In 121 AD, Rome welcomed one of its most beloved and enlightened emperors: Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus. Not surprisingly, he was cherished in the group of the Five Good Emperors, and was nicknamed The Wise or The Philosopher.
His co-government, together with Lucius Verus, was a time of many military campaigns which he went through successfully and whose vital lessons were useful to define his magnum opus, ‘Meditations’, related to Stoic Philosophy (he followed the teachings of Epictetus, whom I have also dedicated a post to on this blog). In his writings, for example, Marcus Aurelius praises an unostentatious life, learnt from his mother, and shows as a person with great balance, hardworking, intelligent. As a politician, he was distinguished for his equanimity and for caring for the weakest: the slaves, the widows and the youth. He was committed to a government at the service of duty.
He died in Vienna in the year 180, and was already deified -to his persona and deeds are dedicated several buildings in Rome.
From Marcus Aurelius we have inherited such valuable ideas like these:
Our life is what our thoughts make of it.
Remember on, every time something makes you grieve, to apply this, that adversity is not a misfortune, rather, the suffer with magnanimity is bliss.
Sweetness, when sincere, is an invincible force.
The perfection of manners is to live each day as if it were your last.
For nowhere either with more quiet or more freedom from trouble does a man retire than into his own soul.
Do not waste what remains of life on others’ guessing, unless you look for a common good. Well, imagining what they can be doing and why, what they are thinking and what they plan, shakes you and stuns you away from your inner guidance.
There is one light of the sun, though it is interrupted by walls, mountains and infinite other things. There is one common substance, though it is distributed among countless bodies which have their several qualities. There is one soul, though it is distributed among several natures and individual limitations. There is one intelligent soul, though it seems to be divided.
We were born for cooperation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of upper and lower teeth. So to work in opposition to one another is against nature.
They seek for themselves private retiring places, as country villages, the sea-shore, mountains; yea thou thyself art wont to long much after such places. But all this thou must know proceeds from simplicity in the highest degree. At what time soever thou wilt, it is in thy power to retire into thyself, and to be at rest, and free from all businesses. A man cannot any whither retire better than to his own soul; he especially who is beforehand provided of such things within, which whensoever he doth withdraw himself to look in, may presently afford unto him perfect ease and tranquillity.
If he who knows not what is in the universe is a stranger to the universe, he is no less so who knows not what takes place in it. Such a man is an exile, self-banished from the polity of reason; a sightless man, having the eyes of his understanding darkened; a pauper dependent on others, without resources of his own for his livelihood. He is an excrescence on the world, when he dissociates and dissevers himself from the laws of our common nature by refusing to accept his lot (which after all is a product of the self-same Nature which produced yourself); he is a limb lopped from the community, when he cuts his own soul adrift from the single soul of all rational things.
Wisdom, philosophy to be applied to our daily thoughts and routines.
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