them away; and the spirit of thorough investigation

which he shewed in the meetings of his Council, and his

perseverance; nay his never desisting prematurely from an

enquiry on the strength of off-hand impressions; and his

faculty for keeping his friends and never being bored with

them or infatuated about them; and his self-reliance in every

emergency, and his good humour; and his habit of looking

ahead and making provision for the smallest details without

any heroics.

And his restricting in his reign public acclamations and

every sort of adulation; and his unsleeping attention to the

needs of the empire, and his wise stewardship of its

resources, and his patient tolerance of the censure that all

this entailed; and his freedom from superstition with respect

to the Gods and from hunting for popularity with respect to

men by pandering to their desires or by courting the mob:

yea his soberness in all things and stedfastness; and the

absence in him of all vulgar tastes and any craze for novelty.

And the example that he gave of utilizing without pride,

and at the same without any apology, all the lavish gifts of

Fortune that contribute towards the comfort of life, so as to

enjoy them when present as a matter of course, and, when

absent, not to miss them: and no one could charge him with

sophistry, flippancy, or pedantry; but he was a man mature,


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

complete, deaf to flattery, able to preside over his

own affairs and those of others.

Besides this also was his high appreciation of all true

philosophers without any upbraiding of the others, and at the

same time without any undue subservience to them; then

again his easiness of access and his graciousness that yet

had nothing fulsome about it; and his reasonable attention to

his bodily requirements, not as one too fond of life, or vain of

his outward appearance, nor yet as one who neglected it,

but so as by his own carefulness to need but very seldom

the skill of the leech or medicines and outward applications.

But most of all a readiness to acknowledge without

jealousy the claims of those who were endowed with any

especial gift, such as eloquence or knowledge of law or

ethics or any other subject, and to give them active support,

that each might gain the honour to which his individual

eminence entitled him; and his loyalty to constitutional

precedent without any parade of the fact that it was

according to precedent.

Furthermore he was not prone to change or vacillation,

but attached to the same places and the same things; and

after his spasms of violent headache he would come back at

once to his usual employments with renewed vigour; and his

secrets were not many but very few and at very rare

intervals, and then only political secrets; and he shewed

good sense and moderation in his management of public

spectacles, and in the construction of public works, and in

congiaria and the like, as a man who


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

had an eye to what had to be done and not to the credit to

be gained thereby.



He did not bathe at all hours; he did not build for the love

of building; he gave no thought to his food, or to the texture

and colour of his clothes, or the comeliness of his slaves.

His robe came up from Lorium, his country-seat in the

plains, and Lanuvium supplied his wants for the most part.

Think of how he dealt with the customs' officer at Tusculum

when the latter apologized, and it was a type of his usual




There was nothing rude in him, nor yet overbearing or

violent nor carried, as the phrase goes, "to the sweating

state"; but everything was considered separately, as by a

man of ample leisure, calmly, methodically, manfully,

consistently. One might apply to him what is told of

Socrates, that he was able to abstain from or enjoy those

things that many are not strong enough to refrain from and

too much inclined to enjoy. But to have the strength to

persist in the one case and be abstemious in the other is

characteristic of a man who has a perfect and indomitable

soul, as was seen in the illness of Maximus.

17. From the Gods, to have good grandfathers, good

parents, a good sister, good teachers, good companions,

kinsmen, friends—nearly all of them; and that I fell into no

trespass against any of them, and yet I had a disposition that

way inclined, such as might have led me into something of

the sort, had


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

it so chanced; but by the grace of God there was no such

coincidence of circumstances as was likely to put me to the


And that I was not brought up any longer with my

grandfathers concubine, and that I kept unstained the flower

of my youth; and that I did not make trial of my manhood

before the due time, but even postponed it.

That I was subordinated to a ruler and a father capable of

ridding me of all conceit, and of bringing me to recognize

that it is possible to live in a Court and yet do without body-

guards and gorgeous garments and linkmen and statues

and the like pomp; and that it is in such a man's power to

reduce himself very nearly to the condition of a private

individual and yet not on this account to be more paltry or

more remiss in dealing with what the interests of the state

require to be done in imperial fashion.

That it was my lot to have such a brother, capable by his

character of stimulating me to watchful care over myself, and

at the same time delighting me by his deference and

affection: that my children have not been devoid of

intelligence nor physically deformed. That I did not make

more progress in rhetoric and poetry and my other studies,

in which I should perhaps have been engrossed, had I felt

myself making good way in them. That I lost no time in

promoting my tutors to such posts of


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

honour as they seemed to desire, and that I did not put

them off with the hope that I would do this later on since they

were still young. That I got to know Apollonius, Rusticus,


That I had clear and frequent conceptions as to the true

meaning of a life according to Nature, so that as far as the

Gods were concerned and their blessings and assistance

and intention, there was nothing to prevent me from

beginning at once to live in accordance with Nature, though I

still come short of this ideal by my own fault, and by not

attending to the reminders, nay, almost the instructions, of

the Gods.

That my body holds out so long in such a life as mine;

that I did not touch Benedicta or Theodotus, but that even

afterwards, when I did give way to amatory passions, I was

cured of them; that, though often offended with Rusticus, I

never went so far as to do anything for which I should have

been sorry; that my mother, though she was to die young,

yet spent her last years with me.

That as often as I had the inclination to help anyone, who

was in pecuniary distress or needing any other assistance, I

was never told that there was no money available for the

purpose; and that I was never under any similar need of

accepting help from another. That I have been blessed with

a wife so docile, so affectionate, so unaffected; that I had

no lack of suitable tutors for my children.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK I (cont.)

That by the agency of dreams I was given antidotes

both of other kinds and against the spitting of blood and

vertigo; and there is that response also at Caieta, "as thou

shalt use it." And that, when I had set my heart on

philosophy, I did not fall into the hands of a sophist, nor

sat down at the author's desk, or became a solver of

syllogisms, nor busied myself with physical phenomena.

For all the above the Gods as helpers and good fortune


              Written among the Quadi on the Gran.


[Koine Greek]



1. Say to thyself at daybreak: I shall come across the

busy-body, the thankless, the overbearing, the

treacherous, the envious, the unneighbourly. All this has

befallen them because they know not good from evil. But I,

in that I have comprehended the nature of the Good that it

is beautiful, and the nature of Evil that it is ugly, and the

nature of the wrong-doer himself that it is akin to me, not

as partaker of the same blood and seed but of intelligence

and a morsel of the Divine, can neither be injured by any of

them—for no one can involve me in what is debasing—nor

can I be wroth with my kinsman and hate him. For we have

come into being for co-operation, as have the feet, the

hands, the eyelids, the rows of upper and lower teeth.

Therefore to thwart one another is against Nature; and we

do thwart one another by shewing resentment and


2. This that I am, whatever it be, is mere flesh and a

little breath and the ruling Reason. Away with thy books!

Be no longer drawn aside by them: it is not allowed. But as

one already dying disdain the flesh: it is naught but gore

and bones and a network compact of nerves and veins and

arteries. Look at the breath too, what sort of thing it is; air:


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

and not even that always the same, but every minute

belched forth and again gulped down. Then, thirdly, there

is the ruling Reason. Put thy thought thus: thou art an old

man; let this be a thrall no longer, no more a puppet

pulled aside by every selfish impulse; nor let it grumble

any longer at what is allotted to it in the present or dread it

in the future.

3. Full of Providence are the works of the Gods, nor are

Fortune's works independent of Nature or of the woven

texture and interlacement of all that is under the control of

Providence. Thence are all things derived; but Necessity

too plays its part and the Welfare of the whole Universe of

which thou art a portion. But good for every part of Nature

is that which the Nature of the Whole brings about, and

which goes to preserve it. Now it is the changes not only of

the elements but of the things compounded of them that

preserve the Universe. Let these reflections suffice thee, if

thou hold them as principles. But away with thy thirst for

books, that thou mayest die not murmuring but with a

good grace, truly and from thy heart grateful to the Gods.

4. Call to mind how long thou deferrest these things, and

how many times thou hast received from the Gods grace

of the appointed day and thou usest it not. Yet now, if

never before, shouldest thou realize of what Universe thou

art a part, and as an emanation from what Controller of

that Universe thou dost subsist; and that a limit has been

set to thy time, which if thou use not to let daylight


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

into thy soul, it will be gone—and thou!—and never again

shall the chance be thine.

5. Every hour make up thy mind sturdily as a Roman

and a man to do what thou hast in hand with scrupulous

and unaffected dignity and love of thy kind and

independence and justice; and to give thyself rest from all

other impressions. And thou wilt give thyself this, if thou

dost execute every act of thy life as though it were thy

last, divesting thyself of all aimlessness and all

passionate antipathy to the convictions of reason, and all

hypocrisy and self-love and dissatisfaction with thy allotted

share. Thou seest how few are the things, by mastering

which a man may lead a life of tranquillity and godlikeness;

for the Gods also will ask no more from him who keeps

these precepts.

6. Wrong thyself, wrong thyself, O my Soul! But the

time for honouring thyself will have gone by; for a man has

but one life, and this for thee is well-nigh closed, and yet

thou dost not hold thyself in reverence, but settest thy well-

being in the souls of others.

7. Do those things draw thee at all away, which befall

thee from without? Make then leisure for thyself for the

learning of some good thing more, and cease being carried

aside hither and thither. But therewith must thou take heed

of the other error. For they too are triflers, who by their

activities have worn themselves out in life without even

having an aim whereto they can direct every impulse, aye

and even every thought.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

8. Not easily is a man found to be unhappy by reason of

his not regarding what is going on in another man's soul;

but those who do not attend closely to the motions of their

own souls must inevitably be unhappy.

9. This must always be borne in mind, what is the

Nature of the whole Universe, and what mine, and how this

stands in relation to that, being too what sort of a part of

what sort of a whole; and that no one can prevent thee

from doing and saying always what is in keeping with the

Nature of which thou art a part.

10. Theophrastus in his comparison of

wrongdoings—for, speaking in a somewhat popular way,

such comparison may be made—says in the true

philosophical spirit that the offences which are due to lust

are more heinous than those which are due to anger. For

the man who is moved with anger seems to turn his back

upon reason with some pain and unconscious

compunction; but he that does wrong from lust, being

mastered by pleasure, seems in some sort to be more

incontinent and more unmanly in his wrong-doing. Rightly

then, and not unworthily of a philosopher, he said that the

wrongdoing which is allied with pleasure calls for a severer

condemnation than that which is allied with pain; and,

speaking generally, that the one wrong-doer is more like a

man, who, being sinned against first, has been driven by

pain to be angry, while the other, being led by lust to do

some act, has of his own motion been impelled to do evil.

11. Let thine every deed and word and thought be those

of a man who can depart from life this moment? But to go

away from among men, if


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

there are Gods, is nothing dreadful; for they would not

involve thee in evil. But if indeed there are no Gods, or if

they do not concern themselves with the affairs of men,

what boots it for me to live in a Universe empty of Gods or

empty of Providence? Nay, but there are Gods, and they

do concern themselves with human things; and they have

put it wholly in man's power not to fall into evils that are

truly such. And had there been any evil in what lies

beyond, for this too would they have made provision, that it

should be in every man's power not to fall into it. But how

can that make a man's life worse which does not make the

man worse? Yet the Nature of the Whole could not have

been guilty of an oversight from ignorance or, while

cognizant of these things, through lack of power to guard

against or amend them; nor could it have gone so far

amiss either from inability or unskilfulness, as to allow

good and evil to fall without any discrimination alike upon

the evil and the good. Still it is a fact that death and life,

honour and dishonour, pain and pleasure, riches and

penury, do among men one and all betide the Good and

the Evil alike, being in themselves neither honourable nor

shameful. Consequently they are neither good nor evil.

12. How quickly all things vanish away, in the Universe

their actual bodies, and the remembrance of them in

Eternity, and of what character are all objects of sense,

and particularly those that entice us with pleasure or terrify

us with pain or are acclaimed by vanity—how worthless

and despicable and unclean and ephemeral and

dead!—this is for our faculty of intelligence to apprehend;

as also what they really are whose conceptions and whose

voices award


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

renown; what it is to die, and that if a man look at death in

itself, and with the analysis of reason strip it of its phantom

terrors, no longer will he conceive it to be aught but a

function of Nature,—but if a man be frightened by a

function of Nature, he is childish; and this is not only

Nature's function but her welfare;—and how man is in

touch with God and with what part of himself, and in what

disposition of this portion of the man.

13. Nothing can be more miserable than the man who

goes through the whole round of things, and, as the poet

says, pries into the things beneath the earth, and would

fain guess the thoughts in his neighbour's heart, while

having no conception that he needs but to associate

himself with the divine 'genius' in his bosom, and to serve

it truly. And service of it is to keep it pure from passion and

aimlessness and discontent with anything that proceeds

from Gods or men. For that which proceeds from the Gods

is worthy of reverence in that it is excellent; and that which

proceeds from men, of love, in that they are akin, and, at

times and in a manner, of compassion, in that they are

ignorant of good and evil—a defect this no less than the

loss of power to distinguish between white and black.

14. Even if thy life is to last three thousand years or for

the matter of that thirty thousand, yet bear in mind that no

one ever parts with any other life than


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

the one he is now living, nor lives any other than that

which he now parts with. The longest life, then, and the

shortest amount but to the same. For the present time is of

equal duration for all, while that which we lose is not ours;

and consequently what is parted with is obviously a

mere moment. No man can part with either the past or the

future. For how can a man be deprived of what he does

not possess? These two things, then, must needs be

remembered: the one, that all things from time everlasting

have been cast in the same mould and repeated cycle

after cycle, and so it makes no difference whether a man

see the same things recur through a hundred years or two

hundred, or through eternity: the other, that the longest

liver and he whose time to die comes soonest part with no

more the one than the other. For it is but the present that a

man can be deprived of, if, as is the fact, it is this alone

that he has, and what he has not a man cannot part with.

15. Remember that everything is but what we think it.

For obvious indeed is the saying fathered on Monimus the

Cynic, obvious too the utility of what was said, if one

accept the gist of it as far as it is true.

16. The soul of man does wrong to itself then most of

all, when it makes itself, as far as it can do so, an

imposthume and as it were a malignant growth in the

Universe. For to grumble at anything that happens is a

rebellion against Nature, in some part of which are bound

up the natures of all other things. And the soul wrongs

itself then again, when it turns away from any man or even

opposes him with


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

intent to do him harm, as is the case with those who are

angry. It does wrong to itself, thirdly, when it is overcome

by pleasure or pain. Fourthly, when it assumes a mask,

and in act or word is insincere or untruthful. Fifthly, when it

directs some act or desire of its own towards no mark, and

expends its energy on any thing whatever aimlessly and

unadvisedly, whereas even the most trifling things should

be done with reference to the end in view. Now the end for

rational beings is to submit themselves to the reason and

law of that archetypal city and polity—the Universe.

17. Of the life of man the duration is but a point, its

substance streaming away, its perception dim, the fabric of

the entire body prone to decay, and the soul a vortex, and

fortune incalculable, and fame uncertain. In a word all the

things of the body are as a river, and the things of the soul

as a dream and a vapour; and life is a warfare and a

pilgrim's sojourn, and fame after death is only

forgetfulness. What then is it that can help us on our way?

One thing and one alone—Philosophy; and this consists in

keeping the divine 'genius' within pure and unwronged,

lord of all pleasures and pains, doing nothing aimlessly or

with deliberate falsehood and hypocrisy, independent of

another's action or inaction; and furthermore welcoming

what happens and is allotted, as issuing from the same

source, whatever it be, from which the man himself has

issued; and above all waiting for death with a good grace

as being but a setting free of the elements of which every

thing living is made up. But if there


[Koine Greek]


BOOK II (cont.)

be nothing terrible in each thing being continuously

changed into another thing, why should a man look

askance at the change and dissolution of all things? For it

is in the way of Nature, and in the way of Nature there can

be no evil.

                       Written at Camuntum.

                      Now Haimburg in Hungary.


[Koine Greek]



1. We ought not to think only upon the fact that our life

each day is waning away, what is left of it being ever less,

but this also should be a subject for thought, that even if life

be prolonged, yet is it uncertain whether the mind will remain

equally fitted in the future for the understanding of facts and

for that contemplation which strains after the knowledge of

things divine and human. For if a man has entered upon his

dotage, there will still be his the power of breathing, and

digestion, and thought, and desire, and all such-like

faculties; but the full use of himself, the accurate

appreciation of the items of duty, the nice discrimination of

what presents itself to the senses, and a clear judgment on

the question whether it is time for him to end his own life,

and all such decisions, as above all require well-trained

powers of reasoning— these are already flickering out in

him. It needs, then, that we should press onwards, not only



[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

we come each moment nearer to death, but also because

our insight into facts and our close touch of them is gradually

ceasing even before we die.

2. Such things as this also we ought to note with care,

that the accessories too of natural operations have a charm

and attractiveness of their own. For instance, when bread is

in the baking, some of the parts split open, and these very

fissures, though in a sense thwarting the bread-maker's

design, have an appropriateness of their own and in a

peculiar way stimulate the desire for food. Again when figs

are at their ripest, they gape open; and in olives that are

ready to fall their very approach to over-ripeness gives a

peculiar beauty to the fruit. And the full ears of corn bending

downwards, and the lion's beetling brows, and the foam

dripping from the jaws of the wild-boar, and many other

things, though, if looked at apart from their setting, they are

far from being comely, yet, as resultants from the operations

of Nature, lend them an added charm and entice our


And so, if a man has sensibility and a deeper insight into

the workings of the Universe, scarcely anything, though it

exist only as a secondary consequence to something else,

but will seem to him to form in its own peculiar way a

pleasing adjunct to the whole. And he will look on the actual

gaping jaws of wild beasts with no less pleasure than the

representations of them by limners and modellers; and he

will be able to see in the aged of either sex a mature prime

and comely ripeness, and gaze with chaste eyes


[Koine Greek]

BOOK III (cont.)

upon the alluring loveliness of the young. And many such

things there are which do not appeal to everyone, but will

come home to him alone who is genuinely intimate with

Nature and her works.

3. Hippocrates, after healing many a sick man, fell sick

himself and died. Many a death have Chaldaeans foretold,

and then their own fate has overtaken them also.

Alexander, Pompeius and Gaius Caesar times without

number utterly destroyed whole cities, and cut to pieces

many myriads of horse and foot on the field of battle, yet the

day came when they too departed this life. Heraclitus, after

endless speculations on the destruction of the world by fire,

came to be filled internally with water, and died beplastered

with cowdung. And lice caused the death of Democritus,

and other vermin of Socrates.

What of this? Thou hast gone aboard, thou hast set sail,

thou hast touched land; go ashore; if indeed for another life,

there is nothing even there void of Gods; but if to a state of

non-sensation, thou shalt cease being at the mercy of

pleasure and pain and lackeying the bodily vessel which is

so much baser than that which ministers to it. For the one is

intelligence and a divine 'genius,' the other dust and


4. Fritter not away what is left of thy life in thoughts about

others, unless thou canst bring these thoughts into relation

with some common interest. For verily thou dost hereby cut

thyself off from other work, that is, by thinking what so and

so is


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

doing and why, what he is saying, having what in mind,

contriving what, and all the many like things such as whirl

thee aside from keeping close watch over thine own ruling


We ought therefore to eschew the aimless and the

unprofitable in the chain of our thoughts, still more all that is

over-curious and ill-natured, and a man should accustom

himself to think only of those things about which, if one were

to ask on a sudden, What is now in thy thoughts? thou

couldest quite frankly answer at once, This or that; so that

thine answer should immediately make manifest that all that

is in thee is simple and kindly and worthy of a living being

that is social and has no thought for pleasures or for the

entire range of sensual images, or for any rivalry, envy,

suspicion, or anything else, whereat thou wouldest blush to

admit that thou hadst it in thy mind.

For in truth such a man, one who no longer puts off being

reckoned now, if never before, among the best, is in some

sort a priest and minister of the Gods, putting to use also

that which, enthroned within him, keeps the man unstained

by pleasures, invulnerable to all pain, beyond the touch of

any wrong, proof against all evil, a champion in the highest

of championships—that of never being overthrown by any

passion—dyed in grain with justice, welcoming with all his

soul everything that befalls and is allotted him, and seldom,

nor yet without a great and a general necessity, concerning

himself with the words or deeds or thoughts of another.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

For it is only the things which relate to himself that he brings

within the scope of his activities, and he never ceases to

ponder over what is being spun for him as his share in the

fabric of the Universe, and he sees to it that the former are

worthy, and is assured that the latter is good. For the fate

which is allotted to each man is swept along with him in the

Universe as well as sweeps him along with it.

And he bears in mind that all that is rational is akin, and

that it is in man's nature to care for all men, and that we

should not embrace the opinion of all, but of those alone who

live in conscious agreement with Nature. But what sort of

men they, whose life is not after this pattern, are at home

and abroad, by night and in the day, in what vices they

wallow and with whom—of this he is ever mindful.

Consequently he takes no account of praise from such men,

who in fact cannot even win their own approval.

5. Do that thou doest neither unwillingly nor selfishly nor

without examination nor against the grain. Dress not thy

thought in too fine a garb. Be not a man of superfluous

words or superfluous deeds. Moreover let the god that is in

thee be lord of a living creature, that is manly, and of full

age, and concerned with statecraft, and a Roman, and a

ruler, who hath taken his post as one who awaits the signal

of recall from life in all readiness, needing no oath nor any

man as his voucher. Be thine the cheery face and

independence of help from without and independence of

such ease as others can give. It needs then to stand, and

not be set, upright.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

6. If indeed thou findest in the life of man a better thing

than justice, than truth, than temperance, than manliness,

and, in a word, than thy mind's satisfaction with itself in

things wherein it shews thee acting according to the true

dictates of reason, and with destiny in what is allotted thee

apart from thy choice—if, I say, thou seest anything better

than this, turn to it with all thy soul and take thy fill of the

best, as thou findest it.

But if there appears nothing better than the very deity

enthroned in thee, which has brought into subjection to itself

all individual desires, which scrutinizes the thoughts, and, in

the words of Socrates, has withdrawn itself from all the

enticements of the senses, and brought itself into subjection

to the Gods, and cherishes a fellow-feeling for men—if thou

findest everything else pettier and of less account than this,

give place to nought else, to which if thou art but once

plucked aside, and incline thereto, never more shalt thou be

able without distraction to give paramount honour to that

good which is thine own peculiar heritage. For it is not right

that any extraneous thing at all, such as the praise of the

many, or office, or wealth, or indulgence in pleasure, should

avail against that good which is identical with reason and a

civic spirit. All these things, even if they seem for a little to fit

smoothly into our lives, on a sudden overpower us and

sweep us away.

But do thou, I say, simply and freely choose the better and

hold fast to it. But that is the better which is to my interest. If

it is to thy interest as a rational creature, hold that fast; but if

as a mere animal, declare it boldly and maintain thy

judgment without


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

arrogance. Only see to it that thou hast made thy enquiry

without error.

7. Prize not anything as being to thine interest that shall

ever force thee to break thy troth, to surrender thine honour,

to hate, suspect, or curse anyone, to play the hypocrite, to

lust after anything that needs walls and curtains. For he that

has chosen before all else his own intelligence and good

'genius,' and to be a devotee of its supreme worth, does not

strike a tragic attitude or whine, nor will he ask for either a

wilderness or a concourse of men; above all he will live

neither chasing anything nor shunning it. And he recks not at

all whether he is to have his soul overlaid with his body for a

longer or a shorter span of time, for even if he must take his

departure at once, he will go as willingly as if he were to

discharge any other function that can be discharged with

decency and orderliness, making sure through life of this one

thing, that his thoughts should not in any case assume a

character out of keeping with a rational and civic creature.

8. In the mind of the man that has been chastened and

thoroughly cleansed thou wilt find no foul abscess or

gangrene or hidden sore. Nor is his life cut short, when the

day of destiny overtakes him, as we might say of a

tragedian's part, who leaves the stage before finishing his

speech and playing out the piece. Furthermore there is

nothing there slavish or affected, no dependence on others

or severance from them, no sense of accountability or

skulking to avoid it.

9. Hold sacred thy capacity for forming opinions.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

With that it rests wholly that thy ruling Reason should never

admit any opinion out of harmony with Nature, and with the

constitution of a rational creature. This ensures due

deliberation and fellowship with mankind and fealty to the


10. Jettison everything else, then, and lay hold of these

things only, few as they are; and remember withal that it is

only this present, a moment of time, that a man lives: all the

rest either has been lived or may never be. Little indeed,

then, is a man's life, and little the nook of earth whereon he

lives, and little even the longest after-fame, and that too

handed on through a succession of manikins, each one of

them very soon to be dead, with no knowledge even of

themselves, let alone of a man who has died long since.

11. To the stand-bys mentioned add yet another, that a

definition or delineation should be made of every object that

presents itself, so that we may see what sort of thing it is in

its essence stripped of its adjuncts, a separate whole taken

as such, and tell over with ourselves both its particular

designation and the names of the elements that compose it

and into which it will be disintegrated.

For nothing is so conducive to greatness of mind as the

ability to examine systematically and honestly everything

that meets us in life, and to regard these things always in

such a way as to form a conception of the kind of Universe

they belong to, and of the use which the thing in question

subserves in it; what value it has for the whole Universe and

what for man, citizen as he is of the highest state, of which

all other states are but as households; what it actually is, and



[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

of what elements, and likely to last how long—namely

this that now gives me the impression in question;

and what virtue it calls for from me, such as

gentleness, manly courage, truth, fidelity, guilelessness,

independence, and the rest.

In each case therefore must thou say: This has come

from God; and this is due to the conjunction of fate and the

contexture of the world's web and some such coincidence

and chance; while that comes from a clansman and a

kinsman and a neighbour, albeit one who is ignorant of what

is really in accordance with his nature. But I am not ignorant,

therefore I treat him kindly and justly, in accordance with the

natural law of neighbourliness; at the same time, of things

that are neither good nor bad, my aim is to hit their true


12. If in obedience to right reason thou doest the thing

that thy hand findeth to do earnestly, manfully, graciously,

and in no sense as a by-work, and keepest that divine

'genius' of thine in its virgin state, just as if even now thou

wert called upon to restore it to the Giver—if thou grapple

this to thee, looking for nothing, shrinking from nothing, but

content with a present sphere of activity such as Nature

allows, and with chivalrous truth in every word and utterance

of thy tongue, thou shalt be happy in thy life. And there is no

one that is able to prevent this.

13. Just as physicians always keep their lancets and

instruments ready to their hands for emergency operations,

so also do thou keep thine axioms ready for the diagnosis of

things human and divine, and


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

for the performing of every act, even the pettiest, with the

fullest consciousness of the mutual ties between these two.

For thou shalt never carry out well any human duty unless

thou correlate it to the divine, nor the reverse.

14. Go astray no more; for thou art not likely to read thy

little Memoranda? or the Acts of the Romans and the Greeks

of Old Time? and the extracts from their writings which thou

wast laying up against thine old age. Haste then to the

consummation and, casting away all empty hopes, if thou

carest aught for thy welfare, come to thine own rescue, while

it is allowed thee.

15. They know not how full of meaning are—to thieve, to

sow, to buy, to be at peace, to see what needs doing, and

this is not a matter for the eye but for another sort of sight.

16. Body, Soul, Intelligence: for the body sensations, for

the soul desires, for the intelligence axioms. To receive

impressions by way of the senses is not denied even to

cattle; to be as puppets pulled by the strings of desire is

common to wild beasts and to pathics and to a Phalaris and

a Nero. Yet to have the intelligence a guide to what they

deem their duty is an attribute of those also who do not

believe in Gods and those who fail their country in its need

and those who do their deeds behind closed doors.

If then all else is the common property of the


[Koine Greek]


BOOK III (cont.)

classes mentioned, there is left as the characteristic of the

good man to delight in and to welcome what befalls and

what is being spun for him by destiny; and not to sully the

divine 'genius' that is enthroned in his bosom, nor yet to

perplex it with a multitude of impressions, but to maintain it

to the end in a gracious serenity, in orderly obedience to

God, uttering no word that is not true and doing no deed

that is not just. But if all men disbelieve in his living a

simple and modest and cheerful life, he is not wroth with

any of them, nor swerves from the path which leads to his

life's goal, whither he must go pure, peaceful, ready for

release, needing no force to bring him into accord with his



[Koine Greek]



1. That which holds the mastery within us, when it is in

accordance with Nature, is so disposed towards what befalls, that

it can always adapt itself with ease to what is possible and granted

us. For it is wedded to no definite material, but, though in the

pursuit of its high aims it works under reservations, yet it converts

into material for itself any obstacle that it meets with, just as fire

when it gets the mastery of what is thrown in upon it. A little flame

would have been stifled by it, but the blazing fire instantly

assimilates what is cast upon it and, consuming it, leaps the higher

in consequence.

2. Take no act in hand aimlessly or otherwise than in

accordance with the true principles perfective of the art.

3. Men seek out retreats for themselves in the country, by the

seaside, on the mountains, and thou too art wont to long above all

for such things. But all this is unphilosophical to the last degree,

when thou canst at a moment's notice retire into thyself. For

nowhere can a man find a retreat more full of


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

peace or more free from care than his own soul—above all if he

have that within him, a steadfast look at which and he is at once

in all good ease, and by good ease I mean nothing other than

good order. Make use then of this retirement continually and

regenerate thyself. Let thy axioms be short and elemental, such as

when set before thee will at once rid thee of all trouble, and send

thee away with no discontent at those things to which thou art


Why with what art thou discontented? The wickedness of men?

Take this conclusion to heart, that rational creatures have been

made for one another; that forbearance is part of justice; that

wrong-doing is involuntary; and think how many ere now, after

passing their lives in implacable enmity, suspicion, hatred, and at

daggers drawn with one another, have been laid out and burnt to

ashes—think of this, I say, and at last stay thy fretting. But art thou

discontented with thy share in the whole? Recall the alternative:

Either Providence or Atoms and the abundant proofs there are

that the Universe is as it were a state. But is it the affections of the

body that shall still lay hold on thee? Bethink thee that the

Intelligence, when it has once abstracted itself and learnt its own

power, has nothing to do with the motions smooth or rough of the

vital breath. Bethink thee too of all that thou hast heard and

subscribed to about pleasure and pain.

But will that paltry thing, Fame, pluck thee aside? Look at the

swift approach of complete forgetfulness,


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

and the void of infinite time on this side of us and on that, and the

empty echo of acclamation, and the fickleness and uncritical

judgment of those who claim to speak well of us, and the

narrowness of the arena to which all this is confined. For the whole

earth is but a point, and how tiny a corner of it is this the place of

our sojourning! and how many therein and of what sort are the

men who shall praise thee.

From now therefore bethink thee of the retreat into this little plot

that is thyself. Above all distract not thyself, be not too eager, but

be thine own master, and look upon life as a man, as a human

being, as a citizen, as a mortal creature. But among the principles

readiest to thine hand, upon which thou shalt pore, let there be

these two. One, that objective things do not lay hold of the soul,

but stand quiescent without; while disturbances are but the

outcome of that opinion which is within us. A second, that all this

visible world changes in a moment, and will be no more; and

continually bethink thee to the changes of how many things thou

hast already been a witness. 'The Universe—mutation:


4. If the intellectual capacity is common to us all, common too

is the reason, which makes us rational creatures. If so, that reason

also is common which tells us to do or not to do. If so, law also is

common. If so, we are citizens. If so, we are fellow-members of an

organised community. If so, the Universe is as it were a state

—for of what


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

other single polity can the whole race of mankind be said to be

fellow-members?—and from it, this common State, we get the

intellectual, the rational, and the legal instinct, or whence do we

get them? For just as the earthy part has been portioned off for

me from some earth, and the watery from another element, and

the aerial from some source, and the hot and fiery from some

source of its own—for nothing comes from the non-existent, any

more than it disappears into nothingness—so also the intellect has

undoubtedly come from somewhere.

5. Death like birth is a secret of Nature—a combination of the

same elements, a breaking up into the same—and not at all a

thing in fact for any to be ashamed of, for it is not out of keeping

with an intellectual creature or the reason of his equipment.

6. Given such men, it was in the nature of the case inevitable

that their conduct should be of this kind. To wish it otherwise, is to

wish that the fig tree had no acrid juice. As a general conclusion

call this to mind, that within a very short time both thou and he will

be dead, and a little later not even your names will be left behind


7. Efface the opinion, I am harmed, and at once the feeling of

being harmed disappears; efface the feeling, and the harm

disappears at once.

8. That which does not make a man himself worse than

before cannot make his life worse either, nor injure it whether from

without or within.

9. The nature of the general good could not but have acted so.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

10. Note that all that befalls befalleth justly. Keep close

watch and thou wilt find this true, I do not say, as a matter

of sequence merely but as a matter of justice also, and as

would be expected from One whose dispensation is based

on desert. Keep close watch, then, as thou hast begun,

and whatsoever thou doest, do it as only a good man

should in the strictest sense of that word. In every sphere of

activity safeguard this.

11. Harbour no such opinions as he holds who does

thee violence, or as he would have thee hold. See things in

all their naked reality.

12. Thou shouldest have these two readinesses always

at hand; the one which prompts thee to do only what thy

reason in its royal and law-making capacity shall suggest

for the good of mankind; the other to change thy mind, if

one be near to set thee right, and convert thee from some

vain conceit. But this conversion should be the outcome of

a persuasion in every case that the thing is just or to the

common interest—and some such cause should be the

only one—not because it is seemingly pleasant or popular.

13. Hast thou reason? I have. Why then not use it? For

if this performs its part, what else wouldest thou have?

14. Thou hast subsisted as part of the Whole. Thou

shalt vanish into that which begat thee, or rather thou shalt

be taken again into its Seminal Reason by a process of


15. Many little pellets of frankincense fall upon the same

altar, some are cast on it sooner, some later: but it makes

no difference.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

16. Ere ten days are past, thou shalt rank as a god with

them that hold thee now a wild-beast or an ape, if thou but

turn back to thy axioms and thy reverence of reason.

17. Behave not as though thou hadst ten thousand years

to live. Thy doom hangs over thee. While thou livest, while

thou mayest, become good.

18. What richness of leisure doth he gain who has no eye

for his neighbour's words or deeds or thoughts, but only for

his own doings, that they be just and righteous! Verily it is

not for the good man to peer about into the blackness of

another's heart, but to ‘run straight for the goal with never a

glance aside.'

19. He whose heart flutters for after-fame does not reflect

that very soon every one of those who remember him, and

he himself, will be dead, and their successors again after

them, until at last the entire recollection of the man will be

extinct, handed on as it is by links that flare up and are

quenched. But put the case that those who are to remember

are even immortal, and the remembrance immortal, what

then is that to thee? To the dead man, I need scarcely say,

the praise is nothing, but what is it to the living, except,

indeed, in a subsidiary way? For thou dost reject the bounty

of nature unseasonably in the present, and clingest to what

others shall say of thee hereafter.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

20. Everything, which has any sort of beauty of its own, is

beautiful of itself, and looks no further than itself, not counting

praise as part of itself. For indeed that which is praised is

made neither better nor worse thereby. This is true also of the

things that in common parlance are called beautiful, such as

material things and works of art. Does, then, the truly beautiful

need anything beyond? Nay, no more than law, than truth,

than kindness, than modesty. Which of these owes its beauty

to being praised, or loses it by being blamed? What Does

an emerald forfeit its excellence by not being praised? Does

gold, ivory, purple, a lyre, a poniard, a floweret, a shrub?

21. If souls outlive their bodies, how does the air contain

them from times beyond ken? How does the earth contain

the bodies of those who have been buried in it for such

endless ages? For just as on earth the change of these

bodies, after continuance for a certain indefinite time, followed

by dissolution, makes room for other dead bodies, so souls,

when transferred into the air, after lasting for a certain time,

suffer change and are diffused and become fire, being taken

again into the Seminal Reason of the Whole, and so allow

room for those that subsequently take up their abode there.

This would be the answer one would give on the assumption

that souls outlive their bodies.

But not only must the multitude of bodies thus constantly

being buried be taken into account, but also that of the

creatures devoured daily by ourselves


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

and the other animals. How great is the number consumed and

thus in a way buried in the bodies of those who feed upon

them! And yet room is made for them all by their conversion

into blood, by their transmutation into air or fire.

Where in this case lies the way of search for the truth? In a

separation of the Material from the Causal.

22. Be not whirled aside; but in every impulse fulfil the

claims of justice, and in every impression safeguard certainty.

23. All that is in tune with thee, O Universe, is in tune with

me! Nothing that is in due time for thee is too early or too late

for me! All that thy seasons bring, O Nature, is fruit for me! All

things come from thee, subsist in thee, go back to thee. There

is one who says Dear City of Cecrops! Wilt thou not say O

dear City of Zeus?

24. If thou wouldest be tranquil in heart, says the Sage, do

not many things. Is not this a better maxim? do but what is

needful, and what the reason of a living creature born for a

civic life demands, and as it demands. For this brings the

tranquillity which comes of doing few things no less than of

doing them well. For nine-tenths of our words and deeds being

unnecessary, if a man retrench there, he will have more

abundant leisure and fret the less. Wherefore forget not on

every occasion to ask thyself, Is this one of the unnecessary

things? But we must retrench not only actions but thoughts

which are


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

unnecessary, for then neither will superfluous actions follow.

25. Try living the life of the good man who is more than content

with what is allotted to him out of the whole, and is satisfied with

his own acts as just and his own disposition as kindly: see how

that answers.

26. Hast thou looked on that side of the picture? Look now on

this! Fret not thyself; study to be simple. Does a man do wrong?

The wrong rests with him. Has something befallen thee? It is

well. Everything that befalls was from the beginning destined and

spun for thee as thy share out of the Whole. To sum up, life is

short. Make profit of the present by right reasoning and justice. In

thy relaxation be sober.

27. Either there is a well-arranged Order of things, or a maze,

indeed, but not without a plan. Or can a sort of order subsist in

thee, while in the Universe there is no order, and that too when all

things, though separated and dispersed, are still in sympathetic


28. A black character, an unmanly character, an obstinate

character, inhuman, animal, childish, stupid, counterfeit, cringing,

mercenary, tyrannical.

29. If he is an alien in the Universe who has no cognizance of

the things that are in it, no less is he an alien who has no

cognizance of what is happening in it. He is an exile, who exiles

himself from civic


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

reason; blind, he who will not see with the eyes of his

understanding; a beggar, he who is dependent on another, and

cannot draw from his own resources all that his life requires; an

imposthume on the Universe, he who renounces, and severs

himself from, the reason of our common Nature, because he is ill

pleased at what happens—for the same Nature brings this into

being, that also brought thee; a limb cut off from the community,

he who cuts off his own soul from the soul of all rational things,

which is but one.

30. One philosopher goes without a shirt, a second without a

book, a third yonder half-naked: says he, I am starving for bread,

yet cleave I fast to Reason; and I too: I get no fruit of my learning,

yet cleave I to her.

31. Cherish the art, though humble, that thou hast learned, and

take thy rest therein; and pass through the remainder of thy days

as one that with his whole soul has given all that is his in trust to

the Gods, and has made of himself neither a tyrant nor a slave to

any man.

32. Think by way of illustration upon the times of Vespasian,

and thou shalt see all these things: mankind marrying, rearing

children, sickening, dying, warring, making holiday, trafficking,

tilling, flattering others, vaunting themselves, suspecting,

scheming, praying for the death of others, murmuring at their own

lot, loving, hoarding, coveting a consulate, coveting a kingdom.

Not a vestige of that life of theirs is left anywhere any longer.

Change the scene again to the times of Trajan. Again it is all

the same; that life too is dead. In like


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

manner contemplate all the other records of past time and of

entire nations, and see how many after all their high-strung efforts

sank down so soon in death and were resolved into the elements.

But above all must thou dwell in thought upon those whom thou

hast thyself known, who, following after vanity, neglected to do the

things that accorded with their own constitution and, cleaving

steadfastly thereto, to be content with them. And here it is

essential to remember that a due sense of value and proportion

should regulate the care bestowed on every action. For thus wilt

thou never give over in disgust, if thou busy not thyself beyond

what is right with the lesser things.

33. Expressions once in use are now obsolete. So also the

names of those much be-sung heroes of old are in some sense

obsolete, Camillus, Caeso, Volesus, Dentatus, and a little later

Scipio and Cato, then also Augustus, and then Hadrianus and

Antoninus. For all things quickly fade away and become

legendary, and soon absolute oblivion encairns them. And here I

speak of those who made an extraordinary blaze in the world. For

the rest, as soon as the breath is out of their bodies, it is, Out of

sight, out of mind. But what, when all is said, is even everlasting

remembrance? Wholly vanity. What then is it that calls for our

devotion? This one thing: justice in thought, in act unselfishness

and a tongue that cannot lie and a disposition ready to welcome

all that befalls as unavoidable, as familiar, as issuing from a like

origin and fountain-head.


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

34. Offer thyself whole-heartedly to Clotho, letting her spin thy

thread to serve what purpose soever she will.

35. Ephemeral all of them, the rememberer as well as the


36. Unceasingly contemplate the generation of all things

through change, and accustom thyself to the thought that the

Nature of the Universe delights above all in changing the things

that exist and making new ones of the same pattern. For in a

manner everything that exists is the seed of that which shall come

out of it. But thou imaginest that only to be seed that is deposited

in the earth or the womb, a view beyond measure unphilosophical.

37. A moment and thou wilt be dead; and not even yet art thou

simple, nor unperturbed, nor free from all suspicion that thou

canst be injured by externals, nor gracious to all, nor convinced

that wisdom and just dealing are but one.

38. Consider narrowly their ruling Reason, and see what wise

men avoid and what they seek after.

39. Harm to thee cannot depend on another's ruling Reason,

nor yet on any vagary or phase of thy environment. On what then?

On the power that is thine of judging what is evil. Let this, then,

pass no judgment, and all is well. Even if its closest associate, the

poor body, be cut, be burnt, fester, gangrene, yet let the part

which forms a judgment about these things hold its peace, that is,

let it assume nothing to be either good or bad, which can befall a

good man or a bad indifferently. For that which befalls alike the

man who lives by the


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

rule and the man who lives contrary to the rule of Nature, is

neither in accordance with Nature nor contrary to it.

40. Cease not to think of the Universe as one living Being,

possessed of a single Substance and a single Soul; and how all

things trace back to its single sentience; and how it does all

things by a single impulse; and how all existing things are joint

causes of all things that come into existence; and how intertwined

in the fabric is the thread and how closely woven the web.

41. Thou art a little soul bearing up a corpse, as Epictetus


42. Nothing is evil to that which is subject to change, even as

there is no good for that which exists as the result of change.

43. As a river consisting of all things that come into being, aye,

a rushing torrent, is Time. No sooner is a thing sighted than it is

carried past, and lo, another is passing, and it too will be carried


44. Everything that happens is as usual and familiar, as the

rose in spring and the fruit in summer. The same applies to

disease and death and slander and treachery and all that

gladdens the foolish or saddens them.

45. That which comes after always has a close relationship to

what has gone before. For it is not like some enumeration of items

separately taken and following a mere hard and fast sequence,

but there is a rational connection; and just as existing things have

been combined in a harmonious order, so also


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

all that comes into being bears the stamp not of a mere

succession but of a wonderful relationship.

46. Always bear in mind what Heraclitus said: The death of

earth is to pass into water, and the death of water to pass into air,

and of air to pass into fire, and so back again. Bear in mind too

the wayfarer who forgets the trend of his way, and that men are at

variance with the one thing with which they are in the most

unbroken communion, the Reason that administers the whole

Universe; and that what they encounter every day, this they

deem strange; and that we must not act and speak like men

asleep,—for in fact even in sleep we seem to act and

speak;—and that there should be nothing of the children from

parents style, that is, no mere perfunctory what our fathers

have told us.

47. Just as, if a God had told thee, Thou shall die tomorrow or

in any case the day after, thou wouldest no longer count it of any

consequence whether it were the day after to-morrow or

tomorrow, unless thou art in the last degree mean-spirited, for

how little is the difference!—so also deem it but a trifling thing

that thou shouldest die after ever so many years rather than


48. Cease not to bear in mind how many physicians are dead

after puckering up their brows so often over their patients; and

how many astrologers after making a great parade of predicting

the death of others; and how many philosophers after endless

disquisitions on death and immortality; how many great captains

after butchering thousands; how many tyrants after exercising

with revolting insolence


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

their power of life and death, as though themselves immortal; and

how many entire cities are, if I may use the expression, dead,

Helice and Pompeii and Herculaneum, and others without


Turn also to all, one after another, that come within thine own

knowledge. One closed a friend's eyes and was then himself laid

out, and the friend who closed his, he too was laid out—and all

this in a few short years. In a word, fail not to note how short-lived

are all mortal things, and how paltry—yesterday a little mucus,

tomorrow a mummy or burnt ash. Pass then through this tiny

span of time in accordance with Nature, and come to thy journey's

end with a good grace, just as an olive falls when it is fully ripe,

praising the earth that bare it and grateful to the tree that gave it


49. Be like a headland of rock on which the waves break

incessantly; but it stands fast and around it the seething of the

waters sinks to rest.

Ah, unlucky am I, that this has befallen me! Nay, but rather,

lucky am I that, though this has befallen me, yet am I still unhurt,

neither crushed by the present nor dreading the future. For

something of the kind could have befallen everyone, but everyone

would not have remained unhurt in spite of it. Why then count that rather a misfortune than this a good fortune? And in any case

dost thou reckon that a misfortune for a man which is not a

miscarriage from his nature? And wouldst thou have that to be an

aberration from a man's nature, which does not contravene the

will of his nature! What then? This will thou hast learnt to know.

Does what has befallen thee hinder thee one whit from being just,


[Koine Greek]


BOOK IV (cont.)

high-minded, chaste, sensible, deliberate, straightforward,

modest, free, and from possessing all the other qualities, the

presence of which enables a man's nature to come fully into its

own? Forget not in future, when anything would lead thee to feel

hurt, to take thy stand upon this axiom: This is no misfortune, but

to bear it nobly is good fortune.

50. An unphilosophical but none the less an effective help to

the contemning of death is to tell over the names of those who

have clung long and tenaciously to life. How are they better off

than those who were cut off before their time? After all, they lie

buried somewhere at last, Cadicianus, Fabius, Julianus, Lepidus,

and any others like them, who after carrying many to their graves

were at last carried to their own. Small, in any point of view, is the

difference in length, and that too lived out to the dregs amid what

great cares and with what sort of companions and in what kind of

a body! Count it then of no consequence. For look at the yawning

gulf of Time behind thee, and before thee at another Infinity to

come. In this Eternity the life of a baby of three days and the life of

a Nestor of three centuries are as one.

51. Run ever the short way; and the short way is the way of

Nature, that leads to all that is most sound in speech and act. For

a resolve such as this is a release from troubles and strife, from

all mental reservation and affectation.




May the Wisdom Force be with You.


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