The Best of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations

Marcus Aurelius ruled as the emperor of Rome from 161 to 180 AD.

Given that, it’s perhaps surprising that the’s best known today for writing a book of private meditations that he recorded for himself and that were never meant to be published. In the book, we see a ruler who’s endlessly introspective, curious, and interested in seeking well-being.

Here are just a few of the best passages from Meditations.

  • “Constantly regard the universe as one living being, having one substance and one soul.”
  • “Acquire the contemplative way of seeing how all things change into one another.”
  • “Look within. Within is the fountain of the good, and it will ever bubble up, if thou wilt ever dig.”
  • “Nowhere can you find a quieter or more untroubled retreat than in your own soul.”
  • “Remember that neither the future nor the past pains thee, but only the present.”
  • “What stands in the way becomes the way.”
  • “At dawn, when you have trouble getting out of bed, tell yourself: “I have to go to work — as a human being. What do I have to complain of, if I’m going to do what I was born for — the things I was brought into the world to do? Or is this what I was created for? To huddle under the blankets and stay warm?”
  • “Nothing more is required of us than to accomplish well the task at hand.”
  • “Always look to what is inside. Never let the true essence and worth of a thing to escape you.”
  • “The noblest way of taking revenge on others is by refusing to be like them.”
  • “If someone is able to show me that what I think or do is not right, I will happily change, for I seek the truth, by which no one was ever truly harmed.”
Looking for a good translation of Meditations? We recommend the Gregory Hays translation as well as the translation by Jacob Needleman and John Piazza.
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