More from and about
Marcus Aurelius
(biographical info at bottom of page)

  

It is not death that we should fear, but we
should fear never beginning to live.

   

Why should anyone be afraid of change?  What can take place without it?  What can be more pleasing or more suitable to universal Nature?  Can you take your bath without the firewood undergoing a change?  Can you eat, without the food undergoing a change?  And can anything useful be done without change?  Don't you see that for you to change is just the same, and is equally necessary for universal Nature?

      
Do not fear death, but welcome it, since it too comes from nature.  For just as we are young and grow old, and flourish and reach maturity, have teeth and a beard and grey hairs, conceive, become pregnant, and bring forth new life, and all the other natural processes that follow the seasons of our existence, so also do we have death.
   A thoughtful person will never take death lightly, impatiently, or scornfully, but will wait for it as one of life's natural processes.
  
Why should anyone be afraid of change?  What can take place without it?  What can be more pleasing or more suitable to universal nature?
   Can you take your bath without the firewood undergoing a change?  Can you eat without the food undergoing a change?  And can anything useful be done without change?
   Don't you see that for you to change is just the same, and is equally necessary for universal nature?
   

All things are linked with one another, and this oneness is sacred; there is nothing that is not interconnected with everything else.  For things are interdependent, and they combine to form this universal order.  There is only one universe made up of all things, and one creator who pervades them; there is one substance and one law, namely, common reason in all thinking creatures, and all truth is one--if, as we believe, there is only one path of perfection for all beings who share the same mind.

     

"Sweep me up and send me where you please."  For there I will
retain my spirit, tranquil and content, as long as it can feel and act
in harmony with its own nature.  Is a change of place enough reason
for my soul to become unhappy and worn, for me to become
depressed, humbled, cowering, and afraid?  Can you discover
any reasons for this?

   

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Always follow these two rules:  first, act only on what your reasoning mind proposes
for the good of humanity, and second, change your opinion if someone shows
you itís wrong.  This change of mind must proceed only from the conviction that itís
both correct and for the common good, but not because it will give you
pleasure and make you popular.

   

Think of the whole being, of which you have a pittance;
and the totality of time, of which a small measure has been set for you;
and of everything that is arranged by destiny, and how tiny your role in it.

   

Anyone who has seen the present day has seen it all, both everything
that has taken place since time began and everything that will be
for all eternity; for all things are of one kind and one form.

   
    
Imperator Caesar Marcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus (April 26, 121 Ė March 17, 180) was Roman Emperor from 161 to his death in 180.  He was born Marcus Annius Catilius Severus, and at marriage took the name Marcus Annius Verus.  When he was named Emperor, he was given the name Marcus Aurelius Antoninus.  He was the last of the Five Good Emperors.

While on campaign between 170 and 180, Aurelius wrote his Meditationsas a source for his own guidance and self-improvement.  He had been a priest at the sacrificial altars of Roman service and was an eager patriot.  He had a logical mind though his notes were representative of Stoic philosophy and spirituality.  Meditations is still revered as a literary monument to a government of service and duty.  It has been praised for its "exquisite accent and it's infinite tenderness" and "saintliness" being called the "gospel of his life."  They have been compared by J. S. Mill in his Utility of Religion to the Sermon on the Mount.  Like many of the emperors of Rome he was loved by the people.  Yet, with all his benevolence, administered justice and reforms he often mistrusted the Christians whom he subjected to systematic persecution.

Marcus Aurelius died on March 17, 180 during the expedition against the Marcomanni in the city of Vindobona (modern Vienna).  His ashes were returned to Rome and rest in Hadrian's mausoleum (modern Castel Sant'Angelo).  He was able to secure the succession for his son Commodus, whom he made co-emperor in his own lifetime (in 177), though the choice may have been unfortunate.  Commodus was a political and military outsider, as well as an extreme egotist.  Many historians believe that the decline of Rome began under Commodus.  For this reason, Aurelius' death is often held to have been the end of the Pax Romana.
  

  

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