David Mytton

Book Review (4/5) – Meditations: A New Translation (Marcus Aurelius)

Published (updated: ) in Book Reviews.

Originally published on Goodreads.

It’s weird to read something which was never intended to be read by anyone other than the author, especially someone as powerful as an Emperor of Rome. This makes reading Meditations somewhat unusual – its repetition, the “notes to self” and the references to things unknown.

However, it gives important context to the philosophy of Stoicism which is derived from this work, and others. The continual focus on making yourself at ease with the opinions of others and of the inevitability of death help to show that the problems of a Roman Emperor thousands of years ago are still relevant to humans today!

This is a good quality translation with a useful introduction that helps to set the scene for the text to come. The chapters are easy to read and the introduction provides an important briefing to understand the core text.

The principles are not complex – it is the application of them that is significantly harder. I have found that an easy way to try them out is to cycle in traffic in London!