The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius is a perennial, belonging to a very special category of book that has but a few members out of the millions of books ever published; longevity. It has a simple, powerful message that is as fresh and useful today as it was nearly two thousand years ago. The greater the Truth, the more simply it can be put. The original book states a few great Truths, and states them very simply.
That alone makes it worthy of careful study, but it has more to commend it than that. The greater the Truth, the more simply it can be put. The original book states a few great Truths, and states them very simply.
Meditations is basically the author’s personal journal, written in private over a ten year period. It is doubtful whether he intended it to ever be read by others. It was a way for him to remind himself what he recognised as being most important to remember about Life.
As a result, there is much repetition of ideas. A few big ideas are constantly discussed, these being uppermost in the author’s mind as the months and years rolled by.
Therefore this Primer provides a summary of the recurrent ideas of Meditations, and does so in 21st Century language, easily accessible to modern readers. It presents the first five books as being representative of the entire twelve books. This is sufficient to grasp the essence of the original.
In Meditations you come to know the real man, and to the reader this can seem an extraordinary privilege. But the man was also an emperor, and no ordinary emperor, one of the finest in Rome’s illustrious history. A truly remarkable man by any standard, but as you will see, a modest, even humble man. Even today, Meditations stands tall as a guide to staying calm under pressure when there is a difficult job to do.
Marcus Aurelius might have been a Roman, but his thinking had been shaped, like so many educated Romans, by the classical period of ancient Greece. Indeed, Meditations was written in Greek. Even today, classical Greek thinking still permeates the foundations of Western civilisation.