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BOOK II - Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus 
The Meditations of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus, trans. Francis Hutcheson and James Moor, edited and with an Introduction by James Moore and Michael Silverthorne (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2008).
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1. Say thus to thyself every morning: to day I may have to do with some intermeddler in other mens affairs, with an ungrateful man; an insolent, or a crafty, or an envious, or an unsociable selfish man. These bad qualities have befallen them through their ignorance of what things are truly good or evil. But I have fully comprehended the nature of good, as* only what is beautiful and honourable; and of evil, that it is always deformed and shameful; and the nature of those persons too † who mistake their aim; that they are my kinsmen, by partaking, not of the same blood or seed, but of the same ‡ intelligent divine part; and that I cannot be hurt by any of them, since none of them can involve me in any thing dishonourable or deformed. I cannot be angry at my kinsmen, or hate them. We were formed by nature for mutual assistance, as the two feet, the hands, the eye-lids, the upper and lower rows of teeth. Opposition to each other is contrary to nature: All anger and aversion is an opposition.
2. Whatsoever I am, is either this § poor flesh, or the animal spirit, or the governing part. Quit your books: Be no longer distracted with different views. You have it in your own power. As one who is shortly to die, despise this fleshly part, this putrifying blood, and bones, and the net-work texture of nerves, veins, arteries. Consider the nature of mere animal spirit or life, air, and that always changing, breathed forth and drawn in again. The third part is that which go-verns. Think thus: you are now old; suffer not that noble part to be enslaved, or moved about by * unsociable passions, without its own approbation. Repine no more at what now befalls you according to fate, nor dread what may befall you hereafter.
3. Whatever the Gods ordain, is full of wise providence. What we ascribe to fortune, happens not without a presiding nature, nor without a connexion and intertexture with the things ordered by providence. Thence all things flow. Consider, too, the necessity of these events; and their utility to that whole universe of which you are a part. In every regular structure, that must always be good to a part, which the nature of the whole requires, and which tends to preserve it. Now, the universe is preserved, as, by the † changes of the Elements, so, by the changes of the complex forms. Let these thoughts suffise; let them be your maxims, laying aside that thirst after multitudes of books; that you may die without repining, meek, and well satisfied, and sincerely grateful to the Gods.
4. Remember how long you have put off these things; and how often you have neglected to use the opportunities offered you by the Gods. It is high time to understand what sort of whole you are a part of; and who that President in the universe is, from whom you flowed, as a small stream from a great fountain. There is a certain time appointed for you, which, if you don’t employ in making all calm and serene within you, it will pass away, and you along with it; and never more return.
5. Let this be your stedfast purpose to act continually, in all affairs, as becomes a Roman, and a man, with true unaffected dignity, kindness of heart, freedom, and justice; and disentangle your soul from other solicitudes. You shall thus disentangle yourself, if you perform each action as if it were your last: without temerity, or any passionate aversion to what reason approves; withs-out hypocrisy or selfishness, or freting at what providence appoints. You see how few these maxims are, to which, whoever adheres, may live a prosperous and divine life. If a man observe these things, the Gods require no more of him.
6. Go on, go on, o my soul! to affront and dishonour thy self! yet a little while, and the time to honour thyself shall be gone. Each man’s life is flying away, and thine is almost gone, before thou hast paid * just honour to thyself; having hitherto made thy happiness dependent on the minds and opinions of others.
7. Let nothing which befalls thee from without distract thee; and take leisure to thy self, to learn something truly good. Wander no more to and fro; and guard also against this other wandering. For there are some too who trifle away their activity, by wearying themselves in life, without having a settled scope or mark, to which they may direct all their desires and all their projects.
8. Seldom are any found unhappy for not observing the motions and intentions in the souls of others. But such as observe not well the motions of their own souls, or their affections, must necessarily be unhappy.
9. Remember these things always: what the nature of the universe is: what thine own nature: and how related to the universe: What sort of part thou art, and of what sort of whole: and that no man can hinder thee to act and speak what is agreeable to that whole, of which thou art a part.
10. Theophrastus,5 as becomes a philosopher, says justly, that in comparing crimes together, † (for in a popular style they may be compared) these are greater, which men are incited to, by lust, or desire of pleasure, than those which flow from anger. For the angry man seems to be turned from right reason, by a sort of pain and contraction seizing him unawares. But he who sins from lust, conquer’d by pleasure, seems more dissolute, weak, and effeminate in his vices. He says justly, and as becomes the dignity of a philosopher, that the crime committed for pleasure, deserves an higher censure, than that committed from the impulse of pain. One in the latter case seems like a person who is forced into anger by injuries first received; but one in the former, like him who first injures another, at the instigation of some lust of pleasure.
11. Undertake each action as one aware he may next moment depart out of life. To depart from men, if there be really Gods, can have nothing terrible in it. The Gods will involve you in no evil. If there are no Gods, or, if they have no regard to human affairs, why should I desire to live in a world without Gods, and without providence? But Gods there are, undoubtedly, and they regard human affairs; and have put it wholly in our power, that we should not fall into what is * truly evil. Were there any real evil in other things, they would have also put it in the power of man to have avoided them altogether. But how can that which makes not one a worse man, be said to make a man’s life worse? And it could neither be from any ignorance, or want of power, to prevent or rectify them, when it knew them, that the nature presiding in the whole has overlooked such things. We cannot ascribe such gross misconduct to it, either from want of power, or want of skill, as that good and evil should happen confusedly and promiscuously, both to good and bad men. Now, death and life, glory and reproach, pain and pleasure, riches and poverty, all these happen promiscuously to the good and bad. But as they are neither honourable nor shameful, they are therefore neither good nor evil.
12. ’Tis the office of our rational power, to apprehend how swiftly all things vanish. How the corporeal forms, are swallowed up in the material World, and the memory of them in the tide of ages. Such are all sensible things, especially those which ensnare us by pleasure, or terrify us by pain, or are celebrated with such vanity. How mean, how despicable, how sordid, how perishable, how dead are they! What sort of creatures are they, whose voices bestow renown? What is it to die? Would one consider it alone, and by close thought strip it of those horrible masks with which it is dressed, would he not see it to be a work of nature, and nothing else? He must be a child, who dreads what is natural. Nay, it is not only a work of nature, but useful to nature. Our rational power should apprehend, too, how a man is related to God, and by what part; and in what state this part shall be, when it returns to him again.
13. Nothing is more miserable, says one, than he who ranges over all things, and dives even into things below the earth, and strives by conjectures to discover what is in the souls of others around him, and yet is not sensible of this, that ’tis sufficient for a man to dwell and converse with that * divinity which is within him, and pay it the genuine worship. It is then worshipped and honoured, when it is kept pure from every passion, and folly, and from repining at any thing done by Gods or men. Whatever is done by the Gods, is venerable for its excellence. What flows from men, we should entertain with love, since they are our kinsmen; or, sometimes, with pity, as proceeding from their ignorance of good and evil. They are not less pityably maimed by this defect, this blindness, than by that which hinders them to distinguish between black and white.
14.† If thou shouldst live three thousand years, or as many myriads, yet remember this, that no man loses any other life than that he now lives; and that he now lives no other life than what he is parting with, every instant. The longest life, and the shortest, come to one effect: since the present time is equal to all, what is lost or parted with is equal to all. And for the same reason, what is parted with, is only a moment. No man at death parts with, or, is deprived of, what is either past or future. For how can one take from a man what he hath not? We should also remember these things, first, That all things which have happened in the continued revolutions from eternity, are of the same kind with what we behold: And ’tis of little consequence, whether a man beholds the same things for an hundred years, or an infinite duration. Again that the longest and the shortest lives have an equal loss at Death. The present moment is all which either is deprived of, since that is all he has. A man cannot part with what he has not.
15. All depends upon opinion; as the sayings of Monimus7 make evident. The usefulness of his sayings appear, if one attend to his pleasantries, as far as truth confirms them.
16. The soul affronts itself, when it becomes, as far as it can, an abscess or wen in the universe. Freting at what happens, is making itself an abscess from that nature, which contains all other parts. Again, when it has aversion to any man, and opposes him with intention to hurt him, as wrathful men do. And thirdly, it affronts itself, when conquered by pleasure or pain. Fourthly, when it does or says any thing hypocritically, feignedly, or falsly. Fifthly, when it does not direct to some proper end all its desires and actions, but exerts them inconsiderately, without understanding. Whereas, even the smallest things should be refered to the end. Now, the end of rational beings should be this, to follow the * reason and law of their most antient and venerable city or country.
17. The duration of human life is a point; its substance perpetually flowing; the senses obscure; and the compound body tending to putrefaction: The soul is restless, fortune uncertain, and fame injudicious. To sum up all, the body, and all things related to it, are like a river; what belongs to the animal life, is a dream, and smoak; life a warfare, and a journey in a strange land; surviving fame is but oblivion. What is it then, which can conduct us honourably out of life, and accompany us in our future progress? philosophy alone. And this consists in preserving the divinity within us free from all affronts and injuries, superior to pleasure and pain, doing nothing either inconsiderately, or insincerely and hypo-critically; independent on what others may do or not do: embracing chearfully whatever befalls or is appointed, as coming from him, from whom itself was derived; and, above all, expecting death with calm satisfaction, as conceiving it to be only a dissolution of these elements, of which every animal is compounded. And if no harm befalls the elements when each is * changed into the other, why should one suspect any harm in the changes and † dissolution of them all? It is natural, and nothing natural can be evil. This at Carnuntum.8
[† ] This is the meek sentiment of Socrates, that as all error is involuntary, so no man is willingly unjust or wicked in his actions: Since all desire truth and goodness.
[§ ] The apostle Paul alludes to this notion in praying that we may be sanctified in soul, spirit, and body: many ancients conceived in men two principles distinct from the body, one the animal soul or life, like that in beasts, the other the rational, like the divinities or angels. In the former which they supposed to be air, they placed all the sensations and passions. See B. III. art. 16.
[† ] The Stoics supposed that aether condensed, produced air, air condensed became water, and water thus too became earth: That earth was rarified into water; water into air, and air into aether, and these changes were always going on in the universe.4
[* ] ’Tis one of the most ancient maxims or precepts, “Reverence or stand in awe of thyself” which is the most remote from any encouraging of pride or vanity. It means, that men, conscious of the dignity of their nature, and of that temper of soul, and course of action which they must approve, should continually endeavour to behave suitably to their dignity, in preserving that temper, and practising such actions, with a sincere simple view to answer the end for which God created them, with such dignity and such endowments; and be ashamed to act unsuitably to them. Now, to be influenced by views of glory from men, is what Antoninus here reckons among the dishonours or affronts done to ourselves. See, art. 16 of this book. And B. III. art. 6. and others.6
[† ] It was one of the paradoxes of the Stoics, that all crimes were equal, and so no occasion for comparisons.
[* ] That is, moral evil, or, vice.
[* ] Thus the Stoics call the rational soul, the seat of knowledge and virtue: deeming it a part of the divinity, ever pervaded, attracted, and inspired by it to all moral good, when the lower passions are restrained.
[† ] The first sentiment in this paragraph, is too subtile and frigid.
[* ] By this country or state is understood the universe governed by God. The end therefore is acting the part God has appointed to us by the constitution of our nature.
[* ] Earth to water, water to air, air to fire, and so backwards.
[† ] Perhaps he intends the universal destruction of this world. See X. 7.
[1.] See also bk. IV, art. 1, p. 47n; bk. VI, art. 16, pp. 73–74 and note; bk. IX, art. 12, p. 111; and especially bk. VI, art. 7, p. 71, and the endnotes, bk. VI, p. 178n1.
[2.] See bk. II, art. 13, p. 37n, on the rational soul as the seat of knowledge and virtue; bk. V, art. 19, p. 65n, on the rational soul as a being or substance distinct from the body and the animal soul: “The rational soul, say they, is the man; the seat of true perfection and happiness”; bk. VI, art. 24, p. 75, the asterisked note, bk. VIII, art. 54, p. 105n, bk. XI, art. 12, p. 137, the double-daggered note, on the identification of the soul and the heart; bk. VI, art. 24, p. 75, bk. XII, art. 5, pp. 145–46n, and bk. XII, art. 30, p. 150n, on the soul and the possibility of a future state.
[3.] See also bk. X, art. 38, p. 132, and bk. XII, art. 19, p. 148.
[4.] See bk. II, art. 17, p. 39, the asterisked note; bk. IV, art. 46, p. 56; bk. V, art. 13, p. 63, the asterisked note.
[5.] Theophrastus succeeded Aristotle as head of the Peripatetic school in 322 bc The passage is from a lost work.
[6.] See also bk. IV, art. 19, p. 50n; bk. IV, art. 38, p. 54n; and bk. XI, art. 14, p. 138. In these passages Hutcheson reminds the reader of the limitations that the Stoics placed upon the desire for fame, esteem, and popular applause. In An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections (1728), sec. IV, art. 4, pp. 109–11 (Liberty Fund ed., pp. 78–79), Hutcheson expressed similar reservations concerning desires for honor, wealth, and power.
[7.] A Cynic philosopher of the fourth century bc
[8.] East of Vienna, where Marcus had his winter quarters for three successive years while on campaign against the Marcomanni, a Germanic tribe, in the early 170s.