Meditations, Books 1-6 (Clarendon Later Ancient Philosophers)
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Christopher Gill provides a new translation and commentary on the first half of Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, and a full introduction to the Meditations as a whole. The Meditations constitute a unique and remarkable work, a reflective diary or notebook by a Roman emperor, that is based on Stoic philosophy but presented in a highly distinctive way. Gill focuses on the philosophical content of the work, especially the question of how far it is consistent with Stoic theory as we know this from other sources. He argues that the Meditations are largely consistent with Stoic theory—more than has been often supposed. The work draws closely on core themes in Stoic ethics and also reflects Stoic thinking on the links between ethics and psychology or the study of nature. To make sense of the Meditations, it is crucial to take into account its overall aim, which seems to be to help Marcus himself take forward his own ethical development by creating occasions for reflection on key Stoic themes that can help to guide his life.
This new edition will help students and scholars of ancient philosophy make sense of a work whose intellectual content and status have often been found puzzling. Along with volumes in the Clarendon Later Ancient Philosophers series on Epictetus and Seneca, it will help to chart the history of Stoic philosophy in the first and second century AD. The translation is designed to be accessible to modern readers and all Greek and Latin are translated in the introduction and commentary.
also attributing to ancient culture the (typically modern Western) view that subjectivity and individuality are central features of selfhood or personhood.50 This contrast between conceptions of self was originally formulated with a view to deﬁning salient features of Classical Greek thinking on human nature. But I think it is equally useful in helping us to make sense of Hellenistic and Roman thought on this topic, even though we can also identify other important changes between Classical Greek
our own social context; the other is coming to regard any given human being as a 80 See LS 61 K–L, 60 B–F. On the (apparently contradictory) combination of (1) a radical contrast between the wise and foolish and (2) the claim that it is natural to develop towards wisdom, see Inwood and Donini 1999: 717–35, Roskam 2005: 9–10, 15–32. 81 For this contrast between the two approaches, see Gill 2006: 130–8, also 138–45, 177–82, 231–2, 420–1, 2010a: 221–6: for another version of this contrast, see
hanging over your head; while you are alive, while it is still possible, become a good person’ (4.17). A related theme is that the time for Marcus to take this project forward is now, since life is uncertain in its duration and is rapidly disappearing.85 Is the idea of life as an ongoing ethical quest linked by Marcus with the Stoic doctrine of development as ‘appropriation’? It might seem, at ﬁrst glance, that Marcus ignores the latter idea; and it is true that there is no extended treatment of
be linked with his selective treatment of the theory of development as ‘appropriation’. Marcus stresses the desired end-point of ethical development, including recognizing the absolute value of virtue and seeing all other humans as brothers, ideas which represent for him powerful sources of inspiration or aspiration. The earlier stages of development (selection between ‘preferable’ advantages) are ignored by him as less relevant for his project of self-improvement.97 Thus, Marcus’ lack of
creature.  (1) The mind of the whole is sociable. At least, it has made the inferior for the sake of the superior, and has harmonized the superior to each other. (2) You can see how it has subordinated, co-ordinated, and given each its proper place and brought the best groups into harmony with each other.  (1) How have you behaved till now towards gods, parents, brothers, wife, children, teachers, tutors, friends, relations, servants, servants? Consider whether your attitude so far has