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BOOK IX - 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. He who does an injury is guilty of impiety. For, since the nature of the whole has formed the rational animals for one another; each for being useful to the other according to his merit, and never hurtful; he who transgresses this her will, is thus guilty of impiety against* the most ancient and venerable of the Gods.† For the nature of the whole is the nature of all things which exist; and things which exist, are a-kin to their causes. Further, she is called truth; and is the first cause of all truths: He, then, who willingly lyes, is guilty of impiety, in as far as, by deceiving, he does an injury: and he, who lyes unwillingly; in as far as his voice dissents from the nature of the whole; as he is acting ungracefully, in opposing the comely order of the universe: For he fights against its nature and design, who sets himself against truth; since nature had furnished him with means for distinguishing falsehood from truth, by neglecting which he is now unable to do it. He, too, who pursues pleasure as good, and shuns pain as evil, is guilty of impiety: for such a one must needs frequently blame the common nature, as making some unworthy distributions to the bad and the good; because the bad oftimes enjoy pleasures, and possess the means of them; and the good often meet with pain, and what causes pain; besides, he who dreads pain, must sometimes dread that which must be a part of the order and beauty of the universe: this, now, is impious: and, then, he who pursues pleasures will not abstain from injury; and that is manifestly impious. But, in those things to which the common nature is indifferent, (for she had not made both, were she not indifferent to either); he who would follow nature, ought, in this too, to agree with her in his sentiments, and be indifferently dispos’d to either. Whoever, then, is not indifferently dispos’d to pain and pleasure, life and death, glory and ignominy, all which the nature of the whole regards as indifferent, it is plain he is guilty of impiety. When I say the common nature regards them as indifferent; I mean she regards their happening or not happening as indifferent events in the grand establish’d series, in which things exist, and ensue upon others, suitably to a certain ancient purpose of that providence and design, according to which, at a certain period, she set about this fair structure and arrangement of the universe; after she had conceived and fixed the plan of all that was to exist; and appointed the distinct powers which were to produce the several substances, changes, and successions.
2. It were the more desirable lot, to depart from among men, unacquainted with falsehood, hypocrisy, luxury, or vanity. The next choice were, to expire, when cloy’d with these vices, rather than continue among them: and does not even experience, yet, persuade you to fly from amidst the plague? For a corruption of the intellectual part is far more a plague than any pestilential distemper and change of this surrounding fluid which we breathe. The one is only a pestilence to animals, as they are animals; but the other to men, as they are men.
3. Don’t despise death; but receive it well-pleas’d; as it is one of the things which nature wills.2 For such as it is to be young, to be old, to grow up, to be full grown; to breed teeth, and beard, and grow grey; to beget, to go with child, to be delivered; and undergo the other natural effects which the seasons of your life produce; such is it also to be dissolved. It becomes a* man of wisdom neither to be inconsiderate, impetuous, or ostentatiously contemptuous about death; but await the season of it, as of one of the operations of nature. As you are now awaiting the season when the foetus shall come out of the womb of your wife, thus await the season when your soul shall fall out of these its teguments. If you want also a popular support, here is one which goes to the heart: you will be extremely easy with regard to death, if you consider the objects you are going to leave; and the manners of that confused croud from which you are to be disengaged: tho’ at the same time, you ought not to be offended at them; but* even to have a tender care of them, and bear with them mildly. Remember, however, your removal is not from among men of the same sentiments with yourself: for this alone, were it so, could pull you back, and detain you in life; were it given you to live along with men who had attained to the same maxims of life with yourself. But, at present you see how great the fatigue and toil from the jarring courses of those you are among. So that you may say, “† Haste, death! lest I, too, should forget myself.”
4. He who does wrong, does a wrong to himself. He who is injurious, does evil to himself, by making himself evil.
5. Men are often unjust by omissions, as well as by actions.
6. Be satisfyed with your present sentiments of things, if certain; your present course of action, if social; and, your present temper of mind, if well-pleased with every thing which comes from the universal cause.
7. Wipe out the fancies of imagination: stop all eager impulses to action: extinguish keen desires; and keep the governing part master of itself.
8. Among the irrationals one animal-soul is distributed; the rational, again, partake of‡ one intellectual soul: just as there is one earth to all things earthy; and as all of us, who are indued with sight, and animated, see with one light and breathe one air.
9. All things, which partake of any common quality, have a strong tendency to what is of the same kind with themselves. The earthy all tend to the earth; the watery all naturally flow together; and the aerial also; so that there is need of some intercepting partitions and violence, to prevent their confluence: What contains the nature of fire tends upwards, on account of the elementary fire; along with which all our fewel is so apt to be kindled, that any matter pretty dry is easily set on fire; because there is then a less mixture of what hinders its kindling.* Thus, now, also, whatever partakes of the common intellectual nature, hastens, in like manner, or rather more, to mingle with, and adhere to what is a-kin to it. For the more it excels other natures, the stronger is its tendency to mix with and adhere to what is a-kin to it. Thus, among irrational animals, we easily observe swarms, and herds, nurture of their young, and, as it were, mutual loves: for they have animal-souls; and the mutual attraction is found stronger in the more noble nature; such as was not found in plants, nor in stones, or wood. And then among the rational animals, begun civil-societies, friendships, families, and assemblies; nay, treaties, and truces, even in war. Among beings, again, still more excellent, there subsists, tho’ they are placed far asunder, a certain kind of union: as among the stars. Thus can that superior excellence produce† a sympathy among these beings so widely distant. But observe what happens [among us:] For intellectual beings, alone, have now forgot the social concern for each other, and mutual tendency to union! Here, alone, the social confluence is not seen! Yet are they invironed and held by it, tho’ they fly off. For nature always prevails. You will see what I say, if you observe.—For, sooner, may one find some earthy thing which joins to nothing earthy, than a man rent off and separated from all men.
10. Man, God, and the universe, all bear fruit; and each in their own seasons. Custom indeed has appropriated the expression to the vine, and the like; but that is nothing.‡ Reason has its fruit too, both§ social and** private. And it produces just such other things as reason itself is.4
11. If you can, teach them better. If not, remember that the virtue of meekness was given you to be exercised on such occasions.* Nay, the Gods also exercise meekness and patience toward them; and even aid them in their pursuits of some things; as of health, wealth, glory. So gracious are they! You may be so too. Or, say, who hinders you?
12. Bear toil and pain, not as if wretched under it; nor as wanting to be pitied, or admired. But will only one thing; always to act, or refrain, as social wisdom requires.8
13. To day I have escaped from every dangerous accident: or, rather, I have thrown out from me every dangerous accident. For they were not without; but within, in my own opinions.
14. All these things are, in our experience of them, customary; in their continuance, but for a day; and, in their matter, sordid. All at present, such as they were in the times of those we have buried.
15. The things themselves stand with out-doors, by themselves; and neither know, nor declare to us any thing concerning themselves. What declares, then, and pronounces, concerning them?† The governing part.
16. It is not in passive feeling,‡ but in action,§ the good and evil of the rational animal formed for society consists: As neither does the virtue or vice of it consist in passive-feeling, but in action.
17. To the stone thrown up, it is no evil, to fall down; nor good, to have mounted up.
18. Penetrate into their governing part; and you will see what kind of judges you fear: and what kind of judges, too, they are, about themselves.
19. All things are in a state of change; and you are yourself under continual transmutation; and, in some respect, corruption: and so is the whole universe.
20. The fault of another you must leave with himself.
21. The cessation of any action, the extinction of any keen desire, or of any opinion, is as it were a death to them. This is no evil. Turn, now to your different ages; such as childhood, youth, manhood, old-age; for every change of these is a death.* Is there any thing alarming here? Go, now, to your life; first as it was under your grand-father, then as it was under your mother; and then as it was under† your father: and, as you find there many other alterations, changes, and endings, ask yourself, was there any thing in these to alarm me? Thus, neither is there, in the ending, ceasing, and change, of your whole life.
22. Have speedy recourse to your own governing part, and to that of the whole, and to that of this man [who has offended you.] To your own, that you may make it a mind disposed to justice: to that of the whole, that you may remember of what you are a part: and to that of this man, that you may know whether he has acted out of ignorance, or design; and that you may, at the same time, consider, he is your kinsman.
23. As you are a completing part of a social system, so also let every action of yours be a completing part of a social life. If, then, any action of yours has not its tendency, either immediate or distant, to the common-good as its end, this action disorders your life, and hinders it from being uniform, and it is seditious; as a man is in a common-wealth, who, by pursuing a separate interest, breaks off his own party from the general harmony and concord.9
25. Go to the quality of the§ active principle; abstract it from the material, and contemplate it by itself. Then deter-mine the time; how long, at furthest, this thing, of this particular quality, can naturally subsist.
26. You have indured innumerable sufferings, by not being satisfied with your own governing part, when it does those things which it is formed for doing. Enough, then, [of this dissatisfaction].
27. When another reproaches or hates you, or utters any thing to that purpose; go to their souls: enter in there; and look what kind of men they are. You will see that you ought not to disturb yourself, in order to procure any opinion of theirs concerning you. Yet you ought to have* kind dispositions toward them: for they are by nature your friends: and the Gods, too, aid them every way; by dreams, by oracles; and even in these things they are most eager after.
28. The course of things in the world is always the same; a continual rotation; up and down; from age to age.† Either the mind of the whole exerts itself in every particular event: and, if so, accept of what comes immediately from it: or has exerted itself once; and in consequence of this, all things go on since in a necessary series,‡ in which each is connected with the other, [and all together, make up one regular complete whole,]§ or atoms and indivisible particles are the origin of all things; and, if so, even those have somehow made up one orderly system of the whole. In fine; if there is any** God, all things are right and well: or, if there is only a chance, at least you need not act by chance.†† The earth will presently cover us all: and then this earth will itself change into some other forms; and those, again, into others: and so on without end. Now, when any one considers how swiftly those changes, and transmutations roll on, like one wave upon another, he will despise every thing mortal.
29. The cause of the whole is a torrent. It carries all along with it. How very little worth, too, are those poor creatures who pretend to understand affairs of state, and imagine they unite in themselves the statesman and the philosopher! mere froth! Do you, O man! that which nature requires of you, whatever it be. Set about it, if you have the means: and don’t look about you, to see if any be taking notice, and don’t hope for Plato’s common-wealth:13‡‡ But be satisfied if it have the smallest success; and consider the event of this very thing as no small matter. For who can change the opinions of those men? Now, without a change of their opinions, what is it else but a slavery they are groaning under, while they pretend a willing obedience? Come, now, and tell me of* Alexander, Phillip,14 and Demetrius Phalereus.15 They know best whether they understood what the common nature requir’d of them; and train’d themselves accordingly. But, if they designed only an outward shew, to gain the applause and admiration of men, no-body has condemned me to imitate them. The business of philosophy is simple, meek, and modest. Don’t lead me away after [the smoak and vapour of] a vain glorious stateliness.
30.† Contemplate, as from some height, the innumerable herds; and innumerable religious rites, and navigation of all kinds, in storms, and calms;‡ the different states of those who are coming into life, those who are associating in life, those who are leaving life. Consider also the life which others have lived formerly; the life they will live after you, and the life the barbarous nations now live: And how many know not even your name; how many will quickly forget it; how many, who perhaps praise you now, will quickly blame you: And, that neither a surviving fame is a thing of value; nor present glory; nor any thing at all [of that kind.]
31. Tranquillity as to what happens by external causes: Justice in what proceeds from the active principle within you: that is, a bent of will and course of action which rests and is satisfied in its having been exerted for the good of society; as being suited to your nature.
32. You can cut off a great many superfluous things which crowd and disturb you; for they lye wholly in your own opinion: and by this you will make a great deal of room and ease to yourself.§ As, by comprehending, by your judgment, the whole universe; by considering the age you live in; and by considering the quick changes of each thing, in particular; how short the time from its birth to its dissolution; how immense the space of time before its birth; and the time after its dissolution, equally infinite.
33. All things you see will quickly perish; and those, who behold them perishing, will themselves also quickly perish: and he who died in extreme old-age, will be in the same condition with him who died early.
34. What kind of governing parts have these men! And about what things are they earnestly employed! And on what accounts do they love and honour! Imagine their minds naked before you. When they fancy their censures hurt, or their praises, profit us; how great their self-conceit!
35. Loss is nothing else but change: and in this delights the nature of the whole; by which all things are formed well. From the beginning of ages they have been managed in the same way: and to all eternity, such like things will be. How can you say both that all things were formed, and that all shall be always, in a bad state. Among so many Gods, it seems, there is no sufficient power found out to rectify those things? but the universe is condemned to remain involved in never ceasing evils.17
36. How putrid the material substance of every thing! Water, dust, little bones, and nauseous excretions. Again; marble is but the concreted humours of the earth; gold and silver its heavy dregs: Our cloaths but hairs; and the purple colour of them,* blood. All other things are of the same kind. The animal spirit too is another such thing, passing always from one change to another.
37. Enough of this wretched life, of repining, and apish trifling. Why are you disturbed? Are any of these things new? What astonishes you? Is it the† active principle? view it well. Or, is it the material? View it also well. Besides these there is nothing else. Nay, I obtest you by the Gods, come at length to‡ more simplicity of heart, and equity in your sentiments.
It is the same thing whether you have observed these things for a hundred years, or for three.
38. If he has done wrong, the evil is his: and, perhaps, too, he has not done wrong.
39. Either all events proceed from one intelligent fountain§ [in the whole] as in one body: and then the part ought not to complain of what happens on account of the whole. Or all is atoms: and nothing else but a jumble of parts, and a dissipation again. Why are you disturbed then? [Your governing part you may still preserve exempt from chance:]* need you say to it thou art dead: thou art rotten: thou art dissembling: thou art joining the herd; feeding; and turn’d savage.
40. Either the Gods have no power at all [to aid men in any thing;] or they have power. If, then, they have no power, why do you pray? But if they have power, why don’t you chuse to pray to them to enable you, neither to fear any of these things, [which are not in our own power] nor desire any of them, nor be grieved about any of them; rather than for the having them, or the not having them. For, most certainly, if they can aid men at all, they can also aid them in this. But, perhaps you will say; the Gods have put this in my own power. Well, then, is it not better to use the things which are in your own power, and preserve your liberty; than perplex your self about the things which are not in your own power, and become an abject slave. And who told you the Gods don’t give us their assistance, too, in the things which are in our own power? Begin, therefore, to pray about these things; and you will see. One prays; how shall I enjoy this woman! Do you; how shall I have no desire to enjoy her! Another; how shall I be freed from this man! Do you; how shall I not need to be freed from him! A third; how shall I prevent the loss of my child! Do you; how shall I not be afraid to lose him! Upon the whole; turn your prayers this way, and look what will be the effect.†
41. Epicurus says: “When I was sick, my conversations were not about the diseases of this poor body: nor did I speak of any such things to those who came to me. But continued to discourse of these principles of natural philosophy, I had before established: And was chiefly intent on this; how the intellectual part, tho’ it partakes of such violent commotions of the body, might remain undisturbed, and preserve its own proper good. Nor did I allow the physicians to make a noise, and vaunt, as if doing something of great moment. But my life continued pleasant and happy.”19 What he did, when under a disease, do you, also, if you fall into one, or are under any other uneasy circumstances: that is, never depart from your philosophy, whatever befalls you; nor run into the silly way of the vulgar, and such as are unacquainted with nature.* It is the common maxim of all sects of philosophy; to be wholly intent on what they are doing, and the instrument or means by which they do it.
42. When you are disgusted with the impudence of any one, immediately ask yourself; can the universe, then, be without the shameless? It cannot. Don’t demand, then, what is impossible: For this is one of those shameless men, who must needs be in the universe. Have the same question also at hand, when shock’d at the crafty, the faithless, or the faulty in any respect. For, while you remember it is impossible but such kind of men must needs be in the universe, you will at the same time have more good-nature toward each of them in particular. It is highly useful, too, to have immediately this reflection: What virtue has nature given man, enabling him to bear with this fault [in his fellow?]† For, against the unreasonable, she has given meekness, as an antidote: And so, against another, some other ability. You are also at full liberty to set right one who has wandered. Now, every one who does wrong‡ misses his aim, and has wandered. And, then, what harm, pray, have you got? for you will find, none of those, at whom you are exasperated, have done any thing by which the intellectual part of you was like to be the worse. Now, what is your [real] evil, and harm, has all its subsistence there. And what is there evil, or strange, if the uninstructed acts like one uninstructed? Look if you ought not rather to blame yourself, for not having laid your account with this man’s being guilty of such faults. For you had the means from reason to have concluded with yourself, it is likely this man will be guilty of such a fault; yet have forgot, and are surprised that he is guilty of it. But, especially, when you blame any one as faithless, or ungrateful, turn to yourself: For the fault was, already, manifestly on your side; if, either you trusted, that one of such a disposition would keep his faith; or, if when you gave a favour, you did not give it ultimately [without further view] so as to reap all the fruit of it by your very doing it. For, what wou’d you more, when you have done a kind office to a man? Is it not enough to you, that you have acted in this according to your nature? Do you ask a reward for it? This is as if the eye were to ask a reward for seeing; or the feet for walking. For, as these are form’d for a certain purpose, which when they fulfill according to their proper structure, they have their proper perfection; so, also, man, formed by nature for kind offices [to his fellows,] when he does any kind office to another, or any thing otherways conducive to the good of society, has done what he is form’d for; and has his proper good and perfection.
[* ] This is a clear acknowledgement of the one supreme God.
[† ] The original is obscure here. Probably this nature of the whole, is always to be understood of God, or the mind presiding in the whole, and governing it for the universal good, with perfect benevolence toward all.1
[* ] The Greek word is a term for one who never acts, till he has examined thoroughly, and reasoned right, on what he is going to do. See, VI. 30. in the character of Antoninus Pius.
[* ] Here is the precept of loving our enemies, which is also in many others of these meditations.
[‡ ] See, II. 1.
[* ] In this paragraph, he at once acknowledges the original fabric of the soul to be destined for the knowledge and love of God, and an intire harmony of will with him by resignation: and also its present degenerate state, as it is often counteracting its original destination.5
[§ ] Kind offices and good-nature to our fellows, and submission to the universal providence.
[** ] Chearful tranquillity under whatever happens, and temperance. We may supply the enumeration of its fruits from the apostle. Galat. V. 22. “Now the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-command.”
[* ] To enable you to bear mildly the imperfections of others. See, art. 42.
[† ] IV. 3. and V. 19.
[‡ ] Either of pleasure or pain.
[§ ] The exertion of our active powers.
[* ] That is, the child dies in the youth; the youth in the man; and so on.
[† ] Antoninus Pius.
[* ] Here again the precept of loving our enemies.
[† ] Or the words of the original may bear this meaning. “Either the mind of the whole intends and designs each particular event; and, if so, accept of what it intends: or has once primarily intended some things; and the rest are unavoidable necessary consequences of those.”
[‡ ] See, IV. 45. VI. 36. and VII. 75.
[§ ] Part of the original is wanting, and what remains is corrupted. The turn given it in the translation is founded on, IV. 27.
[** ] Governing mind.
[†† ] See this more fully in VI. 44.
[‡‡ ] V. 9. at the beginning.
[* ] VIII. 3.
[† ] VII. 48, 49.
[§ ] This is perhaps a new meditation, and should begin thus.—Comprehend &c.
[* ] Of a shell-fish.
[† ] See, XI. 1. near the end.
[§ ] See, IV. 40.
[* ] The Greek is corrupted and manque here, and the commentators all at a loss how to restore it. As to the sense here attempted, it is the same as sect. 28 of this book.
[† ] Of the same kind is that beautiful passage quoted by Gataker from Arrian II, 18.18 “Stay, mortal! Be not rash. The combat is great. The attempt God-like. It is for sovereignty; for liberty; for a current of life ever gentle, clear, and unruffled. Call to mind the Deity. Invoke him to be your assistant and supporter: As men at sea invoke Castor and Pollux in a storm.”
[* ] The Greek is corrupted here.
[‡ ] As all pursue what appears to them at that time, their proper good and happiness. See, VI. 27. VIII. 14. and especially V. 17. and the note.
[221. 13] [this edition: p. 114, line 17]. for perhaps, read who, perhaps.
note. line ult. [this edition: p. 115, the double-daggered note]. others thus read the Text. “Nay toward the Gods, too, behave with &”
[1.] See A System of Moral Philosophy, bk. I, chap. 9, sec. V, pp. 174–80, under the heading “The Original Mind is benevolent or good.”
[2.] See bk. X, art. 36, p. 131.
[3.] Source not known.
[4.] The three notes appended to this article summarize succinctly the three duties distinguished by Hutcheson in A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, bk. I, chaps. 4, 5, and 6; and by Carmichael in his notes and supplements to Pufendorf’s De officio. See Carmichael, Natural Rights on the Threshold of the Scottish Enlightenment, chaps. 6, 7, and 8, pp. 54–76.
[5.] See bk. V, art. 17, p. 64n.
[6.] See “On the Natural Sociability of Mankind” in Logic, Metaphysics, and Natural Sociability (Liberty Fund ed., p. 204) and A Short Introduction to Moral Philosophy, bk. I, chap. 1, sec. 9, p. 14 (Liberty Fund ed., p. 33): “that sympathy or fellow-feeling by which the state and fortunes of others affect us exceedingly.” Shaftesbury provides an account similar to Marcus’s of the sympathy that brings together families, friends, and assemblies in “Sensus Communis,” pt. III, sec. 2, in Characteristics, ed. Klein, p. 51. See also the editors’ introduction, pp. xiv–xv.
[7.] “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself” (Matthew 22:37– 39).
[8.] See bk. VI, art. 7, p. 71, and the endnotes, bk. VI, p. 178n1.
[9.] See also bk. VII, art. 13, pp. 84–85, and A System of Moral Philosophy, bk. II, chap. 16, vol. II, pp. 104–16.
[10.] “Representations of the shades” interprets Marcus’s words, to tēs Nekuias, which refer to the account of the Underworld in Homer, Odyssey XI, the abode of the “shades” of the dead.
[11.] See the previous endnote (10).
[12.] See also bk. V, art. 13, p. 63, and bk. IX, art. 31, p. 114. The active principle is the soul, the divine fire within things themselves. Marcus invites us to consider how long this active principle will last, and how transient are the things comprehended in the material principle: external things, the imagination, the passions, and so forth.
[13.] While Marcus warned against Plato’s idealism, others have taken Marcus’s style of governing to have been the opposite of Machiavellian realism: “Let Caesar Borgia be the Pattern of Machiavelli’s Hero, that of all virtuous Princes will be Marcus Aurelius”: Anti-Machiavel (1741), p. 59n.
[14.] Philip II, king of Macedon, father of Alexander.
[15.] Demetrius of Phalerum, a Peripatetic philosopher by training, was ruler of Athens from 317 to 307 bc on behalf of Macedonia.
[16.] Gataker translates as “rerum praeteritarum, praesentium, decedentium differentias”: “the differences of things past, things present, and things that are passing away.”
[17.] See bk. V, art. 17, p. 64n, on the necessity of evil in the best-formed systems.
[18.] Epictetus, Discourses, bk. II, chap. 18, secs. 28–29 (Loeb ed., vol. I, p. 357).
[19.] Fragment 191 (Usener). Epicurus, Epicurea, ed. Usener, p. 158.
[20.] Epictetus, Manual (Encheiridion), 10, in Epictetus, Discourses (Loeb ed., vol. II, p. 491).
[21.] Epistle of Paul to Titus 3:1 and 3.