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Dec 30, 2008

Begin the Day with Marcus Aurelius x2

Marcus Aurelius at Brown One joy of housesitting is that I get to read other people's libraries.

Here is last night's bedtime reading from Marcus Aurelius' Meditations (2nd century CE):

1. Begin each day by telling yourself: Today I shall be meeting with interferences, ingratitude, insolence, disloyalty, ill-will, and selfishness -- all of them due to the offenders' ignorance of what is good or evil. But for my part I have long perceived the nature of good and its nobility, the nature of evil and its meanness, and also the nature of the culprit himself, who is my brother (not in the physical sense, but as a fellow-creature similarly endowed with reason and a share of the divine); therefore none of those things can injure me, for nobody can implicate me in what is degrading. Neither can I be angry with my brother or fall foul of him; for he and I were born to work together, like a man's two hands, feet, or eyelids, or like the upper and lower rows of his teeth. To obstruct each other is against Nature's law -- and what is irritation or aversion but a form of obstruction? (Penguin Classics, translated by Maxwell Staniforth, 1964)


When I searched for this quote online, I couldn't find the Staniforth translation, but I did find an older translation by George Long. See below for his different way of expressing the original.

1. BEGIN the morning by saying to thyself, I shall meet with the busybody, the ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, unsocial. All these things happen to them by reason of their ignorance of what is good and evil. But I who have seen the nature of the good that it is beautiful and of the bad that it is ugly, and the nature of him who does wrong, that it is akin to me, not [only] of the same blood or seed, but that it participates in [the same] intelligence and [the same] portion of the divinity, I can neither be injured by any of them, for no one can fix on me what is ugly, nor can I be angry with my kinsman, nor hate him. For we are made for co-operation, like feet, like hands, like eyelids, like the rows of the upper and lower teeth. To act against one another then is contrary to nature; and it is acting against one another to be vexed and to turn away. (Harvard Classics, translated by George Long, ~1910 -- if I am reading everything correctly)

I wish I could read ancient Greek -- I'd give you a third translation in my language of 2008.

10:13 AM | Permalink


I'll bet he gets peevish sometimes and wants to smack his brother upside the head.

Posted by: Claire | Jan 2, 2009 1:14:19 PM

And it is necessary for me to defend the study of humanities in the formation of our future leaders why? Great post and great quote, Phil. Thanks!

Posted by: Doc | Jan 6, 2009 9:43:28 PM

See also: http://archerpelican.typepad.com/tap/2009/03/marcus-aurelius-ii.html

Posted by: Phil | Mar 8, 2009 3:13:06 PM

AlloppyKere <a href="http://iewqgug.007webs.com/index.html">PseuchTus</a>

Posted by: IllupeLop | Apr 27, 2009 6:34:24 AM