The Stoic Emperor

This weekend I’ve done something I haven’t done in quite a while but plan to start doing more often. I read a book. More specifically, I read a book on written by today’s subject, Roman Emperor and Stoic philosopher, Marcus Aurelius.

Marcus Aurelius was born April 26, 121 CE in Rome. He became the co-emperor of Rome, along with his brother Verus in 161 CE. He ruled until his death on March 17, 180 CE. He is remembered as a great intellectual and one of the most well respected Roman emperors of all time.

The title of his book is Meditations. However, Meditations was not a title given by Aurelius. The book is a collection of his own personal notes regarding his ideas on Stoic philosophy. He wrote them as a kind of personal guide for self-improvement and likely never meant to have them published.

If you’re familiar with Star Trek then Stoicism is going to sound an awful lot like something you’d hear a Vulcan lecturing us hot blooded humans on. The key tenets of Stoicism are; Courage, Justice, Temperance and Wisdom. Stoics sought to free themselves from the burdens of  “passion” (defined as  suffering or anguish in ancient times) by embracing those of reason. In this endeavor, they would practice reflection, concentration, and logic in their decision making and strive not to let emotions cloud their judgment.

Aurelius was one of the last known Stoics of the age, and many of the works of earlier Stoics have been lost to time. Due to this, his writings are one of the best sources we have in the modern era for a look into the philosophy of Stoicism.

I feel like Spock would totally bro out with Marcus Aurelius. What do you guys think? Have any of you read the Meditations yet and have any thoughts on them?

This article is also available in MiniMag format.

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