Review: “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius

For the love of books

The personal diary of Marcus Aurelius has been entitled Meditations by scholars.  Indeed, this journal is simply a record of one man’s thoughts, his personal life, and his Stoic beliefs.

Moreover,Stoicism is the moral support of Aurelius’ meditations.  He outlines the Stoic path to virtue and the self-sacrifice one must encounter.  Forgiveness, tolerance, honesty, and temperance are only a few of the virtues that the Stoic tries to attain, as demonstrated by Aurelius’ spiritual struggles.  Aurelius also focuses on self-improvement and the inevitable mortality of all living creatures.  He tries to live in the present, and accept that death can occur at any moment.  One must live life virtuously for the sake of virtue and righteousness without any regrets or vices.

An interesting fact about Stoicism is that many of its doctrines were adapted by Christianity.  The idea of the end of the world happening by conflagration is an example of Stoicism’s imprint on Christianity.  The Stoics also believed that the symbol of God on earth is fire (a pure and all-consuming force), and that the essence of God is in all animate and inanimate matter.  The idea of judgment or an afterlife is non-existent, unlike in Platonism.  Aurelius’ self-directed advice is essentially good.  However, Stoicism has some major variations on Platonism, e.g. searching only for truth and shunning all other ideals revered by Platonists.  All unbalanced emotions like anger are cast aside and considered an obstruction to being a truly just person.

Original review: A Stoic’s handbook to leading a virtuous life, Examiner.com

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