Marcus Aurelius is one of the most widely appreciated of ancient philosophers. The work for which he is best known, the Meditations, occupies a special place not only in our intellectual and cultural history but also – for those who have read him – as an enduring source of ethical guidance.
The Meditations is one of the highest manifestations of practical wisdom that the classical Western world – or, indeed, the Western world generally – has given us. Marcus Aurelius was a pragmatic and skilful ruler as much as he was speculative thinker: he was Roman Emperor for almost twenty years, managing in that time to defeat the Parthian Empire as well as suppress revolt and contain restive Germanic tribes.
The Meditations is so compelling is that it expresses profound truths in simple language. In this respect, Marcus Aurelius stands at the opposite pole to so many of the ‘intellectuals’ who are foisted upon us today.
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